Islinn tilted her head back and closed her eyes. The sluggish breeze was cool against her tear-stained cheeks. She wondered maybe if she'd done things differently she wouldn't be here now. All the memories of her father lurked so close to the surface it took only seconds for them to pass through.
She opened her eyes. The heat of the day had ebbed and the sky had lost its brilliant stark shine and taken on a more quiet hue. She could hear the faraway sounds of merchants as they took down their tents and packed up their wares for another day.
The light in the alleyway was tinged with gold. It made the false promise that summer would last forever. The moment wasn't lost on Islinn. She realized, in spite of everything, she was glad to be away from Behrin. She wiped her eyes with her forearm and looked at the woman on the ground.
So this was The Twiceborn. The Last of the Tribe of the Dark Moon. The Deathbringer. The Feaster of Souls. Right now though, she was a little too pathetic to fear. Everyone made such a business out of her but Islinn was willing to bet they'd never seen her like this: down on all fours like an injured dog with blood everywhere.
"Well." Alora said softly as she rocked back onto her heels. She was surprised to see Islinn still perched on Loki. She figured the girl would have been halfway across the grasslands by now. Blood dribbled down into her mouth and she spat. The taste of salt and copper had awakened a deep-seated nausea. She knew she was going to throw up. She just didn't know when.
She'd once cracked a back tooth while eating nuts and the pain had almost driven her insane but that was a mere hangnail compared to this. She noticed Loki was watching her with an interested stare in the event she was suddenly to do something advantageous like pull a carrot out of her ass instead of just sitting and bleeding.
A slice of skin and muscle had been dug out of his chest but his bleeding had slowed, unlike her own. He stretched his neck out and gave her a quick whuffle. Alora was suddenly aware of how delicate the balance was between her and the great and ungentle forces that governed her life. One step closer and an inch or so deeper and she'd be afoot.
"Sober now? Huh?" She asked and rubbed the black velvety skin between his nostrils. Her hand fell away. She was so tired. No, drained was a better word. She felt completely sucked dry of any will or strength. And still so much left to do with number one being getting her ass up off the slimy dirt of the alleyway.
Islinn's eyes bored into her and sent off waves of fascination and another emotion Alora couldn't quite put her finger on.The responsibility of being saddled with another person found its way home again. She turned and opened her mouth to ask the girl if she was all right and burst into tears instead.
Horrified, she quickly covered her face with her hands and turned away. At first, she didn't know why she had begun to bawl like a kid with a scraped knee. She only knew she couldn't stop. The tears came faster and more copious and she was suddenly engulfed by the realization of just how frightened she had been.
Alora wasn't used to being hurt whenever a skirmish broke out. When she tore away the husk and kernel and got right down to the cob of herself, the unexpected hurt and that horrible moment when she thought she was going to pass out had scared her shitless. This brought on a fresh round of tears.
"Is she crying?" Islinn wondered. She glanced away, appalled by this discovery. But try as she might, she couldn't shut out the sound. It made her think of some terribly wronged little girl. She felt the beginnings of a reluctant compassion.
"You should be feeling this for the poor son of a bitch who got his head cut off." She scolded herself and shifted uncomfortably from the oh-so-recent memory.
But that was impossible on her part. She'd lived in the real world long enough to know he'd been a prospective buyer and could have quite possibly made her existence more miserable than Behrin had.
Of course,nothing could top being purchased by The Twiceborn. Islinn looked down again. Than away. It was the shame attached to the muffled sobbing that finally got to her. The embarrassment that seemed to ooze from every pore. She slid down off the black horse and stood there. She didn't know what to do and her concern made her uneasy.
Islinn didn't like seeing this..this being...as a person. Someone instead of something with hurts and needs that might be supiciously like her own. She stood quietly and felt as thought she'd stumbled on some dark and dirty secret. The possibility of The Twiceborn being, even remotely, anything like herself was the final shock and it came on top of a day Islinn wouldn't wish on her worst enemy.
She knelt down and reached out her hand. And stopped. She wanted to say something...something honest because she didn't know any other way...but came up empty. And speaking of honest, Islinn no more wanted to touch this woman than she wanted to stick her hand in a snakehole.
The Twiceborn was nothing but a monster whose escapades were told in bedtime stories to make children mind their manners. Something to make them stick close to home when the shadows grew long. She was not a human being she was a thing that killed...and killed...and killed.
"But nobody ever said she could cry like this." Islinn thought. She reached out and rested her hand on Alora's shoulder.
"Hey..." She started. Her voice trailed off. It wasn't a very good beginning and the shoulder was pulled away before the full weight of Islinn's hand came to rest. The rising quality of the sobs made Islinn wonder how somebody like this could become so upset or afraid that it would warrant such a reaction.
"I am not afraid." Alora's words were petulant and muffled behind the careless sweep of hair but Islinn had no trouble recognising the tail end of her thoughts. Her mind seized on this than wearily set it back down.
"My nose. It's busted isn't it?" Alora asked. The fact that her words sounded more like "My dose. Ids dusted, idn't id?" was a sure sign that it was. Alora sighed heavily. She struggled to her feet, the thought that Islinn might try to touch her again lending strength to the effort.