Gaz, part two

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Arthur hardly had time to take in what he saw as they were forced through halls, up a few stairs and into a room with bars but no panes in the only window. At first it seemed better than the cell where they'd been kept earlier, but he soon noticed there were no beds here and it was almost as cold inside as outdoors. Someone had brought straw too dirty to be left in a stable and the meaning was all too clear to him. They were less than creatures to their captors. A way to confer an insult he'd never encountered before, but he was too tired to care.

The continuous lack of food made him tired as well as cold, and he knew he slept much more than he would normally have done. Anything to conserve strength he guessed, but he didn't complain. Sleeping meant less time spent feeling miserable, and if there ever came a chance for escape they would need all the strength they had.

Arthur curled up in the straw and prepared to wander between waking dreams and an uneasy sleep when Chaijrild started crying. He turned away wishing she would stop, but as her sobbing continued he sighed and moved so he could see her.

"What is it?" he asked. He was surprised at how irritated he sounded.

"I'm cold."

Well, he wasn't the only one angry then. "So am I."

"And I'm hungry."

"I'm sorry, but I have no food."

"I don't want food."

"What do you want then?" Did I really ask that question?

Of course she wanted the same as he did. To be away from here and among friends again. Chaijrild just stared at him, and he almost expected her to slap him, but she just sunk back and looked down at her feet.

"I'm afraid. I want this to stop," she said in a small voice.

Suddenly at a loss for words Arthur caught himself feeling next to useless. He hadn't been able to do much since they were caught, and now Chaijrild expected him to make their problems vanish.

"If you have nothing more important to discuss I'm going to rest my gift now. It's draining and we need to be strong." Gring's voice. Always practical and always just a little bit too void of emotions for him to really understand. Now she'd managed to make him embarrassed. He didn't know her powers were taxing. She'd never told him - he'd never bothered to ask.

He turned on the dirty straw and tried to sleep, but sleep didn't come to him. He was cold and miserable from long days of neglect. Wet as well. The damp excuse for a mattress didn't agree with him at all.

Chaijrild stirred beside him.

"What is it?" he whispered. De Vhatic was less awkward to use now.

"I'm afraid."

Arthur almost admitted he was afraid himself, but something told him she didn't need to hear that now.

"Come here. Everything will be fine." He didn't know what else to say.

Chaijrild crept closer and together they were warm enough to get some sleep.

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