Home Sweet Home

After finishing the search, Kalena swung up onto her horse with the ease of a natural rider. She regarded the disappointed bounty hunter and smiled, then chuckled. It was a wide, urchin grin. “Well, I guess we lost him, but working with you has been smashing, I'll say that. If you ever pick up the elf's trail, do let me know. I'd be happy to provide back up again. I mean, if you can get a hold of me. I live in the capital. If you're ever up my way, drop in for a visit. But it's some distance, so I'd best be getting on my way. Until we meet again, fare well, Oruvand. And you too, Madam Jocelynn. It's been real.”

Kalena spurred her mount's sides, and guided it at a trot away through the sparse foliage surrounding the Inn, and then took off down the road in a full gallop, her cloak flying behind her and her exhilarated laughter ringing out across the air. What acceleration! She had been wise in choosing the thoroughbred racing stallion for the journey. It had not taken so long on a horse that loved to run the way this one did. It was of extraordinary breeding, boasting rare levels of speed and stamina, yet was not nearly so fast and powerful as her regular mount, Enyo, a wonder horse of the first class that could have easily come from the immortal stables of Zeus.

Some hours later, to the sound of iron-shod hooves on cobbles, Kalena cantered into the royal quarter of the capital where the most important Dalen nobles lived in great villas and palaces. An army of chained slaves kept the wide boulevards and stately avenues in a constant state of cleanliness, and a heavy presence of city guardsmen ensured that beggars, suspected thieves, and other unwanted individuals were warned away on pain of death from the exclusive district. A few guards brought their swords up as she rode by, and Kalena returned their salutes with a jaunty wave. Soon she was passing through the walled gates of her home, a grand, white marble dwelling with bright windows and blue-tiled terraces arranged around a central courtyard. The luxurious palace had been hers for over a year now and was everything that she could have wanted.

Across the courtyard was the stable complex where she spent a lot of time since hanging up her assassin's blade. She loved horsemanship, but treated it purely as a hobby. She preferred to offer her steeds as special gifts rather than sell them. The income from her previous lucrative career was such that she would never need to work again.

Perun and Grunar obsequiously came out to meet her.

“Have a good outing, mistress?” asked Grunar, taking the reigns of the speckled stallion.

“It had it's moments,” Kalena said as she slid down from the saddle. “Anything new since I was gone?”

“There was word of a werewolf attack on the Verden border,” reported Perun, who kept his ear to the ground for interesting news in the kingdom. “Up to half a dozen lycanthropes laid siege to a settlement.”

“Half a dozen?” Kalena said, “and me with only three silver-tipped arrows in my quiver too.”

“You were in the area?”

“About forty furlongs out from Ragodast.” She patted the stallion's muzzle. “But this fellow is as swift as the wind; he could probably have outrun them.”

“Shall I tend to him, mistress?” asked the stable slave.

“Yes, Grunar, unsaddle him and give him a rub down. After that see that he has a good supper. How's Enyo doing by the way?”

“Much better.”

Kalena wanted to see for herself, and promptly entered the stables. With Perun behind her, she strode to the closest stall where a great midnight-black war horse was nestled with a newborn foal in the hay.

“Hey, girl,” she called.

Recognizing her voice, the postpartum mare snorted, ears cocked forward, and then stood and approached the stall door where Kalena reached out and lovingly stroked Enyo's mane.

“Aye, she'll be back to full strength in no time,” observed Grunar with a pleased smile, leading away the travel-worn stallion.

“I know what you want,” Kalena said, and she pulled a green-skinned pear from her cloak and fed it to Enyo. She scratched the mare's powerful arching neck as Enyo happily munched on the juicy fruit; it was one of the horse's favourite snacks, which after many years Kalena was accustomed to having readily on hand. Seeing the horse's appetite reminded her that she too could use a bite to eat.

“I'm famished,” she announced. “For an early dinner I would like roast hen with honey sauce and—no strike that—I think I'm actually in the mood for lasagna today.”

“Very good mistress,” Perun said. “I will tell the cook to prepare one for you at once.”

“Tell him I want it the way he made it last month, with the wild mushrooms, fresh tomatoes and spinach. The same seasoning too. I think it was basil. Mmm, that was simply delicious! And a glass of the fifteen year old Arrizzo red wine to go along with it as well.”

“Very good mistress,” the major-domo responded, scurrying off to see that it was all to her exact wishes.

“I love being rich. Isn't it great?” Kalena whispered to Enyo as she rubbed her snout.

The mare nickered as if in agreement.

OOC: A bit of a abrupt departure I guess, but I wanted to free up Oru and Jocelynn since the plot had nowhere left to go, and I didn't think Kalena getting involved with Simon and Katya would have been a good idea.

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