Alora tossed more wood on the fire and watched as embers danced away in the early evening breeze. The air had gotten a bit cooler as the sun had gone down and she could tell that summer was hanging on with less strength as the days went by. The heat was still bad during the day but at night, the cool air to come stopped by for a quick visit before traveling on. But it was lingering longer and longer and the distance it traveled during the day wasn't as far away as it had been in days past.
She sat back down on the ground and watched as Islinn leaned back and propped herself on her elbows to look up at the night sky. Silence stretched out, slow and rich. Alora picked up a stick and poked at the fire and listened to Loki as he grazed.
"So. Tell me about Behrin." Alora murmured.
Islinn sat up and shrugged as she brushed back a spill of white-blond hair.
"There isn't much to tell, really. Behrin is…well,he is what he is."
Alora wasn't going to let her off the hook that easily.
"No, there's more than that. He followed me around for a while, why I don't know. There's something about him that's just spooky."
Islinn gazed at the other woman for a long moment.
"Well…he's going mad. It's gotten noticeable and I know his men were grumbling about it. Some left. But some of his men have traveled with him a long time; they're very loyal to him."
Alora shook her head, frustrated.
"No, it's more than that. See…" She stopped, not sure if she should tell Islinn about her ability to pick up random thoughts and emotions. But if the girl was going to travel with her, she'd find out sooner or later.
" This should be fun." She thought.
"Sometimes…with people…if their thoughts are strong enough…or fearful enough…I can read them."
Islinn slowly took this in and Alora watched as her face tightened. The girl was apparently someone who kept her thoughts and emotions close to the bone and Alora had just announced her ability to dig through them at her leisure.
"It's not really how it sounds." She said lamely.
"Then how is it? You're a seer? An oracle?" Islinn asked, a puzzled cast to her brown eyes.
"No,no, nothing like that." Alora waved a deprecating hand. "It's more like just…bits and pieces of things. And it isn't the future, it's just…words in peoples' heads. Most of the time, it never makes sense to me. Like with Behrin. Back at the auction, I kept picking up the word pregnant. That's why I asked you if you were. But usually, with him, it's a big black…space. Just a lot of darkness, mostly. And since I can't read him, I was just curious about him. "
Islinn nodded as her restless fingers smoothed and picked at the grass beneath her hands. She wasn't sure how she felt about Alora's casual pronouncement of her ability to paw through peoples' thoughts.
The only refuge she had against all that had happened to her was her uncanny ability to lock herself away in her own mind and, at times, she'd been able to convince herself that what was happening was simply happening to someone else.
It had been a neat trick and one she'd come to depend on to retain her own sense of sanity. But now it looked like she was going to have to figure out a way to seek refuge from her refuge. She crossed her arms in front of her for no reason whatsoever and set her mouth in a grim, unhappy line.
"I don't know much more about him then you. He's a cruel man." She replied and frowned. "That's really all anyone needs to know about him, I guess."
"No, I need to know more. What's the saying? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?" Alora smiled, inwardly relieved Islinn skipped over what she had just told her she was able to do. Though, if Alora had to judge by the expression on the girl's face, you'd think she'd just announced the uncanny ability to move into her head and set up house.
"I really don't know what I could tell you that you don't already know about him." Islinn stated, a stubborn set to her jaw. "He takes towns and sells the people he rounds up. He keeps some at the settlement to train so they'll bring more money. He's powerful. Respected by his men. Or feared. The towns too big for him to take cater to him. He does what he wants and goes where ever he wishes to go."
Alora nodded, her eyes dark.
"Sounds like a man who can't be forced to do anything he doesn't want to do."
"You've got that right." Islinn replied tersely.
"And yet…" Alora studied Islinn intently. "He fell in love with you. And the man I saw on that platform wasn't a man happily in love. But…in love, nonetheless."
Islinn was silent as she stared pensively into the flames and, as Alora watched her, she was struck once again by the girl's beauty, nearly leveled by it. It was a face chiseled by perfection yet there was a breath of so much innocence left on the road behind written in the bleak depths of her eyes that no one, upon seeing this girl at this exact moment, would ever accept that she had ever had a happy ending of any event. For girls like Islinn there were no happy beginnings or happy endings. Only a sense of never having a chance and, if your god was a benevolent one, a simple ending would just have to do.
"I guess he loved me. He thought it was love anyway." Islinn said, so softly Alora had to strain to hear her over the crackling of the fire.