A minute later, and four guards stumbled into view. They were laughing at each other and themselves as they all but tripped over their own feet. Maelys had no idea how drinking was regulated in the city, but this was clearly overstepping boundaries.
“Well, well, well,” one of the guards said. The only female among them. “Honored to serve, Exalted One.” She curtsied a little, but the effort of lowering herself disrupted her balance. She fell forward, grabbing one of the iron bars for support so she didn’t collapse all the way to the floor.
“Careful, Mills,” another chuckled, the only remotely sober one of the bunch. “You’ll lose your lunch if you go around bowing to everyone you see.”
“I’ll lose my lunch whenever I damn well pl—” in that moment, she choked up. Maelys shifted backwards, afraid she really was about to throw up, but the guard managed to hold it in.
“Why are you here?” Varra said, voice flat and unamused.
“Just thought we’d come to say hello,” she replied, having recovered from her potentially foul mishap. “And pay our respects to yet another Hand gone. Maybe someday we’ll have another someone like your mom. But it sure wasn’t you.”
Maelys watched the exchange, confused. What sort of relationship had she had with her subordinates for them to treat her like this in her circumstance?
“And we thought it’d be fun to give you a little news,” the shortest of the guards said. “Your friend here’s considered a liability. The Hand of Justice is going to have him executed tomorrow.”
A chill shot through his body at that. Executed. Tomorrow?
“Been awhile since we’ve had a public execution,” the sober one commented.
“Terrace has been altogether too boring lately. I’m glad to see a change of pace,” the girl said.
“What do you mean? There’s been tons of strange stuff happening lately.”
“That’s what I’m referring to you dolt. First the weird Constructor. Then the Spear Gate. Then Varra’s arrest. It’s all pretty exciting.”
“The way you phrased that it sounded like you found all that boring, and only the execution excited you.”
“Well what does it even matter? Damn, I thought I was the drunk one.”
Varra didn’t seem the least bit phased by the conversation. “I appreciate the information.”
“I’m sure you do,” she replied, grabbing the bars with two hands to get closer. There was a moment’s pause in the conversation as the levity among the four guards died down. Maelys was unsure as to what was happening as Varra and the drunk girl stared at each other.
Then, the girl spat at the former Hand of Defense. A lob of saliva landed on her chin. Varra flinched, but said nothing.
“That’s for my pa.” She tried to do it again, but this time the spit trickled out of her mouth and dripped down her own chin. She frowned, pushing a fist into her face to wipe her jaw.
“You good, Mills?” the short one asked, walking up to her.
“Don’t even think about touchin’ me,” she sneered. He backed off.
“We should go,” the sober guard said.
“Yeah, whatever. But don’t think this is over,” she snapped at Varra, who still hadn’t moved an inch.
The guards started shuffling out the way they had come, leaving the two of them alone once more. Maelys remained petrified and confused, having only witnessed what was really only an exchange between strangers. And of course, there was the big question.
How much longer did he have to live?