isis recovered with time. For the first few days, mahado watched her closely half-expecting her to bolt every time she was alone. But she stayed with him, and he cared for her. With all the people coming in from the destroyed village, mahado found work in the inn. He made enough money for them to live on and haggled with the owner to let them stay in the inn cheaply. When isis was well enough, she worked as well, cleaning, preparing food, and other jobs that kept her ...out of sight. mahado had been right, the keeper judged her by her skin and eyes.
When they didn't have to work, they had no one to talk with but each other. mahado told isis of his family, his mother and younger brother. His father, he had never known. He even opened up enough to grieve for his lost mother and brother in front of her. isis had that effect on people. She comforted him, and instead of being embarrassed, as he would in front of any other person, mahado was relieved. He told her about all sorts of things, his village, his friends, and the great palace city he had seen once as a boy. She would always listen.
But isis would not open up to him the same way. He learned that she was not foreign, but born in Egypt with her unusual skin and eyes. Her family shunned her and sold her into slavery. She had then been traded from owner to owner until the bandits mahado had seen. If there were more details to her story, mahado did not know them. She would not speak of the dragon again at all.
But mahado found himself caring less and less about her past. Nothing she hid from him could turn him away from her now. She was the only person in the world he could trust. The time had long passed that isis needed medical care, yet she still stayed with him. Perhaps because there was no other place where she could work and earn money, but she didn't seem the kind to stay with him against her will. He did nothing to keep her bound to him.
Weeks passed in this fashion, both working, living together, learning about the other. Slowly, the refugees began to leave. The work slacked off. One such slow day, isis and mahado were both cleaning in the tavern, a rare chance that isis was in sight and both of them together. A man passed by the doorway, stopped, and entered the room. Neither paid him mind till he called to them.
"mahado!" He was middle-aged, with a well-worn traveling cloak; mahado looked up at him, recognizing him immediately as a neighbor from their village.
"Asim! You're alive!" mahado marveled.
"I could say the same thing to you, boy!" The older man replied, coming to mahado and clapping a hand on his shoulder. "There was hardly anything left of your house!"
"Yes..." mahado suddenly remembered he had never liked Asim. Insensitive, old-
"But enough of that. Have you been reimbursed by the priests yet?" Asim pulled a sack of gold from his belt and held it up.
"What? Money from the priests?"
"Yes! The pharaoh says it was the palace's fault that the village was destroyed, so they're giving us all money! Just go to the palace, tell them you're from the village, and you can talk to the priest! They have to judge you, to make sure you're not lying, but then you get your money!"
With money from the priests, mahado could leave the inn, and he and isis could live somewhere together. Someplace of their own. Asim interrupted his train of thought before he could plan any more details.
"I have to get going now; my caravan will leave without me!" Asim went to the door. "Good seeing you, boy! Remember to get your money!"
Despite Asim's stupid reminder of Set's dead family, it was the most pleasant conversation Set ever had with the man. He turned to isis.
"You heard it all?" He asked. After a pause, she nodded. "Then we will go to the palace immediately! With that gold, we can leave this place! We can-" mahado stopped. He meant to say 'live together', but he still was not sure of her feelings. She didn't notice his unfinished sentence.
"No, I cannot go to the palace." She looked him in the eye, firm. mahado was thrown. She hadn't contradicted him since she tried to leave when she woke in the inn.
"Why?" His lack of knowledge haunted him. "We'll go together. You'll be fine."
"I have been... to the palace before," she said hesitantly. "They... I... well, I cannot go again, not even to the city."
"The palace? You? But why?"
"The dragon," she forced out. "Don't make me talk about it."
"Well..." mahado could go by himself to get the money. "Fine. But I can't leave you here. The innkeeper... er..."
"He hates me. I'm used to what people think. You can say it, mahado."
"I know, I know." mahado clenched a fist. He hated how people judged her, the same way he judged her when she was lying on the ground in his village. "So you know I can't leave you alone."
"Yes, you can. You don't want to," isis countered. "I will not chain you to this place. You need not bind yourself to me-"
"Is that a bad thing?" mahado asked, before he could stop himself. isis stared.
"I... want to stay with you." mahado forced himself to look at her, not hide his eyes like a coward while he opened his heart to her. I would ask you the honor... of binding myself to you."
He thought isis was quiet before; mahado might have been in the room alone, for the silence was overwhelming. He tensed, waiting for some answer. At least rejection would end this horrible silence.
"Really?" she murmured at last. A weight lifted from mahado's heart.
"Really, truly," he promised. "I will stay with you forever."
"No matter what happens?" she pressed.
"Forever," he repeated.
mahado crossed the room in an instant and threw her arms around him. The innkeeper walked past and shouted for them to get back to work, but neither of them cared.
"I will wait in the city while you go to the palace," isis said. "That's the best I can do."
"But-" mahado started.
"I'll be fine. I can take my care of myself for the time you'll be in the palace, and they won't notice if I'm only in the city a short time."
mahado longed to ask her why she wasn't allowed in the city, but such details were unimportant. The innkeeper approached the two of them, still yelling.
"We quit," mahado told him, and the two of them ran to their room to get their things. They were gone before the keeper figured out what happened.
· Tue Dec 21, 2010 @ 09:47am · 0 Comments