Chapter Four, Domain of the Elves

Jason slumped into one of the cell’s corners, exhausted. He had raged the entire journey to the imperial jail, though his escort was impervious to his protests. Dreosef had walked slightly ahead, while the guard walked behind clutched Jason’s bound wrists.

Left in the cell, Jason had continued to scream his voice hoarse. If his hands hadn’t been bound behind him, he would have shaken the iron bars of the door as well. Now, the most he could manage were defeated groans and whimpers.

“You put up quite the verbal fight, man,” a voice from the outside the cell whispered.

Jason looked up at the bars separating him from relative freedom, out across the hall to the cell opposite. A woman was sat there, and had been utterly silent throughout Jason’s tantrums. He hadn’t noticed her until now.

The woman smiled. She was quite beautiful, which struck Jason as odd for an inmate. Her long chestnut hair was intricately braided - likely the product of hours of solitary boredom - and didn’t appear the least bit greasy or unkempt. She shared the feline features of the other women he had seen, but her complexion was noticeably darker, even in poor light of her cell.

“I assume you don’t know how things work here, do you?” She asked.

A puzzled look came over Jason’s face. He shook his head to say No.

The woman’s reply was a silky stream of a language Jason could not understand, more of the gibberish from before.

“Why do you all keep blabbing nonsense at me?” Jason rasped angrily.

“Ah, so you’ve found your words, good,” the woman said.

“I never lost them,” Jason muttered.

“I’ll ignore whatever it is you just said, as I cannot understand your native tongue,” she said cautiously. “I’m sure you’ve been told this before, but you need to speak with the intention of being understood, not just heard. Concentrate on the meaning of your speech. Then I will be able to understand you, alright?”

“What does that even mean?”

“Better, I think,” she replied. “I believe you asked me to clarify? Maybe I should follow my own advice to you more faithfully, then.”

With a fluid grace she stood up from the cot and took a few steps toward the cell’s bars and sat. Jason noticed that she appeared nervous and uneasy.

“My name is Yulevi, man,” she said as she crossed her legs to sit in front of him.

“Why do people keep calling me man, here?” Jason asked.

“I see you have no trouble communicating questions, you must truly be seeking answers. This is good,” Yulevi stated, as if observing a natural phenomenon. “And I cannot speak for others when I say this, but, I call you man because you are one. Yes?”

Jason nodded cautiously as he answered. “Yeah, I’m a man. But you don’t need to call me that, I have a name, y’know.”

“And what is that name?”

“Jason.” Why do I feel like a toddler right now?

Yulevi made no reply, but just nodded. There was silence between them for a few moments.

“Yulevi,” Jason started. She looked up from the ground to stare into his face. Her eyes had the same grey quality as the king’s in the low light. “Why am I here?”

“That’s a very vague question you’ve asked me, Jason,” Yulevi responded slowly. “You are in a cell because the King has commanded it. You are in this cell because the King must find you particularly dangerous.” Jason perked up a little with these last words, but Yulevi continued to speak. “And you are in this realm for reasons I don’t know.”

“What’s this realm, anyway? I’ve heard people talk about it a few times. Starts with a D or something?”

“Domain,” Yulevi answered curtly. “Look for yourself, Jason. The whole city is arrayed for you out that window.”

Jason forgotten about the small rectangle cut into the stone at the end of the cell. It was barred with iron, like the door, and was the sole source of light for the room.

With a little trouble due to the wrist restraints, Jason hauled himself upright. Yulevi remained seated on the floor, watching him. His eyes took a few moments to adjust to the brilliant light of the outside world, but eventually the blurs and shadows came into clear focus.

They were in a tower, or at least a building of impressive height. Jason took in the landscape slowly, his attention constantly lingering on other towers and spires in the foreign city. The buildings were of a style he had never seen before, which reminded Jason of his earlier glimpses of the palace exterior. Again it appeared that glass was the favoured material of construction, along with polished metal and some darker substance Jason couldn’t identify. Unlike the urban form he was accustomed to, these buildings were curvaceous and almost fluid, with angular structures used sparsely. In the distance he could see mountains capped with snow and clouds.

“Where on Earth am I?” Jason wondered aloud.

“You’re not on your Earth, human,” Yulevi spoke from behind him, though she did not turn to face him. “This is the Domain of the elves.”

The End

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