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Friday, 16 September 2005
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Chapter iv, For I Am the Lesser Servant
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Again she held the Banepearl in her hand; - and again the Banepearl had so sorely harassed her Si'anelle with its hunger that her dear friend had fainted in the saddle from the punishments it had wrought upon her flesh. With her mouth a tight line upon her face Ae'thenal now swung her leg over Nadimar's back to dismount. It would have been better if they had not had that month of rest with the Elf-kindreds of Athel Loren, for after knowing an easing of their burden it was now the more difficult to once more suffer the Banepearl's wicked demands. Soft within her mind the Banepearl whispered to her in its hissing speech as she did make shift to go to aid her friend, though as its lesser servant it did not have so great a hold on her as it did Si'anelle and she could find strength enough within her in this hour to ignore its threats. 'At least for this present time,' Ae'thenal did tell herself. For soon enough the wicked thing would begin to work upon her, testing her will with its punishments until it did at last force her to obey.

Bronwyn and Jean-Marie both were endevouring to lift Si'anelle down from her saddle as she did join them, Finaith standing patient as they struggled in their attempt. Ae'thenal did know in truth that she would have flung the Banepearl down in the dust and given of her full strength to the task had not Sebekneru amazed them all by stepping in close to Finaith then and bodily lifting Si'anelle from their hands. The black giantess thrusting them all aside, though not in an unkind fashion, as she had taken up Si'anelle as if she was but a child in her arms. "Ain't no weight at all in the skinny bit," Sebekneru did say before she began to stride towards the doorway of the stone tower with her burden. Though for a single moment the giantess's face had betrayed her concern at the wasting that did lie upon Si'anelle's flesh. This change having been wrought upon her face and body during the hours of their march to this valley. Ae'thenal did know well enough this extremity of the Banepearl's punishment, for had not the wicked thing worked the same wasting upon her own flesh often enough before this when she would not obey. Now Jean-Marie was hastening after Sebekneru and giving instructions to the giantess that she did want Si'anelle placed within a good bedchamber, and that she did want certain items swiftly brought to her. An earthenware bowl of clean water, a brazier; - then she did turn her head to call to Bronywn to bring her pack from Cloud, - but Bronywn had already anticipated her need and had claimed her pack before a one of Peledym's Gladeriders had come to lead their horses away.

Before this day Jean-Marie had employed her craft twice to bring to Si'anelle a temporary release, even though the task would leave her fatigued and trembling in the aftermath. And if by Isha's mercy Jean-Marie could win her friend a release in this hour then Ae'thenal did know she would also benefit for a time. Which they did in truth greatly need, for there were none who were deserving of sudden death close by, and the Banepearl's increasing rage at its unsaited hunger would soon cause it to seek to force them to take of any who were of the living. Even if they were well beloved companions or kindred or not.

As Ae'thenal made haste to follow after Jean-Marie and Bronwyn, Sebekneru having already ducked her head beneath the tower's portal, she was forestalled by a hand that did grip her arm. "A word Lady Ae'thenal," a well spoken voice did say to her. Though as she did now fling off that hand with a fierce strength that the Banepearl had shifted itself to gift to her, a long sword blade fell lightly to her shoulder, coming to rest with a touch that was near gentle against her neck. And others in a like fashion did also come to rest about her throat as the six Swordmasters of Hoeth moved in close to surround her. "My Lord Sindinath," she did tightly hiss at the principal one of their company. "Is this in truth the day you shall spill my blood and close my eyes in death?" Her defiance alive within her gaze she did look over each a one of them. The secret fear within her heart had been spoken aloud, and speaking aloud her fear did seem to serve well enough as a dispell for her secret terror, for in this moment she was not afraid. Except that now her eyes had fallen upon Talieth Mistborn who stood beside the high born Elf and it did take all her strength not to play hazard with the sharp blades about her throat and close with her.

Her face impassive as she gazed upon her the Wood Elf enchantress did for a moment stand with her staff held tight gripped in her hand before she spoke aloud. "See my Lord Sindinath she does in truth hate us and would harm us." "No, not so Talieth Mistborn," Sindinath did say then as he did firmly shake his head. "We have afterall prevented the Lady Ae'thenal from attending her upon her friend. And since the Lady Si'anelle is unwell I do think we sorely test the Lady Ae'thenal's patience at this day's end." At that Ae'thenal did incline her head towards the Swordmaster glad enough to discover a wiser head in her present company, for all that she did not trust Sindinath Swordmaster's motives. Though she did perform the act with care given the six sharp blades at her neck. "Then my Lord suffer me to go to my friend for I do not know of any word that may be spoken between us that will make shift to the curse that is upon me."

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