Sorelle pinned the lace edging into place, making sure that it lay flat against the seam. There were only a few days until the ball, so she’d had to take a few shortcuts to finish her new dress in time. Salenicus was the one who’d told her about the ball, though she’d seen the paper hearts and ribbons being hung, she hadn’t paid it much mind. A relatively new custom adopt from the goblins, it was meant to be a day to celebrate love, but in truth was probably just a ruse to sell candy and flowers. Obviously, Sorelle had never had anyone to go with before, but this year she did. Salenicus had asked her, and she wanted a new dress that would match the ruffly pink decorations in the ballroom. She’d given Tik a list of what sort of fabric and supplies she needed, and he’d returned with a length of beautiful soft pink cloth, like rose petals. For a butler, he was fortunately good at picking out cloth that she would like. Or perhaps everything in Silvermoon was nice, and it was impossible to pick something bad. She’d never been to the shops there herself, though she desperately wanted to. The Headmaster assured her that the arcane guards could see through magical disguises, and they might ask her to leave.
Though it wasn’t especially complex, the lines were soft and flattering, and Sorelle was pleased with how it was turning out. There was enough fabric left for some matching bows — she made one for herself, and one for Xarola. Of all the students, she was the one who had been the most like a friend to her, talking to her and loaning her books. Sorelle thought Xarola probably wasn’t very fond of pink, but maybe she’d wear it just for the ball. The last little piece she made into a handkerchief for Salenicus. Of course, he couldn’t really use it, but she thought it might look nice tucked into his coat or armor.
“Lin! You’re a woman, can you help me?”
Linarelle lowered her bow and looked at the Captain, puzzled.
Sath’alor held a sheet of paper. From what Linarelle could see, there were a lot of things scratched out and rewritten. “I want to know if this is a good poem for Nessna.”
“Shouldn’t you ask her that?”
“Okay, yes,” Sath’alor explained. “But if she hates it, then it’s not a good gift, is it?”
Linarelle bit her lip. “Is that the only thing you got her?”
“No, of course not. I got flowers and some chocolates, a bottle of wine… oh, and a book. From that one shop. Forget I said that.”
Linarelle nodded. At least if the poem was terrible, he had a backup plan. She laid her bow against the bench and sat down. “Let’s hear it.”
The Captain read from the paper. “An ode to Nessna. My dearest Nessna, you are the best-na ranger I’ve ever known. I’d be a mess-na if you don’t say yes-na to being mine. You’ll never guess-na how much you mean to me. I’m truly blessed-na.”
“Um,” said Linarelle. “Do you want me to be honest?”
“It’s pretty bad.”
“How can it be bad?” Sath’alor protested. “It rhymes and everything. I mean, kind of.”
Still, as awful as it was, he’d clearly gone to a lot of effort. And he probably meant every awkward line. Would Nessna at least be amused by it? Probably. Linarelle had her own share of odd gifts from Sunashe, but that didn’t mean she loved him any less. “It might not be the best poem ever, but she’ll like it.”
Sath’alor brightened. “You think so?”
“I’m sure of it.”