Asriel's intro and a rough idea of whats going on, please please review
Sitting, my legs tucked up under me, a book open on in my hands, trying to read the same page I had been on for the last hour. Two paragraphs in, a plumb, greasy haired, older man shuffles up to the shelf in front of me. Looking up at him through a curtain of hair I watch as he glances around to make sure no one is watching him. Satisfied he runs a thick sausage finger across the spines of the books in front of him. Finding the book he is looking for he pulls it out, glances at me again just to make sure I wasn't looking and tucks the first audition classic into his vest. Chuckling a little, I watch as the moment the book is completely out of sight, the man lets out a howl of pain and drops the now red glowing book. By this time, everyone in the store is staring up at him as he cuddles the hand he had taken the book with and wiggles on the floor. I cover my mouth trying to hide my laughter as the book lands on the floor with a hiss and the smell of burning carpet. The man, realizing that everyone is watching tries to get to his feet and run for the door, but the book seller and his guardsman are on the idiot in a moment. The idiot begs and cries, fighting with all his pudgy, greasy might to get away from the guards steel grip, saying that he was only putting the book in his vest so he could have both his hands free to find another one, but his cries land on deaf ears as the other two drag him through large thick red doors at the back of the shop where a holding cage is set up.
The idiot will stay locked in there until the next court day where the book seller will be allowed to drag him in front of the king for his punishment. Depending on what kind of thing is stolen and how much it is worth the king will give him a sentence as low as a fine or as high as the thieves hand being cut off. The latter punishment was usually only reserved for really bad thieves that try to steal from noble men or the king himself. I assumed the idiot would be kept in jail for a couple of months and get the damning “x” tattoo printed on his hand. The “x” would get him dark looks and a never ending crusade of guards following him. The more “x's” he got the worse it became until he gets three, than its to the docks to work the remainder of his life, which these days was only about five months. The docks were hard work and the workers rarely got fed. When they did it was only a little rice and water. Most became bloated, their insides rotting away before they actually died, causing such immense pain. Climbing out of the chair as the book seller returns, I look longingly once more at the book than stretch and yawn, before casually going to talk to him.
“Hello Ali,” grumbled the book seller, a sun winkled, bald, little gentleman named, Mr. Snook. I smile at him sweetly adjusting my brass tinted glasses so they stop pinching my nose, as I lean against his money counter.
“Bright Blessing to you Mr. Snook!” I try to sound as bright and cheery as possible, as he pulls out a thick letter with hand writing that will always be burned into my mind. It is the hand writing of the cursed and damned. It is the hand writing that decided so many innocent as well as guilty people’s fates and yet, I will never be able to get rid of it. It will always find me. I think that the last time I was allowed to be away from the handwriting was ten years ago.
“It’s a horrible morning, my girl. Three thieves already and it’s just now ringing the noon hour. All of them after the same book, that first audition of “Kings Own” we got in two days ago. I know it is worth a lot of silver, but wouldn't you think someone would warn them about the thief protection spells I put on all first auditions by now?” he grumbles, not really looking for a reply. I stay where I am letting him unload his complaints onto me, as a good girl should. It’s always like this; he'll complain and grump until he is all grumped out, than be as pleasant as fresh baked bread, to his customers the rest of the day. Plus, I like feeling that I am helping, even if it is just to let someone have the release they need. Mr. Snook, as sweet as he is, is all alone. His wife Isanda, who had been his emotional vent for thirty years, had died from a stroke two years ago.
“Times must be getting tough out there, for so many thieves to come, all in one day.” He muses, scratching his flaking scalp, sending a little bit of debris into the air. I nod solemnly, trying to resist my urge to dodge the flying pieces, as he looks at me with glassy brown eyes, pushes the letter at me, and turned to watch as a young girl, dressed in well used clothes, browses a shelf of local agricultural books at the far end of the store.
I sigh, as I look down at the letter reading the handwriting and feeling the pendant at my neck starts to warm up. Reaching up, I rub it a little, than subconsciously try to scratch under it. It takes a moment and a grim sideways look from Mr. Snook for me to realize that I was trying to scratch something that is imbedded in my skin, not surprising my attempts are unsuccessful. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath in through my nose and out through my mouth a couple of times, counting to four before each inhale or exhale, willing the itch to go away. The stupid itch is hard to get rid of once it comes and it tends to come with the heat that signals my master’s anger or annoyance. Opening my eyes, I push my glasses to the top of my head and open the envelope.
Meet me tonight at 6 o'clock
The words are written in gold ink and stamped with a crest of a glaring skull with two roses as swords underneath it. It is pressed into black candle wax on the flap of the envelope as well as the letter. Harshly, I tuck the letter into my belt purse, fluff my simple forest green cotton skirt, wink at Mr. Spook, who is trying to convince the girl in rags that the thickest volume of local plants is well worth the money, and walk out into the street. Noise fills my ears as soon as I step from Mr. Snook’s doorway, which is spelled to keep the outside noise from penetrating into the shop. Mr. Snook says that his customer’s come to his shop for the atmosphere as well as the heavenly smell of leather bound books and he wants to make sure that he can cater to those needs. So of course he makes sure the best leather is used on the covers and binding, even though it costs him a little more and every three months he shuts down for a day to renew the silencing spells that he has over every little crack. I am not sure that his customers actually come for those things but I figure that is could be possible so I don’t contradict him when I help organize the books. I personally love the smell and find the quiet pleasantness soothing. Pushing my specially made glasses back over my eyes and letting them adjust to the bright light of the warm spring day, I look around me as I stand in the dusty streets. Colorfully decorated Stalls upon stalls of trinkets line either side of the book seller, their owners calling out to me, trying to entice me to spend money that they think I have. I smile lightly at them knowing they will win in the end than start on my left side looked at a silver plated bracelet that I know will turn my wrist green. The stall owner promises me that it is the very best silver shipped to him from the Newage mines and there is no reason that it should cause me any problems, I smile and thank him slipping it onto my wrist to show that trust his word. The stall a couple of spots down has a mixture of scarves that a young boy is dutifully watching. I browse a little, smiling as I see the boy following me with his eyes just waiting for me to make the wrong move. I buy a beautiful blue and green silk shawl from the flushed looking lady tat I figure is his mother and slip him a copper for his dutiful watching. He gives me a toothy smile and follows me to the stall where a bunch of freshly baked meat pies are sitting. I buy one before going to the back of the bookstore, up the rickety wooden stairs and into my apartment.
Standing in the doorway I look around my home taking it in. It’s just like every other person’s home. Quiet, clean with little nick knacks that say who the owner is Its one of those homes that says nothing yet everything all at once. I look over at the large chest of drawers covered in paintings of happy things, no inkling of the truth that lies hidden in it. My apartment is a humble little place, having only one room, and a combined kitchen and living room. twin windows face the street each covered in a soft blue lace that let me see out but no one see in. A small table stood in front of one of the windows, my mornings dishes still out on the table. One cup and plate for me and one still full cup of tea for her mornings visitor. That's why i had left that morning; I wanted to get away from him. Nole. he was the one person that i both hated and loved more than anything. He had snuck into my apartment before i got up, made me pancakes and tea as if we were one happy family. I couldn't believe the nerve of him, after everything that we have been through, he decided that he wants to do something nice. It caught me by surprise and almost ended up with him having a dagger sticking out of his stomach. When i saw him i threw my newest book, a thick five hundred paged volume of the history of the country. It had hit him and knocked him down long enough for me to realize that it was Nole, not some home invader. i looked at the book that was still laying on the floor near the sink, a little bit of blood had dripped onto the floor. Nole's blood... i cringed and instantly pulled a rag off the counter and started to clean it making sure i poured a foaming liquid onto the spot it had been. Wanting nothing more to do with his blood,i scrubbed until my hands became red and pruney. I didn't want his vile blood anywhere near me ever again. Just like I didn't want him near me ever again but that was unfortunately unavoidable. He was the leader of my crew, and I had to answer to him weather I wanted to or not. Mostly I tried to stay the hell away from him, his evilness might be contagious and I didn't want to get it. Opening the windows i sat down and stared at the street.
The large bell clock in the middle of town was striking the six o'clock hour as i knocked on the door to a large four story gray brick building. The woman that answered glared at me.
“you're late and master is taking it out on everyone,” the woman, a short, thick waisted, olive skinned warrior type, wore a bracelet on her wrist that was identical to my necklace. It glowed red and i could see that it was causing the woman pain, as my own necklace was to me. Master was not in a good mood that was for sure.
I am sorry Ky-lah was all I was able to mutter knowing that there was no apology for what was happening to her. It was my fault and everyone knew it.. As soon as i entered the door i was grabbed on either side by two burly men, each sporting a red glowing stud in their ears. They gripped my arms so tightly i could feel to bruises forming under the pressure of their fingers. Everyone was mad at me and I couldn't blame them. The men entered a large gray brick room and trust me in front of the man seated at a deep red wooden desk.
Hitting the floor with a painful thump I couldn't suppress the cringe, like I should have. the heat from my necklace burning into me flesh and the pounding in my abused knees. i bit my lip, trying to keep all sound from escaping. Any sound i made would make things worse. Through tear filled eyes, i looked around the room, my heart skipping a beat and my stomach sinking at the same time as i looked at the man leaning against the wall behind the desk. He was tall, blonde and had the face of a Sinlong God. His marble cheekbones where high and chiseled, his eyes a stormy gray color that seemed impossibly deep. His arms where crossed in front of him making the thick lines of muscles bulge under his numerous tattoos. A ring on his right hand was the only indication that he was there against his will. It was glowing red as well but he seemed oblivious to the pain it must be radiating. He wore a tight black shirt and black dyed cotton trousers. His blonde hair looked tousled as though he had just spent the day flying around the country side. Even from where i was kneeling on the rough ground i could remember his smell. Smoke, hay, honey, and something that was just him. His smell had always made my heart dance, like the professional dancers of the Nemis Players Group. He looks at me for a moment than turns his attention back to Master who shuffled a few pieces of paper around his desk.
“You are late slave,” he puts a menacing emphasis on the word slave and as he does my necklace sears the skin under it causing my body to give out under the pain. Inside i am screaming, begging for him to stop, to kill me if that is his intent, to beat me, to do anything he wants except keep the burn going. Somewhere in the back of my mind, i recognized the smell of burning flesh and knew that the pain would not be going away anytime soon. Tears streamed down my cheeks, my breath becomes ragged and hard to catch, my stomach revolts dangerously, and the feel of the scream raising from within my soul starts to rise up through my heart causing it to beat so fiercely it is a shocked that it hasn't broken from my rib cage yet,up to my throat burning and forcing its way through the lump that is blocking the way like a tumor, and than.... it is over.
i Crumbled to the floor as i tried to steady my breathing, master shuffles more papers and snorts out an order for one of the guards by the door. i feel movement, a rumbling in the brick floor. my mind tells me that this is it, that master had finally found a way to make hell rise up from the center of the earth and suck me into it. At last,rough, thick hands shook me from my visions of never ending fires that constantly lapped at my flesh, causing an incurable pain far easier to deal with than the pain i had been living with since my enslavement. my mind welcomes the opening chasm until i feel the hands gripping my arms together and lifting me to my feet. The guard stays behind me a moment longer than is allowed to give me something solid to steady myself on. It is something that had he been caught, would have made him endure the same treatment i was getting. my legs steady enough to keep me up. i swallow hard trying to get rid of the lump that threatens to cut off my oxygen and open my eyes, pushing back the tears that still want to come. i take a deep breath in through my nose and out through my mouth a few times, pushing the pain and fear away, trying to calm my shaking body and cooling the burning against my throat. i can't help but look up at Nole thinking that he wouldn't have moved a muscle from his relaxed position against the way. Much to my surprise he is no longer lounging against the wall, his hands hang at his side, balled into fists, clenched so tight that his knuckles at as white as marble. His arm muscles ripple under his skin and his whole body seems to be shaking
”I will not stand for his torturing you much longer,” he had told me earlier that morning before i had kicked him out of my apartment. i hadn't believed him until now he used to say things like that all the time. That's how I ended up here in the first place. I believed him when he said that he wouldn't let me hurt anymore. That he would take me away from my misery and we would be happy forever. At the time forever had seemed a lot shorter to me than it really is. That's when i realized He was glaring at me, not master, as though i was responsible for his first born child's death, that is if he knew he had a child. I couldn't let him go unanswered so I straighten my hunched shoulders, raised my sagging and defeated head a little and glared right back at him. Inside i was crying trying to make him see that this was not my fault. That i had been to busy thinking about our conversation that morning to remember the time. That it had only been a minute that i was late and that i just wanted him to come and hold me. I wanted to fall into his arms as I once would have, he would stroke my hair and promise that things would work out that this wasn't a permanent thing and there was a way out if only i would concentrate more. But he heard none of this, saw nothing in me to indicate what was going on inside my head. All he saw was Alisha the girl he had known for so long, strong as ever, standing my ground and acting as if nothing had happened. Acting as if i had not just been burned almost to the point of dying. No... all anyone saw was the strong warrior girl that was my safety mask. I wondered for a moment if there would ever be anyone who could see through the mask. Someone who would understand the silent cries and pleading to be let free. But that would never happen and I knew it. No one like that existed.
“next time you are late, slave...I shall not punish you... No, I shall punish one of the foolish orphans and make sure that they know it is because of you,” Masters voice booms through the silent chamber, his eyes dangerous as he looked at me and my confidant stance. i cringed, trying to block out the thoughts of the poor unfortunate orphans that master kept as pets and the only proven way to get through my hard shell. i pressed my lips together, sucked in my breath at the visions i had seen before and took a step back, knowing that is what he wanted. He wanted his slaves to fear him. It was his way of controlling them, but he didn't realize that one day, when he least expected it, i would find a way out of this cursed life. One day...i will be free.
”Yes master,” i muttered timidly, playing the scared slave perfectly. my mind was on the book i had thrown at Nole, the routes and hidden ways to get out of the village and hide forever. i had trained all my life for the task i was preparing for, but it was still a long ways from being perfect enough to try. i knew that once i left i could never come back otherwise he would kill me and everyone i knew.
“it will not happen again master.” my voice cracks a little like i knew he wanted and i dropped my eyes to the ground, hunching my shoulders as though trying to shield myself from further abuse.
“You are to go to the Bulls Tail tonight.” he states naming the more popular bar that the noble men where known to favor. It was my usual place of business. “The marks name is Lord. Orville Trinkle. His picture and details will be waiting for you when you get there,” master states seemingly satisfied with my timidness. Nodding a little, still not looking at him and wringing my hands together like the obedient slave i was, I waited for someone to come and collect me. It was Nole this time that came to my side, gripping my arm as tight as he could, another bruise forming as he led me from the building.
“You stupid idiot!” Nole growls as he shoved me from him, like my skin is covered in a contagious pox. Having been abused enough for one night i pushed her glasses onto the top of my head, i caught his eyes and held the connection peering deep inside him. Drilling into his mind and capturing it in my gaze as i had been taught. It was a talent that i hated to use, except when i was working or got angry enough. my glasses where designed specially to keep the hypnotic essence of my eyes from catching anyone i didn't want.
”I am not an idiot and you will stay away from me from now on Nole,” my words are as firm as masters had been only moments before, filled with unsaid threats. His eyes still caught in my gaze, he swallowed hard, unblinking and nodded.
”i am worried about you. I hate him hurting you,” Nole's voice seems far off like people get when i used my skills against them. They went to a dream world, seeing in my eyes whatever made them unable to lie and unable to ignore my orders.
”you have no right what-so-ever to be worried about me or hate him for hurting me, Nole. If it wasn't...” the street was crowded, too crowded for this kind of work so when someone came up behind him and bumped him enough to break the contact,i was not surprised. I let him go, let his eyes drop from mine to the ground causing him to blink, looking confused for all of a second before he turns on his heel and storms off, kicking over trash cans and shoving innocent bystanders.
I want to run away and hide... I want to scream at him and beg him to come back to me.... I want things that I know will never happen again.