Her angry glare stays with her as she tells of the drow. She pauses to empty her glass of wine, barely sipped upon until now. Fedrel quickly grabs a bottle and lifts it up. “Please, let me fill your glass.”

The angry fire in Fyre’s golden eyes flits away briefly while she smiles at Fedrel and brings her glass to receive the proffered wine. “Thank you,” she says, then sighs, leaning back in her seat with her freshly poured wine. After taking a few breaths, she delves back into her tale:

I guess I should provide more context. The incident with Elkzyr occured when I was 12. I had already spent many years with House Mlezzond, and before I served Elkzyr, I slaved with a duergar, Jinris, who oversaw the creation and mending of clothing in House Mlezzond.

Jinris had taught me to survive as a slave and how to care for myself. In a way, the short amount of time I spent with her was almost like having a mother again. For what it was worth, she treated me with kindness. Not nearly as kind as my mother had, but better than my father had. She kept me out of trouble and did her best to curb our masters’ anger. However, when it came to their cruelty, she could not prevent all of it.

We were not allowed to look our masters in the eyes, and when they entered the room, we had to drop to the floor and keep our heads down. For the slightest offense, they would beat us nearly to death, whereupon a priestess would then use her magic to heal us and then, if they were angry enough, they might beat us again.

I don’t know how many times I had been beaten by my drow masters. That day with Elkzyr was just one of many, but rarely had I been beaten for being helpful before.

After slapping me to the ground, he grabbed me by my hair and pulled me to the door of his study. He threw me into the hall, shouting, “You will show me respect, you beast.” Then he proceeded to kick me repeatedly. I remember the pain being excruciating before I lost consciousness.

When I came to, the matron mother Beslae stood over me, smiling. I immediately dropped my gaze and noticed Elkzyr standing behind her. “You’re very fortunate, beast,” she said. “Elkzyr found his book and was kind enough to request that you be healed. Perhaps you should show him your appreciation.”

I wanted to rebel, but had I, they would most assuredly have killed me then and there, so I dropped to the floor and groveled over to him. “Thank you, Master!” I repeated, trying really hard to sound convincing. After he tired of it, he sneered and said, “Get up and return to your quarters. I want you to prepare for a trip. You’re coming with me to the market. We will leave tomorrow.” At that, they left me in the infirmary.

The injuries I had obtained from his earlier beating had all been healed, but I felt very sore. I hastened to the slave quarters and dropped onto my bed, crying. I didn’t need to pack anything except for some clothes. I didn’t have anything else.

I couldn’t imagine what he wanted me to accompany him for, or where we were going. However, I felt terrified by the prospects and vowed to myself to keep my mouth shut and keep my distance from him.

Michael C. Sahd, author of The Unfettered Child and Assassin Marked

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