|The Ancient Prophecy
Part VII: The Quest for Loyalty
by Vipers ©
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
When Atrus and Maya got back, they sighed in relief to find Anna waiting for them on the bed. She was looking at their arrival, especially at Maya's wet crotch. Maya blushed, Atrus was speechless, but Anna just smiled.
"I suppose the dinner was... entertaining?" She teased.
"Not quite, Mistress... The baron was a difficult man. Master Atrus managed to pull up some... tricks..." Again, Maya blushed.
"Don't worry, I understand."
"You do...?" Atrus asked in disbelief.
It was Anna's turn to blush. She couldn't tell him her experience with Maya back in Rocklin. It would be too embarrassing. But since that encounter, she became attached to Maya. She still felt jealous with her, but she did a better job in suppressing it now.
"Of course... You bought me enough time to dig in some information."
"You got something?"
She produced a piece of paper. "I found this letter locked inside the baron's desk."
"Locked?" Maya asked. "Then how did you...?"
Anna just giggled. "It might take more than that to convince Atrus what a skilled sorcerer I have become..."
"We can take care of the praises later. "Atrus answered. "What did you get?"
Her voice became serious. "Read this first. If my feeling is correct, we're in a grave danger."
Sir Anthony Stoke,
Well done on the patrol. We are to inform you that things are proceeding well in our base. We may begin our action at the second day before the full moon. You are hereby advised to stay below ground to avoid massacre.
We will have messenger sent for you if we encounter any problem. Your loyalty will soon be rewarded.
Atrus looked at the girls. Well done on the patrol... "It's from the demons..."
Anna nodded. "It's my best assumption. The demons have made a contract with the baron to cancel all patrols around the area, so that they will have no opposition in doing whatever they want."
"And they're doing it tonight..." Maya murmured. "The fool moon was in two days..."
"But we don't know what they're going to do." Atrus pointed out.
"Probably an invasion." Anna said. "They told the baron to stay below ground... probably to take cover or hide somewhere...
"We need to warn the villagers!" Maya said.
"It's too late for that..." Atrus said slowly. "We can only..."
He was interrupted by the knock on the door.
"I will hide behind the cupboard." Anna said. "Deal with your guests."
Maya opened the door. She was surprised to find the two slaves standing before the door.
"Greetings, Miss Maria. We are ordered to serve Sir White Lion." Misty said slowly.
Maya turned to her master. Atrus was just as surprised as she was. "Ladies... what can I do for you?"
"We are ordered to serve you, Sir. We are at your disposal."
Atrus looked at Maya for a clue, but she was also confused.
"Master Atrus... If I may, I would like to be excused." Maya said slowly.
"Where are you going?"
"I'm going to see an old friend."
Her answer startled him. Behind the cupboard, Anna was also shocked. Maya was going to confront her slaver. She was going to confront her nightmare.
"You are excused." Atrus slowly said while giving a warning look. Maya got the cue and left.
The girls approached him slowly. Atrus eyed them. The girl he didn't know seemed casual, but Misty was shaking. She was the newest slave, he recalled, but both of them were definitely unwilling ones. And the baron had ordered them to serve him... he had to be up to something...
"Ladies..." he announced. "How can I help you?"
They were silent for a while. "We are here... to entertain you, Sir..." The girl said slowly. "My name is Sonya, Sir... And this is Misty..."
"Ah... nice to know you. Please sit down." Atrus gestured at the chairs.
"Oh, no, Sir... We're here to serve you..." Sonya quickly replied.
"But you're my guests here." Atrus insisted. "Please..."
The girls sat on the long chair, while Atrus sat before them. He looked at them expectantly.
"Sir..." Misty began. "I want to thank you for saving my life back at the dining room... I can't imagine what would have happened if you hadn't spoken up..."
"Forget about it." Atrus answered. "You deserve it."
"But why, Sir? Why did you do that?"
Atrus eyed her sharply. "I thought I made my point clear. You're a human. You deserve a right to be treated as one."
Misty fell silent. "I suppose we were intended not to have a human dignity anymore..." Sonya said slowly. "The baron used to say that our destiny has been locked."
"There is no such thing." Atrus said. "Your dignity stays, no matter what happens."
The room was silent for a while. Both girls didn't know how to respond. Atrus just stared at them, wondering what they were up to. Then he noticed the wine bottle.
His gut collapsed immediately. He looked at the bottle in horror. He had tried it back in the dining room, and he didn't like it. Maya had handled the liquid well, but he was not Maya. That substance might choke him to death, but refusing the girls would not be nice, especially after what he had said.
Sonya quickly noticed his gaze. "Um, Sir... we would be honored if you would share this wine with us... of course, if you don't mind..."
Atrus cursed himself. Sonya had made a request he couldn't refuse. He found himself nodding.
Misty reached out for the bottle and a pretty crystal glass from the cupboard. She then poured the content of the bottle into the glass. Atrus noticed Misty's hand shaking while holding the bottle. Sweat covered her forehead. She was afraid of something, he thought.
Atrus grabbed her trembling hand and put the bottle down. Misty was looking at him, puzzled. Atrus lightly brushed her face and kissed her lips gently. She was completely taken by surprise, but accepted the kiss. She kissed him with the burning passion she had kept inside her for a long time. She felt she wanted to burst in tears. She had longed for the love she was accepting.
But suddenly it was over. Atrus broke the kiss, lifted the wine and nodded. One sip wouldn't hurt, he thought.
Then he heard a soft crashing sound. It was from the cupboard at the corner of the room. He knew Anna was inside. Not now, Anna!
He lifted the glass. "Ladies... for long and joyous life..."
Maya walked slowly along the empty hallway. She and Atrus had seen several guards in the way back from the dining room, but now she was not seeing any. The castle seemed deserted. Did they know the demons would attack tonight?
The letter really bothered her. Leonard was right. The baron had sold the villagers to the demons. Whatever Stoke was planning, it had to be bad. She would not resist the thought that the baron was possessed, but giving away a village to enemy's wrath would be insane. But what could she do?
The question went unanswered as she realized she was not alone anymore. Before her stood a lone figure. His image was illuminated by the chandeliers along the hallway.
His formal attire looked as remarkable as before. His cloak was played by the wind from the opened window at the end of the hallway. He still wore the sinister grin she had always hated.
"I know you will come for me." He said slowly.
Did he recognize her? Her heart was thumping hard. If he did, their cover would be blown.
"I can't recall I have an appointment with you." Maya said defiantly.
"Tsk... tsk... What a bad manner..." He chuckled. "You should address me as Sir."
"I have no reason to do so. I am loyal only to my master!"
"Your master...?" His eyes darkened. "...or your lover?"
The baron's laugh echoed in the hallway. "Understand this, slave! You are a slave, and you will be treated as one. I will perform the free service of showing you how a slave should behave."
Before she could act, a strong arm circled her shoulder and a damp cloth was pressed on her nose. A sharp sting on her back forced her to grasp for breath and the thick scent of the liquid filled her lungs. She didn't know what the substance was, but the smell was intoxicating.
Her hands tried to act, but her assailant was faster. He grabbed one of her hands while her other hand tried in vain to get the cloth off. She couldn't see her assailant, but she could see the white long sleeve he was wearing.
He was the servant!
She couldn't believe it. The entire castle could be working against them. They had walked into a trap! Master Atrus and Mistress Anna could be in danger! Then the demons would...
Before she could finish, her mind ceased to work. The fluid had gained control over her body. Her eyes became heavy and she began to drift to sleep. Her effort to stay conscious finally failed. The baron's wicked laugh was the last thing she heard.
Atrus, no!!! The wine is poisoned!!!
Anna tried to bang on the wooden panel, but the door was locked firmly. The locking mechanism had somehow gone wrong, but she didn't have time to figure out why. And to her horror, she saw Atrus drinking the wine.
What happened later was in a quick succession, but Anna witnessed every moment in terror. Misty leaped onto Atrus and kissed him forcefully before shoving him on the bed. The girl looked at him defiantly before finally collapsing on the carpet.
The little slave had swallowed the poison!
As Anna cried, a bright light formed in his palm, and with it she blasted the door open. The wooden door was no match for the magical power and was destroyed to pieces. As she leaped outside the cupboard, she saw the little girl twisting and writhing on the carpet. The other girl, Sonya, just cried beside her. Atrus fetched his sword and pushed the sheathed tip on Sonya's chin, but she didn't fight back.
"Go ahead and kill me!!!" She cried. "We're nothing but slaves... We exist to obey our master's wish..."
Atrus stared at Sonya sharply. His eyes were blazing with anger. Anna knew better than trying to stop him in this kind of situation. Sonya, the sword still on his chin, just cried softly.
Then the anger in his eyes faded, and he withdrew the sword. Sonya fell on her knees and cried. Anna ran toward Misty and checked her condition. Atrus joined her, worry carved in his face.
"How is she? Is she hurt?"
The poison was there, and it was quite violent. Even now it was destroying her body. "I have to heal her, or she won't make it." Anna said slowly.
Atrus took the empty glass. "She saved my life... I should have known..."
"Of course you should have known!" Anna scolded. "The bottle was opened from the start. Never drink from an opened bottle! It might have been poisoned!"
The answer shocked Anna. Atrus had been keeping his pride high during their journey. Nobody could criticize him. But now, instead of arguing with her, he took the blame well. "Atrus..."
"I should have known... Baron Stoke... He wants me dead..." He murmured.
Both of them were surprised to find Misty still awake. Pained expression was in her face. Her voice was weak and faint. The poison seemed to have stripped all of her power.
"Little girl, don't talk now. You need to rest!" Anna exclaimed.
"No... Sir... danger... da... danger..."
"It's okay!" Atrus held her quivering palm. "You'll be fine. Just rest now."
She shook her head frantically. "No... danger... baron... danger..."
Suddenly he understood. "Maya!" Atrus turned to Sonya. "Where's the baron?!"
"He's in the dungeon..." Sonya replied. "The kitchen is next to the dining room. There is a hidden stairway behind a big clock at the northern wall."
"Danger... danger... danger..."
Anna put her palm over Misty's forehead and her body went limp instantly. "Don't worry, she's fine. I have to knock her out. She will die if she keep on talking."
Atrus nodded. "I don't know what the baron is up to, but I have to look for Maya. This castle is dangerous."
"Then go." Anna said. "Leave her with me. I will try to heal her with my magic. Once the poison is gone, I will join you."
"You want me to leave you alone?"
Anna smiled. "Don't worry, I'll be fine. I'm skillful enough to defend myself."
She waited for Atrus' usual insult, but none came. He turned to Sonya. "You stay here with Anna. You are safe with her. Don't try to do anything stupid!"
Sonya nodded quickly. It was clear that she was afraid of him. "Yes, Sir..."
Atrus hung the sword around his shoulder and ran toward the door.
"Atrus..." Anna called. "Be careful... and thanks for trusting me..."
He smiled. "Why, Anna, aren't you big enough to take care of yourself?" Then he was gone.
Big enough...? She hadn't heard such expression before. She blushed at the compliment. Atrus indeed trusted her. She quickly set the thought aside as she noticed Sonya was watching her. She looked at the unconscious slave on her lap, then at Sonya.
"Okay, girl, listen up. You are now my assistant. Your friend's life is in our hand. We fail, and she dies. Got it?!"
"Yes, Ma'am... But, please save her... I'm so sorry..."
"We can take care of your apology later." Anna cut her off. "Now, we have a job to do."
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
|Another top quality story by Vipers.|
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