Things To Come
Aiden gasped as the less than fridged water bit at his skin. Two of the female servants had him stripped naked in a stone basin. They doused him with ice cold soap water, as they scrubbed the dirt off his skin. There was a pink tinge in his pale skin due to the raw scrapping of the scrub brush.
They had to change the water in the basin periodically to keep him from soaking in a broth of his own filth. Each time the water seemed to get colder and colder. Two more females worked on cleaning and trimming his nails, while another woman set about cutting and trimming his hair.
The three prison guards watched in amusement as the girls tried to clean two years' worth of dungeon rot and dirt off of Aiden. They went so far as to place bets as to whom he'd yell at first, and for what.
"We're going to have to feed him… aren't we." The lead guard grumbled.
"Whit mak's ye say 'at Kaptain?" the guard who addressed him, was busy polishing a spot on his scale mail sleeve. He was using a section of his lower robe to polish the metal. It earned him a sharp slap to the head, knocking his helm off. "Ow!" he wined, running his fingers through the injured patch of blond hair.
"Biggers, why do you think the Princess told us to bathe him?" Captain didn't give him a chance to rebuttal. "Because she wants an audience with him; in order to sort out what just happened. That means postponing the execution, AND feeding, AND housing the prisoner in a decent environment. That also means keeping an eye on him till we're told otherwise." The Captain grumbled.
"Like… forever…? Until we actually kill him? A twenty-four-seven job?" The other guard complained. The Captain's look causing him to hang his head in his hands. "It's bad enough the wife's going to have a kid, now she's going to have a cow!"
"Talon, if your wife has a cow about this, just imagine what she'll have if you miss the birth of that baby, OR that cow." Captain remarked, the smirk on his face evident by his voice.
"Captain… you're supposed to inspire confidence in your men… not make them want to crawl in a whole and die," Talon mumbled into his palms.
"Only when it comes to the job Talon. After that you're shit out of luck." Captain explained.
After several hours of grooming Aiden was finally let out of the basin. His long beard was gone replaced with a clean shaven face, his hair also shaved clean off. Apparently dealing with the greasy tangled mess had become too much trouble for the woman. So she chopped it all off. Save for his eyebrows; all the hair vanished from his head. What little pink there was to his skin was temporary, caused by the scrubbing he'd gotten. His skin had been scraped and scrubbed so hard he'd nearly bled. Aiden still looked like a near dead man. His leathery skin, sunken eyes, and malnourished body, were just a few of the things that a bath couldn't fix.
"Put these on." The Captain commanded, tossing Aiden a long tunic, pants, and a belt. "Can't have you wondering around the castle naked now can we."
Aiden didn't complain when given the spare clothing. Simple as they were, it was better than prison clothes by a long shot. He felt better than he had in a long time but there was one thing he was worried about. "Are you putting be back in the dungeon then?"
"No you're coming with us." Talon spoke up motioning towards the door. "Just don't try anything stupid alright?"
"Indeed, don't give them trouble." The Captain straightened out his uniform as he left Aiden with the two guards. "While you're with them I'll secure some food for you."
While Talon was willing to let Aiden make his own way Biggers was not. Rather than spend time letting Aiden poke his nose everywhere, Biggers had tightly grabbed him by his bicep. He lead Aiden through the castle to the hidden servant quarters.
"Here's yer spaur room." Biggers grunted. "Twa o' us guards wull be wi' ye at aw times, sa git comfy." With that he opened the door allowed Aiden to walkin.
"You again?!" How many times are you going to come back? I told you already Rosslyn's not here!"
"Ma'am, please calm yourself." The Captain hushed, motioning for her to lower her voice. "We found the girl already, the reason for our current visit is to secure food."
"No doubt for that mongrel that was with you before." The baker snorted lightly. "Figures they'd let a prisoner eat like a noble, before they better our own condition!" The woman huffed, slamming the door behind her.
The Captain grumbled under his breath as he crossed his arms. His job always left him with the short end of the stick it seemed like. These people were lucky that Avalon was the kingdom in control of country, not that they cared for politics. In spite of his face as masked by the visor his displeasure was evident. When the woman came back his arms where crossed, and he was heavily supported by the edge of the wall.
"Here you go, now leave the kitchen staff alone!" The woman barked at him, as she pushed a cart with food towards The Captain. Grunting The Captain took the cart and headed to where Aiden was now being kept. Using the cart for support as he begrudgingly played the role of servant.
Aiden flexed his toes against bedroom floor. It was smooth against his bare feet. Unlike his cold, hard, moist cell floor; the bedrooms' floor radiated heat from the morning sun. It was nothing lavish, just a spare servant's quarter. Just a simple wood framed bed and dresser, with enough space to move about. Blankets and a pillow had been set on the bed for him.
Until his food came, he occupied his time making the bed. Aiden placed careful precision in every movement. Lengthening the task, if only to give him something to do for longer. Aiden did not want to lose the ability to do something after so long of doing nothing. His task was only interrupted by the feel of something hitting him in the back of the head.
"What the…" Aiden turned around, to see a white-wash ball bounce on the ground.
"Your foods here Mr. Aiden." Rosslyn smiled up at him.
"And," he bent down to pick up the ball. "Are you here just to deliver my food, or are you going to help me eat it?" Casually he rolled the ball along the ground towards the girl.
"I can help!" She squealed, raising her hand. Quickly she picked up her ball, scrambling over to Aiden. Aiden chuckled, watching Rosslyn attempt to climb onto the bed. Pulling the cart close, he sat down before securing the girl in his arms.
Rosslyn gave a sharp nod of her head. "Yes Mr. Aiden." Reaching up she touched his face. "Why do you look all weird?"
Taken back by her statement, Aiden stared down at her. He gave himself a moment to process everything before speaking. "And what makes you say that Little One?"
"You're all bald and pink, and you smell clean."
"Do normal people not smell clean?" Aiden wondered.
"Some do, but you didn't. You were all greasy, and hairy, and you smelled funky." Rosslyn explained. Aiden only shook his head at her. As much as she was probably trying to make him feel better, it only made him feel displaced. He uncovered the plate to reveal a hot plate of garlic roasted duck, smoked potatoes, and a big piece of corn on the cob. There was a small dish of butter, and a small jug of wine to go with it.
He couldn't remember the last time he'd had food that didn't leave the spoon attached to the bowl. Carefully; as if afraid the meal would drift away, he cut into the duck.
Aiden sat with Rosslyn in his lap. They ate in near silence. Occasionally she would ask a question, but he'd rarely respond with more than a curt nod. Since it was clear that he wasn't going to talk much; if at all, Rosslyn settled for spending time with him. The two ate together in pleasant silence, careful not to get food on his freshly made bed.
Every bite was mouthwatering. The flavors tickled his tongue as he chewed. He sucked back the juice. The last thing he wanted to do was waist a single drop or crumb of food. After not having a meal that was both good and solid for two years, Aiden was surprised he'd managed to eat everything. More than that though, he was impressed that he managed to keep it down after the fact.
A knock on the door interrupted his meal. Aiden paused for a moment, fork halfway to his mouth. Upon hearing a second series of knocks, Aiden laid his fork down. "Enter."