The situation was, to put it lightly, not ideal. Greta had been pacing the Council's mountain bunker-safehouse for an hour, pondering what they were going to do with the waif she'd collected.
The girl had no reason to trust the Shenera Endraae and, indeed, a good deal of reason to distrust them, if her tales of her family were any indication. The Council, a bunch of fatheads for the most part, would not see that, however; they would simply see that she had been tainted by the Nedetakaei that she was Kept by.
Hoping beyond hope that she could talk some sense into the girl around the bond, Greta paced back to Ylva's room. As Kept, as Kept of a Nedetakaei, she wasn't due any courtesies nor Sanctity, but Greta knocked anyway.
The girl's reply was flat and dull. She'd been despondent since their arrival; clearly she understood the nature of such a place, and was still struggling with the desire to reunite with her Keeper.
"May I come in?" Greta asked gently. She wasn't sure anyone had ever given the girl kindness, except, in a rough way, her Nedetakaei Keeper. "I want to talk to you about the future."
Greta opened the door slowly, looking around the room. The quarters here bore a striking similarity to some of the hotel rooms she'd seen recently, and for good reason; these, too, were designed to be comfortable but impersonal and temporary lodgings. The bed was neatly made; in fact, it appeared wholly untouched. Ylva sat on the floor, legs crossed under her. If anything, her appearance only added to the listlessness of her voice.
Greta sat down next to her, trying to minimize the size difference, her wings folded against her back. "You understand that I can't let you return to your Owner," she said gently. "But what I need you to understand goes beyond that. If the elders on the Council think that you are a Nedetakaei sympathizer…"
"Aren't I?" she asked bitterly, looking up. Her hair fell away from her face, and her red-rimmed eyes shone dully at Greta, lacking even the fire of argument.
"Well," Greta answered, uncomfortable with the way this conversation was going, "are you? You were abducted and Kept by force by the Nedetakaei, after all. That makes you a victim, not an ally of theirs."
"But I don't want you to hurt him. I'm not stupid, you know; I know what you must be planning."
"Of course you don't want us to hurt him. But I don't want to be in a position where the Council decides you're better off dead."
"Um." She bit her lip, frowning. "I guess..."
Greta patted her shoulder. "I know it's hard to think past getting back to him. But there's a chance at a future for you, without him, a good one. And I plan to do my best to make that happen."
"I... um. Maybe I need to, well, to think about a bit?"
"Of course." Greta stood, and put a hand on Ylva's shoulder. "One thing, dear. I am not that young idiot Tyrell. Please do not try to escape, no matter how badly the bond is pushing at you. It will end badly."
"Um. Okay?" the girl replied in a small voice.
"It'll be all right, dear, you'll see." Greta patted the girl's shoulder again and left her there, sitting on the floor.
She closed the door behind her and shook her head. This place was built for these kinds of cases; it did happen, and there were trained professionals who could take it from here. Nonetheless, she felt some responsibility for the girl. Greta set off down the hall, idly muttering to herself as she considered the situation.
A familiar old voice snapped her out of it.
"Still talking to yourself, eh? I'd have thought after all these centuries you'd have lost that habit."
"Aelfgar, you old brute!" She turned to smile at her long-time friend. "What brings you down into our caverns?"
The rugged old warrior grinned broadly at her and clapped her on the back. "Ha, now that's a tale to tell, thus best over a tankard. But you're familiar with a fellow by the name of Caspian?"
"Am I indeed," she sighed. "I have his poor lost puppy of a Kept in a holding cell down the way."
"Oh-ho! Then he'll be on his way shortly, unless I miss my mark, and I can hunt him properly in the woods above."
"Attached to her, is he?" She frowned. "She's awfully attached to him."
"He's caused quite a ruckus looking for her. That settles it, then. The hook is set; I need only await him above."
Greta nodded. No use telling the man to take back-up; she'd have to provide air support on the sly. "You're a good man to have in a fight, you old bull."
"And this is a good fight to have a man in. It's past time one of us put that monster down."
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