Silver groaned as he lay in his small cot. The room he had been given might as well have been a broom closet with how small it was, but it was still a royal guest room compared to the cramped spaces he had been forced to sleep in before. The aerobics it had taken to recover... This tiny mattress was a treasure.
Sleep was something Silver cherished. It was one of the only things he cherished, aside from pain. So, when given the opportunity, Silver fully indulged. As sleep slowly came, so did memories, though. One struck out as particularly important, for some reason.
The day he met the Dark Queen.
"Now, when I says ye do sometin', ya do it! Got it!?" Hark screamed at the women in the cage. They were small and shriveled things, only given enough food to survive. Silver wanted to puke at the sight, but his master forbid any form of communication, whether it be verbal or physical. Somehow that involved sickness. "Weak slaves can't fight, boys, but keep watch aw de same."
The four large men nodded, looking solemn. Silver knew each and every one almost like a brother would. Hark was a cruel master with a personality that made most think him dimwitted, but that was a cover. He was a warlock with a cunning that made foxes look lame. On his master's command, Silver had researched everything to be known about the men.
Of course, it was useless knowledge. James and his men would be leaving for another job once they reached the next town. Silver walked next to the cage and watched as Hark jumped back up on the seat of the wagon that held the slaves, wondering when or even if he would be ordered to kill them. These men knew too much, probably.
From the corner of his eye, Silver watched the women. They each had rough dresses of simple, yet colorful, fabric that hung loosely on their shrunken frames. Just three months ago they had been joyful gypsies travelling around selling wares like peddlers would. They had been free...
One of the girls - a young one looking to be just reaching womanhood - moved closer to him. He paid her no mind, but begged her mentally not to reach for him. He had been ordered to smack them should they do so. The wood in his hand had tasted more than enough blood.
"I can see it..." she said, softly.
One of the other women grabbed her. "Esrella, stay back!"
"No, he... he's like us." A prisoner? More than you know, little girl. "And..." She jerked her head towards the front of the wagon. Silver had already noticed, though. "She comes..."
Ahead of the wagon, coming towards them, was a lone rider. Silver studied it, looking for anything he could use. Instead, he found he could only make out a black silhouette. That couldn't be right. He should be able to see from here...
As the figure grew closer, he made out a serene face devoid of emotion, beautiful enough to be a queen or something. What stood out was the fact that the rest of her body was covered in a dark cloak that shifted like actual shadows. Too dark. This was a witch. Silver tensed, moving towards the front of the wagon, which had slowed down. He gripped the wooden stick hard.
'Please do not attack us,' Silver thought over and over again. He wasn't afraid of dying, only killing more.
The figure stopped short, prompting Hark to halt the wagon as well. He gave Silver a silent order to stay back. Hark was also sometimes overconfident. His magic was nothing to underestimate, but... Something about this woman was off. Silver wouldn't protest, though. He didn't have the right to go against his masters orders.
Hark walked forward alone, James moving halfway in case he was needed. But Silver saw it. James wouldn't be useful. Hark wouldn't even make it. The woman had gripped a handle in her cloak. From her pose and the way she leaned, she either was great at imitating or a master of the blade.
A head fell to the ground. Silver watched it roll to a stop against a tree on the side of the path. James rushed forward, training taking over. His men rushed forward from their position as well. Silver simply watched as James took the woman's blade in the chest, as Karn lost an arm and bled out on the ground, as Urnas lost his hand and took a stab to the eye, and as Gregor had his stomach sliced open and his guts spilled over his horses saddle.
It had happened in a blink of the eye and even a killer as talented as Silver wasn't sure if he would come out on top. But he wouldn't have to find out. He was no longer Bound to a master. All he could do was offer himself to this woman. Had Hark died by some accident, Silver could have offered himself to one of those slave girls and saved them, but when a master died by the hands of another, he had to offer himself to them first.
So, Silver walked forward and fell to his knees, pulling back his mangy hair to show off his scars. Realization crossed the woman's eyes. "I am Silver Star, Bonded One of the Star Clan. You have killed my master and so I offer my servitude to you."
The woman looked at him with that same blank expression, watching his face closely as he spoke. Then, she placed his sword on his neck. Hope rose in Silver as he thought she might finally give him rest. Two words tore down that small hope.
That had been one of the few times Silver would ever hear his mistress speak.