Chapter 7:

The Regal

An Old Friend's Final Request

Although he never learned to read or write normally, Adam could read sheet music which he also had no trouble making. Writing the story to go along with the music however, he always left up to Gertrude. As of right now, however, Eena was the one writing her friend's story.
'How surreal.'

Adam had written more songs in the few days they were alone together and asked for her opinion on all of them. She couldn't care less about the other songs, not that they didn't sound good. Adam actually has a wonderful voice and is extraordinarily competent when handling the instruments he owns.
He was beyond ecstatic to perform his new 'birdsongs' for Gertrude when she finally came back. Because of this he began to act overly-friendly towards Eena, similarly to how she once behaved with anyone who would make eye-contact with her. Now she only felt uncomfortable. Though, she never turned him away.
'I don't deserve this...'

This didn't necessarily change when Gertrude finally returned. He would invite her to listen to him perform and try to include her in the conversations he would often hold with Gertrude alone. Gertrude, although she would never show it, became rather jealous. She had been trying for however long to get Eena to open up and Adam succeeds in mere days.

I don't remember when it started snowing. Everyone in the cottage began wearing heavier clothes made by Gertrude. She and Adam were out hunting while Eena and Gotthard were holed up in their individual rooms.
Adam knocked on her door, waited a few seconds, then opened it with, "Hail. Would you mind helping us with something? We need healing magic."

Eena looked up from her journal. "Is Gertrude hurt?"

"Only her heart."
He motioned his hand for her to follow him. Curiosity got the better of her.

In the couch Eena once woke up in, sat an injured wolf, barely wrapped in bandages and being fed little bits of meat by Gertrude. "You brought a feral wolf back?"

Adam sighed. "It's not the first time."

"Oh he won't cause issues. Look at how adorable he is! Eena, sweetie, could you heal him?"

The wolf is indeed beautiful. Although we taught Eena at a young age that every rose has its thorns. And this one happened to have them in a jaw that could snap a hand off. Eena sighed. "I can stop the bleeding, but I don't have enough mana for much else."

With the animal partly healed, it calmed down enough to sleep. Gertrude and Adam then went about their day like nothing had happened or Gotthard wouldn't scold them for leaving a bleeding beast on his couch. "I don't get some sort of explanation?"

Gertrude at first ignored Eena, expecting she was interrogating Adam. When silence ensued, she turned to find the annoyed glare of my daughter directed solely on her. Genuinely surprised, she answered with, "I always do this."

Eena snapped back with, "That doesn't make it right. What if he attacks one of us?"
She's been with Gotthard too long.

Gertrude placed her hands on her hips, like she does while arguing with Gotthard. "Then he becomes a new coat. We have two mages and a perfectly capable hunter here. Besides, he'll run long before he attacks any of us."

Eena only sighed. "But why did you do it? You even gave him some of our food."

"Would you want to be left bleeding out in the snow?"

"I'm not an animal."

It was Gertrude's turn to sigh. "This is why I dislike people. We believe ourselves superior to nature simply because we're more intelligent. You are no doubt more intelligent than I, yet you can not sew, you can not tend a garden, and you can not hunt. Just like without us you would surely perish, without nature we would certainly wither. Admittedly for very different reasons. My point is. We are no better than animals. A life is a life, no matter what it belongs to."

After a moment of consideration, Eena finally retaliated. "I think I would've once agreed. But some don't deserve the lives they've been given. I've recently encountered a whole group of lives like that."

Gertrude softened. "Of course. I'm in accord. But sweetie, you can't forget to live your own life. You don't-"

"I don't have a life."
She interrupted. "It was burned down and slaughtered with the rest of Alsfeld. I'm just... I'm just here to ensure their deaths are not in vain."

The silence crushed the air around them. Adam sat motionless in his chair, lest he accidentally cause the wooden seat to groan. Eena cast her gaze to the ground.
'Why did I do that? She's trying to be friendly, but... I should just go.'
After too long, Eena attempted to walk away to her room, but was stopped by a gentle grip on her coat. Gertrude finally leaned down to be eye level with Eena, with the grip on her coat firm. "I won't tell you I understand your pain. I would be lying if I did."
With her free hand, Gertrude tenderly brushed Eena's hair. "Living for others is commendable and sweet, but you mustn't lose sight of yourself. You're a beautiful girl. I want to see you happy. When the snow melts again, why don't you join me in the garden? I'm always happiest when I can tend to my plants. Until you can finally avenge your town, maybe you can find your peace in our garden."

Stunned for a moment in nostalgia, Eena smacked her hand away. "Fine. I'll help you in the garden, just... Stop doing that. It reminds me too much of my mother."

Gertrude only laughed. "I'm a mother myself sweetie. I can't help it."