Clues, Pt. 4: The Prisoner

Fiction By Tahlia Grant // 8/11/2010

Anary and Radia glanced at each other.

"Stay in here," Anary said. "Stay out of sight unless I call for you."

Radia slowly nodded and backed into the bedroom she shared with her mother as Anary went to answer the door.

There was a murmur of voices, then she heard Anary call.

"Radia, would you mind getting a drink of water for these fine gentlemen?"

Radia slipped out the back door and walked the few yards to the well. She lowered the bucket down and when she lifted it back up it was filled with the slightly red-tinged water they had always drunk. Radia took the dipper from the well's stone edge and returned indoors, through the kitchen to the front room.

Five men had entered. Three of them were ordinary soldiers, Radia could tell by the clasp on their cloaks. The fourth was a tall, broad man. His brown hair was graying at the temples, but other than that there was no sign of his age. He was dressed as a soldier as well, but there was a crescent moon on his right shoulder. A captain.

The fifth was the prisoner Kara had told Radia about.

He was of an average height, but had a wiry build. His tangle of blond hair only reached his shoulders, and his green eyes seemed as cold as a reptile's.

Radia stopped in the doorway and stared at him. Despite the fact that he was bleeding profusely from more than one place on his body, and though he was tied hand and foot, he looked dangerous. She didn't want to get any closer.

"And this is ..." the captain was saying to Anary.

"Radia." Anary's voice was flat and uninviting as she moved closer to her daughter. "Radia, this is Captain Cayd Gertan from the palace, his three guards, and their prisoner Rynez."

Radia nodded once. She stayed where she was.

"Radia, dear, would you please give the men some water?" Anary sounded less than happy herself.

Hesitantly, Radia stepped over to Cayd, then his three guards, giving them water each in turn.

Then she looked at the prisoner, wondering what she should do with him.

"You'll have to give him the dipper yourself," Cayd said dryly. "There's no way we're untying him."

"What has he done?" Anary asked warily.

"He's a murderer."

"Why did you bring him?"

"Because he knows something I don't. Girl, give him some water. He hasn't had any today and I want him alive."

Radia shot him a glare before kneeling down. She put a dipper of water to Rynez's lips and tipped it so he could drink, all the while watching his eyes. For some reason, the look of murderous hate had gone out of them. It had been replaced with some sort of amusement that Radia didn't trust.

She was about to get back to her feet when Rynez spoke in a low tone, his lips barely moving.

"Wait. Act like you're giving me another drink."

Radia looked at him, surprised, but put the dipper back into the bucket to get more water.

"Give no sign of surprise, listen to me, and tell no one," he said in the same voice, "or you will probably die. I recognize you."


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