Quick, to the time machine!
(You’re welcome for that, BTtF fans.)
Today, we travel back in time. Back to a time BEFORE Anya had made it big And by “big” I mean attracted the attention of either Prince Sarnath or Shahain. When she was still struggling for money while trying to handle a business.
“We need the money more than you need your pride,” Kaishir snapped on the other end of the phone. “Our bank accounts are dangerously low; get them to pay half up front if you can. That will keep us running for the next few weeks until the delivery payments start coming in again.”
Anya tried to argue with him, but all that came out were several frustrated squeaks. Resting her head against the wooden wall, she sighed angrily into the phone. There wasn’t a way out of this, as usual. “How’s the farm working out?” She asked finally.
Kaishir remained quiet, the sound of papers rustling in the background. “We’ve had to do some re-tooling, but we’ve managed to start using it as a good center point for larger deliveries.”
“Larger deliveries?” Anya repeated.
“Believe it or not, we’re expanding.” Kaishir pointed out. “And we’re faring better than the Empire’s postal service.” Anya smiled to herself.
“That’s why you’re in charge and I just run across the country.” Kaishir let out an irritated sigh.
“Or else you would make stupid business decisions.” He snapped. “Now hang up the phone and go get paid for riding lessons.”
“I’ll call you and checkup-”
“No you won’t.” Kaishir cut her off. “I will contact you if I need something.” Anya was silent. “Consider this pay back for nearly wiping out our bank account.”
“Hey!” Anya yelled, but it was too late; she heard the tell-tale click on the other end and slammed her phone into the receiver. Behind her, Hidalgo nickered curiously. “He hung up!” She snapped, gesturing broadly and dramatically to the pay phone; Hidalgo let out a loud and mocking whinny. “Don’t laugh!” She yelled at him. “It’s not funny!” Anya then noticed that the few towns’ people on the street were staring at her. Tipping her hat low enough to hide her eyes, and shame, Anya quickly untied Hidalgo from his post. “These people probably think I’m crazy,” she muttered, heaving herself into the saddle, “arguing with a horse in broad daylight.” With a small nudge to his sides and a sharp turn of the reigns, Hidalgo started up the main road towards the governor’s house.
“I still can’t believe he hung up on me.” Hidalgo snorted in agreement.
Back inside the mansion, Anya was shown to the first lady’s parlor. Hat in hand, Anya stood before her in the brightly decorated room, surrounded by softly painted images of angles and courting scenes.
“I trust you’ve taken the time to consider my offer?” She said curtly, stirring her tea and making sure to keep her eyes off Anya.
“I have ma’am,” Anya said politely. “I’ll do it.”
“Good,” the first lady said.
“I would like to change the terms, if that’s alright with you.” Anya said, which attracted an icy stare from her. “I would like to be paid on a weekly basis, if that’s all right with you.”
“I’ll discuss it with my husband,” she said, her tone short, “for now, you will be escorted to your room.” With a wave of her hand, a servant appeared at Anya’s side. “I expect my son’s lessons to start in the morning.”
“Am I allowed to see the grounds before I retire for the evening?” Anya asked as the servant tugged at her sleeve.
“No,” she said, sipping her tea, “now good day to you.” Anya bit her tongue and followed the servant out of the drawing room and down one of the many staircases to a narrow hallway with several doors.
“Tell your groomsmen to be very careful with Hidalgo,” Anya cautioned the servant as they stopped in front of a door, slipping her a small round cookie, “give him this if he starts giving you trouble. He’ll understand.” The servant looked slightly distressed, but left without a word.
Left alone, Anya tossed her hat on to the neatly made bed and took stock of her new home for the summer; it was plainly decorated, with one small picture adorning the plain colored walls. The floors were bare, just a simply stained wooden floor, nothing like the hallway. There was nary a sign of dust, nor evidence of rodents, which Anya was very thankful; it would be nice to stay in a place that didn’t have a mouse problem. Off to her right was a small door leading to an indoor bathtub and chamber pot.
“Ooo, indoor plumbing,” Anya quietly tiptoed across the squeaky floor towards the open door and peered curiously in to the blindingly white room. As with the main bedroom, it was perfectly spotless. Had this room ever been occupied before? Turning back to the main room, Anya noticed a small serlael boy standing in the door way staring at her. He couldn’t be more than twelve years old and resembled the lady of the house, with almost the exact same color hair that Anya had, but sadness filled his eyes.
They stared at each other for a minute before Anya broke the silence. “Hi,” she said awkwardly.
“Are you my new riding teacher?” he asked bluntly.
“I am,” Anya stepped towards the door. “My name’s Anya,” she said, offering to shake his hand, “what’s yours?” He stared at her hand for a moment before turning his gaze back towards her.
“I’m not allowed to touch peasants,” he said, and Anya awkwardly retracted her hand.
“Ah, well,” she cleared her throat, “that complicates things a little bit then.” Anya tried to shrug off his awkward personality. “What’s your name then?”
“I’m not allowed to talk to peasants either,” he said.
“Then this is going to be a very complicated process then isn’t it?”
“Abbas!” The boy quickly escaped from the door way and scampered down the hallway, while two female servants quickly followed after him. A tall and lean serlael suddenly filled her doorway, his strict eyes narrowing down on Anya. A shiver went down her spine; dressed in all black with a white collar shirt and black bow tie, he reminded her of the overseer from Falcon’s Landing and brought back several unpleasant memories. “I take it you are the new riding teacher?” He asked curtly.
“I am,” Anya said confidently, determined not to be bullied by him. “And who might you be, good sir?”
“I am Ruslan,” he said, “I am in charge of Master Abbas and his education while he is here on Europa, and as such, you now fall under my domain.”
Well fuck, Anya thought to herself.
“If I even suspect a hint of disloyalty to the Governor and his family,” Ruslan’s voice dropped low and a menacing look appeared in his eyes, “I will personally see to it that you quietly disappear. I have several friends in the Army outposts that will happily see to that.” With that, Ruslan quietly disappeared down the hallway.
“I’d better keep my door closed from now on.” Anya decided out loud, closing her door.