The Book of Drakara

The Falling Star Inn

He sits back with a pain filled grunt, a weary sigh escaping his lips, his eyes half closing as he watches the young room maid tidy his room. She is a petite girl, and no more than ten or so and humming a familiar tune. His eyes open wide as he looks hard at her, his jaw dropping slowly open. Jaral clears his throat roughly, causing her to jump and look at him with wide green eyes that peek from under her blonde bangs.

"Girl, what is your name?"

"Jessara Master . . . is there something you need?" Her voice is like a rush of cold water through his mind, a long distant memory of another voice so similar seeming to echo through hers.

"No girl . . . err Jessara. Is your mother named Jess?"

"Yes Master, is that all you need Master?"

He shakes his head at her, his eyes still wide with shock. "No Jessara. I need nothing more, can you send your mother up please?" Jaral sits back again with a wince, his hand reaching shakily for the mug of ale at his elbow. He sips the ale, trying to quench his thirst, as his thoughts tumble one over the other. He starts as a throat clears behind him, regaining his feet and looks at the small woman there.

Her face is like her daughter’s, but the grey eyes and black hair do not. “What do you want Jaral?" her fingers knotting around the apron of a serving woman that she wears over her plain blue linen tunic and breaches.

He reaches out, his fingers gently grasping her shoulders in a firm grip. "Why is she here? Working like a servant? Does my father know?"

"Your father knows Jar, and he hasn't said or done anything . . .” She looks up at him, her eyes showing her naked fear. "Please Jaral, she doesn't know, please don't take her away! She's all I have left of us!"

"So the old bastard decided this and not to tell Me." he snarls, his fingers releasing her as he feels her start to tremble beneath his tightening grip. "I . . . "I'm sorry Jess, if I had known, I would have come back sooner . . . “he straightens, looking down at her pale drawn features, ones that he once and still loves deeply. "She is my heir. You already know why I am returning, my younger brother is dead, and the old bastard is dying. If something should happen to me, she must be trained to take my place. You must tell her Jess, tell her who she is. Go fetch my daughter Jess, please." Jaral sighs sadly watching her leave the room weeping. His left hand reaches up rubbing his heated brow as he closes his tired green eyes briefly. Silently he swears at his father for denying him and Jess all those years before, and now this. "I will have an answer old man. You had no right to do this to her or me!" He slams his left fist into his right hand, looking up quickly as he feels the floor shift in the hallway of the old inn. He softens his features into a smile, brushing his unruly blonde hair out of his face. Jaral's features falling into grim lines as a short and stocky man enters the room, the one he had met earlier as the inn keeper.

"You are Jess' husband now I presume?" he looks the man up and down, noting the strong build, broad shoulders, and the clear fear in his eyes. Jaral tries to smile kindly at him.

"Prince Jaral de Draka . . . I be Dav, owner of this inn and goodman of Jess." nervously he clears his throat. "Please understand, we thought you knew, your father the King told us you did. He said to raise her as our own, he gave us money for the inn and for her tutors . . . “he coughs looking down, and then raises his head looking up at the large prince before him. Clenching his fists at his sides, he looks Jaral in the eyes. "I am the only father she knows, must we do this to her? I want my daughter to have a normal life; this will kill her mother if you take her from us!"

Jaral looks at the man, shaking his head sadly, he turns to the chair by the hearth and sits heavily. The pain of his wounds making him clench his teeth and groan in pain, as the world swims before his eyes a moment. He shakes his head trying to clear it, finding Dav at his side with the mug of ale. Jaral Reaches for the mug with a shaking hand now covered in his blood from his side. He looks at it blankly a moment trying to tell Dav it is nothing, as the world starts darkening around him. "I was ambushed . . . just outside of town . . . It's minor . . . " He hears Dav shouting as if from a distance from his side.

"Prince Jaral? Gods! You're hurt! Jess, get a healer!"