Sunday, June 8, 2008

Chapter 13a: Brother and Sister

"The body is a vessel for the soul and nothing more. We, our true self, dwells within, waiting for release, waiting for the day that we can be judged for our actions. "

~Dokken the Wise
Brother and Sister

Where have you been?” Marchas spit the question out like an accusation.

“Since when did I have to start reporting myself to you?” Shannai spat back.

Seeing their way of life destroyed filled them with tension. Instead of bringing them closer together they struck out at one another. Directing their fear and aggression at the ones closest to them. Arguing more than they had since they were little.

Her brother’s nostrils flared, and he pursed his lips in anger. He opened his mouth to reply and stopped. His face relaxed and he sighed. “Sorry, Shan. You’re right. I’m just worried is all.”

She sat on the edge of the bed while he buttoned up his shirt. “I hope you’re not worried on my account. You’re the troublemaker.”

He placed his hand over his heart, feigning injury. “Me, a trouble maker. Who started that bar fight in Tholog? If I remember correctly I was minding my own business, entertaining some very fine young ladies, when you hit that trapper across the head with your beer stein. Put a hell of a dent in the stein too, if I remember correctly.”

She laughed and threw a pillow at him. “You know that wasn’t my fault, Marchas. That bear of a man had all the manners of a wild boar, and the smell to go with it. If he had kept his paws to himself that would have been a pleasant evening.”

“It would have been for me. No doubt about that. I was doing pretty well that night.”

She started to comment on his philandering, but stopped as he sat on the bed next to her. His eyes shined with fear, and his brows furrowed in concentration.

“Shannai, we are in trouble like we haven’t been before.”

She looked at her lap, where her fingers twisted a button on her blouse, and nodded her head. Her voice shook in a cracked whisper, “Yeah. We are, aren’t we?”

He put his arm over her shoulder and pulled her close. “I’m not trying to frighten you, but I don’t want you to think that just because we are here at the duke’s grand palace everything is okay, because it isn’t.”

“At least we aren’t alone. There are others here. City guards. The wizard…”

He stood up and walked to the window. “Have you seen how many city guards are here? Not hardly enough to stop a bar fight, and, though I was a bit out of it when I met him, it looks like the wizard has met his match. There’s too many of them. You saw. There’s not a city block that doesn’t have ten or more of the damned things trying to kill you. I’m guessing that they’re congregating around the palace walls even as we speak. Trying to get in here and have their way with us. It’s just a matter of time before that finally happens, and I don’t want to be here when it does.”

She twisted her shoulders to face him. “You aren’t thinking of going back out there again? By ourselves? They will get us for sure this time. Besides, I think they are stacked ten deep around the palace walls, just like you said. There is no way we could get through, even if the guards allowed it.”

He slammed his fist into his palm. “I’m thinking it will be easier and safer for two people to sneak out of the city instead of everyone in the palace to try and walk out of there. We know what to expect now, I think we can do it. We just can’t wait here for them to get in.”

“Marchas, think about it. They can’t climb the wall. We are safe here. It’s also a long walk to the city gates. The palace is backed up against the Barclaves at the furthest point in the city from any of the walls. I think it’s too far for just too people. I don’t even think we can get out of the palace. There are just too many of them waiting right outside the palace walls for us.”

He turned from her and grasped the window seal, leaning against tense arms. “Well, I just can’t wait here for them to break through, or for us to starve to death. There has to be something we can do to get out of this.”

“Let’s wait, see what the Duke…”

Rapid knocking on the door interrupted Shannai. Marchas whirled around and looked at her. She shrugged and then turned to the door. “Come in.”

The door opened and a teenage boy stepped into the room. Grime covered his face in the fading light, making this toothy smile stand out. “I didn’t mean to bother you, but I just heard that we might be saved. I’m going around and lettin’ everyone know.”

Marchas stepped up to the boy, his voice reflected the boy’s excitement. “Saved? How?”

The boy hit his forehead with the palm of his hand. “I’m so stupid. The people. The infected ones. They have walked away from the wall. They aren’t blocking us in no more.”

Marchas thanked the boy and walked him to the door. When the boy left he shut the door and leaned back against it. His smile shone through his goatee with as much enthusiasm as the boys. “I think this is out chance.”

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