Morning did eventually arrive, its cheery, cool light cascading through the trees and the open window of Jesz's hut. The bakers and farmers welcomed their friend the sun, the harbinger of the end of the bitter, dark pre-dawn, but to Jesz it was like an uninvited guest. It just let itself in whenever it wanted, traipsed about the place, and then did all it could to try to wake you up. And this morning, it seemed Jesz had only slept for about 37 seconds before it broke into her hut and made off with her last hope of getting any rest.
All night (or at least for 37 seconds), Jesz had been dreaming that when she awoke, the young man would be up, wearing nothing but an apron and making her breakfast: Sausages, eggs over medium (with all the crispy leftover bits sprinkled on top), and thick slices of ham all on toast and covered in cheese that smelled like decaying feet. Just the way she loved it. She also dreamed that she was in her own bed, that he was incredible handsome and intelligent, and that as he leaned in to say "Good morning," his voice was husky and sonorous at the same time.
The truth was not so kind. Jesz woke clutching a small bag of money, wearing a thin off-white shirt, with her legs splayed out haphazardly. Her hair had matted itself and now sported a variety of knots that would make any sailor jealous. The foot that hurt last night was only mildly sore now, though the rest of her body was sore as well. Red-rimmed eyes scanned the room as she sat up. There was no breakfast. There was no stinky cheese. She was still on the floor. The man was still unconscious, though in the daylight, he didn't look half-bad. She heaved a heavy sigh and got up, yawning profusely as she got dressed and started to go about her day.
"Good morning, Jesz," said a melodious voice the instant she stepped outside. The voice belonged to Mel, who was leaning against a tree stump. She looked well-rest and, as always, serious. She was clad in a brownish-green blouse with tight black pants, her brunette hair tied in a neat ponytail behind her. It was her typical "working" outfit, though Jesz always wondered why she often wore it when they were not on the job. Mel had the figure that most women torture themselves mentally and physically to achieve. She was fit, well-endowed (but not too much), has gorgeous long hair, and was tall. Jesz, on the other hand, has a slight build, had choppy, messy hair, was short, and was significantly less gifted in the bust department. Usually this made her jealous of Mel, but at the moment, she was far too tired to care.
Beside Mel, Eaups was yawning and hunched over a little. He waved at Mel while rubbing at the bags under his eyes. "Mo-yawn-orning, Jesz…" he said. White robes with light blue trim and just a splash of violet (for flare, as Murphy always put it) let the world know that Eaups was of the religious order, and his small conical hat told everyone that he was a last-year student. This, too, was his traveling gear, which made Jesz wonder if she had forgotten some important event.
"Um… Morning?" he said, then stifled another yawn. Jesz did not so much mean this as a greeting, but more an inquiry. Morning was to Jesz what Bigfoot and helpful lawyers are to most people - something you hear about, but never actually meet.
"How is the patient?" Mel asked. Jesz raised her eyebrow up at her.
"How are you so… awake?" she whined. "He's still sleeping, like I should be."
"Good, he made it through the night." Mel smiled softly, looking relieved. The truth was, she'd never had to remove an arrow from someone before, and was proud that he didn't die right away. "I will have to look in on him soon. But first, are you ready to go?"
Jesz, still wearing the thin white shirt and cat-print underwear, looked down at herself. "Go whe-" she started to ask before her cheeks flushed a bright red and she scrambled behind the door of her hut. "No, I'm not ready… You! Boy! Turn around!"
Eaups had honestly been too tired to see what she had been wearing, or not wearing as the case was. Instead, he obediently turned around, still yawning. "I didn see…" yawn, "nothing." Once he was turned around, Jesz scrambled back indoors and shut the door hard.
"We are going to find our one-eyed friend, Mr Giancolli," Mel said through the door. Aryx was able to pick up his trail this morning, so it shouldn't be too hard to get him by surprise, but we need to be ready just in case." Jesz hated these rushed missions with little planning; they led to more injuries or failures. But Mel loved the excitement. "Besides, I bet he is half asleep right now."
"He isn't the only one…" Jesz muttered to herself as she started to get undressed and pull our her own adventuring clothes from the chest at the foot of her bed. They consisted of tight, brown, leather pants, a long-sleeve, crimson, silk shirt and a pocketed leather vest, along with a few other accessories that weren't meant to be seen. "What about this guy? What if he wakes up while we're gone? I don't want him in my house."
Mel leaned her back against the door, arms crossed. "I seriously doubt he will be up anytime soon. But…" Her voice trailed off as she looked up at the sky in thought. "Maybe we should be careful. I do not think we can trust him. He was armed, and I think he might be from Drysen, not Mayford."
"So?" Jesz asked as she folded her white shirt and pajama bottoms.
"So… maybe he is not a thief."
"Nonesense," Jesz replied with a sputter. "I know a fellow thief when I see one. Those tools are for picking locks and hiding loot."
"Well if he's a thief, maybe we shouldn't leave him in here…" Eaups said in a brief moment of clarity.
Mel smirked, lowering her gaze again. "As if she has anything here that is worth stealing."
"What do you mean!? I've got that…"
"That what?" Mel asked, turning her head toward the door. "Jesz?"
The scream that followed was high enough to make dogs nervous and loud enough to make Eaups finish waking up. Before either of them could rush into the room, Jesz opened the door and rushed outside, knocking Mel over. She had on her pants, but was holding her crimson shirt up to her to hide her shame while pointing with her free hand at the man. He was sitting upright in the bed, eyes open, with a smile on his face.