For a moment, all PDQ could think to say was, 'That seems unnecessarily dark,' and so wisely kept his mouth shut. Undead and those with the taint were not unfamiliar to him, but this was not quite due to personal experience, merely culture and education. He'd seen the taint on her from the start, but hadn't thought to comment on it, even in his own personal thoughts. After all, he'd seen it plenty of times in plenty of people. When he'd been a child, it would have felt odder to see someone free of it.
He tapped Mychael's shoulder, but didn't wait for her to turn and face him. " I don't mean to hurt your feelings," he whispered, just above the sound of the erehen's uninterrupted steps. "Only
Where I'm from, magic is completely forbiddenin my native tongue, the word for magic-user is vedis, the same word we use to say 'murderer'. And just about everywhere else that I've been, magic-users are
not exactly gentle-folk." For a moment he wondered if he should confess that Griselda had been a bit mistaken about his origins, but then he bit his tongue. It might not have been an error. The dwarf might well have been lying.
Mychael urged the beast onward, matching the speed that Griselda had suddenly taken up. The young woman seemed even more guarded, perhaps as a result of the revealing things she had said. "Please don't trouble yourself."
"But I want to" he bit his tongue again, mentally calling himself a few choice names not generally invited into polite conversation. "I should at least apologize. You've been kind, and you haven't done anything to deserve vilification." There, that wasn't terribly idiotic, not when he compared it to whatever else he might have said, even though 'vilification' was a bit much in the realm of word choice. What an unsettling person Mychael was. "I'm very sorry."
For her part, she seemed to be intent to put what had been said as far behind them as King Vengeful Wet Blanket was, or Ba Ki. Her shoulders were like those mantled about a knight, stiff and immovable as stone. After a short, very uncomfortable silence, she took in a shallow breath and relaxed, but only just. "Then I accept your apology. Although I must say that your surly friend does not share your pliable opinion."
"I think you might mean 'placid'." He nearly kicked himself. The correction, one he normally would not have made no matter who was speaking, fell flat in between them. Although he had mostly picked up on her accent, he had immediately discounted it. After all, he'd only lost his own in recent years. The very faint sibilance and tendency to drop sounds at the ends of words were only apparent when he was very tired, or sometimes when he was angry. Mychael made more of an effort than he could remember himself ever putting inshe generally spoke with a careful pace and evenness, although she did soften some sounds a little more than a native would.
Although her shoulders had tightened again, she didn't seem eager to reprimand him for his impertinence. Either it was not a comfortable subject, or she was embarrassed. Perhaps both were the same. PDQ felt his cheeks grow painfully hot as he waited for an answer. "Of course I did. Thank you for that." The icy tone didn't sound as purposeful as most of what she said, even though the words were much more careful than previous ones.
He tapped unhappily on his right-hand bracer, glad that at least the metal staff had disappeared back into it. If this magic thingummy was all his own doing, he'd rather not understand it, nor make any use of it either. "Doesn't look like I'm very good at apologizing
"Well, given your current record, you'll have ample opportunity to give it another go," Mychael said lightly.
"Right," he admitted with a relaxed chuckle. He slumped comfortably in the saddle, careful not to bump into Mychael, or slide off. "I never thought that magic-users could be funny
She glanced over her shoulder, eyes wide with curiosity. "You what?"
Blushing again, though with a bit less painful awkwardness, PDQ shrugged. "I think you're funny. That's alright, innit?"
Her only answer was a distracted nod, and then she was looking ahead again. That must have been the problem, he was making it difficult for her to keep her eyes on the road ahead of them. Griselda didn't seem to be taking much notice of them, but PDQ wouldn't be surprised if she was aware of every awkward movement he was making. She kept a careful eye on him, had been doing so since their escape.
Thinking about it made him want to talk, especially now that he'd apologized and broken past some of his own fear. "Does it bother you at all, when I'm talking?"
"Of course not," she said, sounding a little agitated nevertheless, "go right on and talk as much as you like."
Permission had always had a way of slowing him down, and this time was no different. He backtracked through his ambling mental processes until he found his place. "It's been a few days since I've spoken to anyoneI was working in the king's kitchens, and I fouled up a meal o' his."
He couldn't hold back an embarrassed grin. "Passing awful, but he took it personal. Accused me as a poisoner." The erehen was slowing, Griselda's as well. They couldn't have gone very far
He stopped to frown. How much time had passed since they'd left the rockburn site? The sky was no help at all, he hadn't been paying it any mind.
Mychael cleared her throat, not delicately, but not at all like an old bearded pubcrawler either. Of course, none of the rest of her was like one either, but that was a loaded subject for a less taxing day. "More must have happened," she prompted. "How did you regain your freedom, for starters?"
"Griselda had a plan, and she needed another prisoner to help." Calling up the memory made him roll his shoulders as if they still ached. "She'd been bearing down one of the walls, but she needed help with rock hauling."
"So you simply made a hole in the wall and walked through?"
"It's more complex than that," he said, trying not to sound defensive. "Our only tools were other rocks and an iron ball. You try knocking down a wall with one of those."
"Thank you." He'd been thrown off again, but it was the work of a moment to find his trail of thoughts again. "After we got out, we had to sneak past a few guards, knock less on the head, and find some water. I, er
" He coughed. "I'd been deprived, and was in a bad way. We didn't find much water, but it was enough, at the time."
The erehen came to a resolute stop, then stood rigid. Griselda had stopped as well, and was tethering her mount to a nearby tree. "You two get some rest," she said gruffly, looking pointedly at PDQ, although he couldn't think why. "I need to gather a few things."
His body buzzed at the unaccustomed stillness after he'd jumped off the erehen and found a place to sit down. He couldn't stand it for long and ended up standing to stretch. As he began to feel less stiff, he turned to Mychael. "That's my story, anyway." Not all of it. "How about you? What were you doing before we ruined your plans?"