Oren Whitehair blamed his ambush on the Shivelite girl longer than he should have; indeed, long after his bruises were healed and he was safely away from the whole stinking city he still bore a grudge toward the slight figure wailing into the red velvet curtain. He shouldn’t have underestimated the Sacred Servants, but he’d been overconfident. Even so, there was a part of him, even now, that still blamed the girl.
He’d followed the lead Servant to the bedchamber while two walked on either side and one behind, their red cloaks swishing. He hadn’t been worried though he’d known what they were about. At the very least, he’d figured he could take the two on either side with his fists; while dropping the one in front with a kick. Unless the one behind him had a knife, Oren figured he’d flee.
Then he heard the crying at the end of the hall and saw girl, Mirella, who’d seen him in all his glory on the jutting rock. He hadn’t liked learning that, but he’d like the sound of her crying even less. She was sobbing like her heart would break. Had someone attacked her because she’d claimed to know him? Had one of the Sacred Servants made a threat? He veered to the side and in that moment, a cudgel had come down on his head, rendering him senseless.
He’d regained consciousness in a stone cell, everything quiet except for an occasional drip of water and the sputter of a lone candle on the wall opposite his cell.
Oren had examined himself tenderly. He knew from experience that at least two of his ribs were broken, and his fingers had been stomped. A roomful of air and light, he thought, recalling the King’s words, with fresh rushes on the floor.
The straw in his cell, what there was of it, smelled like urine. The blanket they’d thrown over him smelled like fear.
He closed his eyes against the pain.