8th Zi'da 717
Charlie had left Darcyanna in a daze. She'd wanted to accompany the poor girl back to Andaris, but she was still expected to finish work here, and the Venoran had been insistent on going back that trial. Something about a dog, or a boy who would be worried at her absence. But there was nothing she could say that would convince Darcy to stay with Charlie, and she'd had to leave the girl, even though it twisted at every protective instinct she had.
How could her family, her friends, have let Darcyanna reach this state? Where she was desperate, and every breath pained her? Even Charlie, who had only just met the woman, knew that there was something seriously wrong. She was too thin, her eyes too sunken - it was like an alarm bell for any that looked at her. And no one had presumed to do anything?
Charlie walked back to where she had tethered Alana, pondering, but soon that grief for Darcyanna turned into a rage. She didn't even have the strength to see her brother, who stood in an estate not too far from here - a large castle that overlooked the town of Bellesoir. Alana whinnied as Charlie approached her in the stables, her hands tangling through her mane, murmuring quiet nonsense words to greet her horse. Alana nuzzled Charlie's side, but Charlie barely noticed - she was too busy staring at the imposing estate of Notrerevé.
She made her decision.
Swiftly, Charlie placed her foot in the stirrup, and swung her leg over Alana's back, setting comfortably into the saddle, well worn from travel. Picking up the reins, she dug her heels into Alana's flanks, and the mare took off at a brisk trot. Charlie's eyes were fixed ahead on the estate, and only light directions of the reins were required to keep Alana on track. Others looked on at her armour, which she still wore, her silver wing pinned proudly to the breast, but Charlie only looked ahead. She had business to attend to.
Once out of town, Charlie broke into a canter, urging Alana on, eager to reach the estate. No words went through her mind, only Darcyanna's face and pained eyes. She had to do something. Perhaps she wouldn't be able to help, but it seemed as if her brother didn't even know. He should. Oliver Venora, the proud boy she had met twelve arcs ago, would not let his sister be in pain. Oli, as Darcy called him. Oli, as he had allowed Charlie to call him.
Charlie cantered up the path towards the house, and already there was a footman waiting at the door. He must have seen her approach. Dismouting swiftly, Charlie handed the reins to a waiting stableboy, looking shocked at her sudden arrival. Determinedly, she marched up to the footman, and before he could speak, introduced herself.
"Charlie Warrick, Sergeant," she said, straightbacked, showing off her silver wing. "I do not have an appointment, nor have I written a letter, but I need to see Oliver Venora. Immediately."
"My Lady," blustered the footman, "this is highly irregular--"
"It's urgent news about his sister." The blood drained from the footman's face, and he quickly buried whatever retort he had.
"Very well. You'd best come inside." The footman led Charlie into the entrance hall, down into a side room filled with plush armchairs and art. It was opulent and beautiful, but Charlie paid it no mind. She simply stared at the footman expectedly. "I will fetch my Lord. We'll have some wine brought to you while you wait. I will be right back, my Lady." With that, the footman disappeared back into the estate, and Charlie waited, anxiously - picking at the skin of her thumb, a childhood habit she had never been able to kick.