Iris couldn't move. It had nothing to do with the chains that bound her in place, or Dyante's hand that hovered just inches from her face.
No. It was…him.
Watching her from the doorway, a sick, menacing smile crossing his face as he saw her. "Ah, I see you've already made yourself home, my dear?" He glanced towards Dyante's blood streaked face and laughed obnoxiously.
Iris stared on as if she hadn't even heard the words come from his mouth. The dark, depthless hell that stood before her was a nightmare beyond anything she could have imagined. She struggled to open her mouth for words. "It's...impossible."
He looked up at her now. His smile deepening as he sauntered closer to her. Looking her up and down hungrily. How she had changed in just three years! What was once a shapeless little girl had blossomed into a full figured, beautiful young woman. He had to stop himself from gaping with his mouth open in disbelief. In all his twisted cruel thoughts on how this moment would be…it was better then he dreamed it would be.
Iris had to fight back the pure hatred seeping into her voice. "Fhremus."
He cocked his head to one side. "Ah…so it seems you can speak now."
She felt like lashing out and wrapping her hands around his throat. The shadows of hell collapsing around her. The face of the devil himself staring her right in the face. "Why are you here?" her voice so quiet it could barely be heard.
A deep, sinister laugh echoed through the chamber. "The real question, my dear, is…why are you here?"
A few moments passed as Iris absorbed what he was implying. She looked down to the ground. The sick, revolting, horrifying realization sinking in. She looked up. The fires of hell burning in her eyes. "You set this up from the very beginning." Her voice was quiet. Almost whisper-like.
He smiled. Taking her face in his cold hand, turning her cheek to him like he were inspecting a jewel. "No one runs away from me. No one."
She shook her face away from him, lunging towards him until her chains rattled in protest. "Don't touch me!" she screamed.
Fhremus backed away, blinking in shock. "Restrain her!" He ordered.
Dyante took hold of her wordlessly, wrapping his powerful arms around her torso. She still struggled viciously in his grasp, fighting against him.
Fhremus stepped through the space between them and raised his hand, striking her across the face so hard her head snapped back into Dyante's chest. An almost instantaneous welt raising across her cheek.
"Don't let yourself forget ever again." Fhremus whispered into her ear. "You are my property now. You will do as I say, and only I, from now until you die!"
Iris lulled her head back, her head spinning. Her eyesight full of red splotches now. She looked at him. Her eyes clear, still burning with unrequited rage. Her voice was quiet. Yet dripping in cold menace. "You will regret not killing me when you had the chance."
Fhremus blinked in shock.
"I will kill you." Iris spoke under her breath. Holding her gaze steady on him.
Without hesitation Fhremus struck her again, Twice now, the sound of his fist hitting her flesh echoing off the walls. Her face was buried in Dyante's robes for a many long seconds, gasping for air. Her head feeling like it would crack from the impact, she tasted blood. Could feel it on her face. She inhaled a few gasping breaths and raised to to face him, shaking under the strain. She spit out a mouthful of blood at his feet, smirking weakly. "I could do this all day!" she taunted.
Fhremus inclined his head towards her. Cold. Calculating. "I can see this is not going to break you as easily as I had planned…" He reached into the lengths of his robes, flashing a malicious grin at her. "Some reminding of your past will put you in your place."
He looked up expectantly at Dyante, pulling out a syringe needle.
"Sir, I don't think…"
"Just do it!" Fhremus ordered.
The mercenary nodded, taking it into his hands. He pushed the hair away from her ear, tracing the needle delicately across the skin at the nap of her neck. A vicious smile lurking on his lips. "It looks like I get what I want in the end. I'm going to enjoy this…" He whispered in her ear with gritted teeth. A surge of shockingly cold liquid coursed through her. First starting at her throat, and spreading across her chest, down into her abdomen, stretching until it consumed her into her fingertips. In the moment of one blink of her eyes, everything seemed like it was suspended in time. "No!" She protested, but it sounded like her screams only came out as a quiet sigh.
"I'll teach you to speak to me like that!" Fhremus growled. "After I'm done with you, you'll barely be able to talk with that pretty little mouth of yours!" He seized a handful of hair at the back of her head, yanking her limp body upwards, forcing Dyante away.
He closed in on her. Her body was completely drained of all its energy to move. Despite the hatred and revulsion that consumed her to her very bones; she was completely helpless. The drug sloughed through her veins, the intake of a single breath slipping away from her.
Fhremus chuckled darkly. His hands fumbling inside the silk folds of her clothing. Searching, grabbing relentlessly. "Ive waited a long time for this!" he sneered, fumbling with the ties of her silk wrap. "Oh, how Ive waited!" He pulled out a switchblade and started cutting away at the fabric.
Trails of ivory silk fluttered to the floor.
"Stop this. You incompetent fool."
Like a rabid beast feasting on a corps, Fhremus froze in his place and look up. A wild, half-mad look in his eye as he looked on to the dark figure in the doorway. "What do you want?" He snarled.
Darth Maul strode into the room. Deliberate, furious footsteps carrying him. In one fluid movement he knelled before Fhremus. Looking him directly in the face. Unforgiving. Brutal. And without the slightest conscience. "You cannot restrain a small girl already bound hand and foot, Fhremus?"He spoke his name contemptuously.
Fhremus backed away, stammering over his words. "You don't understand, this snide little brat--"
Darth Maul raised his hand to silence him. Fhremus immediately obliged. "You have overdosed her on the neurotoxin." His feral yellow eyes narrowed. Smoldering. "This idiocy ends the moment you endanger my plans."
Fhremus opened his mouth to protest. "How could you possibly--" His forehead bubbling in nervous sweat. "Y-you don't understand--"
Darth Maul's voice lowered. Unmistakably hostile. "Leave. Now."
"Y-y-yes," Fhremus stumbled, motioning Dyante to follow. Dyante reluctantly fell in footing behind him, flashing the Sith a long, dirty look. Whether he realized or not, Darth Maul could hear the thoughts in his mind.
"You may scare Fhremus, but to me your nothing more then an ugly freak. Better watch your back...next time he wont be here to stop me."
Darth Maul watched as their backs were turned to him walking away, his fists clutched so tightly they shook under the pressure of his own strength.
Iris was so weak and disillusioned from the overdose of poison in her bloodstream, she couldn't stand anymore. Her knees wobbled beneath her, and she slipped down to the ground. Falling to her knees. Her breaths were labored. Wheezing weakly, her head spinning in thick darkness. She desperately clung to consciousness . Fighting it with every shred of resolve she had within her. Slowly failing.
She collapsed. Her arms pulled up high as her knees hit the floor. Her face falling forward.
...There was sudden, unnerving silence.
Darth Maul turned towards her. His eyes falling to the helpless heap crumbled to the floor. The sight evoked a strange feeling within him. One he did not recognize.
He slowly walked before her, bending down to one knee. Just a few footsteps away. He hesitantly unlaced the glove around his hand, the midnight colored markings snaking from his wrist up to his fingertips along his blood colored skin. The dark, sacred tattoos of the Sith he had bore into his own flesh. It was normal to him now. Unlike the cowering, begging souls who found themselves at his unmerciful feet. Looking up into the cold demonic face of a murderer. The twisted face that haunted them in their graves.
He lifted his hand up. He could feel the pounding pulse of blood through his veins. It called out to him. So close to her...so close, he could feel the beat of her heart. It beat in rhythm with his own. His hand shook ever so slightly. Reaching closer to her.
The toxin overdose was polluting her system. He could feel it like it was within him. If it wasn't removed from her body quickly she could slip into a coma, drift into death. If she didn't suffocate from her damaged lungs, first. He had to extract the poison.
The blood was pounding in his ears. So loudly it drowned out all other sounds. The dark force within him was welling up. A dark surrounding cloud. Powerful enough to crush bones in an instant. The darkness consumed him. He thrust his hand out, laying his bare palm upon her chest.
A smoldering cloud of energy plummeted deep inside her body. Her back lurched forward with agonizing force, her mouth open in a silent scream as the breath was stolen from her. Like electric lightning surging in her veins the dark force spread to every inch of her, consuming everything in it's path. It thrashed and wormed through every layer of tissue, seeking out any impurity. Turning to ashes. Devouring it. Her body convulsed to it's rhythm, traveling up her veins, reaching into her neck for her face. Like the path of a thousand slithering snakes visible beneath her pale skin.
Her body heaved forward,. A wild, desperate gasp escaping her mouth, her eyes suddenly opening wide looking to the heavens. Their bright green splendor morphing into dark, feral yellow eyes. Matching the Sith Lord's.
Darth Maul drew back in shock. For a moment, she looked right at him. Those eyes looking directly into his own. He broke his hand away from her. The moment their connection broke her rigid body went limp. The fierce amber in her eyes fading back to pale green.
He stood very still. Watching her intently.
She was panting, struggling for breath. All the weariness in the world strained on her delicate face. She lifted her head, shaking as she attempted to look up at him.
His heart skipped a beat. She looked into his eyes.
Pupils dilated. No point of focus. No emotion on her face. ...she couldn't see him. Her senses had not fully returned. But she could feel him next to her.
"Who...who are you?" she asked softly. An edge of suspicion in her voice.
He paused for a long moment. Considering.
Iris rocked back on her heels, barely able to keep herself upright in her feebleness. Her groggy mind tried to process that voice. What it implied. Ally?
She barked out a short laugh. Disbelief thick in her tone. In this twisted hellhole it was an inconceivable thought. Impossible. Unreachable as her last distant memory of happiness. An irrational absence of fear was in her now, what should have told her to fight, to be untrusting was oddly empty. After all, if this shadow was here to harm her...it would have happened by now.
She sighed weakly. "We'll see about that..."
Iris's body slammed into the floor. The sheer force of impact was enough to beat the breath out of her. She balled her hands into fists, spiting up the blood in her mouth. Trying to regain the air in her lungs.
"One word is all it takes!" Fhremus growled. Grinding his heel into her spine as she lay there.
Her fingernails scraped against the cold metal floor, resisting the urge to cry out in pain. "No..." her voice barely audible even to her own ears.
Fhremus shoved her with his foot, turning her onto her back. His weight crushed down on her chest, so forcibly it constricted her from inhaling. She clawed at his leg, her lungs begging for mercy. She thrashed under his weight. "No!" she managed with gritted teeth. "No!"
Fhremus yelled in immense frustration, grabbing her by her shoulders and shoving her into the wall. "You pathetic little whore!" He screamed at her, sweat bubbling down his face. "You think your doing yourself a favor?" His voice dropped to a seething whisper. "All you have to do is tell me I am your master...and this will all be over."
Iris was choking on the blood running down her throat, gulping, gasping for air. The left side of her face colored with deep bruises and cuts. Blood running down the side of her head, down the corner of her mouth. Everywhere blazing in horrific pain. Bones splintered and broken, skin ripped and shred.
She closed her swollen eyes. Bloodshot and stinging. "I'd rather die." Her voice was husky and dry.
Fhremus stood speechless for a few long moments. His grip on her shoulders tightening to the point of burring bruises with his fingernails. "Little whore!" He hissed, his hands shaking. "Little...WHORE!"
He took a fistfull of her hair and dragged her back down to the cold metal floor. She cried out, clawing at his hands tangled in her scalp. He yanked her head up to his face, whispering in her ear. "I'll make you beg for death, then!" his other hand gripped the back of her head. And threw it down to the floor.
There was only darkness now.
Iris opened her eyes. It took a moment for her to realize she was alone. Only the darkness of space to keep her company. She struggled to sit up. It was painful. Her wrist was broken, a few ribs fractured, perhaps broken as well. All the muscles in her body were sore. She was so stiff she could barely move.
The passage of time was no longer in day and night, hours and days. It's only meaning to her now were periods of consciousness spent in brutal torture until her body gave out on her...only to be started again once she woke up. The only comforts she could cling to were knowing Fhremus eventually would tire, and the time she spent alone until he returned.
She couldn't fathom how long it had been now. Maybe two weeks. Maybe more. It felt like forever... It didn't matter anymore.
She managed to sit up, cradling her swollen wrist that burned underneath her skin, the pain pulsing into her fingertips and all the way up her elbow. She was starving, even more thirsty. Fhremus had all but denied her anything but the promise of blood.
Her mind was so foggy. Sometimes it felt like she was losing herself. The pain, the thirst, the hopelessness...it was like she was dying inside. Like she could just stop breathing...and it would all be over...
The absolute darkness of this room consumed her. So dark she couldn't even hold her hand up to her face and see it. There was only light when Fhremus commanded it. Otherwise, he let her rot in the inky blackness until he saw it fit.
She sighed. The sound echoing off the walls.
It was then, suddenly...something moved.
She held her breath. Her heart quickening. The fog in her mind instantly cleared. Her senses sharpening. Was she still asleep? Was she imagining things?
She held very, very still.
She couldn't shake the feeling of someone suddenly in the room with her. She was sure of it. She desperately tried to see into the blackness, but it was useless. She couldn't see anything. Couldn't hear anything. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Unease worming through her. Maybe I am dreaming...
It felt like hours she sat there. Unable to close her eyes. To try to sleep. Some phantom undeniably in here with her. Nothing to prove she was right. Her senses begging her otherwise.
Her heartbeat was pounding in her chest. How she could tell she didn't know, but she knew it was coming closer. It moved so gracefully, so soundlessly, it couldn't be possible...
So very slowly, something cool touched her lips.
Her eyes widened in the darkness, fear exploding within her. She tried to move back, but a hand held the back of her head steady.
She squeezed her eyes shut. Am I going to die...?
Cold liquid rushed down her face, onto her lips. Her eyes snapped open, a gasp letting it flow into her mouth.
Within a fraction of a second her hands reached for it eagerly, clasping the hand that held it. It burned like fire. How the water was still cold and not evaporated to dust from the hands that held it she didn't know, didn't care. It rushed down her parched mouth and stomach like heaven. She shook so badly trying to drink it in, it was impossible not to spill it on herself.
More full then she had felt in god knows how long, and still not enough, she drank every last drop until there was nothing but air. When the cup parted from her lips, she was breathing hard.
It took a moment for her to regain her breath. Her eyes stung in unsheathed gratitude. Even tears were a luxury she could no longer afford. "Thank you," she choked out.
She was answered only with silence.
Her heart thudded in her chest, still wondering if this was a dream she had yet to wake up from.
Suddenly behind her, she felt a hand lightly brush the hair from her face. Hot breath washed over her cheek. "Sing for me..."
A shiver ran down her spine. She turned towards the voice, falling on her hands as she turned around. But he was gone. Sing? She thought, puzzled. How could anyone know that...
She swallowed thickly. Her mouth was so dry she heavily doubted anything but parched hisses could come from her voice. But in a strange...almost surreal way, she wanted to do as he asked. It felt like it may be the last time she would ever sing in this lifetime....
Sparkling angel I believe
You are my savior in my time of need
Blinded by faith, I couldn't hear
All the whispers...
The warnings so clear
I see the angels, I'll lead them to your door
There's no escape now, no mercy no more
No remorse cause I still remember
The smile when you tore me apart...
Sparkling angel, I couldn't see
Your dark intentions, you feelings for me
Fallen angel...tell me why
What is the reason, the thorn in your eye
This world may have failed you
It doesn't give you a reason why
You could have chosen a different path in life
The smile when you tore me apart
You took my heart, deceived me right from the start
You showed me dreams, I wish they'd turn into real
It was all just a lie...
Could have been forever...
Now we've reached the end.
Darth Maul leaned against a scaffolding several feet behind her. His pulse was racing. His breaths rising and falling rapidly. He leaned his forehead against the cool metal, his black robes shrouding his body in darkness.
He closed his eyes. Her voice was so...alluring. Like honey...sweet, golden...so incredibly beautiful.
He could feel the waves of energy caressing his skin. supple and delicate. Feather soft. Her voice carried with it an indescribable force. So much more lurked underneath the surface. Not Fhremus, not even the Jedi could fully sense it. But he could... he could feel...everything. It called out to him so achingly...so much more defined by the bond of blood they shared.
That power would soon break free. Ancient and destructive. The likes of which the Jedi could not even begin to fathom...a power so strong it could destroy them all.
And when that moment comes, Darth Maul vowed silently, when it is unleashed, he would be there. He would be the one to awaken it within her.
He turned his back to her momentarily. Her voice sending delicate ripples down his spine. His hands clenched into tight fists. His acrid amber eyes burned into the darkness. "This will all be over soon...Iris."