100 Themes Boot Camp 4

Last Hope

One time, Zhadriel asked me what I dreamt of. What I wanted the most. I was angry- he had been showing me off all evening, making me sit at his feet at some party, then dragging me back to his room and raping me- so I snapped at him without thinking. "You dying a painful death."

To tell the truth, I'd expected a punishment for that. He had been in a strange mood all day, and my skin was already covered in bruises from where he'd hit me, little cuts showing where his ring had landed, the ornate thing slicing into my flesh.

He'd made me wear that ring once- full of sharp angles and even sharper strands of barbed metal, it cut into my finger if I wasn't careful. He said that it was supposed to do that. It was supposed to show the weight and pain that came with being a sorceror. I don't know. To my fae sensibilities, it sounded ridiculous, and I told him that anyone stupid enough to believe that deserved to have a hand covered with nicks and scars. He beat me until I passed out that night, then raped me while I was out of it, and again when I woke up. I'd touched a nerve, apparently.

That was just a couple weeks before he got all philosophical on me. Normally, he treated me like I wasn't worth the effort it would take to carry on a conversation, like I was a pretty bauble, a prized pet that he always wanted to show off. Or maybe more like a conquest- he mostly just wanted to show that he could control me. Hence the things he made me wear, sheer silk wraps that fastened low on my hips with an ornate clasp, leaving more of me showing than was covered, jewels dripping from my neck, ears, wrists, and delicate rings festooning my nipples. And the damned stone in my navel, the first thing he'd done to me- it drained my magic from me, slowly, steadily, so that every morning he could touch it and draw it all into his body, for his own use.

Maybe if I'd been anything but a fae, I wouldn't have been so resentful. Other beings, their magic is limited, and has to be regained through ritual- rituals that he wouldn't have the patience to perform once a year. He would've let them go or killed them once they proved useless to him. But we fae, we aren't like that. We're made of magic. We absorb it from everything. Some of us think that we don't breathe air- we breathe magic. Makes as much sense as anything, I guess. Anyway, we don't run out. Our magic is limitless.

So, he drained my magic because he could, because he'd summoned me, pulling me away from my home, and then he decided that I far too nice a catch to just be seen once a day. He made me a collar and a leash, the leash made out of iron, so I couldn't fight it without risk of burning myself, and dragged me with him everywhere.

Including his bedroom.

I actually spent most of my time on his bed. I was too distracting, I guess, for him to take me to his laboratory. Maybe my presence would have upset the delicate balance of magics he had in there. I don't really know, or care. All I know is that, a lot of days, he'd leave me on his bed, in a room with an iron floor, so I couldn't move. I couldn't even stand up, with the ceiling as low as it was. I just laid there on the bed until he came to get me, either to drag me to some ball or party or to fuck me. It didn't really matter what he came to get me for, actually. It all ended up with sex.

Normally after sex, he'd cast some spell on me and make me sleep, but that one night, it was different. He was laying beside me, arm draped over my stomach- I couldn't move away, too sore and bruised to do much more than lay there- when he asked me that question. "What do you dream of?"

Anyway, after I snapped my answer, expecting to be hit again, he just nodded. "I'd expect so." That night, he just stared at me for a long, long time, until I fell asleep, still on my stomach, still with his arm over me, and when I woke up, he was still there- normally, he was gone before I woke up. I was being cradled close to him, my head tucked against his chest, so that I could hear the beating of his heart and the gentle rise and fall of his breaths.

I could've killed him then. But then I'd die too, because he was the only one who could perform the magic necessary to get me over that damn iron floor. So I laid there and pretended to still be asleep, because I knew if I moved, he'd wake up, and then he'd drain off the magic he'd collected overnight. And I hated that- the sense of loss that it left me with.

I probably should've just gone on and moved away, though. I would have been more comfortable and it wouldn't have changed the outcome.

When he woke up, he gave me the punishment I'd expected the night before, grabbing his whip- supple leather, with an iron tip that would dig into my skin and iburn/i because I'm a fae, and fae don't do iron- and giving me fifteen lashes. At least, he said it was fifteen. I lost count halfway through, when my screams were almost louder than the crack of the whip, and when he left, after draining my magic and healing me just enough that I wouldn't get an infection- but making sure that the pain would stay with me all day long- I collapsed, unable to move, again.

That night marked the beginning of a new pattern. I spent even more days in his room than before, and every night, he asked me what I dreamt of. Every night, I told him something sarcastic, a smart ass comment that he'd punish me for in the morning, after I woke up with my head resting over his heart and his hand on my hip.

I wasn't a very fast learner, and my grandfather had always told me that I was more stubborn than a whole city of dwarves, so I guess it was my fault that the cycle kept repeating. Maybe if I'd given him a serious sounding answer, he'd have stopped asking, and it wouldn't have come to what it did. But I was angry and stubborn, so I kept being sarcastic.

After a while, I started to really think on what he was asking. What did I dream of? It came to me one morning, in the middle of my now expected punishment, and I screamed it out without really thinking. "Death! I dream of the day I die and I can finally get iaway/i from you!"

He stopped in the middle of what he was doing, the whip cracking forward even though his arm was pulled back. It was long enough that the iron tip still managed to touch me, and he didn't bother to pull it away, just letting it lie there and iburn/i into my skin. His voice, when he finally spoke, was strange, and I could hear it even through my choked screams- iron ihurts/i dammit.

"You want to die? Ahhh…. Crii, that mustn't happen." And with that, he leaned down and kissed me roughly, his chest pressing against mine, pressing the end of the whip deeper into my flesh, and I bucked wildly, the pain horrendous.

He fucked me again, just like that, and I passed out halfway through, that iron tip still burning into my skin, and when I finally woke up, he had healed the burn completely, and I'd mostly forgotten about what he'd said.

The next few weeks were even weirder.

I never, never got to leave the bedroom, except for little trips now and then, to keep me healthy and from becoming physically useless- his words, not mine.

He didn't rape me as often. He seemed tired, and maybe he was- he was leaving earlier and returning later from his lab, working hard on something. He never volunteered information and I was too busy rejoicing that he wasn't touching me to ask him.

I still woke up every morning with my head on his chest, but he wasn't punishing me anymore. He had nothing to punish me for- he'd stopped asking me what I dreamt of, and I couldn't really do much to him when I was only with him for a few short minutes before he was asleep.

Then the weirdest thing of all started happening- he stopped draining my magic into himself. Instead, he was pulling it into some ihuge/i diamond, easily the size of my fist. It was the biggest stone I'd ever seen and the first few times I saw it I just gaped at it as he did whatever it was he had to do to pull my magic away from the diamond in my navel and into that monster.

He went magicless for a couple months. Completely magicless, cold turkey. He was saving it up for something, I assumed, and it scared me. I knew instinctively that whatever he was planning wouldn't be good for me. I couldn't think about it too much though. Now that he was out of the lab, he was spending more and more time with me, a large portion of it with us naked and writhing on the bed, a bench in the garden, the floor of his study- he was easily aroused and none too picky about where he satiated his lust.

About the time I was starting to wonder if he was siphoning all of the magic into his libido, it went back to normal, the way it had been at the beginning. He was using magic again, more and more of it- he would drain a little extra straight from me every day, taking not just what the diamond had drawn, but what he himself could feel.

He really was planning something. Something big. Something huge. Something that was going to take massive amounts of magic, maybe more than this realm had ever seen.

I was horrified when I found out what it was.

I wanted to die- somehow, I'd given up hope for rescue or escape, and was pinning all of my dreams on the day he went a little too far in my punishment. He didn't like the idea. He wanted to rule his world, and he couldn't do it without me.

It sounds arrogant, but it's true- a fae is the only being that could give him the magic he needed. Other beings run out too quickly. He needed years and years of magic to use.

Anyway, he couldn't do it without a fae, and he was the first one- ever- to have actually managed to summon one of us. He couldn't run the chances of killing me, then not being able to summon another one.

And…. I didn't believe it, but he did, or at least, he spent a damned long time trying to convince me of it. He said that he'd fallen in love with me. Like I said, I didn't believe it- you don't rape, imprison, and hurt someone you love. I wasn't even sure he could feel love. But he swore he did, and eventually, I got sick of arguing with him.

So, love and power. He needed me for both. Needed me for forever. And he thought that it would be pretty nice for him to be around for forever too, so that when he finally managed to take over his world, he could enjoy it for the rest of his life.

The rest of eternity, if he got his way.

A few centuries ago, some mage named Hezalle had come up with a theoretical spell to cast eternal life on someone. More than eternal life- immortality. It was never able to be proven to work, mainly because nobody could get their hands on enough magic to make it work- even if you had drained all of the magic of every wizard in the human realm for five hundred years, you wouldn't have had enough. Humans aren't very magical creatures- they have to steal their from someone else.

The fae had heard of Hezalle and his ideas- we'd always kept an eye on humans, even from our realm of magic, even when we thought that they couldn't possibly be able to break the wall between the realms. We'd heard of it, but we hadn't given it much thought. Fae aren't interested in eternal life. Things are born, they live, they die. It's just how it happens. It sounds cold when it's put that simply, but that's just how it is.

So, I'd heard of Hezalle- the fae might not want eternal life, but the man was supposed to have been the best human sorcerer of all time. I knew what Zhadriel was planning. And I was scared, more scared than I ever had been.

Before, I'd just thought he was power hungry, horny, and amoral. Now I knew he was insane.

But he was the most intelligent man I'd ever met, regardless. He'd taken Hezalle's spell and tweaked it, lessening the amount of magic needed. Not much, but a little. He also fixed a few mistakes in it. He perfected the spell, and proved that he was even better than Hezalle had reportedly been, because when he tested it, it worked. He told me that there was a butterfly flying around the country that could never die. He also told me that the butterfly had reminded him of me- all icy blue and ephemeral, beautiful and untouchable. That was why it had been the test subject.

I felt bad for the butterfly- I know it's just an insect, but fae have deep feelings for every part of nature. The butterfly would never be able to feel the peace of death. I actually wept for it, mourning its loss in a way that would be impossible to explain to anyone but another fae.

And while I wept for it, I wept for me.

I wasn't going to get to die. There was no escape, no hope for a better life. I'd spend the rest of my existence- I refused to call it life, because life and death are bound together and when one is removed, the other is too- with Zhadriel.

You see, he wouldn't fail. Hezalle's theory worked on every animal. It just took a bit more magic for human's, to account for greater size and mental complexity. Zhadriel just had to save up magic, loads of magic, more than even his monster of a diamond could hold.

And he had to watch me life a hawk, because the news of his plans had made something snap within me. While before, I had waited for death, I now searched for it. I tried again and again to kill myself before he could take that away from me. I almost succeeded once- I rolled out of bed onto the iron floor. But I couldn't hold back my screams, which were apparently ghastly, so he found me and healed me. I set it back a while, though- it took a good amount of magic for him to heal me so completely that I wasn't even scarred from it- he didn't want his beautiful fae to be so completely flawed.

Now, he keeps me in a small cage- made of silver, not iron. He rarely leaves my side, and even when he sleeps, he sleeps with both arms around me and two guards watching, to make sure that I don't hurt myself, or him.

If he asked me again what I dreamt of, I don't know what I'd tell him.

Because lately, I haven't dreamt at all.