Once upon a time there was a princess who had been turned out of her kingdom by an evil sorcerer...
But that was another story, now.
Liliana freezes, but Selma tries to pull her out of the girl's way.
(Inside, Liliana is thinking of another time when she was on the other end of a metaphorical knife attack...)
The girl's knife thrust does not find its intended target - it scores a thin graze across Selma's arm, the force behind it mostly gone, due to the awkward angle.
In the next moment, the corsairs knock the girl over - avoiding any use of blades - pin her down, and take the knife away. It would have been difficult if she still had any fight in her, or any allies, but the moment was lost.
The 'guards' who tried to get in the way awkwardly attempt to fade into the rest of the group before anyone asks them difficult questions.
Once there are no obvious combatants active, Yasmina steps forwards. She is loosely holding a wooden rod, somewhat ornately carved and sturdy enough for last ditch personal defence, in case of any further sudden trouble.
"Don't let her get away with it," pleads the girl faintly, "that's the Lady Liliana!"
"I'm sorry we couldn't have had a better introduction." Yasmina raises her voice, mostly ignoring any particular individual and addressing the makeshift encampment as a whole. "We're here to deter banditry and offer contracts from the Ezmara family to those who are interested in a little investment in their future in the Brass Coast; but we'll cover that in the morning when the light is better."
She glances back at the corsairs, more as a rhetorical flourish than a practical gesture, and says, "Please take the alleged Lady Liliana into custody for the moment, and her companion if she wants to join her."
Liliana sighs with relief and steps forward toward Yasmina, hands held out obviously empty. "Thank you - thank you."
Selma comes forward too, holding her hand over the graze. "I'll come with you."
(It isn't clear whether she's talking to Yasmina and her corsairs, or to Liliana.)
"Save your thanks for the magistrates," Yasmina warns them, sternly.
A couple of corsairs come forwards to take custody; one makes a little bit of a show of grabbing a handful of clothing to lead Liliana off into the darkness; Selma is just closely escorted.
Liliana lets herself be led away.
Once they're away from the campfire, she droops from sudden exhaustion.
"Where're you taking me - what're you doing?" she sighs. "It's been such a long road..."
Behind them, Yasmina continues, "We'll leave a little food and some blankets as a goodwill gift to let you pass the night more comfortably, and to make it more likely you're here to talk to in the morning, but you're not obliged - you're peaceful foreigners on Imperial soil, you have the protection of the law here."
"Don't you worry, ma'am," says the corsair leading Liliana, relaxing his grip once they're out of direct sight of the other refugees and offering her his arm to lean on. "It's a little step to our encampment, I'm afraid, but we'll get you settled down with a bedroll and a bite to eat. Yasmina had to talk tough to stop them making any trouble, but, well, we're not in the business of enforcing old grudges if you're not in the business of bringing them with you."
"Thank you. I heard you use money for - I mean, I do still have a few coins if you need them..."
But she still doesn't seem happy.
"Quartermaster won't refuse if you don't want to feel obliged, but really what we're asking is that you stick around and have a chat with the boss when she's not quite so busy," replies the corsair. He kind of expects Iron Confederacy refugees to not seem very happy, even if they were ex-nobles rather than ex-slaves, but generally tries to project friendliness and be as physically helpful as she needs for the walk.
The physical help is going to be needed if the camp isn't really close; Liliana is getting more and more tired as the walk goes on.
Despite her wound, Selma is keeping up with the walk a lot better.
She asks one of the closer corsairs, "Did you know Liliana was coming? Or were you just trying to help the refugees?
"No idea! Don't actually have the faintest clue who Liliana is, other than maybe some kind of nobility, maybe ex-nobility? Can't promise Yasmina didn't know, sometimes doesn't tell us everything, bad habit she picked up in Anvil that. But we've been out here for months sweeping the border, so it's not like we've just shown up."
Selma nods. "She's a noblelady... but things went wrong. She's not welcome there anymore. So she was wondering where to go, and I told her about here.
"She's trying to be a good person now... even though she wasn't before."
"Yes, the Coast's the best place if you can get here. Can be hard to get yourself set up, but that's what we're out here for; otherwise the bandits tend to recruit and it gets messy.
Yasmina's probably going to try to figure out if there's any politics that need to be fixed up, but nobody's keen to hand anyone back to the Confederacy."
"Good. Liliana knows more than me, but - someone might want her back."
Selma covers a yawn; it's been a long day walking for her too. If there aren't any more questions, she'll follow quietly to the camp.
It's a good few minutes stumbling through the dark, but nowhere near an hour; outlying sentries are waved at, and the encampment is partly concealed under an overhang, which is quite smoky but limits the angles you can see the campfire from.
"How'd it go?" asks one of the people milling around the camp, heading out to greet them. "Anyone get hurt?"
"Oh, you should probably check out this one," replies one of the corsairs, gesturing at Selma. "I'm very sorry, ma'am, I didn't catch your name? Very minor knife wound, but might need cleaning."
"They were having some kind of internal argument, that's why we've been sent back with these two early," replies the one with Liliana. "No trouble now they're separated, though. Be nice, seems like they've been having a bad day. Do you know if Tiana's about?"
"Tiana's always about, same tent as always."
Liliana and Selma both nod tiredly.
"They had a grudge against me," Liliana says. "Don't know why, but... I can guess."
Selma pats Liliana's shoulder. "You can explain in the morning."
She turns to the corsairs. "I'm Selma. If you want Tiana or someone to take a look at this now, sure... and Liliana might be too tired, but I think I can do with a little food if you have it?"
"I'll take a look at Selma here, you get the sleepy one to Tiana and get her settled," suggests the greeter.
She smiles at Selma and asks, "Can you get the sleeve out of the way and show me? I just want to make sure that it's not going to get infected." She fiddles with her belt pouch to retrieve a little pot of salve.
Meanwhile Liliana's escort steers her towards a square tent that has been awkwardly wedged along the side of the overhang. "Tiana's the quartermaster, she'll know where we can put you for the night and what I'm allowed to feed you."
Selma pulls up her sleeve. There're a few old burn scars there, in addition to the new cut.
She doesn't comment on the salve, aside from a brief nod and a "Thank you" afterwards.
Liliana half-stumbles some more as they go. "I'll just take a bed tonight... food in the morning. If I'm safe here."
"No worries, we haven't even seen a bandit for weeks." He pokes his head into the dimly candle-lit tent. "Tiana! Yasmina's left us with a couple of strays, where can I put them?"
Tiana emerges from the tent, gives Liliana a sympathetic smile, then wearily leads them over to a low to the ground supply tent. "All the bedding we've got left is in here, I think there are still some spaces towards the back, warn them not to stand up too quickly. Do they need feeding too?"
"Going to set them up to sleep and then worry about that, the other one's a bit more awake," he replies.
The supply tent contains an assortment of wool and sheepskin blankets and rugs, all jumbled up as if people have been rifling through them for the good ones.
That wasn't quite what Liliana was talking about with "safe"... but she's not going to press it if they don't want to talk about it.
She shudders - these all look far too scratchy - but yawns.