Disclaimer: I do not own the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy.
Yay! The sequel is here! I'd like to thank all my wonderful supporters who couldn't wait until I posted this. This chapter is dedicated to you guys. :)
While Nabusar was carrying the unconscious fairy over his shoulder, a large variety of thoughts went through his highly analytical mind. None of them, however, were regrets. Nor were they doubts as to his chosen path. In fact, the majority of them had nothing to do with the small form he carried. He merely wondered what had happened to his King, who had recently gone to a meeting with his rival, the elf King. There had been rumors of an ambush, and Nabusar was in fact quite concerned with his sovereign's health.
His worry was unnecessary, however, for although there was an ambush, there had been no winner in the ensuing fight. Instead, both Kings had walked away with bruises, but no permanent damage had been done (although some rather harsh insults had been dealt).
But rather than musing on the health of his King, who was currently ensconced in his Kingdom getting a thorough scolding from a certain elf King, perhaps Nabusar should have been more focused on his present problems. Such as a pissed off fairy who was fighting her way out of a magically induced sleep.
She was careful not to let him know that she had awoken, but lay limp while she considered the best plan of escape from her captor. Concentrating on anything was hard for her at the moment, for with the approaching dawn, the urge to shift into formless mist grew stronger. It was a fundamental need, and thus very difficult to resist. The only thing that gave her strength was the thought that if the thing that was carrying her caught even a hint that her body was losing form, he would slice her throat open. She put on a brave front, but in truth, she was terrified of this pitch-black monster with eyes so deceiving. She just wanted to look into them and feel her troubles wash away as she lost herself in the bright, liquid turquoise.
She nearly whimpered in frustration. How could something be so beautiful one moment, and so cruel the next? She longed for the days when life was simpler, when her toughest problems were finding humans to play tricks on, when goblins and elves weren't even a consideration, when... No, before. Before they came. No, she mustn't think about them, not now. Not when she hadn't even escaped her current troubles. Although, frankly, she wasn't sure if her captor might actually be worse than... No! That wasn't possible. No one could be that horrible... Could they?
She cursed herself for a coward and forced her mind back to the present, and the worsening problem of losing her form. The moment the sun peeked over the horizon, there would be no stopping it, she simply dissolve and sleep the day away as a little cloud. Or she would be dead, her head hanging off by a few bloody tendons, her sightless eyes staring... What was wrong with her? She had faced them down and survived, if she couldn't do the same with this smug bastard, she really was a coward.
She cleared her mind, pushing out her fear with every exhalation, leaving only a numbing calm in its place. Then she turned her wrists, ankles and head into mist, letting the ties fall through her body. She then kneed him in the stomach, reared up, and shoved herself off his shoulder. Unfortunately, she was weak and disoriented from the effort of keeping herself tangible, and her knees buckled underneath her. She saw stars when her head hit the ground, and she could feel herself dissipating as she started to fall asleep.
A cold, sharp, blade against her skin rapidly brought her back to the land of the living. She shrieked, trying to push the knife away. There was something wrong. This wasn't the same knife he had used before. It was metal and, she realized with horror, iron. When it made contact with her rapidly dissolving flesh, she became instantly tangible again. It was also quite painful.
"Aiee! Get it off! Get it off!" she screamed desperately, clawing at the hand holding that iron to her skin. But the monster's grip was like steel, and he held her down effortlessly.
"What is wrong with you?" he shouted at her.
She whimpered. She didn't want to tell him, he would just use it against her. But the pain...
"It's... the iron... It hurts..." She struggled again, wanting, with every molecule of her being, to get it off.
Nabusar's eyes widened, then shot to the knife that had reopened the wound from before, when he had held his elvish knife to her neck. Slowly, he let the knife up. When it lost contact with her skin, she sighed and relaxed. That was a mistake. She began to dissolve again almost immediately, and he quickly put the knife back where it was. He was beginning to look very interested. When she instantly regained her form, he slowly grinned.
Then he started laughing. The irony of it amazed him. That a being with such an amazing ability could be defeated by such a simple thing as iron. This would make his task significantly easier.
Still grinning, his mood drastically improved, he hauled her up. He pressed the flat of the blade to her neck.
"Come on, little girl. Time to go."
She whimpered again, then started crying. He lost his grin.
"Move," he growled, pressing the blade harder to her skin.
She cried harder, but let herself be pushed along in front of him. The sun still had yet to make its way past the horizon by the time they arrived, a fact for which the fairy was extremely grateful, as Nabusar had kept the knife touching her the whole time. She had stopped crying after a few minutes, when she realized that the monster wasn't even affected by her tears. And she did have some pride.
Nabusar stopped about 100 feet from the entrance and waited. She shifted, uncomfortable from the knife and the awkward position she was in. The pain of the iron had abated somewhat from prolonged contact, but the sting was still painful. And it would get much worse once the sun had risen.
When she fidgeted again, Nabusar growled warningly and tightened his grip on her stomach, pressing her to his chest. She became irritated and glared up at him awkwardly. What was he waiting for?
She was soon to find out, for no more than 10 seconds later, a tall figure came storming out of the entrance, his long, brown cloak swinging behind him. Then she recognized him. It was the elves' King, Ag... Agan... nir? Aganir! That was it! Maybe he would help her!
"Aganir!" she yelled, but her voice was hoarse, so it came out as more of a croak, but he seemed to have heard her, for his head snapped around, and he looked in her direction.
Nabusar's hand moved like lightning from her stomach to her mouth, muffling her. When she still made noise through her nose, he clamped his thumb and forefinger over it, cutting off her air supply and silencing her completely. She struggled madly against him, trying desperately to breathe.
But he was too strong and his hand didn't budge from her nose and mouth. It seemed like an eternity while Aganir stared in their direction, before he shook his head and walked off silently into the forest, heading towards his camp.
Nabusar waited a few more seconds, before he finally removed his hand. She gulped in a lungful of much-needed air, breathing hard for a minute while her starved lungs recovered. Nabusar spared her a glance to make sure she was alright, then nudged her forward again. She glared at him, the hate in her eyes clearly visible.
His response? To press the flat of the knife into her neck and growl into her ear, "Stop sulking and get moving." He nudged her in the back again.
She yelped from the knife and stumbled forward. "Bastard," she muttered.
She shivered when they entered the cave. She had only been in a cave once, and she had found it cold and lonely, the only sounds coming from the slowly dripping stalactites and the dry rustling of snakes. She preferred the wet marshland with a few trees scattered around. Home... She forced back the stinging tears that threatened to spill onto her cheeks.
They entered a room filled with mirrors, so many she could see an infinite number of herself and the monster. They were all around her and the effect staggering. She stumbled again, but he caught her.
"Close your eyes," he said softly, for once not growling.
Perversely, she kept them wide open just to spite him.
He stared at her for a long moment, his expression inscrutable. Then he shrugged. "As you wish."
As he expertly navigated the confusing room, she became increasingly disoriented and extremely nauseated. She almost vomited, but at last they reached the end of the mirrors, approaching a thick iron door. By the Heavenly Gardens, an iron door. She would never escape this place, for her magic had no effect on iron.
When the door spoke, she was struck dumb. Whoever heard of talking doors?
"Good evening, Nabusar!" it boomed in a deep baritone that rumbled in her chest.
"Hello, door," Nabusar returned the greeting curtly. "As you can see, I'm rather preoccupied at the moment, so let's skip the pleasantries, shall we?"
"Oh... Alright," it said rather glumly. Then it swung open.
She twisted around to watch the door after they had passed it, still astonished by the concept of a talking door. They went through a series of confusing hallways, which were surprisingly polished. She should have known a race this selfishly cruel would spare no expense on their lavishly decorated home.
Nabusar spoke to a few goblins on the way. It was in his language, but she had been born with the gift of language, and could understand any language, written or spoken, pictures, words or runes, even codes. He asked them where Marak was. She had learned from the elves that Marak was the goblin's King. She trembled. They had also told her to avoid him at all costs.
They finally arrived in a large room filled with bookcases and chests of all sorts. There were bottles of powder, cream and liquid all around, but they appeared to be in some kind of order, though she couldn't quite see how they were organized. This room was less polished than the ones she had encountered thus far; the stone walls were actually rough, and there were no tapestries on the walls. There was no fire, but the room was inexplicably warm. Goblins, she mentally sniffed in disdain. So frivolous with their magic.
Marak whipped around when he heard them come in. His red and silver eyes widened as he looked her over. Then his gaze snapped to Nabusar.
"This is her?" he asked in goblin. Nabusar nodded. Marak laughed. "Well thank the First Fathers you didn't come any earlier. You may have noticed Aganir storming out of here...?"
"Yes, I did." Nabusar glared at her. "The bitch nearly gave us away. What was he doing here?"
Marak was silent for a moment, wondering at the venom in his lieutenant's voice. Then he mentally shrugged and dismissed it. It was none of his business anyway.
"Well, it's a rather long story. Are you sure you don't want to get more comfortable?"
"Just give me the cliff-notes," Nabusar conceded. "If I don't keep my blade to her skin, she'll dissolve and float away."
"Really?" Marak's eyes held not a small amount of interest. "I'll have to see that."
"Later," Nabusar said harshly.
"Right. So Aganir came storming in here demanding this girl named Ele'nura who he accused me of kidnapping for one of my subjects to marry. Her real name is Lauchysng, and he said she was a fairy who had come to him for help, help for her people, and he struck a deal with her, stipulating that, for two months, she must help him acquire a bride.
"She agreed and began taking the place of the landlady, looking for pretty foreigners passing through and staying at the Hall. Apparently, she notified Aganir when Jamie arrived, but he was delayed, giving me the time to take her for myself. It wasn't her fault, but the elves blamed her for it. At any rate, her part of the deal was up tonight, but the elf she was supposed to meet was late, obviously giving you the time to capture her." Marak smirked as he finished his narrative.
"Like I said, it's a good thing you waited until he was gone. I do so love sticking it to that moon-sick fool."
Nabusar had not said a word throughout the entire story. He was deep in thought. His original reasons for marrying her didn't quite hold up anymore, not that they ever really had. The whole thing was really just an excuse. The truth was, he wanted to marry her. She challenged him in ways no other female had before, and yet he had still defeated her, multiple times. But it had been hard. This was a new experience for him, and the simple fact was that he didn't want to give it up yet. He was having fun with his new toy, and he wanted to keep it.
He enjoyed immensely, the feeling of overpowering her. Why should that stop with marriage? Who said marriage couldn't be fun? Nabusar gazed at the fairy, Lauchysng, and decided her body was really quite attractive. Perhaps making children with her would not be such a chore after all.
Decision made, Nabusar grinned, enjoying watching the blood drain from her face.
"Marak," he began, still grinning. "I have a favor to ask of you."
Surprised, Marak waved him on. "Ask away."
"Given my long and loyal service to you, and given that I have captured this girl myself, is it not my right to take her for my wife?"
Stunned, Marak replied slowly, "Yes, I suppose it is. Is that really what you want, though? All this time you said you wanted an elf bride. What changed?"
"This is what I want, have no doubt. And nothing has changed. I merely wanted to avoid a human wife. Before an elf was the only other option, but now..." He shrugged.
"Well, alright then. Let's get to the Ceremonial Hall."
Nabusar started to follow him, then stopped. "Marak, could you hold the girl? There's one more thing I need first. Make sure to keep the knife touching her skin," he called over his shoulder as he ran up the stairs to his apartments. He came back down a few minutes later with something clutched in his hand. Lauchysng's gaze snapped to that hand. He opened his fist to show a plain, unadorned, iron ring.
Perplexed, Marak raised an eyebrow.
"What? I am merely following a human custom," Nabusar defended himself.
Marak just shook his head and handed Lauchysng back to Nabusar as they proceeded to the Ceremonial Hall, where all marriages except that of the King were held.
During the whole ceremony, even when Marak pricked her finger, Lauchysng's eyes didn't stray from the ring in Nabusar's hand. Finally, at the end, when Nabusar was preparing to slip the ring onto her left ring finger, she turned her eyes up to Marak. They held great sadness, and a painful amount of despair. Luckily, Marak was a goblin, and was not affected by her pleading stare.
Nabusar took her hand, holding it tightly when she tried to pull away, and slid the ring on. She flinched and cried out when it touched her skin, clawing at it to pull it off. Nabusar quickly forestalled her attempts with a simple spell gluing the ring to her finger until he chose to take it off. Not that he ever would. She was his, forever, and nothing she could do would ever change that. They were going to have such fun together.
Okay, just some need to know stuff. Updates are not regular, but I will post chapters as soon as I finish them, which usually takes, at the most, a couple weeks, but probably a few days. Also, no chapter names this time. Someone told me it was more classy this way. We'll see...
And in case you didn't notice already, this is a sequel. You can find the first one in the series on my profile. It's called Fearful Love and Silver Succession.
Anyways... I hope you enjoy my story. Show your appreciation in a review! I give PM replies to all signed reviews, so feel free to ask any questions and I'll try to answer them. :) See you in the replies. Hopefully. :P