The sun had come all too soon as Drina felt the poking at her side. Grumbling, she rolled over into the guard of the bed.
“Give me a few more minutes, Ocan.” All throughout the night she had struggled to sleep, Hestar’s lips the only dream she could conjure. It made for a very uncomfortable rest, one she wished to have spent the extra coin to sleep in her own bed instead of staring with her sister. It never bothered her in the past to sleep beside her, she cared very much for Ocan. Drina only just wished for solace to her pent-up tension and being in close quarters only made it embarrassing. She expected to hear the voice of her sister retorting, yet the voice speaking made her jump.
“My, what a little sleepy head. If you keep on you’ll miss midday.”
The owner of the hostel Lulu stood just near the foot of the bunk, Ocan smiling beside her as they waited for her.
“This one has been up for hours now, helping around while she waited for you. Poor thing was hungry but wouldn’t eat until you got up. I don’t usually do this for all the guests, but I made lunch for you both. On the house, yet the next meal will cost you.”
Drina rubbed at her eyes to remove the sleep, sitting up with a stretch. “You didn’t have to do that, we brought food we could eat.”
Before Drina could fight her any further, Lulu waved her off. “Nonsense, this is also to help thank Ocan for her help cleaning this morning. When you are fully up, we will be in the common room.”
Lulu chuckled light-heartedly, patting Ocan on the back as she turned and walked towards the hall. Drina quietly psted, catching Ocan’s attention before she followed. It was a look of concern, hoping she would understand her worry. Ocan returned her look with a wide grin. She checked around her before leaning in to whisper in their mother tongue.
“It’s ok, I helped her cook it and no one is around. I’ll be safe until you join us.”
Her tone was no more comforting than Lulu, they hardly knew anyone here and she wandered about casually without her around. What has gotten into her? Drina flopped back down on the bed, staring at the roof with a frown. It was really no surprise really though, since Drina was also being careless. Loosening up on her powers, kissing Hestar, and allowing Ocan to just leave her sight? These were things she would never have done in the past. Either way, there was no changing the present, only just pushing on to the future. Siting up on her elbows, Drina looked over to the other side of the room, where Hestar’s bunk was in view. It was empty as were all of the beds. Everyone must have been out and about with their day, and here she was being lazy. For a brief moment, it all felt nice. With a huff, she decided to get up, grabbing the bag at the head of the bed to pull out soap and some fresh garments. Taking everything with her, she went into the shower area and cleaned herself. Both her and Ocan only had few clothes, and mostly wore their travel gear. At least the hostel here had a place to wash their clothes if they chose to. For now, this would be enough to head down to the festival and seek out the leader who ran it. Maybe she could score a spot to make some money. It would help them continue their way and even afford boat fare.
Finishing up, she slung the bag over her shoulder and made her way to the common room. Ocan was right, the place was empty and the only voices she could hear was the two of them. Entering the common room, there was a divider in the middle separating the eating area and the lounge. The left side held several couches lining around the walls and a few chairs in the middle around a playing table. The right had counters and ovens to cook with tables about. Drina thought about if she had taken up the offer to follow Hestar last night, which couch would they have continued on. The thought made her blush, her steps quickened as she rushed over to the table beside Ocan. A small meal had been plated for her, causing her stomach to growl at the sight of it. When was the last time she had a full meal other than the dried lizard jerky she had made over several days in their journey? Two full sausages cooked over a grill, a heaping pile of rice and egg, and a baked yam overfilled her plate.
Without greeting them, Drina grabbed her fork and knife and cut into the sausage. The moment it hit her lips, she let out a moan as the flavor took over. It was juicy, tender and easy to chew. Hardly finished chewing, she shoved her mouth full of rice before swallowing it all. Taking the glass to her side, she guzzled the freshly chilled water before grabbing the small dinner roll beside her plate and tore a chunk out of it. Lula’s laughter filled the room, startling Drina at first. She shot her eyes up at her, watching her wipe a tear from her eyes while she chewed slowly.
“Both you girls! The way you eat, it’s like you have never eaten food before!”
Ocan giggled, watching Drina as she slowly chewed at her bread. “Drina makes us jerky from whatever she catches. It tastes dry and gritty. Sometimes we find berries or fruit but those are always bitter.”
Drina couldn’t help but feel offended. With her mouth still full, she complained loudly. “Ahhh, you eat it though! Sorry it’s not as yummy as this.”
Grumpily, she took another swig of the water. It was relieving to have something so fresh and not just from their bota. Lulu laughed alongside Ocan. Drina knew she meant well, yet the sting still hurt. Turning back to her food, she shovelled a few more mouths full of rice and ate the rest of the one sausage. Cutting into her yam, she caught Lulu’s eyes.
“Do you know anything about the festival in town?”
Lulu’s smile faded a little at the mention of it. “Yes, the Steaua lunii festival. Are you here because of that?”
It wasn’t originally the reason why, but after Hestar’s reading and the danger she might be in, Drina couldn’t stop the feeling that they were meant to be here. “At first no, we were only to pass through. But, since we are here, I might as well find work.”
Lulu suspiciously eyed her, leaning back in her chair like a defensive mother.
“How did you hear about the festival?”
Drina slowed her chewing, the feeling of a kid being caught doing something bad chilling her. She looked to Ocan first, then back over to Lulu. “One of the guests spoke of it.”
Ocan perked up. “Was it Hestar?”
Drina’s eyes shot wide. How did she know? She was sleeping the entire time they had spoke! She dropped her jaw as Ocan grinned.
“She came to say good morning to me before she left while you slept. Asked me how I slept. She’s really pretty.”
Her face flushed red at Ocan’s comment. Yes, Hestar was indeed, yet why did she stop to ask Ocan how she slept? Was it because of her nightmare? At least now the cat was out of the bag as Drina looked to Lulu’s disappointed frown.
“Hestar. That girl is trouble! Always sticking her nose where it shouldn’t be. You be careful of that one. She may be like a daughter to me, but she stirs up whirlwinds like the gods themselves!”
Rubbing at her chin, Drina tried to hide the grin on her face. Oh she stirs up something alright, she thought naughtily. Lula tsked, picking up her thoughts as she waved at her hopelessly. Ocan bounced between them, unsure of what she missed. Drina smiled at her dear sister.
“Well that was very nice of her. Maybe we will see her again tonight.” At the same time a small voice spoke within her, and maybe pick up where we left off. Lulu shook her head, uncrossing her arms to fold her rag she had on her to clean.
“If you're going to the festival, what kind of work do you do?”
Drina stuck a small piece of yam in her mouth, chewing as she thought. There was no use hiding their origins since Hestar already knew. Plus with more of their kind, maybe they could meet someone who could help give safe passage to the next town over. Drina knew it was all a gamble, and she was hoping she was placing down the right cards.
“I can read fortunes.”
Ocan spoke out abruptly, excitement getting the better of her as she yelled it loudly.
“She can also commune with the dead! She’s really good at it!”
“Ocan!” Drina slammed her hands to the table, looking about as she lowered her head.
Lulu reached out to touch Ocan on the shoulder as she pouted. Slouching in the chair, she apologized. “Sorry.”
Lulu nodded. “It’s ok child. You must not talk much about yourselves that you got carried away. It happens.” Looking over at Drina she continued. “You will definitely be able to get work then. Most of the participants are entertainers. But you must be careful, the town may accept your kind here during the festival, but once it is over you won’t be as celebrated.”
Drina huffed with a frown. “I know. Being part of the event will just put a target on our backs. Will we be safe enough to stay here a few nights longer?”
With a grand smile, Lulu reassured her. “It will always be safe here for travellers. You have my word.”
“Good. Would you happen to know the person in charge? I’ll head out as soon as I am done with this meal.”
Lulu stood up from the table, grabbing the water jug to refill it. “It seems that I just so happen to.”
With a smile, Drina nodded. Good, at least she won’t waste much time. With the festival celebration lasting only a few days, maybe she could stop whatever danger was riding in the not-so-distant future.