The family was brought to a nearby keep which the Scarlet Knights had captured weeks before from the Knights of the Twins. It was a large castle built on high cliffs overlooking a narrow valley, surrounded by thick stone walls. Inside the fortress the halls were decorated with paintings depicting scenes of battle, heroic deeds of valour, and portraits of the the twins Velira and Revra. The keep had a single great hall, lined with tall windows, with wooden tables and benches scattered throughout. In the centre was a massive fireplace, which provided much needed heat during winter months when snow would fall outside. To one side of the room was a kitchen area with a huge hearth oven, while along the other wall were numerous rooms containing beds and chests filled with blankets, linen sheets and pillows. Most of these were occupied by the soldiers, whilst others slept in tents set up near the outer perimeter of the keep.
The four girls were brought to cells that had windows that overlooked the courtyard. Their captors had taken great care to keep them warm throughout the night giving them several blankets but they still shivered uncontrollably. In truth none of them felt much warmer than when they first arrived. They knew they would feel better once morning came. Even though they were prisoners, they were treated well enough. At least for now.
Their captors hadn bothered to question any of them further since arriving. Instead, theyd simply tied them up in pairs, locked them in separate cells and gone about their business. Some of them spent their entire day sitting outside the cell doors, keeping watch whilst others went out to hunt or scavenge for supplies. They ate whatever they caught, cooked over an open fire. Sometimes they shared the meal with the girls, sometimes not.
They slept curled up in the corners of their cramped prison, wrapped in thick wool blankets. Each night the same men entered their cells and unchained the chains holding their wrists and ankles, allowing them to move freely within their confines. Then, after locking the door again, they returned to stand guard at the entrance.
None of the girls wanted to talk amongst themselves, fearing that doing so might anger their captors. So they kept quiet.
One night, after a few days of being held captive when everyone was asleep the four girls began to whisper among themselves.
”Do you think theyll kill us? ” asked the eldest daughter.
No one answered.
”They will! ” exclaimed the middle daughter loudly.
”Quiet Demona! ” said the elder sister. She peered out of their cell and saw that the guard wasn there.
”What if we tell them who we really are? won they let us go because of our house name? ” asked the youngest sister.
”Theyll take us to their land as trophies. But we can risk it. Father says we can ! ” said the eldest sister.
They became silent.
” said the eldest daughter.
”At least we
e alive right now. We
e lucky they haven done anything else to us yet. If it wasn for them finding fathers money maybe we wouldn be so fortunate. ”
”How do you mean? ” asked the youngest daughter.
”Well … if wed been ordinary commoners we probably would have died on the road. Or perhaps they sold us off as slaves instead. Maybe theyd feed us and clothe us but we wouldn get paid and eventually theyd sell us to some merchant whod force us to work in his fields until we dropped dead. And then theyd throw us in a ditch to rot. ”
”Or they aren going to kill us, ” added the fourth girl, who had tried to stow away in the carriage. ”If we were captured by bandits or slavers then theres every possibility that theyd murder us on the spot. But these are Knights, Scarlet Knights from the south of Allania, they wouldn do such a thing. ”
There was another moments pause.
”So, you think we should tell them our names? ” suggested the youngest again. ”Maybe theyll let us go if we do. ”
”No you idiot! ” exclaimed the stowaway. ”Don say a word! ”
Silence fell upon them again.
After a while the younger sister piped up.
”I want to go home… ” she cried.
The other three nodded silently in agreement.
It had been only a few days since their capture. They couldn imagine how long they would be held captive for. Days, weeks, months, years? No one could ever be certain. The war had been going on officially for six years, but in reality, it had been decades. Theyd heard stories of people being held hostage for years, never knowing whether someone was coming to rescue them or not. Eventually, they would give up hope and accept their fate.
”We all want to go home, ” said the eldest sister. ”But its gone… ”
Just then the lieutenant of the knights appeared. He approached them cautiously and stopped before each of the girls, staring intently into their faces. Finally, he turned to address the eldest.
”Come, your father wants a word with you. ”
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