“Putting this woman to good use, what do you think I’m doing?”
Sarah stood her ground and studied him in the torchlight. The cuts that Wholawski had made were not deep, but she calculated them into her analysis. He might be big, but Sarah had learned how to disable men like him. She just hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
“Would you question Sharon if it was she who came and retrieved this woman?” The Jailer’s eyes narrowed at her. “Because according to General Wholawski I’ve replaced Sharon.”
It was a wild guess, but if Sharon had enough power to protect certain women, Sarah suspected she had some authority. The Jailer said nothing, nor did he move so Sarah moved forward, pulling Lady Miriam behind her. As Sarah brushed past the Jailer, she realized he wasn’t as tall as she thought. A slap and a scream from Lady Miriam made Sarah spin around dagger in hand. Without thinking, the dagger point had come to rest under the Jailer’s chin.
“Like me,” she growled, “this one is now off limits.” Her eyes burned into his and he shrunk back. “Come on Miriam,” she took hold of the woman’s hand again. “Let’s get you cleaned up and put to work.”
Thankfully, the only other person they ran into on their way up was Sharon.
“I need a bath brought up for this one,” she told her.
Sharon looked over Lady Miriam with a critical eye and Sarah could feel the young woman trembling. “She ain’t worth saving,” Sharon stated and turned to go.
Sarah caught Sharon’s arm and turned her back to face her. “I’m not asking you to save her, I’m asking you to get a bath for her. You let me worry about doing the saving.”
“No more room in the bake house,” Sharon stood her ground.
“She’ll stay in my room.”
For a while, the two women held eye contact. Sharon wasn’t used to taking orders from another woman. That was clear to Sarah.
“Just a bath Sharon,” Sarah softened her tone, “There’s plenty of clothing for her to wear up there.”
“But can you justify her usefulness?”
“So long as she can sew, she can help Allmarah turn skirts to pants for me.”
Sharon looked off into the distance for a moment and then nodded.
“Thank you,” Sarah sighed, to the woman’s surprise. She turned back to Lady Miriam who still looked frightened. “Come on, you’ll be keeping Princess Allmarah company.”
Leading the girl up the stairs, Sarah nearly had to carry her, Lady Miriam was trembling so hard. As they passed the door to the room next to the Princess’s the girl went pale. Sarah placed herself between it and the young woman.
“No one will force themselves on you again if I can help it,” she whispered.
The girl nodded, though her lip still quivered. She clung to Sarah, her eyes darting here and there, as Sarah knocked upon the door. It took a little while and Sarah was about to knock again when she heard scraping. Princess Allmarah opened the door and then gasped at Lady Miriam.
“Oh Gods!” she cried. “What have they done to you?” the Princess ushered the young woman inside.
Sarah closed the door. “Sharon will be up with a bath for her. I presume you have clothing she could wear.”
“Yes, of course.” The Princess was examining the trembling woman from top to bottom. “She’s a mess.” Allmarah turned tear stained eyes towards Sarah. “What did they do to her?”
“You probably don’t want to know.” Sarah reached out and took Lady Miriam’s hand. “But I won’t let it happen again.”