Reshuffled (part 8)

Raphael explored the Governor’s House thoroughly starting with the kitchen. The main room could host a hundred people. Stairs on the left and the right were leading up to rooms on a mezzanine. An archway below it was leading to an inner courtyard. A tall, wooden door on the right of the main room led to the dining room, another one on the left led to a library. Two guards were posted by the stairs. Raphael stepped into the dining room to his right. Ten people could sit at that long, rectangular, wooden table. Only one person was sitting there at the moment; Michael. He was sipping on a cup of fuming liquid staring in his brother’s green eyes.

– Do you like it?

– The house? Of course. It’s beautiful. This People is very talented. You did always loved builders.

Michael relaxed some it seemed and he smiled.

– Let me give you the tour. Let’s walk over here. We will be leaving the dining room where the Governor receives officials and friends. We now enter the kitchen. Meet Sati. She feeds us all here with delicious meals from all kinds of rare ingredients.

The woman behind the marble counters had dark red skin, dark long hair and a wide smile. She wore coloured beads around her neck and in her hair.

– Where do you get these rare ingredients? Raphael asked

– From the Forest, my Lord. May I ask the Governor, what it is he prefers to eat?

– You know potato roots? Raphael said walking up to her. She nodded her head yes. I will have some of those in the morning with eggs.

They tenderly smiled at each other.

– Alright. Said Michael. Let’s continue this way to the courtyard. The trees were all here when they built this house. Left, you go back to the main room through the arches, in front here to the office, the library and the study hall. On the right the stairs lead to the second floor where all the rooms are. I am heading upstairs to pack. We can meet back here when the sun rises again.

– Oh, alright. I might go through all the books in the Library tonight.

– …Perhaps I will join you later for tea.

– You are travelling?

– In the morning. we are heading North. There were stars that fell over there on the full moon before your arrival. Eve and I wanted to lead an expedition to find out more. Maybe we can do that now since you are in charge.

– How long has it been since you’ve been to Light House?

– The Light House, eh… I can show you the Light House when I return.

Michael turned his back to his brother taking the path upstairs. He climbed the wooden stairs, with his traditional severe attitude about him. But Raphael could see clearly now that this Michael was not the one he knew. His brother seemed to have a different idea of what Light House was.

Raphael stared at the garden under the early rising moon The red bricks and the dark wood surrounded a lush square of land where two lilac trees prospered by a boulder. Pink butterflies were flying in the bare branches. Images started flowing through his mind. He saw a volcanic world where only the toughest of creatures could live. He saw Michael, the grand angel land and touch a perfect squared black stone in a ceremony witnessed by a male and female humanoids.

Raphael heard a door close upstairs abruptly returning him to reality.

Let’s find out more about this builder race and their origins.

Raphael walked through the door leading to the office. The mansion was lit by torches, and candles. The office seemed like a wonderful place to sit and write. The wooden cabinets aligned on the walls, the wooden desk and padded chair were all that was to be seen in this room. The library on the other side of the door, led back to the main room to the left or forward to the study hall. A warm fire was burning in the hearth. Comfortable chairs and benches were distributed in the room, libraries were covering all walls and Raphael knew he was home. He thought he would start with the oldest books he could find. He wandered around noticing the guards in the main room chatting among them. He scanned rapidly the rows of books mostly bounded with the same thick green leather. The bright yellow pages were obviously made from the golden wheat he landed on. These people are very talented, Raphael thought. He took out books torn or heavily used and put them on the low oval table in the middle of the room. He noticed eight stands, waist high holding an object under glass in the corners of the room. The first he looked at contained a carved knife like the one he saw on the man Adam. This one was made with some sort of white glass. The edges of the blade seemed to have been sliced cleanly off. The origin of these people is key to solving the mystery of this planet. Raphael turned oddly inspired to the two guards by the stairs leaving the books on the table behind him. The two guards banged their feet to resume attention while four guards entered the Mansion escorting Eve. She walked in with a smile on her face and without a care in the world. She took her shoes off and started running toward the staircase on the right. Midway she turned to the left and saw Raphael standing there.

– Oh! Governor. I did not see you there.

– You seemed to be in a hurry.

– Yes. I am leaving on an expedition in the morning. She smiled and ran up the stairs. It is good to be relieved from command. I shall greatly enjoy it.

She opened the door the farthest to the right and closed it behind her. Raphael could hear her giggle still. He resumed his progress toward the kitchen followed by Eve’s escort who apparently were also off-duty and looking to celebrate.

– I will have some shrimps. Said one of them while sitting at the table.

Raphael noticed the yellow ribbon on this man’s chest indicating he was high guard. All wore the ribbon sitting at the table. They all took their blue vests off and resting them on the back of the chairs. Sati came in from the kitchen side with two clay jugs and six cups balanced in her hands. Raphael sat with them, took the cup that was offered to him by the high guard and they all drank up their portion of wine in unison.

– Anything else you would like, Daniel? He shook his head no. What about you? She looked at the others.

– Will you join us for dinner? Asked Raphael

– Sure. Why not?

She turned and disappeared in the kitchen where she sang above the noise of the cutlery. Raphael turned to the other three guards.

– And who might you be?

The one to his right answered first.

– I am High Guard Simon, Sir. To my right is High Guard Thomas and over there is High Guard Sand. We are milady’s escort.

– Simon. How did you become a guard?

– Well, sir, that is a great question. I love to tell that story. The other guards squirmed. It seemed they had heard that story already. Sir, my father, my grandfather, his father and his grandfather all served under the captain’s orders. Not everyone among my people were excited about building a city. We have been building cities for generations before coming here. Some of us wanted to explore this new world. The captain had no interest in politics or business. He started taking the strongest of us on exploration trips through the forest, the prairies, by the ocean and up the Grey Mountain.  We have the most incredible experiences we can dream of. We meet mysterious creatures. Encounter spirits. We were made prisoners by wild tribes from the desert. The captain and his guards discover new places and new peoples of this realm. He deals with them. Back in Union, hundreds of us are training to be picked to serve him. Everyone is welcome to try and everyone has a chance. Today, we are honoured he chose us to guard the most precious thing in this world. Even if it means listening to politicians talk.

Thomas spoke next.

– But you Sir, you are like him are you not?

– Incredible experiences do happen in my presence as well. Of a different sort. Perhaps they would seem less exciting to you.

– I mean, do you come from the stars?

– I can safely answer yes to that question. If I understand correctly, Daniel, you are all free of duty until further notice?

Daniel had a serious look on his face. Unlike the other guards at the table he was still fully dressed.

– Could we be of assistance to you, Sir?

– Actually yes. I thought maybe after assisting to so many diplomatic meetings you and your team would enjoy some excitement.

The four guards were listening closely while Sati entered the dining room with crisp shrimps on plates that she distributed to everyone.

My mission is to make contact with the one you call heart of the forest. I may require support.

Sati, the guards and Daniel stared at him in silence for a moment.

– You mean talking to her? Daniel asked.

– Unclear at this time. We will see how events unfold. I’m leaving tomorrow after breakfast. Be here with your team if you wish to accompany me. I would benefit from those who have already explored the forest and know more than me about what is lurking. I hear People are living inside the Forest. You could introduce me. But enough about tomorrow, we can deal with that later.  Let’s eat!

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