The smell of sizzling flesh settles in her nostrils. Eyes, hard as stone but a perfect reflection of the burning flames, take in the skin that falls in melted lumps from their bones. The screams are just a mere drone in her ears. A cacophony of sweet revenge in the background, music that feeds her wounded soul. Slowly she moves among them…those preening, obnoxious, disgusting merchants, lords and ladies. But most importantly, the Master Slavers. Cocking her head to the side, her lips gently part to take in a long breath. Golden, murderous eyes set firmly upon them, all standing before her with mouths agape. Wondering what went wrong and how their slaves were able to do this to them. To bring them so low.
Her brows knit together in confusion. The voice is just over her shoulder. But when she turns to look, there is no one there. It is distracting her. Whipping her head back to the Master Slavers, her lips curl into a snarl. Her body suddenly shakes out of her control, as though she were being jostled by an unseen hand.
Gasping deeply, her eyes pop open. It takes several blinking moments for her to realize…it was a dream. Her jaw tightens as she looks up into the eyes of Norrin, standing over her bed with a frown firmly etched into his features. His hand is on her shoulder, giving her one last nudge before she swipes it away in irritation. Mira rubs at the corner of her eye with her palm, looking over at him, and grumbles.
“What do you want? I was having a fantastic dream….or…maybe it was a nightmare.”
“We’ve been summoned.” He says gravely. His voice very low while he looks away towards the small window.
Mira’s hand pauses in mid rub. Taking a moment to let the fog from her sleep clear her head, she looks at him sternly. “What time is it? And summoned by…?”
“It’s half past midnight. By The Master Slavers.” This is where he would normally throw in a joke in order to lighten the mood.
But Mira can see the strain in his eyes. His body was tight with tension. “Freshen up if you want. We need to go and meet them immediately. Gent and I will be waiting outside.” Without another word, he lifts off the bed to close the door to the one bedroom in their shared quarters, leaving her alone to gather herself. The deafening silence that follows him is near too much for her to handle. Shifting, she moves for the bathroom to straighten herself up before this long awaited moment.
Her green dress was far too crumpled after the long day of presentations, so she now wears what nearly resembles a white linen toga, draping over only one shoulder. The fabric is light and breezy, the high empire waistline accentuating her small waist, then cascading down to her ankles. Her hair streams loosely in thick waves of fire over her tanned skin. She needed no major frills for this. She had already made her impressions. Stepping outside of the small room, she looks up to see Gent & Norrin near the front door of their quarters. Gold eyes immediately go to the neck and wrist bracers clutched in Norrin’s right hand. Taking a deep breath, she slowly moves to him.
Click. Cold against her neck, the bracer sits. Sending a chill down her spine as the ability of her own magic is stunted entirely. It is there, just out of her reach. A heavy sigh escapes and she looks up to Norrin as he clips on the wrist brace. She lifts a brow curiously as she notes how goosebumps skitter along his arm. Clearing her throat, she nods to both of them.
The hallways are nearly deserted, save for the sentries that make their rounds on each of the decks and corridors. The air is rich with the balmy salt of the sea , making Mira breath in and out deeply, if only to prepare herself for what comes next. Would they all be there? Would she get the chance to end this, tonight?? Her heart beats within her chest, pumping blood through her veins intensely.
“Be ready, Mira. Anything could happen.” Eryth mutters to her. For whatever reason, Mira feels as though he is retreating further within her mind. Like he may be trying to hide from what was about to happen. She shakes it off. She needs to concentrate. It’s better he was not constantly talking to her, clouding her thoughts or actions.
In fact, Mira blinks in surprise when her group suddenly slows in a large corridor that could easily have six men standing abreast in comfort. A very large double door looms before them, two guards with weapons drawn eyeing them as they approach. Gent moves in front of Norrin and Mira, speaking to the guards and showing them the small piece of paper that showed his invite to these quarters. Satisfied, one of the guards turn and enters through the doors.
“Remember. Trust me, Mira.” Norrin says close to her right ear. There is a conviction in his voice, she realizes. And yes. She does trust him.
“This way.” The guards voice breaks her thoughts. Looking up to him, she sees he is motioning them inside. Swallowing a breath, she wets her lips and bids her body to move against it’s instincts.
Decadent didn’t quite describe the room in any form of justice once they entered. Plush seating areas, gilded or dripping with shining stones of every color, rare and highly polished woods on surfaces with crystalline glassware sparkling in the comfortable lighting- it was all enough to attack ones vision with pure majesty. Mira follows Gent’s lead, into an interior room that expanded even larger than the last. When he comes to a halt, Mira steps to his left, eyes searching the room. To her dismay, it is only the Lord and Lady Chesine she sees before them, seated in their separate chairs with a very large window behind them. The lady is sipping at a dainty tea cup, the small saucer in her other hand. Those eerie light blue eyes staring at Mira over the cups rim. Her neck drips with a multi-layered diamond necklace, matching earrings reaching all the way down to touch at her shoulders. The way the woman’s hair is severely pulled back, it nearly gives Mira a headache. There is nothing out of place on the pristine woman.
“The hour’s a bit late, my Lord and Lady.” Gent says with no sense of cooth.
There is silence until the Lady sits her tea cup onto her saucer and down upon a side table. Like a mechanical motion, her hands come to sit neatly in her lap, the slightest sidelong look being given to the Lord Chesine. He nods in response…as if they were speaking internally to one another. Turning to look at Gent, he gives that cold smile.
“Indeed. We prefer private business dealings, hence the late hour Mr. Gent. Less prying eyes and ears to cause trouble.”
Slowly the Lord rises, the tails of his tailored suite draping down to the back of his knees. Smoothing out the front with his pale hands, he moves straight towards Mira. She flinches as he reaches out a hand and takes a lock of her hair between his fingers. He moves in much too close for any human beings liking. His heavy cologne burns in her nostrils and throat. A scent she will never forget.
“Whats your name, slave?” Nowhere in his voice does it sound like a request. Mira meets his cold blue eyes, staring in defiance. Until Norrin taps his knuckles against her shoulder.
“Answer him.” He says sternly.
“Mirabar.” She says tightly.
“Ah. I see.” Lord Chesine turns to look back at his Lady. His facial expression, if any, is lost upon Mira. But for some reason, she feels he already knows who she is. Which sends a new chill down her spine. The Lady Chesine gives an approving nod to her Lord. When he turns back to Mira, there is a flash in his eyes that fills her with dread. Looking to Gent, he releases Mira’s strand of hair and brings his hands behind his back to clasp lightly together.
“We want to purchase her.”
“I’ve only gotten through half of the bids I received upon returning to our quarters. It would be rather hasty to – “ Gent begins to reply, though is quickly interrupted.
“We will beat any price already given.” The Lord insists, meeting Gent’s stone like facade with his own. “And double it.”
Gent shuts his mouth, a hand coming up to rub thoughtfully at his scruffy chin. A rumble of appreciation sounds deep in his throat and he slowly smiles, the way a money hungry warlord would smile. “Well then. That is gonna cost ya quite a pretty penny. You’ve seen how strong she is. How pretty a plaything she could be.” Gent clucks his tongue, for emphasis on that last. Which earns him a new scowl from Mira out of the corner of her eye.
“I’ve seen your other elemental slaves. You have quite a collection – why do you need this one? I’m curious.” Norrin cuts in, his fingers rubbing over the wrist brace that gives him full control of Mira. He flashes his best deviant smile to Lord Chesine. “It’s how pretty she is, ain’t it?” He chortles knowingly, running a hand down the side of Mira’s neck in a possessive manner.
“Not that it’s any of your business, but we plan to breed her.” Chesine’s face reflects the same emotions a horse owner would have upon showing it’s most prized Mare.
“Form a new batch of fire elementals. As they seem to be going extinct in many places.”
His eyes lock knowingly with Mira’s. “Of course – perhaps they wouldn’t be going extinct if they just accepted the fact that they are to be ruled. Owned. And stop with their useless rebellion.”
He steps too close to Mira, his body brushing against hers. His hand takes her chin between his fingers, lifts her face to stare up at him. He studies her carefully, that smile still set upon his lips. When he speaks again, it is a low whisper only Mira can hear, his breath hot against her ear as he leans yet further into her.
“Remember? I do. You were quite impressive – in the desert. But that still didn’t prevent us from razing your people to the ground.” His cold lips press a mocking kiss to her cheek.
Mira’s stomach lurches. The color in her face drains – after the shock clears, she blinks in comprehension of who this monster was. It takes a few moments before she finally reacts. Her body goes rigid with rage. She lunges at Chesine, her fingers grasping roughly at his lapels to shove her body into his. He barely moves, only taking a step back with his own hands going to either of her wrists savagely. All the while smiling evilly at her anger.
“Hey!” Norrin freezes Mira’s actions with only a thought – forgetting that he has that ability. He watches as Mira swivels her head at him in barely contained hate – the look of betrayal in those gold eyes. But she was letting her anger get the best of her. He had to do something to keep this charade going.
“How dare you touch one of the Lords!” He grits between his teeth.
Gent grabs at both her shoulders from behind, holding her up as her body refuses to do her bidding. Grunts issue forth from her mouth, as she continues to try and resist against Norrin mentally holding her back. But her words were not so easily held back.
“MONSTER!! You killed my people! I’ll have your head!!” Even as she rages at him, he laughs and releases her wrists to adjust his lapels. Gent keeps a firm grip on her still as Norrin finally releases the order on her body to seize fighting. But she still struggles and shakes with adrenaline.
“I’ll soon have you in line. You won’t dare speak to me with such insolence once I’m done with you.” He turns away and looks over at his Lady. She has not even stirred – merely sits there like a perfect stone statue.
“I want you to meet someone, Mirabar. I think you may know him.” A flourish of Lord Chesines’ hand signals a side paneled door to open. The enforcer, Nina, walks in, a tall man behind her following with his head down.
Once the movement of more people moving into the room catches Mira’s eye, she turns to better see who is joining them. Her body stills as the very blood in her veins turn cold like ice. The beating of her heart thunders inside her temples. Her voice is lost, save for a gasp born of incredulous disbelief.
The tall man is lean, his skin as darkly tanned as her own and with a head of cropped red hair. A thin white scar slices across his wide mouth and once he is at Lady Chesine’s side, his head lifts to look at Mira. Eyes of gold lock with eyes of gold.
“Eryth…???” She whispers, her knees giving way. Sinking to the floor, Gent makes no attempt to hold her, and she ignores the pain, keeping her eyes locked with the fellow fire elemental that she thought dead. That had somehow been communicating all this time inside her head. Fully alive, without any brace around his neck. He wasn’t here against his will…..
Eryth only nods in recognition. Through the sheer confusion, she notes the glint in his eyes. There was a deeper meaning to all this, she thinks. There has to be. Or else she was just royally, unequivocally played for a fool.
The Lady Chesine hardly inclines her chin, catching Eryth’s peripherals long enough for him to understand the command. Looking back at Mira, he draws up to his full height.
“It was the only way to get you here Mira.” There is no apology in his voice, she realizes.
She looks up towards Norrin – whom looks completely confused by who this man is. Why was he confused? Didn’t he know she had went in search of her own people with….Eryth? It was Eryth, wasn’t it? Her mind is reeling. The fight in her snuffs out at the moment. Trying desperately to piece together this conundrum. Returning her gaze to Eryth, she searches his face. His eyes. Seeing him in the flesh….her mind, her heart, her very body feels NO connection to which he claims they once had. Was any of it real?!
The two elementals do not break eye contact for what feels like eternity. So many questions swirling inside her head. “Be ready, Mira. Anything could happen.” Thats what Eryth had said. She suddenly feels herself being picked up from the ground by Gent. So engrossed in her thoughts, she did not realize that Lord Chesine and Gent were discussing price while Norrin’s own eyes were boring into hers. She knew that look. He urgently wanted to speak with her. Alone.
“Done.” Gent says firmly to Lord Chesine. Bewildered, Mira watches as the two men shake briefly.
Bought. She had just been bought. The bracer around her neck tingles, and she feels the command from Norrin that they are to leave quietly. Her eyes watch Lord Chesine as he takes a few steps next to Lady Chesine and Eryth. To which Eryth watches Mira’s every move, those eyes intense with hidden meaning.
“Payment will be made after the transfer of her bracer to my Lady Chesine at this mornings closing ceremonies, Mr. Gent. Be sure you let the master of ceremonies know she has been bought so there is no doubt who her knew owners are.”
“I’ll only do cash or gold, Lord Chesine. You understand.” Gent’s words were sharp in response as Mira and Norrin begin for the double doors. The Lord Chesine gives a curt nod and waves a hand dismissively to Gent.
“Another thing, Gent. Don’t get any ideas to slip away in the night with Our elemental, now that you know her full worth. We made a deal. That deal is binding. With your life and all the men who have accompanied you here.” It was a bold threat. One that Gent knew was real.
“Yup. Noted.” Gent turns and joins Mira and Norrin, leaving the room as casually as possible.
They were all halfway back to their rooms when Norrin and Gent both look around them to make sure they are not being followed or overheard. But before Norrin can spin Mira around to face him, Gent cuts in.
“You’re one stupid woman! He could have ordered us to maim you! All this infernal planning and you nearly botch it!” He growls at Mira as she defiantly stares up at him. Lowering his tone so only Norrin and she can hear, he continues.
“Keep your thick head in the game – Both of you! We’re this close to finishing this!” He lifts his hand with a small gap between his forefinger and thumb. “The morning ceremonies is gonna be the last chance, Mira! Even if all the slavers are NOT there, we get this done. Got it?!” He switches his glare to Norrin. “Got it?”
They both nod solemnly and stay in place against the corridor wall as Gent storms off towards the rooms. Once he is gone, he takes Mira by the arm, his eyes alight with serious concern.
“Mira, who was that?!” He whispers harshly, referring to Eryth.
“I…he was…he’s supposed to be dead. He was killed when we went into the desert together, looking for our people..” As baffled as she was, she blinks when looking back to Norrin and the stern look of disbelief in his face.
“Mira…that’s not the man you left Consequence with and into the desert.” He releases her arm, taking a step back. Now it is a look of disbelief. No. Pity.
“But…he’s been in my head, speaking to me all this time. He showed me everything from the desert. The fight against the Master Slavers. Our people being slaughtered. How he and I were together…” Her words hold no weight of belief as she watches Norrin’s face fall further.
“Tell me…..” she demands, gulping down a breath.
“He’s lied to you. And that must be because he wanted to bring you here. Maybe win his freedom for yours….” Norrin shakes his head, his face coloring with heat and anger.
“Mira, you left Consequence with a native looking, tall motherfucker. He was one of the guys that helped free you the first time you were taken a slave. And after that….you two were inseparable. The last time I saw you together….you were spouting about being in love. And you had a goddamn ring on your hand!” His true anger bubbled over- over all of it.
Stunned. She felt completely and absolutely lost. Nothing made sense anymore. But even as he explained further the details of those last encounters, a face began to swirl in her twisted memories. A name. It all started to slowly piece back together, if still missing certain fragments. And her heart breaks all over again.
If not for Norrin being so close, her crumpling body would have fallen hard to the ground – her strangled cry escaping her lips as she loses consciousness. It was all too much. Crashing against her like a towering wall of concrete.
Blessed blackness swallows her…