A/n: Hey guys, I'm really sorry I've been so crappy with updating and returning reviews. But I do have an excuse! I broke up with my boyfriend of one year because he cheated on me with his ex, so I haven't exactly been super psyched up to write romance. But gals, let me tell ya, if you get that feeling in your gut, trust it! But I digress. Zanorin of course would never do such a thing, so let's focus on him, shall we? Oh, also, if you like this, check out my new story Cleansed, it won't be quite as romance heavy, but I think it'll end up well.

Isolde shifted uncomfortably. It had been what she had reasoned about a half-hour since Zanorin had suddenly stormed up the stairs. Still frozen in place, Isolde winced as she heard an angry growl erupt from her midsection. It had been some time since she had last eaten, all that business with demons and monsters hadn't given her time to request a meal from her captor.

Standing, she eyed the golden chain around her wrist warily. The excess chain sat in a pool at her feet, glistening under the dim light of the atrium. As she inched away the chain tightened before slackening again, expanding as she walked. Still cautious, Isolde journeyed to the kitchen in search of something to eat. The kitchen was barren, showing little signs of use beyond a few vegetables strewn across the counters and several loaves of bread piled within the oven.

Isolde shuddered as her mind drifted uncontrollably to the creature which had held her in its horrid grip. What could his words have meant? He had asked if she was "the girl". Did she have some larger role, beyond merely being the plaything of a deranged sorcerer? The questions made her stomach even more uneasy. Shaking her head, she reasoned that while she could do nothing to stop the worry, the hunger she could satisfy.

Rubbing her temples, Isolde strained to remember her evenings in the kitchen with Aida. The nights when her mother's condition had reached its worst, Aida would bring Isolde to the kitchen, occupying her with little tasks here and there to keep her from the hordes of worried attendants which filled her mother's quarters. Soup was a favorite dish of hers, and it seemed to be the easiest recipe to recall, so Isolde set about searching through the cupboards. Very little could be found amid the empty expanses beyond a few pots and pans, one of which she gave a careful once-over before setting it on the thin hook just above a dwindling fire at one corner of the room.

Stepping outside into the garden, Isolde longingly eyed the rickety white gate which held freedom just beyond its weak hinges. As if sensing her lust for freedom, the golden chain tightened it's grip.

"Oh, calm down, would you." Isolde spoke to it, nearly certain her words would be in vain. "I'm not foolish enough to try that again, especially not with whatever that frightening brute was running around somewhere."

The chain relented, loosening its grip and providing a bit more length so that she could reach the well at the end of the garden. Picking her way through the fennel and several weeds, Isolde froze. A sound, quiet and gentle floated towards her. It sounds like...bells, Isolde reasoned, straining to discern the source of the tinkling. It stopped briefly, before shooting off into the distance, all before Isolde could even turn her head.

Shrugging, she attributed the noise to the other oddities around the fortress, reasoning it must have been an errant bit of good magic trying to escape. With a heave, Isolde forced her weight onto the well pump, feeling just a tad bit of triumph run through her veins as water splashed into the bucket.

After several trips the pot was full and well on its way to boiling. Isolde rubbed her arms, embarrassed at how quickly they tired. With a sigh, she began chopping at the various vegetables, attempting to mimic Aida's measurements, no doubt less successfully than she had hoped. After some more fruitful rummaging, she located several spices, and added them with a silent prayer to the bubbling contents of the pot.

As she waited, Isolde turned her thoughts to Zanorin and that far off look he had in his eyes. I wonder if he's hungry...the thought crept up before she could push it aside. She didn't want to bear concern for her captor, but it had been quite some time since he disappeared. Don't be foolish, she chastised herself, he's probably going to give your soul to a demon soon...Then again, if all is lost in any case, what's the use in being cruel?

Before she could further deliberate, the water bubbled, fizzed and boiled over, sending out a loud hiss as it hit the flames of the fire. Isolde conlcuded it was as good a sign as any that the soup was finished, and set about finding a bowl amid the clutter.

Sipping gingerly at the hot liquid, she smiled. It certainly wasn't anywhere near Aida's in taste, but it wasn't terrible, and it eased the pain in her midsection quite effectively. Downing the remnants of her bowl, she eyed the pot, which still held enough for several more meals. It would be a shame for it all to go to waste...she reasoned, pouring a bowl and setting it on a tray before turning.

"Ahem," Isolde turned to the chain, "as I will be walking in your direction, would you be so kind as to remain taut? I'd hate to trip."

The chain snapped to attention, tightening itself until rigid. More responsive, now that Isolde's actions favored his master, the chain became quite the ally, guiding her around corners and pushing or pulling to help her recover her balance.

Making her way up the stairs, Isolde could see that the chain extended into what must have been Zanorin's bed chamber. Despite her own worries, the chain kept its pace, pulling her along and knocking the door open with a slight bump. Confused, Isolde set the tray on the ground, following the chain's path until it disappeared under a bookshelf which had been built into the wall.

Frowning and knitting her brows, Isolde knocked tentatively at the books, hoping Zanorin could hear it, wherever he was. The shelf spun violently, and a disoriented Zanorin sauntered out.

"What do you want?" He boomed, seemingly groggy.

"I-err, well, that is, I thought you might be hungry...If not I can just bring it back down, but you had been gone for a while and I don't think I've seen you eat since we went down that path that one time. You know when you drugged me, not that I want to bring that up again, I just thought it might jog your memory as to the time I'm referring to and-"

Zanorin stared at her, rubbing his temples. "You mentioned food?"

Isolde nodded silently towards the tray on the floor and Zanorin swept past her, retrieving the tray and settling onto the large bed in the center of the chamber.

"You may sit." he spoke between mouthfuls.

"That's alright, I really ought to be taking my lea-"

"Sit." he commanded, exasperated.

Isolde acquiesced, unwilling to upset her captor any further. Folding her legs beneath her, she nestled into the distinguishable impression of a man's figure on the mattress.

"You know...if you flipped the mattress over you wouldn't have to deal with this sunken spot." she offered, patting the indentation.

"You wanted to know how I knew your mother, correct?" he questioned, ignoring her advice and taking another mouthful of soup.

"I'd like to, yes," she started before pausing thoughtfully, "provided it doesn't cost me anything."

Zanorin laughed, regaining some of his wits, "You've made dinner for me, have you not? We shall call that your payment."

"Very well." Isolde stated professionally, "You may proceed."

"Your mother and I were very dear friends for a long time. If you were not already aware, she was also magically inclined, as you very well may be. I was something like a mentor to her, she was a sheltered thing, much like you. Loryanne was the younger of the two daughters in her household, and as such had none of the responsibilities. You're a great deal more mature than she ever was, by the way. She planned to practice magic as a hobby, to entertain herself and others, but then her sister died and the responsibility of marrying for the security of her royal house fell to Loryanne. She was prepared to run...and I stopped her. Not a day goes by that I do not regret that decision. Your father was her ruin. He twisted her into a pawn bent on pleasing him and then I...well, I suppose that's enough story telling for one evening. And it appears I have reached the end of my meal as well."

Isolde looked down, her eyes straining as the sun set. "Is that..." she thought aloud, "Is that why you took me? To spare me from her fate?"

Zanorin laughed, looking at the hope flickering behind her green eyes, "Don't flatter yourself, my dear. I have my reasons for taking you, none of them pleasant."

Huffing, Isolde stood. "If you're going to sell my soul to a demon, then I wish you'd go ahead and get on with it!"

Smiling, Zanorin took her by the arm, leading her to the door, "Wrong again, my dear. Keep guessing."

With a frustrated humph, Isolde pivoted, her skirts rustling behind her as she stormed out of the room.

"Isolde," he added gently, "Thank you for dinner."

Reasoning that accepting the thanks would lessen the effect of her departure, Isolde continued down the hall, refusing to acknowledge his voice, which she noted was far less unpleasant at such a tone.

Reaching her bedroom, Isolde settled into her own bed after shedding her garments. Just as she pulled the covers over her head, the sound came once more. The tinkling grew louder and louder, and Isolde froze, hoping the darkness would allow her to catch a glimpse of the little bell-chimer.

A brief yellow light rocketed into the room, spinning this way and that before exiting, as it had entered, through the window.

Something very strange is going on here, Isolde thought as she attempted to sleep.

A/n: Again, sorry if it's lackluster, I'm kind of all over the place right now. I've never really been one to be angry, so this much pent up rage is proving difficult to handle. But enough about my problems, review, vote in the poll, and check out my other stories :) E out!