Rialta comes in to see Revanth. He manages to lure her close, binding her with his chains.
“Oh, no. You’re going to call your servant and then you’ll release me. And, if you’re very smart, you’ll let the human woman, and the naiad go as well.”
“How did you know?” she gasped, realizing he had discovered her secret. “Why do you think they’re here?”
“I smell them,” he purred next to her ear. Nipping her throat with strong, white teeth, he allowed himself a moment to enjoy the svelte, lithe body next to him.
“There is no way a human has that sense of smell!”
“I’m no mere human. Don’t you recognize the man your daughter, Eleion, turned into a horse? After all, you were there, orchestrating the entire thing.”
“My sweet Rialtia, you betray yourself at every turn. I’m no longer the foolish boy you tricked. I’ve learned a lot in the last few months, not the least of which is your scent. You’ve plotted this from the beginning, but for the life of me, I can’t imagine why. If you wanted revenge against Alton, why go to all this trouble? If you wanted to capture Velda, it would have been easy to send the puka after her. Why this bizarre, and unnecessary, fiasco?”
“To test him!”
Revanth blinked hard, leaning forward to better hear her, though she was as close as his skin.
“He stole her from me, deflowered her, then proceeded to break her heart time and again. How can a man do that to the woman he loves?”
“It is the way of his people….”
“Weave a different tale, you wily tongued serpent! Way of his people be damned! He’s slept with more women than—!”
“Than you have men? I doubt that. He’s not nearly as old as you. Though, you are still a verdant peach of a woman, and a man would be fortunate to have you. Shall we?” He tipped his head toward the bed.
“Leave off your silken lies. What will your princess think of you, a man who sold himself, while supposedly faithful to her.”
“I sold myself to help her. And it was worth every moment, just to give you this.” He kissed her long, hard and deep. His hands worked quickly, manipulating the chains, releasing himself and trapping her. “Even a human may work a little magic,” he said, twirling the metal pick between his fingers. “Now, if you’ll excuse me….” He tucked himself back into his britches and walked to the door.
Rialtia opened her mouth to say words of power to trap him. All that came out was a hoarse croak. Gasping, she clutched her throat.
“That’s the nettle juice I rubbed on my lips. Takes a little while to work, but it’s quite effective, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s enough to block your airway. Conjure up a little water. Oh, sorry…. There’s not any of that about.” He rushed from the room, slamming the door.
Taking a few steps to the left, he searched for the outer door to Astrid and Velda’s cell. He knew it had to be close to his, but somehow, the witch had camouflaged it to look like a blank wall. Instead of looking with his eyes, he closed them, listening with his mind. Hand against smooth stone, he felt along the wall until it dipped, and he felt wood. With his eyes open, it looked like a blank wall, but his hand could feel a metal bolt in brackets. Going by feel, he released it, and the door swung inward. There, seated on their bunks, were Astrid and Velda. Their eyes turned to the door, but showed no recognition. Revanth rushed to the shelf where Astrid sat, kneeling at her feet.
“My love, is it really you? Have I found you at last?” Clasping her hands, he kissed them.
Astrid stiffened, eyeing him dubiously.
“Astrid? It’s Revanth. Darling, I….”
She snatched her hands away, drawing herself up angrily. “Excuse me, good sir. What is this name you call me? Who is Astrid? Do you know this man?” she appealed to Velda.
“I never saw him before. Go away.” She made sweeping motions at him.
“But, my love! Astrid! What madness is this?”
“Guards!” Astrid screamed. “Help! Marigold! Help!”
Seconds later, the gnome appeared with two burly guards.
“My lady, what troubles you?”
Astrid pointed at Revanth. Marigold’s topaz eyes raked him from head to foot. A slow smile spread across her features.
“You’ve trapped her, then?”
“Rialtia? She’s chained up?”
“Good. Take him,” she told the guards. “In your cell?” she directed at Revanth as he was muscled down the hall.
With a tilt of her chin, Marigold gave a command. “I suppose I should thank you. I’ve been that bitch’s slave for the past fifty years. Take him below. Find him somewhere—cozy.”
“Now,” Marigold said. “You pay, you filthy hag!”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes