A/N: Warning: Graphic content follows. Click away if you're under 18! You have been warned!
Tap, tap, tap. Swirl and flick. Aria moved to the tune of the instruments flowing through the air as she'd been taught. Her body curved in sinuous movements, brown ponytail of long hair flapping as she twirled. These were well-practised movements that she was sure all her sisters knew as well as her. Every time they were on the move, they'd spend a portion of each dusk dancing around a fire. It was their way of practising, perfecting their trade and ensuring they could perform well at the next destination – wherever that may be. They never knew too far in advance where they would find themselves. Sometimes, they'd find themselves in a place they hadn't anticipated, and that worked too. As long as there was an audience, there was a means of earning a keep.
Murmurs of appreciation hummed in the air, along with the sound of laughter and cheer. The red and golden carpet was soft and thick beneath her feet, showcasing the opulence of the building in which they were in. Clean white walls rimmed with gold surrounded them and transluscent white curtains flapped in the wind.
Aria eyed the rows of warriors and generals seated on either side of her, enjoying their wine and women. It was still a jarring vision to see the women topless, their bare breasts on display as was custom here in Kiraan – a way of showcasing their assets to snare the perfect match and an opportunity for the men to browse a rack of their liking, because apparently a woman's breasts determined everything about her. Aria was glad they weren't expected to wear the costume of the local ladies. It was by choice of modesty for some women to cover their breasts with a wrap around the torso, crossed over the mounds then tied at the back of the neck, better known as a bandetta. Others donned it when they became taken, so they were no longer on the 'marriage market'.
This was Aria's second dance and she'd been asked to service the warrior with dreadlocks. It wasn't uncommon in their trade that they service their audience with wine. Often, the audience took a particular liking to one of them, but other than wine, Aria wasn't willing to service anything further. She couldn't say the same for all of her sisters as she'd heard a tale or two before about a sunrise-eve with a man. There were no secrets between the twelve of them and though they called themselves sisters, it didn't mean everyone got along. Aria wasn't so inclined to such tendencies herself, not when they were always on the move and she felt no particular attachment to anyone. Apart from her sworn sisters, she'd never known any other attachment. Having been abandoned at birth, they were all she had.
The man in dreadlocks fell into her vision and she almost did a double-take. He was easily a head taller than any other man in the room and compared to herself, he was a giant. Dark brown dreadlocks fell to his shoulders which were at least twice the size of a normal man's. Breathing through her veil, Aria twirled her way over. She bowed, poured the man a glass of wine and held the goblet out for him. Up this close, she saw the jarred scar on his left temple and a ripple of fear shuddered through her. She wasn't sure if it was due to the scar but menace wrapped her in a fist, suffocating. The man stared at her with shiny, narrowed eyes before grasping her wrist. Aria's eyes widened. Yanking, he pulled her forward. Startled by his staggering strength, she toppled straight into his arms.
"What's your name, hm, honeysuckle?" he rumbled and the sinister sound echoed through her.
"Aria," she whispered, trying to stand and put some distance between them, only his grip was as strong as steel. Then as if the action required no effort, he positioned Aria on his lap.
"Let go of me," she said. The man's response was to grin at her and lean forward. Hands caged her, like a corset, bracing her bare torso. Aria's heart leapt to her throat. "I asked you to let me go," she said, louder this time but the man's grin only widened. It was a haunting vision as he closed the distance between them, diving his face into that space between her shoulder and neck. Aria gasped.
"Stop!" she cried, pushing and shoving. She wriggled this way and that, trying to rid his foul touch, but the warrior was an immovable mass of of muscle and chest. The more she squirmed, the tighter his hold became. Wet trails haunted her chest where his lips disturbed. He devoured Aria, brown dreadlocks bobbing up and down.
"You're mine now," he said, gripping her wrists in an iron manacle. Shackling her. Aria yelped, fighting with renewed energy when his lips suckled her neck then sent a throb of pain in her earlobe as he bit down. "I paid for you."
Aria froze and all the fight drained from her. She looked at the warrior's face, through his savage, almost animalistic features for some semblance of truth.
"You're mine now, to do with as I wish," he said.
"Lies," she cried. Mani would never accept a trade for one of her girls. Some of them were girls Mani had single-handedly raised and seen grow up. They were family and together they were nomads without a home, with nothing but each other. Their home was wherever the rest of them were.
"You'll come home with me and warm my bed," he said, his grin predatory, primitive. A shiver coursed down Aria's spine and she yanked her wrists within his grasp, but it was an iron-hold. Fire darted across the warrior's eyes. Heavens, he loved the fight. It turned him on. It took Aria a moment for the realisation to dawn on Aria, but it was obvious when he yanked her against his bare chest. His body scorched, burnt and Aria's instinct was to pull away. She couldn't not fight. Not if it meant submitting to this man, allowing him to have her way with her, but fighting also encouraged the man. It was a no-win situation so her only hope was to fight free and escape before he could get to her. A sharp tug of her hair forced her to look into the man's wild eyes. For a moment, all she could hear was the loud pound of her heart. Blood rushing against her ears. Heavy rasps. Desperate breaths.
"Mani would never sell me. Let go of me," she said.
The grin that spread across the warrior's face was devilish. "So you can go crying to that woman? She sold you, honeysuckle. Ten, thousand Arcids she paid me. How d'you like that?"
Aria's heart stopped. Vienna. How did he know? On the way to Kaarin, one of their main dancers and also Aria's closest friend had fallen ill. Kaarin had been the closest stop so they could get her some help. The healer'd asked for ten thousand Arcids to aid Vienna, who, even now, lay unwell in bed. Aria'd begged Mani to do something, anything. She'd begged to the point she feared Mani'd disown her. Look where that had gotten her now.
Before Aria had time to contemplate the irony of the situation any further, Aria was lifted and hauled over the warrior's broad shoulders. She squealed as the veil covering her mouth fell over her eyes and the world tipped upside down in a red hue. She glimpsed another warrior. Sitting tall and back straight, he looked like a poised figure of strength and elegance. Help me, she pleaded with her eyes before she was carried away.
"Let go of me!" she screamed, fighting with every step the man took.
"My God, you're a fiesty one," he cackled. Her every attack was like a stone bouncing off a large rock, leaving it unscathed. Her punches were impenetrable. Futile. But she fought regardless. Finally, he hauled her back across his thick, sturdy thighs as he sat within a carriage, barking a location at the driver. Pulling her to him, the warrior forced her legs to straddle his and she thanked the Gods she wore pants. As thin and sheer as her pants were, they still provided some barrier from his man parts. Two hands plastered Aria's back, forcing her chest into the warrior's face.
"Why're you wearing this?" the warrior growled, nuzzling her chest. Fingers delved beneath the fabric covering her breasts. Aria gasped, shoved, but it was no use. Bare, hot hands scorched her. Sloppy wet kisses assaulted her. Everywhere, the man infected her with his touch. And the groping never stopped. A squeeze of her breast, pinching of her nipple. Aria cried out at the assault. Repulsion flooded her, gurgled in her throat, threatening to spew out.
A bump in the road jostled them, thrusting Aria hard against the warrior's lap. A low groan of appreciation rumbled through the large man's torso and abhorrence spread inside her. So she continued fighting and managed to shove a knee across his thigh. Pulling back some, she thrust, driving her knee into his balls. A groan escaped the warrior. He doubled over, face red, eyes wide with shock. Aria only took a brief moment to savour the look on his face before covering herself and shoving free. She gripped the edge of the carriage opening. The scenery and dirt road moved at a speed that matched her pounding heart. A glance back saw she didn't have much time before the warrior could act again. It was either him or the moving dirt road. Aria swallowed then jumped.
A/N: Me again! If you've managed to make it this far, thank you! Hopefully you're keen for more because chapter 2 will be up very soon :)