Ead was a thief. He didn’t regret his decision to become one and he was proud of his profession. He didn’t loathe the idea of being imprisoned either, although, he had to admit, it was tedious. Up until now, he was happy to spend the rest of rotting days chatting with the other prisoners and sitting about, being fed by the guards who came three times a day.
Up until Mariqah.
She was crazy. Everyone knew she was crazy. Ead thought even Mariqah knew she was crazy.
And if she wasn’t crazy before, she would be now.
After losing her tongue, the dungeon had been silent for five days. It was eerie and miserable and – as much as he took comfort in the idea that Mariqah wasn’t being severely punished rather than the usual (which was still pretty severe, now that he thought about it) – Ead missed the small glimpse of merriment she had brought.
He looked at her – curled up on her side, holding her arm as one of her legs re-grew – breathing loudly and painfully. It didn’t make it any better that she was nude, and all the wounds looked horribly threatening and messy: with all the bones and sinews reconstructing and reforming, before baby pink skin covered it all.
Making a decision, Ead shrugged off his cloak and walked up to her. He was a thief, but even a thief could pity. But when the soft material touched her skin, she flinched and moved away, making feral sounds and staring at him in fear. It took her a second to calm down and her eyes softened. Ead covered her with his cloak, and she closed her eyes and nodded – grateful.
Mariqah waited for him to go back to his place before she started to cry. She tried not to sniff too loudly. Her tongue had been a huge part of her plan, but she had the rest of her limbs which regenerated all the time. There was still something that could be done. But the pain was too much today. It had been all week. She needed to cry. Better now, than when the Witch-Queen was standing over her.
A low whimper escaped her lips as tears streamed down her face. She thought of Mary, and wondered if she was okay. Mariqah hadn’t had a lot of time to think about her – she’d been mostly thinking of herself – but she wondered now. Mariqah would have given anything to know where Mary was, what she was doing, if she was safe. She wanted to know about Tostig, too. She felt sorry for him, but she didn’t regret enforcing Mary’s safety on him. After Darim had died, Mary meant the world to her.
Even though… Even though.
Darim… she thought, putting a pained hand to her mouth, to stifle a yelp, Darim, watch her. I wonder how long it will take for me to join you.
Mariqah’s head sprang up, wincing in pain, before she looked around slowly. She furrowed her brows. It wasn’t Ead, she knew that much.
It’s not Ead. I’m Cyne. You know, the conman? I’m in the cell across from you.
Mariqah’s eyes found him, and he smiled at her and waved a little. She still looked confused.
I, uh, actually came in here, your head, to, um… well.
Get to it, Mariqah thought.
There was a muted sigh that sounded in her head, I came here to kill you.
I’m in no mind to die. How did you get in my head?
I’m… learned in some magic.
So… why haven’t you killed me yet?
I was kind of… listening to your thoughts, which led me to sifting through your memory – to, you know, gain some level of context; and–
You did what! Cyne visibly flinched as he received her thought, …Sorry. I think.
It’s quite alright, but… your escape plan is quite elaborate.
Is it now?
Oh, yes. Except, you can’t really talk now, or sing. I noticed you became free of your bindings though, just before you lost your tongue.
I like a man with a sharp mind.
He blushed, I can teach you to talk to the mind. That way, the Witch-Queen won’t hear you and punish you for it. It’ll be more powerful against the magic that binds us too.
But I want the Witch-Queen to hear it. No amount of pain can stop the joy I feel when she’s upset. I just need a new volunteer…
I doubt you’ll be getting any of those.
Mariqah tried to sit. Ead came up and helped her. She nodded to him again, and wrapped the cloak around herself.
Cyne? Are you still there?
He raised his brows, Yes, of course.
He smiled, Gladly.
One question… If I was to sing through Ead…
He would be singing with your voice, yes.
She glared at Cyne, Don’t do that.
Of course, of course. Sorry. I didn’t mean to invade your privacy. I was originally intending to kill–
Oh, shut up and just teach me!