Chapter V: Slaves and Fools – Part I

Tiyan opened his eyes. And closed them in the same second.

He remembered the cell. The excruciating pain of the inquisitor’s magic. And the mocking smile of his savior, which infuriated him even more than pain. He was not ready to accept a rescue from the hands of humankind’s worst enemy.

The room which they gave him was filled with the scent of something sweet and elusive, not unlike delicate lilacs. Draped windows were open wide, showing the wintery forest landscape to him. Tiyan didn’t feel cold, though. There was no wind, no icy bites on the exposed skin. The air was slightly chill, which, in comparison with what he had to stand in Vennklan Valley, was a caress of the sweetest kind.

He huffed, seeing they left him naked, but almost in the same moment, he found out that the fey offered him new robes in exchange of his destroyed, dirty ones.

Standing slowly from the comfortable bed, he approached the bundle of robes with caution. The set was composed of tight pants, high boots and a brown vest, with golden embellishments. It all looked far better than everything he ever wore.

It would be really stupid to stay naked, even if only for safety reasons. When he wore the clothes, he spotted also a dark brown belt and…

A brooch shaped in the form of the same strange animal he had tattooed on his shoulder. A tail-swallowing, uncanny beast. A sign of doom.

He took the jewelry into his fingers, fascinated and filled with anxiety, but quickly discarded it on the bed. The brooch seemed to gain darkness after it left his hand, while gleamed when he held it. Shiver crept over his body, as the suspicion started to worm into his mind. He didn’t dare to word his guess, even if just in thoughts.

He won’t wear it. Another wickedness.

A hushed steps sounded before the door, and Tiyan tensed. When they stopped and rustling was heard, he was almost sure that someone leans on to the keyhole and observes him. Even if he had a hard time imagining fae lords doing it. They would probably consider themselves far above that.

Hearing a silent knocking at the door, he reacted with delayed panic. His eyes darted from one wall to another, seeking anything that he could fend himself. But the door opened without invitation and someone entered the room.

A girl.

A girl.

“I thought you won’t say enter so I thought it would be better – and faster – to just come in” said the young female, showing him the plate full of fruits and some strange things Tiyan never heard of. “Eat–” she crooked her head, a bit like a bird. “– it’s not poisoned. If you want, I can take the first bite” she outstretched the hand with the plate, patiently waiting for him to fight his fear before the unknown.

Tiyan realized he must look like a fool, so he sat and taking the plate, he pointed at the odd-looking fruit.

“What is this?”

The girl didn’t hide amusement, which was painted on her porcelain features; not mocking, rather knowing, like she has seen it many times before.

“It’s a winter glaune. Very sweet and juicy, grows in the ice woods, deep into the West.”

“Can… Can I eat it? Is it not something only fae eat?”

The girl laughed. She had really warm laughter, tingling under his skin. He caught himself of losing tension – but not caution. It could be a vicious trick. Under the mask of kindness – talons and teeth.

“I ate it the first day I came here. So I think it’s safe.”

A human. A human woman. Human servant? No, a slave.

Tiyan buried his teeth into the flesh of glaune fruit. It was indeed sweet and very very good. The girl seemed not to be scared or afraid, like slaves – he always imagined – should be. While he was eating, she opened the windows wider, letting a bit of cold wind enter the room.

“It’s a magical barrier,” she explained. “If those who are inside don’t want something to enter, it won’t. But you really should take a bath” her eyes smiled while she stated he reeks.

He silently ate his fruits. He didn’t even realize how hungry he was and grateful to gods, that they at least didn’t bathe him while he was sleeping. His gaze once in a while was wandering to the woman. She was beautiful, in ethereal kind of way. He could easily take her for… a fairy. A nymph that just emerged from the lake. He realized that he stares and quickly returned to his meal.

“Prince Lorian will visit you soon. We better clean you, before he leads you to the court.”

Tiyan swallowed the fruit. And coughed. It fell the wrong way.

“Whh… what… what court… kh…” he pushed the fruit through his throat, with real effort, and looked at the woman with shock.

“You are in Dal’coler. The capital city of Kilyans. And in a High Fae palace, this whole place is a fae court” she said, looking at him, like he was some kind of new kind of a idiot.

Dal’coler. This bastard carried him straight into the maw of the lion.

Silence reigned in the room. Tiyan wanted to ask one question, but something stopped him from being too curious. The wind hit the barrier and dissolved over it, splashing snow over the frame.

“Come, ask” said the girl calmly. “We are in the fey palace. Here secrets are dangerous. Mine are not.”

“Why are you here?” he blurted, feeling as badly tamed anger squeezes his guts with cold fingers. “Have they kidnapped you, like me?”

The woman looked at him again, with some kind of renewed attention. There was some sadness to it, in addition to something undeciphered, with was even sadder and somehow… magical. Something enchanted.

“Do you really believe in it?

“Shouldn’t I?” retorted Tiyan.

“I came to Dal’coler by my own will. Me and my brother.”

“You… came here… freely?” Tiyan thought he heard wrongly. “To become a slave?”

“Not a slave” the girl furrowed her well-shaped brows. “A servant. They can’t afford slaves, too much bad blood in the court, and too much hatred to deal with. They love themselves too much to add additional troubles to their life. Which, is very long.”

Tiyan had to look not very wisely, because she sat next to him and smiled delicately, like wanting to amortize the shock.

“Of course, they often daze people to come here. They can be really unpredictable, selfish and… they like to be admired. They are the most vain creatures I have ever seen. I don’t want to sound like a naive girl, tempted with glamour, though possibly I sound like one. I know what they did to humans. I hated them too, most of my life. I sometimes think I still hate them.”

Tiyan had to look even stupider because the young woman added.

“You probably – and most of the people – would see me as a traitor. I don’t say they don’t have flaws. They are flawed, very much. I don’t say the war wasn’t cruel and that they don’t punish harshly those who oppose them. That would be a great understatement. But life is not easy and isn’t a straight path.”

She moved with her head, her hair fluttered around her, in a flurry of gold.

“I felt like a traitor of my kind for way too long. I felt like I let down my family, my friends, my village. You can think about me as such, it’s your choice. You will see though, that not all is black and white.”

Tiyan wanted to snap, but he lost the ability to form a coherent sentence. This was some kind of hell for fools. The war happened and nothing would erase it.

Nothing can erase so much death and blood.

Nothing can erase the pain he was burdened with for almost whole adult life.

Forest is where I belong. My gods live there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *