Evelyn had heard the word “rest” so many times at this point it was almost making her paranoid. Her friends had rattled off about self care for days, telling her that she needed to get out of the Waffle House and take some time to rest . The whole Father Sunbright incident was stressful and upsetting, sure, but Evelyn had reasoned that everything would turn out okay in the end. Didn’t it always?
She had dismissed everything until that lovely bard who bought all those pies mentioned how dying repeatedly damages one’s skin. Her words made Evelyn stand in front of her mirror for almost an hour, looking at her face. Evelyn was 24 years old, but her eyes disagreed. They claimed she was older. Or was that wiser? If anyone else had been through what she had endured in the past couple years, they wouldn’t look as young as she did, would they? Either way, Evelyn finally consented to a weekend away.
As she brought her bag downstairs, Evelyn turned to Diath just he walked out of the kitchen. “Diath, are you sure you don’t need me to do anything before I leave?”
“Evie, all I need is for you to have a great time at the retreat,” Diath said. He took her hands and smiled. “You are the heart of our team, our weird little family. It means a lot to all of us that you get some rest and have a bit of fun.”
“I guess it won’t be so bad, but is everyone else going to take some time for themselves, too?”
“Already there,” Paultin hollared from the bar. He held up a now-empty wine bottle as evidence.
Diath and Evelyn exchanged a look. Diath shrugged. “I am taking the kids fishing this weekend, and Strix is working on some new pies that don’t involve pieces of insects. We are going to keep things low key here as well.”
At that point, a knock on the door revealed that Evelyn’s carriage had arrived. She gathered up her bag and hugged Diath’s neck.
“I’ll be back soon. Thank you!”
As Diath closed the door, he turned to Paultin. “I was beginning to think she wouldn’t actually go. This is a really nice thing you are doing for her, Paultin.”
Paultin reached for another bottle. “Yeah, she’s seen a lot lately. Also, I guess I owed it to her for those remarks about the church.”
“Maybe you did. Maybe you could have offered to escort her?” Diath smiled at Paultin. The bard looked up for just a moment before returning his attention to the wine bottles.
“Great idea. We could get a sitter for all these kids and let you and Strix have the house to yourselves while we are at it.” Paultin have Diath a sly grin, while Diath rolled his eyes.
“Okay,” Diath said, “have it your way. I was just thinking of all the talk she did about loneliness. She might enjoy the company.” Diath then headed off to the pie shop to assist Strix.
Paultin threw back another glass of wine. He thought about what Diath had suggested. True, he could have gone with her. It wasn’t like he could afford an extra few days for himself. It might have been nice. As he considered a little peace and quiet for himself, four kids and a large owlbear paraded through the living room. The kids had improvised musical instruments… metal cans and forks had become a drum set, while a guitar had been fashioned from a box with a hole in it and fishing wire. Simon was leading them with castanets, as Kat waived a makeshift flag. Even Waffles hooted along in her own way. The racket was overwhelming. Paultin placed his glass on the bar and went to his room to pack.
The location for the weekend retreat was a spa on the outskirts of Waterdeep. The Old Spring Bathhouse, as it was known, was a prized destination for many due to its healing hot springs, luxurious accommodations, and pampering. As much as Evelyn had tried to resist going, she now diving into the experience. She had arrived midday and was immediately ushered to spa treatment. There was a lovely dinner with other patrons of the house that evening, followed by a bubble bath. When had she last had a bubble bath? The only part she didn’t care for was how quiet it was at bedtime.
The next morning, Evelyn looked at her schedule for the day as she had breakfast. A familiar voice came up behind her. “Hey.”
She gasped and turned around, “Paultin!”
Paultin sat down beside her. “So, is this any good?” He took a bite of her quiche as she excitedly pushed her plate towards him.
“What are you doing here?”
“Huh? Well, I was thinking that maybe I needed a weekend as well. I won’t get in your way,...”
“Nonsense! Do you have a schedule?”
Paultin continued to eat Evelyn’s quiche as she looked over his schedule. “Oh, we have a few overlaps after all! C’mon, next up is a massage.”
Paultin swallowed the eggy dish hard. “Massages?” Before he could protest, Evelyn was leading him to their next stop.
Like everything else, the massages were quite the experience. They each changed into simple robes in changing rooms, and then were lead to a private room. There was incense, the sound of water trickling off of rocks, and two tables set within an arm’s reach of each other.
“Uh, are we doing this together?” Paultin asked. “That seems a bit odd.”
“Oh, I think they thought we were a couple,” Evelyn said. “If it bothers you…”
“What? No, I was just being respectful…”
Their banter was interrupted by two large, half-orc females who directed them to their individual tables. They were ordered to disrobe and were covered with a small sheet that covered less than either would have liked. However, any thoughts of feeling exposed were quickly wiped away by the aggressive rubbing of their masseuses. The women, obviously skilled in their craft, used scented oils as they rubbed the couple’s muscles vigorously.
Evelyn was so relaxed that she dozed off. Paultin did not feel the same. The tension in his neck and back would not easily yield to a workout from his masseuse. The woman then piled hot stones across his back, which made him flinch hard enough to roll a few of them off of his back. All of this luxury was a bit much for Paultin, who was beginning to feel more tortured than relaxed. He peeked at Evelyn, dumbfounded by her ability to sleep through it all. Paultin looked at her smiling, dreamy face with confusion. He then let his eyes follow the length of her petite body, covered in hot stones and a skimpy towel. Evelyn’s porcelain skin glistened with the oil...
Paultin turned his head away. That wasn’t cool, he chastised himself.
Soon the massages were finished. Evelyn happily headed off to a hair treatment while Paultin went to a music session. He found that whole experience stressful as well. There were a number of different areas with different instruments. He soon discovered that not everyone was, well, proficient. The cacophony around him soon gave him a headache. One of guides noticed his discomfort and offered to let Paultin head to lunch early.
At lunch, Paultin sat alone, wishing his juice would turn into wine. He saw Evelyn approach from across the room. Her blonde hair had somehow been straightened, which made it cascade over her shoulders. She looked beautiful, so refreshed and energetic. It was clear Paultin didn’t look that way.
“Paultin, are you feeling okay?”
He bit his lip, not wanting to ruin her mood. “Yeah, just a bit short on the good stuff,” he said, holding the juice aloft.
“Oh, they will have some at dinner. It was pretty good last night,” Evelyn said. She was beaming as she told him about her hair treatment over a big salad. Paultin shared the music class experience as she laughed.
“Of course that’s no fun for a gifted musician like yourself, listening to a bunch of novices,” Evelyn chortled.
“It was different,” Paultin admitted. “So, what’s next?”
Next on the schedule for both was the bathhouse. “This is what they are famous for! I cannot wait,” Evelyn chattered excitedly. “Between the massages and the springs, we will sleep like babes from being so relaxed.”
Paultin smiled, but inwardly screamed. This was not relaxing at all. He felt beat up from the massage, and now was heading to a bathhouse with his friend. No skimpy towels there, he thought, no towels at all.
As lunch concluded, they were escorted to their separate changing rooms on the edge of the springs. Paultin stalled to give Evelyn time to get in the springs without his eyes being put into another compromising position. After about ten minutes longer than it should have taken him to get undressed, he robed up and headed to the water.
Sure enough, Evelyn was already in the water, her boots seated near the edge. She had openly discussed the leg thing a few days ago, so maybe that wouldn’t come up.
“Paultin! This is amazing!!” Evelyn submerged her head under the water and popped back up with a laugh. He might have smiled if not for his current need to get into the water with as little nudity as possible. He quickly eased into the water, soaking the bottom of his robe as he disrobed. The unrelenting froth of the spring water did a good job of concealing… things… so Paultin began to relax.
For the next hour, Paultin and Evelyn just talked. They compared their likes and dislikes of Waterdeep, Chult, and Barovia. Laughter escaped them as they discussed Strix and Diath’s awkwardness and will-they-won't-they nature of their relationship. Parenting, missing friends, songs… they covered more in that hour than they had in months. With a clear mind, Paultin could recall so many things they had experienced together. Not just life and death, but good times as well. When they discussed the future, neither mentioned anything that didn’t account for their “family.”
As the announcement for dinner was made, they each turned away as the other departed the springs. Robes on, Paultin then helped Evelyn back to her changing room, carrying her boots.
Dinner brought a bit too much to drink and more laughter. After dinner, they took a walk through the nearby topiary gardens.
“I guess I didn’t realize how stressed I was until I got here,” Evelyn confessed. “Rest really is good for the soul.”
“Same,” Paultin admitted. “It’s been nice to not hear children scream and eat something besides pie. Who knew?”
“Are you staying another day for the full experience?”
“Nah, I think I’ll head back with you. Who knows what shape the house will be in when we return.”
“There is a pattern emerging, yes,” Evelyn said as she shrugged. “Who knows when it'll blow up next?”
Paultin looked at Evelyn’s bouncy locks in the garden’s lamp light. The springs made sure she wouldn’t go home with straight hair. He spoke without thinking.
“You look beautiful.”
Evelyn blushed. “Thank you. I look healthy and relaxed, right?”
“Yes,” Paultin stammered, thankful for a bit of an out. “You look ready to run a few of these classes yourself.”
“Well, the next time you want to treat me to a weekend, we can come back here and try that,” she grinned.
The bard cut a look at Evelyn. “It was the least I could do,” he confessed.
Evelyn smiled as they walked back into the inn. “I do appreciate you looking out for me.”
Paultin cleared his throat. “Family, right?”
“Yes, sir. Family.”
They headed back the next morning after a decadent brunch, and made it home within a few hours. As they rounded the corner to their street, the duo saw Waffles sitting on one of the kids in the yard as the others climbed on top of her.
“Waffles might need a break as well,” Evelyn teased.
“Looks like she is winning,” Paultin countered.
Upon entering the home, Evelyn hugged her friends and began to talk nonstop to Diath and Strix about the food and springs, while Paultin dropped his bags and made himself a drink.
Diath broke himself away to walk over to Paultin. “So, how are you feeling?”
“Well, I was beat up by a masseuse and assaulted audibly by people with tin ears. Oh, and the awkward group nudity at the springs.” Paultin shuddered. “Very relaxing,” he mumbled.
Diath furrowed his brow. “Thankfully, Evie Had a much better experience.”
“She sure did.”
As Diath walked back over to where the women discussed skin treatments made of mud, Paultin smiled. He thought about the last two days as he watched Evelyn chortle about the weekend. Paultin could see a glimpse of the Evelyn that watched his sets for weeks on end. Only now, he was the one looking on in adoration.
Paultin headed to his room and emerged with his instruments. He whispered to Diath that he was off to do a set at a tavern.
“Really,” the rogue asked. “You just got in.”
“Yeah, well, maybe I want to start saving for the next trip.”
Paultin motioned towards the smiling paladin, now helping Strix in the kitchen.
“Rest, man. The results speak for themselves.”