Author Topic: Unfortunate Side-effects  (Read 9232 times)

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Offline Kysis

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Unfortunate Side-effects
« on: December 20, 2007, 04:26:08 PM »
A knock sounded loudly on the door, reverberating through the entire house.  That noise had Ryanna blinking, sitting up in bed and listening with groggy eyes-half open, ears straining.  That harsh knock sounded again, along with the click of metal against the wooden door.  Ryanna thought for a moment, thinking it might be rings, but not sure, getting up either way.  She pulled her cloak from the peg once she got to the door, putting it on and wrapping it around her for modesty.  No need to be answering the door in just a tunic.

Ryanna reached for the knob, turning it slowly before flinging the door open.

“So, a little bird told me someone was having too much fun at the Gulbrand Farm.”

Ryanna regretted her decision to get up the moment she opened the door.

* * * * *

She knew.

It had been just two days since Ryanna opened the door that night, and she had barely gone out since.  Ryanna had gone in the morning after the incident, to tell Kysis she could not work for a few days.  He had been concerned, but Ryanna had given up no information, leaving as quickly as she came.  She had not been stalking the night patrols either, preferring the solitude of her home to anything else.

It had been a long two days.

Ryanna reached her hand up slowly, touching the cut running from her cheek bone, curling up and around to knick the edge of her left eyebrow before continuing up a little into her forehead.  It still stung.  Ryanna flinched, putting her hand back down.  There were worse wounds than that.  There was a bruise on her right cheek, where she had been hit so hard it knocked her cold.  There were thin red lines all on her back, from a fine-tipped whip.

Those words still clung to her mind, the last words she had heard before receiving the full force of a back-hand, ring carving its own red line across her face, the one she had just touched.  When Ryanna had backed up, pleaded for her to see reason, another hit came, everything going black.  She had woken up to excruciating pain.  Her tormentor had been there when she came to, a wicked smile on her lips, a message on them too.  Ryanna could not forget those words, either.

“Remember, affairs above your head are to remain that way, commoner.  If that pretty little nose of yours shoves itself in any place even questionable, I’ll break it.”

Ryanna shivered, even though it wasn’t cold.  She had a full fire burning, was sitting in front of it, on the floor.  Though she wore beige pants that she normally considered comfortable, it did not feel so now.  Her tunic was what bothered her, off-white linen hanging painfully over her wounds, blood prickling the cloth in mirror of the bloody design beneath it.  If it didn’t hurt to be lying down (at least how she generally slept, on her back), she’d be curled up beneath the sheets, sleeping the pain away.  Ryanna did not even want to go out, in the state she was in.

Had anyone even noticed her absence?

The fire didn’t even feel warm after the visit by Lady Maracatte.  Nothing could.
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Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2007, 05:05:42 PM »
Lieutenant Frederickson, as much as he tried not to, had definitely noticed Ryanna\'s absence.  Although he hadn\'t expected to see her smiling face at the guardhouse the very next night after they\'d spent the night together (even if she knew he was on duty after she got off work and it really wouldn\'t have been a stretch for her to turn up for her usual chat, would it?), he expected he would have seen it by now.

This had him very worried.  Had he done something wrong?  Was there something wrong with her that might, possibly, be connected to him?  Lam had told him earlier that day that Ryanna hadn\'t been at work - she\'d been complaining about Kysis having to go to the shop when he should be preparing for the damned exhibition he insisted on having - and she hadn\'t known why.  When Freddy had asked - probably with a startled look on his face, judging by Lam\'s expression when he spoke - if there was something wrong with Ryanna, she\'d merely glared at him and demanded to know why it mattered to him.

That had been enough for him to realise he should drop the subject and probably find out for himself, as nerve-wracking a prospect as that was.  So here he was, outside her house, still dressed in his work gear as he\'d just finished his shift, and biting his lip like a nervous schoolboy who didn\'t know what end of a girl should be up.  After staring at the door for a good five minutes, someone began walking up the road and he was compelled to act or leave.

He knocked.

Offline Kysis

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2007, 05:14:03 PM »
Ryanna flinched at the sound of the door being knocked on, even if it had a different sound than that of her tormentor.  Still, a simple knock on the door made her curl up a little, hunching closer to the fire, not wanting anything to do with the sound.  It didn\'t sound like that beast of a woman, though... But there was always a chance it was one of her men, come to deal with her.  The weapons rack was not far away, and there was a short sword, sitting in its sheath, propped up against the wall next to the hearth, in her reach.

Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Ryanna called out, grabbing her nearby cloak and tossing it to cover her shoulders and back as she did so.  It was just a precaution.

"Who\'s there?"

Her voice cracked, trembling, its very tone sounding afraid.  Ryanna wanted to reach for her sword, but resisted that urge.  Her tormentor had made it clear, she would be dealing with Ryanna herself, since they knew one another and all.  That was a frightening thought.  Ryanna would be happy to never see Lystra Maracatte again, if she was given the choice.

Deciding it couldn\'t be her, Ryanna changed her call to "Come in."  The door was unlocked, Ryanna having come inside after buying food, having forgotten to latch the door in her want to get the food situated where it should be, and get her thick, uncomfortable tunic switched out for a thinner one, one more forgiving on her back.

There would be no dresses for a while, that was for sure.
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Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2007, 05:24:07 PM »
Frowning, Freddy peered at the door like it had spoken to him itself.  Had her voice just cracked?  Ryanna certainly didn\'t sound herself... though, in the next breath, she boldly invited him in, without even knowing who it was.  That didn\'t make sense, didn\'t fit with a fear-riddled profile.

As instructed, he opened the door cautiously, his black boots making very little noise as he stepped in hesitantly, announcing himself warily.  "Uh... Ryanna?  It\'s me, Freddy," he called, expecting to see her standing before him and then having to locate her, surprised to see her sitting on the floor in front of the fire.  "Oh!" he exclaimed, turning to shut the door before swivelling back and approaching her, a nervous smile on his face.

"Sorry to disturb you, I just... wondered if... what happened to your face?" he asked bluntly, his pleasant expression folding into a scowl of concern as he got closer to her and was able to see better.  She had a dark red line that stood out in relief against her pale skin on one side of her face and the other looked... misshapen?  Bruised?  He kept walking closer to her to be sure.

Offline Kysis

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2007, 05:32:57 PM »
Freddy.... It took a moment for that name to register, the voice with it, but when they did, her eyes flared open wide.  Oh no.  She had to hide herself.  She had to move quickly, obscure her face, her other injuries.  It was already too late, though, his approaching once seeing her.  And then he saw her face.

Ryanna looked sharply away, staring into the fire with blank eyes.  She did not know what to say.  If she told... no, then her life would be forfeit, laid out for her tormentor to take however she so pleased, taking however long she felt like.  Knowing the woman, Ryanna realized it would probably be days, at the very best, and most merciful of chances.

"I\'m fine."

It wasn\'t true, but it was the best she could muster.  Ryanna started tying her cloak into place, not wanting it to be removed despite the warmth that had accumulated in the room.  That would reveal her back.  She should have kept that thicker tunic on, despite the discomfort.

"Really."

It probably sounded more like Ryanna was trying to convince herself rather than convince Freddy, and it was true.  Ryanna did not know if she was ok.  All she knew is that it hurt to move for the most part, which is why Ryanna kept her seat beside the fire, trying not to look at Freddy.  She didn\'t want him, of all people, to be seeing her like this.
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Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2007, 05:37:22 PM »
His frown only deepened as he crouched before her, peering at her face.  His forearms rested on his thighs, hands hanging between his legs even though he really wanted to reach out and turn her face this way and that, to examine her properly.

"No you\'re not," he argued sternly.  "You\'re hurt.  What happened?  Is this why I haven\'t seen you around for a few days?"

Offline Kysis

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2007, 05:44:28 PM »
Ryanna shook her head, not to deny that was why she wasn\'t around, but to show that her lips were sealed.  Surely there were lots of people who felt the same as her.  They felt a hatred for Maracatte that was cold, low burning, not the sort that caused a rage, or cause retaliation.  He was a resigned sort of loathing, the type where they felt nothing could be done to resolve the conflict, so why push it.  That was how Ryanna felt now.  Maracatte had done that much to her.

"Really."  She turned her head towards him, looking at him with sad, distant eyes.  Movement in and of itself felt pointless.  Ryanna had been afraid before, when she was leaving the Gulbrand Farm, but this?  This was far worse than her worst of nightmares.  Lady Maracatte was known for her cruelty (though none but those who suffered it knew its depth), and when someone crossed her, the offending person usually said their prayers and barricaded their house with a shred of hope that she might leave them alone.

If Ryanna did not meddle further, Maracatte might leave her alone, and that hope was clung to, even if it sounded far off.  Once Maracatte sunk her talons in... Ryanna felt like a hopeless mouse, stranded out in the open of a desert with three falcons circling.

"I mend well.  I\'ll do fine."

One thing Ryanna couldn\'t bring herself to do was lie to Freddy.  Oh no.  Ryanna refused to stoop that low.  Silence would have to do.  It was the only safe route.
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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2007, 06:46:48 PM »
"You won\'t tell me who did this to you?" he asked incredulously, hurt rising in his chest as, again, she shook her head.  He mulled it over, brow still deeply furrowed, wondering why, in Talon\'s name, she wouldn\'t let him help her.  Did she not think he could?  Was that how bad it was?  She looked withdrawn and defensive... was that because of what happened to her or because it was him asking?

"Would it help if... a woman did the asking?  Would you talk then?" he asked as delicately as he could, not wanting to ask if she\'d been raped but having to assume she had, from the way she was curled up and looking warily at him.  Her answer quickly dispelled that notion, however, and he was back to gnawing on the inside of his lip, contemplating her.  He wondered if her father knew but didn\'t even bother asking; from the state of her, it seemed no-one knew.

"Well how badly are you hurt then?  Can I see or... help you with it?" he queried, his tone evidence that he was growing exasperated with her.  She wouldn\'t tell him who hurt her so he could arrest them, she was barely responsive as far as communication went and he didn\'t even get the feeling that she wanted him there, asking these questions... so what good was he?  He felt useless and awkward, as if he\'d invaded her home like an uninvited guest no-one knew how to get rid of.  Three days ago she\'d asked if they\'d ever speak again and he\'d assured her they would; now he was beginning to wonder if he\'d spoken too soon.

Offline Kysis

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2007, 11:59:07 PM »
It hurt, seeing how much he wanted to help and not giving in, but it was something she had to do.  As far as Ryanna had seen, the guard could do nothing against Maracatte, either of them, daughter or father.  So, what was the point?  It would just be her life, and the vicious woman would go about her fowl tortures as if nothing had ever happened.  Had anyone ever told a tale of what she did to them?  Ryanna was unsure, and for a moment she wondered if all it would take was one to take her down....

But that train of thoughts flittered right out of her brain as soon as Freddy offered to help another way.  Ryanna had needed to wash out the wounds on her back, but could not properly reach them, even partial reaching making it feel like she just ripped them back open.  So, Ryanna had let them be, and they burned now.  It was probably a wrong decision to make, but hopefully she was not too late.  She would probably scar anyway, though.

"I...."  Ryanna tugged at the haphazard bow she had tied to keep her cloak on, soon undoing it and pushing the concealing cloth aside.  If he looked at her back, he would be able to see lines where red had seeped through the cloth, tones of little red lines. "I can\'t reach them all."  Her voice was a meek whisper at best, as if she was afraid Maracatte or one of her agents was watching them, listening, reading to throw a killing dagger if she uttered anything.  Ryanna had closed and bolted all the shutters over the windows, but she still didn\'t feel safe.  Every time she had to use the outhouse, she had run as fast as she could to get inside the little structure, afraid to linger for too long outside.

"My back..."  Ryanna twisted her head, eyes trying to see the full extent of the damage on her back, but she was sore all over and couldn\'t quite manage, going back to stare at the fire.  It was interesting to her, that Freddy had come to check on her and her father had not.  Ryanna did not really think on it too much, though.  She was still in too much pain to concentrate on anything but her fear right now.
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Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2007, 01:24:00 AM »
"Oh, Rhee," hebreathed, lost for further words as he gazed at the bloody stripes across her back - lost, even, to finish off her whole name.  It was too much for him to bear all of a sudden; his fists clenched and his jaw clenched as he looked up at her, at her innocent face and tried to understand who could hurt her in such a way, how such a harmless and friendly creature could not only endure this sort of pain, but keep quiet about who did it, too.

He looked away, struggling mightily with the force of the emotions washing through him, tears of fury and indignation pricking his eyes.  He\'d been this angry perhaps twice in his life but had been able to smash and hurt things to vent it out of system; now, he was expected merely to choke it back down and not ask her what sort of monster could do this to her, his lovely... no, not his, he had to stop thinking like that.  She belonged to nought but herself - and it was very clear that even though she\'d just proved she was into something dangerous, that she couldn\'t control, she wouldn\'t stray from remaining true to herself and her ideals.

Eventually, Freddy\'s breathing calmed enough that he felt he could speak without swearing, threatening to throttle some faceless bastard or wail at her to let him please hunt down and arrest this sick man (for it never occurred to him that a woman could be responsible).  He looked back at hear and cleared his throat to test his steady-speech theory properly.  "I think," he said smoothly, his lips pressed together in a determined line when he wasn\'t simply breathing to get control, "that you probably need a poultice on those.  Something to stop them getting infected.  Do you have anything like that or will I go and get what\'s at my place and bring it back here?  Do you want a bath first?"

Of course, he realised belatedly that he\'d asked a couple of questions out of order but it was only after he mentioned returning to his house that he thought of how that had been the other day, when he left her, and how he\'d moped until work that afternoon.  The fact that he\'d left her in the bath was recalled then and he figured she hadn\'t been able to get the tub inside with these wounds upon her, so she might appreciate that before he put anything on her (and he could boil the water while he quickly ducked home to get his ointment supply and she wouldn\'t have to move a muscle.

Offline Kysis

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2007, 09:39:28 AM »
He was willing to help her, a wave of relief blanketing her at that thought.  At least he was here for her, when she had felt so alone and isolated.  The thought of a bath and her wounds being tended to made her feel better, at least some.  She seriously needed it, that was without a doubt.  Ryanna did not want any of the wounds to get infected.  That would be giving Maracatte exactly what she wanted.

But the thought of Freddy leaving had her full of fear again, that momentary relief gone.

"I have no poultice, but please, be fast.  I\'m scared she\'ll come back."

Ryanna\'s voice was barely a whisper, trembling, pleading.  Her whole body was shaking merely at the thought of Maracatte coming back for her while Freddy was gone, and the big guard returning just to find her dead and bloody and mutilated.  Those thoughts had her even more scared, to the point that tears welled in her eyes, streamed down her cheeks.

"Please be fast."

That was all she could really say about it.  Ryanna wanted a bath, forcing herself to stand shakily.  She was going to get the bathtub, but could not get up the initiative to do it quite yet.  Maybe soon, when her legs stopped quaking so.
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Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2007, 01:21:03 PM »
She??  Was she kidding, a female did this to her?!

It was almost out of Freddy\'s mouth, his eyes wide and his mouth opened to protest but something made him shut it.  Something beyond the fact thatRyanna had continued to talk and was even standing up now.  Something wise that told him if she\'d let that slip already, then perhaps he could learn more through incidental listening, instead of hounding.  Being a sympathetic ear might work in her favour, even if she didn\'t mean it to happen (though it opened up a whole new lot of questions as to who might have done this, if it was a woman - and what sort f relationship did Ryanna have with such a person?).

"I will be but... a bath?" he asked as smoothly as he could, pushing his thoughts about a woman who\'d injured Ryanna aside.  When the girl agreed that she was just going to get the tub, he objected loudly and ordered her to a nearby chair instead.  She was in no condition to carry that thing inside.

In next to no time he\'d got the steel container inside and set as much water as was possible heating over the generous fire.  Once that was done, he left Ryanna to attend it and raced home to get the small wooden container of poultice that he kept on hand for any deep cuts he received.  It was about the size of his hand, a square dish with a fitted lid, but he wondered if there would be enough inside; it was only half full.

On the way out, he considered changing out of his uniform but the manner in which she\'d asked him to hurry dissuaded that notion as soon as it occurred and he locked his house up and fled back to hers as soon as he could.  Once he got there, he let himself in and took the time to remove his thick cloak on this entry, hanging it on the hook by her door; his rapid movements had heated him up considerably, the warm room only compounding that, and he undid buttons on his jacket too.

Placing the poultice container on the table, he went to Ryanna to see what she needed him to do next.  "I\'m back," he stated needlessly, "is the water boiled?  Ready for the next lot to go on?" he asked distractedly, looking at where it was heating.  His stomach gave a faint rumble and it occurred to him then that he hadn\'t stopped for dinner.  Still, there was no time to be hungry with her in as much pain as she was.

Offline Kysis

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2007, 02:09:15 PM »
Ryanna had been scared half to death every moment Freddy was gone.  As soon as he left, Ryanna vacated the chair she was forced onto, sitting near the fire again, this time with her back to it, wide eyes on the door.  She kept holding her breath, counting to as high a number she could before letting the breath out and taking another large one in, repeating the process.  It was the only way she could pass her time, but it also made her frightfully aware of how long Freddy was gone, and made it feel even longer.

When he got back, Ryanna jumped up, moving quickly for her chair.  From there she could see up into the pots, which she looked at when asked.  "The small one is boiling."  Three kettles had been put before the fire, one small, two the large type she usually used to heat her bath water.  Ryanna wished she could be more helpful.  That would make her feel better, at least partially take her mind off things.  Maybe.  Ryanna knew the hot water would sting a great deal, but it would be best to clean out her wounds.  Freddy was right.  She was in no shape to be moving the tub.

"Oh, the big ones just started."  Ryanna saw the bubbles rising up in those two kettles now.  That was good.  Soon she would be clean, the layers of caked on blood washed off.  Ryanna was looking forward to it.  As horrible as she knew she looked under her clothing right now, the bath was what she needed, so she tried reassuring herself that she could be seen by Freddy like this, after how he had seen her three nights ago.  Then, she had been as flawless as she had ever, in her entire life.  Now Ryanna was battered and haggard.  Ryanna was intimidated by what Freddy might have remembered by her.

Still, this was not a wooing session, so it shouldn\'t matter.  It was to help her heal.  Anything else could happen when she was better, if Maracatte ever let her get better.
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Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2007, 11:40:26 PM »
"Good," he announced gruffly, emptying the two boiling lots of water into the tub and then refilling them.  By the time they were set down to heat again, the third container was boiling, so he emptied it and repeated the filling process, finding it somewhat cathartic to be travelling outside to pump more cold water in the meantime.

He was bursting to question Ryanna further - even though he knew it would do no good - so travelling in and out with empty and re-filled containers helped distract him.  He tested the water frequently, uncertain about adding cold to the boiling mix but deciding her body likely wouldn\'t be able to withstand the temperature that it normally did - having dipped a bruised and battered body into a hot bath a time or two, he could appreciate how delicate her skin would be and so he tempered it with straight cold potsful as well.

While waiting for the third lot of water to boil, he gave in to his growling stomach\'s demands and asked Ryanna if she had some food he could have.  When he offered to go home and get what he\'d planned to eat tonight for himself, she panicked again, dissuading him from going anywhere.  By the same token, when she offered to prepare him something, he talked her down and insisted she instruct him from her perch where to find everything, he would do the rest.

Spending a little time eating made the boiling seem to go faster, though Freddy was up and down from the table checking frequently.  He wanted her to have a lot of water in the tub so that she could soak and be fully submerged and he told her so, declaring that he would see to it she put such a large tub to good use.

Eventually, they\'d eaten their fill and the tub was brimming with hot water.  Freddy took their dishes to the washtub but merely set them on the bench before returning to his charge, watching her worriedly.  He\'d taken his uniform jacket off by now and wore only his black boots and pants and a white knitted undershirt that clung to him like a second skin, the sleeves too short to crest his muscular biceps, the scooped collar revealing his thick neck and the top of his chest.

"Okay, the bath\'s ready.  I\'m not sure you should try to take that tunic off," he told her worriedly, leaning around to inspect how it clung to the blood on her back yet again.  "It would probably hurt less to just get in with it on and I\'ll take it off you once the blood\'s dissolved, okay?" he queried, straightening to look her in the eye once more.  He was only thinking now about the fact that he was going to be seeing her naked and trying to stamp down that automatic flare of appreciation whenever he thought about it.  Now was certainly not the time for such thoughts.

"Where\'s your soap?  I can wash your back if you like... or you can just soak, your choice," he finished with a congenial smile and a tentative shrug.

Offline Kysis

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Re: Unfortunate Side-effects
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2007, 12:01:15 PM »
Every time Freddy went outside to refill water, Ryanna got more nervous, until her feet were up on the chair, arms wrapped around her legs.  There were only a few little bruises on her legs, not much, and not painful.  Well, she could not feel them, probably because of the other, more taxing wounds.  Either way, she was thankful that most of her body had been spared.  It would have been hard to function if Maracatte had done more damage.  It already was hard to function, all the more because Freddy would not let her do a damn thing.  It was frustrating.

Ryanna tried tugging at her tunic lightly, feeling the pull and doing as suggested, leaving it on.  The blood would have to be dissolved, most definitely.  However, her pants would come of just find, and underpants too.  Ryanna quickly stripped out of those, wadding the two pieces of clothing into a ball and putting them on the chair she had just vacated before sticking a toe in the water to test it.  It didn’t feel like it would be too awfully painful.  Alright.

Taking a deep breath, Ryanna stepped in and sat.

“Owww!”

She clapped a hand over the mouth to cut off the last part of the noise, biting her tongue as well (though not hard).  Blinking away the tears she suddenly felt in her eyes, Ryanna took another deep breath.  That hurt more than she thought it would.  Oh dear.  But she needed this bath, just as she needed to have her wounds treated.  Ryanna had been too afraid to ask anyone for help, even if her employer knew well how to deal with wounds, and was planning to marry Captain Wilson, who was above the bribes Ryanna was sure Maracatte would dish out.  Of course, Freddy would also be above those bribes…

“I…”  Ryanna clamped her mouth shut, realizing she was just about to tell something.  She had the feeling there would be a crossbow bolt in her back the moment she uttered her attackers name.  Ryanna did not want to die.  So she cut it short, deciding instead to cover it with information as to the soap’s whereabouts. “I’m not sure.  In the kitchen?  Where you found the pots?”

It was not as smooth as she had hoped it to be, but better than she thought it would be.  It felt horrible to lie to Freddy (as not telling was as bad as lying), but still!  Maracatte had gotten away with these things for years!  Her father had gotten away with it for years before that!!!  How would they be able to help now?
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)