Marisily rose from the bench as she saw Bergardi, the Lady Alisandre’s guest at the night’s feast striding down the hall back towards the palace. The Lady Regent was not with him.
“My lord?” she called out to him. He did not seem to hear. Hurrying forward a few paces, she called out again. “My lord!”
Bergardi glanced over his shoulder, having heard her call, but did not stay or hesitate on his course.
A knot twisted in her gut. I should not have sent Danica away. I should have thought to advise her not to drink so much. Running back into the gardens, Ris recalled the short time before when she noticed Alisandre slapping Bergardi. The Lady Regent was nowhere, but a guard paced over the spot, a frown creasing his brow.
“Sir, I –”
The guard jumped, startled. “Lady Thorne! Have you seen Lady Alisandre?”
The knot tightened. “No, sir. I was about to ask you the same thing. Has no one seen her?”
The guard’s frown deepened. “Lady Alisandre!” he started to call, turning away from Ris. Marisily pivoted and searched for the next guard. Finding him, she asked him to aid the first man in search for the Lady Regent. By the time she spoke with a fourth guard, more had joined in the search, a number of them pouring through the garden gates, all calling for the Lady.
“You,” said Ris, pointing to a strong looking soldier. “Come with me.” With a nod of approval from his superior, the guard followed. Scooping up her flowing crimson skirts, Marisily hurried through the maze and out to run down the hall Bergardi had disappeared down. All I have is my dagger, she thought sullenly, breaking into a run as she saw a man that matched the stature of Bergardi walk up the steps at the end of a courtyard. The one time I don’t have my bow. The ONE time.
“Is that him, my lady?” asked the guard who jogged alongside her.
“It looks like him,” she responded. She then broke into a run, the soldier actually struggling to keep up with her.
“My lord!” she called to the man ahead of her. The man glanced back and disappeared through the door.
A puzzled look crossed the faces of the guards at the doors at the sight of her fast approach but one motioned sharply to the door. “Go after him!”
Two guards disappeared through the door and the sound of a scuffle echoed out before the body of one dropped into the doorway, the clank of his armour echoing in the yard. Running up the steps, Marisily nearly skidded to a stop as blood pooled around the man’s body.
“He is dead, my lady,” said the guard that had accompanied her as he knelt and inspected the body. The sound of footsteps was heard from within and the young guard ran inside. Marisily’s breath caught as the scuffle that ensued beyond her sight ended rather swiftly.
Run, you fool! To Danica, your bow — What an idiot, only bringing one man with me . . .” She stepped inside the door, hesitated, and walked further in, several bodies of guards lying on the floor.
“Lady Thorne,” said a man’s voice to her left.
It was Berstag. By the seven, you should have shot him that day! You had him in your sights! The Hunter gave you the perfect chance . . . ” Lord Tyrell, what is going on?” she asked as she moved towards him. Why in all of Westeros was she holding to the charade? She did not like the look in his eye and she stopped several paces away.
“You should leave, my lady,” said Berstag quietly, moving towards her as his hand drifted to his sword. “It is not safe here.”
Marisily frowned and nodded, retreating back to the door, though she kept an eye on the man as he followed her. The steel of his sword glinted as he began to draw, and Ris suddenly began rethinking every one of her choices in the past five minutes. A cry of pain sounded from back outside the door. Where else can I go? She burst out the opening and she ran out onto the steps as the body of the last guard hit the stone floor below. A hand shot out from the side and she attempted to dodge her attacker, but a strong hand grabbed the soft folds of her skirt, keeping her from her flight. The cruel grin of the man she had orginally sought after peered down at her. Bergardi.
“Lady Marisily,” called Berstag from behind her.
With a strength only lent by her desperation, Marisily turned and wrenched her skirts out of Bergardi’s hold, the both of them looking to Berstag as he walked out of the open door. Bolting away, a sudden, hot pain unlike anything she’d ever felt before tore at the flesh of her shoulder and upper back. A cry of pain escaped her as she stumbled, barely able to keep her feet. Fear gripped her chest even as she felt the back of her dress soak with blood. Her blood. She could see the red splatters of her life fall to the stone beneath her feet even as she retreated down the steps.
“Get out,” she heard Berstag command even as she turned, willing – no – begging her feet to move faster.
How far had she managed to flee? Ten feet . . . ten paces? The yard seemed so much larger as she searched desperately for anything to aid in her self defense even as she felt herself grow weaker. A shield . . . a sword . . . anything! By the seven, does no bloody soldier carry a bow in this place?!
Marisily could sense Berstag as he drew nearer, but as she turned to face him, drawing her own pathetic dagger from a hidden pocket, she saw that he did not have his sword in his hand. She could have sworn he rushed at her as one might when attempting to save another. Phillip, Robert, Martin — my sons, forgive me. . . . Sable. A strong hand took her good shoulder and the other wrapped around her waist. A dagger plunged into her back and she felt herself fading in his grasp.
A wicked smile curved up her crimson lips, the blood spurting from her body merely adding scattered layers to her flowing gown. “Say hello to my husband for me.”
Berstag looked down at her. “You should not have gotten involved.”
With her last effort she attempted to stab up under his arm with her own dagger, but she knew she lacked the strength, as it only got tangled in the cloth of his tunic. I missed my target, and it has been my undoing. I missed them; all the clues and hints. I did not doubt enough. I did not suspect enough. No. No more regrets. You are a Thorne . . . Fear no fate. She fell back, wishing she’d have just a moment more of life as Berstag called out to the guards that ran for them. A small sigh crawled up her throat as she looked up at the Reach stars she knew so well, feeling weightless, before all light and life and pain faded from her.
So as we fall, do roses sprout,
And bodies littered all about,
Behold, must enemies shaken cry,
A Thorne may never die.
A Thorne shall never die.