The Raven’s Birth (Part 3)

It was dawn the next morning and Ravel had been ‘prepared’ for the journey. He had been stripped of his cloths and left to bathe, while his clothes were washed. A warm bath, which anyone else would have thought to be a luxury, was something Ravel dreaded. He didn’t care that others might think him a kid for hating bathing, but he honestly didn’t care. Ravel liked rivers and streams with cold water to wash himself off in. The cold water gave him a shock and left him feeling awake and energized where as warm water made him want to sleep. Ravel felt awkward when a male servant approached with a gown, when he was exiting the bath. He almost dived back into the tub, when the servant approached and was shocked when the servant didn’t leave.

“Do you mind leaving me?” Ravel hinted.

The servant raised an eyebrow and looked confused. Obviously it was custom to wait for a guest to exit their bath and help them into their robe.

“I am here to give you a haircut and then help you get dressed, sir,” the servant explained.

“I’m quite capable of dressing myself, I’m not a pansy,” Ravel muttered.

“Very well, sir, but I need to still cut your hair, when you are finished with your bath,” the servant concluded, still standing at attention.

“Then can you at least turn around so that this isn’t so damn awkward,” Ravel returned, doubting the customs of the higher classes even more.

The manservant bowed his head and turned on his heel so that his back was to Ravel. Ravel exit the tub, water dripping down his body. Even as he dried himself with a towel, droplets fell from his brown hair, which had darkened due to being wet. His hair was quite long and although quite straight, still held a bit of waviness to it. Upon donning the robe provided, Ravel rolled his shoulders and sighed. The man servant, sensing that Ravel had finished getting dressed, motioned for him to take a seat on a chair. Various scissors were laid out along with a bowl of fresh warm water, soap and a razor.

“What’s all this for?” Ravel asked, although he already knew the answer.

“I’m going to cut your hair, as instructed by Lady Prynda, and then I’ll give you a shave while I’m at it,” the manservant explained, picking up a pair of scissors.

“I don’t need a haircut,” Ravel replied shortly.

“Very well, sir, I’ll shave your face then,” the servant answered, picking up the razor.

“I’m quite able to shave my own face,” Ravel interjected. “I should be able to at my age.”

The manservant looked quite confused as Ravel took the razor from his hand and began to splash water onto his face.

“Are you unhappy with my service, sir?” the manservant asked.

“Your service is perfectly fine, the best of Lords would be happy to have you,” Ravel stated, meaning every word. “However, even if the King of all of Ryllia offered to give me a haircut personally, I would still refuse. I’m quite happy with my hairstyle and find no need to conform to the regulations of an army I don’t belong to.”

The manservant still looked confused but seemed happy that his service was satisfactory for his assigned guest. Ravel didn’t want to explain any further and felt his reasoning would just confuse the manservant even more. Loyalty and respect for the army was widespread across not only this town but the entire realm. They were just following orders like the rest of the servants in the world and Ravel found no real honour in the role. After all, killing was killing, whether it is in a line of work or a personal vendetta. Not to say that Ravel didn’t agree that some people deserve to die and that the army had the important task of hunting down these people. However Ravel didn’t think that the role deserved so much praise or that the leaders should be proud of their achievements.

A knock interrupted Ravel’s thoughts and he placed down the razor, which had made short work of the four day hair growth. Ravel splashed water over his face and began patting it dry with a towel. His manservant answered the knock at the door and opened it to allow a man to enter.

The man was tall and towered over the manservant as if he were a giant. Ravel decided that the manservant was just small, as he approached the man and found him only a little taller than himself. The man was obviously a soldier and wore a traditional chainmail shirt that reached his mid-thigh region. A surcoat with a brown belt, was tied over the chainmail and Lord Valenio’s crest was embroidered down the front. A long sword was sheathed at his waist, as was a sturdy dagger. Unlike Ravel, the soldier obviously didn’t like having long hair as his own blonde hair was shaved into a crewcut. The soldiers brown eyes looked over Ravel with a critical eye, but he didn’t say anything about his appearance.

“I’m Dervon Elrin,” the soldier said, bowing slightly. “I’m Prynda’s second in charge.”

“Ravel Hehir,” Ravel responded. “I’m Prynda’s guinea pig.”

“Believe me, there isn’t many around here that don’t know who you are,” Dervon said, resting his hands on the hilt of his sword. “Not after your obliteration of Kiale’s jaw structure.”

The manservant dismissed himself from their company and exit the room with the bowl of shaving water. Dervon watched him leave and waited till the door had closed.

“Your clothes will be ready for you shortly and when they are, please report to the training yard immediately,” Dervon said seriously.

“I’d be honoured to, although I thought I was to report to Prynda at the barracks?” Ravel asked.

“Change of plans,” Dervon said, shrugging. “I’ll see you there.”

Dervon left and moments later the door opened to allow the manservant form earlier to enter. Ravel was handed a pile of clothes, which now smelt of soap and sunshine. The manservant turned his back to Ravel so he could get changed and then hurried to clean up after his earlier activities.

“Make sure you hurry to Lady Prynda at the barracks, I just met her in the hall and she’s quite eager to get away as soon as possible,” the manservant conveyed.

“Very well, thanks for your help,” Ravel said, practically dashing out of the room.

Dervon had obviously been lying about the party now joining up at the training yard. Ravel had suspected such when Dervon was telling him, but now it was certain. Ravel began walking casually towards the barracks but soon found himself on a balcony area. The balcony skirted around a large courtyard below and as he glanced at the grounds, Ravel realized he was one floor above the training area. Ravel couldn’t say he wasn’t curious as to why Dervon had lied and it wasn’t like Prynda would know that he had finished getting ready.

With this in mind, Ravel approached the balcony railing, and vaulted over the side. He landed on both feet and completed a forward tumble to break the force of his landing. An instant later Ravel found himself face to face with Dervon who was leaning on two long wooden staffs.

“Took you long enough,” Dervon stated, tossing one of the staffs to Ravel. “I was beginning to think you’d gotten lost.”

Ravel caught the staff in one hand and spun it around once.

“How thoughtful of you,” Ravel stated sarcastically. “And to think you would have sent a search party out for me.”

“Hardly,” Dervon countered. “A man needs to find his own way, don’t you agree?”

“I totally agree with a man being able to do things his own way, especially if the man is me and thus always correct.”

“You’re such a humble man. How is a soldier like me supposed to keep up?”

“Sorry, but it’s impossible to keep up with me.”

“We’ll have to see about that,” Dervon countered, one side of his mouth lifting into a grin.

Dervon spun his staff and brought its tip thudding into the ground. The tip of the staff dug into the ground but was quickly removed by its wielder. Ravel watched his show of strength and raised an eyebrow.

“I challenge you to a duel, the first man on his rear end is the loser,” Dervon said.

“What are the stakes?” Ravel asked.

Ravel loved a good fight, but only if he was in the mood and currently he was pumped. Ravel however retained a cool exterior and lent casually on his staff.

“You win, I accept you as a worthy member of our travelling party. If I win, however, you take on all of my campsite preparation jobs, such as camp set-up or firewood collection,” Dervon stated.

“That doesn’t sound very even,” Ravel stated with a frown.

“Take it or lose it,” Dervon stated shrugging.

“Very well, I guess I can fight for just my honour this one time.”

Dervon took several steps back and lifted his staff into a readied position. Ravel pushed his weight of the staff, but remain casually calm.

“Ready…set…fight,” Dervon called, grounding his stance.

Ravel grinned slyly and lifted onto the balls of his feet. He was going to enjoy this!

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