Lilybeth guided the Ren’dorei girl through the portal and walked her to the fountain. “Sit and relax, I’ll be right back.” She raised a hand and opened another portal. Stepping through, she vanished from sight, only to emerge moments later with Tindomiel. The pale priestess stepped over to Niqi and wrapped her in her arms. Lilybeth closed the portals and gestured towards the inn.
Ælithil placed a hand on Tindomiel’s shoulder. She looked up at him, her eyes sad. She nodded and released the smaller elf from her embrace and stepped out of the way. Æl took his fiancé’s hand and urged her to the building at the top of the steps.
Niqi had gone very quiet. The more people that knew, the more overwhelming it was becoming. And so embarrassing. In front of all of these strong, powerful people, she barely escaped one unarmed man. Useless. Why don’t you give yourself to us? Then at least you’d have a purpose. She ground her hands into her ears, tears rolling down her cheeks.
Tindo glanced back, her own face reflecting the girl’s emotional state. “It’s all right, Niquisse. It’s all going to be ok,” she reassured. As they reached the room, she helped Niqi to the bed. “I’m just going to check you over. Make sure you aren’t hurt.”
“Anas already healed me,” Niqi said quietly. “I’m okay, Lady Tindo.” She pulled her legs up onto the bed and to her chest.
“I’m glad that he did,” Tindomiel smiled gently. “But I’d like to check, just the same. I promise it won’t hurt at all.” She settled on the bed beside her. Bringing her hand behind Niqi, a soft golden shimmer wrapped around her fingers. She passed the tips lightly around the girl, checking bit by bit. Reaching her left arm, she frowned. “Roll up your sleeve, dear.” Niqi did as she was asked, revealing bruises in the shape of the man’s hand and fingers. “Mother Moon. How hard did he grab you?” Her voice came out as a whisper as she started to heal the damage.
Niqi’s eyes went wide. How did I not see that? she thought.
“It’s all right, Niqi.” Lilybeth appeared in the doorway, a soft linen dress draped over her arm. “You might find little things for a few days. No need to be embarrassed.”
Æl pulled her to him, wrapping his arms about her tiny frame. “Aunt Tin? Can we get a bath made for her?”
“Of course,” she nodded to Lilybeth and the two older women left the room to coordinate.
He very gently pulled Mehe’s clothes from her and wrapped her in a soft blanket. Gathering her up in his arms, he carried her to the other room. Within, his mother and aunt were filling the tub with warm water and fragrant oils. He set Niqi on her feet and took the blanket from her. She turned to step into the tub and Tindomiel reached out to help.
Æl shook his head. “Let me do this, Aunt Tin. Min’da. Please.” They bowed to him and quietly left the room, closing the door behind them.
Once she was settled into the water, he gently rinsed her hair and began to carefully sponge her back. “I’m here, Tiny. I’m so sorry. I was angry and hurt and I left you alone. I’m so sorry,” he murmured.
She looked up at him, tears rolling freely. “This wasn’t your fault. You couldn’t have known.”
“But I’m here now. We’ll find him. He won’t ever hurt you again. I promise.” She reached out and held his arm while Æl gently, carefully washed the remnants of the other man away from his beloved.