Thorn of the Rose

“O Scourge of the Sea! Though long you have stalked me, no more shall you withhold your truth from me…

“…O Scourge of the Sea! I see the curtain has parted, your true form at last revealed to me.”

“I think I’d like to ask her out,” said Keelath. The brothers were sitting at a table, as Tyrric had found more food to sample. The theater troupe was in intermission, and Keelath was watching the young singer down a glass of water to keep her voice clear. He wasn’t the only one admiring her, he noticed to his annoyance.

“She is beautiful,” Tyrric agreed.

“I may never get the chance.”

Tyrric finished his sandwich in a gulp, chasing it with a shot of beer. “Why not? You’re handsome enough, and you almost won the rinaan joust last autumn. Women like that sort of thing.”

“Almost,” said Keelath regretfully. “Since when did you know so much about women, anyway? I’m not sure she’d be impressed by something so far out of her interests.”

“Since when do you know her interests?” Tyrric retorted with a grin. “If you’re so besotted, just go up and ask her, brother. I know it’s not exactly proper, but she’s not exactly an aristocrat, either.”

“No, she’s not.” Keelath watched the actress for a moment more. “I think I will.”

So he did. He was displeased to learn he had to get in line, even though not all the ‘mari clustering around her were hopeful suitors. He thought it rather unfair he had to share the woman’s attention with that of older ‘mari complimenting her on her singing or asking after autographs. Didn’t they know he had a mission?

Politeness won out, however. She had almost turned to go back up on stage when it was finally his turn.

“Hello,” he said uncomfortably. “I’m, ah, Keelath.” He wasn’t entirely sure what to say, now he had gotten her attention.

“Hello, Ellith,” she said distractedly. “What do you want me to sign?”

“No, no, Keelath,” said Keelath. “I don’t have anything I want signed…”

“Oh. Well, nice to meet you, Selathe, but I really need to be returning to the stage–”

Keelath’s heart was wandering down to his feet, and he was considering how to request she spend just a couple more minutes with him, if only to get his correct name, when one of the other actors swooped down by her side. The new ‘mar looped an arm around her waist in a way that struck Keelath as possessive, though likely it was casually meant, to guide her through the tight press of the audience.

“Sorry, Selathe,” said the woman distractedly, and she quickly followed the other actor back to the deck. Keelath could only watch her go.

“Did you talk to her?” asked Tyrric, minutes later once he has found Keelath in the crowd. “Good man! What did she say?”

“I’m doomed,” said Keelath mournfully.

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