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The first day in the city, Felaranthir introduced Balfrith to his own house-hold, and handed him over to Eärolan thereafter. Balfrith was given a room of his own in Felaranthir's house, next to Eldamir's private room. He was told that Eldamir would be assigned as his guide, upon his return to the city. Until that time, Balfrith was free to roam the great house and surrounding commons, and Eärolan would accompany him. But he wasn't to stray too far, and he was not to leave the city at all.
As Eärolan prepared to step out, he said, "There are clean clothes in the wardrobe there. If you like, I can have a bath summoned for you, so that you might wash away the dust of the road. Supper will be served in a few hours' time."
Balfrith nodded in thanks. "Thank you Eärolan, a bath would be nice."
"Certainly. Just wait here, and servants will bring everything you need." Eärolan closed the door as he left, and Balfrith checked out the room where he hoped to live the next several years. As long as I can manage to live by their rules, according to my own vow. He wondered how difficult those promises would be to keep.
The chamber was well-appointed, clearly furnished for a lord rather than a commoner or servant. The bed was a thick mattress filled with down-feathers, softer than any he had ever slept in, resting upon a carved oaken frame with a headboard but no footboard. The four posts rising from each corner of the base frame met in a complex wooden framework above, hung with sheer linen curtains held open by soft ropes. It was similar to the bed that his father had, though the wood-work seemed to be of higher quality, as did the mattress.
The remaining furnishings - wardrobe, writing desk and chair, and foot locker - were all similarly made of carved wood, a blond oak that had been oiled to a golden sheen, and all were clearly a matched set. The carvings on each piece featured similar themes of vines growing up the boles of trees, intertwined branches, broad leaves of oak and maple and ash, and the occasional small bird hidden amongst the leaves and branches.
It looks like the forest, Balfrith realized with a start.
Just then, there was a quick knock at the door and then it opened, and two robed Elefdar servants bearing a wooden tub carried it in, setting it quietly on the floor near the wardrobe before silently leaving again. Balfrith glanced at the tub, noting that it was still empty. But within moments, the same servants returned, carrying buckets of steaming water with which they filled the tub. After several trips, it was over half full, and Balfrith undressed himself and climbed in, while the servants made a few more trips to finish filling the tub. Their last delivery was a smaller bucket, soap, wash-cloth and towels for drying off.
Balfrith sat back in the tub, letting the hot water relax his muscles and closing his eyes to rest for a while. But his natural energy returned quickly, and he was soon too bored to rest, no matter how soothing the water might be. He grabbed the soap and wash cloth, and quickly finished bathing, climbing out of the tub to dry off.
Naked but no longer dripping wet, Balfrith stepped to the tall wardrobe and opened its doors to see what awaited him inside. Several garments hung there, along with some folded underclothes on the floor. Two woven cloth belts hung from the inside of the left door, one broad and one narrow. How are these to support the weight of a sword? He shrugged and pulled on the smallclothes, tying them at the waist, and taking note that the Elefdar apparently wore the same types of undergarments as Men. He grinned at the absurdity - why wouldn't they wear basically the same garment? He also noticed the high quality weave of the linen, and wondered briefly if everything created by the Elefdar was of such a superior construction.
Next, he drew out one of the robes, holding it up before him to get a better look in the light. It was made of a lightweight colored cloth that shimmered slightly in the light, though it wasn't shiny like the satin that he was accustomed to seeing his father and other lords wear. It had somewhat the sheen of velvet, but was not fuzzy like that cloth - in fact, it was lighter, smoother and softer than any cloth he had ever seen or worn, and wondered what it might be.
Opening the robe as he pulled it from his wooden hanger, he noted that there was a pair of hose hanging inside as well. He pulled those on first, and they were loose and comfortable, sliding easily over the smallclothes, not snugly like the breeches he was used to wearing. The hose had a sewn-in cord similar to the undergarment, so he tied it at the waist, then put on the robe over it, noting that it had loops and buttons down the front to keep it closed. It was also shorter than he had at first thought, more the length of a tunic than a normal robe. After all that was done, he took one of the belts and wrapped it about his waist, then realized there was no buckle or hooking mechanism on either end. How does it stay in place? Shrugging, Balfrith set the belt aside on the bed, leaving the robe/tunic to hang loosely from his shoulders.
It was at that moment that he noticed the burnished mirror in the corner of the room, and stepped over to it to see what he looked like wearing Elefdar clothing. Bizarre…
Just then, one of the servants that he had met before knocked on the door, waiting this time for him to call "Enter."
He came into the room silently, and glanced at Balfrith quickly before getting to work cleaning up the used bath items. He left, and returned with two other servants, and the three of them lifted the tub, water and all, and carried it out.
Balfrith waited for them to return, but it was Eärolan who entered the open door after that. "Greetings, Balfrith. I trust you are clean and refreshed after the bath?"
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