Toward mid afternoon, during a pause in the Overlord’s pageant of advise seekers, Robin beckoned Leoshine to the door.
“Fresh air at last!” she exclaimed as they crossed into the courtyard.
“Be grateful,” Robin tossed over his shoulder. “His lordship will keep the court ‘till all hours.”
Now who is the slave? Leoshine thought of ao Kevath’s short sleep and captivity in that room.
She skipped with delight when she saw the path to the bath hut. How long will Robin give me today, she wondered?
At the threshold Robin grasped a handle that she had never seen before. She turned to him with her mouth open and her eyebrows raised and turned up.
“Meet me here when you finish.” Robin commanded. “In good time,” he added with a scowl.
She turned with a lift of her chin and stepped through a new door.
He build a vestibule onto my bathhouse, she thought with her eyes wide. She recognised the cupboards and benches lining the sodden walls. A light stick shone from the ceiling.
She shuddered and looked for the rock to secure the door. He took it away. She gripped the handle of the outer door. It seemed more secure. How do I get out? She wondered.
She stepped through an opening and stripped next to the bath. All the cupboards and benches had been moved and she had to toss the blouse onto the bench in the outer room. In the water her hair clung to her back and arms, weighed at the surface of the water and weightless beneath.
She ducked her head and washed and knotted the brown strands to lift them off her neck. A branch of hyssop stung as she beat the last of the scabs off her skin. The aroma drifted on the steam and she refreshed her lungs with deep breaths.
The Overlord was one of Father’s ‘new ideas’, Leoshine’s mind drifted over the scene she witnessed in the ‘court’ as Robin called it. The pageant of councilors and soldiers and advisors, Aeolian and Myxolidian by turns, bewildered her. How could he keep track of the names and reasons and positions and requests?
The only constants in the room were the Overlord in the throne-like armed chair, Robin by the door or near her when he felt the need to secure her, and herself sitting on the edge of the bed. The shuffle of feet and the buzz of voices, broken occasionally by tense silences when every ear quivered to hear Ao Kevath’s judgment or advice, blurred on the edges of her mind.
A scrape and step in the outer dressing room froze her blood. Who was it? So near? She caught her breath and held it to hear better. Her retreat was not as safe as she thought.
“What are you doing in here?” Her high strung command echoed with summoned courage. No one answered.
The door latch clicked.
Leoshine seeped from the water and wrapped the towel around her body as quickly as possible. Her hands trembled as she dried.
A deep chill set in her stomach. The blouse, where did it go? A new clear sided box lay on the bench filled with neatly folded cloth.
Was it Robin? She wondered.
The new clothes were made from leaf brown cloth, heavy, like the Overlord’s bed curtains, she thought with disgust. The top clung tightly to her form, almost refusing to clasp, and opened at her throat with a lapelled collar. The lower garment consisted of tight fitting leggings. There was also a short cape, or it might be a skirt. The lower edge was scalloped and the clasps down the middle (or back) were unknown to her. Cape or skirt? It must cover her legs. How could she know with no role model? As she left her desecrated sanctuary, she draped it nonchalantly over her arm.
“You were too long,” growled Robin. “And you have that all wrong.” He reached out to take the drape from her.
“Don’t touch me!” Leoshine shrank back. “You…Why did you come in?”
“They only just arrived,” Robin countered. “And I didn’t come in. It was one of your own women who made these for you.”
Maybe Mother made them, Leoshine stroked the collar. With a roll of her eyes she straightened her arm to hold the drape out. How humiliating to ask a man, and Robin of all men, she thought.
Before she could object his nimble fingers reordered her clothes. “There now. Ready?”
Leoshine, scowled, her lower lip protruding. The drape covered her left leg. What about the other one, she wondered. It would get cold.
Robin took hold of her shoulder and pushed her ahead. He swatted the air behind her head to hasten her steps back to the prison.


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