Behrin let go of Gre's tunic and patted him affectionately with both hands on his shoulders. A peculiar smile stretched his pale lips but his eyes remained cold and alert.
"Good. That's good, Gre. Real good."
Gre peered steadily back. Sure, he could get his horse and his few belongings and ride out. A clearer side to his soul told him that would be the right thing to do at this point, that the moment had come to part ways. The more complacent side of his soul though, was stunned by the quickness of events. One moment he'd been getting up to take a piss then head off to his pallet with another ale to push him towards sleep and now…this. He flicked a glance at Aubery who took the opportunity to return his big shit-eating grin.
Behrin turned and looked at Aubery.
"Well, Aubery? Can you get her back?"
Aubery stilled. He dropped his head and stared at the ground with a fierce concentration and Gre caught a glimpse of someone so entangled in their own madness they had no idea of what they were capable of.
"Yes." Aubery looked up into Behrin's face, his eyes flaming. "I can get her back. But when I get her…can I have her?"
Gre lifted an eyebrow and looked at Behrin. He was curious to see how Behrin dealt with this. Because that was one thing about crazy that maybe ol' Behrin hadn't taken into account…there was no behavior considered off-limits, no demand limited in the asking by sanity or civility. Aubery wouldn't understand being told no.
"Yes." Behrin replied, his tone casual. "You get her from The Twiceborn, you can have her. But you will return her to me, you understand? And if you maim her or kill her, there will be nowhere for you to hide. Do we have an understanding?"
Gre watched, thunderstruck, as Behrin held out his palm to Aubery in a gentleman's agreement. Aubery grabbed his hand and shook it feverishly, an enormous grin splitting his face. Behrin clapped him on the back.
"Go get some sleep. The morning is going to start early for you and Gre."
Behrin watched the boy rejoin the group of men then turned towards Gre.
"I know you don't understand." He said,mildly.
"That's an understatement." Gre snorted. " I know you care about Islinn. You care enough to want her back, anyway. And yet you'd send that little animal to fetch her."
"Have I ever told you about my mother?"
Gre shook his head, confused by the sudden shift in conversation.
"Bad luck. My mother had the worse luck of anyone I've ever seen. Her worst day was when she grunted me out into the world. And things got worse after that, if you can believe it."
He stopped suddenly and looked up at the moon. A tepid breeze kicked up and Gre could hear tree branches grating, wood on wood.
" The moon. Beautiful isn't it? But my mother...well... that's all just water under the bridge now. Salt in an old wound, maybe would be better." Behrin half-whispered. "Long over with."
He dropped his head and looked at Gre.
"Aubery is very good with a blade. Crazy? Yes, he's quite out of his mind. All the more reason for you to go with him."
Gre shook his head, perplexed.
"Behrin, there's plenty of men that are as good with a blade as Aubery, if not better. Why not one of them?
"Because they aren't crazy." Behrin pointed out. "Good men have gone after The Twiceborn. Sane men. "
Behrin's expression was rigid in the ghost glow of the moon. The nightmare mask of his face twisted into a humorless grin.
"Let's see how she likes it when the devil knocks on her door." He said softly. He looked back at Gre, his eyes glistening.
"My mother. Bad luck. Bad luck the day she had me and my bad luck the day I was born. But…every dog has his day, Gre. Have you ever heard that? I heard it somewhere. Every dog. And you and Aubery are going to give this dog his day. Right?"
Gre nodded silently. There was nothing left to say; Behrin had made up his mind. He paused for a moment and waited but Behrin was, once again, lost in his solitary moon-gazing. Gre turned to go back to his pallet.
When he thought about it, he knew he could have gotten Islinn back. Chances are, she was going to run as soon as she got the opportunity and it would be a matter of just asking around and finding her. If she were still alive.
But Aubery complicated things. Immensely. The kid was crazy enough to think he could march into The Twiceborn's camp and make demands and expect them to be met. Gre grinned to himself. And maybe that was the best way to go about it, let the little pissant take that route and just stand back and watch.
But no, he couldn't do that. Gre didn't have much loyalty, not even to himself. He had loyalty to two things: ale and Behrin. They had both served him well over the years and he felt a man should give as good as he gets. And for some odd, unfathomable reason, Behrin liked Aubery. And who knows? Maybe you had to send a devil to catch a devil. But he just couldn't get past the foreboding sense that he was truly fucked.
He stepped past Aubery's pallet and heard the boy gleefully whisper, "You and me Gre. In the morning. You and me."