Ignoring Orders

I completed a vignette entirely in dialogue in Not a Ghost, and somehow managed to tug the string of a story that is demanding to be told.

The two men tensed at a soft sound from behind them. Alec turned with a carefully studied relaxation.

“Not so good at following orders kid. Hope you enjoyed the show.”

The boy crept out of the shadows. He looked in need of a bath, a good meal (several in fact) and some good sleep. Slight, pale and with a shock of hair that was probably close to white-blond when not matted and filthy, a stark contrast to dark brows arching over midnight blue eyes, the first view gave both soldiers pause.

Alec silenced Nathan with a glance and began rearranging packs.

“Okay kid, we’re going to take you to a friend of ours. She’s a healer but prefers her own company, other people are too demanding she says, so you won’t have to worry about dealing with nosy strangers while you’re with her.”

“It’s a bit of a way though, so how about you two wait here, while I fetch the horses?”

“And send Steven back to the keep while you’re at it.”

Nathan gave a lazy salute and left.

“Yes, I’m officially his commanding officer, but when you’re exploring potentially dangerous places, you’re best with someone you trust who can think for themselves and is happy to speak up. Obedience to hierarchy is seriously overrated.”

The child used Alec’s covering chat to move into a clearer position to run and gave a significant tilt of his head.

“No, it’s not an enemy, it’s Her Ladyship being inquisitive and when I find out which guards failed to notice her wandering off on her own, I’ll have them both cleaning out latrines for a month.”

The lady stepped out from behind a tree. Unlike her attendants’ pale pinks, greens and blues, her dark green dress and brown cloak blended into their surrounds.

“Don’t be too hard on them, I have a lot of practice.”

Alec crossed his arms and glared as the child moved behind him.

“It felt like something more was going on and I wanted to know. I was never in danger, you’ve been here the whole time.”

Alec’s glare intensified, “Well, now your curiosity is satisfied I trust you’ll return nicely with the guards racing their way back here now, and you’ll keep quiet about things that are none of your business.”

“Where did the child go?”

“What child?”

“Don’t be insolent Captain, you are here to follow my orders.”

“Actually I’m here to follow your father’s orders, which are to keep you out of danger and out of trouble. And if I think either of those directives are in danger, I am more than prepared to truss you up like a chicken and send you home over the saddle bow of one of my men.”

“How DARE you!”

“Like I said Your Ladyship, just following orders. Ahh, gentlemen, so kind of you to finally join us. Please accompany Her Ladyship back to her quarters, not just the castle, and report to my office first thing tomorrow morning.”

Both guards visibly winced.

“Your Ladyship, if you please, we cannot be late for the dinner bell, your father would be most displeased.”

With one last glance at Alec’s stony glare, Lady Mellisande allowed herself to be helped onto her horse.

“Captain, I would still like a full report on the state of the caverns. Please attend me tomorrow morning to discuss them.”

“Should my duties permit, certainly Your Ladyship.”

She sighed, pouted and turned her horsed toward home.

Alex waited until they were out of sight and hearing and Nathan stepped into the clearing with two horses.

“That one’s a bit too sharp for her own good.”

“All curiosity and no caution. She’s going to find herself in trouble not even her father can get her out of if she keeps going.”

“What about her husband.”

Alec snorted a laugh, “Him too.”

“Where’s the kid?”

“Under your blanket behind that little hillock, pretending to be dirt. He’s got talent.”

“It’s a pretty ingenious hiding spot, you can come out now kid.”

“No, I mean Talent. He mind-spoke with me and influenced Her Ladyship into not noticing him move to his hiding place. Then the guards noticed nothing at all.”

“They were too busy being terrified of you.”

“She won’t let it go though. And she overheard my explanation to the kid of where we were going. She’s got a good chance of working out who I meant.”

“I think she’s safe to tell.” The child’s voice was jarringly unexpected as he joined them and tucked his hand into Alec’s. “She’s rather scared and unhappy though, why’s that?”

“Gods save us, another one with more curiosity than sense. Tell you what kid, I’m going to mount up and Nathan’s going to life you to sit in front of me. Then I’ll tell you a bit about Her Ladyship as we ride alright?”

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