Kaeleer: Little Terreille

            Morton winced as his back began to cramp. He shifted his knees on the hard ground and tried his best to ignore the sharp pain that continually radiated from his groin. His eyes were closed but he could still hear Lord Rafel's soft curses and footsteps as he paced in front of the boyos. Morton opened one eye, squinting from the bright light of the sun that beamed down mercilessly. He could see Aaron and Khary to the left of him; they were in the same uncomfortable position, on their knees with their hands tied to a post in front of them. They were hunched over in pain as well from the strange rings that Lord Rafel had referred to as 'Rings of Obedience.' A swirl of emotions were going around in their heads, triumph at having gotten the Queens free, but also uncertainty and nervous anticipation at what was going to happen to them.

            One of the guards came up and spoke quietly to Lord Rafel. Morton strained to hear the conversation; he hoped the angry look on Lord Rafel's face meant that Karla and the other Queens were still free. Rafel listened for a moment and then laughed. He gave his orders to the guard; the guard bowed and left quickly.

            There was a silence that followed and then Khary spoke, his voice cracking from the lack of water but still challenging. "You haven't found them yet, have you?"

            Morton allowed himself a small smile. Their plan had worked, insofar that the Queens had escaped. There had a been a short, vicious battle between the boyos and Lord Rafel's forces which ended when an unknown Sapphire-Jeweled Prince had broken the Green shield Aaron had placed around them. After that it was only a matter of time before one of the many stunning blasts hit.  

            Rafel turned around and he half-smiled as he spoke. "No, we haven't, but if they're smart, the Queens will be heading towards a Landing Web. There are only two in Goth. My guards should catch them there. Even if they do manage to escape, by the time they come back with help it be too late for you three. You'll be long gone to Terreille."

            * Terreille? Why? *

            Even as he heard Aaron's question, Morton figured out what Rafel planned to do. He remembered the vague and menacing rumors that had been circulated around Glacia before he and Karla left. "You're going to sell us."

            "Clever boy," said Lord Rafel condescendingly. He reached over and brushed his hand on the top of Morton's head as he would a dog. Morton ducked away and Lord Rafel withdrew his hand.

            "There's no slavery in Kaeleer!" said Aaron fiercely, his eyes narrowing as he tracked the movement of the Warlord.

            "Oh, but there is; hidden, of course but there is a small circuit of slave auctions that are still in place around Kaeleer. There happens to be one going on this week and I intend to make profit off of you boyos. The Terreillean Queens will pay a lot for a young Kaeleerian male, especially one with a dark Jewel."

            * The Queens? Why would they want a male who's bought and not serving willingly? * Khary asked Morton, a slight note of panic in his question. Morton remembered a time when Uncle Hobart had had a visitor from Terreille. Most of the males had stayed away from the strange Queen; there had been a taint in her psychic scent and her cringing Consort had made them uncomfortable. He wondered if all Queens from the Light Realm had similar psychic scents. He didn't answer Khary's query.

            "Have you ever met a Terreillean Queen?" Lord Rafel's question echoed Morton's thoughts. The boyos said nothing as they stared stonily beyond him. Rafel smiled sardonically. "No? Well then, you will be in for a surprise. In Terreille, there are only those who rule and the ones that serve them. The witches in Terreille fear males who are stronger than them, that's why they invented the Rings of Obedience; to control and use them for their own twisted purposes. Any male not strong enough to survive them becomes a plaything."

            He smirked. "You might as well get used to the Rings, boyos, for they won't be coming off again."

*                                                              *                                                             *                                          *

* Karla. Karla! *  Kalush sent urgently as she followed Karla and Morghann into the narrow space between two tall buildings.

* What? * Karla answered swiftly as she peered out of the alley before going out into the crowded street of Goth.

* I think that we've lost them. We have to stop. I know that you want to keep going but Morghann and I can't keep up. We'll collapse. *

Karla looked at her friends and felt pangs of guilt. Morghann's face was white with exhaustion and for once she wasn't being her prickly self, insisting that she was fine. Kalush didn't look much better; she looked wan and her eyes were gleaming with unshed tears. This was all her fault, Karla reflected bitterly. Why had she been so trusting? If she hadn't insisted that they travel with Lord Rafel none of this would have happened; they wouldn't be fugitives and the boyos-. Karla felt a sob rising in her throat which she ruthlessly subdued. She had let them all down but most of all she had let Morton down. Who knew what Lord Rafel was doing to him right now? She had to go back.

Morghann and Kalush were looking at her, waiting for her response. Karla nodded slowly. * I'm sorry. You're right Kalush, we should rest. Follow me. * Without saying anything else she led them to the opening of another alleyway. Kalush and Morghann sat down gratefully, and after a minute Karla joined them. Although she had hidden it better, she knew that she wouldn't have been able to continue for much longer.

They had been running since mid morning. After Morton had told her to break the lock, Karla had descended to Sapphire, gathering all the power she could. When the signal came she threw all her strength into the task. At the same time she could feel another Sapphire power close by. She knew it was the one who created the lock. Karla pushed at the opposing Sapphire power, taking as much strength from her own reservoir. She struggled, feeling herself growing lightheaded; if it didn't give way in a moment, she knew she would pass out. She could not let that happen. Karla gave one last shove of power. The shield gave way. They were free. As she started to go forward her feet gave way suddenly and the dizziness enveloped her. Kalush grabbed her and helped her walk out of the cell. Morghann was already out, her sight shield covering all three of them. They walked as quickly as they could towards a door at the end of the cellblock. Several men had run past them towards the fight that the boyos had started; none of them noticing the Queens, thanks to Morghann's shield.

When they got out of the building Karla had recovered enough that she was able to walk on her own. It appeared that Khary had been right; after inquiring from a woman on the street, who gave them a strange look, they found that they were indeed still in Goth. After getting directions to the nearest Landing Web they had set off. But by that time their escape had been discovered and Lord Rafel's guards were out looking for them. There had been several close calls and it seemed that they would never get to the Landing Web. Karla wasn't so sure now that she wanted to get there. Not without Morton, Khary and Aaron.

The place where they had chosen to rest was close to a marketplace and delicious smells were drifting in the air. Karla's stomach rumbled. She hadn't eaten since the evening before and it was now late afternoon the next day. She shifted and glanced at Morghann and Kalush. Clearing her throat she said softly, "We're fairly close to the Web now; I think the woman had said that it's about five more streets over. You shouldn't have much problem getting over there. Once you're there you'll need to get the fastest Coach to Dhemlan-."

"Wait, what is all this talk of 'you' Karla?" Morghann said suspiciously, giving her a hard stare.

"I- I'm not going back to Dhemlan, not without the boyos. I can't. A Queen is supposed to protect her people- not leave them behind to face torture or captivity!" cried Karla passionately.

"And you expect us to just continue on to Dhemlan while you try to rescue them?" asked Morghann, incredulous.

"We're Queens as well, Karla," said Kalush quietly but fire flashed in her eyes. "How dare you assume that we'll flee and wait while someone else goes to rescue our males!"

"We're coming with you Karla, whether you want us to or not."

"It was my fault though-,"

"Karla-," rumbled Morghann, dangerously. "We are going with you."

Karla nodded slowly, more relieved than she wanted to admit. She had hoped that Morghann and Kalush would stay. Now all they needed was a plan.

Author's note: Sorry about the long wait! I'll try to update more often than I have been in the last couple months. You might be wondering about a couple things in this chapter; for instance, the fact that Aaron, Khary and Morton are wearing rings. But wait, you say, doesn't it say in Heir to the Shadows while talking to Lucivar, they say that they never experienced the Rings of Obedience? What is the author trying to get at?

Here's the answer: yes I am aware of this passage and I am still playing with the rules of canon (well, maybe stretching them a tiny bit). If you stick with the story until the end you will understand, ok? It will hopefully be plausible and have still stayed true to the canon of the Black Jewelsverse. That's my hope anyway!