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|The third part. I should probably make a clarification- Slag controls metal, and metal includes all elemental earth(stone, dirt, etc).||
Kiah put one hand against the ground and hesitated as she realized it wasn’t the cold stone of the slaves’ quarters- it was grass. She squinted through the bright sun. This was the plains land, she recognized suddenly, one of the many places the slave train passed through. There was no life here- just miles and miles of dusty grass broken by cracked remnants of lakes and rivers.
She began to tremble as she realized that while the manacles on her wrists and the collar on her neck were still in place, the chains that connected them were gone. Who had removed them? Was this some cruel joke by her master? Some new game of his? She shuddered at the thought of what would happen once he found her. He claimed he was as gentle as she deserved- what would he do if she made him angry?
The sun beat down on her as she got to her feet. She had never been out of the castle- her skills as a silversmith were too valuable to chance her escape. With a whimper, she turned in a slow circle, realizing that she was lost. What was she supposed to do? Would it be best to walk and find someone or to stay and hope they found her?
Her decision was made for her as a crashing sounded in the grass. Instinctively, Kiah dove for the underbrush and crouched, shivering, as a pale girl came running out of the grass, tripping over the long train of her dress. The girl landed badly, sobbing weakly as she discovered her ankle would no longer support her weight.
A dark man dressed in crimson came from the grass and attacked the pale girl, slapping her when she screamed. Red flowed down her chin as she lay weeping, the grass crushed beneath her weight. He undid his belt and tossed his scabbard aside. The jeweled sword landed, still sheathed, before Kiah. She shrank back, trying to make herself invisible. The girl’s grey eyes met Kiah’s dark ones. Her face was streaked with mud, blood, and tears. She seemed to be pleading for Kiah’s aid.
“I can’t.” Kiah whispered from her hiding place. To assault a freeman warrior- no matter the reason- would get her killed.
The man moved away for a moment and the girl tried to flee. He caught up with her easily, yanking back on her long hair and kicking her in the ribs. Kiah heard something crunch beneath his boot and knew that the girl was going to be raped and killed, and Kiah would be the only witness.
The girl fell on her back in the dirt. The man flipped her skirts over her head and knelt between her legs. Kiah squeezed her eyes shut and lowered her head. It wasn’t her problem- she hadn’t come here on purpose. If she fought, she would be punished. She should just stay and be quiet and wait for it all to be over.
Her breaths came short and shallow. She couldn’t do anything- not for the girl, not for herself. Not when her master summoned her to his chambers, not when he took the whip to her back, not when he chained and beat her. Anger began to burn. Why couldn’t she do anything? The girl needed her help- she could help!
She burst out of the grass and fumbled to free the sheathed blade. The warrior looked up, surprised, as she aimed it at him. She had no idea how to fight, and he knew it. He chuckled and stood, leaving the pale girl gasping on the ground.
What do you think you can do? He spoke in her head, his lips never moving. She shook her head. It was a trick.
“Get away from her,” she said, the blade wavering. He put up his hands in a mocking gesture of surrender.
They’ll kill you for this. He was right. She lowered the sword. Good girl. Give me the sword. He held out his hand. She was tempted- she was sorely tempted. You’re a slave- you’re nothing to them. Give me the sword, and I’ll make sure they show lenience. That made her temper flare. Lenience? She didn’t want lenience! She wanted freedom! The point of the sword rose again and she stepped forward, the end of the weapon shaking as it pointed towards his heart. You dare raise a sword to me? You don’t stand a chance. Give in, slave, and I will spare you. Fight, and you will share her fate.
“Get away from her,” Kiah repeated fiercely. The warrior shook his head.
You don’t understand- you aren’t in control here. That was the problem. She was never in control. She always had to submit- she always had to let someone else rule her. Not now- not anymore! Give me the sword.
“No!” Kiah yelled, running forward. He didn’t move as she ran for him. The blade entered his belly and passed through, sticking out the back. Instead of looking pained, he looked pleased. He reached out a hand and touched her left breast.
She was right about you. Fire lanced through her body and she screamed. The burning spread to her left hand, the heat burning away her clothes, coursing through her skin, lighting her hair… The sword stayed in her right hand, protecting that side from the blaze. The coolness of the metal fought against the heat of the fire and eventually, they compromised.
Kiah rose, the chains jerking her back as she tried to fight them off. Anger at her capture fueled her determination to be free. A red shock of hair fell across her eyes as she pulled the chains taut, muscles straining under smooth black skin. She felt heat behind her eyes spread down her right arm to burn at the restraint. The skin glowed red and the metal melted away, the slag dripping down to the cold stone floor. A red band was left behind, stained bright against the black skin. She raised the arm in wonder and heard the click of the door.
Her master entered, the casual smirk on his face telling her what he had come for. He stopped, shocked, when he saw her.
“Where is Kiah?” he demanded, his hand on the sword at his waist. She tilted her head, listening to the song of the metal around her wrist and neck. At her command, the rest of her chains fell, allowing her to move away from the wall. “Who are you?” She remembered the red hot liquid that had dripped from her wrist and knew she was no longer Kiah.
“I am Slag,” she announced.
“You’ve helped her escape. You’ll pay for that with your life.” He pulled his sword free of the scabbard. Her right arm rose and she called, making it jump from his hand into hers. She coaxed the fire from her left hand to join it. The sword split in half.
“That was my family’s blade!” He lunged for her. She moved to the side, her right arm calling the chains to join with the broken sword, using the fire to mold them according to her wishes. Before he could see what she was doing, she kicked him in the chest, knocking him against the wall. The former sword dropped into place over his wrists. A flick of her left wrist soldered each piece into place. He screamed. She smiled, the anger fading as the metal cooled and hardened. She left him hanging from the wall.
The locks were no problem for her- made from metal, they slid away at her behest. She stopped briefly at the chamber her master usually used to punish her. A mirror stood on one wall beside a row of torture devices, including a cat o’ nine tails, complete with the metal bits that once dug into the flesh of her back. She beckoned and they slid free of the leather to dance around her. The reflection of the mirror intrigued her. The slave’s clothes were gone, in their place a lustrous black and red vest over a crimson shirt and black pants. She was definitely more muscular, but still held average height. Her skin was a lustrous black, like obsidian, and the hair that sprouted from her head was a series of sharp flame-colored locks. The eyes that stared at her were black with a red outline. This was no slave. This was Slag.
The symbol on the crest of the mirror intrigued her with its familiarity- had she seen it somewhere before? Curious, she reached for it and was repulsed by a burning cold. She frowned and shrugged mentally. It was time to go.
She turned on her heel and headed for the armory. She needed weapons. Then…
She would head north, she decided. Yes, north.
“You were right,” the dark one admitted.
“She is the third,” the pale one said, pleased.
“That leaves two more.”
“Then who shall be the fourth?” The dark one was silent for a moment, and then he lifted his hand and indicated a rider outside a beautiful castle. “He will resist.”
“He will come,” the dark one said. “He will be the fourth.” His pale sister nodded, acquiescing.
“He will be the fourth.”
|Elements IV: Reluctance||Narush'kai Chapter 6|
|Elements VI: Meeting, 2||