Miriamele is more than frightened

27th October 1103

*Trigger warning* This post deals with topics that may be distressing to some readers including discussions of violence against women. If you would like to skip it the story will be made clear in a number of other posts.

All the burgeoning hope that had come with Cordell’s presence was trickling away as she stood in that room, the metallic stench of fresh blood filling her nostrils. She had laughed as he hacked away her hair. Blushed as he turned away so she could dress herself in the boys clothing he had brought with him. Smiled as he daubed her face with coal.

The safe feeling that had arrived with him had completely dissipated when Nagale slunk into the room.

She couldn’t believe this was part of her brother-in-law’s plan. The bewildered look on his face was enough to confirm this fear. But she had followed them as they crept through the courtyard, sneaking into the room where the dead girl lay.

Nagale had not laughed as Miriamele carefully plaited her hair. She had not blushed as she disrobed, not even waiting for Cordell to turn away, her woman’s body a patchwork of scars. Nagale had not smiled as Cordell painted her face into a death mask.

And Miriamele could not help but notice the way Cordell’s eyes raked over Nagale’s naked body before he turned away. She could not help notice that his neck was flushed red where the paint met his cloak.

Miriamele did not dislike Nagale, she barely knew her. Most of her long days in the harem were spent in a drugged stupor and they did not permit her to associate with the other women. From what she knew of Nagale, the woman was a lioness, pacing the confines of her cage and lashing out at anyone who crossed her path.

She did not blame the woman for wanting to escape. Nagale had been mounted by the lion himself and her body bore the scars of their mating.

And yet, it was one thing to spirit out Miriamele, a slip of a girl who was yet to be wed. Nagale was the third star wife of N’nkasha, a woman he had claimed body and soul for himself. Miriamele could not imagine he would let her go without a fight.

Even now she sensed his presence, lurking in the gloom somewhere within the castle confines. She felt him as though he were crouched in the long grass, his belly wriggling in the dirt, hunching low, his hind legs slowly swaying as he readied himself to pounce.

And there was the smell, the rank stench of death in this room. She imagined his nostrils flaring as he dragged in the scent, savouring it on his tongue. He had killed this woman. If he caught them now, death would be the best she could hope for.

Miriamele glanced over at the dead girl even though she had promised herself she would not look. She lay, twisted on the stone slab where other dead girls had lain before. Her face was a bloodied mess, one arm bent at a horrific angle. She had been a dancer, Miriamele thought, graceful and beautiful. Now she stared, dull eyes wide, a confused expression on her face. Perhaps when death came to her he was not a visitor she was expecting.

Miriamele wished they would close the girl’s eyes. They would hang her shroud upon another woman, a woman who was still alive, who could walk and dance and close her own eyes if she wanted. It seemed if they would leave her there it was the least dignity they could give her, she was not a willing participant in this escape.

Mirri would have done it herself but she was morbidly afraid to touch the dead girl.

She wished Cordell would do it, but he didn’t think of it and she didn’t like to ask.

She choked back a sob and tried to be brave, tried to breath deep and steady her shaking hands. The fog was threatening to settle over her and she took another breath. It was a mistake, she could taste the dead girl’s blood on her tongue.

Soon they would go out through those doors, all three pretending. Miriamele pretending to be a boy, Cordell pretending to be a woman, and Nagale, Nagale would pretend to be a dead girl.

Miriamele thought in some ways Nagale already was.

Arwaduhn

2 responses to “Miriamele is more than frightened”

  1. Van says:

    Well, here’s hoping all three are good at pretending. I do get some hope from the fact that Cordell has apparently fooled everyone so far except for Nagale.

    But I think the Miri and Nagale are both so desperate for freedom that they’ll both manage just fine on the acting front. My main concern is whatever drug is still lurking in Miri’s system… :S

  2. verity says:

    Nagale is definitely smarter than the average bear. Their group is getting dangerously large though…

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