Chapter Three, Scene One: Jazel (Nightingale) il’Kaleb

On August 31, 2014 by T.
Jazel (Nightingale) il'Kaleb

Jazel (Nightingale) dressed to kill.
Photo by NightsongWS @deviantart.com

After working with a friend (thanks Ayrosa) on revising chapter one, I finally was able to get chapter three fully completed.

This chapter is very intense, and begins to set things in motion for the big conflict building at the end of Act One. It also introduces another point-of-view character, Jazel il’Kaleb, and her alter-ego Nightingale.

Hope this is an enjoyable introduction. Jazel is more than meets the eye.

The Three of Pentacles

The Stave and the Shroud: Chapter Three, Scene One

Jazel stitched the final pearls on the white corset, whistling a lively tune that she had been practicing for a few weeks.

“Father,” she stretched the small jacket in front of her, then gave the back side a careful look. “I can’t believe I finished on time.”

“You did well,” Kaleb inspected his daughter’s work. The rest of the dress outfitted a wooden mannequin in the center of their small room. “I am very proud.” He kissed her on the forehead, and slipped on his sandals.

“Are you off so early?”

“Keeper’s put me on lighting duty today,” Kaleb said whipping his belt around his waist and tying it with uncanny dexterity for a one-handed man. “Means I have to go to the storage to get oil and candles, then inspect all lanterns and fireplaces, and finally report to the master candler. That’s before I even light the first fire. You?”

“We have a fitting in the afternoon,” Jazel admired the child-sized dress. “Isn’t it lovely?”

“Lady Mery will be pleased,” he nodded adjusting his silver medallion around his neck.

“Do you think she will like it? I don’t know what else I can do to please her,” Jazel frowned. “I tell you, father, the girl is a demon. She speaks with animals, she collects garbage, and she smells like a Fellman. I don’t know how we are going to fit her into this dress. Or how long it will last before she rips it apart.”

Kaleb laughed, parting his daughter’s hair with his calloused black hand. “My dear child,” he said. “Laiyana is like a wild horse. She will come around on her own pace. Don’t try to tame her.”

Jazel smiled and hugged him dearly. “I know,” she said. “But it’s Lady Mery who wants everything perfect for the Ball. She is very nervous with all that’s happened.”

Kaleb nodded. “Do you have news of the Baron?”

“He worsens,” she said with a heavy tone. “Lady Mery is worried about him, about her children’s future. About her brother. She’s scared, father.”

“She should be,” Kaleb said. “If only the Baron had named Teren his heir earlier, no one could have challenged his will. Now that the coward son has returned, it’s anyone’s guess,” he spat on the floor.

“We must support Lord Teren,” Jazel tried to hide her fondness of Teren in her voice. “Well, at least Lady Laiyana will be debuted tomorrow. Solves one of the problems.”

Kaleb chuckled. “You and I know that problem will not be solved with marriage.” The two of them shared a laugh. Then someone knocked at the door.

Kaleb opened the door and Jazel peeked from behind him. It was a squire, holding out a note.

“It’s for her,” he said, presenting the paper.

Before Kaleb had a chance to pick it up, Jazel lunged from her chair and collected the message. “That will be all,” she said. “Thank you.” She left the squire outside with a perplexed look on his face. Jazel put the message inside her sash and smiled at her father.

“Well,” Kaleb said uncomfortably. “Suppose I better be off, then.” He kissed her on the forehead again and walked out of the room.

Jazel followed her father’s footsteps with her ears and counted to fifty after he was gone. She breathed in and picked up the note. It had to be Teren’s. He hasn’t written to her in over a moon. She loved it when he did, he could be so romantic with words.

She put the note against her chest, wishing for good news, and quickly unscrambled the paper. It was not what she had hoped for:

Trying to stop this madness.

Cancel the meeting.

Sorry.

TB

“No,” she crumpled the note forcefully, her hands shaking with the strength of her grip. Teren knew how difficult it had been for her to arrange this meeting. Of all of the days, today was the most important part of their plan. Their future together depended upon this very appointment, and whatever arrangement came out of it. What would she say? How could she cancel a meeting with someone like him?

“You can’t do this to me,” she spoke to the letter, tears forming under her eyes. Fearful tears. “I can’t do this alone!”

Yet, somewhere deep inside her, she felt that was her destiny. She would, sooner or later, end up alone. This fantasy, this romance, was doomed from the start. She wanted to believe in it, but how could she love a Lord? They were bound for different destinies long before they were born. They couldn’t change their stars.

I have to do this alone, she thought. I’d better get used to it.

Jazel threw the paper in the fire and knelt in front of her bed. She reached underneath it and pulled out a heavy trunk. Using the key strapped around her neck, she unlocked the trunk, and propped the lid up against the wooden bed frame.

Inside was a purple pair of pants made of silk, the kind used by dancers. It tied around the waist and the ankles by golden bands. The pants were baggy and freed her legs for all sorts of movements. Also in the luggage was the top piece of her dancing outfit: a red silk bustier so light she felt naked wearing it. It only covered her breasts, barely, veil-like strands swayed from the shoulders and from below the chest. There was a belt made of laced gold coins, a necklace of the same fashion, a brass anklet that rattled when she walked, and gilded fingerless gloves.

This was no servant’s dress. Jazel untied her clothes and carefully folded it back in the trunk. She put her dancer outfit on and measured herself in the small silver mirror. She looked ready. Jazel tied her hair up with a red silk lace, using the ends of the lace to mask her face like a veil, so that only her eyes were uncovered.

Jazel reached into the trunk and picked up the pair of scimitars she used to perform her sword dance. She tied the scabbards on her golden belt. Then, her bamboo flute, which she strapped around her back, crossing her shoulder blades. Finally, she threw a black mantle over the outfit, pulling the hood closer to her face.

She was just about ready to leave, when she remembered her father’s sword. She would have lost all her credibility if she didn’t have it with her. She opened his dresser and there it was, hanging from the top bar: Ivory Tusk, sharpest blade in all of Arkaria, if only the blade had not been broken. But no one knew about that part. The pommel was a golden elephant’s head, its trunk and tusks protruding and forming the hilt. The blade itself was bone-white, made from the tooth of a giant. The sword gave Jazel a sense of confidence. With it, she looked deadly.

Dressed to perform, there was no Jazel anymore. They called her Nightingale.

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