by Karma Street
Sara has to make a deal with a devil or t least a man who acts like one. This is here tale
| Sara walked into the dank and dreary dungeon cell and tried not to throw up. The smell of blood, pain, and fear seemed to seep out of the cold stone walls. Sara shivered; the cold felt as though it was flowing into her blood stream and freezing it. She prayed yet again to Sil, the god of courage and bravery, to help her through this day with no mishaps.
Glancing around, Sara observed her surroundings. The cell had only one cot to sleep on, so filthy and flee ridden no sane person would want to go near it. The sink doubled as a bath so that a prisoner could wash their hands and tidy up should they have a trial inside the Cave Court room. However, the sink was broken and almost more disgusting than the cot, covered as it was with things too disgusting to name. The mirror that hung just above the sink was shattered. The way with which the glass was fractured a clear sign that someone hadn’t liked what they saw and so had made sure they would never see the image again as long as they resided in the cell.
“What kind of joke is this? There is no one in here.” Turning to speak to the guards that had escorted her to the dungeon Sara caught sight of something in the shadows.
“He should be in here,” the thinner of the two guards stated looking to the left at his larger partner.
“Unless he was moved and we weren’t informed. But where would they have---”
“Shhhhhh!” Squinting into the darkest part of the cell Sara froze, every muscle in her body sensing the large predator in the room.
“Kieran Finhan of the Eastern Mongtels, I, Saraia Teelhert of the Northern Blairsands formally requests your assistance in the tracking and retrieval of Setuth, Grand Owl of the Oracle. What do you say to this?” Pushing the words out past the stone that seemed to be blocking her throat Sara spoke the official words with an iron rod in her back, knowing that if Finhan saw even the tiniest amount of fear in her he would start with his games.
Finhan was known to play mind games with those he perceived as weaker than himself. The son of a great lord, he often saw everyone as weaker than himself. Sara had once believed he cared enough for her to respect her as an equal, but she had learned that particular lesson the hard way and was now more cautious of the man that he was. And who knew what prison had done to further twist his mind.
At the end of her little speech the room stood in complete silence, the guards behind her giving off a cockiness that was only present in youths that had found their strength but had had no one teach them that there were stronger predators everywhere. They certainly didn’t seem to realize that were in a very small space with a male far stronger and far more experienced than they were. One more inclined to hurt than to teach.
“Kieran Finhan, son of Gustran, I know you’re in here.” Eyes alert, she waited for him to decide whether or not to play his little games.
“Lady, he’s not in here. Go find out where they moved him to.” Turning to look at his fellow guard as he spoke the male on Sara’s left barely finished his sentence before his eyes grew unclear and he dropped to the ground.
The second guard, while reacting as quickly as he could, got nothing more than a few swear words out of his mouth as he frantically tried to pull his sword. Then he too fell like a brick as he hit the stone floor, face first.
Knowing better than to panic and run Sara waited. She waited for the blow that would knock her out as well or for him to reveal himself. She waited and waited and waited. Breathing in calm, even, deep breaths Sara waited. And after what felt like an eternity, Sara was rewarded for her patience.
“Now that those two pigs are no longer squealing, making unnecessary noise, we can talk freely.” A deep voice from nowhere and everywhere sent a shiver up Sara’s spine, forcing her to stand even straighter.
He stalked out of the shadows on silent feet, prowling toward Sara. He had made sure to appear in the exact spot that she had originally sensed his presence in earlier. Taking her time to collect her thoughts, Sara let her eyes travel his form. He looked horrible. They had left him in the suit he’d been wearing the night they had arrested him, only the jacket was now missing, his once pristine white shirt was now a wrinkled, ripped, dirty mess. His trousers were even blacker than they had been originally, and they were ripped as well.
His onyx hair stuck out all over the place in a stiff display, though it was clear from its strange angles that he had tried to groom himself, probably using what remained of the shattered mirror. Covered in dirt, body liquids and Sil only knew what else, Kieran presented a messy and fowl smelling picture.
Breathing in deeply, trying once again to not gag, Sara let her eyes rest just past his shoulder. She would not look down and admit submission, yet she was not strong enough to meet his penetrating gaze.
“Kieran Finhan, will you accept the job?” The formal words slid out of her mouth with little ease.
“What job?” Kieran began to circle around Sara like a beast waiting for the right opportunity to pounce
“Kieran Finhan of the Eastern Mongtels, I, Saraia Teelhert of the Northern Blairsands formally requests your assistance in the tracking and retrieval of Setuth, Grand Owl of the Oracle. What do you--”
“Will you stop talking like that?” A snarl flashed on his face, making Sara all the more nervous. “Besides I heard you the first time. That doesn’t tell me anything about the job.”
“I can only give you more information after you have agreed to the request.” He now stood behind her and Sara was tempted to turn to keep her eyes on him just in case.
“Why would I agree to something I know nothing about?”
Sara gestured to the room around them. “Because your other options have become somewhat limited,” Sara couldn’t afford to tell him what was going on and she knew it, if he didn’t agree then the information would give him a bargaining chip when it came time for his trial. “But if you wish to stay here than all you have to be is say so. Far be it from me to impose on your will.”
Soon that statement would be the furthest thing from the truth, but for now it wasn’t a lie. There was a long pause and she could almost hear his mind turning over the numerous possibilities and outcomes of her proposal. Sorry but I doubt even you will be able to see what happens next coming.
“So say I take you up in this offer, what’s in it for me?”
“Should we succeed in our quest you would be granted your full title back, your slate will be wiped clean and you may once again take your place within society.” Assuming they both survived.
“Mm-hmm.” Sara could bet that his right elbow now rest on his left hand across his chest. The thumb of his right hand would be slowly caressing his chin in his typical thinking stance. Sara refused to turn around so she could win that bet. “And if we don’t succeed?”
“You’ll probably be hanged.” If they weren’t already dead. Kieran walked around Sara so that they faced one another, then he leaned in real close so that they were face to face, which meant he had to curve his lean body down so that his eyes were level with hers. Their noses were almost touching.
“There’s something you’re not telling me.” His eyes, a dark green, swirled as Kieran tried to look for the answers he searched for in her eyes.
“We’ve already covered that.” Sara said evenly before turning away from him to walk the length of the cell. She would have to remember to have her maid to burn the dress when she returned from this excursion. Probably the shoes as well, she’d stepped in something and it was soaking into the fabric of her shoe, adding another layer of frigid cold to Sara’s cold form.
After another poignant silence Sara heard Kieran heave a heavy sigh. “So we have. I guess I’m not left with much choice then am I”
“Then I can take that as your agreement?” Sara turned from her position near the mirror to face Kieran. He had a funny look on his face, one that contorted his features in a manner that Sara could not understand. “Say it”
Another sigh. “I, Kieran Finhan, of the Eastern Mongtels hereby agree to the request formally made by Lady Saraia Teelhert of the Northern Blairsands in her quest to find and retrieve the Grand Owl belonging to the Oracle of Vidalia.”
Sara gave a nod in recognition of his declaration. “You’ll have to do it again in front of the council but that will suffice to hold them over until the traveling arrangements have been completed.” Sara walked past him and suddenly remembered the guards asleep on the floor.
“Now would you be so kind as to wake my guards so that we may leave. I fear it would be unwise of me to leave them here with you.”
“Why the rush to leave?” He appeared behind her again. “They will sleep for a few more hours left to their own devices, plenty of time for us to catch up…if you know what I mean.” He pressed his body close, whispering in her ear.
“Kieran, stop.” Instead of heading her words he tugged a group of her hair from its bindings within her typically tight bun at the back of her head.
“I’ve missed you Sara.” He stroked the strands of her hair between his thumb and forefinger before lifting them to his nose. In hailing deeply. “I dream about you, you now? This thick blond hair so very different from my own.” He pressed impossibly closer, letting her feel just what the thought of those dreams did to him.
Sara could tell this was about to go in a direction she had no desire for it to, so she said the one thing that would stop him. “Kier.”
That was all it took. She felt his body tense, his muscles locked for an instant before a growl rumbled from his throat. “Careful Sara, I’ve made no promises of your safety with me yet.”
“Then drop it Kieran, I no longer have any interest in such relations with you.” Sara pulled away from him and her hair slipped gently from his fingers though he gave it a slight tug at the end.
“Tsk, tsk. That was terrifyingly close to a lie.”
“Wake my guards now please.” Sara stood by the cell door and held herself together stiffly while she waited for Kieran to wake up both of her guards.
Back in her temporary room Sara released a sigh of her own. Mae rushed over to help Sara undress, concern etched in her features. Sara could only give Mae a reassuring smile, too tired to do anything else. Once Mae had her fully undressed Sara walked over to her bed, carefully pulled back the blankets while Mae placed her clothes on a chair to be cleaned later on, and crawled into bed. Sara was asleep nearly before she hit the pillows, before dozing off Sara realized she was more exhausted mentally than anything else.
If that was the case then she wasn’t sure if she was going to make it through the remainder of their journey when just talking to the man could wear her out so. How was she ever going to manage having complete control over him?
The Next Day
Sara stood behind the wooden table meant for court hearings as the waited for Kieran to arrive and pledge his agreement to her offer in front of their peers, leaders and most importantly the Oracle. She sat on the judges chair high above the rest in the room, her blind eyes seeing everyone and everything in the room.
Sara glanced up at the Oracle and had to stifle her reaction, the woman sent chills down her spine. Sara had one been unable to understand why so many people held so much reverence for the woman who looked like a girl, often more so than the rulers of their land. However, after having to be in the Oracle’s presence for these last several days she could understand.
The Oracle looked no older than a sixteen year old girl. She had a thin frame and a short stature but being in the same building with her sent chill up everyone’s spines. She had an aura of knowledge and wisdom that surrounded her and outcropped in a steady beat about her body. The power that pulsed from her felt like one might be standing in the presence of a god, her sightless eyes seeing all there was to see throughout space and time.
Taking a deep breath Sara looked at both the Queen and King who sat on either side of the Oracle. The eyes were blank and they stared straight ahead, they looked regal but in Sara’s opinion they were mostly for show. Behind her was a small peppering of advisors meant to witness the event and voice any concerns for her mission should they have any worth speaking up about. There were guards stationed strategically throughout the room and probably more than necessary. Sara shook her head; Kieran was an intimidating man indeed.
The double doors to her left swung open and Sara’s muscles tensed as she suppressed the urge to turn and watch Kieran enter. He was in a mood today. His aura was ominous and threatening, making the already tense room settle into complete silence. Keep clam and look straight ahead. He’s just looking for a reaction. Sara had to remind herself how Kieran operated.
Everyone waited for Kieran to be escorted to the table next to hers. Once he was walked over to it his shackles were manacled to the loops in the stone floor. The finalized snap of the locks was the only thing that could be heard on the room; afterwards they all waited, wary of the violently playful beast in the room with them.
The Oracle stood slowly, deliberately, drawing everyone’s attention to her, but Sara kept her gave forward. She wasn’t ready to speak directly to the Oracle nor was the Oracle about to address her. The Oracle let a half a minute tick by as she waited for all attention to shift to her.
“Kieran Finhan, welcome, this hearing is only to finalize the details of your agreement yesterday. Now I’m sure you are quite curious as to the nature of your agreement so I will explain it to you.” She paused to make sure she still had his attention.
“You have been assigned to the hunt and retrieval of my sacred familiar Setuth. As we have been informed you were the best tracker in your troop during your army days. This information has led us to the conclusion that you would be a good choice for the search, however, there are concerns about your personal…tendencies. As such should your agreement still rest there will be a condition to your release back into civilization. Do you understand all that I am saying?”
Kieran’s aura felt agitated and he pushed it out toward the rest of the room. It felt like an evil cloak descended on their shoulders.
“I think I understand the gist of it.”
“Good” The Oracle seemed unaffected by his aura, no strain or irritability could be heard in her voice.
“There are a few things I don’t get though.”
“Why is the owl so important?”
“That isn’t a concern of yours, you have no need to know.”
“Hm, I see.” Sara could almost hear the wheels in his head turning. “So what happens if I wish to back out of this deal? The lady didn’t exactly give me a great deal of detail when she got my agreement and this truly does sound more tedious then I expected.”
“Such insolence!” One of the advisors shouted and Sara’s lips almost twitched, that was Kieran for you. No matter the situation the man marched to his own beat.
“Be that as it may what happens?” He said, brushing off the other man’s statement like dust off of clothing.
“You will be escorted back to your cell and executed in the morning. You have too much information and you are too unpredictable to allow to live.”
“Ah, wonderful.” The chains rattled as he clapped his hands once in amusement.
“Any other questions?”
“Yes, what was that stipulation you mentioned?”
“You will be bound to Saraia Teelhert and expected to follow her instructions throughout the duration of your travels.”
Sara couldn’t resist the temptation to look at his face to see his reaction to that directive and was partially startled by what she saw. He was smiling. It was clear he was on the brink of laughter but then she understood why, they’d just given him his way out. On any given day he was stronger than her not to mention he could out think her in most situations. Sara wasn’t being modest she just understood her limitations and consequently her opponent.
He thought he was home free.
“So, now you have been given enough details to grasp your situation. Your answer?”
Sara watched as he raised a chained hand to slid into his filthy hair, more than likely his attempted to collect himself.
“You haven’t really given me much of a choice have you? I can only agree to this ludicrous deal. If I want to keep my life that is.” Kieran cut his eyes at her, the irises dancing as he locked his prey in his sights. If she presented the opportunity he would kill her.