Chapter 4: Propositions
My eyes slowly opened to a foreign room filled with lavish pillows and blankets and a luxurious bed on which I laid. Sitting up on the soft mattress I looked around. I noticed chains binding my ankle to the bedpost. But there's something missing, I feel alone. Kyri was gone. My head started pounding as I jerked to the edge of the bed, the chains snapped, making the bed post creak under the pressure.
The door opened to a tall man with long white blond hair and a warm smile that cleverly hid the devious aura he exuded. "I see you are awake and well. I am Yeng, Lord Devarn's secretary." He bowed as I glared at him. "Please do not be angered, Ms. Despoina. We do not mean you harm."
"Where is Kyriake?" I demanded. The man slowly straightened his back.
"Your sister is safe and will continue to be if you cooperate." Weak subordinate human. I looked away. "I will comply."
"Now we must ready you to be presented to Lord Devarn." He motioned to some servants who walked in carrying the multiple fine robes of a peacock green yean*, covered in bright exotic flowers, made of the highest quality silk. One of the servants stepped toward me to remove my kreen. When he touched my shoulder I immediately slapped his hand away.
"Don't touch me! I will do it myself!" The servants meekly placed the clothing on the bed. Yeng smiled, "We thank you for your compliance," and shut the door.
I collapsed on the floor, growling at my head. I pushed the sleeve of my kreen up. The delicate usually sunlight-colored swirls were a golden orange. "She's not too far. I can still control myself," I huffed, my throat a desert.
There was a light knock on the door. I stood, composing myself, pulling the sleeve of my kreen back down as I stared at the yean. "What is it?" I said, my voice irate. The door creaked open, a soft male voice whispering into the room.
"I have come to assist you with your yean."
"I require no assistance," I replied icily.
"Please," the boy insisted, "Allow me to help you." I sighed.
"Come in." The boy silently opened and closed the door.
"Are you okay Ms. Despoina? I heard you breathing heavily earlier."
"I brought you some water." I paused, my throat screaming. I silently took the cup from the boy's hands. My throat desperately absorbed the moisture. My headache lessened slightly.
"Thank you," I said quietly. When I turned to hand the cup back I saw the boy's face. His skin was a dark sun-kissed brown and his hair was a dark orange-red cut short with a long braid sitting on his shoulder. He was a few inches taller than I with a thin structure covered with lean muscles. "What is your name?" I asked.
"Many call me weed boy, but my friends call me Dire. I tend to the unfortunate garden." My irritation lightened.
"Is that your birth name?" I asked curiously. The boy paused, sorrow shadowing his face. "Despite!" I abruptly turned toward the bed. "Assist me if you will. I have not worn a yean before." I moved into the corner and began to remove my kreen as Dire unfolded the innermost robe made of soft near-transparent satin. As he slid the robe onto my shoulders, his hand lingered over my left shoulder.
"These markings..." he whispered. "How did you get them?" I paused.
"They've been engraved on my body since the day I was born. What do they mean to you?"
"My mother told me stories from long ago. In times of nature's suffering, an angel of life came to earth and would breathe life into the trees and plants once again. The angel's wings were inscribed with markings such as these. But in the tale, they were marks of bright sunshine, not the golden bronze yours are. Although I do not believe in a child's tale, I sometimes wonder why no angel had come during the war and wish I could have seen the green earth..." An Angel? Only one that came and revived the earth? "I must apologize. I shouldn't be speaking of the times before the Plague Wars." Dire apologized, bringing the heavy silk spun yean.
"No, it is fine." He set the yean on my shoulders. I silently slipped my arms through the sleeves. My thoughts ran. Who is this angel? Could there be some connection?
"Please raise your arms." I hadn't noticed Dire return carrying the band holding the yean to my body. I raised my arms, allowing him to tie the knot at my waist. As he finished, I turned toward the bed.
"You should leave now, before that human, Yeng, returns. I don't want them to think they can buy sympathy from me just because you assisted me."
"Of course, Ms. Despoina." He started for the door.
"Dire, if I may call you that." He paused. "Are you going to be present during my conference with your master?"
"I will not. I must tend to the garden."
"I see. Please call me Desa... and I believe the green earth shall come again," I whispered.
"Thank you...Ms. Desa." The door clicked behind him. As I climbed onto the bed, my ankle chain clinked together. The silence allowed my inner thoughts to surface. Feeling for Kyri's soul, all i could find was a sense of numb relaxation. She must still be asleep, good. I wouldn't want her to feel me right now, these small bits of intense fear. Just then a knock on the door brought me from my trance. "It is time to leave, Ms. Despoina," Yeng smiled. Guards flooded into the room around me. I glared as they cautiously removed the chain from the bed and attached what served as leashes to my ankles and hands. Like a wild animal, I thought. They marched me out the door.
As we were walking, the only noise being my chains clinking, I caught a glimpse of my markings slowly becoming orange in hue, my throat drying again. "How much further?" I asked quietly. Yeng, who was leisurely strolling next to me, his hands hidden in his sleeves, responded, "It is on the other side of the house. Your room is definitely one of the nicest, but it is still a confinement cell. Of course..." he looked at me with knowing, wolfish eyes. "If you asked the Master nicely, I'm sure he's share his private quarters with you." I glared at him in disgust. Filthy humans. My innards clenched with anger, it worsening with every step.
Two of my "escorts" opened the grand doors into the huge room set up similar to a throne room of a king. In a bejeweled seat in the raised head of the room sat a large old man with a disgustingly swollen face, decorated in fine robes surely bought on dirty money. "Lord Devarn, I bring you Ms. Despoina," Yeng said respectfully. I was brought to the middle of the room, my captors all bowing to their scum of a leader. The head of the guards yelled at me,
"Insolent woman, how dare you not bow!" He slapped me across the face. My anger burned stronger. I glared at Devarn.
"Ah, stubborn arent we?" the human said oily. "I like feisty woman of such beauty." My skin crawled.
"What do you want with my sister and I?" I demanded.
"Well, I am a collector of treasures and beauties..." the filthy human stood. "And your beauty is quite transfixing. Surely you would be coveted among my partners and enemies." More and more.
"I am not an accessory," I growled.
"Of course not. You're much more," he looked at me with the eyes of a wolf filled with hunger but not so beautiful. "With your and your sister's powers, I can revive the earth when and where I want it. Ever since the wars healthy plants have been a rare delicacy that only the rich could indulge in. With you its just like growing money! I'll sell your services and become rich!" I snapped. Silver laced with red shot from my fingers. I jerked, the leashes slipping from the guards' hands.
"Filthy humans! Using me for profit! Feel the Earth's pain!" Tendrils of withering vines encased in water burst through the wooden floor, grasping the guards by their necks and wrists. Silver liquid formed morphing blades at my fingertips. I grabbed the chains around me, violently cutting them from my body. A faint whimpering came from behind me; Devarn being ushered toward the door by Yeng. In a fevered rage I dashed toward them, vines throwing Yeng against a wall. With my blades at his neck, me standing over him.
"Please spare me!" he sobbed.
"You beg for mercy when you are are at fault. The Earth was not a part of your stupid human wars, killing your kin. You humans do not deserve the Earth's help!"
"Des!" I froze at the sound of Kyri's voice. Glancing at my hand, my marks had returned to their usual soft gold. Kyri's hands gripped my wrists.
"The earth wants us to help her, and she wants to help them. Killing them will only hurt her further," she whispered into my ear, my blind rage soothing. My power now under control, the many vines dropped the humans, many of them weakly collapsing to the ground. I was in control again. As Kyri pulled me off the man I glared at him.
"Learn to appreciate the Earth's gifts, human scum."
"Lets go, Des." I nodded and we disappeared into the building.
*yean: robes of high quality material and elaborate decoration (similar to a yakuta in the real world)