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The last two days have passed without much incident. Allaro has not returned to the hut since Quenan dismissed him nor has Roldo entered but to deliver food or at one point usher a woman in to help Pennei change into new clothes, a simple dress of grey roughspun. Though even as little as she is visited, there is the definite sense that all is not well with the camp. From time to time hushed whispers are spoke in Valaryian beyond the hides of the hut and the odd word of Westerosi can be heard giving away that someone is overdue. Clearly a delay that has caused some concern amongst Pennei’s captors.
For her part, Pennei has been a model prisoner. Quiet, compliant, meek. She eats the food given to her, changes into the homespun when bid.. though she would keep her sturdy riding boots. She keeps a marker of the days, scratches etched into the floor. At night, she huddles into her blankets, trying to hide her tears of terror and threatening despair. She listens to the words spoken by her captors, trying to catch nuggets of information.
The riding boots remain, and her gown is left in the hovel as well. The words of her captors are hushed but she hears talk of whether or not the ‘Tyroshi bitch’ has betrayed them and fear that the Kingswood Company might be at any moment riding down on them or worse, Bors Breakhelm, the would-be king of the Kingswood. Though throughout it all Pennei is left to herself, even Roldo, seems pre-occupied and does not leer at her through his brief daily encounters with her.
That is until a cry is heard shouted.“They’re back!”
With the cry comes the sound of stirring feet, and even Roldo moves away from his post at the door of the hut.
The Tyroshi bitch, can only mean Tycella, or so Pennei assumes. When Roldo moves away from the door to the hovel, Pennei will venture to push back the leather “door” and peer outside.
A small party on horseback is in the middle of the camp, and with them a trio of rider less horses. Around them most of the camp has gathered including Quenan and a blocky red faced man whom Pennei has heard roaring about the camp shouting orders to all those who aren’t with Quenan’s men. Mounted on the back of one of the horses is Tycella, looking dirty and wildeyed, making her a good match for the two men who ride with her.
The red faced man glances at the group, with a frown on his face. “Where are the others?”
One of the riders swings down from his horse, the westerosi youth from the shop. “The Warden’s men did for Jasen and Edryck, Marbo was fool enough to get caught before he could reach us.”
There are plenty of grim faces at the news and one of the camp’s women begins to sob before she is shushed by a sharp look from the leader of the camp. “What of the Warden?”
“Dead I think,” he replies. “Jasen did for him. Went down and did not come up.”
Pennei’s blue eyes widen and she brings both hands to her mouth, as if trying to hold in a cry. Her breath comes in quick, short gasps, but with effort, remains where she is, trying to hear more.
The redfaced man, Robbar, nods at the news. “That’s something at least. But three men to do it. He did not die easy?”
The youth shakes his head. “Jasen took him early, but bull knight, and the old lion, were with him. They did for Edryck, the ‘cloaks brought down Marbo.”
Robbar spits. “A pox on the cloaks and the Warden’s men. Still, we will drink to the slain tonight,” he beckons the youth. “Come tell me the rest of the tale.”
Nodding the youth says. “A moment,” before he turns and with surprising gallantry and no little possessiveness, helps Tycella down from her mount. The Tyroshi gives him a small smile that hides her uncertainty well. Once she is on the ground the youth promises. “I will find you later,” he says before he turns and departs with Robbar. Tycella for her part exchanges a brief look with Quenan and then makes for her father’s side.
Pennei wants nothing more than to slip back inside the hovel, cover herself with her threadbare blankets, and cry. Seeing Tycella and knowing, without any doubt, that she was part of this scheme only makes it more difficult. Still the girl stays, arms wrapped around herself in a protective gesture.
As the Tyroshi speak to one another the camp breaks into similar little conferences as the camp’s women tend to the horses and welcome back the other rider who had returned to them. One such conference journeys in Pennei’s direction as Quenan moves to speak to a returning Roldo. “This is no good,” Roldo says in a hushed voice. “The Westerosi will answer blood with blood. I’ve said that from the start of this plan.”
Quenan’s expression gives no sign of his agreement or disagreement until he dips his head. “It was the cost of their shelter.”
“Shelter we could bloody well take by force,” Roldo says. “What do we do when that fat sack of pig shit Marbo tells the Kingswood men where to find us?”
Quenan puts a hand on Roldo’s shoulder. “Let us talk to our young friend first, then, we will see what is going to happen.”
Roldo nods appeased for the moment and takes up his post. As he does he glances back at the flap and calls out. “Did you hear that little mouse? These men did for your man. But don’t worry, Roldo will keep you warm at night,” he says with a chuckle as he goes back to his duties.
Roldo’s gibe at her is enough to send Pennei fleeing back inside the hovel. She covers herself with the blankets and shudders with grief and despair. She tears at her dresses, a sign of mourning. But also, just -tearing- something feels good.
Tycella appears at the flap a short time later, pushing it aside after a few words exchanged with Roldo. Her eyes flare as she looks at Pennei, and she stalks over raising a hand to slap her. “How dare you treat my father so,” she says as she lets her hand fly. “You may be able to cow him, but you won’t cow me.” She swings her off hand, her right being bruised darkly around the wrist.
Pennei is so shocked to see that Tycella means to actually strike her, that she doesn’t get out of the way fast enough. The girl’s hand leaves a red mark on her cheek. For a heartbeat, Pennei’s blue eyes are wide with surprise, but then she narrows them and strikes right back at her. “You insolent churl!” She snarls, suddenly reverting to earlier behavior. “I -trusted- you! I kept you fed, in silks and jewels! You ungrateful, inconstant whore! Get out of my sight!”
If Pennei was surprised to be struck by Tycella; Tycella is utterly dumbfounded when she is struck in return. The Tyroshi stands there for a moment, her mouth open wide, then with a snarl she swings another slap at Pennei, while she fumbles with a little dagger (a gift from Pennei at one point) from the belt of her soiled dress. She brandishes the weapon in front of Pennei’s eyes, the blade is stained with dried blood. “See this! See it? This is -his- blood. Your bastard husband. I cut him before they beat his brains in and left him in the street,” she smiles.
“See this?” Pennei nearly growls, “This is hardwood oak, from the Dornish Marches. And -this-” The girl brings that hard oak bootheel down with all of her might on the top of Tycella’s foot. “-This- is your foot!”
The Tyroshi screams as she falls a combination of surprise and pain, beneath Pennei’s boot something gives way. She lands on her back and the dagger skitters out of her hand to land in the shadowed corner of the hut. Though Tycella could care less, she cradles her injured foot, eyes furious despite the tears that glaze them. “You bitch!” she screams. “You broke it!” With a strangled scream of rage, she throws an empty bowl from Pennei’s last meal at Pennei’s head.
Pennei moves back to retrieve the dagger, dodging the bowl thrown her way. Holding the little knife, she brandishes it at the woman. “Get out.” She says coldly. “Get out or I will cut your neck and leave you for the wolves.”
Roldo ducks his head inside the flap and when he sees what’s in Pennei’s hand his eyes flare. “Bloody bitches,” he snarls. “Drop the knife little mouse,” he says to Pennei then to Tycella. “Fun’s over, you, get out.”
She looks back at Roldo eyes wide. “But my foot!”
“Crawl,” comes the Myrishman’s reply though he does not take his eyes off Pennei or the dagger.
Pennei eyes Roldo for a moment, then drops the knife. She knows she cannot have a chance at fighting him and the inevitable consequence of losing is enough for her to yield. She doesn’t say anything.
“Good mouse,” Roldo says with a nod as he steps around Tycella and collects the weapon tucking it into his belt. “You,” he says to Tycella as he grips her around the waist and pulls her out of the tent, and tosses her on the ground outside. “Out.”
Then with a sneer he looks back at Pennei and puts a finger against the hilt of the knife.
“Weapons’ll see Quenan strip you naked and keep you that way. Might be he has me search you too. Wouldn’t that be sweet. Teach you a few things your man never got the time to.” Then at the sound of footsteps approaching he ducks his head under the flap and is gone.
Pennei lets out her breath slowly and now that everyone has left, her hands shake. It’s not -her- fault that Tycella brought the knife in and threatened her with it! Out of habit, she collects the pieces of the broken bowl and sets them aside. Or maybe that’s so she has something to do. That bit of straightening done, she pulls her blanket around her shoulders and stares dejectedly at the shattered clay.
An hour later the killing began.
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