Morgan eased open the door, bracing herself against the cold wind of the pass. She fought with it, trying to pull it shut again behind her, the sound of her companions inside quieting as she did so. Her stark white hair fluttered wildly with a gust of wind and she smoothed it from her face with one hand, before tapping absently at the morningstar on her hip as she always did, ensuring it was still there. On the wall above, she could see Pryus standing watch, slouching slightly as he leant on his spear. She trudged across the courtyard and up to the battlements, shielding the plate she carried from the cold mountain air, squinting in the light of the sun overhead.
“Breakfast,” she said, offering the plate to Pryus. He eased his helmet off and turned to face Morgan, propping his spear against the crenellation nearby and taking the plate from her. He made a wordless murmur of thanks, biting into a hunk of bread.
“What’s the situation?” Morgan asked, leaning slightly over the parapet edge and turning her gaze further down the pass. It did little good, as ever, her vision obscured by the thick clouds of falling snow in the distance.
Pryus made a noise, recognising the question before swallowing and speaking. “Same as usual.”
Pryus shook his head. “None.” He sucked the tip of one gauntleted finger before picking up a sausage. He extended the plate to Morgan. She shook her head.
“I ate already.”
The two stood silently for minutes, the only sound that of the howling wind, and a rhythmic scraping as Pryus finished his meal. He wiped his mouth. “It’s been quiet.”
Morgan nodded, narrowed eyes remaining fixed further up the pass. “Too quiet, I feel.”
“I would agree.” Pryus exhaled. “A welcome change, though, it must be said.”
Morgan nodded, not saying anything. After a moment, she spoke again. “We should have spent this time preparing.”
Morgan shook her head, shrugging. Her platemail clanked with the motion. “I’m not sure. There’ll be something, though. Soon enough.”
Pryus gathered up his spear and moved towards the stairs. He clapped one hand on Morgan’s shoulder, producing a muted metallic ring. “There always is,” he said, as he began to proceed down the stairs.
“Evicia wanted to see you,” Morgan said, turning to look at him.
“Evicia? What about?”
“She didn’t say. Tamsin’s nameday, probably.”
Pryus sighed, smiling as he shook his head. “One day,” he said, “one day I shall finish my watch and be permitted my rest.” He gave a comical bow. “Until then,” he said, rising, “I live to serve.” He turned and departed for the keep.
“Strength in adversity, Pryus!” Morgan called after him, grinning.
“Though my will may be tested,” the knight cried over one shoulder, “The Oath is the Oath!”
Morgan turned back to the wall, her grin fading slowly. She turned her focus back to the pass, her order’s solemn charge, and turned her thoughts to the men and beasts that dwelled beyond. She thought of home, she thought of their traitor brother, lurking outside their reach, and she thought of the adventurers whose arrival had brought so much.
“The Oath is the Oath…” she muttered to herself.