The night passed by without further incident, though Linette still puzzled over everything. She had brought the spilled dished back to the kitchen, where she received a small scolding from Cecilia before being sent back with a new plate of fish for the courtiers.
Linette went to her and Chavi's room after the long banquet was over. She began undressing and had finished changing into a nightgown as Chavi walked in. "Mithros, you're a klutz, girl. Can't you even manage to stay on both of your feet for ten minutes?"
Linette grinned. "You know I can't. It's the way I was born. I must have been dropped on my head at birth." She climbed into bed, pulling the thin blankets around her. She doused the candle on her nightstand, allowing Chavi to use her own candle to prepare for bed with.
"Drat. Girl, now I have to find something to light the candle with. You're so selfish." Chavi scolded Linette, who continued to lie in bed.
"Use your gift. The gods punish those who don't use their magic." Linette muttered, without looking up at her friend.
Chavi sighed. "Fine, you lazy slug. Next time, just leave your candle lit, okay?" She lit the candle with the touch of a finger, and Linette drifted off into sleep.
Linette was sitting on a pile of almonds, counting them. Abruptly, the pile turned into diamond rings, and she was falling through them, falling deep into the abysmal darkness. The wind around her whistled and howled, and dozens of smells filled her nose at once. Fish, apple cider, almond cake, the smell of the stables, lye, soap, and a candle.
A hand grabbed her own, and the falling sensation ceased. She looked up into the face of her stalker, smiling ever so slightly. He grabbed her hand, and they danced. Linette looked down at her maid's uniform, to find it was a beautiful ball gown, worthy of the queen herself. She twirled and turned in time to the music. And yes, there was music. No minstrels or other musicians were to be seen, yet the music filled the air.
Linette glanced down and saw nothing, they were dancing on air. She looked up into the face of her "friend" once more, but she could no longer distinguish his features from the rest of him. Slowly he faded, yet Linette still felt his hands on her, guiding her to the rhythm of the music.
She observed how her dress swayed elegantly, giving the impression that Linette was weightless. The gown was a beautiful thing, made of fine rose colored silk, smooth to the touch. Embroidered scarlet flowers danced along the bottom of the dress, all embroidered with perfect precision. The bodice of the dress had no sleeves; only two thin straps were preventing the dress from falling. A red gauze shawl covered her shoulders, and her normally tied up brown hair was flowing in loose waves around her shoulders.
The feeling of hands guiding her slowly disappeared, and the music disappeared. The elegant dress disappeared, leaving Linette with her servants' garb. She fell once more, and this time there was no one to catch her. She landed with a thud, echoing throughout her own mind.
Linette awoke when Chavi shook her. "Get up girl, there's something you gotta see!" An excited tone filled her voice, and Linette allowed herself to be awoken.
"What is it, Chavi?" Linette muttered through closed eyes, still groggy from the rude awakening. Chavi grabbed her arm, and pulled her to a standing position. Linette opened her eyes and gasped.
A dress hung from the door. Her dress. The one from her dream. It was as beautiful as it was in her dreams; the silken garment sparkled in the early morning light streaming from the windows.
Linette gasped and rubbed her eyes, positive she was back in her dream. When she reopened her eyes, the dress was still there in its full glory, just waiting for her to try it on. She grabbed the material, and caressed it against her skin. "It's so soft." She murmured, stroking the fabric.
"Look, there was a note attached." Chavi held out a small scrap of paper, embellished with spidery handwriting. Linette read the note aloud:
Please attend the Midwinter ball tomorrow night as my guest. Come to the room above the Queen's Staircase.
A Noble Friend"
Linette stared at the note in disbelief. Her, a servant, being invited to the Midwinter ball. The idea was absurd! Still, the note said the write was a noble, or at least gave the impression. She mentally pieced these bits of the puzzle into place. This note was most likely written by that noble man, the one who kept appearing wherever she went. She never really did get around to asking his name…
Chavi plucked the note from her hand. "Well, I think that you should go. Someone obviously went to a lot of trouble to get you that dress, just look at this design!" she grabbed the hem of the dress, and examined its underside. "This dress must have cost a fortune; it looks to be the best Yamani silk money can buy! Mithros knows how rare this is to come by."
Linette sat back down on the bed. "I don't know. A maid like me has no place among those fine courtiers." She bit her lip, wondering what she should do.
"Nonsense, you'll fit right in. That dress is finer than all of those ladies' dresses, and if you do something with that hair of yours, you'll fit right in."
Linette looked up at her friend. "You're right, I should go. I think that this mystery person would like it." Linette walked over to the side table, and bent over the water basin. She scrubbed her face with the water, and groped for the towel.
Her hand closed on a small box, instead of the towel. "Chavi, did you leave something on the table?"
Chavi's muffled voice was still audible through the folds of the clean dress she was putting on. "No, I haven't been near it since yesterday. Why do you ask?"
Linette used her other hand to find the towel, and wiped the water from her face. She examined the small box she now hand in her hands. "I found something." She pried open the clasp, and nearly dropped the box.
A crystalline necklace laid in the box. The crimson gem glittered in the light, and was carved into the shape of a rose. Linette gently lifted it out of the box, and examined it. It hung from a delicate silver chain of woven metal. Chavi lumbered over to her, and voiced a gasp that rivaled Linette's.
"Mithros, girl, someone out there loves you. What did you do?"
Linette blushed, her face turning redder than the gem. "You know I'm not some common whore!" Linette stuck her nose up in the air. Though some of the maids found this to be a suitable night job, Linette shuddered at the thought of a stranger forcing himself onto her.
"Relax, I was just kidding. I know you, of all people, wouldn't do something like that. Besides, you're too young."
"Seventeen is not that young! Most of those women are younger than me!" Linette gave her friend a look of mock indignation, before turning around to pull on her own fresh clothes.
Chavi laughed, and headed out the door for the kitchens. The Midwinter Ball's food preparations had to begin at least the day before, for the cooks were nearly incapable of producing so much food in just a single day. She closed the door behind her, leaving Linette in the room alone.
Still thinking, Linette pulled on her skirt and bodice. As she tied her apron, she found herself planning out tomorrow's events. 'If I borrow lip color, nail color, and rogue from another maid, I will have everything I need.' Shoes weren't much of a problem, for she had a pair of fancy slippers from her mother in her trunk.
Linette sighed as she thought about her family. After the attack on her village five years ago, she really had nobody left. The person she could come closest to calling family would be Chavi. Even still, she wished she had someone to truly love. . .
Author's Note: So, how did you like it? I know that I kind of rushed creating a background for Linette, but at least you sort of get more of a drift of her feelings. Sorry that it took so long for an update, I've had a bit of writers block. Much thanks to Peachy Garlic for her excellent poem, so I don't need somebody to write a poem anymore. I think that there will be around two or three more chapters to this. Please review people, reviews spur me to write more! Oh yes, I have a new website! If you're interested, it's So go there! It was mainly made in protest of taking down treanz-alyce's fic "You Don't Say?" You can view her story there, and I have a … err… "challenge" for everyone.