21. Aftermath

Chapter 21

Aftermath

            When I awakened that morning, I didn’t know where I was at first or why I felt so comfortable. The first thing I noticed was the white ceiling and the chain track for bed curtains before my eyes darted to the mass of platinum blonde near my chin. Sometime during the night, Satel rolled over to lie partially on top of me. His face was pressed against the crook of my neck while his arms hugged me close like some stuffed animal. Not only that, but our legs were a tangled mess and I wasn’t sure who was at fault for that.

I was being strangely calm considering that I was forced to become his mate. I had thought I would get up and pummel him come morning, but now I just didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care about anything. It almost felt as if I had retreated into a shell- kind of like how I did when faced with trauma, but I was more aware of myself.

For a long while, I just stared up at the ceiling and let the feel of his warm breath on my skin lull me into a near meditative state. I wasn’t sure what time it was, but I did recall that the room faced the West, so the morning sun wouldn’t light up the room and bother us. Just as I had that thought, I briefly glanced to the windows and found that the curtains were moved back to their original positions.

The sky was a pretty blue and there were a few crisp lines of clouds floating out there. I couldn’t really tell the time without the presence of sunlight, but something told me it was still morning.

Satel stretched against me as he awakened and then snuggled closer before he dropped a few light kisses against my neck and chest. “Good morning, ‘Tia. Did you sleep well?”

I didn’t answer him. Concerned with my lack of a response, he pushed himself up to look down at me. I refused to make eye contact with him and that earned me a sad smile from him. He soon leaned down to gently kiss me on the lips and then sat up.

“We have a busy day today,” he announced, hoping that conversation would entice me to respond. “You need to be presented to the elders- and I probably have some mission to fulfill. If we’re lucky, Cegil could be coming home by the time we’re done.”

…What exactly did he mean ‘if we’re lucky’? Did he not expect Cegil to come here at all? Or was he simply implying that we might miss his return with whatever he had planned? Hearing my guardian’s name did sent a jolt of emotion through me and when it registered, I couldn’t tell if I felt a sliver of worry, guilt, or sadness.

Disheartened by my silent treatment, Satel let out a sigh and then rolled out of bed. I decided to finally sit up, not caring if the quilt and sheets covered my nudity. The falucite wasn’t shy about his body and boldly stretched again in front of me before he made his way to his wardrobe. All he did was hold out his hand before clothes folded themselves over his arm.

I watched as he put on trousers and a shirt. He didn’t bother with his other clothes yet and had simply tossed them on the end of the bed. It wasn’t until he reached out for a hairbrush that was placed on his desk when we both realized that I didn’t have anything to groom myself with.

I didn’t recall seeing my travel bag come with me when Satel had taken me. It must’ve been torn off me during the tidal wave and got swept out to sea. And- come to think of it, he didn’t seem to have come across my knife or gun when divesting me last night. My sword was missing, too.

No…scratch that- I caught a glimpse of sword stands that were mounted to the wall underneath the shelves. There were three in all and the bottommost one held the rapier sword that I had been using. Unless that was a really good replica- it looked too much like my sword to be a coincidence. I wonder if that meant my knife and gun were also stored somewhere in the room…

“Hmm… come to think of it- your things must still be in Port Sibest. I’m sure all that seawater probably ruined them. No matter- I acquired everything that you will need and they are made in much better quality than the meager items you carried before,” the blonde told me as he began to brush out the tangles in his long hair.

I wanted to glare at him, but I felt too tired to muster it. Half of those ‘meager items’ were things Cegil had given me- those were irreplaceable. I ended up being somewhat transfixed at watching Satel brush his hair. I had thought falucite would just use their magicks in everything, but he seemed to take joy in doing some chores himself.

When he was done, his hair twisted itself into a tight braid and he tied it off with what appeared to be a large tube-like mahogany wooden bead. I had never noticed it before and briefly thought it was an interesting accessory to have. My hair wasn’t thick enough for it to be held in check by something like that.

Satel eventually crossed the room again and entered the bathroom to take care of his needs. When he reemerged, he headed towards the bed and reached out for me. I didn’t fight as he pulled me out of bed and helped me to stand.

I didn’t react at all when one of his hands placed itself on the small of my back and pulled me against him. I simply let him hug and kiss me and didn’t reciprocate. I could hear him let out another sigh before he guided me over to the bathroom and opened the door. Inside, I was able to see brushes and other cleansing tools lined up on the basin surface. I wasn’t sure if he laid them out for me or left it up to his magicks.

“Everything you need should be in there- it’s all yours,” he told me before he turned and gestured over to the wardrobe. “Your clothes are in the wardrobe on the right side.”

I made no sound to indicate I was even listening to him. I had to give the man some credit though- he knew very well something was wrong with me and I could tell by his awkward pauses after speaking that he didn’t know how to deal with it. I think I would’ve felt worse if he had tried to act as if nothing was wrong and continued on his own little world without me. But did he understand what he did to me? Or was he just as confused as I was about my behavior?

Even I didn’t understand why I was acting this way. When upset, I usually just lashed out at the offender. Something was preventing me from doing that to Satel and it had nothing to do with the fact that he could easily destroy me if I crossed him. I was in the understanding that he wouldn’t hurt me regardless of what I might attempt to do to him.

I should hate him for what he had done, but I didn’t. I felt terrible and hurt- actually, this wasn’t too different from what I had felt when he had betrayed me back in Cec’re, but it was much worse. Somehow, I felt that I wouldn’t get better if I pushed him away completely, so I banished the thought.

Satel finished getting dressed by tucking in his shirt and putting on his vest. Instead of his usual dark grey, double-breasted vest, he chose a simple wheat colored one with a single row of shiny silver buttons. Once that was done, he tied his ascot around his neck and put on his shoes. I watched him as he grabbed the über hat from the stone bust and put it on his head in that stylish tilt before he approached me once again.

For a long while, he just stared down at me with a saddened expression. He looked like he wanted to say something to me, but instead he chose to hold me against him. His forearms crossed on my upper back and he carefully guided my cheek to rest against his chest and shoulder while the bridge of my nose was tucked against his neck. His nose nuzzled into my hair as we held our position for quite some time.

Maybe it would’ve been easier for me to hate him if he’d just ignored me. Despite what he had done, he still went out of his way to comfort me and see to my needs. All it did was throw me into a deeper state of confusion as I tried to make sense of how I felt about him and the nature of our future together.

What was strange was that deep down I wanted to respond and accept his comfort. I certainly didn’t forgive him for last night, but I needed support to get over it and he was offering. I didn’t understand how he could even put me in this situation in the first place and yet act like a loving partner in the aftermath. Was he a self-serving jerk like the humans I knew so well? Or was he just a noble falucite who genuinely cared about me like Cegil?

“Please cheer up- I hate to see you like this ‘Tia,” he told me softly, sounding actually worried. “Whatever is going on in that mind of yours, just know that I truly do love you.”

…If he really did love me, then he would’ve waited for me like I had wanted. But at the same time, if he didn’t love me, he wouldn’t be trying so hard to make me feel better. Was Satel completely unaware that he was the cause of this? No- he must’ve known and had hoped that I would forgive him, like what he admitted before when he first begged for my forgiveness. Surely he knew that I wouldn’t give it to him so easily?

Then again, he wasn’t an idiot- just what was going on through his head…?

His hands slid to my shoulders and he slowly pushed me back so he could look me in the eye. He then gave a brief kiss on my forehead before he backed away.

“I need to arrange a meeting with the elders. I will be back as soon as I can. Will you be alright on your own?” he asked me, hoping I would answer. When I continued to give him the silent treatment, he hesitated before he decided to leave. I had a feeling that he didn’t want to leave me alone while I was like this.

I didn’t exactly feel better when he was gone, but some of my energy returned to me. I wandered back into the bathroom to go about my habitual morning cleaning. When I gazed into the mirror, I discovered why Satel was so concerned. My face was impassive like usual, though my lips were a little more pursed into a frown, but my eyes were dead.

There was no emotion or warmth left in my light grey orbs. Elit- I’ve turned into Cegil… I couldn’t believe that I had fallen so far into despair, considering that some part of me didn’t think that what happened last night was that big of a deal. I didn’t really care about virginity- I think I just felt …trapped. Being mated meant that I couldn’t go back to the way I was and the fact that I didn’t get to choose this life for myself had struck a huge blow. From this point on, I was nothing more than an owned woman.

The toiletries Satel laid out for me were expensive tools that were probably reserved for nobility. I could almost imagine him saying something like ‘only the best for my sirsa’ when picking them out.

He was really spoiling me and I couldn’t deny that this was a pirate’s dream to have common grooming products that could also be worth more than a crown, but this came at price I wasn’t willing to pay. No pirate would sacrifice their freedom for riches- it just wasn’t worth it.

Still, I did what I needed to clean my teeth, wash my face, and brush my hair. After I was done with that, I wandered out of the bathroom and towards the wardrobe to finally put something on. I didn’t see my clothes in there, unless he was insinuating that the gowns and fancy walking suits were mine. I suppose he intended to change my attire and have me dress more like him and the rest of the family.

Ironically, his side of the wardrobe possessed more grey and black clothing with only a few shirts and vests in a different color. My side had more variety, but I wasn’t interested in wearing what he had to offer. Still, I needed to wear something– I just stuffed my hand in and pulled out the first thing I touched. My prize was a black silk shirt that seemed to be part of a pajama set. It was his shirt- I could tell by the large size.

It was much too thin to be a dress shirt and it didn’t have the typical cuffs one would find in daily wear. I couldn’t wear it outside of the room, but I found myself not caring at the moment. I wasn’t in the mood to leave and Satel was going to have to fight me tooth and nail to get me to go see his elders.

The sleeves were longer than my arms and easily draped over my hands while the hem reached mid-thigh. Just as soon as I finished buttoning the garment, I felt a little dizzy and had a wave of nausea hit me. Great- was I getting sick, too?

I let out an involuntary groan as I headed over to the bed to sit down. Perhaps this was the reason I was acting out of the norm- I was coming down with something and didn’t have my usual energy to fight. I laid back and noted how my stomach felt somewhat better this way. Come to think of it, the nausea might’ve actually been hunger- I haven’t eaten since yesterday morning.

But I couldn’t explain the lack of energy or the feverish feeling that was starting to manifest. Either I ended up contracting a cold from being in wet clothes most of the day- or I’d had some bug for the last few days that was finally starting to get worse.

I closed my eyes and allowed myself to slip back into a light slumber. Maybe a short nap would help me…

********************

‘Short’ ended up being close to two hours. When I opened my eyes again, I wasn’t in the same place and there was a small book being held just a few inches away from me. As more of my awareness came back, I discovered that Satel had returned and that he’d moved me so that I was snug by his side in the center of the bed.

We were both lounging on the pile of pillows, though most of my upper body was resting on his chest. The falucite had one arm resting casually around my waist to support me against him, while the other hand held up the book he was reading as he waited for me to awaken.

“Good morning again- well actually it’s noon now,” he greeted me calmly before adding. “You gave me quite a scare when I found you passed out like that.”

I wasn’t sure what to say to that- then again, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to say anything. I was still sort of not speaking to him, after all… even though I hadn’t really planned it. I was feeling a little better after the nap, but it did disturb me that I ended up falling into that deep a sleep in such a short time.

The blonde closed the book and let it fly away, back to its place on the bookshelf. “Didra warned me that some humans have complications during first few hours of the transformation. She said all you need is extra sleep and maybe some human sweets. What do you usually eat for dessert? Chocolates?”

I ignored the question and thought about the changes that were happening to me. Now that I was his mate, my life would be extended…and what else? Is what’s happening to me the real cause of my illness? I wish I paid a little more attention to Cegil when he first told me about matings all those years ago…

My next thought was a realization that Satel had been talking about Didra a lot since I’ve come. I knew she was what the clan would consider a ‘doctor’, but I thought he was too afraid to bother her. …Don’t tell me he decided to conquer his fears now for my sake?

“I guess you’re still not in the mood to talk,” he stated, trying to hide his frustration. He then reached beside him to present a small plate that held a peeled and separated moagho. “You must be hungry- I picked this just for you.”

I grimaced at the thought of eating something so acidic on an empty stomach, but I had to do it. If I didn’t eat something, I would just start to grow weak and be unable to take care of myself. I may have been depressed, I suppose, but that didn’t mean I was just going to roll over and die. I survived too much to give up like that.

I gingerly picked up a slice placed it in my mouth. I tried hard not to think of the past as the sweet and tangy juices danced on my tongue. Satel watched me the entire time- ensuring that I ate every slice on the plate.

“You know, I did get you a nightgown, but I must admit that I really do like seeing you in my nightshirt,” he commented as the fingers on my belly came to life and rubbed circles against the silk and skin. So I was right in my assumption that it was part of a sleepwear set…

He soon demonstrated exactly what he liked about it by letting his free hand run up and down the exposed skin of my legs. I felt a tingle of delight that almost enticed me to respond. But just as soon as I felt it, it was like an angry cloud formed above me before I sharply rolled over away from him and crossed my arms over my chest.

Okay, that explained most of my mood- I was angry at him. Since I’ve never expressed it in this manner, I wasn’t so sure at first. This was the first time I had ever refrained from using violence to rectify my emotions. …Cegil, of course, didn’t count since I wouldn’t ever dare hurt him- when upset with him, I would just sulk for a few days.

Actually, wasn’t that what I was doing now? Sulking? Since when did I care about Satel so much that I was willing to give him the same respectful treatment as I did for my guardian?

Satel rolled over after me and hugged me from behind. I wasn’t sure if he wasn’t picking up my cues to leave me alone or if he was still trying too hard to silently beg for forgiveness. I still wasn’t sure what his intentions were.

“I want nothing more than to stay like this and work out our problems, but we really do have somewhere we need to be.”

I wasn’t given the chance to protest before he teleported us in front of the wardrobe. …Though he probably didn’t think I would’ve replied, since so far I had been doing a very good job with the silent treatment. We both had to steady ourselves since we were suddenly standing after having been in a reclining position. Satel seemed to be used to it and was already helping me maintain my balance before I could curse him in my mind.

When he pulled open the double doors, he glanced at me to gauge my reaction to the dresses he had gathered for me. I let out a scowl and turned my nose up at him.

“They’re too fancy- I refuse to wear them,” I said stubbornly, finally speaking. In truth, I was a little interested in them, but I didn’t want to give him any sort of satisfaction.

Even as a little girl, I had dreamed of owning something like a glamorous ball gown, but I also thought I would earn it. I didn’t care if I obtained it through hard earned money or by stealing- I just didn’t want expensive things handed to me like that. I wasn’t sure why I was that way- I suspected that it was from the Wise Man’s teachings since he believed riches should be obtained by one’s own hands. …Of course, he also believed that stealing was a profession, but I can see the reasoning behind that.

Satel seemed to be happier to hear my voice than upset with my refusal. He reached in and selected a mostly white dress since he figured that I wasn’t going to pick one for myself.

“Yes, well, some of these are for special occasions, but most of the others are nothing too extravagant- they can be worn with trousers if you so wish. But alas, the seamstress isn’t finished with your new set, yet. I had to give her your ruined pair so she could have your measurements. You will have to dress as a conventional lady for today,” he explained before he held up the selected dress for my review.

It was …nice. Okay- it was beautiful, but I couldn’t see myself wearing it. It was a three piece walking suit that was made of mostly white material with flowery embroidery in silver thread. The blouse was a button down with only three silver buttons in plain sight before they disappeared behind a lace jabot that hung from the collar to what would be the topside of my breasts. At the center of the jabot was a ruffled and tiered complex of lace that was designed to appear like an ascot. The poet sleeves reached to the elbow as typical of the style, but the flared material beyond that only extended to the mid forearm and had a trim of lace lining the hem.

The jacket possessed a white satin shawl lapel that allowed the lacy ‘ascot’ to hang out. The sleeves were in the same style, but slightly shorter than the ones on the blouse and gave it a two layered look on the flare. The jacket’s length came down to the knees with the sides rising up to the hips. The hem also had lace trim lining it.

The skirt was two layered with a lace underskirt. The top layer was of the same material as the blouse and jacket and had the same lace trim at the hem. It was also cinched in four places, two in the front and two in the back, so that a quarter of the lower layer could be exposed.

In a way, it appeared like a low-key wedding dress and it made me resent it all the more. I knew it wasn’t that kind of outfit and falucite didn’t observe the same customs humans did, but it was a poor coincidence that was putting me in a worse mood.

“What? Nothing in black and grey?” I inquired sardonically, mildly hinting towards his seemingly favorite colors. Though, to be fair, he wasn’t wearing his usual colors today.

“Very funny, sirsa. I wear those colors just to keep up appearances. I am a monster and a villain to your people after all,” he replied coolly with a small grin.

It didn’t occur to me that he was purposefully dressing in a sinister manner just to perpetuate initial assumptions about him. With his light colored hair, not many would glean that impression until he did something to prove his ‘evilness’. I had to wonder why he wanted to be portrayed as such though. Did it make his job (whatever it was) easier? Maetira didn’t seem to need such methods… though she wore black, too.

“Hmph… do you intend to have me wear that with nothing underneath?” I continued to prod him into showing me where my underwear was.

“Everything you need is in this drawer right here,” he informed me before he grabbed his frock coat and put it on.

I suppose that since he grabbed his coat, he intended to go out after the meeting. He soon moved to sit at the end of the bed, most likely planning to watch me get dressed. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to just allow it, but I knew it was pointless to fight it. He had already seen my body, so there was nothing left to ‘protect’.

I opened the long drawer that was just beneath the hanging clothes and found neatly folded petticoats, camisoles, and even bodices. …There was no way in five hells I was ever going to wear a bodice. If the dress didn’t fit me, then I wasn’t going to wear it- hourglass figure be damned!

I dressed as quickly as I could, giving Satel as short a peep show as possible before I began to look around for my boots. I was annoyed to find that he had already taken the liberty to replace them with fancy heeled boots made of white leather and black soles. When I was done, he was quick to comment how lovely I looked before he got up and ran his fingers through my still loose hair. I had wanted to braid it, but I couldn’t find my last hair band or the whereabouts of the other two he had stolen.

“Hmm… I love seeing you with your hair down, but I suppose it should be up for the elders,” he muttered to himself before an idea came to him.

I wasn’t sure what he was doing, but it felt like his magicks just piled the long strands on the top of my head before they settled and put weight to the back of my head. He guided me to the nearest mirror to show that he gathered my hair up into a loose, but stylish bun, leaving only a few strands left to frame my face. I never had my eyes or other features this exposed before…

“There,” he said proudly before another contemplative look came to his features. “Maybe we should get you a nice hat someday- one that would go with any outfit you might wear.”

I almost wanted to suggest taking the über hat, but I had a feeling he wouldn’t give that up to me. …Plus it was still way too big.

Satel couldn’t stop himself from giving me one more kiss before he stood by my side and placed his hand at the curve of my back. The next thing I knew, we were standing in a grand hall instead of his bedchambers.

It almost looked like a castle with the giant marble columns lining the walls. The floors were made of a veiny white and black tiled marble while the ceiling possessed a multitude of hunter green domes arranged in square spaces. The roof was already more than ten feet high and the design gave it a very spacious feel- like it was a walking area for giants. Then again, if they ever hosted to dragons, the size was appropriate.

The heels of my new shoes clicked against the hard floor as we headed for the massive brown doors that I assumed led to the elders of the clan. I couldn’t help but have a fleeting depressing thought that I was being presented to them as Satel’s mate rather than as Cegil’s daughter. I always imagined the latter scenario and felt bad that Cegil was being left behind. Where was he, by the way? Was he going to avoid me in fear that he had failed me?

I hoped I could see him again… In fact, that’s all I wanted right then. I wanted to seek comfort from Cegil and hear his words of wisdom and reassurance that I had done nothing wrong. I don’t know why, but I felt I was being punished in becoming Satel’s mate. I know I wasn’t some innocent and perfect girl, but did I really have to be forced into this relationship? Did I do something against Satel to make him act out as he did?

Suddenly a figure appeared before us, blocking our path. At first, all I saw was a long blob of black, until the newcomer turned to reveal most of her face and some platinum blonde locks from under the hood of that black Oracle robe. It had been a while since I had last seen Maetira- she even still had that ridiculously huge crystal ball on her person.

“I have come to warn you that your appointment with the elders has been cancelled,” she told us in a tone that I would almost consider urgent. I could feel Satel tense beside me before he reacted in anger and irritation.

“Why? I know we’re a little late but-”

“The fanatics decided to stick their noses where it doesn’t belong. They are speaking with the elders now,” Maetira interrupted him, still using that controlled, but pressing voice. The über hat man seemed to catch on quickly, but it took me a moment to figure out what she was talking about. The last time I heard the word ‘fanatics’ from her was when she was speaking of the falucite clan to the North.

So the Daedeleth were back and bothering others? I thought I would never hear about them again now that that ceremony crap was over…

Satel reacted by sliding his hand to my hip and pulled me closer in a protective gesture. “Why are they here? We’ve fulfilled the prophecy as they wanted and they have no reason to bother us further.”

I placed my hand on his in a silent request for him to loosen his grip. I could tell by the growl in his tone that he was upset, but there was no immediate danger for him to need to protect me. He wouldn’t let me move away from him, but his hand wasn’t gripping as tightly after he got the message.

Maetira shook her head. I couldn’t see her full expression because of her hood, but I could sense she was worried about something. I was soon under the impression that she was concerned over being caught when she hissed quietly only one word before vanishing. “Library.”

I gazed up at the man still holding me and he met my glance for a brief second before he teleported us to another place. The new hall appeared just like the one we were just in, but the lighting was different and the doors were on the opposite side. Maetira was standing before one, waiting for us, and I eventually worked out in my mind that we were before a library. I wasn’t sure if it was the same one where I had met Didra or if it was another.

I suppose we were in an area where the ‘guests’ would never come normally. If this was the same library as before, then it supported that theory since Cegil and I could hide out here without worrying about being caught.

“So what is the situation?” Satel asked first, finally releasing me. I held back the urge to glare at his back as he approached his sister. I was upset with the physical contact while I was still mad at him, but considering the circumstances, I had to let it slide. Contact was needed in order for me to teleport with him and I would’ve been more upset if he had left me behind to possibly meet these Daedeleth jerks.

I followed after him, curious about the blind woman’s answer.

“The pretentious one also received the same reading as I did yesterday and spoke to his masters. Now they are curious as to the nature of the tidal wave in Port Sibest and forced themselves into our jurisdiction under the banner of being ‘helpful’.”

I had no clue who this ‘pretentious one’ was, but since she mentioned readings, I had to guess that he was the Oracle that the Daedeleth clan possessed. Considering how unexpected yesterday was, it wasn’t any surprise that everyone was concerned as to the cause of the change. Had I not been distracted by other problems, I would’ve been curious after recovering from my injuries.

“Forced themselves, huh?” the über hat man mused before he grew troubled, “They didn’t invade our territory, did they? What about Cegil? Do they know?”

I was certainly paying attention now upon hearing my guardian’s name. While there was no evidence to support the idea that the Daedeleth could push themselves ‘past the door’ (as one might call it) to get close to Cegil, there was no doubt in my mind that they would take advantage of seeing him there. They could do a number of things, including capturing and torturing him.

“No need to worry- he who resembles a giant was pulled out of the town shortly after your second meeting with him. They are unaware of his presence,” the blind Oracle responded, bringing great relief to me. “But unfortunately, their presence impeded on his mission. The elders will have to reexamine his efforts before offering his powers back again.”

“What? That’s not fair!” I shouted before I could stop myself. I understood that it wasn’t their elders’ fault, but after all that crap we had to go through, Cegil deserved his powers back right now, not later! I felt Satel’s hand return to my back to either calm or silence me- I wasn’t sure.

“You are right- it isn’t fair. But there is nothing that can be done given the circumstances. If you are simply waiting to see him again, then you need to be a little more patient,” Maetira answered me, sounding neither sympathetic nor condescending.

It disturbed me that even the blind lady could see through me. Was it really that obvious that I wanted to see Cegil again? Was Satel aware of this, too? If he did, he hadn’t said a thing since last night when reassuring me that my guardian was safe.

The blonde man shifted his hand once again to grasp mine and raised it so he could kiss the back of it in a comforting gesture. I wasn’t sure if I would ever get used to the affectionate ways of falucite, but for a second, it almost helped me feel better… until I remembered he was the one responsible for keeping us separate in the first place.

“So, all we need to do is solve the mystery and drive out the Daedeleth as soon as possible, right?” he queried to his sister before he glanced over to me, “Then Cegil can come home and see you.”

…Oh sure, make it sound as if you’re doing a favor for me, I thought bitterly. If he really wanted to help me, then he could find Cegil’s whereabouts and take me to him. But I was sure he couldn’t do that- after all, I might find a way to run away from him or something. Now that Satel had me, I doubt he was going to allow me the chance to roam freely until I’d earned his trust.

“Oh?” Maetira tilted her head in curiosity. “Are you insinuating that you have an idea of what caused this? Keep in mind that even the Fates were caught by surprise- they only learned of the events just mere seconds before it happened.”

“I have no clue at all, but I figure the Daedeleth will believe anything that sounds mystical enough. The important thing is that we get rid of them without being rude- we can figure out the mystery later on our own time,” he replied as he shook his head.

“It is not as simple as you make it sound, but the elders are in agreement with you. However… we have a theory that would make things a little complicated,” she began before adding, “With the exception to the fact that we had captured the sacrificial maiden, the only difference in the prophecy yesterday was that our brother appeared. It could be likely that he was the unintentional cause.”

“Why? Because he was the only falucite present? How are we not sure the idiot bimbo didn’t show up?” I inquired as I thought about it. I suppose the fact that Cegil and I appeared instead of the intended sacrifice could’ve changed everything, but it didn’t make sense if the Fates barely knew about it… Then again, Maetira didn’t say that- they simply warned only seconds before it happened.

But what I was thinking about was that strange voice I had heard before the wave hit. Whoever it was could’ve been the real culprit- and I wasn’t entirely sure if I was the only one who’d heard her. I wanted to speak with Cegil first to confirm it before I mention it to Maetira or Satel. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust them, but rather… I didn’t think they would really take me seriously on this- well, Satel might, but probably not the rest of the clan.

“How do we know you are not the ‘idiot bimbo’? You never did tell me your true name,” Maetira pointed out, sounding very interested in my answer.

I shook my head to dismiss the thought before I remembered she couldn’t see my gesture. “My name’s not Anatil- and that was who they were expecting to come.”

“Ah, but you do not deny that you might possess a goddess’ name,” she countered.

“Why not? In the course of my life, I’ve been named after many things- goddesses, monsters, dead daughters…” I paused after the last one, since it made me think of Cegil again. I soon shook my head and continued my argument. “But if you’re trying to insinuate that I was somehow behind it, then no- it wouldn’t make sense. There was some mermaid out there in the aftermath who thought I was the Lord of the Sea- not a goddess-named human.”

“A mermaid? You don’t mean the one I chased off before rescuing you?” Satel inquired in surprise. I nodded to confirm, though I didn’t personally believe he ‘rescued’ me- the kidnapping overrode it.

“Odd. Why would a mermaid believe you to be a man who passed away almost thirteen years ago? I fear this only adds on to the mystery- provided that this mermaid had something to do with the disaster. Of course, the entire affair could have been a misunderstanding by a sea demon for all we know,” the blonde woman stated as she gently tapped a fingernail against her crystal ball in contemplation.

I was a little shocked that she knew of the Wise Man and how long it had been since his passing. Either there was validity behind his claims of being the Lord of the Sea- or his death was a highly known reading amongst Oracles. And even if the disaster was a ‘misunderstanding’ why did the Fates have to warn at all?

If a tidal wave was supposed to happen somewhere at a different time, then all that meant was that the reading came early. Why did Maetira make it sound as if they were surprised about it happening? Hell, did the Fates even have feelings?

“Regardless- until the fanatics are gone, you both should lay low. Do not forget that the nameless one is assumed to be with Cegil and you are supposed to be with your dragon bride,” she reminded us before turning on her heel to walk away. It seemed she had said all that she wanted to and was now done with us.

Satel and I stood in silence in the hallway before he adjusted his über hat. “Hmmm… If that’s the case, then I suppose I should just go finish up a few missions. Do you want to come with me, or would you rather stay and explore your new home?”

I was a little shocked that I was given such a choice. “Can I?”

I wasn’t sure which part I was asking about. I couldn’t believe he would trust me enough to take me anywhere, let alone give me permission to roam the homestead at will.

“Why not? You shouldn’t have to spend your days in our bedchambers. Sooner or later, we’ll have to find something you can do for the clan- maybe coming with me could help you decide on that,” he told me, choosing to address the option to go with him. I held back a slight blush over hearing him announce that his room was mine as well and focused on the latter thing he had mentioned.

…He wanted me to work? That didn’t sound like something a ‘housewife’ would do. Was he thinking of having me do assassination missions with him? Or did he have other things in mind? Even as his mate, I was still human and unable to do too much- and I didn’t want to spend my life killing others. If the clan needed a thief, then sure, but otherwise…

“…I think I’d rather stay here,” I responded, wanting some time away from him. I had much to think about and having him around wasn’t helping. “But are you sure it’s okay if the Daedeleth are here?”

I wasn’t sure how long they would be around or if they would recognize me, but I thought it would be too risky to run across them. Maetira said it herself- I was assumed to be with Cegil and my being discovered here could cause issues.

“No need to worry about them. You now possess the same scent that everyone in the clan has. No one should question your presence,” he reassured me before he gave a smile. I…smelled like the Xanaturi clan? I suppose that made sense to other falucite, but I couldn’t stop myself from doubting the idea that it would throw off others. I knew I heard this all before, but experiencing it was all too new to me.

“Well… if you’re sure you want to stay, then… I will see you later,” Satel continued when I wouldn’t respond. He then grabbed my arms to make me face him and leaned down to gently press his lips against mine. It was quick, but affectionate, and I could tell he was trying to convey his feelings for me in it. But at the moment, I wasn’t sure how deep those feelings truly were or if I even wanted to return them.

Satel soon vanished, going off to Maker knew where, and I was left alone to do as I pleased. I knew deep down that I wasn’t supposed to be a prisoner, but I still couldn’t believe that I was given any freedom so soon. Did he honestly trust me not to attempt to escape? Then again, maybe he was being rational- I could leave if I wanted to, but where would I go? I couldn’t survive long on my own without Cegil and I didn’t have my weapons to protect me.

Besides… I really did want to see Cegil again- this could be the only place where we could meet. I had no clue where he was or if I could even travel there in less than a day. I was just going to have to adapt and survive here for now…

I took another glance around before choosing a direction to go and start walking. I had no idea where everything was or even what they were when I approached. I needed a guide to really learn my way around, but I was too afraid to ask for one. I passed by many people, both falucite and human, but I couldn’t tell if they were part of Satel’s clan or that of the Daedeleth’s.

Eventually, the path I had taken began to look less grand and shrunk in size until it was a simple hallway. There were more doors lining the walls and most of them were open, allowing me to see bunk beds or even up to three mattresses crammed in one. It took me a while to realize that I had reached the area where the servants lived and an idea came to me.

I wandered into one that seemed to belong to a female and sought out her closet for clothing. The dress that I was wearing, while stunning, was making me uncomfortable. I suppose I was actually just lashing out- Satel probably went to a lot of trouble acquiring this walking suit for me and likely spent a lot of money on it. I felt that if I rejected the dress and chose to wear some maid’s ratty clothing, it would be a nice slap in the face for him.

There wasn’t much in the person’s possession- all I could find was a white and blue pinstripe skirt and blouse. There was also an apron lying on the bed, but I paid it no mind. I closed the door and quickly divested so that I could put on the much plainer clothing. I didn’t know who stayed here, but they just got themselves a fancy suit. I wouldn’t blame the owner of this room if they decide to take it, sell it, and use the money to get the hell out of here.

I felt that I could breathe better once I was out of the walking suit, but I couldn’t say if it was actually the dress that stifled my air or if it was just something in my mind. The maid’s skirt wasn’t billowy or overly decorated and the blouse was a simple button down with long sleeves that ended at the wrists. In the back of the arms, was a line of buttons that reached the elbow so that the wearer could roll up the sleeves if needed.

Before I headed out, I reached behind my head to loosen my hair. It seemed as if magicks were holding it up and I did have to use an unusual amount of force, but I soon had my locks flowing down my back. I wish I had my hair bands so I could braid it.

When I was done, I walked out and felt comfortably invisible to any I came across. I noted that there were some women out there wearing the same thing I was, so I had to assume that I was actually wearing a servant’s uniform. Any other time, that would’ve bothered me, but for now it was great- I wasn’t suspicious or in the limelight. My only regret after changing clothes was that I couldn’t find a plain pair of boots to wear instead of my new ones.

But the attire didn’t help too much- I was still confused and uncertain of things and I didn’t know how to cope with it. I ended up walking the halls aimlessly and tired myself out after a while. Damn- I was used to a full day’s worth of walking and yet I couldn’t last a few hours now? Of course, the mountain was pretty tall and I had been going down a few stairs, but I was sure the reason behind my lack of energy was because of the changes happening to my body.

I eventually found myself at what appeared to be the entrance of the mountain. There was a giant arch with two wooden doors opened within it. I could clearly see the stone bridge over the moat and the surrounding greenery past the waters. So if I really wanted to escape, I could do so now…

But I didn’t think I could get very far- I ended up sitting down on some cushioned bench to rest and stare blankly at the doorway. I was very conflicted at that moment- I couldn’t decide what to do or if I should be doing anything. I wanted to hate Satel and fight him at every turn, but at the same time I didn’t want to. I was too saddened by his actions and wanted him to understand that more than push him away- and I didn’t understand why I felt that way.

“You! What are you doing?” a stern voice echoed in the vast room, startling me from my thoughts. I glanced around to find a human woman staring at me from one of the hallways that fed into the space. She was a stout type and had some curves on her frame that indicated that she’d had children, but she was also rather pretty for a middle-aged woman.

Her hair was a dark brown that was tied back by a pale blue bandanna and it came to her shoulders. Her eyes were a rich dark green that seemed to shine even in the shadows. Her face possessed only faint hints of wrinkles, like Cegil, and gave me the impression that she was close to his age range by human equivalence. At the moment, she was expressing indignation as she crossed the room and stopped before me with her hands on her hips.

I stared up and her and noticed that she was wearing the same pinstripe dress as me with the addition of a full white apron. She seemed to grow even more frustrated when I wouldn’t answer her.

“I don’t recall seeing you here before. Whom do you serve?” she questioned me, curbing her tone a little.

“…Elit,” I muttered under my breath. She seemed to have heard me and let out a sigh.

“I mean which of the clan members do you serve here.”

Oh… then I suppose technically I served Satel, but not in the professional way that she was referring to. Apparently each clan member had a personal human servant who performed certain chores like cooking or sewing. I wasn’t sure who she belonged to, but by her bossy nature, I would have to assume that she was a leader of some kind.

“Are you a half-wit, girl?” she continued, sounding annoyed at my lack of response. Suddenly we could hear voices coming from the hall, causing her to show some panic before she reached down and grabbed me by the arm. “Oh dear, we better get out of here before they see you slacking off.”

I barely mustered a grunt as I was pulled up and forced to follow her. A half second later, I began to realize that she was confusing me as one of the servants- though I couldn’t blame her, since I was dressed as one. I wonder if she would believe me if I told her who I really was? I decided not to bother- or rather, I didn’t really have the chance to.

The woman seemed intent on ‘helping’ me, and it appeared that she knew her way around the homestead. I wasn’t sure where she was taking me, but it was better than sitting there lost and confused. Ordinarily, I would pull away from anyone who dared to touch me without my consent, and I would never willingly follow a human unless their head was worth something in a bounty.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone with her- I was probably only setting myself up for another painful betrayal. But at that point, I didn’t think I could be brought down any lower than I already was. I was willing to take a chance, just this once.

To the Next Chapter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s