By the time we came to what was clearly his estate, I still hadn’t spoken. However, Korith didn’t seem to care. He only pulled me into the house, into a small, seemingly little-used room, where he turned to look at me. I met his gaze with my chin lifted. I wasn’t afraid of him. His eyes glittered.
“I expect you to behave,” he growled. I sneered at him.
“Then you’ll be disappointed, won’t you? Kijinga.”
He slapped me, backhanding me across the cheek. I stared at him, my cheek throbbing. He stared back, apparently appalled at himself. I narrowed my eyes at him, letting my fury be seen.
“I…I…” He stammered, not knowing what to say.
“Clearly, you lie when it suits you,” I hissed, and he flinched, reaching out to me.
“No…” He trailed off again. I waited, my arms crossed, as I absently traced my tattoos. It was a habit I’d picked up when I was very young, when I’d only just received the first ones. Now, I did it whenever I was nervous, or worried.
He swallowed, backing away from me as if I’d been the one who had slapped him.
I stiffened. I had never expected him to use my name, and it put me on edge. I almost replied, but thought better of it, wanting to know what he would say.
“It…I…” He sighed, and looked away. He turned and walked to the window, where he stood for a long time, his fingers gripping the sill so tightly that his knuckles went white. He appeared to be gazing over the fields of his estate, but I wasn’t so sure. I waited, closing my eyes briefly as the pain in my cheek flared.
My eyes flew open to see him looking at me. I didn’t move. “Why should I?” I retorted. “You will never control me.”
He shook his head. “I don’t want to. Come here.”
I blinked once, staring at him. “Then free me,” I demanded. “You have no use for me here.”
“I said come here!”
His barked command made me jump, but didn’t make me inclined to obey him. “No. I won’t.”
He glared at me. I could feel him manipulating the air around me, trying to force me to him. I resisted, and let ice cold rain fall on him again, drenching him once more. He spluttered, and pushed his hair out of his face. He glared at me again, and stalked over, gripping my chin to lift it. I was a few inches shorter than him, but I didn’t care. It made no difference.
“If you weren’t who you are,” he hissed. “You would pay dearly for that.”
“If I wasn’t who I am,” I retorted, jerking out of his grip. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
That silenced him for a moment, and I could see him turning things over in his mind. He lifted my chin again, gently this time, and ran his thumb over my throbbing cheek. Something cool entered my skin, and the ache faded. He had healed me. I met his eyes squarely, hiding my surprise, but he must have guessed.
“I am not cruel, Isla,” he murmured. “You do not need to fear me.”
I jerked my chin slightly. “Who said I was?” I demanded.
He lifted a shoulder, and let me go. “You give a good impression of it.”
“Why would I fear you?” I asked scornfully. “You are a kijinga dynol.”
He glanced at me as he sat down in one of the chairs. “Have a seat,” he invited, indicating the other one. I refused, preferring to stay standing, and he only shrugged.
“Suit yourself.” He settled back, his grey eyes sharp as he studied me. “You are an elemental, aren’t you?”
“Well done,” I replied scornfully. “So clever of you to work it out.” The tattoos clearly marked me as an elemental, as well as what kind – water.
He didn’t seem to notice my sarcasm. “A water elemental,” he mused, talking to himself. “The first to be enslaved.”
“And the first to be tried beyond her limit!” I shot back.
“No…not yet. You are not at that point just yet.” His deceptively soft gaze caught mine and held it, until I nearly squirmed under the scrutiny. “How old are you?”
I glared at him. “Never ask a lady her age, bachgen,” I retorted. “Surely you have at least some manners.”
He flushed slightly, but didn’t press it. “What can you do?”
I tossed my head, and finally relaxed enough to get off my feet, even if it was only to perch on the arm of the vacant chair. “I have my secrets, bachgen, and you have yours.”
He didn’t seem perturbed at all at my answers. “Why me?” he murmured. “Why did you choose me?”
I snorted. “I chose no one, marwol. Why would I choose this life, when I had my own?”
“Hmm.” He pursed his lips, thinking, and I stalked to the window, my dress making no sounds. I fiddled absently with the thin straps, not sure what I could do now.
“So what will I do with you?”
I turned to look at him, an eyebrow raised. “Do with me?” I repeated. “You cannot do anything with me. You have no control over me.”
“Then why are you still here?”
I froze. The question was asked quietly, almost as if she didn’t want an answer, but he was right. After a few moments, I turned around fully, facing him.
“The only reason I am here?” I echoed. “That is because the only way I could become free without you freeing me is by killing you. I do not like spilling blood, no matter who it was, or what they’ve done.”
Now it was his turn to blink at me in astonishment. “K-k-kill me?”
I shut my eyes for a moment, the effort of manipulating water starting to take its toll on me. “Yes. Kill you. Those are the only ways I can be free again, and neither will happen.”
“Yet you say I have no control over you.”
I glared at him again, and refused to answer. He didn’t seem to care about that either. I resumed looking out the window, but I was tense, waiting for him to do something.
“You are afraid.”
He sounded amazed, even though his voice was soft. I refused to turn around, and after a couple of minutes, sensed him coming up behind me.
“Relax,” he whispered, and I felt his hands hover over my shoulders for a few seconds he hesitantly placed them on me. I stiffened, but he didn’t remove them, instead gently massaging my muscles, relieving the tension. I stayed silent.
“Why?” he asked softly. “Why are you so afraid?”
I didn’t respond for a while, thinking about my answer. At last, I replied. “You have no need to know anything of me, nor the understanding of who I am. Keep your questions to yourself.”
His strong fingers paused briefly before resuming. “You will not tell me?” His voice was a low rumble, and I could easily hear the warning in it. I just as easily ignored it.
“You have no right to know,” I told him, wanting to break out of his grip, but unable to.
“You are mine, Isla,” he reminded me. “Never forget that – and what it means.”
I spun, furious, and found myself nose-to-nose with him. “What it means?” I poked him in the chest, my voice rising, although I kept it low enough that no one else would be able to hear. “I know exactly what it means! It means that I am to be kept here, against my will, until or unless you or yours sees fit to do otherwise!” Now I stepped forward, forcing him to retreat. “You dragged me from my home, leanbh. I know exactly what you were hoping to do.”
He stared at me, and his hand lifted, seemingly of its own accord. “I never wanted to hurt you,” he whispered. I turned my back on him.
“Too late,” I said bitterly. “You should have thought about that before you summoned me, then, shouldn’t you?”
There was no answer. After a long moment, I felt his hand close around my wrist, and jerked away. He had quick reflexes, though, and hung on, pulling me to face him once more.
“I never meant to hurt you,” he said, almost savagely. “Never.”
His grip tightened, and I winced involuntarily, partly to see what he would do. He loosened his grip, but kept a hold of me, not surprising me.
“Who are you?” he asked, his eyes locked on my face.
I only pulled away, not answering. There was no need for him to know anything about me. He didn’t press me.
“Come,” he said. “Surely you need rest.”
My fingers fluttered over my tattoos once more. I was unsure of myself, and what he was thinking. “Where?” I asked.
He sighed, and glanced at me. “Your room,” he replied. “Come.”
Still I hesitated. His actions made me wary of him, and I didn’t know what to think of it. “And if I don’t?”
He frowned, actually thinking about what I said. “Then you will stay here,” he finally replied. “Which would you prefer?”
I hesitated again, and then moved to perch on the arm of a chair. Settling myself down, I watched his face change, amused at the expressions flying across his features. He hadn’t been expecting my actions.
“Suit yourself,” he said eventually. Behind me, the window shut with a bang, and I heard the lock click. I stared at him, but he didn’t meet my gaze. He left, closing the door behind him. I heard that lock click as well, and I closed my eyes, letting my tension slide out of me. It was a relief to be alone. I let myself slide down the arm of the chair to land in the seat, my legs hanging over the arm. I leant my head back, sinking into myself. I didn’t want to see the room anymore. I didn’t want to be reminded of what I had become.
Dynol – human/s
Bachgen - boy