A Sort of Fairytale: Chapter 6

Previously: Chapter 5 [U]

Righty oh :) Update time.

Rating: U

* * * * *

For three days, Red hovered on the edge – on the edge of danger, on the edge of consciousness – but in the very forefront of Katia’s attention. She wanted to hang around her own cabin like a bad smell, but Marta was in attendance a lot of the time, and the blonde’s questioning glances and frank glares were enough to drive Katia out the door.

There was never a lack of things to do around the compound. If you didn’t feel like hunting for food or chopping firewood, there was always the fortifications or Hendrik. At some point in his previous life, Hendrik had been an apprentice blacksmith, on his way up in the world. He had been foolish enough to object to some of his inventions being used in less-than-friendly ways and, like many others in the camp, had been forced to flee for simply speaking up.

Hendrik was an inventor. There was no other way to put it. He was constantly tinkering, constantly fiddling and, more often than not, constantly coming up with something insanely brilliant. Katia was fairly certain that without her intervention, defusing the booby traps of his that she encountered around the compound, he should have killed more of their men from the inside than their enemies ever had from the outside.

He was standing in ray of sunshine, staring thoughtfully up at the stockade.

“Master Hendrik,” the young brunette said tiredly, by way of a greeting.

“Catapults,” the stocky young lad replied.

“What?”

“I think we need catapults.”

“We do not need catapults.” Katia folded her arms but smiled.

“Well, how about a trebuchet?”

“How about not?”

“Er, well…”

“Hendrik,” Katia laughed out loud, a beautiful sound, “we’re fine in here, and we don’t really have the space or the facilities for any large siege weapons. Nor do we have anyone to lay siege to.”

Hendrik looked downcast for a few seconds, before his face came up brightly. “A moat!”

There were several long moments of silence before Katia spoke. “Actually… that may not be such a bad idea.”

“Really?” Hendrik sounded dubious.

“Well, perhaps not around the whole perimeter because we keep expanding.” Katia waved a hand at the compound. “But at the front, certainly.” She grinned wickedly. “I’ll even let you booby trap it.”

She watched the young man wander off in a happy daze, muttering what sounded like “Oh, boy” to himself. She could not help but chuckle at that.

Glancing up at her cabin, she fought the urge to head back. It was a constant trial for Katia not to spend hours sitting on the edge of her bunk, willing energy into the sleeping form, as if somehow Katia could channel her own wellbeing into the girl. Over and over, she told herself that it was only because Red had saved her life. But more than one person had saved her skin over time. Guillaume had pulled her out of a few life-threatening situations in the last few years, yet she had never found it necessary to sit by his bed and hold his hand. No, that sounded like the most uncomfortable thing she could possibly think of doing, possibly more uncomfortable than sitting on a sharp wooden pole and rotating.

Shaking her head at the thought, Katia headed off to find something with which to occupy herself. The various distractions that the brunette found took up around an hour of her time before she finally gave into her desire to return to her cabin.

On her way back, she stopped to check on Trevor. He was awake, although in significant pain. The soldiers of the keep had tortured him badly and had shattered his left shin in ways that Marta couldn’t begin to fix. Katia had no details on what else they had done to him, but the haunted look in his eyes was enough to give her a few educated guesses. Nonetheless, he was talking, eating and generally improving in both humour and health every day. His condition seemed to be better than that of the young auburn girl in every way.

He was surrounded by friends and, given that mere days before he had been languishing half-dead in a dungeon, Katia felt that he would do all right. She left him to his companions and headed back to her own hut.

What she found there was nothing like the scene she had left.

Marta was standing near the door, holding her hands out in a placating manner at the now-awake and startled redhead huddled in the bunk. They had left the girl naked but covered with plentiful blankets; it had been easier than dressing and undressing her continually, and it had given Marta access to the scattered wounds that littered the young thing’s form. But now, the girl was drawn into a corner, grasping the blankets to her chest, knees drawn up, with a look of pure fear across her countenance.

Katia’s entrance did nothing to lighten the tense mood in the cabin. If anything, Red managed to look even more terrified, and Marta shot the invading brunette a dirty look that spoke volumes. All that could be heard echoing around the room was the worried breathing of three people.

“Fear not,” Katia heard Marta murmur in a low voice. A petrified squeak emanated from the bunk as the redhead held the blanket tighter. “Don’t be afraid,” the blonde reassured her. “This is Katia. She’s a friend.”

Katia nodded frantically, holding up her hands to show she was unarmed. It was a lie: she had two daggers strapped to her, but they were both hidden and the frightened girl had no reason to know about them.

“I’m just here to help,” the blonde healer said softly, moving forward a step. Her comforting tones did nothing to help, as the girl in the bed gave a plaintive cry and turned her head to one side.

The bruise that stood out on the side of the girl’s face made anger curl inside Katia. Ignoring Marta, she strode forward, reasoning that the young girl probably would not move anyway and that trying to placate her from the doorway was getting them nowhere.

The girl whimpered over and over, until Katia slid to her knees in front of the bunk, just out of arms’ reach of the redhead.

“Be calm,” the brunette said firmly. “We’re not going to hurt you and you’re safe here.”

Red’s eyes were closed, her head still turned away. Katia’s words had done nothing to change her position or expression of abject fear.

“Look, I swear that we won’t do anything to you. I swear.” She saw Red’s eyelids flicker and kept talking in a low, even tone. “We won’t even touch you if you don’t want.” She watched the injured girl carefully as she asked, “Marta, can you get some water?”

Behind her, Katia could hear her friend scrambling around. A cup of water was carefully placed on the floor next to the bunk and then the blonde backed off to the door again. Picking up the mug, Katia gingerly placed the vessel on the wooden edge of the bunk and backed off a foot or so. She was still on her knees, but now well out of reach.

“There’s water there,” she said, in the same even voice.

For the first time, the injured girl in the bunk tentatively opened her eyes and blinked. She looked at Katia with deep green eyes still filled with fear, and then licked her chapped lips. The emerald eyes drifed down to the mug, and a trembling arm snaked out from the blankets to snare the water.

For long seconds, nothing could be heard but the desperate gulping of the clearly parched young girl, followed by the sound of the mug hitting the wooden floor as it tumbled out of Red’s hands. Those hands quickly grasped the blankets again, back to huddling.

Katia smiled shyly and picked up the mug. “More water?” A headshake came in reply. “Are you hungry?” Another shake of the head.

From here, Katia realised that the girl was probably younger than she had first surmised. She had thought that they must be roughly the same age – in their early twenties – but now she re-evaluated. Red was no more than a teenager, albeit one at the end, rather than the start, of that age group.

Katia shuffled closer and then winced, stopping, as the girl gave another terrified groan and cowered back. The redhead had already been wedged into the corner, and Katia had not thought it possible that there might be any more room in which to cower, but she had clearly been wrong.

More long seconds of stillness filled the room. And then Katia had an idea. Reaching down to her ankle, she pulled up the bottom of her breeches to reveal a long sheathed dagger attached to her leg. Its handle was wrought silver and steel, beautifully rendered in classic designs. It matched the one she knew to be strapped snugly to her waist. They had been a gift from her father, one she treasured and one with which she was rarely was without.

Now she removed the dagger from its ankle strap and turned it around, so she was holding the sheathed blade. Carefully, she offered the dagger, hilt first, to her frightened guest.

“Take it. It’s protection. We can’t hurt you if you have a knife.”

It took a little while but Red slowly reached out a hand and, when she was just in reach, grabbed the dagger with a quick snap and pulled the weapon back to her chest.

Marta and Katia both let out the breaths they had simultaneously been holding. They watched Red grip the dagger as though weighing it thoughtfully and then loosen her grip on the blankets, although only slightly.

Katia rolled back on her heels. “Can Marta come have a look at your wounds?”

“I’ve been attending you since you arrived,” the blonde added helpfully.

Gripping the dagger, Red shifted. A wince of pain shot across her face. Taking a deep breath, she nodded.

Katia moved to her feet and backed right off as Marta passed her, kneeling by the bunk.

“She won’t hurt you,” Katia promised the still-frightened teenager as the healer opened her bag, momentarily distracted. “If she does, you can hit her with the knife.”

“Hey!” Marta swung her head around angrily, glaring at the brunette who was now casually leaning against the doorframe.

“It’s not my skin.” Katia grinned impishly, shrugging.

And as Marta went back to begin her ministrations, the brunette could have sworn she saw a brief smile flash across Red’s face.

8 Comments

  1. Fort
    Posted 3 March 2009 at 2.07pm | Permalink

    First to review!

    Aw, I liked the idea of them giving her a knife to protect herself against them. A way to build trust. Also liked Katia’s desire to be there with her, but forcing herself away so as not to arouse suspicion of her odd actions from Marta.

  2. Snickerly
    Posted 3 March 2009 at 3.52pm | Permalink

    Oh man I just so love this story.
    *grin*

  3. smurfturkey
    Posted 3 March 2009 at 5.24pm | Permalink

    YAY! I cant wait for more

  4. Noodles
    Posted 4 March 2009 at 3.52am | Permalink

    I agree wth fort, building trust good.

    Katia’s need to be around Red is sweet.

    And Marta ain’t no dummy, now is she.

  5. dev0347
    Posted 4 March 2009 at 8.48am | Permalink

    I know names are just names, but I can’t help thinking that Trevor must be clever, while Hendrik – despite spelling his name wrong – is a black fella with a weird double crown/circle thing on his head.

    Just me, then? I’ll get me coat.

  6. blue
    Posted 8 March 2009 at 6.10am | Permalink

    How can I leave any worthy comment after Dev… [Oh, you’re being too modest – Dev]

    Such eclectic folk, what is the reason they all fled and banded together ?

  7. Lnkmstr10
    Posted 15 August 2010 at 3.54am | Permalink

    Um excuse me? *dusts off story* helloooooOOOO? Anyone? Ahem, well this is Sarah, and I was just wondering why this amazing story no tiene más capitulos? Quiero más. Necesito más para vivir! Por favor!!! Please come back dear story. I’ll be forever grateful and I’ll even bring pretty flowers!!!!

  8. svlo
    Posted 16 September 2010 at 12.30pm | Permalink

    ill come with you to get the flowers sarah

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