‘What do you think we should do, Your Ladyship?’
Beatrix blinked. ‘Er, sorry?’
Lockspate looked rather taken aback, and Beatrix realised with shame that she had slipped into the patterns of speech the outlaws used.
‘I beg your pardon,’ she said formally. ‘I was not quite myself. May I ask you to repeat your question?’
Appeased, Lockspate replied: ‘Would you advise us to remain here or ride out? We have fifteen thousand men.’
‘I am quite aware of that,’ she said stiffly. ‘But I would advise we ride out. We don’t want our men getting restless.’ Like I am. Very restless.
And so it was decided - they would leave in two days, which would give them time to prepare everything. They would go to Annesdale, where apparently Aaron had taken his court after a peasant’s riot in the capital (swiftly crushed).
Beatrix was very fraustrated. As she was a Lady, she was to be nothing more than a spectator from a safe distance, and even that she’d had to fight for - Hathering had been all for leaving her at his manor. She’d tried to explain that she knew how to swordfight, but they spouted the usual nonsense about ‘protecting the weaker female sex’.
Secretly, however, she was quite relieved. Although she trusted her own knowledge, she had no idea how far it would protect her against trained professionals. This was an odd sensation for her, weighing up the guardsmen’s weaknesses - she’d always been glad that they were so well trained. But then, she’d never had to contemplate pitting herself against them.
It wasn’t a nice feeling.