Monday, June 30, 2014

The Great Weapons: Atop The Ramparts 11 (probably)

The barracks were a long, low structure tucked against the outer wall. It roof was dark slate, and its walls were the same silvery stone as the rest of the keep. It held a common room, where the guards could gather, and two floors of smaller rooms filled with bunks. It wasn't crowded, but Miledha found herself approaching it just as several of the other guards were coming down off the walls.

One of them caught sight of her and waited, nodding politely as she neared. It was one of the women, though it was hard to tell with the matching chainmail shirts and uniformly short hair. She was taller than Roberr, and almost as broad through the shoulders; she'd probably come up from the farms to serve in the guard. "I wanted to thank you for restoring Diessa," said the woman. "Brother Wend... he tries, but he's no healer."

Miledha blinked, trying to remember. She'd gone through the hospital with Brother Wend's apprentice, doing what she could for everyone all at once, and the names and faces ran together in her mind. Still... "There's no debt," she said. "I want the keep strong."

The woman shrugged. "It was well done, regardless, and I'm grateful, regardless. Diessa... she matters to me."

Miledha nodded at that, and even managed a faint smile. She'd been walking the walls for hours, trying to exhaust herself to a point where she could fall asleep. Now she was beginning to worry that she might hurt someone in her dreams, or give everyone in the barracks a share of her nightmares. "I'm glad to help."

"Word from the watch-captains is that we may be building earthworks and setting traps tomorrow." The guard sounded reflective. "It'll be make-work, like as not, to keep us busy and stop us thinking too much... but I can't say I'm sorry for it. Still... if you know of any traps to set that might be more effective than ours..."

Miledha stopped, suddenly and inexplicably delighted. She felt herself grin. "I believe I might manage something," she said. It would take work, and thought, and probably more work after that; but the opportunity to do something now, something that would hurt and confuse the enemy... That was too much to pass up.

The guard's lips quirked in an answering grin. "I'll look forward to seeing what you sow," she said. "For tonight... if you want some company while you sleep, you're welcome to share my bunk. Diessa will understand."

Miledha shook her head. "I've slept so long by myself, sleeping with anyone else just sounds... crowded."

"Then I wish you a good night's sleep," said the guard. "If you change your mind, ask after Ishua."

She turned, and continued towards the barracks. At the doorway she paused and turned back. "I'm glad you fight with us, Sha Miledha," she said.

Miledha, who was still baffled at holding any sort of title, just nodded. Then she followed Ishua into the barracks. Hard as it might be to relax, she still needed rest... and the prospect of setting traps for the Shadir had shifted her from frustration to anticipation. Looking forward to that, she could finally sleep.

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