Balian found no rest that night. His mind was flooded with the image of Viggo, cowering in the floor like a terrified animal. The young man wished he could have done more to comfort the older man and not just because of Guy’s attack. He wanted so badly to relieve the suffering he saw in Viggo’s eyes.
Viggo was no small man. He had broad shoulders, long muscular legs and large, strong hands. Balian mused that it must have been terribly humiliating for a man like that to be forced into subservience by a swaggering peacock like Guy. He wondered if that sort of conditioning could be broken, if Viggo could be coaxed out of the thick shell he would have had to build up in order to endure such treatment. He wondered what kind of strength Viggo held in his heart.
Balian sat up on his bed and swung his legs over the edge. He stood and crossed to the window and leaned against the wall. Breathed in deeply, his head filling with the heady smells of the night blooming flowers that grew in the courtyard below. He looked out over the palace and all of the other black windows that dotted its terra walls. Somewhere in the darkness, Viggo lay alone, battling his own demons and this time when Balian closed his eyes, he could see himself beside the older man as they sought comfort in each other, each fighting the other’s monsters, trying to bring each other peace.
He sighed and scolded himself for thinking of such things. He reminded himself that when Viggo looked at him, he saw yet another swaggering peacock, the same as Guy. To Viggo, Balian was just another courtier who cared little about anything that went on beyond his own nose. Even though all that separated Balian from Viggo, or any of the other servants for that matter, was some fine clothes and a title that he did not earn. He pushed himself away from the wall and raked a hand through his raven hair. He could no longer stand still; he needed to walk, needed to clear his head.
He left his rooms and wandered through the palace. The corridors were deserted at this late hour and the oil lamps that hung on the wall burned low, creating long shadows and casting many corners in complete darkness. He discovered a passageway that lead outside. He followed the sound of gently bubbling water to a large fountain at the very center of the courtyard. In the moonlight he could make out the figure of a man slumped over the edge of the fountain. The man was scooping up water in his hands and splashing it over his face.
“You there,” Balian called. The man froze at the sound of his voice. “Are you in need of assistance? Are you all right?”
“I am fine, my Lord,” was the raspy response.
“Viggo?” Balian approached the servant cautiously; afraid that if he moved too quickly Viggo would bolt away into the night. He sat down beside Viggo and watched the older man’s hands shake as he resumed washing himself. A heavy drop of blood fell from between Viggo’s fingers and hit the surface of the water. “What happened to you?”
“Nothing, my Lord. I am well, please, go about your business and pay me no mind. I am sorry if my presence disturbed you.”
“You are not well. I can see that you are injured.” Balian laid a hand on Viggo’s shoulder and felt the man stiffen. “Please, Viggo let me see your face.”
Viggo obediently lowered his hands lifted his face so that Balian could look at him. One of his eyes was swollen shut; a great purple bruise bloomed across his cheek. There was a deep gash at his temple and his hair was matted with blood.
“Did Guy do this to you?” Balian lowered himself to the ground, now kneeling beside Viggo. He reached out and touched Viggo’s cheek but quickly withdrew his hand when Viggo winced in pain. “Is this because of me?”
Current Mood: indescribable