Frustratingly for Nathaniel, there was no way to talk things through with his wife. Additionally, to her ignoring him, the guards were also prone on keeping him away from her, and he'd noticed the glances they gave him.
When they'd entered the wall through another drawbridge and dismounted, he found himself separated from her by seemingly randomly standing guards and their horses.
A chill swept through his eyes, and he slowed down so he could watch Katherine from up on his horse's back. She and Lady Brandon talked with the guard's captain, and he could hear the terms "rest" and "room prepared", before the ladies followed the man through a door out of his sight. They didn't glance at him even once.
Nathaniel gritted his teeth. Did this woman think she was safe again after entering her home country? Since when was she so unguarded? Had he lost so much of her trust that she didn't even want his protection anymore? He should have talked it through with her before, that he didn't want to use the connection with her cousin...
"Sir", one of the soldiers interrupted his thoughts, "Let me show you where you can bring the horses. Her ladyship seemed exhausted, so it would be better if you didn't interrupt her anymore today. She is now back in her homeland. We will take care of anything she might need, so you can just retire to the servant's quarters..."
The soldier halted as a deadly glare settled on him. The last sentence finally managed to pull Nathaniel's attention away from the door. Without a word, the soldier knew that he'd made a grave mistake. Confronted with the pair of bloodred eyes that almost glowed with wrath, his throat went dry and cold sweat gathered on his skin.
High up on his horse, Nathaniel looked majestic despite his normal clothes. With his wife turning her back, the king of demons returned to the mortal realm and unraveled his full force. The dark shades under Nathaniel's eyes accentuated the paleness of his skin and the red ruby eyes that shimmered like fresh blood. Death was approaching to those that did a single misstep. A misstep like the one the soldier just committed. Nathaniel tilted his head just slightly. "Did you call me a servant?"
Time stood still at this moment. All soldiers halted in their actions as an unexplainable fear squeezed their heart. Instantly, they realized that this was not a normal man, not even a normal noble.
These people were soldiers, no heros. Dragsa had not fought a war for years. Some of them didn't even see a single death in the battlefield. Nathaniel, meanwhile, reaked an aura that was refined through endless years of killing. With the sword and his magic, he had killed thousands of man. Just one gesture, just lifting his hand would suffice. It was like comparing puppies to a fully grown dragon. And right now, the dragon was angry.
Quietly, the soldiers trembled. Some knees grew weak under the pressure and they sank to the floor.
Nathaniel narrowed his eyes from high up on the horse like a king of death gazing at the poor souls waiting for judgement. No pity, just arrogance in the sneer that crossed his cold face. When he spurred on his horse, nobody dared to block his path anymore.
Trembling soldiers scurried to the side and even those more steadfast ones were pulled away by their frightened horses. The animals seemed to fell the danger as well. Simply as that, the blockade was broken.
The king of death rode forward silently, passing them by like an icy wind. The dusty traveling cloak flapped out behind him. Yet, to the eyes of the soldier's, this was the flag of death that they barely avoided. All of them were glad that they weren't decapitated in a moment.
Reaching the door Katherine had passed through, undisturbed by the quiet crowd, Nathaniel dismounted. Leisurely checking the saddle bags and taking out this and that, he finally threw another chilling glare behind.
"You all", he said, "Are not even as courageous as a little girl when she first stepped foot into my mansion. This is so convenient."
With this strange comment, he entered the small passage into the inner structure of the wall. Not a single person dared to follow him.
Taking long strides forward, Nathaniel tried to shed the aura of death from him, but it didn't work. Ridiculing the guards was just not enough. The gloom lingered like a shadow, fed by his exhaustion and annoyance at the damn circumstances that led him here.
Everything was a source of anger: the soldiers of the Icelands that didn't cooperate - most likely Hermond Icespear, the General stationed at the wall, was swapped with one of Emilian's puppet followers - , the fact that they had to leave Sam behind, the goddamn weather raining so long, the dumb soldiers trying to block him, and then Katherine. Childish, irritable, whimsical Katherine.
Why did she talk of her cousin in front of the soldiers when she didn't want the man to know she was there? And how come he was at fault for that? He should not have led them so close to the dragsean border and maybe reminding her of her cousin's invitation would have been good. But if he, an outsider, had only needed this much to know that her cousin might search for her, why didn't she think of it? Really, his fault didn't amount to much. It was pure bad luck that some messenger - and he knew exactly which child it was, this damned Frey - warned the guards that they were out here.
Thinking of all this, Nathaniel's face grew darker and darker until he suddenly felt a prickle of magic in his veins. He grit his teeth and controlled himself but it wasn't easy to bite back the emotions that caused this. And that was not all. From the attack at the icelandic border, the black remains of his magic already swarmed his veins again. Given time to grow, his response time would slow until, starting with his left hand, movement would become difficult again. But that would take some time. Hopefully, his fight with Katherine would be over before then.
Katherine, meanwhile, was not angry at him because of the mistake she had made. She could've just made up something or said something else, yet her bastard of a cousin had been the first to come to mind. Actually, she was angry at herself because of that. But she was also angry at Nathaniel because... "...this idiot of a man just never talks to me! We traveled several weeks together - weeks, not days! - yet he still tells me nothing about his plans and troubles! We had so much time! Can you believe this, Ella? Will he ever tell me things of his own accord?"
"That's a man for you", Ella replied with a shake of her head. "It's so typical, I swear. My brother is exactly the same. If only they would talk with people, so many misunderstandings could be avoided."
"My word!", Katherine exclaimed, then slumped down onto the bed in her temporary lodging. It was nothing like she was used to, a small room with only one window, a bed with linen beddings, and a drawer. Yet, after nearly a month of traveling, a bed alone sufficed to make her happy.
Stroking the covers, she suddenly wondered: "Ella, why is my bed so small? It almost looks like it's only for one person."
"Well..." Ella furrowed her brows. She had already been shown her own room in the servant's quarters, if it could be called her own with ten beds in it in total. Now, she shrugged. "Do you see your husband anywhere?"