Lotye sat in the corner of her cell, her hands nervously running through her hair, the dream of the night half forgotten, counting the strokes of the bells. She did what she always did when there wasn’t anything else to do, she combed her hair, with her bare fingers if she had to, but, no matter how useless it was, she did it even more strenuously now, as if the beauty of her hair was the last thing to cling to. Ultimately, the effort was in vain, but it gave her something to do other than to brood on her fate.
After a night and half a day in the custody of the guardians of Sesus, Lotye didn’t feel as bad as the evening before. She didn’t feel much better either, but she had grown accustomed to her situation. She had become numb, had retracted herself into a corner of her mind, far from her physical body and her bad emotions. While she ate the soup brought to her, she didn’t think about what she was doing, she didn’t taste it, she didn’t even realise she was eating. It just happened mechanically because her body needed the strength and warmth the soup gave. She would have stayed in this state, distracting herself with her hair, the sounds of the city outside or the pattern of the bricks in the wall, if something unexpected hadn’t happened.
She heard the voice of her lawyer first, “Here we are”. Lotye looked up, expecting her to have brought some witness from the square or the streets. But what she saw surprised her. The elf at Aeto Arrowwise’s site was quite handsome and his face looked like the one of a nobleman with its high cheekbones and the prominent nose. Judging from the quality of his clothes, he clearly was noble or at least of high rank and wealth. His robe, the charms in his hair and most importantly his staff on the other hand also showed his profession. He was a wizard, and one of great mastery as the staff with the dark, smoky crystal on top proved. The man on the other side of the iron bars clearly was an important person.
Lotye jumped to her feet, but kept a bit of distance to the two elves behind the bars, like a shy animal, her eyes cast down not to look directly at the newcomer. She didn’t want to seem too curious, too weak to take care for herself, dependent on her lawyer and on the help of a stranger. At the same time she clearly was curious who Arrowwise had brought with her and what role he would play in her law suit. Who is that guy? I feel like I have seen his face before. Maybe in the newspapers. Can he be that important?
Her question was answered not even a second later: “Mistress O’Tulvar, here is Lord Master Nightwise who has come to help you in your case.” Lotye’s faced warped in surprise for a moment. This name surpassed even her wildest fantasies. Lord Master Jeneyeru Nightwise Ereonis, the State Magus of the Grand Navigators. She had heard that name before, even her father, a simple, uneducated man had known it. He had told her of the three sons of the Duke of the Grand Navigators, mostly about Peino Starhand and his special connection to Farind. She had heard the name again during her training with the old wizard, mostly as a role model for her, or rather as an example of what she would never achieve because of her lack of focus, willingness to study and general intelligence. And now this name stood in front of her, in flesh and blood, and she didn’t know what to think. A man that powerful has come to help me? Why? Is this some kind of trick?
Her reaction showed doubt and insecurity, she still didn’t want to risk to look at Jeneyeru directly, staggering under the weight of his reputation and her own situation. What did this mean? If he really had come to help her, maybe there still was a chance for her. Or maybe it meant that her problems were even worse than she had thought. A bow would have been in order, she realised, but now it was too late. So she stood slightly bent forward, not sure whether to appear defiant or repentant. Thinking about all this once again gave her a feeling of weakness. His voice reached her ear, but it took her a few seconds to realise that his question was directed at her. It took her another second to process what he had said and to think about an answer. But she acted long before. Without thinking much, she stepped forward, gripped the iron bars of her cell with her hands and, despite everything in her crying out against it, spoke with an imploring undertone:
“I can assure you it was an accident, milord. I did nothing wrong, it was just a bit of my blood dripping on that damned card. Please …” For a moment she was disappointed with herself. Great, throw away all your pride, submit yourself to him as if you aren’t worth anything. Just because this guy has a fancy title. The moment grew in silence, then she regained her composure and a bit of her strength. She snuffled, straightened up, took her hands of the bars, her left one instead beginning to twist a strand of her hair, and looked directly at Jeneyeru. Now she continued to speak more slowly and accented, as if the Selkie was just another customer at her stall she had to convince to buy something:
“It wasn’t my fault. Those cards don’t even belong to me. Of course I noticed that they were enchanted and that they were powerful in some way. But I didn’t know what this power was. It really was an accident, I feel sorry for what happened afterwards, at least a little bit, but it wasn’t my fault. Listen, I certainly don’t consider myself to be innocent generally, not under any definition of the word, but in this case, I am. At least I am not guilty of what they claim I did.”