Miriamele does not feel safe

28th October 1103

“What the hell were you thinking?” Lochan spat.

Cordell said nothing, folding his arms protectively over his hunched body. He was the taller man, but seemed somehow small in the face of Lochan’s towering rage.

“You’d just go in there and get the girl and everything would be fine. Do you know what sort of havoc you’ve likely caused? The danger you’ve put us all in?”

Miriamele was glad for the warmth of Estan’s arm. It was a small comfort in what was otherwise an exceedingly awful situation. She wanted to say something, to protest on Cordell’s behalf, but her mouth was dry and she was afraid she might throw up if she tried to speak.

“I trusted you Cordell, we all did. How could you betray us like this?” Lochan growled.

“I couldn’t leave her there,” Cordell murmured.

“And what of the people we left behind? Did you think of them? Do you think he won’t ransack every last corner of the kingdom looking for her,” he threw a glance to where Nagale was sitting silently.

This was awful. It was all her fault. What if he hurt people because of her? And Cordell, he had just been helping her. What if they punished him for that? That was her fault too. She choked back a sob, feeling miserable and afraid and still no safer than before. She had merely been moved from one place full of raging dangerous men, to another.

This was not the Lochan she remembered, the laughing son of the Duke who had ruffled her hair and grinned at her the only time they had met.

Estan reached over and took her hand in his, giving it a comforting squeeze. She could feel his fingers trembling in her grasp.

“How could you do this?” Lochan snarled through gritted teeth.

“Now Lochan,” Eallair interrupted congenially, “perhaps there is a better time to give the lad a chiding. Our guests have had a difficult night and are likely very weary.”

He looked pointedly over at Nagale and her guard. Lochan bristled but went silent.

Nagale looked exhausted. All the fight had gone out of her, her head drooping humbly, the remnants of her messy braid straggling down one shoulder. She had washed most of the paint off, but there were still patches she had missed, chalky white, as though she were half turned to marble.

The guard stood silently beside her, mostly hidden in the folds of Cordell’s cloak. Miriamele could still make out his tattoed face in the shadow of the hood and she shivered, edging a little closer to the warmth of Estan’s leg.

“Why are they so angry at Cordell?” she murmured, leaning her face close to Estan’s, “he saved us.”

From where she was sitting, Miramele could only see his eye-patch, his healthy eye far away on the other side of his head. That meant he could not see her at all. She shuddered to think of the gaping, hollow that lay behind the black material, the stitched up flesh were once there had been a seeing eye. She wished she had sat on his other side.

“Yes, he saved us, but he has disobeyed his orders and brought everyone into a great deal of danger. I can’t say I’m sorry in the least since it was being mine and your own hides that were the paying price, but I understand where Lochan’s coming from.”

He leaned a little closer, the dark shadow of the eye-patch looming closer, “Besides which,” he whispered, “Lochan always was a ruddy bastard when he got his temper up.”

Lochan was silent now, his arms crossed over his chest, face fixed in a scowl. Eanraig had crept up to Nagale, as though the slightest movement would send her streaking away like his striped tabby cat. Miriamele could see it now, glowering from beneath a chair. She wanted to pick it up and stroke it, to cuddle it close and bury her nose in its fur, breathing in the warm kittenish scent. Back home she had a cat, Dora, a fat, fluffy old thing. They wouldn’t let her take Dora with her when Miri went into the harem. She had cried to say goodbye, holding out some small hope that her new husband would be kind enough to humour his young wife’s love for her cat. She had learned very quickly how wrong this hope had been. And now she would never see her old cat again.

“My Lady,” Eanraig said warmly, “you must be exhausted after your ordeal.”

He extended his hand, but she rose to her feet and bowed before him. Her body was the epitome of submission, her slender shoulders hunched, her head held low. But her eyes were keen and bright, glancing up at Eanraig’s face, as though the gauge his reaction.

All of sudden, she fell to her knees before him.

“Please, please sir,” she moaned, wringing her hands, “Please don’t send me back to him.”

“Get up!” one of the guards cried, trying to bodily drag the woman from her knees.

“Now, now Osras,” Eanraig murmured, “is that any way to treat our guest.

“She’s a prisoner,”Osras replied, looking confused.

“Well now lad, that is still to be determined,” Eanraig reached down and gently helped the distraught woman to her feet, “I’m sure we’ll find them to be very accommodating.”

Nagale pitched forward, burying her face in the crook of Eanraig’s neck and clutching at his tunic, her body wracked with sobs.

“There now lass, you’re safe with us,” he murmured, reaching up to stroke Nagale’s bare shoulder, “no harm will come to you now.”

Finally, when the weeping subsided, Nagale slowly straightened, her hands still on Eanraig’s chest, as though she needed him for support.

“Thank you,” she hiccuped, “you are so very kind to me.”

For a woman who had been crying, Nagale’s eyes seemed curiously dry to Miriamele. She did not wish the Tassril woman ill, but nor did she entirely trust her.

“Osras, now you’ll make our guests comfortable won’t you. Unfortunately you’ll need to take the tattooed lad down to the hull, does he have a name?”

“N’nkasha does not allow his guards to have names, nor lives. They belong only to him,” Nagale replied, her voice dead.

“Oh, I see,” Eanraig replied, “well, we will have to come up with something better than tattoo-face. All in good time I suppose.”

He turned to Osras, “You may put Nagale in my cabin, I can sleep in here. And Osras, do lock the door,” he gave Nagale a sheepish smile, “for your own safety of course my dear. Also, we’ll need to see if we can dig up some clean clothes for you, perhaps one of the woman has something.”

As he prattled on she saw Nagale throw a quick glance at Lochan, who was watching the proceedings silently, while Cordell stood looking utterly miserable beside him. Her pale eyes were cold.

“Now, we’d best send you off so that we can finish our chat. I do hope you sleep well. You are safe now,” Eanraig said warmly.

Nagale glanced back at him, with a grateful smile and the guards took them away.

Arwaduhn, Hwratar, Murchadh, Shildfrith

2 responses to “Miriamele does not feel safe”

  1. Van says:

    Well, first off, I’m just relieved that they got out of the place alive.

    As for Lochan… well, I can see where he’s coming from, but what was Cordell supposed to do when Nagale insisted on coming along? Let her tell and get himself killed and let Miri continue to suffer (possibly even more than before, if it occurred to N’nkasha to torture Cordell’s reasons out of him before killing him)?

    I’m still not sure if I trust Eanraig more than I can throw him. He’s saying reasonable things here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a hidden agenda. I also would not be shocked if he wants to get into Nagale’s pants.

    Interesting that the guard doesn’t have a name. That should make for a fascinating character arc–this person who has never been permitted an identity coming into his own.

  2. verity says:

    Part of the issue here is that Cordell was not supposed to do any of this. Cordell cooked up this plan to save Miri without approval from Lochan so he’s in some deep trouble now. He didn’t ask for permission because he knew Lochan would not say yes.

    I actually wasn’t planning on the addition of the guard, it sort of just happened (I’m as blindsided as Cordell on this one). I couldn’t really work out how the hell they were going to get out of the mess I’d put them in without him.

    But I am totally looking forward to his character-arc too! It’s going to be interesting.

    Eanraig… I really need to get into his head at some stage and work out what’s going on.

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