Ice water drenches my slumbering form and I shiver in the rags covering my frame.
“Wake up filth!” My tormentors voice grates over my raw and battered senses.
Stifling a groan from my position tight against the stone wall behind me, I open my eyes to peer up at her. “As my Mistress bids.”
Katya’s striking face flows into a disgusted sneer. “I did not give you permission to speak.” Venom laces her words now and my weariness grows.
My head drops as I tuck my chin to my chest. As far as the accursed chains will allow. More to hide the loathing filling my features as I wait for her to acknowledge me.
She makes me wait for what feels to be an eternity. “We have guests coming for the auction tonight. You will clean yourself, shave and let Magnus trim your hair.” My eyes dart to her in surprise. Her silken voices huffs. “You will await those in attendance and will not do anything to disgrace this house.”
Her voluptuous body presses against the bars. The plunging neckline of her green, velvet dress, bulges as her breasts push upward in tantalizing, crème, mounds. Or they would be if I hadn’t been bitten by that snake before.
“Do you understand, Móriare?” A sultry undercurrent whisks into her tone and I stave off my shudder of revulsion.
I bow as far as I can. “As my Mistress wishes.”
She pivots with natural grace to stalk back down the tower steps and I slump in my bindings.
The sun has just started to illuminate the sill of my only window, lightening the sky in soft pinks, sapphire and a crisp orange.
Tis still early then.
No sooner do my eyes begin to flutter back closed than pounding hooves clamor back up the stone stairwell. The doorway fills with the Enchantress’s pet Satyr and right hand.
“Lady Katya, wishes Magnus to see to you this morn.” Griffin says into the silence as I merely stare through my exhaustion.
“Griff…” I say. “Go to hell.”
His snarl would be fiercer if he had ever grown into his horns, or mayhap if his body had bulked along with his kin’s. Griffin will never be more than the puny, half-goat, coward he is.
And we both know it.
My eyes narrow over the coarse hair covering his bare torso but for the slim leather vest holding his riding crop. “You have to let me out first, Griff. And as exhausted as I am, I could mistake you for a wandering beast inside the manor.” I glance away. “It would be only too easy to forget myself.”
His gulp rings in my ears with sweet satisfaction. “Then sleep for two hours. I will return as the sun reaches its peak in your window.”
He stalks out, hooves clattering once more. My smile is smug as I settle back down. Despite my fatigue, sleep is not forthcoming.
I toss in my bindings, the iron clanking against the stone turret wall. The small pallet of hay with its threadbare blanket calls across the distance.
Perhaps Katya was right. All I accomplish by trying to escape has been more hell. The Enchantress having the guards beat me unconscious to chain me back in my tower.
My shoulders cramp, throbbing in a constant ache. The fibrous membranes of my wings are cranked closed like accordions against my spine. The meager heat of my naturally chilled body does nothing to keep the bruises and lacerations from twanging with every shift of restlessness.
I need more of my tormentor’s balm. Her ointment for healing. A hard snort leaves my lips.
Not that I will ever ask. Asking leads to begging and begging leads to her bed. Revulsion makes my gut clench and acid wash my palate.
My head drops back to peer up at the rafters of the prison I have lived in for the last fifteen years.
I have always been here it seems, despite knowing that to be untrue. The hillsides of Notre Dame are my true home. Not that I will ever see them again.
Desolation seeps into the need for sleep, pounding it in my skull with all the force of a blacksmith’s hammer.
My frustration builds with every minute I toss and turn. Seeking the blessed oblivion of my dreams and the fairest that waits for me.
Her gentle beauty fills my mind, soothing some of my anguish as she seems to be summoned from thin air.
A sigh of relief leaves me though I stifle it before she can hear.
Pale, pink lips curve anyway. “What ails you, Mór?” That musical lilt, reminiscent of my years in the cathedral, rolls through me. Soft blue eyes shine from a curtain of ochre curls. The ringlets loose and unbound down to her narrow waist.
Her attire is once more the linen trousers of a man and a silken pearl blouse open at the sharp line of her clavicle. Those small, agile hands alight on her hips in amusement as it takes me too long to answer.
“You are a vision, as always, Faina.”
A flush of girlish pink stains her cheeks under the small specks that coat them. “Mór, I was getting ready for a meeting. What’s wrong?”
My head tilts in confusion. A meeting? For what?
“I will be attending my mistress’s auction this eve and will not be able to see you," I say into the silence.
Some of her amusement fades as her round eyes soften. “Oh Mór.” Her hands fall and she stalks closer. Only here, she never seems to be close enough. “I will see you the next night.”
My hand raises and she steps into the ghostly caress, shivering as it leaves nothing but cool mist behind. “Then I pray that the night and day will move fast indeed.”
She smiles and nuzzles my non-corporal palm.
In the distance, hooves over stone echo. “I must leave you now.” I say as even here my reality burdens me.
Her head bobs and those curls slide over her shirt. “I know.” Lean, silken lines move to turn away, but she pauses. Peering at me over her shoulder. “Good Morning, Mór.”
My grin is lopsided. “Good Morn, Faina.”
She laughs under her breath at my archaic speak and the wondrous sound fills me through the astral fog as Griff slams the cage bars, startling me back to consciousness.
He unlatches the cuffs around my wrists as I raise my head. “Get up. You slept long enough.”
My fingers rub the ache from mottled skin as I roll my head on my shoulders. Nothing Katya can throw at me means much. I will get through the blasted auction and find Faina the next night.
A smile blossoms over my façade; real and luminous despite my circumstances. Griff takes a halting step back, but I ignore it.
Serve my mistress for the night so that I may find my dream women once I sleep.