Rose for a Thorn

Mirium sat on the stool next to her little dressing table and mirror, leaning on the short counter to put her head in her hands and give her aching back a rest. Keelath had been too rough lifting her — her character, Mirium reminded herself — out of the maw of the dragon turtle. Mirium would have to demand Antem do something about that ridiculous contraption before their next showing. At least Keelath hadn’t dropped her on it like Tarineth had.

She had felt his muscles straining through their costumes, his strength clearly not just for show. She hadn’t expected that out of a nobleman’s son, nor his obvious unease with acting out the main role in the play. In truth, she had expected something more like Xavius, the villain of the story, or at least like Tarineth, always complaining of his headaches between shows. But Keelath has acted almost more like…like…

Mirium stood, drawing the curtains of the wagon, then going through the painstaking process of undoing all the buttons and pins of her gown, taking it off skirt by skirt and folding them into its special box, lined with runes to keep the moths away. She replaced the costume with a simple robe, and sat to brush and braid her hair for the evening. She took out her box of green ribbon — it felt like a green kind of day — and wove a little bit into the ends of her hair, using it to tie off the braid. She stroked the carving on the box fondly as she closed it again; it was a relief of a human knight on top of his steed.

Like a knight. A real knight. That’s what Keelath reminded her of. Such people only existed in stories, though. Doubtless, if she actually let him court her, the masquerade would drop within days, and she would miserable with him. The audacity of even thinking she would feel for him what she — her character — had felt for Hre’lod!

Thinking of that reminded Mirium that Keelath was a terrible actor, though, unable to lie to save his life — unless he was wearing a snake mask, apparently. Angrily she put the box away, and went out to take her evening walk under the forest’s eaves, hoping the crowd would have cleared enough by now to leave her in peace.

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