Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Her Brother's Keeper

On the other side of the tent city, Sessus Nodoka allows only the faintest hint of disapproval to cross her face as she looks down at the semi-conscious form of her brother, Lahor.

There he lies, splayed out drunk at the entrance to his tent in the arms of two of his concubines. One of them - a beautiful, pale, twenty or so year old woman from the north, stirs and looks up as Nodoka approaches, and has the grace to look embarrassed by her situation. The first concubine nudges the second, who comes to with a start, and neither meeting Nodoka's disapproving gaze, the two of them rise, collect their discarded clothing, attempt to brush the dust of the campground from themselves, and depart for the pleasure tent.

Nodoka does not react until the concubines have been gone for at least a minute. Only then does she allow the mask of professionalism slip, and the face of the worried sister peak through. She sighs. "What am I to do with you, Lahor?"

Lahor stirs at last, looking blearily up into the eyes of his sister. "... nndoka?" he murmurs.

The professional soldier snaps back into place as if it had never been gone, and she meets her brother's gaze dispassionately. "Go to bed, Lahor," Nodoka says.

Bleary and still more than a little drunk, Lahor clambers to his feet, and immediately staggers, and would have fallen but for the sudden presence of Nodoka at his side: she catches him.

"Come on. Lean on me."

And he does, and she helps him to his bed, tucks him in, and then leaves his tent, shaking her head as she surveys the circus that her brother has made of the Wyld Hunt. In her hands she holds the compass which even now points towards the Ashadar encampment, but she knows as well as anyone else that her resources alone would do little more than rouse the might of an Anathema: it will take the full hunt to bring the monster down. The hunt which her brother has steadily eroded.

"How did it come to this?" she murmurs.

The night has no answer.

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