Denna shivered. Her dress was torn, her hair tangled and dirty, and festering cuts and bites covered her bare feet, legs and arms. The cell was dark and cold, and she had stopped praying to the Creator to save her after the first two nights. Now she prayed for the Creator to let her die quickly. Maybe that was sinful; Denna didn't know anymore.

The hated Mord'Sith who trained her laughed as they threw stale bread to her at mealtimes – if she was lucky. Sometimes they gave her water; sometimes she was reduced to lapping at the rocks for whatever moisture her parched tongue could find.

So when the door opened, and the candles of the hallway blinded her eyes, grown accustomed to only darkness, she shrank back, afraid.

Something wicked this way comes, said a small voice inside her, a fragment of a story long since forgotten, once told to her by a mother who had let the leather-clad demons steal Denna away.

But she was so tired, and hungry, and desperate, that she ignored the voice. The man who crouched at her side smelled of soap and his fingers were gentle as he caressed her trembling cheek.

"Denna," he breathed. "You will be my finest work of art. You'll like that, won't you?"

"Answer the Lord Rahl," a Mord'Sith snapped from the hallway.

"Yes, Lord Rahl," Denna replied.

Darken Rahl smiled and she was his, body and soul, forever more.