If she was human, she’d be all of seventeen. The dangerous sort of seventeen that’s full of spit and vinegar and the self-awareness of the utility of her own body in achieving her desires. But her eyes and her ears tell a different story, one of greater years and darker journeys made too often on her own. It’s a story that’s continued by the growing shadow of a bruise across her cheek eye, the blood streaking her dark skin and caking her hair, the soot soiling her clothes. Her face is stern, showing no sign of the emotions surging beneath the surface.
But again, her eyes tell a different story. The fire dancing in them isn't just the conflageration that had once been her home and family and every single thing she'd ever come to treasure.
All around, people are coming to watch the 2nd Time Around
burn. There are calls for the watch, for water and magic to douse the flames. But not many and none of them answered. It doesn't surprise her. There's always an unfortunate delay to be had for the right price, and the cowled figure with the glowing staff had doubtlessly paid it out in full. Why, she didn't know: the assassins had been grimly silent, giving no indication if it had been Bjorn or Thala or the other five members of the small dwarven clan that had adopted her or even herself who'd been the target.
A small hand slips into hers, seeking reassurance. "What's happening Divia?"
She looks down. If Annie were human, she'd be all of maybe six. But even though she looks like Divia's young sister, she's so much older. Just how old, though, is something else Divia doesn't know. It's just a thing, a creation for the spoilt children of the idle rich. It means nothing to her, a fortuitous find intended for an influential patron that she'd accidentially turned on during the fight. She has no idea how to look after it, and it'll only slow her down.
Divia squeezes Annies hand. "We're leaving," she answers as part of the roof caves in with a crash and an exhalation of cinders. "There's nothing left for us here."
"Oh." A pause, then "Look what I found!"
This is enough to tear Divia's eyes away from the flames. In her other hand, Annie is clutching a small velveteen rabbit, the pale lavender material streaked with soot. Hand trembling, Divia reaches out to touch it but her fingers curl into a fist before she can do it; she knows what will happen if she does, and she can't afford that. not now.
She looks back, but the cowled figure is gone; in its place, finally, is the sound of the Watch approaching. Another thing she can't afford. Questions, suspicions, interference.
"Come on, sweetie, let's go."
The two of them fade backwards into the dancing shadows.
* * *
Divia tugs on her coat as Annie diligently folds up their shared bedroll and gets it ready for her 'big sister' to carry. The dip in the sea had been refreshing enough, but a week since the fire and her last one, she's come to realise that she misses hot baths
"I was thinking about going to that sanctification ceremony," Argan begins, watching them. Despite her wariness, it's not a scrutiny Divia is wholly displeased with: their companion of the last day is attractive enough. "To get a feel for this town and see what local news I can pick up on. You're welcome to join me, if you like."
"Maybe," she answers guardedly, though in truth it's been her intended destination these last three days.
He pauses, and then goes on, a little uncertainly
"Ah... Divia. I was wondering... if you're going to go on travelling as you are, with your young sister, you might want to be equipped in case of trouble. As it happened, some lads tried to jump me a couple of towns before I met you, and dropped a few odds and ends... they aren't much use to me, so you're welcome to take one or another of them if you like. " He then pulls out from under his cloak a sap, a razor, and a sling, laying each of them on the ground in turn. It almost looks like he might add his shield, but instead he steps back, before urging:"Go ahead and take your pick, lass. One for you and another for your sister, maybe."
Accepting the bedroll from Annie, Divia walks over to Argan and picks up the razor. "Shiny," she says, dropping it into her coat pocket. "Thank you. So, does this mean we're going steady?" she teases him. As he blushes, she takes Annie's hand. "Well, let's get going. That free food won't eat itself."