While Alton was distracted by the band of idiots, Revanth was kidnapped. He wakes to find himself in a stone prison, chained to the wall. And he has a visitor.
Revanth said nothing.
“Is he coming?”
“Is who coming?”
“Don’t play games. Is that misbegotten whore-son of a wood sprite coming to get you?”
Shaking his head, trying to conceal a grin, Revanth did his best to bite back on a laugh. It escaped him anyway. Something hit him hard in the face, though the figure hadn’t moved any closer. It felt like a slap of water, though it left no moisture behind.
Continuing to laugh, Revanth waved the question away and lay down, his back to the door.
“I can cause pain unlike anything you’ve suffered. You will talk eventually. Everyone talks.”
Closing his eyes, Revanth continued his charade. The door slammed shut, and a heavy bolt was driven home with an angry flourish. Concealing a shiver of very real fear, Revanth sent out a warning to Alton and desperately hoped his friend heard it.
Velda wasn’t sure what she was expecting when her cell door swung open. A guard, ready to drag her for torture? Release? Instead, her gaze dropped to just over three feet above the stone floor, where a tiny gnome stood. The woman’s eyes were a dark, sparking topaz, her hair was the pale gold of corn silk. She walked in carrying a tray of food. Smiling, she set it down on a small table, which appeared out of the floor.
“Well, don’t let it get cold,” she said, grinning. “I won’t tolerate a waste of food. Come. Eat.” The women exchanged a look. “It won’t bite you, nor will I. Eat,” she invited again.
Something in her tone held a note of command, as well as invitation. That, more than words and gestures, convinced Velda to do as she was bidden. They had no set plan of escape. Not knowing the layout of the building beyond, they could do nothing. They might exit their cell, only to be caught up somewhere else with no way out. Better to bide their time, and find out what they could, before trying anything.
“Thank you,” they chorused.
“What is your name?” Velda asked as they sat on chairs which also appeared out of the floor.
“You may call me Marigold.”
“Is it your name?” Astrid asked.
“It is what I am called.”
“Gnomes don’t often tell their true names,” Velda explained. “A name holds power. They have their common names, which they use daily. And their hidden names known only to a few—or none. To their peril, many have tried to find out a gnome’s true name.”
“What on earth for?” Astrid gasped.
“Because we are quite powerful,” Marigold replied. “Don’t let the small stature fool you. I could break you with my little finger.”
Astrid’s worried, startled gaze moved from Marigold to Velda. “Is that true?”
“So they have us believe. As I say, to their peril….”
Marigold bowed slightly, inclining her head. Velda took a bite of the food, breathing over it to check for enchantment or poison. Detecting nothing untoward, she allowed Astrid to eat. She ate sparingly, noticing that there was an absence of beverages. Once again, they had fruit to sustain them.
“May I have some water?” Astrid asked. “I’m quite parched. The fruit is delicious….”
“No. No liquids,” Marigold snapped. “Do you think my mistress a complete fool?”
“Not at all. It’s just…. I am very thirsty. While fruit is good, a glass of water or a cup of wine….”
Marigold’s glare shut her up. Once they had eaten, she whisked away the tray. The table and chairs receded into the floor once more, and she left. The door banged shut, the bolt shot to, and they were alone once more.
“I begin to wonder if we will see the light of day again,” Astrid sighed. “Or Revanth and Alton. If I am to die, I’d rather not be a virgin.”
Velda nodded. She had no desire to die. She was no virgin, but she would have liked to have a child. Filled with regrets, the women curled up and went to sleep.
The next morning—or what they assumed was morning, they were awakened with a banging and clattering next to them. They could hear guttural language, which Astrid didn’t understand, spoken in loud voices.
“They’ve captured someone!” Velda whispered. “A man!”
“Do you think? Could it be?” Astrid gasped. “What if it’s Revanth? Or Alton?”
“Then we hope that he is well, and see if we can find a way to help him, help us.”
The door opened as dramatically as it had yesterday. Again, Marigold stood there with a meal on a tray. There wasn’t any water, but the fruits she brought were very juicy. However, any drops that formed, Marigold whisked away with a swish of her fingers. Velda could feel the power of the little gnome. It thrummed and vibrated, but it was restrained—not by the gnome herself, by an outside source.
“Who’s next door?” Velda asked as the gnome was making her exit.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
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