188/366 – The Singing Dove Inn

Day 46 of 100 Word Prompts: Grove

“Would you just look at it!?” Germain gasped, spinning in slow circles as he took in the sight of the grove of flowering cherry trees surrounding the Singing Dove.

“It’s beautiful,” Gwen agreed, plucking a flower from a tree and turning to Joy, “What do you think? Is the pink too much with my red skin?”

“I think that you should wear whatever you want,” Joy replied with a smile, “If you want to wear a stinkcloud mushroom on your head, the commoners be damned.”

“Now, now, girls,” Germain said, “We have to be on our best behavior for the Lady, right?”

“Yes, Germain,” Joy and Gwen said in unison, looking to each other with smiles.

“You’d think he forgot that we spoke with the Lady the last time while he fainted,” Joy whispered with a giggle.

“Give him some credit,” Gwen replied, “It’s not as though he meets people this famous every day. I’m nervous myself. I wonder what the troupe is like, and their manager. How do you think they prepare their plays?”

“I think you need to relax and take a deep breath,” Joy said, pausing to wait for Gwen to breathe. “Everything is fine. If this goes well, we’ll be invited back, maybe even to perform occasionally.”

Gwen squealed with excitement as she grabbed Joy’s hand and led her past Germain at a run. He had just bent to pick something up from the ground as they flew by, and Joy poked him in the top of the head.

“Hey!” Germain called after them, starting his chase.

The two tiefling girls, one red and one blue, laughed their way through the grove, twisting and weaving through the trees while Germain ran to catch them. The sun filtered through the branches of the trees, casting faint shadows on the path. Germain nearly bowled the two girls over as they skidded to a halt, kicking up pebbles from the road as they reached the building.

“This place is incredible,” Gwen gawked as she looked at the three-story building stretching out for more than a hundred feet in either direction before her. To her left, on the far side of the property, she could make out the structure where the private stage stood. “This place is like a dream.”

“Compose yourselves, ladies,” Germain said, stepping past them, reaching for the handle of the front door.

The door to the Singing Dove opened before Germain’s hand could close on the handle, and Germain found himself awkwardly stretched before a balding man in a suit, looking down at them past his long curving nose.

“We’ve been expecting you, Ladies Gwendolyn and Joy, as well as Master Germain,” the man said, his voice even and measured as he bowed deeply. Gwen thought that the man could have been singing. “My name is Lorsan, head servant of the Singing Dove. It is a pleasure to meet you-”

“We received an invitation from the Lady Ainsley,” Gwen blurted, holding up the letter with the seal.

“Yes, I know,” Lorsan said, his lips becoming a thin line as he waited for any further interruption. When none came, he spoke again. “The Lady Ainsley has instructed me to lead you to her suite, where she may relax better. Is this acceptable for you?”

“Yes,” Germain said, his voice breaking. Gwen turned to see the man who would be her father practically dancing in place in his excitement as he attempted to tame his beard.

“Wonderful, follow me, please,” Lorsan said as he walked past them out the door, latching it behind him. He walked with a confident stride that was both purposeful and easy to keep up. Every one of his movements could have been a dance that Gwen had never seen before.

“Outside?” Joy said. “I thought the rooms were inside.”

“There are rooms inside the main building, but some of our honored guests prefer a little more privacy during their time here,” Lorsan replied as they neared the end of the building. “We aim to provide our favored guests with anything their heart desires.”

With the last syllable out of Lorsan’s mouth, the group reached the corner to see a decent-sized cottage nestled between large oak trees. There was a hush to the group’s breath as they all took in the sight before them. Wild grapes grew along the lattice fence giving the building the impression of country living rather than being located deep inside the city itself. A slow movement of deer weaving along the treeline and squirrels chattering and chasing each other up a tree made Gwen think she had fallen into a fairytale.

“This is Lady Ainsley’s suite?” Germain asked, finding his voice after a moment.

“Yes,” Lorsan replied simply, “Please, keep up.”

Lorsan led them down the path, through the gate in the fence, and up to the front door.

“My instructions were to leave you here. The Lady will be with you momentarily,” Lorsan said, bowing deeply to the group.

“Thank you,” Germain said, fishing a gold piece from his pocket.

“Unnecessary, sir,” Lorsan said, waving the money away. “Though I thank you for the consideration.”

Lorsan then turned on heel and moved back toward the main building. His movements looked identical to when he had led them to where they now stood, but it seemed only to take a handful of steps for him to disappear from view.

“I could watch Lorsan walk all day,” Joy said, winking to Gwen once he was out of view.

“That is weird,” Gwen added, “not watching him walk, just the way he moved. It was too smooth, don’t you think?”

“It was a spell,” Germain said. “Well, likely enchanted boots or something similar. There are spells for speed and grace. I assume that the staff here, as large as this complex seems to be, have certain time constraints to move around the property serving patrons.”

“How do you know so much?” Gwen asked. “You always seem to have an answer.”

“Can I tell you a secret, only us bards really know about?” Germain asked.

“Of course,” Gwen said, leaning closer.

“One of two things are true when it comes to every statement from a bard’s mouth,” Germain said, “The first being that bards travel hither and yon hearing things and learning things with each new place in which they perform. The second, more importantly, is that a true bard always has an answer.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Gwen said, a confused look passing over her face.

“He’s saying that bards are full of-” Joy cut herself short as the door to the cottage opened, revealing the beautiful Lady Ainsley standing in the doorway.

“Welcome!” she said, her cheeks blushing and her eyes excited. “Come in, come in!”


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