Author's Note: All the dialog in this came straight from The Tombs of Atuan, which of course belongs to Ms. Ursual K. Leguin – not me. I hope I didn't step on any legel toes, I honestly didn't mean to. I've just always wanted to know what Penthe thought of Arha. And since no one else has done it I finally figured I have to do it myself. Please tell me what you think!
When She Gets Like That
Arha and Penthe giggled as they pulled themselves back to the top of the Men's Wall. Manan had gone off to the other side of the hill, but not before the girls had had some fun with him! Arha was not fond of her servant.
"The stupid old bellwether, following me around everywhere!" Arha's face was twisted in an unkind scowl as she sat on the wall next to Penthe.
"He has to. It's his job, looking after you." Penthe knew what would come next, she hated it when Arha got like this.
"Those I serve look after me. I please them; I need please nobody else. These old women and half-men, these people should leave me alone. I am the One Priestess!" Arha's voice was shrill with passion.
She's at it again, Penthe thought morosely. "Oh, oh, I know you are Arha-"
"Then they should let me be. And not order me about all the time!"
Penthe waited, swinging her legs against the warm stone. If Arha was in a bad mood she let everyone know and there was nothing anyone could do about it. After all, Penthe mused. She is the One Priestess - as if we could forget!
She stared into the pale desert, waiting for Arha to say something more. When the other girl was silent Penthe knew that she was waiting for Penthe to something. She knew Arha would just make fun of her.
"You'll get to give the orders pretty soon, you know," Penthe kept her voice quiet, and hopefully inoffensive. "In two more years we won't be children any more. We'll be fourteen. I'll go into the Godking's temple, and things will be about the same for me. But you'll really be the High Priestess then. Even Kossil and Thar will have to obey you."
Surprisingly, Arha said nothing. She simply sat scowling, eyes glinting beneath her black brows. Silence reigned again.
"We ought to go back," Penthe spoke again.
"No." Arha's voice was cold and final.
Penthe sighed inwardly. "But the weaving mistress might tell Thar. And soon it'll be time for Nine Chants."
"I'm staying here. You stay, too." Penthe recognized what Arha was trying to do. The young priestess wanted attention. But Penthe refused to give in.
"They won't punish you, but they will punish me." She made sure to keep her voice mild, not letting Arha get to her. She really wanted to slide down the wall and go back and tell the weaving mistress about Arha, but Penthe knew she would never get away with it. Arha would deny it, Penthe would be punished and Arha would never speak to her again. Or Penthe could stay, be punished and Arha would still talk to her. She decided to stay.
Nine Chants were all but finished when Arha finally decided that they could go back. Of course, someone had seen and reported them. Kossil took them to Thar before she whipped Penthe.
Penthe knew Arha wanted to see her cry and she tried her best to hold back the tears. It didn't work. Kossil's arm was strong and Penthe could feel the tears slipping down her cheeks.
When Kossil was done she also got a stern warning about "much worse things" happening to her if she ever climbed the Men's Wall again. Then she was ordered back to the weaving house without her supper. Thar informed her that she would also go without food tomorrow. After that she was allowed to put her robe back on and she was dismissed.
Penthe felt Arha's eyes on her as she walked off and attempted to stop herself flinching as her itchy, woolen robe rubbed her fresh cuts. Again, she didn't succeed. But she still found pleasure in thwarting Arha. Penthe really hated it when Arha got like that.