“Done and done Jayke. Let it not be said that your Lord cannot protect the people, besides, a slight on his people is a slight to the Lord himself.” His voice bounced across the hall from wall to wall. The people chattered and smiled and seemed very pleased.
                “I shall have our patrol doubled and made aware of the plight of the commons. Furthermore Jayke, you shall be repaid in coin what you have lost and I shall see if one of our neighbours does not have a pig or two to share with us.” He nodded and that was that.
                “Thanking you m’lord, most generous.” He said, and continued to mutter as he bowed out of the room.
                Before the man could leave, Dalaena approached him.
                “Is there any man here that has business with his Lord Eldin?” she heard the steward call out.
                “Excuse me, Jayke.” Dalaena tried to call to him, as quietly as she could, whilst Edaran watched the proceedings of the court with rapt attention. Father often held audiences with people from all over his lands, but not quite on this magnitude. The number of people was vast and she imagined Edaran could hardly see over their heads.
                “Aye miss?” he turned around, then noted her appearance. “Oh, apologies m’lady, I didn’t know it to be you—“
                “—nonesense, I am no lady, and you are most excused.” She said encouragingly, her hands held out as if machining to touch the cloth he was still holding in his hands. “Tell me.” She placed a hand on his. “What is this you carry?” she wondered out loud.
                He started at the words, his eyes downcast and the twisting became more violent.
                “I—erm...” he broke down then, tears touching his grubby cheeks.
                “Oh sir, whatever is the matter?” she asked of him.
                “This was—it was the piece of dress that ripped off.” He swallowed a lump down his throat. Dalaena felt her own stomach twist like that cloth.
                “Whatever do you mean?” he suddenly looked down.
                “I mean the bastards took my daughter, then they took my wife. I tried to pull them back and this—“ he helf up the material then and sucked in a breath, “they—they done things to my girls. They ra—ra—“
                “—you needn’t say it, sir.”
                “But they done it, and they laughed as they did!” Dalaena’s mouth hung open. She stepped towards him.
                “Oh sir, I am so sorry. Why didn’t you say?” she glimpsed over to Eldin, now addressing a problem of lack of good fish.
                She realised the stupidity of that question as it came out however.
                He stopped fiddling with the cloth. It hung limply at his side.
                “I—I couldn’t.” He looked down at his feet, but Dalaena lifted his chin.
                “I shall visit you soon, sir.” She tried to smile, but it was only then she realised there were tears on her own cheeks. She dabbed at them with a square of silk she kept in a pocket.
                “Th—thank you.” He shuffled away.
                Dalaena had to lean against a pillar to steady herself, her breathing coming ragged. She felt a small hand clutch hers then and looked around to see Edaran staring up at her, smiling.
                “What’s wrong Delly?” dare she answer? This was one truth he need not know right now.
                “Nothin Ed.” She bent down and held her little brother tightly.
                “if you have no further business with His Lord Eldin, then you may all go, in peace and prosperity until our next meetings!” The steward shouted.
                The throng of peasants moved towards the door, towards Dalaena and Edaran. She pulled her brother back into the shadows and watched the masses leave.

The End

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