Ripples. Ripples where they weren’t supposed to be. They were my only warning. They spread outwards, droplets falling to create small plops in the water, echoing throughout the grotto. Alarmed, I retreated to the water lapping at the floor of my grotto, somehow sensing that it would be my only protection. Already, my form was shimmering, half merged with the water. If and when I chose, I would meld completely with the water, vanishing from sight. I was a part of water, more water than human, and preferred to merge, preferring the feeling of being free. Before I had a chance, though, wind swirled around me. It began softly, gently, but soon became stronger, quickly dragging me from the safety of my grotto.
I soon found myself on a remote mountain hillside, the breeze picking up the loose ends of my hair. Forced into my human form, denied the safety of joining the water I could feel trembling against my skin, I got to my feet, glaring at the white chalk circle that I had landed in. Blue fire shimmered around me, preventing me from leaving, and I looked around, my gaze finally settling on the one who had brought me here.
He was slightly taller than me, with short brown hair that was waving in the wind, and almost chocolate brown skin, paler than my own. His light grey eyes were alight with what looked like victory, and I felt an instant flash of hatred towards him. If he thought he would be able to control me, he was sorely mistaken. I took a step back, lifting my chin in defiance. Our eyes met, and I smirked at his visible flinch. I knew my eyes were blazing. I made no sound, though, waiting for him to speak.
He didn’t, and his eyes roamed over me, taking in my dark skin and even darker hair. My deep emerald green eyes were startling in my face, a stark contrast. I pushed my hair back, annoyed with the wavy strands, and glared at him. He was clearly a mage. I shifted my stance slightly, getting ready to defend myself. In response, the lightning blue tattoos that formed swirls on my arms and neck glowed. The pattern was meaningless to everyone but me. I saw his eyes widen in surprise as the tattoos glowed, and narrowed my eyes at him, ever wary.
He lifted a hand slightly, and the wind increased, making his shirt fly around his body, moulding to his body. For a brief moment, I could see that he was no soft-skinned noble. He had worked before, and knew how to do it, and do it well. The wind pressed into me, and I swayed, but I refused to kneel as he wanted me to. The pressure grew, but I refused to be cowed.
At last, the wind ceased, and I stared at him, daring him to do more. He only met my eyes, and I saw him move his hand ever so slightly. The blue fire parted for him, and he stepped closer, close enough for me to now see the faint scars and callouses on his hands. Again, he studied me as I glared at him, my tattoos still glowing brightly. I could feel the water in the ground trembling, ready to be shaped and formed at my bidding. He lifted a hand, touching my cheek, and I flinched back. Instantly, I called the water to me. It flowed around me, forming arrows that were aimed at his heart before freezing to ice. He went still, and I saw the blood drain out of his face before he swallowed. His hand dropped, but he didn’t take his eyes off my icy arrows.
“I…I won’t hurt you.”
For the first time, he spoke, his voice rough with an emotion I couldn’t place. I snorted, and stepped back, only to be pulled up short by the blue fire. I hissed in annoyance, but he didn’t react, too busy watching the shards of ice. I glared at him, daring him.
He moved his gaze back to mine, and flinched again. “Ah…” he stopped, clearly unsure what to say, and blinked, staring at me. I crossed my arms, making my tattoos seem to wrap around both of my arms in a single, unbroken swirl, mesmerising in its brightness
“I won’t,” he repeated softly. “I do not wish to hurt you.”
At last, I decided to deign him with an answer. “But you will if you have to.” My words were clipped and short, a lilt softening them only slightly.
He shook his head slowly. “No,” he said. “I do not wish to see you hurt.”
I snorted again, and uncurled my right hand. In the centre of my palm was a single blue circle, almost a droplet shape, not joined to any of my other tattoos, unlike my other hand. The circle was pulsing gently, but had gone a darker blue than usual.
He stared at it. The circle was easy to see against my deep brown skin – all my tattoos were. Finally, though, he lifted his gaze, meeting my eyes.
“I called you.”
Unable to help myself, I rolled my eyes. “Oh, really, marwol?”
Now he glared at me, and stepped forwards, closing in on me. I tried to back away, but the wall around us both prevented me, keeping me trapped. He took advantage of my helplessness to grab my wrists, gripping them tightly. I fought him, but his hold was strong, and I couldn’t shake him. He began chanting something under his breath, and I felt my blood run cold. I called on my ice arrows, and they shot towards him, only to melt before they could touch him. I resumed my struggles, almost panicking now, but he merely shifted his grip a little, and held me tighter. As he neared the end of his spell, I watched in horror as the tattoos on my left forearm slowly began turning black, dark against my skin. My struggles grew more panicked, but there was nothing I could do. It was too late.
I was his slave.
Marwol - mortal