~The Life After~ pg 6

Anger at his past colored his thoughts. Pride in his perceived integrity made him stand up straight to face her. His voice was hard and cold, “I would not force a maiden to be slave to a promise made by a fake god.” 

Nivia clucked her tongue and shook her head, answering him with quiet reproach.“No… but you would force her to live without it.” The woman sighed and stared at the ground while lifting her palms in surrender. She was giving up on the argument. “I put her in your charge. You must console her.”

Alex blinked. “Me?! She won’t even let me near her.” 

Nivia’s voice was sad but firm. “You caused this. You mend it.”

She started towards the house, which Alex noted was quieter than before. Maybe the girl had finally cried herself out.  He could only hope. Chink turned to follow Nivia in silence while Alex hesitated with slumped shoulders. He had no idea what to do. Those he rescued were usually overflowing with gratitude. Even those who were not happy had not mourned their freedom from captivity. The girl’s sorrow was foreign to him. 

The silence behind the door when they reached it was an unsettling change and even Nivia paused to take a deep breath before opening it again. Their footsteps on the hard wood echoed in the room. The girl sat in the same corner of the room she had claimed since waking up. She rocked herself with her back to them, not acknowledging their return. 

“How about some tea?” the old woman offered, the sound of it too loud. “To help you warm up?” The girl did not respond, but Nivia went on as if that were normal. “Yes, I’ll get you some tea.” She left the room nodding to herself. 

“Um…,“ Chink coughed next to him, his discomfort obvious. “I’m goin' to go take care of the 'orses for the night.” He excused himself and retreated out the door before Alex could get out his protest. They had abandoned him. 

The End

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