Liayna snorted with laughter, thumping down onto the ground. She reached up to take Vespera from Conall, settling the baby girl against her shoulder while he made his own way down.
Once Liayna had their daughter safely in her arms, Conall, too, clambered on down from the boulder to join his wife. He snorted again at something the woman had said, but it was fairly obvious this time that it was done in amusement. "If he's gotten himself married, it's only a matter of time," he mused aloud.
"Not so sure about that," Talis commented, ducking into view from beneath the low hanging branch that hid their camp from careless eyes. She looked around briefly, containing her curiosity. Talis didn't know much about the Wild Ones, but she knew that this pair in particular were held in high esteem by the queen and her consort. If she thought it strange that they would choose to camp out here, rather than stay in the palace, she kept it to herself. "I've brought you some clothes for your wee one, blankets and such, and a few pies and bits for you both to spare you the need for too much cooking," she offered, setting the basket down beside the banked fire.
Conall still wasn't sure why the woman had chosen to visit them or come bearing gifts, but she seemed harmless enough. Perhaps it was only that she was fond of babies. "Thank you," he told her, gesturing toward the fire with a hand. "Please, sit. Can we offer you anything? A cup of klaste, perhaps? It's freshly brewed," he told her, making a visible effort to be friendly and accommodating, despite his tendency to be a little standoffish.
"I wouldn't say no to something I haven't had to brew myself, no," Talis chuckled, her eyes lingering on the green-eyed babe on Liayna's shoulder. "She's a fine one, isn't she? Oh ... she is a she, yes? The captain was well into his cups when he was boasting about your babe."
There was that snort again from the big man, even as he went about pouring a cup of the bitter black liquid from a kettle that was hung over the fire. "That does not surprise me," he remarked, a hint of a smirk tugging at his lips. At least, the captain had been happy about their news and was only drunk because he'd been celebrating.
Liayna, too, laughed at the description of Liam, rolling her eyes as she gestured for Talis to sit comfortably. "Vespera is a girl, yes," she assured the older woman, eying her curiously. "But our child is not the reason you came, is she? There is something else you wanted to see us for."
Talis paled, looking guilty for a moment. "Well, I, uh ... you're Wild Ones," she said worriedly. "You'd know more about magic than I would."
Conall handed the woman a tin cup filled with the invigorating black liquid, which had an earthy aroma and slightly bitter but not unpleasant flavor. He ticked a brow upwards at the mention of magic and exchanged a curious glance with his wife, allowing her to lead the conversation. He was still new enough to the clan that he was not yet too versed in magic.
Liayna frowned, glancing back at Conall. Arctrans, as a rule, did not approach the nomads about magic unless things were very dire indeed, and even then, they did it reluctantly. What was going on in the palace? "What sort of magic are we talking about?" she asked, handing Vespera back to Conall as she spoke.
Talis shook her head, concern blossoming on her face as she breathed in the klaste in her cup. "Magic that makes a woman barren," she said quietly. "Magic Skarrans'd use on slaves."
There was that look on Conall's face again, though he was relieved to hear the woman was not there concerning the queen and her consort or the former First Blade and her captain. He didn't know much about the kind of magic Skarrans made use of, but he knew it was not the same as the magic that came from the Goddess. "There are herbs and such for fertility," he pointed out, though, again, this was not his area of expertise.
"Neither of us is an expert with magic, Talis," Liayna said regretfully. "Why are you asking?"
Talis frowned into her cup. "My little mistress," she sighed in a quiet tone. "She hasn't bled. Been with us more than two months now, and no bleeding. She doesn't even know she's supposed to bleed, and she's all grown up. Only thing I can think of is that those bastards cast something on her when she was small, something that'd keep their seed from taking. Only now it'll keep milord's seed from taking, and a babe might be just the thing for them."
Conall exchanged looks with Liayna again, though this seemed like something Kari would be more knowledgeable about than them. Or perhaps they could ask the advice of another clan that was close to Loscar, since Clan Tarven was at least a month's travel away. "You're sure she's not already with child?" he asked, stating the most obvious possibility first.
"Certain," Talis nodded firmly. "There's signs and all, and she showed none of them. She's never bled, sir. Never. It's not right what they did, but hang it if I'm not glad they did something to spare her the pain of bearing their bastards."
"Never?" he echoed, brows arching upwards as he poured another cup of the black liquid and offered it to his wife. He couldn't argue with the fact that that was not normal, but he wasn't quite sure what could be done about it.
Liayna crouched comfortably, dropping onto one knee as she took the cup from Conall. "That is ... not right," she said thoughtfully. "Against the natural order." A heavy frown deepened her expression. "You're sure there are no other signs of what might have caused this?"
Talis' frown echoed hers. "No, ma'am," she said firmly. "I've seen every inch of that girl. She's scars a-plenty, but none where you'd find them if they'd done that."
Conall practically growled at the thought of the Skarrans causing anyone the kind of harm which Talis was alluding to. Though he might not know the girl in question, she had done nothing to earn such a fate. "Perhaps we could speak with Arora," he suggested, at a loss as to what else to do. This required more knowledge and skill than they possessed, and Arora was the Doma of the clan closest to Loscar.
"Who's that when she's at home?" Talis asked, her ears perking to the unfamiliar name.
Liayna was nodding in agreement with Conall. "At the very least, it would get her to visit the city," she pointed out. "Talis, Arora is the Doma of Clan Kirun, the clan that roams the lands around Loscar. She knows more of magic than we do. And she is known to the queen and consort." More than known, but Rory had not yet decided whether to make his parentage common knowledge. Until he did, Liayna had to keep her mouth shut, because he hadn't been shy about referring to her as his sister.
Conall would have preferred to have consulted with Kari, but Kari was too far away, while Arora was close by. "It may take a few days to locate her," Conall put in, though he was confident they could track the clan down easily enough. If the girl had been barren this long, it didn't seem a few more days would matter one way or the other. "How old is she?" he asked, out of mere curiosity as he poured a cup of klaste for himself.
Talis nodded slowly, putting the matter into their hands. She hadn't even spoken to Loren or Gerard about this, wanting to know more about it before worrying them in their strange little love nest. "Nearest I can guess, she's twenty-three, twenty-four," she said thoughtfully. "Wasn't yet four when she was taken, father said it was twenty years ago. Not that he's reliable, the stuck-up prig."
There went that brow again, arching upwards at the woman's estimation of the slave girl's father. "Why do you say that?" he asked, not only curious now, but interested in the girl's plight, if only so that they could explain her situation to Arora in the coming days. He'd hoped that peace would come with Velasca's defeat, but it seemed they still had some ways to go before all their enemies were defeated.