Shed No Tears
The small cell was damp and cold. Bryna shivered in her torn summer gown. She was sitting in the corner of the dark chamber on a pile of rotten straw. They had unchained her hands before locking her inside, mostly because the knight, named Hawke, had demanded they do it. Even now he stood outside her door. The other knights had already tried to use her as tonight's entertainment, which is how her dress had been ripped. Hawke had interfered and after a couple of well-placed punches, convinced the others to change their minds.
"You should try to rest, my lady."
Bryna stood up and moved closer to the door. Hawke watched her through the iron bars on the small window. "I'm afraid I'm not very sleepy, sir."
Her guard nodded his head. "Understandable, my lady." His eyes took in her tattered dress. "I'm sorry about earlier. I would have been here sooner . . ."
"You have done more than enough, sir. You should be more careful of what you say. You work for very powerful people, it is not a good thing to defy your superiors."
"You should listen to the lady, Hawke."
Her guard snapped to attention as another knight appeared beside him. "Commander Markus, I didn't see you, sir."
Bryna studied the newcomer, through the bars. He was not the same commander from earlier. This one had kind eyes. The Knight-Commander unlocked her door and handed Bryna a woven blanket. "I know it can get cold in these cells, my lady. I thought you might need this."
Bryna smiled her thanks and wrapped the blanket around her shivering body. She jumped slightly as the wooden door slammed shut once more. Hawke and the Commander talked quietly for a few moments and then her protector left.
"Try to rest, my lady. Your trial will be tomorrow."
"Followed by my execution."
Bryna watched as a look of pain crossed the knight's face. "Yes, my lady, that is probably true."
Bryna returned to her corner and sitting down she closed her eyes. She buried herself in her memories. Quinn and her had always been close. Then at their mother's deathbed they had sworn to watch out for one another. "Well, Momma, I kept my word. I just hope Quinn is smart enough to run and never look back. You watch over your baby boy tonight, Momma, and I'll be joining you shortly."
Bryna awoke to an argument. She could not believe she had actually dozed off. The hushed debate came from outside her door. Bryna moved closer but could only hear a few sentences.
"I'm sorry . . . we're not ready."
"They'll kill her . . ."
"It's because of you . . ."
"Her blood is on your hands."
"My blood is on no one hands, sir." Her comment caused the others to fall silent. "I am here because I chose to be . . . do not pass the guilt on to anyone but the evil that put me here in the first place."
There were muffled footsteps away from the cell and then Markus appeared and unlocked the door. "Here, my lady," he gave her a small bowl. "It is not much but it will stop the chill on the inside."
"I'm afraid soup will not dull the chill inside me, sir. But I thank you for your kindness."
When the door opened again, it was Hawke "It is time, my lady." Bryna stood and let the blanket fall to the floor. She smoothed the wrinkles the best she could out of her dress and ran her fingers through her hair. "I'm ready, let's get this show over with."
In Hawke's hands was a set of iron shackles. He looked at the bonds and then at Bryna. His eyes were filled with agony. Reaching for the sword at his side, he whispered, "my lady, I do not wish to do this. I can kill you now, quick and easy. You shall feel no pain. The High Priest may sacrifice you or do something even worse . . ."
Bryna felt no horror at his words. He was offering her a way out. The young girl knew that if Hawke did kill her that his death would soon follow. If not done by the hands of another, then by his own hands from the guilt of the deed.
"Thank you, brave knight," she said, kissing his cheek. "However, my destiny is not for me to decide. That is in the hands of a higher power." She reached for the manacles and locked them in place around her wrists.
"A higher power . . . the God Mesardee?'
"He is no god . . . a devil perhaps but no god."
"Is there nothing I can do?"
Bryna studied the young man in front of her. He was probably only a few years older than she was. "Yes, there are a couple of things you can do for me." She removed the necklace she wore and handed it to him. The knight studied the jewelry. It was a gold chain and attached to it, half of a gold coin.
"My brother has the other half. I would like you to keep mine to remember me by."
Hawke nodded his head and slid the chain over his head. "I don't think I will ever forget you, my lady."
"The other thing you can do for me is to get out of this line of work. You and Commander Markus have hearts. That is something that will get the both of you in trouble."
"And that is the reason we must stay, isn't Hawke?"
Markus appeared out of the darkness. Bryna wondered how long he had been listening.
"Come on, the High Priest doesn't like to be kept waiting."
"No, we wouldn't want to do that would we?" Bryna said, moving forward. Markus took his place to her right and Hawke flanked her on the left.
In no time the trio stood before the iron doors that would lead to the High Priest.
Bryna paused and slowly turned around. Her eyes searched the cloudless sky as she watched a lone bird glide over the city. The warm desert winds whispered through her hair. "Okay, gentlemen, I'm ready."
The iron doors swung open soundlessly and Bryna stepped inside.