Night addition:

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Daniel was dreaming. He was in a dense wood. Beside him, he had a wolf as a guide leading him further and further inside. It was as if the forest was opening its arms to envelop him in a warm embrace of bliss. The wolf had one eye blue and the other eye green. His coat was rich, and he was in the prime of his life. They walked slowly, appreciating the trees which seemed to have artwork of all the souls of the past who had wandered before him. Their lives were spread out before him as a rich tapestry that was meant to be seen and appreciated—even if not understood.

Then, he was awake.

Someone was knocking at his door.

Daniel sighed. Why is it that all the best things in my life are always taken away from me—especially when I just seem to have them in my pale hands?

The frequency of the knocking increased. Daniel pulled back the blanket from the cot he was sleeping on and slipped on a pair of pants that was on the floor as well as his shirt. Then, he put on his boots without lacing them up. The knocking stopped, but then it sounded like someone was kicking on his door.

“I’m coming!” Daniel yelled. He grabbed his satchel with throwing daggers and then, as an afterthought, grabbed the enchanted short sword that he had collected from the catacombs. There is no need to always assume that the people who are seeking you are friendly. You know that from being a bard: you make friends quickly but enemies quicker.

He unbolted the door and came face to face with Ambrosia.

She was wrapped in a thick fur coat. The only thing that Daniel could make out was her face. The rest of her was completely covered. It was obvious that she was freezing.

“Come in!” Daniel spread the door wide for her. “Does your horse need tethering Ambrosia?”

She shook her head and tottered inside. Daniel, just for an instant, set a foot outside. It was chilly, but it was nowhere near as cold as Ambrosia seemed to be. He frowned and closed the door behind him without latching it. Daniel had learned, despite his typical habits, that people did not like to be caught somewhere without a clear exit.

She brought her arms from outside her furs and began rubbing them together. Daniel took the hint and began making a fire. That was one thing that the cabin was good for—he never seemed to have any trouble keeping the heat inside.

“How are things at the castle?” Daniel asked.

“Queen Snitchcat has requested an audience,” Ambrosia said. There was warmth in her voice, but it was strained. Daniel had thought that he had affronted her by the way she had entered, yet that did not seem to be the case.

“Your voice sounds harsh.”

“I’m sick, Bard. Can’t you tell?” she smiled.

“Ah,” Daniel said, moving around the coals and then lighting a match to ignite the twigs that he had placed on top. There were logs by the side of the fireplace, but he had to make sure that the fire was glowing enough before he added those. He had learned, many times, the hard way and had ended up shaking from the cold when he could not get a fire started fast enough.

“How are things for you out here?” Ambrosia said, grabbing a few twigs that Daniel had spilled and tossing them into the fireplace.

Daniel shrugged. “It’s a little time alone. Everyone needs that now and then.” The twigs began to light.

Success.

“You seem to require it a little more than most.”

They did not speak for a few minutes. Instead, they soaked in the warmth of the fire.

“How are things at the royal castles. Are your magnificent quarters exquisite enough?” Daniel grinned.

She laughed. “Funny one, you are. Always mixing and mincing your words as if you’re trying to test them on your palette.”

Daniel did a mock bow. “What can I say? I aim to entertain.”

Ambrosia nodded, looking out the T-shaped window. “Autumn is here. And that means that winter is not too far off the mark. I sense something, Bard.” She closed her eyes. “There is something amiss in the other kingdoms. The messengers were have sent off are taking too long. Everyone is placing it off to poor roads and travel conditions, but I do not believe that. There’s more to it than that.”

Daniel’s eyes narrowed.

“We need to make sure that we can defend the kingdom. Threats are not apparent, but that is the way it always seems. When you are in the light of day you always have your shadows, yet it is at night that your shadows continue to follow you in the blighted darkness.”

“Hm.”

“We need to make sure that things are going to be safe here before we can continue on our activities. The other royals are busy with their endeavors around the castle, as they will, but I took it upon myself to get you to the Queen. It is an important audience that she requests, and I believe that she has a task for you.”

“I will go to the castle this evening. It is quite a journey out here. Are you sure that you that up are up for the journey back?”

“Yes, Bard. I will survive. Just do not tarry too long. Queen Snitchcat is known for her kindness, but when you cross her the wrong way she does not shy away from letting her anger show.”

“Noted,” Daniel said.

He walked her to the door and opened it for her. She walked outside and then turned back to face him. “Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, Daniel. The things that happen in this world are not always right, but you cannot control them. You can only control the way that you react to them.”

Daniel nodded, shuffling his feet. “Take care, Ambrosia. Safe journey.”

She went to where her horse was tethered, undid her, and then began to ride off. When still in sight, she raised her arm and waved without turning around.

Daniel looked up at the clouded sky for some time. Afterwards, he re-entered the cabin.