Cerhl offered Bren a tight smile.
'You don't have to act brave, lass.'
The smile dropped. 'I'm not.'
'I mean, I feel no reason to.'
The old knight took a deep breath, then let it go slowly. 'You just lost your father, Cerhl. There's no shame in feeling the hurt.'
Cerhl stood, straightened her velvet dress, and moved to the slit of light.
'They're already leaving.' Pale hands brushed against the stone either side of the opening.
Bren nodded, then grunted his acknowledgement.
'The barons care no more than I do about his passing. They came to offer respect because it's expected, Bren, nothing more. Again, like me.'
Thousands of iron links shifted. 'You don't mean that, lass, I know you don't.'
Cerhl turned on the man. 'You know that for sure, do you?'
Bren took a step forward, one hand wrapped about his belt, the other held out. 'Even if you do, you mustn't say it aloud. Not within the keep.'
The stone felt cold as Cerhl leant back against the wall. 'You're probably right, of course. You usually are.' She managed a genuine smile at that.
Returning the smile, Bren turned to leave.
'He used to lock me in here...'
Bren turned back. 'I know.'
Cerhl looked around the bare chamber, eyes glistening.
'He'd call me a liar when I said things he didn't want to hear, then he'd show me the key, so I'd know what was next.'
The knight nodded once again. 'It was never his idea, lass. To lock you up like that.'
Cerhl frowned and came away from the wall a little.
'T'was mine.' Bren offered a tight smile of his own, before revealing the key and placing it on the floor. 'And for all those times he did, I'm truly sorry.'