“Very well. Am I dismissed, then?”
“Yes, yes,” he nodded, waving his hand. “And be quick about it. We leave just after the Shadow ends.”
With that, she removed herself from his presence, though she was careful not to seem too hasty. As she walked down the porcelain and velvet halls back to her room, she realized that a small part of her was actually excited to get out of the house. She had only been to Tal’Doraken once, and she could barely stand on her own two legs then. She could have asked for better company, of course, but her father sapping the joy in her bones in a new and exciting place had to be better than him doing it here.
When she got back to her room, she immediately opened the trunk at the foot of her bed and began emptying it. It was mostly filled with clothes, but she kept some of her writing implements, older notes, and a few failed experiments. She removed these, as well, since they would be no use to her in the city.
The chest vacated, she thought about what she might need. The chest was a bit large for travel purposes, but that just meant she had more room for whatever she might need. Clothes, of course. No doubt her father would want her to wear dresses the entire time. A few books perhaps. Some history and art works to appease her father, and a copy of a scientific journal written by a scholar from Thornwall that Gaelin had given her for her birthday.
She thought about bringing her new research about the dot. Maybe learned people in Tal’Doraken would be able to verify the authenticity of her findings. Her father wouldn’t approve, though, and he would probably want her at his side at all times. There was no reason to bring her notes, then. She did grab her spyglass and put it in the trunk, however. Not for notes, but perhaps she could find a few moments to sneak away and look at the stars.
She couldn’t think of much else to bring. Personal effects aside, anything she might need would be brought by the servants or easily purchased in the city. Her own coin might come in handy, though. She crawled under her desk and pulled her secret coin purse from behind one of the legs. Nearly two hundred dragon marks, last time she checked. In addition to what she carried around with her, it was enough to buy her own horse-drawn carriage, which sounded much more appealing than accompanying her father in one all the way to the city.
Placing her savings under her dresses, she closed the lid. It was still relatively light, given the contents, and still had for room for twice as much besides. She could probably lift it herself, if she was so inclined, but that was what servants were for.
Leaving her room again, she went to find the nearest one–an older housekeeper that was dusting one of the hallway shelves. “I need you to go find Gaelin and have him move my trunk in my bedroom to the carriage outside?”
“Gaelin, miss?” she asked, putting her duster on her belt. She looked confused, but didn’t object outright.
Sensing what she meant, Esmina stopped her. “Right. The arm. Actually, go have some of the normal servants do it. Just don’t spend too much time in my room.”
The confusion shifted into a subtle hint of annoyance, but she nodded and left the other direction.
That done, she set off in search of Gaelin. She wasn’t halfway down the hall when he stepped outside of her father’s room, head down as he closed the door behind him.
“Gaelin!” she said, excited. “Did he tell you? Are you coming?”
He rubbed his bandaged arm and didn’t meet her gaze. “I’m afraid not, miss. He asked me to stay here to tend to the manor.”
“Tend to the manor? Gaelin, we have dozens of servants. Why do you need to be here?”
He shrugged. “He’s given me a long list of duties I must attend to. You know how he is.”
She frowned. “All too well. Have you been to Tal’Doraken?”
“A few times, yes.”
“Is it as nice as they say?”
“I don’t know who would s– well, miss, it depends on what you’re going for, I suppose.”
“Father didn’t say.”
“He does like his secrets,” Gaelin mused. The shadows on his face deepened as he said that.
“Well, I’ll be sure to bring you back something. And when we return, I’ll tell you what I figured out with all my notes!”
He nodded. “Yes, I’m sure we’ll have much to discuss. Go wait in the carriage, I’ll let your father know you are prepared.