Makina gently shook Salia awake not long after sunrise. Salia blinked and looked up at the goblin blearily.
“Good morning, my lady. Your breakfast is ready.” Makina gestured to a platter of cooked meat on the table. “I hope you like it. Would you like a bath?”
“Er…” Salia stared at the goblin. Lyrekka had said that the woman was her maid, but she hadn’t really expected her to act like it.
“A bath,” Makina said gently. “You had a hard day and you’re a bit grubby, even though Lyrekka-alra cleaned you up a bit while you were napping yesterday. So it’s probably a good idea.”
“Er, yes?” Salia said uncertainly. She did feel like she could do with a bath but she didn’t want to relax into her captivity.
“Good. You eat your breakfast and I’ll prepare the bath for you.” She bustled into the bathroom.
Salia went to the table and looked down at the food. It looked delicious and Lyrekka has reassured her that they wouldn’t try and feed her Speaker flesh, but could she really trust that? Still, they’d probably only make her eat it if she tried to refuse. She sat down and began to nibble on it. It tasted as good as it looked.
After she cleared her plate, she went to the bathroom door and peered in. Makina looked at her and smiled.
“Ah, good! I was just going to come and see if you were ready. Let me help you.” She assisted Salia out of her clothes and into the tub. For one mortifying moment Salia was worried Makina might wash her as well, but instead she just handed her the soap and the wash cloth. “I’ll go and get you some clean clothing. The towels are over there when you finish. Don’t be too long or I’ll have to come and fetch you.”
That sounded ominous, so Salia didnâ€™t waste anytime soaking. She scrubbed herself clean and then soaped up her hair and ducked under the water to rinse it. Only when she saw the dark tinge in the water circulating away from her did she realise that sheâ€™d had blood in her hair. A lot of blood. She gave a little shriek and scrubbed it again. Her hair was light enough that it must have been noticable and no one had mentioned it? Lyrekka had even touched her head several times. She had to get out of this creepy place.
â€œMy lady are you all right?â€ Makina asked as Salia broke the surface of the bathing pool again. â€œI heard you scream.â€
â€œThere was blood in my hair!â€ Salia climbed out of the pool and grabbed one of the towels. She was relieved to see that it didnâ€™t stain when she rubbed her hair with it.
â€œThat was blood? I thought it was mud,â€ Makina sighed. â€œI would have insisted Lyrekka-alra let you bathe before she took you out yesterday if Iâ€™d known.â€
â€œReally?” Salia stared at Makina suspiciously. She certainly sounded sincere.
â€œReally.” She handed Salia a robe. â€œPut this on and Iâ€™ll attend to your hair.â€ She produced a comb and pointed to a stool. Salia did as she was told. Makina toweled her hair a bit more and then combed it. â€œI think Iâ€™ll plait this once itâ€™s dry. But for now, letâ€™s get you dressed.â€ She led Salia back into the main room. â€œI thought you might like this.â€ She held out a pretty red dress with scalloped sleeves. Salia shrugged and allowed the goblin to help her into it. She did like it but she was damned if she was going to admit to liking anything here.
â€œLyrekka-alra will be collecting you to introduce you to your teacher in about an hour. Why donâ€™t you go and explore the wing while youâ€™re waiting? I know she gave you the tour but itâ€™s more fun on your own, isnâ€™t it.â€
Salia forced herself to shrug again, but she could hardly contain her excitement. On her own? This might be her chance.
â€œHave fun, my lady.â€ Makina opened the door into the hallway.
Salia waited until the goblin shut the door and then began hunting for any possible escape routes she might have missed yesterday. In the huge library she finally spotted one.
It was a small window, high up but unbarred – and it looked like it would open. If she climbed the bookshelves she should be able to reach it. She looked down at the full skirt on her dress – it would definitely get in the way. She pulled it up, knotted it above her knees and cautiously but determindly began to climb.
Sheâ€™d almost reached the top when she missed the wood and her fingers closed instead on one of the leather bound books. It, of course, didnâ€™t offer any support and she clung on with one hand as she flailed around trying to stop herself falling.
â€œWatch out!â€ She heard someone call from below, but it was too late. She lost her gripÂ and plummeted towards the floor.
She jerked to a halt a couple of feet from the ground. Someone had grabbed her around the waist. Someone who gave off vibes of draconic hunger – albeit muted ones. Her rescuer lowered her slowly to the floor and Salia spun around to see who it was.
A girl about her age with the vivid green eyes of a dragon and a pair of pale dragonâ€™s wings protruding from her shoulders was kneeling on the floor nearby gasping for breath. As Salia watched, the girl grimaced and the wings withdrew into her shoulders. She looked up at Salia.
â€œAre you okay? That could have been nasty.â€
â€œEr? Thanks.â€ Salia stared at the girl in bafflement. No one had ever mentioned dragon children. â€œWho are you?â€
â€œIâ€™m Karilya.â€ The dragon girl gave a bright smile. â€œYou must be Salia. Mummy said she had a new girl.â€
â€œLyrekka is your mummy?â€ Salia hazarded and the girl nodded.
â€œWere you trying to reach the window?â€ she asked.
â€œYes.” Salia didnâ€™t bother not answering. It was fairly obvious after all. Karilya would probably tell Lyrekka and then the window would be locked and barred like all the rest.
â€œDonâ€™t worry, I wonâ€™t tell. Thatâ€™s my window. I use it to reach the roof when I want to be alone.â€ She pulled a face which suggested that was often and picked up a book that had fallen with Salia. â€œIâ€™d better put this book back.â€Â Her wings reappeared and she flew up and placed it back on the shelf. â€œCome on, itâ€™s nearly time for classes. Mummy will be looking for us.â€