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Isa was sleeping. The expression on her face was peaceful,
even happy. There was colour in
her cheeks. Her hair was disheveled and eyelashes were quivering. Her cool
little palm was lying on Kay’s chest, touching the guarding talisman on it with her fingertips. Up to that moment, the metal had indeed gotten warm. What was more, the talisman image seemed etched into Kay’s skin.
Kay knew the master who made the locket. It was old Erten who was always kind and yet uncommonly shrewd in some way. Moreover, it seemed that magic of true skill still lingered in his hands. There was a time when those hands used to create incredible things. Take the icy necklace, for example. Kay had no idea that one could really make such a thing. All he had indeed done was drawing the image and forgetting about it until yesterday.
The necklace was comprised of platinum threads and white diamonds.
There it was, the evidence of skill also proving the existence of main key to the miracle.
And now this guarding talisman here. Not that Kay needed protection but … no one ever worried about him before. It was a weird feeling. Of happiness? Actually, of complete peacefulness.
However, his time was running out. And so, Kay was desperately clinging to each second. He was listening to his own breath and inner voice.
The fire, which almost went out, was flickering.
A cricket was singing, trapped somewhere behind the arras.
There was a rustle of the blanket sliding off Isolde. To this Kay had no objection this time. It was too bad that they had now so little time to enjoy the quietness, though.
Restoring the stained glass windows to their natural colour, dawn was approaching from the east. Somewhere out there, a door slammed shut and roosters started crowing on the other side of the window. A donkey’s bray seemed to break through the stone walls. However, Isa didn’t even budge: she was tired. Nonetheless, she wouldn’t be allowed to have a rest today.
She yawned, itched her nose and muttered:
“Is it time already?”.
“Not yet. Take your time”.
Isa nodded and raised her knees to the breast. Perhaps she had frozen over, thought Kay. She couldn’t afford to do that. He wished to get her both out of the cold and heat. To return her to a place where she could be safe. However, this was not the way. Kay understood it well enough, he just found it hard to pull himself together. And at that very moment he was beginning to understand his father. Not thoroughly, though.
“You’re brooding over something,” Isa actually opened an eye as she was saying that. “That’s not a proper place for brooding. Unless you stop doing it, I’ll bite you,”.
Kay chuckled and then started rubbing his chin against back of her head. Isolde’s hair smelled like lavender. This was pretty wonderful, as should be everything about her. Obsession is a thing strange enough, but not such an unpleasant one as he imagined. Quite the contrary. And it alone inspired awe: Kay wasn’t sure anymore to what extent he could objectively perceive the outside reality or to what extent he could adequately react to that reality.
“Did I mention you’re handsome?” Isolde had opened both her eyes as she was saying that.
Such a drowsy dear creature.
“It’s not a proper thing to say to a man,”.
“What is a proper thing to say, then?” was Isolde’s next question.
Kay never pondered over anything.
“You can say that I’m virile,”
“You are indeed,” Isolde yawned as she was speaking. “However,
you’re handsome as well. Meanwhile, I’m hungry. We are going to have a meal, right?”
“Definitely. Wait a bit. I’ll be back in a jiff,” Kay had reassured her before leaving.
She let him go with clear reluctance. Isa crawled across the bed to occupy his former place and pulled the blanket up under her chin. The look she gave Kay wasn’t approving. However, she looked too stubborn to ask the question that was on the tip of her tongue.
The basket was positioned over there as promised. There were clay milk bottle, a pair of goblets, fresh bread, cheese and something airy and crunchy inside. That thing was clearly meant for Isolde.
“Mmm,” The tip of her nose twitched as she was speaking. “Who is so thoughtful? It’s Urfin, eh?”
Having wrapped herself up in a blanket which was excessively large for her, Isa tried to crawl out of bed. Now the blanket was dragging behind her like a peacock’s tail. Somehow Kay failed to control himself. He actually burst into laughter.
He couldn’t remember the last time he laughed so long.
“Think it’s funny, eh?” Isa picked up tails of her blanket and tried to imitate a curtsy. “Don’t you remember because of whom I tore my little dressing gown yesterday? And you know how it was like when I was being dressed up in it? I had to listen to some songs … Those local songs made my flesh creep. Even I couldn’t resist shaking,”.
She sat on his lap and offered a part of the blanket to him. All that was awkward to the last extent, yet quite cosy.
“It’s a custom here,” Kay opened the bottle as he was speaking and honestly divided the milk in half. Oh should it be “almost honestly”? Isolde was small in stature and her stomach would hardly fit so much drink, thought Kay defensively. “People read the burial service over the bride to mollify the fate. To stop the Fates from bringing misfortunes which are enumerated in the song,”.
“Meaning that I won’t face my resurrection?”
She was holding her goblet with both hands, concentrating on her milk as she was sipping it.
“Kay,” Isa put her goblet on the seat elbow. “I don’t know your customs. And I may unintentionally do a thing that is … not quite right,”.
If I had sat back and looked up, then a rather familiar picture — meaning Kay’s neck and chin — would appear in sight, Isolde thought. Such a pensive-looking chin. I would say it was decisive-looking.
Now I could see a trail of milk going down Kay’s neck.
I could see it very clearly.
These days his lordship didn’t seem to care about good manners. However, I didn’t mind it. I was even enjoying it. My mum’s expression would be “feeling sluggishly”. That would be perfectly right. There would be no other word for that state of relaxation and full life satisfaction. I felt lazy even to move, Isolde thought.
I was not moving. Actually, it was sitting and admiring my spouse, Isolde thought.
He was indeed handsome. I had no idea before that I could like such men, though. It was all about bulky body, pile of muscles and all that. No, Kay wasn’t probably pumped up to the last degree. If anything, he was heavy-set, Isolde thought.
“Eat,” he slipped a sweet thin cookie resembling brushwood to Isolde as he was speaking. And then he added salted cheese to the cookie. All in all, that was a pretty good combination (cookie, cheese and milk).
I had no doubt that the little wonder basket was Urfin’s handiwork. So now I was ready to absolve him of all the sins at once, Isolde thought.
I was really eating. However, the question was left pending. I seemed to remember that the most part of the rites and superstitions planned for the first two days had been done with. I had got through one day’s ritual. All I had to do today was to sit out another one. But sure there was no way that life had refrained from putting a spoke in my wheel, Isolde thought.