expectations and suspicionMature

Seres felt stifled by the thick velvet tent that had become her quarters; she'd asked for them to remove the top but they'd ignored her.  She wanted to see the stars as she lay waiting for him.  She'd hoped she would be able to distract herself with the constellations, silently repeating the stories in her mind, weaving the patterns of magic like gleaming strands of light, blinding her to reality with the vivid colors of myth.

But there was no mercy to be had in this camp, Seres reminded herself; she was among monsters masked as men, and to expect any behavior outside of those standards would likely get her killed.  She could hear their riotous war songs, muffled only by the swift night wind that rattled their equipment and separated the syllables of their words into indecipherable grunts and jeers.

Night passed in stuttering increments.  She kept track based on the energy of the sing-a-longs and the ever-dwindling glow of the firelight beneath the fabric of her tent.  When the warm orange shifted to a dusty grey light, she could no longer provide excuses to herself.  He never came, and this struck her with a potent sense of insecurity.  It was custom for his warriors to claim their female prisoners, it was part of the conquest.  It was why they kept them alive.

Why had he not come for her?

Eitri kept watch outside of the tent throughout the evening, never allowing himself to sit or lean in order to remain alert.  He kept silent, watching over the men around the fire and keeping a sharp eye on the perimeter.  Every quarter hour one of his sentries brought him a report, which he signed to Eitri from ten meters away with broad arm strokes and a few complicated digit sequences.

When Eitri demanded silence in an area, his men obeyed, and each and every one had been instructed not to reveal his location.  He did not know why it was so important to him that she be unaware of his presence outside her tent, but it was and that was all that mattered.  If he had an instinct, Eitri went with it; he'd learned long ago not to argue with his intuition.   As the sun crested the hilltops to the West, he opened the flap of her tent without announcing himself.  She jumped visibly but kept her mouth shut, though the nervous way she clutched her blanket around her already dressed body gave her away.  

He wanted to demand she remove the covers, but he knew better.  Whatever was under there, he would be better off to discover it slowly, on his own, without alerting her to his cleverness.  It was always best to let the enemy believe one was less than one actually was.

Instead, he said, "Pack your things.  We move in an hour."

The End

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