"Raven?" Raven sighed, while she tried to hide. All day her stepmother, Diaspona and Lia had given her grief. She almost wished she had accepted Leonidas proposal, almost. Raven sat on the stone floor in the kitchen her stepmother or rather a poor servant had thrown the various types of grain on a big pile, and now Raven has to separated them. "Raven!" It was Eliana, some sense of urgencies was in her voice. But Raven didn't care, she had to finish this task otherwise she would go to bed hungry. "Raven, there you are. Didn't you hear me." She sounded so sweet, luckily for Raven she knew better.
"I am sorry Eliana, but as you can see. I am busy." Eliana smiled.
"Sorting grain again. Mother has to come up with some new punishments for you." There was the half sister she knew and hated.
"What do you want, Eliana?" Raven wanted to continue with her task. Eliana walked further into the kitchen and kicked a bucket with corn. The yellow triangle shaped filled the floor.
"Dammit, Eliana. Where was that for?" Eliana just shrugged and smiled. Raven knew what that meant, and not that she had to start all over again. That was as clear as day, but Eliana had also something else planned for her.
"I want you to go to the dressmaker. I have an order for him from the up most importance." Raven had missed the envelope in Eliana's hands.
"Have you lost your mind. Your mother would never allow me to go to town alone."
"She will, if I asked her." Raven shook her head, her half sister had really lost her mind.
"Which you wouldn't do, you simply say that I have sneaked out of the house. Or some other random story. No Eliana, if you want that envelope delivered ask one of the servants." Raven picked the bucket where she had put in the corn prier and started again by picking up the pieces of corn up.
"Mother!" Raven was not surprised that her stepmother came into the kitchen not much later. She looked at the grain, and smiled slightly. Clearly noticing the corn that was on top of the pile.
"What is it, sweetheart?" Asked Stepmother to Eliana, Eliana pointed towards Raven.
"I asked her something and she refused me." Her Stepmother looked at her, and Raven simply nodded.
"I refused, because she wanted me to go to town. Alone, step, madam." Her stepmother pressed her lips. Raven was almost tempted to pick the bucket of corn and poor the content on the pile, to save everybody some trouble.
"Eliana, why do you want Raven to go?" Asked stepmother, instead of kicking the bucket.
"She ruined my dress yesterday." Raven stood up.
"I cleaned those dresses." Raven wanted to point that out, her stepmother did punish her with some burning cheeks. But Raven did the cleaning on her own turf.
"But still I want to punish her myself. By sending her on the most boring arrant." Her stepmother nodded slowly.
"Raven, grab your cloak. You are going to town. You can finish this when you are back.
Raven couldn't believe her ears and luck, was she really allowed to go outside, alone? She changed in her normal dull colored dress and hung her cloak on her shoulders. Before she walked out the front door, she looked around one more time, to control that her stepmother or half sister were not playing her like a marionette. But no one stopped her, with the envelope in her hand she walked over the red brick stone path that leaded to the main road. She greeted every man, woman and child that she saw.
"Good day, miss Spargo." Said the city guard by the gate. Raven gave the man a warm smile.
"Good day, mister Manas. How is your wife?" Her smile was met by his.
"Wonderful, we are expected are firstborn anytime soon." Raven nodded.
"Glad to hear it. If you excuse me, I am out on an errant for, Eliana." The smile on the guards face disappeared.
"I see. Well good day to you miss. " She gave him a polite nod and walked on. That was strange. Was he hiding something for her? She pushed those thoughts a side. The streets were as usually packed with people.
"Out of our way!" Yelled a driver from a black carriage, it was strange to see that large vehicle in the middle of the city. Because that was not allowed, unless somebody had contracted Mystic Cough. A strange sickness that came out of nowhere. People who contracted it often travel in these black carriage to Fontez a village well known for its bathhouse. And specially the Cheeta bath where those with Mystic cough are treated. Raven always felt sorry for the people who contracted it and did not have the time or recourses to travel to the bathhouse village. The carriage drove past her, the curtains were closed, as usual. Raven sighed when the carriage past the gate. Maybe she needed to make a quick stop by the office that accepted donations, she did not have that many pieces at hand, and she knew that her father donated a large sum every year. But in her mind a small donation was better than no donation at all.
Raven opened the door of the dressmaker shop. A small bell started ringing, alerting the dressmaker of her arrival. The small man with big glasses came running.
"Miss Raven, what a pleasant surprise." The man took her hand and planted his lips on the back of it. Raven felt somewhat uncomfterble when he did that, but that was his way of greeting his costumers. "I had not expected to see you so soon. And without company." Raven shrugged.
"Eliana wanted to punish me, by sending me on a boring arrant." The man started to giggle.
"Punish you for dropping those bags with my masterpieces in that poodle." Raven nodded.
"No worries, I cleaned them with the soap you have giving me. Mister Sýrma." The man nodded. "Not that it mattered, they will wear those masterpieces only ones." Mister Sýrma nodded and sighed.
"I think you are right, Miss Raven. That is why I like you. You're wearing my pieces until they got damaged. The only problem is that boring color, but Madam Spargo those not allow any color." Raven nodded again.
"And since my father is away, I am not even allowed to wear this." Mister Sýrma gasped in horror. "I have to wear rages, that kind that even a lady of the night will not wear on her bad day." Mister Sýrma shook his head.
"The shame, the horror. But good, one of those mágisses sent you to me."
"Eliana wanted me to give you this." She gave him the envelope. He opened it and sighed.
"This is unexpected, but it will take up a lot of my precious time." Raven frowned a little, slightly carious what the order was. Mister Sýrma looked at her. "You don't know what she is asking of me, do you?" She shook her head. Mister Sýrma pressed his lip tight on each other.
"I am sorry, but it is really not my place to say anything." Raven gave him a warm smile. But wondered what could be so special. Maybe mister Sýrma couldn't say anything because it was very expensive, Raven decided that it was the most logical reason.
"It is alright, mister Sýrma, I understand." The man nodded and turned his back towards her.
"I hope that someday I have to design something that reflects your beauty, miss Raven." He had said this many times, and she wants nothing else to make this wish come true.
"I am already grateful for the work that you put in my dressed, mister Sýrma. Although they are simple and a bit dull." He turned back.
"It is a petty, but what if you married me. Then you are free to wear my most beautiful dresses." Raven sighed, this was the second proposal in a short time.
"Mister Sýrma, I appreciate the offer. I really do." She meant it. "But I am not looking for an escape. I am looking for somebody who loves me, and not because he is enchanted by my looks." Mister Sýrma nodded and took her hands.
"I hope that you will find that man, miss Raven. And forgive my boldness." She had already forgiven him. "I am sorry, but I need to go back to work. I will wish you a very nice day, miss Raven.
Raven walked through town, towards the office that took care of the black carriages. She looked at the crooked building, it had room at the back for carriages. But the office at the front was empty, again a little bell rankled. A woman dressed in black came to the counter.
"Can I help you miss Spargo?" Of course, she already knew who Raven was.
"Yes, I want to make a small donation." The woman looked surprised.
"Your father already made his donation, I believe." Raven nodded, this was indeed the case. She already reached for her pouch that held two platinum pieces.
"He has, but this is not from him. This is from me. I saw the carriage earlier on the street." The woman in black reached her hand.
"Stop right there, what do you want to donate. There is always a poor, unfortunate soul who can't afford the carriage."
Raven nodded it a what awkward smile, she held up the two platinum pieces.
She laid them down on the counter. Raven knew that the cure at its self was cheap. Twenty copper pieces and even if you didn't have twenty copper pieces the bathhouse will come up with something. But the carriage cost a hundred silver pieces, and if a person didn't have that amount of money. Then they needed to hope that someone wealthy donated a large sum, or they will die.
"I am sorry, I wished I had more." The woman looked to the two pieces on the counter.
"Miss Spargo, are you kidding me. Your father donates a large sum, so that many people in this village and around it can be cured. And now you are giving me two pieces of platinum. This will help many people in and around this town. So I can only thank you, miss." Raven was still not sure how serious that woman in black was, but she was glad that she could leave this office. Why was she so nervous, she always accompanied her father when he made his donation. But it felt different when she made the donation alone. She walked through the gate and didn't hear the greeting from Manas.
Raven walked towards home, she took another road than the main road. But she didn't paid much attention to her surroundings. She bumped agianst something, with a little hasitation she looked up. A man that was a bit rough looking, was blocking her way.
"I am sorry sir. I didn't see you there." The man grinned a little, but it is really hard to see.
"Then you better look where you going missie." Raven didn't liked his voice.
He did not look at her, but over her. She felt a hand landing on her shoulder, a shiver went through her whole body.
"Yes indeed, otherwise people will think your rude." The breath form the man behind her, blowed against her skin. She smelt small hints of alcohol, she wanted to turn her head to look at the man behind her. But two more man appeared besides the man that was standing a front of her. The four man circled around her like vultures. The man behind her still had his hand on her shoulder, she wanted to shake it off her. But he had a firm grib.
"Let me go." Raven was not sure why she had not said anything sooner, but now seemed like a good time.
The men around her started to laugh.
"Do you hear that, boss. This bitch can bark." The man with his hand on her shoulder tighend his grip.
"Maybe this bitch needs to be taught a lesson what do you guys think?" The others made agreeing noises. Raven didn't know what they had in mind and she was not sure if she wanted to find out.
"Before you do that, do you know who I am?" The men were laughing again.
Raven felt a urge to kick the men in front of her. But was that wise, she didn't care and kick the man in his nuts. A loud groan of pain came out of his mouth, his hands went where she hit him. The others stopped laughing. Raven again tried to shrugg the mans hand from her shoulder. But his grip was simpely to tight.
"Bitch." Another man stepped forward and slammed his fist in her stomach. She started to gasp for breath, the pain was overwelming.
"Take her in to the bushes." Said the man she had kicked, his face was red from anger and pain. The three man did just that, she started screeming. "Gage her." A piece of cloth was forced into her mouth, she tried to scream through the cloth but her screams where moffeled away. Two of the man grabbed her legs, and pulled at them so she fall towards the ground. Where she was grabbed again, one man hold her arms, when two others took hold of her legs. The fourth and last man sat down between her legs. "It's time you learn you lesson." Her eyes widend, this was not happening. She wanted to close her eyes, hoping that this was all a bad dream. But she couldn't keep them closed, for the life of her. She saw that the man between her legs unbottumed his panst. But before something could happen, One of the men screamed, the grip on one off her legs diseapered. The man between her legs jumped up and he was met by a fist of the stranger she had met in her mothers rose garden. The man fell unconcusses towards the ground the other men let her go and started to fight the stranger. But it didn't take long before they also lay on the ground. The stranger knelt by her.
"Are you hurt." She shook her head and he took the piece of cloth out of her mouth, so she was able to speak.
"No I am not hurt." He nodded, reaching out his hands. Not able to controle herself she started to scream. He laid a hand on her mouth.
"I am sorry to do this miss, but you are no longer safe here. Your sister paid this men to attack you." Raven's head became a little foggy. Eliana had paid this man, why would she do that? She wanted to ask him this outloud but her eyes closed and her world fell into a darkness.