After the scene at Zdravka's funeral gossip had spread it would be Grozdan Subotinov. The soil on her grave is still fresh and they are already talking about remarrying! Luckily, Hrelyo Bagryanov was above such vile things. A deeply honourable man of sharp mind, he'd never believe something unless he had seen it with his own eyes. But they had to find a way to stop the rumours from spreading further, not only those involving Kalina, but any kind.
And Kalina's friendship with the witch's daughter. Was she sent here to make sure their end of the deal was being kept? If it was up to her, she would have never let her go with that woman, but what power was in their hands to heal her? None! And even so, she wasn't completely healed. On purpose, she was sure! The anger had her brushing her hair so roughly, her head began to hurt. There had to be a way to break them apart at least. Albena didn't want her sister harm, she was only looking for her best interest and being a witch was not in line with it. Vihur Petrosinov, the youngest brother of the first Petrosinov knyaz was allegedly a great mage, who lived in people's minds as a great protector of the realm but it was all tales and legends. He lived a thousand years ago, who knows if half the stories were true, or if he even existed, to begin with?! Over the years, she had begun many of the things she was told and thought too often than she wanted to. She wanted to trust people, she wanted to speak to them without having back thoughts, but given her position and what happened to her parents, she couldn't let herself be free just like that. They were good people, they were kind people, they loved, they were loved, and yet they had enemies that wished their death and caused it. Enemies that to this day remain a mystery. Why didn't that witch use her magic for good and find out who did it?! At one point she had even thought that it was Asya and Delyana had conspired to kidnap Kalina by killing them, but it made no sense. They could have just taken her and no one would have known they did. Rubbing her temples, the deep breath calmed her down a little and for now.
Looking herself at the mirror in nothing but a plain white riza, she didn't look any different from any woman expecting a child out there. Being with a child scared her. Her mother had four and everything was fine, Zdravka would have had her second one and dies with it too, common women could go to have up to fifteen and more children, give birth at the field and then go back to their work as if nothing special happened...No, she will be fine. she has to be fine! For her brother and sisters, for her husband, for Kostica...The sound of the door opening returned her to her senses. Grabbing a small dagger, that was always at an arm's length, the ready to protect herself knyaginya signed in relief when she saw it was her husband who entered the room.
Svilen wasn't handsome, nor was he ugly. He wasn't fat, nor thin. Neither tall, nor short... an average man, but a good one none the less.
"Candles, my beautiful wife and a dagger...can't get any more romantic, can't it?".
Albena chuckled as she tossed the dagger away.
"I might have poisoned your food, you know?" she mumbled as he leaned to kiss her. His scent was a mixture of sweat, soil and wood. "How did it go?"
"Nothing new from what we already." His voice had a hint of irritation, while his body relaxed over the chair near Albena. "It's the fourth person already! A newly built bridge is to become abandoned!"
And then there was that. Due to heavy raining an old wooden bridge had fallen, so they had a new one, made of stone commissioned. Three skilful brothers did a splendid job, but not long after the ending of construction works, when the sun would set down anyone misfortuned enough to cross it would get attacked viciously and end eventually be strangled in the fight. In fear of meeting the same faith, people started avoiding crossing it even during day time. That hard work couldn't go in vain! They couldn't have paranoia ruling their people! Nothing good would have come from it!
"From all the questioning and the information I have been through today, the only new and interesting one is that the youngest brother's wife had passed away, leaving him with a baby boy. The only peculiar thing is how fast the funeral arrangments were. The coffin was even closed during the priest's prayer." Already undressed, thoughts about immediately tossing into the bed and closing his eyes were swimming into the young knyaz's mind. After the new's of his wife's pregnancy, his duties had multiplied, leaving him little time to rest, but not once did he complained or moaned about it. Rubbing his eyes, it was only Albena's words that brought him back from his stupor.
"Go, take a bath. Cleanse your body and mind. You should take care of yourself. Please, take care of yourself!
"What does falling in love feel like?" Beloslava's question was sudden when put into comparison to the things they were discussing until now. The tone of her voice was giving away it wasn't just some random question, but a thought she had kept away at the back of her mind until it was the right time to speak it out at loud. But when was even the right time to ask one such question?
"I don't know, to be fair. Should it be different for everyone else?... Why ask such things?" Kalina never thought of falling in love. Not for herself falling in love to be exact. She had watched people fall in love around her, from Zdravka and Grozdan to Albena and Svilen to random servants...but she never asked herself what she had to feel if she and when she did. Was there a universal feeling she had to have to know she was in fact in love?
"It's just...Ah, it's stupid!" Her hands covered her small face to hide the fact it suddenly went red.
"Nothing is stupid if it matters to you! You know you could speak freely to me about everything!" Kalina gently pushed one of Beloslava's palms away, her eyes speaking more than her lips could.
"Well, you see..."She buried her head in the pillow, the softest one she ever felt. "You know how in that Karet tavern, when we were sitting across the table there was a trio of boys and when the fight began..."
"That pale one hit me on the head! What about it?"
"It was an accident, I think. But didn't he also apologized about it?" Kalina had a confused look, as after that hit she had little memories of the night."Anyway, I mean his friend, with the brown hair, that helped us out get out if before things got too ugly...well, I've been thinking about him, despite all the things that happened...I think it's love, but at the same time I don't know if it is love." And with those words, she buried her face in the pillow again. "Even though I am sure we'll never meet again, I still hope to."
"Who knows what fate has for us? You might meet him once again, tomorrow, or in ten years from now." Ugh, that wasn't the best thing she could have said, was it? "But his was pretty pleasant to the eye, as his blonde friend. But that third boy, he looked so gloomy and pale. He disappeared compared to them!"
"You really didn't like him, did you?" Beloslava giggled innocently.
"You want me to tell you a story?" Kalina smirked as her eyes glowed mischievously in the dark.
"Almost all of your stories are scary ones."
"But they are the best ones, don't you think so?" The young knyaginya's enthusiasm was hardly a secret. "Besides, this one isn't that scary."
"Fine, have it your way, but if it gets too scary for me, I'll tell you to stop." Bela, reluctantly agreed to listen, even though she knew that, she had little to no saying about whenever her posestrima wanted to tell one.
"Once upon a time, a long time ago, lived three brothers. All three brothers were magnificent builders and never knew a life without work. All three of them had married, but their brides were too different from each other. The older brothers' wives were lazy and would constantly boss around their younger sister in law, who would never complain or disobey them. Whatever she was told, she'd do swiftly and obediently. One time the brothers were ordered to build a bridge, but the first two times it would collapse and had them start over again. Thus, they had no choice but to give a sacrifice - they would build one of their brides into the pillars of the bridge. But which one would it be? Deciding the best decision would be to be the one who arrives first from the three. Going home, the youngest brother couldn't eat, nor rest by the thought it could be his wife, but it was necessary for them to succeed! Telling her directly wouldn't be right, but ordering her to do more tasks than usual might work out. At the same time, his brothers had gathered with their wives and revealed their plan for the following day. Even without the sun rising, the youngest bride's fate was already set in stone, just like herself. Being the hardworking wife she was done just in time to bring lunch to the working men. But before she could even give them a proper great, they dragged her and had her build into the bridge. While they were doing it, she had only one desire - to leave a small hole for one of her breasts, so she could at least feed her newborn. Over the years that bridge came to be a place where women who had trouble giving milk would go and pray for it."
"That wasn't scary. It was sad! Now, what would I be dreaming?"
"Hansome tavern boys!" Replied Kalina, before placing the blanket over her head with a slight giggle. Bela, with a smile on her face, tried to fall asleep to. And she did dream of the handsome boy from the tavern too like she did many nights before it already. She dreamt of a boy with soft curls and eyes that seemed hazel in the candlelight but appeared light in her dreams. His warm complexion and a smile that was still boyish, despite the fuzz that was already on his face...