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Title: Truth And Rumor
Fandom: original
Character: original
Length: 200 apiece
Rating: G

Helen watched Apollonia coming through the leafless forest and dead grass of the wayside, to the fire, lugging a jar. Apollonia smiled.
"I heard so many stories, but you were there."
"About the castaway?" said Helena, raising an eyebrow.
Apollonia nodded.
"For once, rumor spoke true, I was there." Helen smiled. "Come sit."
"I brought mulled wine," said Apollonia.
"An excellent offering," said Helen, and was glad of the moments pouring it out, to let her collect her thoughts. She sat and blew on the wine. "Even if you were there, you would not have heard what had happened. There were contradictions."
"They said that people argued with Melantha," said Apollonia.
"They did," said Helen. She glanced sideways at Apollonia. "I'd have argued with her myself. If she had tried to claim the castaway was some subtle, conniving monster who would kill us all in our beds, not having done so thus far could be awaiting the perfect hour to strike and kill as many as possible. But no, she insisted that he was violent and bloodthirsty and would kill as soon as thwarted, and if not, on a whim."
"Wasn't the castaway there?"
"Looking exasperated, but not even arguing."

Apollonia felt her heart hammering. Risky, to get the news and get back to work in time, but she had to find out.
Helen looked up from the fire. Apollonia held up the mulled wine as she asked for the stories, and Helen smiled, her eyes crinkling from the wrinkles.
But once the wine was poured, Helen did not speak at once. Apollonia bit her lip, trying to contain herself.
"Even if you were there," said Helen. "you would not have heard what had happened. There were contradictions."
Apollonia blinked. Surely that had been rumor run wild? "They said that people argued with Melantha."
"They did," said Helen. She glanced sideways at Apollonia. "I'd have argued with her myself. If she had tried to claim the castaway was some subtle, conniving monster who would kill us all in our beds, not having done so thus far could be awaiting the perfect hour to strike and kill as many as possible. But no, she insisted that he was violent and bloodthirsty and would kill as soon as thwarted, and if not, on a whim."
There was one point where rumor agreed. "Wasn't the castaway there?"
"Looking exasperated, but not even arguing."

August 2017

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