“Even if ye are innocent, tho’ English ne’er are, tha’ still doesn’t explain why ye were roamin’ the Highlands in the pitch of night - a dangerous place for a maid, be she sassenach or Scot, poor or - supposedly - Princess…” and the Chieftain’s voice seems to emerge from the shadows of the hall like a beast from its den, rough and full of the quiet promise of danger, and Marianne knows she must be careful, even as she burns at the injustice as the dim hall echoes with derisive laughter at his words.
“Please, I care not for any of that, I told you, I was looking for my sister, they say rebels took her into the Forest as ransom when they heard we were traveling alone, that we might fetch a ransom - !”, Marianne, cold and damp and dirty and certainly not looking very royal at all, shivers and it’s madness, utter madness that she’s here, and she’s burning with humiliation that she was so easily captured by these wild things after escaping the last of those rebels, if only she had her sword with her, but she hasn’t seen it seen she last saw Father and if Dawn…oh, Dawn, please be safe…
“Th’ English would ne’er bother wi’ a ransom for highborn lasses playing at royalty, M’Lady, but…if ye hold rank, an’ truly desire yer sister’s return…” He stands, and walks out of the shadow and into the firelight, and -
- and he’s so much taller than her, tall and lean and powerful and dark, and she feels her heart give a jolt when he looks down at her with the bluest eyes she has ever seen, cold and calculating as they take her in, and he looks wild, so very wild, but if it means Dawn can be returned than Marianne feels she can summon up some wildness of her own -
Marianne quickly focuses on his words, his voice a rough rasp of a threat, and her heart gives a sickening thud as she hears his terms: “…put tha’ royal blood ta use and turn spy for us on the English nobility, or ye will never see yer sister again.”