Disclaimer: I do not own any of TP's works. Remember that.
A/N: This is my second TP fic. This one is set after Trickster's Choice.
"What's the news, Ally?" one of the girls asked quietly.
The young lady before her turned. "Tortallans, here to see if lord Care-for-naught is truly done with the war."
The girl smiled. "Lord Care-for-naught is true. Well, care-for-naught-but-his-mistress..." The girls in the small room smiled.
There was a loud knock on the door. All the girls jumped and soon were scattered. Only the young lady stayed in her place. When the guard came in, she didn't move, just stared at the coverlet. Although she'd never tell anyone, she was terrified of King Maggur and his guards.
"Allyanna, the King is calling for your service," the guard said, his hard face unreadable.
Allyanna, the young lady, nodded slightly. "Of course, milord," she said softly. She picked up her fallen veil; she'd taken it off so as to breathe easier. Fastening the light lavender fabric over her nose, she shivered slightly as she passed the guard. Within moments they were outside the larger dining room.
Great Goddess help me, Allyanna prayed quickly before opening the door with one hand and holding her tray with another. Tense with fear, she stepped in silently, taking her tray around, serving first King Maggur, then the Tortallan nobles. She memorized their faces and names: the girls would have tales to tell if she could remember.
One in particular caught her eye: A young man with light red hair and purple eyes, like those of the lady knight –Alanna, she was called, the lady was Alanna- Was it possible that this was her relation? Keeping her eyes down, she offered him the tray. He refused, but politely, unlike most she'd seen.
She bowed her head slightly, keeping one ear tuned to King Maggur and the others. He seemed to be doing the same.
"What is your name?" he suddenly asked.
Taken aback, it took her a moment to remember that her gaze was to stay on the floor, and that he'd asked a question. "I am Allyanna, milord." Did he want to report her for something? She held the tray tightly so as not to be betrayed by its shaking.
He only nodded, a clear dismissal. She bowed slightly and faded into the background, but didn't leave. Instead, she sat nearby, rising often as King Maggur called on her. She watered his drinks down diligently, but could tell he was steadily getting drunk.
It was the man who'd caught her eye, however, who interfered. She'd learned his name earlier, but had been to busy for it to register. Now she watched as he approached Alanna, whispering something in her ear. She looked up, then nodded slightly, a motion so imperceptible that Allyanna only just caught it.
That night she took her tales back to the others, telling them all she'd seen. They had the man's name. He was Thom, Alanna's son, and Gifted. Other than that, he was basically unknown.
Allyanna waited on them every night. After the second night, she knew something was up. By the fifth, she was certain that there was a reason to Thom's questions now and then. Since she was required to answer each, she feared she was giving something away.
Two weeks later, Allyanna, who'd been unable to sleep, sat up slightly as she heard the door open. There stood one of the people who'd come with the Tortallans –George, he'd been called George- peeked in. Immediately she lay back completely, relaxed and breathing as if asleep. In reality she was wide awake. So this is why they stayed! They'd come to take the slaves. But for what? Tales said Tortall didn't have slaves, but most said that this was only partly true.
Janien! Allyanna said softly in the mind of one of the girls. It's the Tortallans! They've come for us, or they're scouting. Be ready to cast a shield!
I'm ready, Allyanna. I'll get Shasha, you get Drelasy. Within seconds the four Gifted of the slaves were up and ready.
After a few seconds of looking around, George walked silently up to Allyanna's bed. Just as he was about to inspect the chain around her ankle, a shimmering green grew before him. Looking up, he saw it was a shield. But from where? All the slaves were asleep, as was everyone else... Knowing he wouldn't get anything else done, he left the room.
Allyanna sat up, retrieving her Gift. The others did the same. Once they were calm enough they woke the others and spread the word: The Tortallans were definitely up to something. And it included the slaves.
The next day, Allyanna was joined by Janien in the serving hall. George was clearly upset, as was Thom and Alanna. Allyanna gave no outward sign of it, but she was quite glad. She didn't want to see if the tales of the Tortallans were true. Not when she'd come so far already in making a place here.
Suddenly she was jostled from behind, making her wine spill slightly onto King Maggur's lap. As soon as she straightened, she felt a sting; a guard had noticed her stumble. Although her lip quivered beneath her veil, she gave no outward sign of pain, unless one looked at her knuckles. They were white from clutching the tray.
Thom made a move to stand, but Alanna shook her head. Nothing could be done.
That night, it was Thom who came to the slaves' wing. He immediately went to Allyanna's bed. She was dazed still, and barely noticed as he set a finger to her side. The whip-welt was smaller when he drew back, but still there. She didn't do or say anything, just lay there with her eyes closed. When he left, she sat up slightly. Maybe the Tortallans weren't so bad after all... Maybe.