Short Story: "A Surprise Gift"

Without looking away, she whispered, “How did you know?”

(This story came from someone asking me for an angsty drabble about Blythe and Etri- I added bonus Adair because the three are usually together. This story would take place sometime in book 2 [Sentinel].)

Unexpected Inspiration Short Story - "A Surprise Gift"

Adair stopped without warning and grabbed Blythe’s hand to drag her over to a row of statues. “There it is! I told you I’d find it!”

“It” wasn’t exactly worth being dragged what felt like miles through a building that had no right to be this large. Adair had ignored the statues in favor of a door Blythe had never noticed before. In her defense, it was hidden behind a potted plant and a statue of a turnip and was painted to look the same as the stone wall. Of course there was a goofy statue and of course the painters had included a hyper-realistic rendition of a lamp instead of doing something practical like putting an actual lamp next to the door. This was the Artisans’ guildhall. There couldn’t just be a normal door that looked like a door.

Blythe was in the middle of another rant about about how frivolous artists were when something fell across her eyes, blocking out her vision and pulling tightly– but not painfully– against her face. She spun to grab her attacker, only to realize that the wrist she held had a familiar chill. She sighed and let go. “Okay, what’s going on? I’ve already seen the dumb turnip so there’s no reason to blindfold me.”

Etri hugged her from behind while Adair took her hand again. She had no doubt of who was who when Adair’s warmth contrasted with the chill at her back. Even if Etri had been normal, she would have known. Their link told her that Adair was excited with a tinge of nervousness. Etri was simply amused.

She didn't need the link to tell her that Adair shifted from foot to foot. Excitement always made him fidget. “Come on. There’s something we want to show you!”

Again she found herself tugged forward by her artist, but now Etri took her other hand. She heard a door close behind them– probably the stupid one with the fake lamp– and she was led down a short flight of stairs. Resigned to the situation, whatever it might be, she said, “You want to show me something, so you blindfold me. Typical. How come Etch doesn’t get this?”

“Because it was his idea.”

Okay, so at least if it was Etri’s plan, this might actually be worth the disruption. He at least should know how important the work she’d left behind was even if Adair always acted on a whim.

Etri chuckled softly and squeezed her hand. “Calm, Blade. You will like this.”

“Yeah, fine, sure,” she muttered.

She refrained from commenting on the strange sensation of the stone stairs giving way to soft grass under her feet. A gentle breeze pulled at her clothes and the tie of her blindfold, unfortunately not enough to pull it off. No wonder they’d both taken her hands.

So they were outdoors. Strange. Despite the labyrinth of hallways Adair had dragged her through, she was pretty sure they should be near the center of the building. Grass and... that was definitely the singing of birds, didn’t belong inside a building. Even if it was a building full of artists.

After enough time that the blindfold had begun to grow uncomfortable, her pair finally stopped. “So, what? Are you going to let me see the thing? You really could have just-”

Her words halted when Adair removed the blindfold and handed it back to Etri. She had half a second to register that it was the bandana Etri always wore in his hair before she decided that wasn’t important. What was important was spread out in front of her eyes.

The afternoon sun beat down on a meadow– a meadow inside a building, her mind insisted. A meadow of daylilies, her heart overruled. She lowered herself to the ground and reached out to touch the nearest one. It was red, just like the ones her father had cultivated. Just like the ones he always used to tuck behind her ear to make her smile. It had been so long...

Without looking away, she whispered, “How did you know?”

She felt rather than saw her muses join her on the grass. “It was a logical guess based on previous information we had gathered.”

Blythe felt Adair reach behind her to swat Etri’s arm. “He means you have a tattoo of these on your leg. We couldn’t really miss it, you know?”

Alright, that was the obvious answer when the tattoo twined from her ankle almost to her knee. But still, it could have just meant she thought it was a pretty picture...

Etri wrapped his arms around her while Adair nuzzled against her side. His voice was slightly muffled by her shoulder when he said, “We asked Dray. They told us about your dad. I hope you don’t mind, but we were curious. You’re always doodling these in your workbook and you don’t usually doodle.”

Although she had told Firedrake that in confidence, she couldn’t really bring herself to be angry. It meant that her pair cared enough to learn about something she loved. As she sat in the sunlight with her one love in front of her as far as she could see and her other loves holding her close, she realized she’d gotten back something she thought lost forever.

Blythe wiped her eyes with her sleeve, hoping that her muses wouldn’t notice, and stood. Without a look back in case she lost the nerve, she waded out into the field. She breathed a sigh of relief when she wasn’t followed; this was something she needed to do alone. She lost track of time as she inhaled the familiar scent and after a while the brightest, most brilliantly colored daylilies she had ever seen caught her eye. A smile spread over her lips when she realized they were clustered in a group of three. She wasn’t normally one for omens, but she took this to mean she was right in coming out here. Carefully she removed the blooms from the stems and placed one behind her ear. Then she walked back to Etri and Adair, finding them sitting where she had left them.

“You okay?” Adair looked up with worry in his eyes and worry coursing through their link. “Did we do something wrong?”

She knelt in front of her loves and tucked a red flower behind each of their ears. “No. You did everything right.”

As her pair smiled up at her, her heart found its equilibrium for the first time since she lost her father. She had someone to share her flowers with again. Two someones, which made this even better.

Now if only they’d get over that awful habit of blindfolding her and taking her through stupid-looking doors.



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