Chapter 21:

Chapter 18. "Why don't we start the ritual?"

Another Story [Hiatus]

Once I wake up from my comfortable sleep, I cannot help but notice the actual simplicity of my room at May's house. It is all but merely painted in white with wooden furniture. It is considerably bigger than my room in Orma and in the division house. I think I could put a small coffee table near the window, though, for the sake of design. A luxury I didn't have before. Bookmark here

The window of my room is overlooking the street. The same street I walked on with Jayde going to this place. My room also has a desk and table already placed, as well as a closet. First time actually having a closet. I grew up using a chest. Closets are more complex and harder to produce and therefore more expensive to buy.Bookmark here

I look out the window and see vendors setting up their stalls for the day. It seems that this street is also quite a busy area. It isn't that far from Jayde's place, maybe just around ten ticks or so on foot. Right now, though, it is around the second quarter of the morning, May usually sleeps till the third quarter. She loves sleeping and oversleeping. This part of her can be a little bit off-putting despite her graceful public appearance. I guess it wouldn't hurt to look around the house. Now that the sun is up, I can see everything more clearly. Last night, we only used wax candles, as we always do.

Outside my room is a narrow and small hallway, left from my room is the door to the wash area and toilet. In front of my room is the door to May's room. I haven't been inside her room yet. To the right is the staircase leading down to the library and kitchen. The library is where May and I talked last night, and celebrated my birthday. Next to the library is the kitchen. The kitchen doesn’t seem to be all that big. A simple stove, a sink, and a generously sized counter. Maybe if this were my previous life, there might even be space enough for a refrigerator. Bookmark here

From here, I cannot help but re-enter the library. In it, are large shelves full of books. I did not notice the actual size of the library until now. In the room, there is a table where the cake was and a few chairs. At the end of the room, where the window to the main street are ーsame side as the window in my roomー there is a set of couches and tables. This room is very cozy and gives a vibe which makes you feel like you can just sit down and enjoy a novel or two. I could, personally, sit here for ages without getting tired of reading. As I made my way through the books on the shelves, I cannot help but notice the variety of books. There are books about the history of the country, books about the four strands, et cetera.Bookmark here

It's almost the third quarter of the morning; May should be waking up soon. I forget how much time I actually spent looking at the books. My eyes were just mesmerized by the sheer amount of books owned by a single person. But since I am getting hungry and I kind of want to surprise her with some breakfast. And since I saw that the vendors, earlier, were already starting to set up their stalls, they should be open already.

As I make my way to the door leading out of the house, I cannot help but notice the door on the right side. I take a peek before leaving. The room seems to be a room for accepting guests, kind of similar to a living room, but this room has an actual dinner table and another set of couches and coffee tables. Another door in that room also seems to lead to another toilet. This house is astonishingly big, despite its appearance on the outside. Something that would actually remind me of the houses back in The Netherlands. Anyhow, this house is way bigger than our house in Orma. But when I actually thought about, what happened to our house in Orma, as well as our animals? I took a mental note of this for later. Maybe I can squeeze it into one of our discussions or something.Bookmark here

As I take my leave from the house, the street already seem to be very lively. People are starting to flock around stalls, made up of the usual throngs of shoppers. Apart from the noises of people bartering and talking, there seems to be no sound of nature. Although, I can see a few birds pecking on some bread that fell on the cobbled streets. This is what it truly feels like to live in a city, I guess.

I walk down the street looking for some food to eat for breakfast. My stomach is also starting to rumble, signaling my hunger. As if God answers my heed for food, I see a stall selling baked goods. Next to that stall is a vendor that sells beveragesー syrups that one can mix in water. I start to make my way down towards the direction of the stalls. As I draw closer, the vendor catches me eyeing his bread.

"Oh, sir! Good morning! Would you perhaps fancy some bread?," The vendor seems to be in a good mood.

"Yes, how much for that one?," I point at a brown loaf of bread, as they always say that brown bread is healthier, "the brown one."

He takes hold of the brown bread and as if calculating the cost of the production, taxes, and actual labor, he starts to inspect it. "Since it is still morning, sir," he looks back at me, "I will give you a good price, three silver Diryani," a good price, indeed.

I nod and hand him the money, "Here, have a nice day," I tell him as he hands me the bread, now in a textile pouch.

"Have a nice day to you too, good sir," he bows slightly.Bookmark here

I also buy a small bottle of berry syrup as well as a jug of water to mix it with from the vendor next to the bread stall. The woman selling the syrups says she gathered the fruits from nearby forests. With these fruits, she boils them down into a syrup, putting a generous amount of sugar as a sweetener. A traditional way to make sweet berry juice, other than pressing the actual fruit itself. The price on a bottle of berry syrup seems to have actually risen, she says. Apparently, the rise of bandits in the area makes it hard for her to gather berries and other fruits from the nearby forests. She is afraid to be caught by the bandits and demanded money for her safety. I tell her that the school is also taking this situation very seriously right now and they will do everything they can to make sure everyone will be safe by dealing with the bandits. Her reaction is delightful as she cheers me up. A friendly lady, she is.

When I arrive back at May's house ーI cannot help but still call it that way, even though it is also my house now, May seems to be already awake as I hear footsteps going around the house. A quite violent way of walking, though. Going from one end of the house to the other. I stand at the entrance thinking about what she could have been doing. Maybe she was looking for something that I misplaced earlier in the library. Hopefully not, though. I am pretty sure I put the books I inspected in their correct order.

"Aura! Is that you downstairs?," she yells from the second floor after she heard me closing the door.

"Yes!," I reply also in a loud volume. It is common for us to communicate like this. We often have a loud volume when talking to each other, probably because of familiarity. I make my way up to the second floor ーwhere she was walking around wildly. She also seems to hurry over to my direction from the library.

As soon as she catches sight of me on the staircase, "where have you been?," she asks in a concerned tone, "I thought you ran away!"

It seems that she was afraid of me running away from her, the same way she ran away from her dad. I console her saying that I was just buying some food from the streets outside and showed her the bag of bread as well as the other things I bought. She breathes a sigh of relief and readies the table in the library for our breakfast. I mix the syrup with the jug of water, exactly like the friendly lady told me to: for every four parts of water, I add a part of syrup. A one to four ratio. May also takes out a jar of jam from one of the cupboards in the kitchen. A jam made of strawberries, the same strawberries from our garden in Orma.Bookmark here

As we relish the food and nostalgic taste of strawberries from our garden, we start to talk about our plans for the day.

"Do you have anything to do today?" She asks while munching on the brown bread. She never learned to not chew and speak at the same time. But I guess that's just her.

"Yes, actually, I do," I said, after swallowing a bite of my bread. "I plan on going to a friend ーif you can call it that wayー to help him with a ritual. He needs some of my blood, he said."Bookmark here

"Oh? That seems fun!," she seems to be surprised. "Can I join?"

I did not see why not, "sure," I reply.

"When is this?," she asks. "Do you know what time they are free?"

"No actually, I don't. But they own a pharmacy near the clocktower. They must be open by now."

"A pharmacy near the clocktower?" May asks again. "I think I know who owns that place. Is it Laurelia?"

"Yes, probably," I answer. "Andri Laurelia is his name."

"Oh really?," May's face seems to be surprised again. "I didn't know she had a son."

"She?," I do not know who she means.

"You shall see," her face now carves in a smile. "A good friend of mine."

We continue our friendly chat over some good food. A nostalgic feeling. This is how we usually spent our mornings together back in Orma. Although, back there, we did not have the luxuries of eating on a comfortable chair and a generously sized table. I am just happy to be with her. I did not ask her about the house back in Orma, trying not to ruin the current mood. I bet she managed everything well and there's nothing to be concerned about. She probably sold off the animals and left the house to Ilya ーOlen's wife. Olen and his wife were always there for us when we needed help and such. Their house wasn’t that far from our place, so we had no choice but to rely on each other sometimes.

"Do you want to go now?," May asks.

"Yeah," I reply, my clothes are wet, though. "I have to change really quick, first."

"Alright, do it fast," she tells me while I head back upstairs to my room. "I am also excited about meeting a friend of mine."Bookmark here

When we are all ready to go, we leave the house, and May locks it on her way out. She says that there is a shortcut to the area of the clocktower from the place, but I reply that I already know this. I send her into a laughing trip as I say my last line. Apparently, I am getting along just fine here in Dirya, she says. I do not know fully what she means by this, but I think that maybe she means that I am adapting just fine.Bookmark here

The walk towards the clocktower is fun; having May by my side is relaxing and her presence gives me a sense of security. Having a mother figure like her sure is nice. Something I didn't fully get to savor during my past life. . .Bookmark here

We arrive in the area of what seems to be the pharmacy. The pharmacy doesn’t have the grandeur of the surrounding shops ーboutiques, and other luxury stores. The sign on the top of the entrance, says 'Laurel Pharmacia' with a laurel leaf as their logo. May seems to be very excited about entering the place but our excitement is disrupted by a womanly figure going out of the pharmacy. Her face somewhat resembles Andri's, but without the nordic side. This must be his mother.

"May!," Andri's mom blurts out. "It's been such a long time!"

"Soolia!," May blurts back. "It has been a while, indeed! How are you?," as they near each other, they both have a soft and sweet embrace. I stand there awkwardly looking at the two women, seemingly friends, hugging each other, and exchanging friendly how-are-you's.

"Come in, come in!" Soolia invites us inside as she holds the door of the pharmacy open for us. She looks at me while I enter the place, "you must be the boy Andri mentioned," I nod, I cannot help but notice the incense-smelling aroma throughout the place. Soolia looks back at May who already entered the place before me, "I didn't realize you have a son."

"Neither did I know you have one," she replies.

They both seem to dodge the question they both asked themselves. Despite this, they continue their friendly chatter inside the pharmacy. The pharmacy is cozy, around the same size as the second floor of our house ーthe floor where the kitchen and library are. Inside the pharmacy is a counter with a glass front where one can see the inside ーfull of different kinds of vials and jars full of whatnot. There are also shelves surrounding the room full of what seems to be more medicine. I cannot help but admire the number of different medicines stored in one place. I wonder how much money these all add up to. Probably an amount that I cannot count.

"Oh, Aura." Soolia says, "Was it Aura?," I nod. "Andri is waiting for you in the back," she informs me in a friendly tone. She seems to want to continue their friendly chat in private, though. She shows me to the back of the pharmacy, just behind the counter and a few steps in between two of the shelves of medicines. Apparently, this room is where they make the medicines displayed in front. Once I enter the room, I cannot help but be stunned at the number of supplies they have for making medicine; different sizes of mortars, more vials, more jars, more this, and more that. An astonishing sight and it seems that the incense smell is also permeating into this room even more heavily. I have never gone into the workshop of a pharmacist, even in my past life.Bookmark here

"Mom?," a familiar voice comes from the back of the room ーbetween shelves of supplies. Andri's voice.

"Aura is here." She replies.

Without further ado, Andri makes his way in our direction. "Aura! Welcome!," Andri says as he catches a glimpse of me. His face looks somewhat tired, probably from experimentation.

"Look at you!," his mom also notices his tired face. "You didn't sleep again, didn't you?"

He laughs it off and his mom pouts. Soolia makes her way back to May. I cannot help but also laugh a little at the reaction of his mom. A very concerned mother.

After laughing about it for a while, "Why don't we start the ritual?" Andri says.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.