~ Vijfday, 10th of Aprilis, 11831 ~
“What do you wish to do today?” Pierre asked Elizabeth. They had had breakfast together, Síofra and Wolfram accompanying them, but nothing was yet planned. Having met most everyone the first and second day he wanted to take at least the morning of the third to do as he pleased. He hoped it would be something with Elizabeth.
“Let us go into town,” Lizzy said. “It will not be half as fun when you are well-known and cannot be anonymous. And I have never been in such a large city.”
“Then we shall go into town.”
An hour later they met at the front door, dressed for a nice day out. Pierre’s suit was a mix of blacks and greys, a red ascot accenting the outfit and matching the gems that were in his cane. Elizabeth wore a fairly simple blue dress, though with an ivory corset and lace drapery. Her hair was pinned up with a few tendrils left loose to accent her face. Síofra, who was coming along as a chaperon, had clothes not as modern, a shimmering gold-green dress with long flowing sleeves. Her hair was let loose to catch the light.
“Shall we?” Pierre asked, holding out his elbow for Elizabeth. The comte’s daughter took up her suitor’s offer on his left side and they made their way into the front gardens. Síofra walked on his other side but did not take his arm, leaving his hand free to hold his cane and use the weapon if it was needed.
It was a warm day and flowers already filled the landscape, bringing bright colors and lovely scents. The château was beyond the main town some-a-ways, with the land around it mainly gardens, stables, and other niceties that could be afforded of the duchy’s ruler. They had seen some of this from the carriage ride up, but had not had time to take it in otherwise. A carriage waited by the stables to take them into the city.
“Perhaps we may walk?” Elizabeth said looking up into the cloudless sky. “It is not terribly far and Síofra lent me some of her more comfortable shoes. It is a lovely day. And I have had enough of carriages for now.”
“That would be nice,” Pierre agreed. “We can always ride back if we need to. And I still owe you a pair of new shoes, darling, maybe we can commission a comfortable set like what you are wearing now.” He waved off the carriage, thanking the driver for his time.
Síofra now took the lead, having been in town a handful of times before, though mostly it was to give Pierre and Elizabeth some semblance of privacy.
The dirt road became cobbled and soon small homes and farms filled their view. A half hour later a great open gate announced the way into the city proper, large stone walls surrounding even higher townhouses and buildings. Several carriages lined the street waiting to be rented for an hour or a day, and a stable rented space for travelers who were there on their own horse and wanted to leave the animal behind. There were other stalls as well that sold news or offered carrier services.
Elizabeth could not stop looking around. She had never been in such a large city before, among the people like this, and she was only at the edge of it! She took comfort in that Pierre seemed just as amazed, but that might be due to the thought that this was his city.
“And here,” Síofra said to them then, turning around and walking backwards a few steps as she continued to speak, “my dear nephew and future niece-in-law, I will leave you to your own devices. Be good, and if not, don’t be caught!” She smiled and dashed off in a seemingly random direction away from the couple. She wanted to find something nice to give to a man that had caught her eye in Pierre’s entourage.
“Niece-in-law,” Elizabeth whispered under her breath, shaking her head, sure that that was not an official form of kin and trying not to be too embarrassed by it.
“I suggest you become used to this, I can only imagine the teasing will get worse after we are actually married,” Pierre whispered back to her. He tightened his hold on her arm and when she glanced up to him he kissed her quickly.
“Now, I do believe I owe you a pair of shoes, my lady!” Pierre said before Lizzy could comment about how informally they were already speaking of their marriage. He was not sure when he had decided it exactly, but sometime before her illness it had become a strong possibility and after it was a certainty to him.
He led her across the street to where the shops began. At the other side he gently took her hand off of his left arm, kissed her knuckles, and moved to wrap his right arm around her before passing his cane back to his left. Now he was on the side nearer the street and the one in more danger should a horse spook or something else go awry. Lizzy snuggled into his side as they began to look at the displays.
They were in no rush and entered several stores while searching for the shoe-maker. Elizabeth bought some small things that could be easily carried back, making note where the tailor and seamstress were. She would return another day with Síofra and perhaps Maiolaine to commission more clothes for the summer. Or perhaps there was a seamstress at the château already that could be asked to expand her wardrobe. A couple of pre-made dresses would not go amiss either.
They eventually found themselves at the town square, a large open area that was the center and heart of Spadille. A grand church and its grounds took up a whole side and along the other three there were guild houses and the town hall. Some restaurants and an inn also advertised themselves in the lower floors of the buildings, and signs showed that that the hospital was not far down the main street. The square itself was filled with entertainers and stands selling everything from toys and drink to bird-seed for the pigeons that flocked to the area.
There they too wandered for a while, buying chilled spiced wine to share, and even some treats for the birds.
“Oh, Pierre, look! Do you think this is a cobbler?” There was small shop in the corner of a large building, the sign out front easy to pass by if one did not know it was there already. There was no name, but only the image of a shoe with butterfly wings on it as decoration.
They entered, Pierre opening the door for Elizabeth and a bell ringing above their heads announced them. It was a cobblers, and Lizzy went to look at some of the shoes on display while Pierre looked around the empty shop with narrowed eyes. He stepped closer to her.
Shortly after this a man came out from the back and Pierre kept himself between the shopkeeper and his love. Perhaps they would make polite excuses and go find another store that was further away and less eerily empty during what should be a busy time.
“Bonjour! Welcome, welcome. How may I help mademoiselle and monsieur today?”
Lizzy turned around before Pierre could lead them out. “Oh, bonjour monsieur! I would like to commission a pair of shoes quite like which I am wearing right now—they have been borrowed from a friend. Would such a thing be possible?”
“Of course. Please, mademoiselle, if I could look at them?”
Elizabeth sat on the offered bench and lifted her skirt up just enough to show her shoes. They had no heel and were quite low on the foot as well, not rising up past the ankle. A single clasped strap at the front kept the shoes on her feet. She then wiggled her foot and let one of them fall to the ground before picking it up and handing it to the shoemaker.
“They are simple, but well made,” he began commenting, almost to himself, “and they can be walked in for quite a time comfortably when they are custom made. The ones you are wearing as somewhat too big for you, though, so I would be careful with how far you walk today, you may end up with blisters and pains.”
“We’ll ride back then,” Pierre said. He stood beside Elizabeth, eyes not leaving the shoemaker. Something felt different about him and it made the duc tense. There had to be a reason that this shop was empty when all others had been at least half-full.
“Ah,” the shoemaker cried, “These were made in Faery! I take it back, my lady, they will not give you blisters no matter how much you walk in them.” He hesitated a moment before glancing to Pierre and then back to her. “I can, if it would please you, imbue your new shoes with a similar bit of magic?”
“That would be lovely! Merci. How much more shall that cost?” Elizabeth asked. She had not noticed exactly how fearful the man had been of revealing he could do such things, but Pierre did. Surely such benefits should have been the main selling point of this shop, that there was someone fée or fay and had enough magia to enchant your shoes.
The man’s eyes were wide as if he had not thought about asking to charge for such a service.
“For you, mademoiselle, it will be no extra cost. They will be done in a se’nnight, shall I have them sent to your home or will mademoiselle prefer to come pick them up?”
“We will return,” Pierre replied. “It is nice in town and a planned day here will break up what work we have at the time.”
“Of course, thank you, monsieur. Mademoiselle, would you prefer any specific colors or metals used?”
“Surprise me,” Lizzy replied. “I trust your knowledge and good taste, monsieur.”
The shoemaker looking to Pierre before handing him Lizzy’s shoe and allowed him to slip it back onto her foot before helping her stand.
“You go on ahead, my dear,” Pierre said. “I said I would buy these for you and I shall. I will be right behind you.” Lizzy kissed his cheek in appreciation and went to look at some of the shops on the other side of the street.
Pierre asked the price and paid the fay shoemaker, handing him a quarter-livre in addition to the half-livre he was told would be the cost.
“Monsieur, I cannot—”
“Take it. Such things are deserving of pay. Can you tell me why you did not wish to mention it at first?”
“It is not always well-received, being fay here in Spadille. But I saw her shoes and I believe her accent is from around Eichel, so I thought I would offer.”
“‘Not well-received,’” Pierre repeated. That explained the empty shop. “I will keep that in mind. Thank you, monsieur.”
“If I may ask, who are you that this matter is something for you to note?”
He supposed his anonymity would not stay that way for very long anymore.
“I am Pierre Salvador, heir to Piques.”
“And what did you buy?” Lizzy asked. Síofra and she were heading back to their rooms to put away their purchases. Pierre had reluctantly been parted from them by a formal summons to have tea.
“A gift for a man,” the fay-girl replied. “I find myself interested in getting to know one of His Grace’s advisors more, I thought a token would be nice.”
“Generally it is the man that buys the woman gifts.”
“Oh? I suppose, but I do not think he will mind receiving something. And did you not buy His Grace a gift?”
“I bought him a journal as appreciation for my shoes. It is not the same thing.”
“Of course not.”
“Hmph. Shall you tell me which man has your fancy, or will I have to guess?”
“Oh, guess first!”
“Let us see… a few are married, so I suppose they are not the receivers, true?”
“Of course not,” Síofra said, sticking out her tongue at her friend.
“Oui, not Charlot.”
She shook her head. “Though he seems kind,” she added.
“Lord Renaud then? He is pleasing to look at, though I have not spoken much with him.”
Síofra nodded, “Yes! And neither have I truly spoken with him at length, but I wish to. He has been watching me when he believes I do not see.”
In Elizabeth’s room now Síofra borrowed a pen and scribbled a quick note to be placed with the packaged gift. She would leave it by his door.
“What did you write?” Lizzy asked, putting a new pot of ink next to the one that the other girl had just used. The book she bought, a fiction, she would put at her bedside, and the ribbons for her hair went in a drawer.
“‘Perhaps you will think of me when you next write a letter,’” Síofra read. “It is a dip-pen with streaks of red, gold, and green. It reminded me of the forest at the beginning of autumn.”
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