Stranded by the sev'ryn city of Desnind after a storm, Linika watched her adversary trudge back toward the harbor to "borrow" a boat. Linika could only imagine how much anger must be stirring inside the sev'ryn's heart. But the nearby child rendered this anger impotent; and that brought great satisfaction to the naer. The young sev'ryn woman had turned out to be a far more formidable adversary than Linika had anticipated. Their fight had been far more evenly matched than it should have been.
Linika had all her rationales in place, both for her attack on the initial sev'ryn; and her threat against the small sev'ryn child a few dozen yards down the beach. She needed to stay hidden, but the first young lady, the one now going to get a boat, had to go and pick up her trail and come tracking her into the woods like some damned hunting cat. 'She fought like a cat as well,' the naer thought to herself, still a bit unfocused due to the pain of a broken finger and numerous bruises, welts and lacerations.
But she'd finally prevailed and gotten the girl down, under her knife. But it had meant little in the long run. There hadn't been any way to truly guarantee the sev'ryn's cooperation in going into her own city and stealing a boat. Linika had been about to go in with her, knife in hand, to try to force her to cooperate, but fate had intervened; The Great Mother Audrae had provided the edge she needed. A new, sweeter, more innocent hostage; the little girl on the beach.
Linika wiped the sneer of malicious victory from her face as she approached the child, feeling vindicated for the extortion she was going to indulge in. All she'd wanted was a boat to see why her sisters' ship had not answered her signal. But this damned sev'ryn wildcat had refused to submit. Linika had been prepared to die, rather than reveal what the purpose of her infiltration into this city had been. And she'd been more than prepared to take the self-righteous bitch with her. But if her sisters were lost in the storm, than the device she'd planted on a target ship in the harbor needed to be removed, undetected, and returned to her city, glorious Augiery.
The sev'ryn's expression, at the realization that an innocent little girl was now the operative hostage, had been gloriously anguished. Her slump of defeat, her look of impotent rage, followed by total submission to Linika's will was a memory the naer would cherish. But for now, she would add to the charade by approaching the child, brimming with smiles and syrupy words.
It took almost no time at all for the child to offer her name as Be'rine, and to state proudly that she was going to go fishing with her father. Linika was immediately on guard, tense with the concern that some grown man was about to round the bend and confront her. But it also struck her that the child was not currently carrying any sort of gear. Linika was no fisherman, but she knew there ought to be a pole of some sort, or a net, as well as a box of cord and lures or some such.
The girl herself soon took over the conversation, asking Linika what she was doing in town, since she clearly was not one of her people. Linika's turned in some surprise and concern that such an aspect of her person would even be realized by such a youngster. She decided, as she usually did, that half-truths were more reliable than outright lies. So she stated that she was here in a diplomatic capacity, but some of her party had been lost in the storm. She did not expect the girl to know what "diplomatic capacity" even meant. And while the girl did not get the exact meaning, she knew it had something to do with visiting and trading something.
Linika found herself having to resist becoming impressed by the child's intelligence, and took another look around for the approach of the "father" the child had mentioned. When she mentioned this, the child laughed easily, saying that her father wouldn't be arriving any time soon, so they had "lots of time to become friends." A pang of guilt actually struck Linika, as she began to regret her deceit. The child reminded her of one of her friends back in Augiery, and how Linika had been forced to join in the jeering directed at her to protect her own status, when this friend had displayed too much compassion too many times. Her friend had eventually been ostracized, and later found dead, by her own hand.
Prior to this event, her old friend had used that same phrase several times "...lots of time to be friends..." it hadn't turned out that way, and Linika still had feelings of regret and betrayal, fueled by the looks her 'friend' had cast her way as she was shunned and exiled. She looked down and saw the girl looking sadly up at her. When Be'rine asked her what was making her sad, Linika decided that denial would not be believed. So she began to speak openly of her sisters on the ship that had sailed close by, and been caught in the storm. Words got away from her, and she found herself speaking of friendships and fears of loss, and how she only wanted to see if they were still alive.
She caught herself, and realized she should not have let herself be taken in by this girl's open friendliness. She would probably have to at least threaten her after all, possibly kill her. She dared not let actual affection become an issue. She was just about to don a more harsh demeanor to undo the foolishness she'd allowed, when the girl suddenly squealed happily. "There's my father! Or...that's his boat anyway. I don't know who that girl is; some friend, I guess. He's probably picking his nets up off the deck. He will help you look for your sisters. You could even go fishing with us!"
The situation suddenly became clear, and Linika reached and grabbed the child with one hand, stopping her from running toward the approaching outrigger, and drawing her knife with the other. She pulled the girl toward her, not putting as much force into her arm as she normally would, intending to wrap the girl in a tight hold, with the knife at her throat. But their eyes met briefly in the process, the girl's flashing to the knife, and back to Linika's face. Be'rine's expression changed then, but here was no fear or betrayal or anger. It was worse than that, it was disappointment...
"Oh...I see..." Be'rine said sadly, her voice like a needle through Linika's heart.