The other appeared to be more volatile. “You must come from a long way off, to bring a sanguinary and a carmine—“
Halas stopped him with a raised hand. “You don’t seem like you mean any harm to me. So I’m thinking maybe you don’t know, Doctor, that it’s not respectable in these parts for women to color their hair like a carmine. None of us would let our wives do that. Now, is she your wife, or his wife?” Halas spoke in a raised voice and used an intonation that suggested Tegan had better be someone’s wife.
The Doctor put his hand back and grabbed Tegan’s, squeezing it firmly. She huffed but got the message to be quiet. Her free hand clenched into a fist and she stared resolutely at the floor because otherwise she was going to pitch into someone. Turlough moved subtly closer to her, so that he shielded her on one side and the Doctor on the other.
“She’s my wife,” the Doctor said firmly.
Tegan wanted to sink through the floor. Clearly there was some sort of local taboo that they had to circumvent, but that didn’t mean she didn’t resent this on the Doctor’s behalf as well as her own. Since he had his back to her, she looked sidelong at Turlough and glanced pointedly at the door. He gave her a brief nod of comprehension.
Halas placated, “You must not realize how close you are to the border of Khiavar. You shouldn’t head any farther north; it’s not safe. You should be all right here. There hasn’t been a raid this far south of the border since I was a boy.”
His companion said directly to Turlough, “You should definitely head back south in the morning. I’ve heard there hasn’t been a sanguinary in Khiavar for three generations. They’ve been looking for one.”