“Should she be sleeping, Healer?” Merry asked the young woman who had saved two of his nieces.
Ghia waved her hand. “It’s fine. She won’t slip away from us anymore. Courageous girl,” she added as she leaned over to adjust Mara’s pillows and blankets.
He nodded. “Aye. Mara’d be that. Like ‘er sister.”
“True.” Ghia straightened and smoothed her clothes. “If you’ll excuse me. I have other patients,” she said, smiling graciously, but Merry didn’t hear, as a glinting pendant around the healer’s neck caught his eye. He grabbed her arm and pulled her closer to take a closer look. “Captain Merry?” she said, looking at him perplexedly and with a bit of apprehension.
He grabbed the pendant and carefully examined both sides. ‘s as I thought. “Why’d ye be wearing the Exsil Vis crest, girl?” he asked her pointedly. Related to Anala and the rest of them? He narrowed his eyes and took in the healer’s countenance. Come to think of it, her face bore a striking resemblance to Charity’s – he’d just not noticed it before, because their hair was so different.
“Excuse me?” Ghia said, taken aback. “You must be mistaken. That can’t be the Exsil Vis crest,” she said assuredly, but Merry saw a doubt in her eyes.
He released her and stood back. “Nay. It’d be the Exsil Vis crest – it’d be one I know verra well indeed, and there’d be no mistaking it’d be on yer pendant there.”
Ghia shook her head violently. “No. This pendant was on me when I was found on the streets of Atherton by my foster parents. There is no way it can be from the Exsil Vis family. It’s impossible.”
He shrugged, a roll of one massive shoulder. “Suit yerself, if’n that’d be what ye’d want ta believe. But I’d know fer a fact that a member o’ the Exsil Vis family headed east over twenty years ago, when she’d’a been o’ childbearing age. And I’d know for a fact she’d’a worn a pendant liken the one ye wear now – without that other crest on it, o’ course.”
Ghia’s hand floated up to stroke the pendant absentmindedly. “This woman…what was her name?” she said in a whisper, looking rather upset.
“Charity,” he said, and saw realisation dawn on Ghia’s face. “She’d a been tha sister o’ the late Lady Exsil Vis.”
Numbly, the healer nodded as her hand dropped from the pendant. “If you’ll excuse me, Captain. I have patients,” she said again, and quietly turned to go, a frightening blankness in her eyes.
With a sigh, Merry sat down to keep vigil by Mara’s bed – for all that Ghia said Mara was in the clear now, he was not going to leave the girl’s side. Maybe it’d be that I made a mistake with that piece o’ information, he thought as he watched Ghia’s retreating back. The damage was done. He could not take his words back — he could only make sure Ghia survived the new information.