Lady Miriam sobbed into Sarah’s shoulder while Lord Farquad watched. His expression was a mixture of confusion, despair and a longing to help. Wincing slightly as she extended her arm forward, Sarah touched the man’s hands. His gaze shifted from his daughter to Sarah and hardened.
“I don’t know what she has been through, My Lord,” Sarah spoke to him. “But you’ll need to be gentle and patient with her. Sometimes it can take a while to heal.”
“How long a while?” he asked gruffly.
“I don’t know.” Sarah shook her head sadly. “My Lord.”
Lord Farquad studied Sarah’s face and she returned the man’s hard stare with a gentle one. Sleep began to try and overtake her and she hoped Jay would come back soon. Breaking her gaze from Lady Miriam’s father she looked about the room. It was a large hall, obviously meant for gatherings, or dining, she thought as the smell of food reached her. There was no second story like most Vervellean structures. Then again if they’d put this up in a manner of weeks, that might explain things. The outer door flew open and Sarah watched as a tall woman walked in with the elderly woman from the boat. Snow blew in around them before they closed the door. The tall woman strode down to join them.
“Alithana Alara,” Lord Farquad nodded his head respectfully to her.
Lady Miriam peaked from Sarah’s shoulder and then hid her head again.
“You haven’t seen Sergeant Phoenix or Mistress Laura about have you?”
“Phoenix went to get us some food,” Sarah spoke up and Alara looked her over with curiosity.
“And you are?” she asked.
“My Fiancé,” Jason joined them with a large platter of food, “Sarah Ann Smith. And with her is Lord Farquad’s,” he nodded to the man as he sat down, “daughter, Lady Miriam.”
Lord Farquad renewed his study of Sarah, his expression softening slightly. “So you are the pale Arenian who volunteered for the task?”
“Well...” Sarah started but Jay’s mental voice stopped her.
Just play along please.
“Yes...” she completed with a shrug.
Jason smiled and he handed out plates. In silence, they all dug in, Sarah encouraging Lady Miriam to do so for herself. It took a while, but with Alara on one side and Sarah on the other, she began to relax. Sarah noted that she still would not meet her father’s gaze. As they ate the meeting hall began to fill with people. Each new group would send someone to the back bringing out platters of food.
“Alithana,” Jason caught Alara’s attention and she looked from the door to him. “Not, to criticize your peoples methods; but should we not be saving rations so they last the winter?”
“Who said we’d be here all winter?” Alara asked surprised.
“Well with the storms blowing through now that Weathermage Lynn cannot hold them back, the roads will be covered in snow and traveling through the wilderness will be twice as dangerous.”
“We’ll ski down the mountains,” she stated as she took a bite of food, her gaze wondering once more to the door.
“Ski?” Jason looked puzzled.
“Cross-country ski?” Sarah asked.
“No just ski,” Alara sighed as she looked between the two. “You cannot tell me you live up here in the mountains and have never skied before.”
“We actually don’t live up here,” Sarah stated, “so Phoenix probably hasn’t. I tried downhill skiing once and totally sucked at it.”
“She means she did very poorly,” Jason translated at Alara’s puzzled expression.
“Well I’m sure we can help you improve.” Alara smiled briefly and rose to greet some of the newcomers to the hall.