With a Little Help From My Friends

A covenant at the Caldera Manor

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

With a Little Help From My Friends

Postby Shiress on January 31st, 2019, 5:58 pm

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Shiress could feel her bondmate's eyes on her, his reassuring emotions pulsing through the bond that they shared. Shiress was never more grateful for Rook at this moment and gave a thankful smile, resting her cheek against the top of his head, eyes closing as the tension in her began to ebb.

The momentary solace broke like a dam, however, trepidation flooding back in with a single questioning word from Elias. Guest. Shiress's eyes flew open, glancing from Alaric to Elias, before settling on Bella. Shiress saw the smirk and gave the slave a slow and pleading shake of her head, but the traitorous woman leaned in any way, whispering something to Elias. If the glance her lover gave her made chills run down her spine, Elias's uttered reply to the unheard words froze Shiress where she stood.

There was no mistaking it now, her man knew what she had done.

Shiress's grip tightened around Rook's hand, emerald eyes creasing as they locked onto Bella. If looks could kill, the bitch would have fallen dead at Elias's feet. The dark-haired slave simply shrugged her shoulders with a look of 'I don't know why you are looking at me like that' before turning away. Shiress would be talking to her handmaid about this later.

So lost in the pleasing thought of that particular confrontation Shiress jerked as if shot with a bolt when Elias yelled out the name of yet another presence she wished would not have made themselves known. With a grown of despair, she let Rook drag her into the other room, her steps hesitant even though she had no control of them.

Head down, eyes studying the floor, Shiress barely heard the words of greeting exchanged between Rook, Elias, and Belugnir. Her mind was too busy processing a reasonable explanation of why she had sent for the sellsword for she knew that, also, would be announced soon enough. Her only hope was that Zavya would somehow go unnoticed and be thought to have already left the manor. That way, shiress could tell the story of how the Tigress had escaped her Master and leave out the bits that the others need not know about. Shiress would take Elias to the side and explain that the Kelvic was distraught, they had drank wine, and things had gotten carried away. Maybe, if given a chance, Elias would-

Shiress's thoughts were interrupted as Rook abruptly dropped her hand and moved away.

"Rook?" she called, watching her bondmate's back as he stopped in a doorway, head lifted as if to test the air. Shiress frowned, curious, but Rook only turned and walked back to her, retrieving her hand. It took a chime, but the apparent stirring of Rook's emotion came through their bond, making Shiress shutter.

"Rook, what's wrong?" she said, her voice concerned. Rook just ignored her pulling her into the dining room, his hand tightening, almost painfully, around her's. "Rook?" she repeated, almost frantically, but again Rook ignored her.

Absently Shiress lowered herself in a chair at the table beside Rook, eyes still studying his as they moved around the room. Shiress's mouth opened to again inquire about what was troubling the wolf, but Rook suddenly stiffened, his gaze hardening. Shiress followed his line of sight and nearly yelped out loud as her heart suddenly skipped a beat before pounding its way into a hectic rhythm in her chest. Shiress's breath caught in her throat, eyes going wide.

Zavya stood in the doorway.

Suddenly, it felt as if everything had come unraveled, pooling into Shiress gut like a bed of snakes.

Shiress's body began to tremble from her toes to her hair, emerald eyes never leaving the Tigress's procession to her seat, but the Kelvic had eyes only for the master of the house. Shiress could see her own trepidation mimicked in the woman's movements and try as she might to catch the woman's gaze, Zavya never once spared her even a cursory glance.

"I hope you slept well, slave. I imagine you’ve worked up quite an appetite…” Elias said.

Shiress felt her very bones glaze over with ice at the soldier's words. The man's insinuation hitting home was enough to draw black lines into the edges of her vision, but how in all of Rhysol's nightmares had he known Zavya was a slave?

Elias was keeping his own secrets it seemed.

Glancing down, Shiress stared stupidly at the scared hand a tick before coming to her senses enough to realize she was meant to take it. After a quick swipe of her palm against her pants to dry her sweat-soaked skin, Shiress slid her trembling fingers into Elias's hand, eyes staring blankly as he began to speak to his God. The oddness of the gesture may have been a curiosity to the girl had her heart not been pounding too loud in her ears for her to fully hear what was said.

Elias's prayer ended and as soon as her hand was free, it joined the other in her lap, eyes closing in dread to his follow up question. It was Rook's voice that sliced through the tense quiet that had befallen the group. Shiress jerked her head up. No one told him she was a Kelvic? That sure sounded like he, too, already knew about Zavya's presence in the Manor. Shiress frowned at her Bondmate, but before she could speak, Rook had slipped from his human form and was prowling across the table. Shiress jumped to her feet, grabbing for him, but he was out of reach before she even had the chance to touch him.

"Rook, wait!" Shiress yelled, rounding the table to step between Zavya and the wolf. "Rook, please wait!"

Shiress wrapped her arms around the wolf's neck, halting any further progress toward Zavya. "Let me just expl..." The tigress moved toward Rook, her spoken threat interrupting Shiress. She turned on the female Kelvic, gently pushing her back by a shoulder. "Zavya stop it! There won't be a fight!" Turning again to Rook, she took her bondmate's large head in her hands, making him meet her gaze. "Please?" she said softly. Behind her, Zavya began to speak, and Shiress's eyes slid closed at her words.

Here it comes

Shiress's arms tightened around the wolf's neck, and she leaned forward into the embrace. "It's true." she whispered to her Bondmate, her face buried in his fur. Releasing Rook, the girl stepped back, tears stinging her green eyes as they found Elias. "It's true" she repeated. Slowly her hands found the hem of her shirt, and she lifted it, revealing the bright red, puckered flesh of three long slash marks stitched closed across her ribs and the raised paths of whip marks crisscrossing her sides and back.

Smoothing down her shirt, she gave Zavya a knowing look, nodded, then began to explain.

"I went looking for Zavya a few days ago, and I found her outside the Valdinox Estate." Shiress swallowed, giving Zavya an uneasy glance "Zavya told me that my coming there was dangerous and I made to leave, but her Master's guard caught me before I had the chance. Zavya attacked the guard in an attempt to help me get away, but her Master Ryker caught me again" Shiress glanced to Elias, but as always the soldier wore an unreadable expression. "He decided to hurt me to get back at Zavya."

Shiress wasn't sure if she should go into detail about what Ryker had done, but for her friend's benefit, and Elias's understanding, she continued, taking a breath. "He...Ryker tied my hands above my head and whipped me until I told him my name. Then.." she shuttered at the thought, tears welling in her emerald eyes, "he began to cut me, trying to make Zavya torture me also, but when he handed her the whip, Zavya attacked him and took his knife. She cut me loose, and we fled here."

Lifting her face again, green eyes locked on blue in a pleading gaze. "Had she not done so, Ryker would have killed me, Elias. I need you to know" she paused, glancing to Rook "I need you both to know that this isn't Zavya's fault. The blame is mine and only mine."



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With a Little Help From My Friends

Postby Rook on February 1st, 2019, 1:33 am

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Rook did not like the tone of voice of the sharp tongued cat standing before him. The wolf all but trembled with indignation, echoed by the rising rumble in the back of his throat. The kelvic woman's threats of larger size meant nothing to him. He knew she was predator. He could smell it on her, the scent of a born killer. She was, perhaps, even more predator than Rook himself was, for maned wolves were known to take meat only occasionally and more often than not subsisted off of plants. But he could not back down. His pride rode on it. The part of Rook that was predator was only the slimmest fraction of the puzzle that explained why he was currently standing on a table staring down a creature that could, in all likelihood, do very real harm to him.

Rook was not aggressive. In spite of everything the kelvic had gone through, he really and truly was not aggressive. The times that he had fought and killed had been done in self defense, or the defense of the people he cared for the most. Had it been up to him alone, he likely never would have gone so far. In Rook's mind, death was a wasteful thing. Killing rarely netted you much of anything, aside from a temporary peace of mind or a momentary full belly. But if you left someone alive, then all sorts of possibilities could rise from that. As long as someone still breathed, they could be used. And that was why, although his territorial predator brain howled at him to do so, the wolf did not lunge at the kelvic woman before him, and tear into her neck before she had a chance to shift forms.

Rook roiled at the woman's arrogance, and it was only his natural reticence that saved blood from being shed. Who was this stranger to come at him with fangs in her words? Maned wolves did not have packs. They were solitary hunters, and Rook was, at his core, a territorial creature. The wolf had fought and bled and suffered for three of the four sitting at the table, and they for him, and that had earned them a place in the shallow confines of the wolf boy's heart. Who was she to be allowed among them? How had she proven herself to be here, speaking to him in a tone like she meant anything to those gathered?

The final portion of the puzzle of Rook's behavior lay in recognition of the woman's race. Rook had never had extended contact with a fellow kelvic before this moment. Had the situation been different, he would certainly have approached her with wide-eyed curiosity. The wolf was far more inquisitive than he was aggressive. But as the situation stood, all Rook knew of this cat had been taken from that flash he had seen in Elias’ scrying orb: a moment of extended intimacy. If she had been human it wouldn't have mattered. Rook was accommodating of Elias and Shiress’ relationship after all. But the key in his acceptance of that had come with the acknowledgement that Elias would never be able to share his heart and mind with Shiress the way that Rook could. Elias was not a threat to Rook's bond. This stranger was. And Shiress was the only thing that mattered to Rook.

As things stood, Zavya's words fell on deaf ears. Rook was far too assertive and protective right now to pay attention to the fact that the kelvic had saved Shiress’ life. If the wolf had taken time to think about the situation, he would have scoffed at it. Zavya had saved Shiress from a fate that she had imposed on her in the first place? If Shiress had never gone to the kelvic in the first place then she never would have been in danger!

Rook's growling quieted only when Shiress’ arms found their way wrapped around his neck and her fingers twined in his fur. The fear Rook felt through their bond at a possibility of confrontation between the two kelvics send a surge of frustration through him. When Shiress spoke of the events that had taken place, Rook listened. But in his mind, the hurts that his beloved had suffered only condemned Zavya more. When Zavya and Shiress had finally reached the conclusion of their tale, the wolf boy paused. In another flash, he was human again, crouched against the table.

“Then we kill Ryker,” Rook said simply. “Shiress isn't a slave anymore. No one can torture her.” The wolf boy flung out a singular arm, blocking the space between Zavya and Shiress. “But Shiress is my bondmate,” the wolf boy growled. Even in his human form, his eyes had not shed their savage look. “Don't get any ideas.”
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With a Little Help From My Friends

Postby Belugnir on February 8th, 2019, 9:24 pm

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'I'm not naked. You said so yourself, I've got the cloak.''

'I'm not naked. You said so yourself, I've got the cloak.''

So you do..., Ein gave a falsely sheepish shake of the head... Yet the girl's following mutters accompanied with what seemed as dawning realization gave him pause. Meant me? Meant for sodding what?...''

''Oi, wai--'', he made after the girl in several strides once she so abruptly decided she'd rather be elsewhere, yet as she turned a corner, and before he could finish the holler he made in her wake, a set of doors to his side opened and through it came the master of this house... And almost uncomfortably fond of seeing the southerner in his hallway, as he would have it seem. It was unnerving. Albeit the man's extravagant greeting was soon followed by instruction to follow him, and Ein would have done so rather quickly and without much of a fuss, hoping that would be the quickest way to hearing why the sodding hell he was invited here in the first place. Elias had his woman, and he'd just come home from acquiring her friend, pet, whichever...

''Rook, Missus...'', he gave the two a nod of recognition as they came into view, and found himself rather endeared by the pup's reaction to seeing him, albeit even before he could of began composing an answer to the little lad, Rook's attention seemed to take a turn elsewhere, and an uneasy one at that. A look at Shiress only confused Ein all the more so, she looked mighty like some child expecting to be bent over a knee for whatever vast mischief children ought not to commit...Then there was Zavya, all hasty and fidgeting a moment ago. He looked to Shiress for any sort of hint as to what the shyke was going on, yet she seemed to only have frightful eyes for her bondmate as they moved to the dining hall. Something sideways was going on in this house, and the more he observed his trio of acquaintances, the more did Ein gain a lingering impression that whatever it was it would end up breaking over his back.

And nay, Ein wasn't feeling particularly peckish, and once seated at Elias' table, he merely proceeded to measure up the lot of those present with a look that hardly hid the fact he wasn't all too joyful to be attending this gathering himself. It also took some commendable effort for the 'berther not to sprawl himself in his seat as he would in some back alley tavern, and instead keep his back straight in this stiff chair meant for holding up the arses of royalty. The backwards tension that entered the room in Zavya's wake hardly helped his own mood, an he simply watched one brow frowning, the other perked up in cynical observation.

Ein nearly pushed his seat up and stood away from the table when Elias began with some modest ceremony celebrating the town's resident god. As the pale man and the two women held hands and the servants stood a ways away from the table repeated after Elias' recital, Ein simply sat, uncomfortably and attempting his best not to fidget in agitation. He wasn't going to go out of his way to disrespect the man in whose house he was, but it would have taken at least five daggers at his gullet and a torch up his arse before he joined in on any prayer... And once the whole ordeal was finally over, Elias came on with:

'“Who wants to tell me what the hell is going on?”

Ein was about to reinforce that question with twice the zeal, but instead of straightening up and leaning elbows upon the table, he leaned backwards, and with a long, heavy sigh, as blinding light burst through the room. Rook had other plans, evidently.

So it was, Ein sat on, quiet, scratching away beneath his chin and with an ever so endearing twitch in his left eye, taking in the scene that unfolded with some backwards amusement. He could imagine an outburst from Elias wasn't far off... Though thankfully, the kelvics seemed to settle down beforehand... Then there was jealousy, open mention of murder, and all together an aggravating plentiful of shyke that needed to be spilled into the light of day. What bloody circus have I walked into...

''And now that we are all so neatly not at each other's throats.'', Ein bellowed politely, surprised at hearing the repressed agitation in his own voice, for indeed, he hadn't said much since arriving, and his words could very fittingly be compared to a harsh slap purposed with sobering up a drunkard. ''I do not believe the house master has his answer yet... And I, for one, would very much like to hear it as well.''


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With a Little Help From My Friends

Postby Elias Caldera on March 4th, 2019, 1:48 am

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When he’d walked through his front doors this morning, Elias couldn’t have known for certain what kind of story he would be in for. Knowing Shiress’s abashed nature, he had expected something amusing honestly, a little chuckle worthy anecdote he could dredge up now and again to bring a bit of red to his mistress’s cheeks. Instead, the tale she shakenly recounted to him left not even a hint of a smile upon his darkening countenance.

It didn’t help soothe matters any when Rook, in all his naked indignation, decided the dinner table would serve as an adequate stage from which to growl and sneer make known his embittered resentment. Elias still had the dirt and grime of the long road upon him, his back aching from the ride and the rest of his body soon to follow in the soreness. He hadn’t even had the chance to take a bite of his breakfast before the bedlam had been unleashed, but looking now at the young Kelvic, his fury and fervor flopping dangerously close to the eggs and morning porridge, Elias decided he wasn’t quite so hungry for the sausage in his grasp anymore and set aside his food with a disgruntled frown. Instead, he turned his attention on Alaric, a question clearly conveyed as their gazes met. The butler had been glaring a hole through the back of Rook’s head as the young man’s shenanigans began, but now that the truth was out for all to share, he could not even meet his master’s eye.

More secrets then, old man… The stryfer mused bitterly. Perhaps the time had come to deal with his father’s creature once and for all instead of putting up with this charade any longer. It would be a well deserved reckoning in light of what he’d done to this family, but one that would have to wait for now. His were not the crimes on trial at the moment.

As Shiress retold the events of the nights prior, tears welling in her emerald eyes, Elias had to wonder how much amusement his God was taking from all this. For surely, it had to be the will of the Deceiver that such a familiar catastrophe would fall upon their heads now, just when everything had finally been settled. Radcliff, though still likely alive given their luck, had been ultimately defeated. The war with the Larks was over, and even their gardens had been repaired and replaced within just a few weeks of the fire. The very same fire that had been meant to represent the end of an era and the beginning of a new one for the slave girl. Unfortunately, the healer had acquired a taste for the pride and blood of noblemen it seemed, for what else could be the reasoning behind so brazenly antagonizing another after barely surviving the last.

Of course, he already had the answer, and he’d known since the day he’d first met her; ‘because it was Shiress.’ He knew well enough by now that any injustice the often naïve Zeltivan beheld was an injustice she would gladly fling herself in front of if it meant sparing another the same fate. Hell, so ultimately fearless was she that even if there wasn’t a chance of winning, she’d still be there, standing up for what was right, regardless of the consequences. Elias had always preached the purity of sacrifice for one’s beliefs, but in Shiress he was beginning to see something different… something dangerous. It was a senseless sort of conviction whose goal was not change or righteousness, but merely martyrdom for a cause none but she cared to fight for. A bonafide hero in every sense of the word... but we know such things don’t really exist, don’t we. The soldier thought grimly as he shifted his focus from his lover’s pleading to the one in question she now pleaded for.

Zavya didn’t exactly cut the figure of a helpless victim in need of rescuing though. Perhaps that was merely bias on his part given the brief time they’d shared together, but it was difficult to envision the huntress seeking out salvation when Elias knew what bloody fangs hid beneath her delicate smile. This did explain the revolutionary’s previous familiarity with his woman however, though not entirely to his satisfaction.

“Is that name familiar to you?” The pale mage inquired, and for a tick no one answered until Isabella looked up and realized he had been talking to her. The slave reeled slightly, shaken from her awkward bout of silent stillness and cleared her throat. “Ryker Holden Valdinox.” Isabella began, as if reciting a passage from a book none of them could see. “Socialite, bachelor, and prodigious patron of the Church. I hear he styles himself as something of a sports hunter and outdoorsman, but in truth he’s infamous among even the other families for his rather… particular tastes in entertainment. I’ve heard rumors of a club he and those elites like him congregate to. Rumors of hunting trips on the mainland -the kind in pursuit of prey that runs on two legs instead of four. Of drug, drink and debauchery filled cruises on his yacht around the Lake afterwards. That sort of thing. Aside from that, his only true exploit of note is being the grandson of his house’s matron.”

“Let me guess, the lady Valdinox herself.” Elias muttered, toying with his untouched toast. He could feel his eye begin to twitch.

Isabella swallowed, casting an uncomfortable glance at Shiress and her predatory entourage. “The same.” She sighed. The girl was not alone. Elias now realized this was the answer to a question he should have asked the moment he’d left Zavya in the man’s care. A foolish sense of self-assuredness and superiority had marked the cliched aristocrat as inconsequential, much like the relationship between the Kelvic and Shiress. What a thrilling abundance of surprises this morning was turning out to be.

“A Druvin.” The commander lamented sourly. “One of the scions of our lord’s will on earth. A literal demi-god. Ancient, undying, and powerful. My father’s father grew up listening to her sermons… just as I did.” She was old, like all the chosen, so old in fact she had become a staple of Ravokian life. To go up against something like that was…

“I suspect that is why you’re here.” The mage concluded after a moment of lip biting consideration. He looked then to the mercenary sitting at the far end of the table, a rather muted look of amusement upon his scarred face. There was only one kind of work a man like Belugnir was suited for, and no amount fine shirts and cheap cologne could ever bely that. “You brought him here to dispose of her, I take it. To clean up your mess before it grew anymore out of hand.” There was a pause, pregnant and stifling.

“No, that isn’t your way.” Elias grumbled, a grimace resting precariously upon a surprisingly impassive demeanor as he studied Shiress’s reaction. Then it came to him.

“He’s not here to help you…”

Cold blue eyes narrowed upon huntress at her side.

“He’s here to help her.”


YikesSorry about the wait. I didn't even realize how long it had been.
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With a Little Help From My Friends

Postby Zavya on March 12th, 2019, 2:09 am

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Then we kill Ryker.

As if were that easy. As if she hadn’t had that thought every tick of every day of her life.

But Shiress is my bondmate. Don't get any ideas.

The Kelvic’s eyes dropped to her lap, a muscle in her jaw twitching. I know that all too well, mutt. A longing gaze was cast in the other woman’s direction before turning back to look at her seething bondmate. Opening her mouth on what was sure to be a scathing reply, she was interrupted by Einar’s perturbed bellow, another voice demanding explanations she was hardly fit to give.

Elias seemed just as intent on gathering that same information, questioning his snake of a servant, who seemed only too happy to oblige. Zavya’s face was utterly impassive as Isabella spoke on her master, golden eyes fixed firmly on the table in front of her. ‘Rumors,’ she thought bitterly, only barely managing to keep a laugh from pushing past her lips. They are more than just rumors. None of you have even the faintest idea what sort of monster I saved your woman from.

The tigress would never forget the string of faces that had fallen to Ryker’s hand. And your own, she thought, though she quickly shoved that aside. Young, old, male, female… the Valdinox had his preferences, yes, but in the end, it didn’t matter. Pain was pain no matter who it was inflicted on, and Ryker was a man that enjoyed pain. In all its forms.

Are you not just as monstrous? a small voice asked in the back of her head, the echo of a distant scream bouncing against the walls of her mind. A coppery taste, unbidden and unwelcome, caressed her tongue, warmth flowing down her throat with the memory of bones crunching beneath her jaws. How many times had she participated in those hunts? How many of the hunted had begged to be spared whilst her owner’s voice cheered her on in the background?

It’s not my fault, she insisted silently, even if the insistence sounded hollow. Blood splattered her mind’s eye, Ryker’s rich baritone laugh following closely behind. It was them or me. I chose me.

Zavya was lost to her reverie, her fingers clutched hard around the arms of the chair she sat in. Caldera Manor was gone, replaced by a dense forest and a crimson moon, memory of that first hunt overwhelming everything else…

A flash of red hair, a hint of brown…

The Kelvic closed her eyes and shook her head, trying in vain to dam the deluge before it burst free.

Just keep running, they’re not far ahead…

She could still feel the hardness of the earth beneath her paws, feel the brambles that tugged at her fur as she ran by.

Blue tear-filled eyes pleading into indifferent gold, heart-wrenching entreaties for the mercy she’d never been given…

Those eyes were still so damnably bright, so vividly clear. Why couldn’t they see she had no choice? This wasn’t about them!

Flesh torn asunder, bloody claws stained scarlet, screams gone silent…

That silence was louder that the screams, unbroken only by a slow clapping of hands and a shuffle in the leaf litter.

Dripping hands held out in front of her, enclosed in a warm grasp…

Blood, there was so much blood! Gods, how could one person hold so much blood? Who was touching her? No, the hands were dead, stop, no more touching, stop!!

Praise, ecstatic praise, a tongue running up her throat, tasting the blood on her lips…

There was a resounding crack, wood splintering in her hands and blood springing from her palms as if memory had been brought to life. Jumping up, the chair clattered to the floor beneath her, Zavya drawing in a ragged breath and backing away from the table.

Monster.

Zavya shook her head again, little droplets of sanguine fluid falling from her hands to stain the carpet. Drip, drip, drip… She seemed not to even feel it.

You liked it.

Desperately now did she deny it, burying her face in the macabre mess of her fingers. She could still taste it, that salty, decadent, lush flavor that tortured her in its very magnificence. Zavya was what nature made her! Deprived of food and presented with a veritable feast, what else was she to do?

It wasn’t my fault! I am what I am!

At last, her inner voice seemed smugly satisfied that it had done its job, going silent and leaving her to the whims of reality. Slowly, achingly slowly, Zavya straightened up and turned feral eyes to the table, only just stopping herself from baring her teeth. She looked down at her hands and then down at the chair, blinking rapidly as if just realizing what she’d done. Releasing her breath with a shuddering sigh, she turned to face the others.

Voice surprisingly calm, she proceeded to speak as if her unhinged display had not just happened, “Yes. A Druvin. Don’t you think if killing Ryker was such a simple option, I would have already done it?” This last was directed toward Rook, molten gaze flicking his way. “To even make the attempt is suicide.”

Zavya had lived her entire life flowing in and out of trauma, and the fact that she buried it so quickly now was only a coping mechanism forced on her by a torturous existence. Weakness was not permitted; vulnerability was shunned. Above all else, the tigress was a survivor, and survive was what she intended to do. Even if all her mind wanted her to do was break.

Elias continued to speak, musing aloud on why Einar was among them. Zavya had a feeling she knew, and when the Stryfer echoed her suspicions, her jaw clenched.

He’s here to help her.

Indeed, it was much what she’d suspected when she’d found the mercenary lingering about the estate, and to say that she was displeased at the prospect was putting it mildly. What other explanation could there be? Why else would he have shown up within a day of Shiress sending for help? Wasn’t there anyone else the woman could have thought to call on? Then again, she supposed there weren’t many people mad enough in Ravok to risk inciting the wrath of one of the Families.

“Is it true, Shiress?” she asked, finally addressing the woman for the first time since entering the room. “Is this who you called for?” Turning toward Einar, a sneer pulled at her lip. There was more than a touch of bitter resentment at the memory of his rope around her neck, the hammer of his poleaxe crashing down on her chest. This was the man she was going to trust with her life? Zavya couldn’t help but wonder if she’d overestimated Shiress’s esteem for her. She supposed she couldn’t be picky when her other options were nonexistent, but seriously? The company this woman kept…
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