Cathair stood on the edge of the arena, watching the two men enter, and once again he thought of Aithne's fragility. Taking her gently by the arm, he drew her attention away to him. "Aithne... I think you should go inside. This will not be pleasant."
Her eyes skittered to the combatants and back to him. "It already isn't." she said, and he found himself thinking she was not as fragile as her comment seemed. "It isn't anything near pleasant- but I think I should stay. I need it to be over."
Looking into her eyes, he saw a battle. She was frightened of something, but determined to not let it get to her. A mix of fire and steel flashed there- something he had not seen in years- and he nodded. "All right, then."
Aithne curled around so that her back rested against Cathair and his arm was around her. It steadied her, standing that way. She wasn't about to tell him that her sight had not ceased. For her, Cunorix was somewhat hard to see, through his tagalongs. When it came to the fight, though, they drew off. Aithne was uncertain why, until she looked at Ambrosius. While she could not truly see anything, not as one would usually say they saw something, he looked different.
"He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun."
There would be no help for Cunorix- from either side.
In comparison to the intensity of Lord Ambrosius, Cunorix looked like a shadow of a man. It was impossible to describe properly, and later, when she tried, she failed miserably.
Not long after, though, she was drawn into the strike and parry of the fight. She had never swung a sword, herself, but even she could see that it was well done. Both fought well, for all their differences. Lord Ambrosius fought as though Michael the Archangel guided his every stroke- which was quite possible, for all she knew.
Why do you show me the evil so clearly, and the good so vaguely, Lord?
I show you both the same, child. It is your eyes which focus more on one instead of the other.
She sighed. You are right, as usual. Guide my eyes, O God, for the enemy is near and I need you to defend me against him...
From then on she looked only at Lord Ambrosius and the quality that shone from him, ignoring the creatures that sought to draw her attention even as they toyed with Cunorix.
So focused was she that she did not realize he had made the death stroke until Cunorix's hands went to his throat and Cathair's arm tightened around her waist. It was a gruesome sight, but it meant victory as Ambrosius moved in to finish him.
All the same, she cried out when the man died, finally turning her face away from the men. The evil spirits were collecting their charge, and she did not want to see it. "Lord God, have mercy on him- such mercy as you can give to such a man."
After her first reaction, there were no tears. She did not cry for Cunorix, but she felt saddened that someone should go willingly to hell, so intentionally refusing the Christ.
Cathair gently pulled her from the front lines. "Come away, gra. You have seen enough for one day." He gathered her into his arms, kissing the top of her head. "My brave one. Foolish, at times, but brave nonetheless."
She smiled wryly. He would go and turn a compliment on its head just to elicit a response.
"Perhaps you should go to the cloister now- go to bed early..." he suggested, but she stopped him. "No, Cathair. I've had enough of being ill for one day. I'll be fine a few moments more, at least." Then she caught herself, and looked up at him, contrite. "Unless you tell me to go, that is."
Cathair was caught by her response. Would she always be so hard to predict, or would it become easier as they went along? She was willing to leave the gathering and let herself be thought weak-stomached and frail if he commanded it.
He shook his head. "No, you may stay- for now. I reserve the right to change my mind on that if I find you flagging."
She nodded her agreement, and the two stood quietly for awhile, as things broke up. Cathair figured he would be called on to help dismantle the field, but then again, they may leave it until morning. So in the meantime, he tucked Aithne under his arm and simply enjoyed her presence.
- ▼ November (9)