Chapter 7 – A New Home
Part 3: A Girl's Worth

The following months were liberating for Ienarath, although Wayland still made her uncomfortable. He often came uncomfortably close and seemed to like to try and brush up against her whenever he could. For the most part she was able to avoid him, or move in time so as to put some distance between herself and him. But it was when she was concentrating on a potion at the table that he would often catch her unexpectedly.

“What’re ya makin’?” He would ask, as she would suddenly feel his chest up against her back, his hips in close. Startled, she almost always jumped when he did this. He thought it was funny. “Get away from me,” she would growl. But, despite the fact that she tried to come off as indifferent, Wayland scared her and he knew this.

She complained to Skinner, and then to Baldr, but they simply waived it off as nothing to be concerned about. She also mentioned it to Ingrid, whom had warmed up to her over the passing months. She simply said, “Look, sometimes you just have to put up with it. Even go with it, if you know what I mean. I mean, it’s a trade off, right? We’ve got a pretty good thing going here, and well, it isn’t free.”

Having exhausted her options, and not willing to just ‘go with it’, Ienarath confronted him one night when he came skulking in.

“No!” She said, feeling a lump rise in her throat.

“Or what?” Wayland smiled wickedly, baring his rotten yellow teeth.

“Do you remember my first night here?” She asked.

“Yeah, I remember.” He replied, looking at her with lustful eyes.

“Good. So, you remember the skeaver, then? Don’t be a skeaver, Wayland. Because, so help me, if you touch me you’ll end up the same!”

Wayland’s smiled faded quickly and then turned into a fierce scowl. “You don’t get to threaten me, girl! I get what I want, when I want it! Got that!” He moved in towards her quickly, and then without warning grabbed her by the hair and quickly covered her mouth with his other hand. Backing her up to the alchemy table. He kicked one of her legs out with his own and then pressed himself in-between her legs.

“Now,” he growled, “we’re going to see what other talents you have.”

He then he pulled her head back by her hair and took his hand from her mouth then kissed her exposed neck. She began to cry as he started to grope her before unbuckling his trousers and letting them drop to the floor. As he started to hike her dress up he stopped suddenly and gave a grunt, and then fell to the floor. Behind him stood Ingrid with a bloody dagger her hand.

“Quick, grab his feet!” Commanded Ingrid in a harsh whisper. Without thinking, Ienarath grabbed his feet, and together they carried him out to the cliff side where he often sat, and rolled his body off the side, and into the rapids below.

“Now,” said Ingrid, as they headed back to the tower, “you need to clean up the blood before Baldr wakes up. He’ll be passed out for a while yet, but…”

“But what?” Came a voice. 

“Baldr! You’re awake!” Ingrid exclaimed nervously as she stepped in front of Ienarath.

“Yeah. Have been since Wayland came to visit the girl,” replied Baldr.

“But,” stammered Ingrid, “but then why didn’t you do anything?”

“Wanted to see how she would handle herself,” he answered.

“Oh, don’t look at me like that." Said Baldr as Ingrid stared at him in disbelief. "I wasn’t going let him get any further. After all, I can’t have my alchemist being afraid of one of our own,” he stated. Ingrid wasn't convinced. 

“I gotta say though, I’m a little disappointed. So you listen to me closely, girl,” continued Baldr, speaking now directly to Ienarath, “beyond my own interests, and the interests of this group, I could care less what Wayland was about to do, so you had better start learning to defend yourself. You got that?”

With tears on her cheeks, Ienarath simply nodded, staring at her feet.

“Good. Now get to sleep.”

With that, Ingrid left, Baldr went back to his bed, and Ienarath crawled into her furs and lay trembling there the rest of the night. 

The next day, Baldr went about his business as if nothing happened. “C’mon Bjorn, we need to recruit a new lookout,” was all he said. With a brief questioning look, Bjorn simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “OK.”

It took several weeks to find a replacement for Wayland, but the new lookout was much more personable, and an excellent marksman. He and Sperge got along immediately.

***

With the threat of Wayland no longer looming over her, Ienarath’s alchemy skills accelerated. And as the year passed by, she celebrated her 14th birthday. The coffers were filling from each successful raid, no small thanks to her potions, and her sword skills were improving measurably as well. 

She definitely preferred the smaller, lighter swords. Axes were too top heavy and maces were simply too large and bulky. By this time, she also had obtained some armor. It wasn’t fancy, but it fit well and wasn't difficult to learn how to move in it. In addition, after spending some time with Bjorn, she was surprised to find how much she liked using a shield, too.

But the good times weren’t meant to last, and over the course of the following year the raids became less fruitful and the passersby fewer in number and frequency. It was just a week after her 15th birthday when Ienarath, having returned from collecting some needed ingredients, overheard Baldr and Ingrid in a heated discussion.

“She’s only just turned 15, Baldr!” Exclaimed Ingrid.

“Yes!” Retorted Baldr, “and in the *civilized* world, she’d be planning her wedding, if not married already!”

“We’ve never dealt in people, Baldr! Never!”

“Yeah, well, we’ve never been down on our luck like this either, have we? Look, the girl’s at the perfect age. And considering she’s never really been in a fight, she’s in good condition. She’ll fetch top coin.”

“You’re talking like she’s some sort of commodity! Like she were nothing more than a sack of flour or a prize calf! I can’t believe you’re considering this, Baldr,” started Ingrid, but Baldr cut her off quickly.

“Considering? Considered! I’ve already accepted an offer, and it’s a pretty damned good one, too! That *sack of flour* is going to fill our pockets, but good. The discussion is over! And if I hear any more of it, you’ll be on the docket as well! Is that clear?”

Ienarath quickly backed away and hid as Ingrid came storming out of Baldr’s quarters.

She watched Ingrid leave while her mind raced to comprehend what she had just heard. Baldr was going to sell her, like a slave! She had to leave, and now. She stayed hidden until Baldr went up to his perch. As she looked around she saw only Urendil, the lookout that replaced Wayland. Silently, she  slipped into her quarters, and as quickly and quietly as possible, stuffed as much as she could carry into a bag. Then, seeing Urendil preoccupied with his bow, she stepped out, and back into the woods.

Only one thought came to her as she plunged deep into the woods, “you can find us in Fellglow.”

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