The dungeons were incredibly cold and lonely. At least at first she’d had the comfort of knowing others were suffering as much as she, but then the other two prisoners had escaped with the use of some strange magek, and she’d been left alone – aside from the guards. No visitors. Few meals.
More than ever in her short time in Athering, Miranda wanted her mom.
Her father loved her, she knew, but had wild mood swings and was completely unpredictable. Her mother had far fewer, and passed only into depression – never into the rages her father would sometimes fly into for no reason at all. She’d always been able to go to Hope for a kind word or loving touch.
She sniffled and pulled her blanket closer. She’d not felt her mother’s presence for a while – not since she’d felt as if a wave had crashed down on her. She hoped her mother wasn’t angry with her. That would be horrible.
There was the noise of a door opening, and Miranda looked up to see someone coming down towards her cell.
As the figure drew closer she recognised Admiral Anala, gone though her hair was.
“What do you want?” she asked sulkily, not wanting to be nice to one who was friends with Lares. That meanie.
“Ta talk,” the woman said, and crouched in front of Miranda’s cell so they were eye to eye. “Ye can’t be comfortable in ‘ere.”
Miranda sniffed imperiously. “Why would you care? You’re not my family.”
Anala had a look on her face that seemed like pity. “Ach, child. Ye dinnae ken?”
Miranda felt a stone drop into her gut. “Ken what?”
“Yer father took siege o’ the castle o’er a sevenday ago,” Anala said, and Miranda felt hope rush through her.
She came closer. “My father’s here?”
“Big man, do I have tha right o’ it? Looks like ye?” Miranda nodded eagerly. “Ach, ye poor child.”
“What? Why?” What was going on?
Anala scratched her chin before speaking. “Well, ye see, tha Empress thought ‘e might be missing ye something fierce. Sa she offered ye up, unhurt, fer ‘im ta leave tha city.”
Doubt was creeping in, but Miranda was not so quick to capitulate. “And he said yes, right? You’ve come to take me to him?”
Anala shook her head sadly. “Nae. ‘e said ‘e wasnae ere fer ye; an sa the Empress said she’d ‘ave ye executed. ‘Go ahead,’ yer father said.”
Miranda shook her head, unwilling to believe it. “No. You’re lying.”
“Afraid not, child.”
“No!” she yelled at the admiral, and went to sit on her cot, wrapping herself up in her blanket. She didn’t hear Anala leave through her sobs.