As Alanna walked through the open doors the room fell to a hush, and she felt every eye upon her. There were a dozen clanfolk, mostly older men but a couple of women also, seated at a large table that dominated the center of the room. At the far side of the room was another table, smaller, and there sat Rafel and Alen with another woman at his side, and another older man who stood slowly when she came in. Alanna found herself unable to move, staring at the man who she assumed must be her father. His hair was the same russet hue as her own, plaited at the temples but otherwise left unruly. His eyes were the same startling blue as her own as well.
“Tirena!” The clanlord’s cry was overjoyed, and he nearly stumbled in an effort to step around the table to move toward her. Dureil gently pressed a hand agains the young woman’s back, as though to urge her to go to him. She found herself unable to move at first, her gaze wandering a bit to the other clansfolk. When she caught Rafel’s gaze though she smiled, and with a steadying breath she moved forward.
There was no denying the man was her father, just as there was no denying the woman in the painting in her room had been her mother. Alanna walked towards her father as he shuffled across the dining hall, and when they reached one another the clanlord grasped her arms gently. “My daughter, how much like your mother you look.”
There was a great cheer then, many voices drowning out even the sound of her father’s, but that didn’t matter. He took her hand and linked her arm with his, escorting her back to the head table. Rafel stood, drawing back a chair for her and then offered her a cup. Talven remained standing, and the clanfolk quieted.
“Tonight is a night of joy indeed, for my daughter has been returned to me. To us,” said Talven, looking down at her. “And with her return I feel stronger than I have in moons.”
There was another cheer throughout the dining hall, and Alanna felt her cheeks color. Her father sat down beside her then, and the gathered clanfolk resumed their meal. Rafel, seated on her other side, patted her hand gently. “Welcome home, doma-sha.” She blushed a bit darker then, glancing to Talven uncertainly. He either didn’t notice the younger clansman’s affection for his daughter, or he accepted it.
Dinner was an enjoyable time, but she soon found herself quite tired. As her eyes drooped Dureil chuckled. “I think someone should escort our dear Tirena to her bedchamber, lest she fall asleep in the tart.”
Talven laughed and nodded. “Rafel, will you take my daughter up to her room? I must speak with your sister.” Alanna’s cheeks darkened a little then, and she started to protest. “I can find my way.”
“Nonsense, doma-sha.” Rafel said softly.”‘You have only seen the halls once. You will be safe in my care.” With that he rose, and reached to take her hand, and when she stood he wrapped it around his arm.
Alanna paused, and smiled at Talven. “Goodnight, father.” That made the clanlord nearly glow with delight, and he kissed her hand before releasing her to Rafel’s care.
The two made their way through the keep again, up the stairs and down the corridor to her door. “I shall leave you here, doma-sha. Perhaps I can escort you to breakfast?” he asked.
“Of course, Rafel.” She smiled, and squeezed his hand gently, her weariness making her forget propriety instilled in her in the village.
Her touch made him smile widely, and he grew emboldened and kissed her cheek. “I wish you wonderful dreams, doma-sha.” He moved back from her then, and opened the door, closing it only once Tirena had stepped inside.