"Obviously none too well ..." by Misha
I was cold and wet. After spending two weeks touring the front lines with Erye Savlii it was time to visit the main army hospital located just outside of the capital. As if traveling in the rainy season wasn't unpleasant enough, Savlii went on incessantly about that coward hiding behind the incestuous protection of the High Priestess. The chattering of my teeth obfuscated his voice as we walked through the crowded corridors of the wounded and convalescing of the King's Army. We finally reached the large room nearest the sanctuary which was typically reserved for visiting dignitaries, but for the past eight months was occupied by Eyre Nalev.
"You're soaking wet!" Lev declared as we entered the room.
There was a window that overlooked the courtyard behind the hospital that provided a panoramic view of the rainy mess of mud and puddles below. A square table was in the center of the room with four chairs. A flowering potted plant sat atop the table along with several fat candles. The room was filled with potted ferns so much so that it resembled the forest, only without the pounding rain.
Savlii took off his overcoat and gave it a good shake before placing it over one of the chairs to dry. "None sense."
"I meant Misha."
"Never mind the boy. Where is she?" He asked gruffly.
"Good day, Erye Savlii," Vay responded from the doorway. "I expected you to first visit with me in my quarters." Her voice was calm and steady.
"I was more interested in speaking with his doctors. Again, they tell me that they see no reason for him not to return to duty."
"And again, I'll remind you, Erye Savlii, that Erye Nalev will remain here until I see fit to order his release."
"When will that be?"
"Soon, Erye Savlii," the High Priestess responded amiably. "Will you join me in my quarters?"
I turned to leave, but Savlii snapped at me to remain behind until I received further instruction. I was cold, wet and hungry. Lev was eating his midday meal when we barged in on him. He sat there on his bed with his injured leg in its odd contraption.
"You'll find dry clothes in that drawer over there," Lev gestured.
I changed quickly and thanked him. He noticed me staring at the food in much the same manner as he was eying me and offered to share.
After taking a spoonful of soup I almost choked.
"I'm sorry, Erye Nalev, but I'm forbidden from eating meat."
"Is it warm, Misha?"
"Are you cold?"
"Then eat the damn soup already and warm yourself," Lev chided me.
I stood and ate with my back to the door lest Savlii return too soon.
"You know, Misha, you're the only thing that makes Savlii's visits bearable," he paused and looked me in the eyes. "I shall miss seeing you."
"Why is that?" I asked naively.
"You don't know what he's doing with Vay, do you?"
"I'm sure it is of no concern to me, Erye Nalev."
"You couldn't be more wrong. He's requested a fresh page to break in. You're about to get cast off like so many of your predecessors, Misha."
I ate some bread and washed it down quickly with the rest of the tea. "Now?"
"I believe so."
Savlii had told me that someday he intended to recommend that I study to become headmaster at the Academy for the Houseborne, his way of rewarding me for years of efficiency and obedience. I had persuaded myself that day was far in the future, that I would have ample warning. Now I realized that the next person to walk through the doorway could be sent to arrange my castration. I shuddered.
Lev motioned for me to sit beside him and he took a small throw blanket and rubbed my head with it. So many thoughts ran through me. I felt awkward and abandoned. Worse yet, I felt like a failure. Being a page was a shit job, but I was good at it. Now everything was changing and I was powerless to affect my own destiny. As I stared at the wall I became aware of Lev's fingers brushing the damp curls away from my face.
"It's a great pity you're not my page, Misha. Men like you and I really would get on well together. Don't you agree?"
I looked him in those intense blue eyes that seemed to be laughing at me.
"Erye Nalev, are you flirting with me?" His timing was terrible if his appraisal of my situation was correct.
Lev smiled and began his reply, "Obviously none too well if you have to ask."
I heard Vay and Savlii arguing in the corridor and quickly tried to get up. Lev took hold of my forearm and kept me near. I struggled to stand, to put some distance between us, but it was too late. Savlii, Vay and a young boy entered the room.
"This is precisely what I've been afraid of-- being man-handled some night in my sleep," Savlii fumed.
"Well, Erye, if that's all you're concerned about, I'll be glad to take him off your hands." Nalev offered wryly.
"Enough!" Savlii motioned to Vay to take me away.
"Erye Savlii, it was your intent to have Misha train his replacement." Vay said flatly.
"I'll have to manage without him."
"As you wish, Erye Savlii."
Vay escorted me out of the room. Against the cold hard protocols of the House, she had always treated me kindly and was the closest thing to a mother I had ever known. As we walked toward her quarters she placed a hand on my shoulder and said, "There there, Misha. I got you into this. With a little luck, I'll get you out as well."