Previously in this story arc: Elphynia ran away from Dufas in the company of T’yul, who lost her at Poppy’s Inn. There, she was stuffed in a sack by some ruffians, but soon rescued by Bastion. Afraid of being returned to Dufas if anyone finds out who she is, she lied to Bastion and introduced herself as Delia, then explained that she’d been kidnapped. Ever the gallant, Bastion has offered to get her a room to stay inside the Inn until she figures out what to do next.
Bastion secured a room, telling the Inn Mistress that he was here with his new wife. Elphynia was impressed by the lie, and also a little nervous about what sort of intentions he might have in mind. They were shown up the stairs to a long, dark hallway with doors leading off each side. Their room was all the way at the end of the hall, off the left side of the hall.
“I had to pay a little more for a room on this side,” Bastion said, “but I thought you might like to have a window.”
The window was tiny and dingy, nothing like the walk-out windows she had in her own chamber back at Dufas, but she knew that normal people almost never had such luxuries, so she did her best to appear suitably impressed.
“Bastion, it’s wonderful!” she exclaimed, and hurried over to the window to examine the view. It was a lovely view, she had to admit. Behind the colorful trader wagons, the fields of red poppies stretched out as far as you could see, meeting a brilliant blue sky.
Motion down among the wagons caught her eye. A group of heavy-set men were prowling around, making themselves nuisances to the friendlier, normaler folks who were trying to mind their own business. She frowned, a wisp of a thought flitting through her brain. These certainly looked like her father’s brute squad, but if they’d been the ones who stuffed her in a sack before, why hadn’t they immediately started lugging her back to Dufas? And she’d come here on dragonback. How could they have caught up with her so quickly?
Just then, one of the men turned to face the Inn. Elphynia let out a yelp and jumped back from the window.
“Delia, what is it?” Bastion said, hurrying over to her.
“Oh, nothing, nothing,” she replied, momentarily flustered by the use of her strange new name. “It’s just… those horrible men are still out there.” She didn’t have to try too hard to appear frightened.
“It’ll be all right, it’ll be fine,” Bastion assured her, putting out a hand to pat her tentatively on the shoulder.
“But Bastion!” she exclaimed, suddenly distracted. “Where are we supposed to sleep?”
For there was only one bed in the room, and devious as she was in attempting to wiggle out from under her father’s grasp, not even Elphynia was precocious enough to compromise her virtues.
“You’ll take the bed, of course,” Bastion said without hesitation. “I’ll borrow a blanket and sleep on the floor.”
Something stirred inside Elphynia – a warm feeling in her chest. She appreciated the gesture infinitely (with her virtues firmly in mind), but she was also a little anxious. Did he not find her attractive? Did he not feel the temptation, even a little bit, to take advantage of her? She pursed her lips. This was a problem that would require investigating.