< Bone Dagger Kings Removed | Sol Invictus Logs | Golden Branches Of The Tree >

alsoquin It has been a day since Zahara summoned the fire elemental in a desperate bid to free herself. Now, after several hours of (relative) peace and quiet, Akuna Ravdash, the cruel Lunar general, enters the room once again; today, in an elegant dress outfit of black, with only the most minor silver trim.

alsoquin "Good morning, Zahara. How are you today?"

Zahara{EM} puts on her (almost) everpresent yet (slightly) crooked smile on again for him, "Good morning, Akuna." she says, her voice still husky but not quite as raspy as it was. "I am feeling quite well, and yourself?"

alsoquin "I am quite well as always. It has been a very productive day." He seats himself, folding his hands gently.

Zahara{EM} "Oh? Do tell."

alsoquin "We took another three cities. Halta is nearly ours." He smiles.

Zahara{EM} "Oh, good. Careful when you walk around in those cities with your heavy weaponry. Some of them are not very sturdy."

alsoquin "Ah, yes, you would be well aware of that, yes? I understand you were responsible for the destruction of an entire Haltan city, in your youth."

Zahara{EM} "Again I am pleased with your knowledge of my life."

Zahara{EM} "You must feel so honored to be in my presence."

alsoquin "Oh certainly." He bends forward, sitting at the front of his chair and grinning. "So honored that I have brought you a present."

Zahara{EM} feels a certain amount of trepidation at this announcement which does not make it to her expression. "I do so enjoy your presents, Akuna."

alsoquin "Do you? Perhaps you will be particularly fond of this one. Shall I give it to you now?" He snaps, and a Haltan servant-boy comes in and pours a glass of blood-red wine for the general.

Zahara{EM} "I am sure I will. My eagerness to recieve it knows no bounds."

alsoquin picks up another serving platter which the servant boy brought in along with the wine, and melodramatically lifts up the silver lid. Underneath sits a small cage of white jade and starmetal, containing within it, flapping slowly, lazily, the unmistakable form of a greater fire butterfly, ram horns and all.

Zahara{EM} stares at the elemental for a long moment, then tilts her head back and laughs. When the ragged noise ceases she turns back to him. "I do hope you are treating him well. It wouldn't do to antagonize his court."

alsoquin "Oh, we are. We have given him every courtesy, absent the freedom to leave." He places the box on a shelf on one side of the room. "I will leave him here with you, that you might have some minor company when we do not come to visit you."

Zahara{EM} "I assume your definition of courtesy for him is different than that you have extended to myself."

alsoquin laughs heartily, animalistically, and walks towards the door. "Your friend will be joining you shortly," he says, as he lets himself out.

Zahara{EM} casts Orem an apologetic look, and says softly, "I apologize for having drawn you into this."

alsoquin The tiny creature beats its wings in understanding.

Zahara{EM} "I hope you burned some of his cities." she grins weakly.

alsoquin Flap flap flap.

Zahara{EM} turns her eyes to the doorway, a flicker of fear there, replaced then by a new determination. Her plan failed, but her magic hadn't. One of her best assets has rarely required magic to work its brand of magic on people. No, not that. Her tongue. She resolves to seek to turn Markuran away from his violent inclinations today.

alsoquin It is perhaps half an hour before Markuran, still clad in his black furs, steps through the door once again.

Zahara{EM} "Markuran, you have returned once more. How does it feel to have become that which you hated most? That which you swore to never submit to?"

alsoquin Marku walks over and kneels before Zahara. "How does it feel to have never been aught but what is hateful to all beings in this world, without ever having even aspired to more?"

Zahara{EM} "Fairly normal, really."

Zahara{EM} "It's so much more tragic for you, isn't it? All that righteous fury and anger. That purity of hope, and the oath to destroy that which you have now accepted as part of you - or has it consumed you utterly? Is your spirit so weak as to be nothing but the last ray of sunset before utter, unending darkness?"

alsoquin Marku reaches over to Zahara's right hand and deliberately, without flinching, snaps her ring finger between his meaty fingers.

Zahara{EM} screams, jerking her hand away futilely. It does not go far.

Zahara{EM} gathers herself, and spits on the floor contemptuously. "So I was right. You are not worthy."

alsoquin "I have only taken on the lessons that you taught, Zahara. Did you not tell me of the virtues of physically coercing your prisoners?"

Zahara{EM} "I never had to teach you that, Markuran. The evil was inside you the whole time. Shall I enumerate for you the times which you have punched, strangled, and otherwise broken people I was simply attempting to talk to?"

alsoquin stands. "You are one to speak of evil, Zahara. Since when have you believed in it?"

Zahara{EM} laughs, "I am speaking in terms that you will understand."

alsoquin Markuran grabs a chair from one side of the room and forcefully places it, facing away from Zahara, before sitting down backwards in it. "And yet you do not believe in what you say. Aren't I far closer to what you always wanted, now? We are truly fit to rule the world together now. There would be no more fights, no more broken slate." He cracks the knuckles on one hand with his thumb.

alsoquin "Didn't you wish to do this to me? To debase me, have me beg for your mercy? Didn't you dream of it at night, sometimes?"

Zahara{EM} looks at his broad shoulders and for once the rictus of a smile fades from her lips. Softly she says, voice containing actual sincerity, "No, Markuran, I never did."

Zahara{EM} looks away, blinking at the sudden tears, trying to hide them. "I would never have done that to you. I loved your spirit, your fire. Yes, I wished you would temper it with wisdom... but never did I wish for you to be like me."

alsoquin As Marku looks at Zahara, something in his eyes shifts. He kneels down before her, close to her face. "Do you remember when we met, Zahara?"

Zahara{EM} smiles crookedly, "At the festival in Chaya. I can't believe you ate that much."

alsoquin "And you danced with the elementals in the sunset. I saw some of it, before I left to throw up."

Zahara{EM} chuckles. "I should have danced with you. Even then, you still had the finest ass in all of Creation."

alsoquin "I can't argue." He nods his head a little, subconsciously, and one hand goes to his side, to rub a particularly vicious set of scars. "Those were good times. When we worked with our hands to build up a new nation that could recognize the glory within us. When we stood on the hills and argued where to build the capital."

Zahara{EM} tilts her head to one side, regarding him with a fondness that has lasted through the years, even through their fights and hardships. "Remember our first Wyld Hunt? You fought like an angry Yeddim against them."

Zahara{EM} "I think there's still a crater."

alsoquin smiles, fine scars growing white around his mouth as they grow taut.

alsoquin "We were glorious, for a while." His smile suddenly drops, and his eyes grow a little darker. "For a while."

Zahara{EM} 's fingers twitch as she thoughtlessly reaches out to touch him and is suddenly reminded of pain and bondage. She winces then, and again at his words. "I'm sorry. I never meant for it to go wrong."

alsoquin Marku is quiet, very quiet, for a moment. His voice is barely a whisper: "I know, Zahara." He, too quickly, stands up and turns his back to her.

alsoquin "You know what will happen, don't you?"

Zahara{EM} "When?"

alsoquin Marku turns around. "In a few days, perhaps, when the time is right... Akuna will come into this chamber. He will walk to that shelf, and he will release the elemental." He pauses again. "And then, when the time is right, he will come for you."

Zahara{EM} "Akuna will release him?" she looks confused for a moment, then it dawns on her; whatever she is, whether or not she survives this with her soul intact, she is also bait. "And what will you do then?"

alsoquin "We will fight one another. And one of us will die."

Zahara{EM} "You don't have to."

Zahara{EM} 's voice holds the very quality that her captors have been longing to hear, it is low and pleading, touched with pain. "You don't have to fight. I'll find a way, Markuran."

alsoquin "Will you? What way is there? After what we have done to you, Cerin will not deign to let us live, not while any breath remains in his body." A shadow passes across his face. "And you must realize I can show him no mercy either."

Zahara{EM} briefly surveys the ruins of her body, and shakes her head. "I... " she feels that something must be broken in her mind, "If I...forgive you. If you fight Siram as much as you can while I remain, and after. I will not let him kill you. Let him best you, and we will take you away from here. Markuran. If you do this, I *WILL* save you."

alsoquin nods, slowly. "I hear your promise, Zahara. We shall see." He begins to walk out of the chamber, and when he speaks again, the sharp edge that marks the evil being within him is back. "We shall see."

Zahara{EM} watches him go, and then sags in her bonds, every ache and pain coming into sharp focus. "I must be losing my mind." she whispers to herself.

< Bone Dagger Kings Removed | Sol Invictus Logs | Golden Branches Of The Tree >