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It was not exactly a warm welcome as she was hoisted off and pinned down. At first there was a brimming confusion in her eyes and then there was a sort of fury. She struggled against the men, hopelessly as she demanded to know what was happening. Of course, she soon found out as she ran her fingers through her cropped hair. Somewhere she had lost the dagger in the struggle and she fumbled to pick it up and replace it in her boot, not wanting to relinquish the small piece of power she had, even if she now looked like a fool.
Her pale eyes were frightened, and offended at her treatment. She was escorted before a man in an oak chair, eyes blazing as she shrugged herself free of the men and flared at them. For a moment she thought of spitting toxic words at them but Brynden spoke before she had the chance and she turned her anger to him. Her hair had once been her pride and joy, now it was no more, a cropped mess.
[+green “Do all guests get such a charming welcome?”] She hissed at him and tried to smooth what hair was left down. She was a Lady of Fellwood, and now she looked like a simple peasant. She could not expect her father to be happy with this. She sighed and composed herself, as best she could because she was still terribly offended by his actions. However, Brynden was an intimidating man to behold and she had no doubts he would be of equal match to her vicious tongue.
[+green “Tasia of Fellwood.”] She said curtly and eyed the men around her, half daring them to come close once more.
[+green “And I would thank you to call your dogs off, I am capable of walking myself next time.”] Her tone was sharp and she could not help but feel outnumbered amongst all of this. The men retreated back and away from the scene, chuckling amongst themselves and Tasia looked to Brynden.
[+green “The next man to touch me will find their tongue cut out and several fingers missing.”] What sort of men were these? To force a woman the way they had and take her hair without any warning. Perhaps she came off as a brat, which was strange for she was usually a gentle and compliant soul given her years of servitude but her honour had been dented and pride damaged.
The night was eerily quiet. Men sat by their cookfires, of which the crackling was one of the few sounds that disturbed the peace. A few hushed conversations were had, but not many, and for good reason; they had just come from a battle in which they had lost many and more men. The skirmish for the Silver Ford would likely prove to be a crucial one, however, and the company's participation would merit at least a song or two being written. It was a bitter victory, all the same, one that had hardly been worth snatching from the jaws of defeat.
As the mercenaries licked their wounds, sergeants went around to spread the word. A woman of noble birth would come to the company, to be brought back to her father's keep, Fellwood. Nobody was to touch a hair on her head, which was ironic, given that the commander had already prepared a few men to hold her down as the surgeon cut her hair. If she looked like another unwashed peasant that had taken up arms to earn a few shillings, nobody would be the wiser. Brynden sat in the commander's tent. The servants had taken away the dinner plates and cutlery and given each of the four captains gathered with the commander a copy of the contract.
The plan was simple. They were all to ride off with a small escort of men and a decoy, each in different directions, to throw any possible pursuers off the scent. They were told the girl was important, but for what reasons only the devil could know. It was like to be an easy contract, however, riding some girl back to her ancestral home, collecting the coin from her father, and then resuming their journey. They were headed for the capital, were the rebels were preparing for a siege. Under some of the loyalist lords, they'd attack them from the rear to liberate the city.
When she came, no spectacle was made. Brynden was to take the actual charge and deliver her to Fellwood, but first, half a dozen men-at-arms took her aside and held her down on a bench as the surgeon rudely cut her hair. He could not see it happen, but he could hear her struggle. When she came before him, she looked more a young boy than a noblewoman. He sat perched in a tall, oak chair and appeared as regal as any king. [b ''So, you've come. I am Brynden. I will take you home.''] He was as dark as he was handsdome and as tall as he seemed cruel, but she'd have to put up with him.
The forest was quiet, eerily quiet as Tasia rode the horse through. It was pitch black and her cloak barely kept out the chill. The letter from her father, the Lord of Fellwood Castle, had explained she was no longer safe in her place of service. She had been instructed to leave the Castle of Lairds and meet with a mercenary group and they would escort her home. The young woman was not a fan of sell swords and thieves, men who killed for money but her father had assured her that she would be safe but if she stayed at the castle when it was set upon then she would be slaughtered by the enemies. Her father had not wanted her caught up in such a mess.
Tasia squinted through the dark and dismounted her horse, leading it by the reins. Her father had told her to look for firelight and trust that the mercenary’s knew what they were doing. Tasia of Fellwood was not as other ladies, she had been long in the service of Iris of Elmsley since she was ten years old. It was considered a great honour as Lady Iris was of such high standing. Tasia had been treated somewhat well, she was fed and watered but she was consistently reminded that she stood below the Lords and Ladies in her position of servitude. Under cover of darkness she had escaped the place, leaving the others to be murdered in their beds no doubt.
Tasia had missed her home. She missed her family and some small part of her was desperate to get home and be reunited with them. She reached down into her boot and retrieved a dagger , clutching it tightly in her fist as she stared around. A glimpse of firelight caught her attention, voices breaking through the night and she approached quietly.
Tents were set up messily and meat cooked over most of the fires, filling the air with its scent. She kept the hood of her cloak up, keeping her features hidden. She was not experienced in combat like these men and she knew they could easily overpower her. However she had at least followed her fathers letter and dressed as a man, which was mildly uncomfortable for her given she had spent her life in dresses. Her thick hair was tied back in a bun and a dead five away that she was intact not a boy, but she hadn’t the heart to cut her locks off. She kept the cloak up as she approached and cleared her throat.
[+green “I am looking for a man who goes by Brynden. I was sent by my father.”] She said as she clutched her horses reins and the dagger so tight her knuckles went white.
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