Today’s installment of Keep Your Enemies Closest is a bit longer than most – if I had realised last week, I would have just made the effort to edit the next three paragraphs and then finish that excerpt at the “~*~”. As it is, it was about 700 words before I could find a good spot to stop. So bonus for you! If you’re new to my Short Story Saturday posts, you can find some background on the universe in which the story is set here, and here are parts one and two.
If you have a short story you would like to share, come hang out on the linky and see what others are sharing as well. Thanks to Ink and Papyrus for hosting us! And now without further ado, on with the story!
Now that he wasn’t trying to appear imposing, Captain Gallivan took the time to take in his prisoner. While they were still on the beach, the moonlight illuminated the group in front of him enough that he could absorb some details about her. She was in bare feet, something he wouldn’t have expected for traipsing through a forest, though it explained why he had been able to catch up to her despite his own state of relative undress. She was also wearing tights and some sort of belt with several weapons hanging off it.
When they reached the camp, Gallivan returned straight to his tent, confident the three privates would be able to deal with Mireille sufficiently. Maydar and Setten, he had seen through training himself, and he would have trusted either of them with his life. He was sure Kattar would be the same.
While the evening’s events were hardly amongst the most exciting he had seen during his time in the army, they were enough to have made him relatively sleepy now. Once he had dusted the sand out from between his toes, he laid back down. Placing one arm across his eyes to block out the starlight, he fell asleep with relative ease.
The following morning, Captain Gallivan awoke to excited chatter outside his tent. Upon sticking his head outside, he found a group of young men from all four battalions who immediately turned their attention to him when they realised he had emerged.
“Captain Gallivan, sir, is it true we’ve taken a Trilvainian prisoner already?”
“It is true it’s a woman?”
“Is she ugly, like in all the stories?”
The questions fired thick and fast, until Gallivan held up his hand. They all quietened down as Gallivan climbed out of his tent and surveyed them all, a smile playing at his lips.
“Yes,” he replied, “it is true we have taken a Trilvainian prisoner. Yes, she is a woman. Yes, we believe her to be a spy. It was too dark to tell what she looked like, Private Akars, but don’t believe all the stories you hear at home. Trilvainians look just like you or I.”
Mutters of both agreement and disagreement made their way through the group. Gallivan shook his head. While he accepted that Trilvain was the enemy, he felt uncomfortable with the fear-mongering and stories that were spread through Dodgis to whip up support for the current conflict. It happened every time they went to war with one of their neighbours, and despite treaties and constant negotiations, that seemed to happen all too frequently.
“Anyway,” he continued, keen to disband the group of boys, “I will be interrogating Miss Mireille, our Trilvainian guest, before establishing plans for our attack on Esperen. If the Trilvainians are aware of our movements, we may have to make some adjustments. So if you’d all kindly return to your tents to await further orders…” He trailed off and waved his hand to dismiss them. Obediently, they began wandering away, talking quietly amongst themselves.
Gallivan returned to his tent and ensured he was dressed properly before climbing out properly and going to find what Privates Maydar, Setten and Kattar had done with Mireille. He found them keeping watch over a tent they had constructed on the edge of the camp. As he approached, Private Maydar greeted him.
“Good morning, sir,” he said, and then jerked his head towards the tent, adding, “She’s a fiery one, that one. Tried to take Private Kattar out with a dagger, all though he managed to wrestle it away from her. We took this, too.”
He bent down and picked up a belt made of bronze plates linked together by a chain threaded through small hooks on the back . Each one was engraved with the same ornate pattern. In between the bronze plates hung three beautifully decorated sheaths of different sizes, two of which still contained their daggers.
“She knows how to defend herself, then,” Gallivan observed. “Strange that she didn’t try to escape during the night.”
“We had men on all sides of the tent, all through the night,” Private Maydar replied. “If she’d tried to escape, she wouldn’t have got very far.”
“Good,” Gallivan replied, “I knew I could count on you.” Private Maydar nodded appreciatively. “Any time, sir.”*
And now I’d best be off to answer comments on previous posts, and read some WIPpet Wednesday posts and ROW80 sponsor posts, and do some writing, since I haven’t done any all week (I found a good book to read, okay?). Catch you Monday!
Edit: These last few lines have been edited and reposted at the beginning of Part 4. I did this to better incorporate some info about Mireille’s culture. And it’s my story and my blog, so I can do what I want! 😛