Happy Labor Day to all my American friends! Hope you are enjoying a nice three-day weekend (or if you are working today, hope it goes quickly for you)! Here’s the next installment of Heritage. Question – does anyone know someone who could do so fan art for this? I’d like to have a banner of some sort to put with these posts, but I’m having a hard time finding anything suitable.
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Noshli didn’t sleep at all that night. She stared at the ceiling, stared at the clouds passing over the moon out their tiny window, and listened to Althea’s muffled snores. Every time Noshli tried to close her eyes, they would spring open again. Finally she just stopped trying to sleep at all.
Slowly, the sky outside the window lightened from darkest blue to lavendar and pink. Noshli sat up and rubbed her eyes. It was morning. Nadine hadn’t said what time someone would be arriving. Just in the morning. It could be any time at all, couldn’t it? Who knows what hours those people worked? Noshli drew her knees up to her chest and rested her chin on top of them, her eyes glued to the window as the sky continued to change color. Good weather today. That was something.
A loud grunt issued from the other side of the room. Althea sat up and looked around blearily. Noshli glanced at her before returning her gaze to the window. Her head was already starting to pound and she did not want to deal with Althea’s guesses as to who would be arriving soon. She had had enough of that last night.
“You don’t think she’s sending another one of them to help us, do you? It’s bad enough we got saddled with that Belladonna woman. I know we had to accept their help, they’ve been the only people to even show an interesting in helping, but stil, they just make me so nervous! They could be sending anyone here! Anyone! Maybe we should just leave . . .”
Yes, Althea had babbled on and on about her concerns. Noshli had no idea why the girl hated prostitutes so much. They didn’t bother Noshli. While she had never considered the profession herself, she didn’t begrudge those other women for making their way in the world. Perhaps they enjoyed their work, perhaps they didn’t. It didn’t matter to Noshli. Who was she to judge?
The sun rose higher in the sky when there was a soft knock on the door. Althea gave a small squeak and jumped out of her bed. Noshli also stood, running her fingers through her hair to smooth it down as best she could. She walked to the door, Althea jumping behind her, and opened it.
She couldn’t contain her gasp of surprise. Standing on the doorstep was another elf.
Yet this elf looked different from others that she had seen. He wore a knit cap on his head, which obscured his distinctive ears, but nothing could hide his silvery elf eyes. Although, Noshli noticed that his eyes were not quite as brightly colored as hers were. Maybe he wasn’t a full blooded elf either. She had no idea, but realized she had done nothing but stare at him for several minutes.
“I’m sorry,” she stammered. “Please come in.”
The elf raised an eyebrow, but stepped into the room. Noshli tried to step back to give him space, but Althea prevented her from doing so. The elf looked around the room, at the two mussed up beds, before taking a seat at the small table on the other side of the room. “I must say,” he said, “you don’t hesitate much before inviting strange men into your room. A tad unwise, don’t you think?”
Noshli scowled. Whatever spell his appearance had cast on her, it had just been broken. “You aren’t a strange man,” she said with venom in her voice. “You’re an elf and an expected visitor.”
“I’m expected, am I?” the elf said. Noshli wanted to smack the smirk off his face. “That’s good, at least. Glad to know one’s reputation preceeds them.”
“I know nothing of your reputation,” Noshli said. “Although I can guess at a few things. Nadine said that she didn’t have any male elf customers, but I guess she was lying about that.”
“I am not one of her clients,” the elf said. Noshli smiled at the sudden fire in his voice. Not so cool and confident after all. The elf sighed and pulled his hat off, revealing his thin, pointed elf ears and his head, which had been completely shaved. Noshli stared at him. Most elves who tried to live among humans kept their hair long in an attempt to hide their ears. She had never seen one with a shaved head before.
“If you aren’t one of her people, then who are you?” Althea asked, finally finding her voice. “She said you might be able to help us.”
“My name is Gimlineth,” he said. “I know Nadine because . . . because my sister works for her. We were exiled from our clan and had nowhere else to go. I can’t take on employment, obviously, but Minellye found herself in high demand on the streets before coming to work for Nadine. Nadine’s place is safer, since she can screen the men coming in. Minellye got quite a few beatings before that.”
“That’s terrible,” Noshli said. “Why were you exiled?”
“That is not your concern,” Gimlineth said with a glare. “Nadine mentioned that you were looking for someone. I can try to help, but it will cost you.”
“We don’t have much,” Noshli said.
“I don’t want money,” Gimlineth said. “Minellye takes care of that.” He stood and crossed his arms over his chest. “Here’s what I need from you.”