Rielle winced at the dust pools that clouded around each footfall of hers. Where the grass of Pireleas had been fertile and fresh, this lay at nothing with its orange ground, raw and taken. How the juxtaposition of scenery could survive, she did not know, but it was the best of her mind to try and think of solutions whilst the kidnappers dragged her forever forward to the towering building.
If only she had listened when dear Felix had taught briefly about Philosophy. Only there would be contained the sense of nurture against the nature.
Or magic. Rielle wanted to believe it existed, especially here in the desolate of the country, but it wasn’t a skill taught commonly. As the daughter of a linage full of The Religion, she would never be allowed anywhere near the taste of sparkles, even if Felix had any abilities.
One captor still had a hand to her back, but the other plodded forward for to push open the wooden door that served as entrance. Alone on a hill, this castle needed no other defences.
Having been unwillingly invited in, Rielle was pushed forward, her wrists now bound by another of the fabrics that had previously silenced her. She tripped up a set of steps, more rocky underfoot than the waves of the ground outside, though made firmly of some sort of marble, broken with red marks, shot through with the general distain of the poorly laid out structure ahead. The Revenroll, the one morsel of home, stolen away, now Rielle walked upon the foreign stone, her eyes not knowing which way to turn, to search for an exit or to find further information amongst the aching cloisters of the ghostly castle and the room she was in, giving no comfort, too large to be of any use to emotions.
One of the goons cleared his throat and Rielle became aware of a somebody sitting in front of them all, lifted up by the shape of the room. However, the darkness was too greatly doing its job of concealing the master.
“What have we here?” crooned the sabre-edged voice from that direction.
“The rich daughter of Pireleas merchants. The name bears some title and line.”
Rielle could hear the tapping of nails against the metal of a chair from the gloom–covered ledge beyond her.
“And what of her name?” remarked the voice, still in shadow.
The captors had not asked her name, not at any time in the journey. She had thought it clear that they knew, but no sound they gave, instead pushing the girl forward with rough hands.
“Brielle,” she choked on her whisper, still lost amidst darkness.
Finally, the figure leant forward out of his shadowed chair, whilst the most of him was still cloaked with the face of darkness.
“Light,” the voice commanded, and Rielle heard the snap of fingers. Suddenly, there he was enlightened, the man sitting in his throne-like gilded chair. He uncrossed his legs and swept down a further tier of marble-stained steps, coming to stand abruptly in front of Rielle as the swish of a fastened travel-cloak hung about his shoulder.
“Now…” he drawled, staring at her. Rielle turned pink, edging her eyes down to stare resolutely at the floor. The man was wearing black boots. “You are a fine one. That hair…”
And Rielle looked up just enough to see the man reach a hand out for her.
“No!” She sprang back, only to find the filthy thief's hands upon her now. Wincing again, Rielle crept forward once more. The man hadn’t moved, as if he had known.
“Hmm.” The man laughed low, tipping his head back only a little, whence the ash-brown hair tumbled. With every move he seemed able to keep his eyes on her.
“You are feisty. And particular.” With every word, Rielle was noticing more of the stranger. Eyes that were so light brown that they could have been as amber as the world outside. A voice laced with no accent that ever would have existed in Semereti.
“I only wanted to enquire whether it was your own hair,” he remarked, putting a wounded tone into that accent.
“Why wouldn’t it be?” Rielle gasped, all the while clutching at her locks. What did people do here to be wearing someone else’s hair?
“The colour. The copper tinge.”
“I don’t get-” Rielle began, trembling in the unusual cold of the cloister.
“Now, I am sorry for the state of the place. I have just returned form a long journey. But what a return, indeed!”
“We did good, boss?”
“Yes,” he drawled again, and Rielle duly averted her eyes. “You have done well. I shall pay you handsomely once I have my accounts sorted again from the travel. The distance and time have mutated my currency once again.” Each sentence he spoke at almost double the speed of the previously, leading Rielle to conjure up images of a rushing train.
“Of course, boss,” the man who had spoken before said gruffly. Rielle could sense a slight indignation on his tongue.
“Why-?” she began again.
“That’s enough!” the man commanded. He turned back to his cronies with a flick of manicured hands. “Take her.”