tagSci-Fi & FantasyTorgan Wine Ch. 18

Torgan Wine Ch. 18

byIsemay©

Thanks to Todger65 for helping me edit another chapter!

*****

Isonei was startled out of her slumber by Draeseth trying to pull her against his side. It took a moment for her to remember where she was and why she'd been against the window in the first place. The way he was insistently stroking her arm suggested he wanted her awake to talk. She glanced to Burgath; the other Prince was rather obviously feigning sleep.

"Your brother is pretending to sleep to give us privacy?" Isonei inquired tiredly.

Burgath's eyes cracked open and he gave her a look of amused annoyance. "I was trying to be polite. My brother wants to speak to you."

"What about?" She sighed, wishing she could just go back to sleep.

"You're angry with me?" Draeseth pulled her into his lap and pinned her head under his chin.

"I'm exhausted." Letting her heavy eyes close, it felt like she had sand under her eyelids.

"Are you..." He squeezed her and shifted her in his lap as if trying to jostle her awake.

"I'm awake," Isonei yawned plaintively.

"My brother believes that if I don't reconcile with you immediately you won't let me take you past the Great Gate." Draeseth ran his hands over her arm and she could feel his nervousness.

"If I didn't intend to leave with you, my Draeseth, you would be taking me back to my Daga, not toward the gate." A loud yawn wrenched itself out of her and Draeseth followed suit.

"Wife, you look so unhappy." He pressed his face into the top of her head. "Arissa told me I had a chance to win back your trust, but I can feel each misstep after I make it. I need hope. My brother-"

"Stop listening to your brother." Isonei sighed with annoyance. "I know now why I liked him. He reminds me of my brothers, Ialath more than Ivorith the more time I spend with him."

"You hate me?" Burgath sounded surprised.

"I love Ialath. He has his faults." She managed to open her eyes and look at the man, "Faults that you seem to share. But I love him. I don't hate you, Burgath, I'm wary of you."

He studied her for a moment and then moved closer on the seat to be able to lean in front of her. "You were trying to apologize for your sharpness earlier without compromising your pride?"

"Yes."

"But you didn't try to apologize to Draeseth?"

"What have I done that requires an apology?"

"Isonei," Burgath sat up and frowned. "Surely you noticed his coldness. You're a clever woman; I would think you'd know to ask if you can't think of the reason on your own."

"He goes cold when he's unhappy. I'm too tired to try to kiss him out of it, and he warned me that I might not be able to. If he wants me to leave him to his moods, that's what I'll do. I'm not angry with him for it."

"Your father has moods..." Draeseth spoke quietly into her hair.

"And leaving him to them is best. I don't get angry with him for being who he is." Isonei lifted her head and turned on his lap enough to look at him. She raised her hand to lightly trace her fingers over his scarred lips and over the curved scar around his left eye.

The carriage jerked to a sudden stop spilling her into the floor from her precarious position on Draeseth's lap. Both Princes reached to help her up immediately as the sound of cursing came from outside the carriage. Draeseth opened the door once she was back on the seat and barked a question out into the rain.

The answer, in Torgan, didn't seem to please him and he barked an order. Krouth, in a waterproof cloak, brought Draeseth's black cloak promptly. "Stay here."

"What's wrong?" Isonei felt much more awake as she watched the large man disappear through the carriage door.

"We've become stuck in the mud." Burgath answered, rubbing his face and muttering what sounded like curses in Torgan. "We were delayed too long."

"It's raining that much?" She peered out with a frown.

"How do you think the Lerians retook their homeland?" The Prince snorted. "The Phaethian armies got bogged down unexpectedly and... The way you talked about it I expected you to know." He sounded dubious.

"I knew they were defeated because they didn't know what to do in the rain. I always thought they must have come from a very dry place. The light autumn rains are always welcomed." She turned from the window back to Burgath who looked as if he wasn't sure whether she was making a jest or not.

"These are not light rains, Lady Isonei, and they don't stop as quickly as the rains in Ara."

Isonei shook her head. "Daga Gildith always said rain like this in the autumn is light for Leria. It will get much heavier as winter approaches. Father rarely stayed for the rain. The gatherings don't start until it's pouring."

"This is light rain?" His eyes narrowed.

"Yes, is the carriage that heavy?"

Burgath opened the carriage door barking an order much as Draeseth had. After a few moments Krouth brought a cloak for him and he disappeared as well. The sound of discussion and what seemed to be more cursing was accompanied by the carriage beginning to jerk. The rough repeated motion was eventually followed by a burst of surprising speed as the carriage came free.

It stopped again almost immediately, but not as abruptly as before and Isonei wondered if it had gotten stuck yet again. After a few long moments the carriage began to continue on, stopping again once it felt and sounded like they had arrived at a bridge. The driver opened the door and peered in at her.

"Lady, the horses are needed. The carriage will wait here until the cart is free, you are to stay."

She nodded, but before she could open her mouth to ask any questions the door was shut. At least it should be quiet for awhile. Curling on the seat, she wished she had a blanket. Listening to the rain was soothing and she dozed despite the growing coolness in the carriage. When she finally heard a low murmur of voices and the sound of the door opening, it didn't prompt her to open her eyes.

"Is that an Aran?" A voice asked quietly and she cracked her eyes open with a growing sense of apprehension.

Two Lerian faces were looking at her curiously. "Who do you think she is?"

"Does it matter? They left her with their nice carriage; we can take it and worry about who she is later."

"I am a daughter of Liadith. Please do not take this." Isonei sat up with a frown. "They will return-"

"You're Aran and Liadith has no daughters. Lying about being the daughter of a Daga is punishable by death." The one who wanted to take her and the carriage smiled coldly.

"You must take me to my Daga first. I am Isonei of House Ernelis, daughter of Liadith." She tilted her chin up and spoke proudly.

"An Aran, travelling with Torgans, claiming to be a daughter of Liadith. We'll march you through the rain to his gate and watch him have you put to death. Or you can tell-"

"ISONEI!" Draeseth's bellow made one of the men pull a knife in startlement. It wasn't as loud as it had been in the Daga's garden.

"Run." Isonei's heart suddenly felt as if it wanted to beat out of her chest.

"Crethe, go!" One of them pulled back from the door and vanished, the one with the knife stepped up into the carriage reaching for Isonei. "You're coming too. If you're the daughter of Liadith you shouldn't be with them, if you're not, Liadith will put you to death." He grabbed her skirt as she tried to shrink against the far wall.

"ISONEI!" The bellow was closer and the underlying fear resonated through the fury.

"I am Hesh-Caeridith, if you're a daughter of Liadith you know what that means." He pulled her toward the door.

"Caeridith would not be a thief and no son would not threaten the daughter of Liadith."

"And a daughter of Liadith would be Lerian or at least speak it." He hissed pulling her out into the rain and putting her between him and the four charging Torgans. "Crethe will summon my brothers."

Draeseth had the knife she had given him in his hand and murder in his eyes looking at the blade the young man calling himself Hesh-Caeridith was holding in front of Isonei's belly. The two Torgans flanking him were armed with short swords.

"Isonei are you harmed?" Burgath asked carefully as he approached from the side.

"No." She tried not to sound afraid.

"Tell them who I am. I think the big one wants to kill me."

"He says he is Hesh-Caeridith, if he is, you cannot harm him. His father would be the one to punish him. If he is not, Daga Caeridith will be the one to sentence him."

"He will not hold a knife to my wife, my Duchess, the daughter of Liadith and live." Draeseth spat furiously.

"If he is a Daga's son he is not to be harmed." Isonei spoke clearly. "My Draeseth-"

"Correct me if I'm wrong, Lady Isonei, but if he were a Daga's son he wouldn't be holding a knife to the daughter of Liadith. Daga Gildith seemed to think a Daga's children should be held to high standards." Burgath inched slowly forward and the knife pressed more closely to her.

"If he is not who he claims, Daga Caeridith will sentence him. You won't be thanked for interference, Prince Burgath. Please stay back."

"If I am not Hesh-Caeridith, Daga Caeridith will order my death at his gate. My brothers are coming, and if this Aran," he spoke the word like a curse, "is not a daughter of Liadith she will be marched to Liadith's gate to die. I gave her the chance to recant."

"I am Isonei of House Ernelis, daughter of Liadith. I will not deny my Daga."

"Why would Liadith take an Aran as a daughter? And even if he did he wouldn't let her go with Torgans."

"He would. He did." Isonei corrected him. "Prince Burgath, if you would take a horse to plead to the Daga for help, I would be grateful." She shivered as the wind blew, biting through the soaked dress. Once she started shivering she couldn't stop.

"You would plead to my father for help?" The sound of approaching men made the Torgans begin to advance.

"Liadith is not here, I cannot plead to mine."

"Make them stop." He pressed the knife firmly to her belly again.

She watched Draeseth's jaw clench and his knuckles pale as he tightened his grip on his own knife. "Please."

"Hesh-Caeridith! Come away from the carriage. Now!" The man giving the order looked much like him but older, and dressed as Onsh. His cloak bore the bright purplish red stitching of Caeridith.

"If you are Onsh-Caeridith bring your Daga, the daughter of Liadith pleads!" Isonei called out trying to root herself in place as the younger man tried to drag her.

"Release her, Hesh. Father received word an Aran would be traveling with Torgans." Onsh-Caeridith dismounted and approached with a handful of men. "He's also expecting the daughter of Liadith, but..."

"She's Aran, and travelling with Torgans! She can't be-"

"Will no one bring the Daga?" Isonei's voice wavered as she pleaded.

Hesh pulled the knife away and yanked her arm, "My Daga will not be brought, you-"

The distraction was all Draeseth required. He rushed forward and slashed at the younger man slicing into his knife arm and catching him across the face before anyone else could react and wrenching her away. Isonei was pulled tightly against him as he retreated from the drawn weapons. Under his cloak she wrapped her arms around him and tried to will herself to stop shivering.

The wounded Hesh was pulled away by two other men. Onsh-Caeridith spoke sharply, "You will come with us. All of you will come with us." The pair of crossbowmen still astride their horses held their aim as the Torgans were ordered to disarm.

°°°°°°°°°°

Two horses had been hitched to the carriage and it was brought along with them, but they weren't permitted to ride in it. They were marched in the rain to the gate of Daga Caeridith. Draeseth had swept her up, keeping her out of the mud and somewhat warm against him under his cloak.

Isonei could hear the Lerians arguing about whether the Daga would force them to march her to Liadith or if he would simply put her to death with the Torgans for wounding Hesh-Caeridith. She couldn't tell if she was shivering from the cold wind that still found a way to bite her in her wet dress or from fear.

At the Daga's gate the rain began to beat down harder and the carriage was driven in without them. From the house came four servants holding poles with stiff oiled cloths at the ends, when they were held close it left the space beneath nearly dry. Daga Caeridith stepped out into the dryness and was walked to the gate. His bright purplish-red mantle stood out jarringly against the greys and browns of stone, mud, and rain.

"What is this?" The older man took in the sight in front of him.

"Torgans travelling with an Aran woman who claims she is the daughter of Liadith. Hesh-"

"The daughter of Liadith trembles from cold and fear at my gate. Onsh-Caeridith, explain this to me."

"There was some doubt father, the woman is Aran. The one who calls her his wife attacked Hesh-Caeridith."

"He dragged her from the carriage with a knife held to her belly. He would have been dead at your arrival had she not insisted it was a matter for the Daga." Burgath spoke tensely to Onsh-Caeridith, "Until the next Festival of Maeralya the daughter of Liadith is matched to my brother. It was done in Ara, before she was brought home."

"Why did he attack at all, if knew it was a matter for the Daga?" Onsh-Caeridith asked furiously.

"Prince Draeseth loves her dearly and no Torgan man can bear to watch his wife plead helplessly when he has a knife in his hand. That one wrenched at her arm and refused to bring the Daga. That he isn't dead is the greater surprise."

"Bring me the daughter of Liadith." The Daga spoke hoarsely. "I would see her."

"No." Draeseth growled pulling her almost painfully tight against him.

"Please..." Isonei breathed, reaching out of his cloak to caress his wet face soothingly, "I must speak to the Daga."

"Remain by my side." Gingerly, Draeseth set her on her feet and opened his cloak. "They will have to kill me before they can harm you again, my Duchess."

Shivering, she stood close to Draeseth's side looking at the Daga with deep apprehension. "Daga Caeridith..."

"My sons have done this?" The green of his eyes flickered, changing shades as his expression changed from shock, to anguish, to fury. "The daughter of Liadith, afraid to even step toward me... Enter my house as guests. Allow me to make amends for this violation." He held out his hand.

Isonei started to move forward and Draeseth halted her immediately with a quiet growl, "I do not trust them."

"Accept the invitation. A Daga can be trusted even if his sons cannot." She pressed her hand to his arm and he uncurled it from her waist allowing her to move toward the Daga.

As her trembling hand touched the Daga's he hissed and removed his mantle wrapping it around her. "You are as cold as ice, child."

She was brought immediately to a comfortable suite that reminded her of the rooms she had shared with Arissa. A fire was being laid hurriedly and the chests from the carriage were being brought in.

"You require dry clothing, and a warm bath." The Daga frowned as the chests were opened and none of the items inside were hers.

"My things must be on the cart that was stuck. Krouth would know." Isonei stood as close as she could to the roaring fire as she spoke.

"Which of them is Krouth?"

The sound of raised voices, Draeseth's the loudest, penetrated the room. "Allow him to come to me, please? He is very protective and he will harm someone if he is afraid for me, Daga Caeridith." Isonei looked at the door nervously. Draeseth beating the Daga's guards to a bloody pulp wouldn't be well received.

At his gesture a servant opened the door and spoke a sharp command to allow the Torgan to pass. Draeseth swept past the man came to her by the fire to pull her close and kiss her head. "I will not have you separated from me."

"She says someone named Krouth will know where her things are? She requires dry clothes and a warm bath." The Daga looked at him disapprovingly. "Why are her things not with the carriage for her use?"

"Her things are more easily reached on the cart." She saw him clench his jaw, "Krouth is with them. It is stuck to the axles in the mud; your roads are nearly impassable."

"For a heavily laden cart in the autumn, yes. You will need to lighten your loads to travel. I will send men to fetch her things and free your cart."

The Torgan Prince made an unpleasant noise in his throat. "They will be fought."

"Perhaps if someone goes with them?" Isonei gently suggested. "I am safe with the Daga and I can keep the bathwater warm for you."

His face softened and bent to press his face to hers. "I will not bathe here, and we will not stay. If he wishes to make amends you will be warmed and dried and we will be allowed to continue once the cart is freed."

Isonei frowned and touched his face wanting to argue, but she was cut off with a kiss.

"If our weapons are returned and one of the guards is allowed to remain to watch over you, I will go with his men to fetch the cart and your things. I would ask Burgath but he has been complaining like a woman since he left the carriage."

Her lips twisted as she sighed and looked up at him while he straightened. "I am offended, my Draeseth. I have not complained at all."

The Torgan gave her a small smile, cupping her face to run his thumb over her lips and making a soft, amused sound in his throat.

"Your weapons will be returned at my gate. They must be given up again before you reenter. A guard may remain with her to ease your mind as long as she permits it." At the Daga's words a servant bustled out of the room.

Draeseth bent to kiss her again before stepping to the door and shouting, "TAUGH!"

The Daga's eyes widened and his brows arched. "You could have sent someone to fetch the man."

"Torgans can be heard." Isonei gave the Daga a wry smile. "Why walk when you can be heard a mile?"

"I am not so loud, wife." Draeseth muttered, his look of annoyance was spoiled by the glittering of his dark eyes.

The Daga smiled faintly. "I'm certain it saves him many steps, daughter of Liadith."

The man Draeseth summoned was given orders in Torgan and he took a place next to the fire to warm himself and keep watch. Isonei was bustled into the bath and the Daga promised to return shortly. Stripped of her cold wet clothes, she washed under the warm water gleefully. The room wasn't as warm as she would have liked but the bathwater was steaming and she was eager to sink into it.

Soaking until she felt warmed through, she felt a little guilty that her guard and the others weren't able or willing to do the same. When a maid came in with a warm robe she decided it may be time to leave the water.

As she rose the maid looked startled. "Your arm, Lady!"

"I bruise." Isonei hadn't noticed the mottling on her arm, whether it was from Hesh gripping her and jerking her arm or from Draeseth wrenching her away from him she couldn't tell. The maid helped her into the robe and brought her out to brush her hair by the fire.

The Daga returned as her hair was being brushed and Isonei saw him look at her arm with a frown. "Salve is being brought."

"Thank you. How is Hesh-Caeridith?" She saw the way his eyes closed and for a moment she was afraid the young man had died.

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