Lady Lucrezia explained that she was taking care of her drunk husband.
Coraline had expected as much.
The only reason she sought out Lucrezia first was out of concern. The kindly old woman was distraught... and she'd likely never encountered such a violent death. While they interviewed, her hands still shook and her voice cracked.
Coraline's hand holding onto hers was probably the only thing keeping her together.
She recommended that her new Aunt keep her door locked and to not open it for anyone until morning.
Afterward, she walked down the hallways, trying to ignore the conversational squeaking of the rats in the walls.
Lone followed close behind her.
"Hey, you," She frowned.
"Y-yeah?" Lone smiled, idly rubbing the back of his head.
Her heart softened upon seeing the boy's innocent, naive look.
What was she doing, dragging him around?
Coraline had enlisted Mister Lone's help to pursue her sleuthing endeavors...
It was selfish of her... but...
She trusted him. It wasn't just because of his solid alibi, but... there was something about his presence-- maybe even from the scent coming from his clothes.
Whatever it was, it put her ever-so-slightly more at ease.
He risked himself to protect her-- someone he didn't even know. Despite his battle-scarred face, he must have been a good person.
"N-nevermind," She turned away, walking ever-so-slightly faster.
She was going to ask him to walk beside her instead of behind... but that didn't seem appropriate, anymore.
⟬ Second interview: Guardswoman Olesya. ⟭
Olesya was rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, standing guard in front of the Captain's quarters.
"(Little star...)" She smiled warmly at Coraline's approach, "The Golden Eagle has sent an emergency transmission to authorities at Cersei's Rest. We can expect enforcers from the Church when we land."
"Thank you for letting me know, Miss Olesya." Coraline nodded. "Is the Captain still awake?"
There was a dim light from within the room-- perhaps from Nikandros perusing the maps, or whatever he said he was doing earlier.
"No, no 'Miss'," The dragonblooded guardswoman sighed, staring at the ceiling wistfully. "My status is more... a slave than a free woman. Call me by my first name. Please. Olesya."
"I thought slavery wasn't a thing in the Holy Country?" Lone asked innocently.
"My family... they need the coin," Olesya admitted. "The debt... The Captain-- he pays for it... and I... do things for him, when he has need for me."
Coraline felt her heart sink in her chest. She'd read an article, once, about a common plight of women in Nemaya Strana.
The cold, harsh lands could only feed so many... and poverty and hunger afflicted a larger percentage of their people than in the other, smaller nations. Many Nemayans would emigrate to find jobs, more easily available elsewhere, sending back coin to their families.
With a uniquely higher female population than male, some Nemayan women would be... sold, more-or-less. The lucky ones would find work in legal brothels. The less lucky would work the streets they lived on... or find themselves the personal playthings of villains with moderate wealth.
At first glance, it seemed that Olesya had found honorable work as a guard on the Golden Eagle. With the latest information, the truth was... more complicated than that.
"Miss Olesya..." Coraline lowered her voice, "If you need help... I can talk to the Tyrion inquisitors for you. They won't allow Nikandros to do as he pleases... even if he is part of the Windwright's Guild..."
"No, (little star)..." Olesya shook her head, "It is no trouble. I have no worth outside of my profession... If the Tyrions send me home, it will be to watch my family starve in the streets... or maybe myself."
Lone crossed his arms, "What if you... join an adventuring guild? Maybe in a different nation?"
The guardswoman narrowed her eyes, the dark scales on her brows furrowing menacingly... "Even if I try to escape my debts here, I cannot be protected forever. My debtors will find me... and I will gain a new master, maybe even worse than (a drunk [????] [????]... [????])"
Olesya let out a string of curses in the Nemayan old language. Coraline didn't understand most of it, but it definitely wasn't... nice.
Lone averted his gaze, whispering quietly to himself-- too soft for non-Elven ears to hear... "--just need to join a strong enough guild, then..."
Coraline grimaced at the thought. Not every adventuring guild was the Rhodoks or the Aleran Furies. Only the most exceptional guilds were considered untouchable by their host nations.
When she first joined Brockdale Bridge, she thought her suns would play out exactly like the stories she'd heard of Sol Invictus. In her first week, she got bit by a horse and got a fungal infection from cleaning the guild bath.
Maybe life in Sol Invictus was just as bad. Being in an adventuring guild wasn't as glorious as it seemed.
With Olesya having shared her circumstances... besides having a weapon, she also had a motive. Fencing the Blades of the Forgotten King could possibly allow her to settle her debts...
Coraline glanced back at Lone who responded with a solemn nod. If she didn't have him by her side, she wouldn't have had the courage to risk her next question.
"...Olesya... I apologize, but... can I see your sword?"
The guardswoman sighed, "I understand..."
Slowly, she drew her arming sword from her sheath, presenting it forward in her palms.
Coraline took it and inspected it carefully... breathing a sigh of relief when she found no evidence of blood.
"Thank you, Olesya," she smiled.
Unfortunately... the guard still wasn't free of suspicion. Olesya may have had access to the vault, after all... and there could be other weapons there. After the sword's inspection, the guardswoman did relax a bit, though.
"Do your duty, (little star,)" A grave expression returned to Olesya's face as she resheathed her weapon... "As I do mine."
The guard's words chilled Coraline's blood. She felt bad for the guardswoman... but she wasn't in a position to help without also risking her livelihood.
If she reported Nikandros for sex trafficking, she wouldn't be thanked... and Olesya might even think of it as a betrayal of trust.
...At least she still had until they landed in Cersei's Rest to decide on that.
Coraline inclined her head, "I'd like to speak to the Captain, now."