Yet Another Morning After

Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Niabh » Wed Sep 28, 2022 9:30 am

It hadn’t been an opening gambit, exactly, except that everything, perforce, must be. Lady Meg asked her to lend him a hand when he woke, and that had been the first necessity that popped into mind. Sure and it was the first thing that popped into her mind of a morning. But he was tultharian—and a male tultharian, to boot—and she accepted that he might not be receptive toward courtesy, or that he might not even recognize it. Rudeness she regarded as the disposition endemic to his species, as though they were all cats and rudeness the piss they sprayed to mark their territories.

Courtesy, then, tempered with caution. Proximity was a test: she came over and offered him a forearm, bracing her feet. “Pull yourself. I can hold up you.” Hard to judge him lying down but he didn’t seem too much taller or heavier than she was. If she could hoist that great lump Ruaidhrí, she could manage this one.

“Bannadick?” Her clipped tone did a poor job concealing skepticism. “The raven is…” A moment’s clear puzzlement as she ran up against the outskirts of her vocabulary. “He is not gone.” The trouble was she lacked the ability to adequately explain where he was. “Raven does never stray far, even when you slept. He leaves little time, he comes back.” The corner of her mouth twitched, an expression of both blunt amusement and a touch of wonder. “Less a raven than a hound, that one.”
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Glenn » Thu Sep 29, 2022 12:52 am

Before the raven and the queen, there had been others. The word friend did not do this justice. Friendship could be a foundation. Regularity could be one as well. Consistency of presence was the unifying trait. Rhaena went without saying for that was even more than consistency. it was constant. Antagonists, even potentially beloved ones like Agnie or Gloria, would be something else entirely. But Ariane Emory had been consistent. Every morning. Years. She gave her time. He dedicated his. It was not just the tutelage of a young man in swordsplay and Myrken, but a consistent loop of information: gathered, given, processed, synthesized. One could argue that things truly began to go wrong with that loop was broken. Their efforts wove a net of safety and security, an unofficial thing that could lean upon official channels when needed. He provided her the information. She told him what it meant. He drew conclusions on what it may yet mean. She charted a course of action. When that ended, so did the security of the province and certainly so did the security of Glenn, himself.

So he had a certain familiarity with certain swordswomen who saw themselves as guards first and foremost. There was always variation, always free will. No one was defined by what they were instead of who unless that 'what' was particularly onerous or perfidious. Still, there were patterns. He had to assume at least some of them.

One to assume here was that the second their bodies touched, the second that she began to steady him, she would know a hundred things about him she did not the moment before. Whatever she had thought of him when he was a lump of flesh, liquid, and bone in that bed would give way to tiny intangibles: his unexpected and generally well concealed muscle and sinew, yes, but balance, the placing of his feet, grit and stubbornness, suddenness and patience. Those would be the telling signs and she would well be able to read them.

It was inevitable so he made no effort to mask any of it as she came in under him as he pulled himself up. She'd learn more in the eventual sparring, but now, at least, she'd likely have an inkling of what was left to learn and what may be worth learning.

As it happened, he found a few more words. "Neither raven nor hound. Friend. Anyway, would you not be the hound left to guard and corral the wounded sheep?" Dangerous words considering she was more than free to let him drop.
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Niabh » Fri Sep 30, 2022 1:09 am

“Up you get,” she said, as though he were a child, or a horse she was walking uphill. It rolled off her tongue so instinctively, she forgot what language she used as soon as it was spoken. He still had some muscle and stamina to him, in spite of having been wasting away on his back for so many days. Lady Meg had said he was a strong young man. Good for him, she’d said, good for his recovery. She rather hoped his stubbornness was tempered with some sense.

“Be a wise sheep that knows the hound be there for a’s own good,” she replied. The little there was of her was hard as oak, with enough muscle to her wrist that the bone was invisible beneath it. She added, a bit wryly, “But sheep be not known for wisdom.”

She kept close, guiding him with her firm arm, and kept herself pressed up against his side like a good sturdy chair or a crutch, predicting his movements, as well as any sudden sways or losses of balance, with an eerie accuracy and adjusting her own weight and balance accordingly, all without apparent effort. Otherwise she made him do most of the work, step by step. It was unexpected, and amused her a little, to be taken out of her comfortable domain of watchfulness and into the more perilous (to her) and lesser-known realm of the helpmeet, but it wasn’t amusing enough to keep up indefinitely. If he decided to be argumentative, or to lock an arm around her head, she could dump him to the floor and sidestep him without much effort. Let him be Meg’s problem child then.

He had an odd smell, though. She had scented it before, but here, right up under his arm, so to speak, it was strong enough to be unpleasant. A charred smell. Different from the surface aromas of sweaty sheets and sickness and the slightly lemony, salty scent of skin. Something basic in her wanted to recoil from it. She couldn’t help but wrinkle her nose
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Glenn » Wed Oct 05, 2022 7:31 am

Burnie tried. Or was trying. That would be a better way to put it. A passive statement for a passive aggressive action? Burnie was trying to others. Others found him trying. He tried them. More than that, however, he tried himself. Whether or not he found himself trying could only be known if one were to ask him and neither Benedict nor the Queen had, let alone this swordswoman who had just met him. He was not about to try her, save for with a prodding comment here or there, and certainly not by trying some sort of physical assault when he hardly had one leg to stand on, literally or morally. He was going to try himself by putting his weight under him, by searching for the middle ground between the strenuous action that would help him recover and the overreaching that would keep him in bed for even longer. Such precise motion required focus enough to prevent an immediate response to her quip, allowing her a temporary victory at least.

Still, everything else was a success. They reached their destination. His aim was true. They returned from whence they came. He sat upon the bed instead of laying upon it. He had not noticed a wrinkling of her nose. "If you could be doing anything else in all the world, mine or yours, what would it be? Anything other than watching me?"

There was a casual look to him, mussed. He often defied convention through simplicity, an act that somehow presented a forced state of calm and relaxed as a natural state, one of the many tricks he played upon himself and all around him on a daily basis. This was different though. Despite all he had just been through, the usual seriousness in which he comported himself meant that anything else, including and especially this level of enforced sartorial vulnerability, was so striking that it might be so to even those who did not know him well. He seemed younger, more easy going, more human one might say, for even when his fellows might consider him calm and serene, they'd almost never use a term like that to describe him.
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Niabh » Thu Oct 06, 2022 6:10 am

The whole situation reminded her, a little, of the aftermath of that scrimmage down in Ushante. A paltry thing. A tangle with a thorn hedge might have drawn more blood. Everyone knew they’d been lucky, and everyone had ended up with some sort of scrape—a set of jammed fingers, a broken wrist—just enough to leave them in edgy high spirits. There’d been a lot of nervous laughter that night, a lot of snappish tempers. She had a twisted knee, Shay a stitched-up slice down the back of his calf. They’d leaned on one another to stumble down the bushy bank, her hanging onto his arm, until her tricky knee abruptly wobbled and she’d dragged them both down. Shay rolled right over her, knocking the wind out of her with a heavy elbow to the gut. She saw stars at the back of her skull, tasted blood in her mouth. Then they’d both been sitting up, Shay cupping his hands over his gashed nose, her with a split upper lip and a loose front tooth. She had to club him with her forearm to get him to stop braying laughter.

A good night. A strange night. This felt like that, a little. Two people helping one another hobble along.

Politely she kept her eyes straight ahead, her mouth level, and tried not to hear anything until he was done. The acrid sweetness of urine and medicine did not erase that odd whiff of char. She wondered if it might be the last of Lady Meg’s burning cones, though those had their own distinctive tang: juniper, of course, and lamb-mint, and smoke.

It was him. She was certain of it. A horse smelled of horse, a dog of dog, and perhaps this was just how humans smelled, like something wet and smoldering. They must not be able to smell it themselves or there’d be no living with it. Focusing too much on it sent the nagging pluck of a headache behind one eye.

Then the long journey back to the bed. She let him go and stood back from him, her arms falling to her sides, her weight shifting back to one hip. The men’s clothes she wore were a little too large and loose, despite an effort to cinch the waist with a tight woven belt, making her look lost and doll-like, a waif dressed in hand-me-downs. She’d rolled the sleeves into fat rolls of cloth above her elbows. It went at odds with her coolness and the confident poise of her posture.

A faint lift of her dark brows, coupled with incredulity at his question. “I would do as my queen bid me do.”

In her reply was the measured satisfaction of one whose moral conflicts could all be remedied with the same response. One could not fault it for being the absolute correct and diplomatic answer, and the most elusive. He would not pin her down with an idle social gathering question.

Deftly she changed the subject. “Would you dress? Mistress Meg brought you some…things.” Her gaze shifted briefly to the foot of the bed. “I can lend a hand to you there or not, though my lady told me I’m not to turn my back to you.” It was as close as she got to an apology for lack of privacy.
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Glenn » Fri Oct 07, 2022 2:50 am

His throat was much better. Nourishment carefully devoured, natural sleep, actual rest and silence had all gone a long way. Still, he'd not yet tested his hand. He needed his voice to hold out if dictation to Benedict would be necessary later. In truth, he was on his own timeline when it came to whatever obligations he had either to the Queen or to Gloria. He was the one who decided when 'ready' would come. It allowed a laxity in discipline now, at least when it came to speaking. "There's freedom and clarity in defining one's self through service. Some think it quite noble. I wonder if it's not laziness hardest worked, surrender hardest fought, dullness most sharp."

Did he goad? Did he seek to provoke? Did he simply invite conversation, for there was nothing more fascinating in life than contradiction. If she wouldn't engage in social idle gathering questions, he provided something far on the other end of the spectrum. If she'd been given leave to stare at him while changing, she likely had leave to punch him in the nose as well. Finn would not send her into this with her hands tied, not if she took him as seriously as that.

"Regardless, I won't be stabbing you in the back, especially not while I clumsily get changed. Of the two of us, your queen and I, only one has done such a thing to the other, and it's not the one you're about to see naked."
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Niabh » Fri Oct 07, 2022 4:28 am

“I am not in the business of surrender.” While she spoke more easily and readily than Meg—Meg, who certainly had more to say and less ability to say it—still there was a distinct gap between each word. “Herself told me you were stubborn and rude. She warned me heed no word that came from your mouth.” Which led one to wonder if words regularly fell out of other orifices with Glenn Burnie. The notion amused her but not enough to make her smile, though there was a certain thoughtful heaviness to her voice that hinted she was far from offended. “She too did say you might have no good to speak of her. She says, keep you safe, and she herself will make amends for your discourtesy.”

Which was a level of generosity that dazzled the imagination, coming from a Queen, and one which made her almost hope for still more shocking levels of insolence, if only to see how the Queen planned to reward her for it. Beyond the warning, she was inured. One expected some level of pushback from a man who woke to find his liberties curtailed. He would feel about to see where the bars of the cage lay and what he could get away with, and he would resent those who kept him captive. He couldn’t be faulted for doing what any sensible being would do once, and she couldn’t prevent him from it, but it was useful to see what form the rebellion took.

She added, wryly, “That is not leave to make more trouble than a would, just because Herself will make good for it.”

She blinked slowly, in a way to suggest she was half-asleep, but shifted her weight once more, as if to stir herself to readiness, and folded her arms across her chest with an air of polite distance. Interesting rumors about tultharian anatomy circulated through camp, though nothing a wise woman would credit. Perhaps fortunately for Glenn, she wasn’t the sort who would bear back confirmation of such things.
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Glenn » Fri Oct 07, 2022 9:09 am

The process of undressing and dressing again was slow and laborious. Throughout it, he expressed no great vanity or timidity. It was a mechanical action, overcoming stiffness and pain and forcing his body to do what needed to be done while avoiding excessive harm, finding that balance. He was still finding it with his words as well. "She said it poorly then, for I have much good to speak of her. The problem is that she only likes it when one has only good to speak of her. Sometimes she gets some and all a little confused. You don't wish to know what I blame for that." What, of course, might have been a who. He said most of that to the inside of a shirt as he was trying to get it up over his head so there was no gauging her expression. It was, perhaps, a mercy for them both.

The pants would be more difficult. It was not outside the realm of possibility that his affronts were mainly inspirational, to inspire her to knock him unconscious so that she'd place them on his prone form without either of them having to discuss it. If that did not occur, however, he'd continue on with the effort. "How about this, then? Until Mistress Meg returns, to quell my rudeness and stubbornness, you may decide the direction of our conversation. I'll answer your questions so long as they come with enough haste. Then, if I am rude, it'll be an act that you've had some hand in and some control over."
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Niabh » Sat Oct 08, 2022 5:07 am

Bo was well-known for her lack of humor. Even now, her strongest emotion was an easily dismissed incredulity at finding herself in this assignment to begin with. Half a world away from everything she had ever known, and, by the lady’s command, watching a human struggle into his shirt—had you half an atom of irony, you had to find that absurd. She had expectations, and this was not one of them. In fact, this was fast going from an intriguing and potentially perilous task to mere busywork. Sheep-tending. Only a great faith in the lady kept her from being utterly frustrated. Surely, the lady had her reasons. The very fact that the lady wanted him watched meant that he bore watching. Bo must trust in that judgement.

Hidden from Glenn’s view by his wayward shirt, her ears pricked up at the muffling. She could believe the confusion was her own slow understanding of tultharian language, but it was best to be certain. “Do you say ‘what’ or ‘who’?”

Glenn being the first tultharian she had seen up close, much less passed words with, he had become the representative for the whole species. Glenn might say that it was to her benefit. So far, she was disappointed in the example. In spite of his sharp declarations, the representative of all humankind was currently being bested by his own trousers. It helped her keep a necessary distance from offense. To be pre-warned meant she could look with objectivity on it.

Still, she recognized an opening gambit when she heard one, and she did not appreciate it. “Your rudeness is your own and it is within your power to tame it, an you choose, but I’ll not be held to fault for it. I was set to keep you and I will do, be you rude or civil. It matters nothing to me, but for both our sakes, civil is simpler.”

With a little pity born of trying to climb unassisted into mortal garb, she came near enough for him to hold onto her shoulder for balance, then turned his shirt collar upright for him.
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Glenn » Tue Oct 11, 2022 6:37 am

Did he say who or what. The moment the shirt was over his head, he'd look to her with suddenly serious eyes. Unlike with Benedict, there was no fear of meeting her gaze. Were there stories about that? About looking directly into the eyes of the fairy folk? But then, he had been so used to dealing with queens and intrigue and glamourie. She was a guard, a swordswoman. They were a different breed and he rather imagined that she had more in common with others of her occupation (who Glenn knew as well as almost anyone; one might call them his primary social outlet other than the late Rhaena Olwak) than of her people. "Is there a difference? Really?" One way to tell a rhetorical question from a more practical one was whether or not any time was provided to answer. Here it was not.

And before long, she'd be steadying him again as he worked his trousers on. "This will be easier tomorrow," he reassured one of the two of them. More than just reassuring, he outright flashed her a smile as she turned his collar up. "That might not be," which could have meant any number of things (three, at least), but likely meant nothing at all. No, he was playing with a thought, one at the tip of his tongue and now, when they were in such close proximity, it found its way into the world out his mouth. "You've been fair to me so far, so I'll be honest with you. You're here for my protection and well-being, but not to actually stop me from doing anything save for to hurt myself. The sword and the skill are not for show, but they're not how I accomplish things." He made no effort to withdraw from her side, even as he managed the second leg and started to stand up straight once more. "Ink and voice. She knows that. If she wanted me a prisoner, she'd not grant me a raven as a companion. The difference between what I can do outside this room and within it, well, it's terribly minimal, so long as my words are not kept captive as well. She wishes me to act. If you'd like, I'll tell you why. If not, I'll respect that as well. Just don't feel like you've failed at your task in the days to come." He took a few ginger steps back from her at that. "I won't and, once she calms down (and she will), your queen won't either."
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Niabh » Wed Oct 12, 2022 3:11 am

She regarded him with a level, neutral gaze. The green eyes seemed filled with luminous fluid, lit from within. Not her best feature but the one that drew the attention at once. To be born with green eyes meant bad luck to the Tuatha, but Glenn could not know that. Certainly, she’d never felt herself a victim of luck, good or ill. Even the current situation was more a misfortune of opportunity and availability: Bo spoke the best tultharian, and so she was tapped to go. Now she began to understand why. This one was a right glagaire.

“It means difference to me,” she replied, slow but pleasant, with a slight incline of the head that bored her odd green gaze into him, pinned him against the wall. In truth, it did make no different to her, except that his elusiveness had just made it important. This was the sort of verbal game for which she had little patience. “Else I would not ask. Must make difference to you, cinnte, else would be the most simplest thing in the world to clarify.”

She did not return his smile, but she greeted it with a polite nod of acknowledgement, to let him feel it was not going to waste. Kindness cost nothing, as her own mother used to say. Why he insisted on laying bare every shred of strategy was a marvel to her, though.

“That is the lady’s choice,” she said. “An she did not wish you to have your raven-hound, you would not have it. An she did leave you to yourself, with all your resources, I am sure she was well known of them.” For a long silent moment, she studied him, thoughtfully. “Would seem you know Herself well enough to know what she does and does not wish. Can guess she knows you as well.”

Guessing was all anyone had done about the lady and her tultharian, really. In secret, well away from the lady’s ear, the conversation inevitably turned to what it could mean. One speculation overrode all others: that the tultharian was a lover who found himself out of the Queen’s favor. Meg didn’t believe it, and Bo trusted Meg’s intuition. Moreover, one didn’t set a guard to a jilted lover unless he’d made themselves a threat. The tultharian certainly seemed to be threatening something, to boast so much of his resourcefulness in captivity, but Bo considered that outside her regard.

“Myself, I know only that I am to keep you in this place until the lady bids me leave or I am replaced. I was not told forbid you to write, or to speak. If anything, I was but warned you would do. So long as you do not attempt to leave or light the place aflame, you have freedom under this roof.” She let there be a silence, so that statement could sink in. “I would know why you believe the lady wishes other than she has said, if you would tell it me.”
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Glenn » Wed Oct 12, 2022 7:16 am

Burnie wasn't about to clarify anything. Benedict had mentioned something ominous yesterday, and Burnie had dismissed it as something he'd not yet been prepared to deal with. Now, a day later, it remained the one and only thing he was unprepared to deal with. He'd get some clarification from the raven later. It went against common sense, given the retinue that had arrived, but then he never entirely knew of the politics that the queen dealt with. It might make more sense to have her entire court (small 'c') be in one place than to leave someone vulnerable. Human politics were about territory above all else. For her, there were different concerns. There may, in fact, be no need to leave someone to mind the shop and every reason not to. Regardless, he did not clarify.

He was doing more than a little clarification on everything else. Only once she agreed that she wished to hear more did he sit back down onto the bed (though what she claimed to wish to hear had been very specific and may or may not have been what he was actually offering). There had been a certain amount of tenseness, of clenching, to how he carried himself while on his feet. Literal weight was off of them now, however, and his breathing relaxed accordingly. That allowed him to test his voice a little, to add sound to an exhale if that might somehow help him gauge just how much more he could speak. "She was finality instead of possibility. She wants an action that cannot be taken back. She wants me to either act or to force her hand so that she has a sort of deniability when she looks herself in the mirror. The outcome could be in her favor or against her, could please her in the days and months to come or could cause her pain, but any out come will be more tolerable than the endless teetering she experiences now. That is a burr in her paw, one that sends flashes of red through her. It sunlight in her eyes so distracting that she cannot find her way." He shifted then, going from sitting to laying, even though it meant laborious movement of his lower body, more scooting than anything even potentially considered graceful. "If I act, that goes away and she'll know what to do next with an artificially clear conscience. Or so she thinks. She barely understands the notion in the first place so she may well be disappointed, but you know her. She has to try for herself first."
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Niabh » Thu Oct 13, 2022 2:10 am

After he finished speaking, there was a silence—half to digest his convoluted logic, half to arrange her own answer. She found herself in the mildly frustrating position of knowing what she wished to say but unsure if she had sufficient vocabulary for it, an unusual frame of mind for one who found most idle talk a waste of time, and who resented nearly every conversation she was roped into. This one was no exception.

Since he was lying down and seemed unlikely to make any sudden moves, she took the opportunity to hoist herself atop a chest and sit with her feet dangling, palms up and open upon her thighs.

“So you’ve spent the time since waking thinking about what the lady might be thinking. Sounds...” The backs of her heels lightly rapped against the chest, making her look like an overdressed schoolboy sitting on a fence. “…pre-sump-tu-ous. Unnecessary. Seems too like much a cycle the lady herself could break, an she so chose. An it means so much to you, would it do you good to tell her?” With the lady’s current mood toward the tultharian, that might be difficult. “Why should it matter so much, what she will and will not do? What business is that to you? You’re half-dead. Better to worry yourself on that.”
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Glenn » Fri Oct 14, 2022 5:07 am

It had been years now of correspondence with the Queen, and during that time, he had picked up almost nothing of her language, while she certainly gained more and more deftness in his own. For all of his intellectual prowess and training, he was worthless with languages. One might wonder if this was due to the damage inflicted upon his mind over the last decade and a half. He was never particularly adept when Governor or mapmaker though. He'd provide reasons for this if anyone cared to ask, but none of that mattered for Bo. All that mattered is that it was a street which traveled in but one direction and that direction was not advantageous to her in the here and now.

Still, there was quite often something organized about Burnie's responses. Occasionally, they'd drift this way and that but they often began nice and packaged. "Practical, personal, provincial." He ticked off, though with no hand motions to go along with it. The act of both relieving himself and changing his clothes had prompted this unexpected rest and he was making the most of it while still running his mouth. "Given all the hours of the day, there relatively little I can do to occupy myself in this state. I can perform basic, perfunctory exercise. Eventually more rousing exercise with your assistance. In both cases, it's best not to overdo it." He had some faith that she would protect him, even from himself, on both counts. "My mind will continue to think. I've found her to be as worthwhile a subject to occupy my mind as any. As such, and this is the personal, I've come to care about her and her well-being. Her preferences currently are that she first would be able to get her way in all things and second, that if we were to be opposed, then it would be some grand game between us. I am ill-inclined to let her have either thing, but cannot deny some element of gamesmanship to my approach. I must think of not one possibility from her but multiple probabilities." Which covered the practical and the personal. The rest was fairly obvious but he spoke it aloud nonetheless. "She meddles in the affairs of my people. Now she does it with an actual force behind her, save for simply the force of her presence and personality. As I care for my people as she cares for her own, I cannot simply turn a blind eye to her."
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Re: Yet Another Morning After

Postby Niabh » Tue Oct 18, 2022 3:00 am

Since he seemed inclined to go on, and since Bo was not in the habit of idleness, about halfway through Glenn’s speech, she slid her bottom off the edge of the trunk, bounced to the floor, and went to pour some briny, lukewarm tea from the pitcher Lady Meg had scrounged from his pantry.

“She wants to you to drink that. For the—” She patted her own throat, then, leaving the cup, returned to her perch on the chest. If the lady Queen and Bo were any representation of the Tuatha, it seemed the whole species shared an aversion for chairs: given the choice, they either perched or sat on the floor.

“Well!” She breathed out the whole word as a placeholder, another way to announce her entrance into the conversation before embarking, and clapped her hands softly against her thighs. “An it sets you to ease, Herself gives word that we are peace-bonded. That could change, an your folk make of themselves nuisance. But so far Herself shows no interest in any tultharian save you. One rule to live by: do not presume Herself thinks any way of you unless she tells you so. Though this is as much a way of telling you what she thinks as any. She is concerned with your well-being. She set her own lady sister, who is best-most doctor with us, to keep you, when I am sure she would prefer to spend time with her own sister, who she has not seen for so long. Herself does not want you in her business. She is with greater concerns than one mortal man. Would seem to me that you are a distraction Herself cannot afford.”

Bo did in fact believe this. That every one of the man’s words so far concerned the Queen, rather than any number of practical questions concerning his own health—how long he would be abed, for example—led her to think that he was as much a meddler as he claimed the Queen to be. From what Bo had seen, the Queen was suddenly engaged in managing the camp, right when she least expected it; Bo herself had been surprised as anyone when the lady pulled her aside and sent her into town when she had all but forbidden any others to stray further than the surrounding fields. Lover or foe or whatever they were to one another, the Queen’s attention was on her own people, exactly where it should be.

“As for what to do with yourself, I could tell you stories. You might tell me a few stories, and I would appreciate them. If you are the sort that needs your hands busy, I’ll teach you how to braid bowstring.” Pushing up her cuff, she flipped him the weighted string she’d been wearing around her wrist in between braiding a fingerswidth here and there. For the first time, she gave him a lopsided smile, revealing a pair of front teeth a bit too large for her mouth. “Once you’ve a hand for it, you can do it and talk.”
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