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Written on August 9, 2021 (♌︎)

Author's Notes: Written for Jaydee_Faire's birthday.

Mullonde had underestimated how far east the Southern Sky would drift and how little they would respect their authority in the midst of the pandemonium. Wiegraf supposed he should have anticipated it. With thousands of men dying by the hour, what did it matter if two Templar were ill-treated? If he were leading these men, he'd have their entrails for assuming that he and his companion were anything less than Hokuten agents, and he'd like as not find excuses for them if they slit a pair of throats in the name of security. The fact that they'd only been subject to a little rough handling before being detained was really a credit to their restraint.

Wiegraf had time to reflect on these things only after he and Isilud had been bound and left to sit in a barn for some hours, having been told that a decision would be made regarding them on the morrow. In the heat of the confrontation, he had been far less charitable. He was sure that he had done little to convince the captain of this unit that he was—in fact—a member of the clergy by insinuating that the man's brain was pox-eaten from whatever malady he'd caught in fucking his own sister. He imagined that such rash words had been little comfort to Isilud either, who now had to endure being scandalized in addition to being menaced and knocked about.

If Captain Sisterfucker hadn't seen fit to assign them a guard, Wiegraf would have apologized much more thoroughly for it all.

As it stood, there was little he could say to a boy who was too terrified to speak. The man on watch was scarcely intimidating to Wiegraf's reckoning, but it seemed clear and clearer as the day wore itself out that Isilud had taken to heart all assurances that they should meet with a dark fate were they not still and silent. Wiegraf could not make him understand it was all bluster; Wiegraf had never been able to convince Isilud that the world was not half so threatening as men preaching hellfire made it out to be.

So as night descended, he did not speak to his companion. He did, as the daylight left them, find means to wrench his hand around the beam to which both of them had been tethered and to take Isilud's fingers in his own. For however many hours it was before the guard changed, Wiegraf communicated nothing to Isilud save through the touching of hands: trying to hold tight to what little of the boy he though it would anchor him away from his fears.

He thought—if they really were to be killed over this worthless misunderstanding—that it would be good to feel in some way held.

When the guard finally left and there was a moment's silence, Wiegraf whispered Isilud's name sharply, hoping that he would be a little more amenable to reassurances with nobody looming over them. He got no response. After a few moments of listening, he made out the soft rhythm of his breath against the backdrop of insect chatter. He realized—however fast that Isilud seemed to be holding him back—that the boy was asleep.

Wiegraf didn't try to wake him, not through all sweltering night he sat awake and waiting. Even when dawn finally came and word came that the local bishop had vouched for them, he was reluctant to part from him, thinking in the unreason of sleeplessness that to unclasp their numb fingers might break some sort of spell.