Niviene sat at the desk, scarlet quill in hand as she stared down at the parchment before her. She sighed heavily, glancing at the scribe beside her, “I don’t suppose you could post this for me?”
Maddie looked down at the paper then gave the priestess a pitying look, “Madame, I will tell you the same thing I have told you with the dozen other letters you’ve written, we do not know where your husband is to deliver his.” she glanced pointedly at the stacks of letters on the table, “It would not be safe to deliver those to your children. The bishop does not need to know where they are, else he attempts to use them against you.”
Niviene nodded, carefully placed the quill back in its stand, scattered sand across the paper and shook it off into the rubbish bin then folded it and placed it on the larger stack. “Eventually I will be able to put the letters in their hands and they’ll know that I was thinking about them.”
“Here, have some tea my dear, it will make you feel better.”
Niviene looked up at the woman then down at the cup, shaking her head. “Thank you Ilka, but I don’t believe tea is going to make me stop missing home.”
There was a chuckle from the other side of the room and Stuart held out his goblet, “Oh but this will.” his eyes glinted but Niviene couldn’t tell if it was from mirth or debauchery.
The priestess shook her head again and rose, her pathway to the door blocked when a dredger came rushing in, grabbing her hand and tugging frantically, “No mistress, this way. Don’t go that way! There’s someone in town askin for ya. Scurry yerself on up those stairs and into the cabinet like we showed ya.”
Niviene gasped and glanced around the room. Her hosts were taking up positions as if nothing untoward was going on but Morgonna motioned toward the stairs, “Go now. We’ll let you know when it’s safe to come back down.”
With a nod Niviene hurried up the stairs, stopping at a small cabinet that stood against the far wall. She glanced around quickly then ran a finger along the chipped edge of carved scrollwork that cleverly disguised a switch. There was a barely audible click and the front of the cabinet showed a sliver of an opening. She nudged it with the toe of her shoe to widen it until she could just barely slip through, then pulled it firmly to.
The space in which she crouched was low, even a dredger would have to stoop to move about. Gathering her skirts around her she duck walked through the darkness, counting steps as she had been instructed.Instructions also forbad her from touching anything so as not to leave evidence of passage.
The tunnel angled downward and she thought she might stumble and roll the rest of the way down. There were several sharp turns in the path before it finally opened into a room no bigger than a closet. Niviene sighed as she stood, stretching the kinks from her back. She turned to look at the hallway she’d just exited, noting the slight breeze that swept away her footprints in the dust, leaving it to appear as if no one had traversed the space in ages.
Glancing around the room she saw that there was nothing there but a small table and a single chair, as well as a pair of unlit scarlet candles. It took her a moment to realize that the only light in the room came from faintly glowing mushrooms that grew along the damp of the wall.
“Well then” she whispered, “this is going to be fun.” She sat at the table and folded her hands neatly in her lap. “I suppose, when in Revendreth, do as the natives do. It’s time to think about my sins. Maybe then I can figure out why all this happened and who my enemies… as well as my allies… are. And how to get back home again.”