As he approached his own tents, Corryn was aware of the candles buring within one. Shadows were cast onto the canvas - a trestle set up within the tent - a body laid upon it - and warriors standing guard.
Only one of the warriors was smaller than the rest and - the shadow suggested - had a profusion of curls.
Corryn approached the solemn gathering and sighed deeply. He crossed the center of their camp and ducked into the vigil tent. The sight of his friend struck him on a profound level. Indigo, his body now pale and lifeless, where only a few hours ago he'd been so alive. He recalled joking with the man as they rode out of Leaning Stone. Indigo's laugh was infectious when you could draw it forth. And now, there would be no laughter again.
"I should have been with him," he whispered; the odd joy he felt at his encounter with Syndra bleeding away.
Seeing the familiar shadow of his daughter, he went up behind Limosa and touched her shoulder. "I've returned, my dear."
Her hand lifted and laid over his, as though to give and receive comfort; and her dark head dipped in a sudden nod. So close he could hear the unevenness of her breathing, and feel her trembling - in this vigil and this grieving, perhaps she was mourning the other losses that had come upon her world so suddenly.
He lightly kissed the back of her head and squeezed her hand. He wished he could bring her the comfort she rightfully deserved. "Come," he whispered. "You have watched over them long enough. Let me take you to our tent. It is time for you to rest." He paused for a moment, squeezing her hand again. "You make me very proud, Limosa."
Corryn slipped his hand around her waist, allowing her to rest against him as they walked. He prayed that he gave her the same peace she provided him. Beside her, he could almost forget the nasty bump and cuts on his head, which had begun to throb annoyingly.
She allowed him to lead her to the wagon, although she looked back once at the tent. But as they reached the castle gate she hesitated, and looked towards the open portal - and then back at her father, almost as though asking permission.
"You have somewhere to go?" he asked, curious. He gave her a faint smile. "Or is it someone?"
She shook her head - her expression a little wistful.
Corryn sighed and nodded, "Yes, I shall take you, my dear. But I need to clean this blood off my face and the back of my head. I don't want it to turn. And you aren't traveling without me as an escort. Herys is about and he could hurt you if I'm not there. So, please… help me clean up a little and I shall escort you where it is you desire."
He offered her his hand, trying not to show the pain he actually felt at that moment; both physical and mental. He felt so desperately tired, but for her he would go on until he dropped.
She turned and looked at him, and then shook her head firmly. A tug on his arm told him that she was taking him to the fire, where they might find medical assistance from one of his guards. Limosa, after all, for all her many sterling qualities, was not a ministering angel.
Corryn sighed at her chilly manner. He suddenly wished he'd let Syndra lead him back to the camp. At least she showed the modicum of concern. And then he recalled that, quite simply, he wasn't a dog or a horse. He was the old fool watching out for her; a fool that loved her deeply, but now without the illusions of newness.
He washed his face and head with clean rain water, dabbing his wound gingerly until the cloth stopped turning crimson. Gorne gave him the once over before proclaiming his good health in a nasally voice. "Right as rain, old fool. Next time ye go chasing things in the night, ye remember trees won't move over, wot?"
All the while Gorne berated him, Corryn continued to think on the coming morning. It helped him forget seeing Syndra there in the dark. At first, it had been Morna's ghost that frightened him.
But what frightened him more was that moment… that tender fragment in time when he wanted nothing more than to just…
Corryn sighed and shook his head to erase all thought, denying it. "Let's go," he said to Limosa glumly. Perhaps she could distract him from the truth long enough for him to forget. But somehow he doubted his resolve before the thought had even finished its formation.
But Limosa shook her head fiercely and steered him back to the fire to seat himself in comfort. And where she judged that comfort insufficient, she organised Laughing Knives to supply it. Soon Corryn could stretch his length on bolsters and cushions (some of which, he might suspect, had been filched from the castle on Limosa's orders. He was also brought spiced wine, hot and potent. Three mugs of this were enough to ensure he would be moving nowhere this night.
At first, he protested this gentle treatment; so unaccustomed to it as he was. "I thought you wished to go somewhere," he said, lightly touching Limosa's cheek. But, seeing her determination, he relented to the ministrations of her and the others. Besides, he was wholly exhausted and the smell of the spiced wine far too tempting.
She gave a little shrug at his words. Clearly, the idea that her wishes should be consulted was still such a new one to her that this did not seem to trouble her unduly.
He finished his first mug with a vigor that surprised even him. With an appreciative smile, he lay down and watched his strange ward. "Tomorrow morning, we are to go to the Godswood," he said. "There is a young boy called Jonas… Lord Hardy's boy… that we are to escort there. And I thought you might like to spend some time there as well."
He sighed, resting his head back. "And then, in the afternoon, I ride against Ser Herys. Things may get… ugly, Limosa. I want you to be prepared for that." His hazel eyes touched hers, revealing the wistfulness beneath. His voice dropped, low and secretive. "Once I'm rid of him, you will be safe."
Limosa watched him, wide-eyed. Then she nodded slowly.
It was only when his eyes had closed in sleep that she looked up - at Phalan.