Islinn walked over and settled herself down in the hay of Loki's stall. She unwrapped the parcel and tore off a small piece of the pork bread. Loki came over and gave her an inquisitive whuffle and she patted his nose as she slowly ate. She'd been starving earlier but now her appetite seemed to have disappeared. She gazed down at the food, her eyes dark and miserable. She felt lost.
"At least with Behrin, I knew how things worked." She thought before she could stop herself.
She smiled wryly to herself as she tore off another piece of bread. She never thought she'd ever view Behrin in a favorable light under any circumstances. But she knew him. She knew that behind his murky eyes there lurked a mad-dog meanness which he fed by inflicting pain and exercising his authority over others.
And behind that, was a scared little boy that knew nothing about humility or love. That side he kept well hidden from his men but she had known of its existence. And he hated her for it. She wasn't proud to admit she'd used it at times to her advantage. But she had always believed with a deep-down surety, that if she ever got free of him that everything he'd instilled in her and that she'd used for her survival would be left behind, just like him. A tear slowly crawled down her face and she absently wiped it away.
When the stableboy had offered her food, her common sense had told her to take it. And she almost had. Almost. But all of a sudden, doing that was the most difficult thing to do in a life that was just chockfull of difficult things. So she had just stood there.
Because what Behrin had done to her, while she had been so busy thinking of her escape and figuring out ways to get around him and his petty tyranny, was turn her into a slave. She hadn't even seen it coming. All she knew was that when common sense had spurred her into action, some unthinking obedience she'd never had before had quite efficiently, reined her back in.
But that wasn't all of it. Though she wished it were. The simple kindness of The Twiceborn buying food for her had almost reduced her to tears. She felt ridiculous. Common sense…the two words she used to have more than just a passing acquaintance with…told her that the woman had been hungry and just picked up food for her as an afterthought, which was fine.
But there was a kindness shown that had stopped Islinn in her tracks. That her well-being was thought of, no matter how brief. The encounter had left her with a sense of inconsolable loss. As though something essential in her life had disappeared around a corner while her back was turned.
She tore off another piece of bread and put it in her mouth. She grimaced as she chewed. The bread was slimy with pork fat but it was food and she couldn't quite remember when she'd eaten last. Probably on the way to the auction.
In some ways, it had hurt her to see Behrin kneeling on the platform when she'd said she wouldn't go with him. When she thought about it, the entire time she'd been with him, she'd never gone out of her way to purposefully hurt him. She had just wanted to survive. She wiped her greasy hands through the hay. Well, she had survived. Now what?
She still wasn't sure what had happened the night before. She remembered The Twiceborn and the stableboy looking out the Livery doors at something but at what, she didn't know. The expressions on their faces told her more than enough. The stableboy had been horrified at whatever he'd seen and The Twiceborn…her expression was one Islinn couldn't identify.
It had been a confusing mixture of sadness and longing with just a dash of happiness tossed in. That odd breath of satisfaction on The Twiceborn's face had pressed a cold finger against Islinn's heart and she'd been fiercely glad to not be the one peeking out the door to see what was going on.
And the Livery still stood. Islinn leaned her head back against the wood of the stall and closed her eyes. She had fully expected to die the night before and now that she hadn't, she found she was ill-prepared when it came to any future plans. She'd heard mention of Lochedge. She didn't even know where that was.