Episode 10: Prisoners
In total, twenty refugees, more than half of them children, the rest fathers and other adult males without druid training, arrived. Some of the men helped carry three wounded on cots; two sentinels and a druid. The prisoners carried the human boy’s cot.
Astranaar spared ten sentinels as guards for the journey. They stopped long enough for supplies before riding off with the two outriders.
Narel, with a few of the novice house priestesses, guided the men carrying wounded soldiers to the first rooms up the stairs, tending their wounds and needs immediately. Meanwhile, someone ordered the prisoners sent below and sealed in an under-used barrow specifically made for prisoners. They spared one guard for that door.
With Narel’s daily care, Lesara often forgot last week’s events. Only nightmares and various dull aches, especially around her neck and throat, served as occasional reminders. As heir and hostess, she kept her symbolic place, over-seeing events and any potential disputes or unusual problems. In other words, doing nothing while two glaives and either Valyndriel or Shalya guarded her in shifts. Most staff ran easily without direction, knowing their roles.
However, when Lesara inquired after the prisoners, she found no one willing to do more than provide them food. Then Shalya told her their location. Abandoning her formal position, Lesara marched into the dungeon barrow, leaving her guard catching up.
“My lady, your mother won’t like this. It isn’t proper!” Shalya tailed her close.
Lesara’s left ear twitched briefly toward the sound of both glaives, Ranera and Shestelle, following just behind Shalya. “One of those prisoners is with fever, and only a child, besides.”
“Feverish? Like a beast?” Shestelle’s tone bristled against Lesara’s concern.
“You forget our unique gifts and your place.” She paused a moment before continuing. “The child is sick and adults, cooperative. Since everyone else is too busy, I will not see them die or mistreated when I can do something about it.”
“Your mother–” Shalya this time.
“I’m well aware of what my mother wants of me. I’ll deal with it when she returns.” Halting in front of the barrow, she addressed the guard. “I’ve come to see the prisoners.”
The guard nodded back and pulled aside a spy slot.
“Open the door, please.”
“Right, sorry, Lady Ethala’Aman.” The guard ducked her head and checked the slot, then stepped aside and turned the locking mechanism. The heavy stone doors grated apart.
Both of the stubby-eared, pale men inside looked up at Lesara and her guards. One was sitting on the ground in the far corner, hands resting on bent knees in front of him. The boy slept heavy on the only cot, the head of its poorly-stuffed mattress centered along the back wall. The other adult prisoner bent over the boy’s side. He straightened and glared at Lesara. He growled clipped and harsh-sounding words; guttural compared with Darnassian, the flowing kaldorei tongue. He ended with a pointed gesture at the clearly sick child and took a step forward.
Ranera and Shestelle drew weapons and took point, blocking Lesara from harm and view. The man in the corner mumbled something back at his friend and received an exasperated sigh and a short, frustrated response. Lesara wedged her hands, palms together, between the two glaives and nudged them apart. “They’re unarmed males. I can handle any trouble they cause. Besides, he’s clearly angry about the child. Step aside.”
The glaives repositioned at Lesara’s shoulders. Looking over her shoulder, Lesara spotted Shalya guarding their backs, before she refocused on the angry pale-skin. The glaives’ threat subdued him and he bent over the child again, feeling the boy’s forhead with the back of his hand.
Lesara noted his warrior build though he stood at least a full head shorter. Dirt and exhaustion covered both men. She joined the more vocal one from the other side of the cot. The boy was just as dirty and still in the same style clothing as the other pale-skins, though his held far more tatters. They were older than either adult’s, less finely made…not finely made at all. Holding the dirty cloth between her fingers at the boy’s collar, Lesara furrowed her brow. They were ship-wrecked and left in wet clothing. No wonder he has fever. Blanched skin under all the dirt, at least compared to the color in the two adults, worried her most. Memories of helping her father tend sick sabers ran around in her mind and she wondered if she might attempt those same steps on a pale-skin.
She reached with her mind toward the adult male opposite her and applied gentle pressure. He looked up and nodded. She pressed further, silent long enough that images and foreign words began taking on meaning she understood. My people never get sick. How do we help her? The thought came attached with a younger Lesara helping her father care for sick sabers and the sense of a question.
The pale-skin responded aloud, mumbling and shaking his head. In response, she saw the vague images of a pale-skinned woman caring for a different child, a little girl, along with blurred and vague images of what happened out of his sight when the sick room’s wooden door closed on him, left in helpless and nervous fidgeting.
“I understand.” Lesara nodded and placed the back of her hand on the boy’s forhead; the heat worried her more. She sent back images of caring for the boy in better surroundings and relocating the two men in nicer quarters. The man answered with a weary smile and spoken gratitude.
Speaking up, Lesara addressed the guards. “I want this child safely relocated to the spare quarters beside my own.”
“A prisoner so close?” Shalya frowned. “Your mother–”
“Would probably be furious and say no, but she’s not here. Either the child’s moved near my quarters or I begin sleeping near his.” She straightened and adopted her mother’s most imperial expression and stance.
“Yes, my Lady.”
“The prisoners will also be moved to a guarded guest room, a proper one, with two places for sleep…and a chance to wash up. Find them new clothes, even if they’re too big. Have their old ones washed and returned. Have the same waiting with the boy in his sick room. Ranera and Shestelle will accompany me to the gardens for necessary herbs. No mistreatment will befall them undeserving.”
After walking behind the glaives and out the doorway, she paused. “Oh, and they have names. You’ll find Jon in the corner, Padraig chastised us, and the boy is called Ren.”