The ride to safety was long and cold. Only the sound of hooves and feet mixing with mud and the gentle prattle of rain could be heard, with the occasional grunt from the injured. The defeated seramythians continued northward towards Mahalia, unsure of their distance between their human attackers, but determined to make it to their destination.
Bolarius remained quiet, his arms wrapped tightly around his injured niece as he held the reigns of his horse stern. Caymen, with one arm propped tightly against her chest where the arrow struck, dazed in and out of consciousness from lack of blood. Some moments she would find comfort in a brief sleep, until woken up suddenly, flailing her arms with images of Jeryn being struck by arrows coursing through her mind.
They were greeted by the frontmen of the Mahalian army with howls of joy and confusion. Expecting a larger army than received, the Mahalian General, Eodwin, rode up to meet Bolarius, and escorted him into the city while Bolarius explained what happened. He was taken into the great military hall and then the quarters of the General himself, who fetched his best surgeon to tend Caymens wounds while he and Bolarius spoke.
“I’ve arranged shelter, food, and nurses for your men, Captain. Your prisoners have been placed in our dungeon and will receive trial when the rain has cleared.” offering a glass of wine to Bolarius as he spoke.
“You have my gratitude, General.” Bolarous sighed. “We haven’t much time, however. I’m afraid the trials will have to wait until we are sure the outer gates are well protected. I do not know how many more may be heading this way.” Bolarius paused a moment to take a sip from his wine. “I’d also like to send a man through the Ka’sador pass to make sure Seramythia is still in tact, or if they are sending anymore units to attack there as well.”
“My best rider has already been dispatched, Captain.” Eodwin nodded. “We should hear word in a weeks time. Now please, rest yourself and tell me what happened.”
Bolarius hesitantly lowered himself into one of the large cotton chairs in front of the open hearth in Eodwin’s office and ran his calloused fingers through his hair. “I’d….like to know the status of my niece, if at all possible, General. She has suffered a great loss…” His words trailed off, unsure himself whether or not he spoke of the wound she now carries or her state of mind.
Within the medical quarters, Caymen laid motionless on her cot, her breathing subtle but steady. Her eyes stared endlessly at the stone walls as if frozen by time. It took almost 2 days for her to regain color enough to begin roaming around the military quarter. Many of the guard took interest in her for her rugged beauty, others looked at her with disdain as they did most foreigners. She kept to herself mostly, which most assumed was just her rude nature.
Caymen eventually made her way to the dungeon, looking over their human prisoners carefully, calculating their strength and wounds. During one of her passes through the dungeon, she came across a familiar human figure. It took her a moment to remember where she had seen the human before.
“GUARD!” she shrieked, the cold horror echoing in her voice. The prisoner looked up, frightened and unbeknown what was brewing outside of his cell. Several Mahalian guards came down to answer the ruckus from the dungeon. Caymen paced uncontrollably outside the cell until she saw the guards.
“Open the cell.” she ordered.
“But, milady, these are prisoners, we have orders to keep them confined” the guards answered quizzically, but Caymen interrupted before they could finish.
“Open the cell, NOW!” she screamed in a blind rage.
The commotion from within the dungeon sparked the attention of General Eodwin and Captain Bolarous. They forced their way through the crowd of gathered officials until they stood before Caymen and the Mahalian guard.
“Caymen, what is the meaning of this, we are guests here!” Bolarous boomed, using his firm grip to pull his niece aside. “What is wrong with you, you should be restin..”
“It’s him Uncle!” she cried, her voice trembling with anger and fear. “He’s the one that killed Jeryn! He needs to pay for his crime!” she broke free of her uncles grip and pulled at the iron bars that kept her from her victim.
Bolarous sighed heavily to himself as he watched his niece absorbed by so much pain. “General..if you and your men would give us a moment..”
“Of course, Captain” Eodwin replied, motioning silently for his men to depart.
Bolarous paced slowly for a bit, attempting to find the appropriate words. “Caymen…nothing you do here is going to bring Jeryn back. Our society thrives on the laws that our ancestors beset…the same laws we enforce today. If you murder him without a proper trial, you would be no better than him.” He knew the words stung, and he knew what her reaction would be, but he also know how necessary it was for her to hear them.
The frightened human watched nervously as he saw his potential future being laid before him.
“Uncle..how can you stand there, knowing that the fool who murdered your very own son, which I saw with my own eyes, is sitting on the other side of these bars? His very breath is an insult to Jeryn.” She slumped to her knees before the cell, keeping her eyes on the wounded soldier on the other side.
Bolarous kneeled down behind his niece and wrapped his comforting arms around her. “Caymen, you don’t even know for sure that he is dead. At least wait until we have word otherwise..”
All his niece could do was weep as Bolarous held her. No more words were exchanged, there was nothing more to be said. When enough time had passed, Bolarous stood and went over to the Captain of the Guard, speaking low as not to disturb his niece. “Do not open the cell. If she does anything that might endanger the prisoners life, stop her and fetch me immediately.”
The guard nodded and Bolarous departed.
Caymen stayed camped outside the prisoners cell. She mostly stayed resting against the wall parallel to the iron doors, but there she slept, ate, and spent the majority of her days. She never spoke, and she never left, all she could do was watch him squirm and heal from within his shackles.
It was days before he had gathered up enough nerve to attempt to speak, unsure of what her reaction might be. “I am sorry for what happened to your friend..” He expected her to burst out in reaction again, but she remained silent, her eyes piercing through the bars and under his skin. “Milady, you should not torture yourself with someone like me, I am not worth all of this anger. I was merely doing my duty.” Again she remained silent and contemplative.
It would be several days before another word was spoke between them. In the meantime the human army that had attacked them in the Seramythian Forest was now camped in the Mistwood, not far outside of the Mahalian gates. Captain Bolarous and General Eodwin had armored their defenses around the outer wall, anticipating the human attack. Occasionally there was an arrow flung from one side to the other, but neither army had attacked.
A week passed, still nothing. Bolarous worried that the humans were attempting to weaken their defenses by their diminishing supply, but Eodwin assured them they had plenty in reserve. Bolarous also awaited word on the ride from Seramythia, concerned for the well-being of his people that remained there virtually defenseless. And of course his mind never strayed from his son and beloved niece.
Caymen, weak from her wounds, decided to finally open her mouth and speak to the focus of her hatred.