Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 19
Wilhelmina’s determined face softened enough to grant Leonard an encouraging smile as she led the way out of the kitchen. Masha trailed behind them like a lost puppy, causing Leonard to wonder what she would be doing while he and Wilhelmina sought answers in Krosis; though, not for long, he was too absorbed with what he and Wilhelmina would find when they passed through the pond.
Leonard’s heart kept time with their footsteps as they wound their up to the outer chamber of Wilhelmina’s rooms to retrieve their packs…and weapons.
They both checked the contents of their rucksacks, Leonard’s full of the clothes that he’d placed there last night, but it has also been stocked with fruits, breads, and other wrapped foodstuffs. There also looked to be a couple of small books tucked in that he thought he recognized from the stacks Wilhelmina had sorted through the before, as well as a sleeping roll.
“I filled it this morning,” came Masha’s small voice behind Leonard’s stooped form. Leonard smiled at and thanked her over his shoulder before rising and slinging the pack over his back.
“I hope you don’t mind, I didn’t have enough room in mine for everything and there was sufficient room in yours,” Wilhelmina added as she adjusted her sword belt after donning her own pack.
“Not at all,” Leonard replied, trying to arrange his own weapons around his pack, unsuccessfully. It wasn’t until Wilhelmina had come to his assistance that Leonard was properly outfitted. She made a point of showing him how to fit his quiver, pack, and bow on his back and still be able to use them if necessary.
Leonard swallowed and tried not to focus on the weight of the sword at his hip and the wild thoughts of possibly needing to use it. He kept imaging scenes from movies, the clashing of steel and fall of bodies after been struck down, pained faces spewing blood along with their last breaths. He shivered.
“If you’re ready, we should go.” Wilhelmina was waiting in the doorway, an unreadable expression on her face. Masha stood beside her, the younger woman’s outline quivering as she darted glances at Wilhelmina while chewing on her bottom lip.
Leonard squared his shoulders and followed the women out of the room and down the hall, turning down a different set of hallways than the ones he had begun to recognize. It felt strange to find himself wanting to cling to this place when it wasn’t much more familiar than where he was headed. What was stranger was his lack of homesickness, but Leonard chalked that up to not being gone long.
The small procession made its way through various halls, around corners, and finally down a much smaller staircase than the one in the entrance hall. The dust their footprints disturbed informed Leonard of the stairs’ little use, at least in recent days.
They had only just left the stairs behind when Wilhelmina reached for the handle of an aged wooden door. She pulled it open and Leonard was greeted with shafts of light so bright that it temporarily blinded him.
After blinking furiously and through partially squinted eyes, Leonard passed through the door and out into the foreign sunlight, and the luscious garden basking in the warm light. Birds and other forest creatures announced themselves in their various; chirps, rustlings, caws, creaks, and more, a song by and for nature.
While Leonard took his time taking in the beauty of the garden, Wilhelmina pulled Masha away and the two women conferred privately. Leonard tried to focus on the bird song and the wind through the stately trees instead of the sniffling he was certain came from Masha in between the soft murmur of conversation.
He ventured further into the garden until he found himself at the edge of a small pond. It was shimmering and glowing with the same luminescent blue and purple lights he’d seen before. Something about the glittering surface comforted him in an inexpressible way, calming the nerves that had been causing his heart to attempt to free itself from his chest.
“Leonard?” Wilhelmina stood next him on the edge of the pond, looking at the water with a mix of apprehension and excitement.
“Now or never, right?” Leonard could hear the oddity in his tone, a voice not quite his own.
Wilhelmina nodded, checking the various weaponry strapped to her lithe form before speaking again. “There’s no telling if we will be greeted when we arrive, or what sort of reception we can expect, as I’m sure you know by now. That being said, I ask that you please allow me to do the talking and stay a step behind me.”
Leonard nodded mutely and reached out for Wilhelmina’s hand. She looked from the glassy surface to Leonard’s waiting palm before placing hers in it. A gust of wind filled Leonard’s nostrils with the scent of water lilies, making his heart flutter.
“On the count of three, then?” Wilhelmina asked, her intelligent eyes turned to Leonard. They stared at each other for a moment, neither daring to move. Again, Leonard nodded, repressing the urge to tighten his grip on Wilhelmina’s hand.
“Alright then. One…”
Click here for Part 21!