~The Dress~ pg 8

Alex worked his body hard, walking so much she feared he might collapse. Fiora insisted he return to his bed until supper. That he did not argue proved to her that he had pushed himself too far. She was impressed, though, with how quickly he was healing. Nivia had said her salve was magical, but watching Civyl walk without cringing and Alex simply being able to stand both proved to her that it was truth.

The door slamming open had her hurrying downstairs. A part of her hoped Civyl had come back already but it was too soon. Had something gone wrong? She stopped on the bottom step catching sight of the wiry man, Demil, and her hopes deflated. He was struggling under a multitude of packages that teetered precariously on top of each other and hung from his harms in bags. He spied her out of the corner of his eye. “You there, girl. Yeah, you. Come ‘ere, come ‘ere. Take these from me before they fall, eh?”

She hesitated, but only for a moment. Without his sword pointed at Civyl, the man seemed harmless. Fiora hurried to take the top most packages and set them on the table until his hands were free for him to set down the bags. “Thank ye kindly, miss.” He flashed her a wide grin. Somehow, his two missing teeth gave him a quirky endearment today where they had made him look more vile yesterday. 

“You’re welcome,” she replied in kind, bowing out of habit. At least she had not lost her manners on this trip. 

His smile turned shy and his tone was gentle when he addressed her next. “I’m really glad to see yer okay. I was awfully scared fer you when I saw that man carryin’ you over his shoulder.” Fiora sucked in a breath. She hadn’t realized how it must have looked to them. “Followed him fer a whole day,” he continued almost apologetically, “but I couldn’t get close enough to see if you were all right. Alex always told me not to risk confronting someone alone, but I would have if I’d seen him hurting you.”

Fiora opened up her mouth to defend Civyl, to say that he hadn’t hurt her, but then she remembered the bruises on her neck. Without thinking of it, her hand lifted to test the tenderness but she forced it down when she caught him staring. Sympathy crinkled the corners of his eyes. “I kept watch all night,” he scratched the back of his neck while pink flooded his cheeks, “to make sure he was descent to ya.” She really didn’t know what to say. She should thank him but she didn’t know how. She found herself only nodding at him. “He left you alone to forage in the morning and I was hoping I could sneak you out of there, but he musta drugged you ‘cause yer eyes were all silvery white. That’s when I went to get the rest of ‘em to help.”

“Thank you,” she finally spit out, surprised to find herself actually grateful. This stranger didn’t know her, had no reason to care two coppers about her, but he had thought she needed help and tried to provide it. No wonder they hadn’t listened to her when she’d tried to say she was fine. “I appreciate your concern.” 

He nodded, looking satisfied before he gazed around the room a little nervously and posed a question. “Is, ah… is Nivia around somewhere?”

The End

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