Oriana rapped on Kelly’s door, flanked by Paul. Kelly opened it up it up almost immediately, but instead of her usual boisterous greeting she placed a finger over her lips and motioned for her friends to come in quietly. Moments later the trio were sitting in the back room overlooking the backyard.
“Well?” Started Oriana, “what happened? Where’s Kent and Suvarin?”
“Kent helped to drop Suvarin off this morning and then left right away. He figured that you guys would want to come over and he didn’t want to put all five of us in the one location to tempt the Tyranni into killing us all. He said he had work this morning too, and besides, I think it would have made my mother more suspicious.”
“What does your mother think of Suvarin being here?” Asked Paul.
“The story I have told her is that I was at a party with Suvarin and she got so drunk that she fell down a slope into the mud and almost drowned.”
“How is Suvarin?” Asked Oriana.
“She went back to sleep, she’s in my room completely out of it.”
“So what happened last night?”
Kelly gave an account to her friends of what happened. She embellished the bravery of Kent, she mentioned several times the foolishness of Suvarin, and spoke in low serious tones about the secret ranger base she’d spent the night in.
“There you have it, it was a very near thing, Suvarin made things so much worse falling into that pit the way she did,” Kelly concluded.
Paul and Oriana were gushing in their excitement and praise for Kelly and her adventure. Kelly enthusiastically responded to it at first but then went quiet, which was not like Kelly to be so serious. Kelly was reminded of Kent’s words about the nature of adventures.
“Guys, I really like Kent, I think he’s a great guy, but what is he doing stockpiling weapons for these Rangers whoever they are?”
Paul nodded, “There seems to be a lot to these Aeshir that we don’t know. The Salvati and Druids seem like your regular Christian types: generous, thoughtful, peaceful. But I wonder what these rangers and knights are like?”
“What kinds of weapons were they?” Asked Oriana.
“They were bows, crossbows, and knives, so far as I could tell.”
“Interesting, see the image of a ranger in my head is of a person who lives in the wilderness. Maybe they are a cult of hunters? That would explain the primitive weapons. Perhaps they were hunting knives?”
“That’s an idea,” said Kelly, “I hadn’t thought of such an innocent explanation. But that place, the flood retarding basin, it’s right near the middle of the city. What would they hunt? Ducks, geese, and foxes?”
“I intend to find out,” asserted Oriana, “I am going to meet Kent this afternoon at the library and I am going to learn all about them, and these knights.”
Kelly stared at Oriana for a few moments, her expression was neutral for just a few moments longer than normal before returning to smiling. Sheencouraged Oriana to dig and find out as much as she could.
“Tell me everything Kent tells you,” insisted Kelly.
“Meanwhile, Paul here has a lunch date with a girl,” said Oriana smirking.
Paul blushed and briefly told the two young women about his unexpected date with Deaspara from last night. The two women teased him playfully about her until they were interrupted by Kelly’s mother.
Kelly’s mother stood at the door and pointed accusingly at her daughter, although she was clearly not angry at all..
“Kelly dearest, why did you tell me that your friend Suvarin was sleeping off a hangover when she’s completely sober?”
Kelly laughed, “sorry mum! I didn’t think you would believe me if I said she’d almost drowned while sober!”
Everyone laughed, including Kelly’s mother who sat down to join the group of friends.
“That girl Suvarin, very strange name by the way, is remarkable. I went to check in on her just before and I found her on the floor praying!”
The group murmured interest while Kelly feigned not being surprised by this, she was trying to give the impression that Suvarin hadn’t just popped into her life like a mushroom two days before.
“That’s Suva for you,” lied Kelly, “she’s always talking about daft things like that.”
“Well, I don’t think she’s a daft girl at all. She works as a nurse at the hospital. She’s very young for a nurse, but she says she started studying to be a nurse at fourteen. I didn’t even know they let people start at that age, she must have been keen.”
Oriana picked up her notebook, she had put it down when talking about Paul’s date with Deaspara, but now she had a pen in her hand. She asked Kelly’s mother to tell them all about her conversation with Suvarin. Kelly cringed nearby, worried that Oriana would reveal that she had been lying about being Suvarin’s friend for a long time.
“I asked her what she was praying for, but she told me she wasn’t praying for anything. She said that while she was praying, it was a special kind of prayer. A prayer of thanksgiving. I asked what she was thankful for and she gave me a long list which included having a friend like you Kelly who is so brave and caring to come and fish her out of water when she was drowning. She also said that her brother had been badly injured in an accident and that although his recovery would be slow he was going to be alright.”
Oriana slapped her fingers on her chin and exclaimed, “so it was her brother who was injured after all!” She scribbled this new information down.
The others looked at her with confusion, Oriana didn’t want to explain how she had guessed in front of Kelly’s mother and instead she said that she’d just gotten a confused message about who the injured person was from Suvarin. Oriana apologised for interrupting and begged Kelly’s mother to go on in detail.
“So I asked her if she often prayed like this, giving thanks for what she has. She told me that she prays every morning and evening when she first wakes up and before she goes to sleep.”
“What does she pray about?” Asked Oriana.
“Well she said that in the morning she prays to her guardian angels to help her to be a better person. She wants to be as understanding, patient, caring, wise, and virtuous as she possibly can, and so she prays every morning for help in her day to improve herself.”
“Guardian angels?” Repeated Oriana whilst writing down notes, Kelly laughed at this with a slightly mocking tone, just enough for Kelly’s mother to notice so that she spoke up in Suvarin’s defence. “Kelly, lots of people believe in silly things. It’s not fair to judge her for believing in guardian angels.”
Oriana jumped in, “Suvarin is meeting me on Monday morning to help me with an university assignment on religion. So these notes are really helpful for me. I must remember to ask her about guardian angels. So what does she pray about in the evenings?”
“She said that in the evenings she thinks about all her friends, family, and loved ones, she thinks about how grateful she is to have them, all their strengths and all their problems, and she prays that they overcome them successfully, and she thinks about things she could do to be more supportive for them.”
Paul let out a long “wow” before saying, “I often forget to pray, and most of the time I am praying for things to work out for me and my friends. I hadn’t thought about praying to be a better person before though. Is Suvarin well enough to come out and join us?”
“Oh!” Exclaimed Kelly’s mother, “she ate breakfast and left. She said that she had to work at the hospital today and that you would understand. Mind you, she had a nasty limp on that leg of hers, but she was so determined to get going she insisted on leaving without chatting to you because she had to see her brother right away before her shift started.”
Paul and Kelly were shocked by Suvarin leaving without speaking to them, but Oriana wasn’t.
“Of course, the poor girl wants to go see her brother right away. No leg injury was going to stop her.”
“Speaking of leg injuries,” interjected Paul, “I will not let mine interfere with missing my lunch date.” And he stood up to leave.
“Yes, and I have to find Kent at the library,” said Oriana joining Paul on his feet.
Within seconds the room was emptied of everyone except Kelly who looked down at her feet and swore quietly to herself. She took out her phone and looked for Syndi’s number.