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Savage Ep. 2

C Withey's picture

King Haefen of Stonetide kept with him a council of wise men, learned sages whom he could rely on for advice in critical manners. In exchange for their services in court and castle, the king gave them ample abodes ripe with rich foods, wines, and indentured servitude. Among them was Councilman Narghast, who had served the king well throughout the many years of his life. He had enjoyed the fine fruits of royalty, and had sampled fares and females from across the globe.

Narghast's days have since grown long, his years many and fulfilled. He spends his remaining days now in bed with only his slaves to tend to him and comfort him during his time of passing.

Narghast had long since sold off or traded many of his former slaves away, reducing his number from thirty to just a meager three to tend to him now. Of these three, two were sister felinekin, the older named Portia, the younger Fayre. And as sisters, the two could not have been more apart.

The older, Portia, had been singled out and preserved within Narghast's abode for her unmistakable beauty and unwavering service. Within the old man's bedchamber, Portia adorned a mask of radiant servitude, forever grateful to Narghast in every way and always willing to follow his every whim. Outside those heavy oaken doors, however, the young felinekin was spoiled and selfish, believing that she deserved her high station and every luxury that came with it. Narghast had long since been bedridden, so the duties for the slaves to perform were few and far between. Narghast's days of constant desires and insatiable sexuality had long since passed, foregoing the most basic of tasks nearly every female Savage was required to perform elsewhere. Most of the day belonged to her, and she strode about the manor as if it were hers, often ordering around any who would listen.

Which included her younger sister Fayre. Fayre was young and meek, shy, silent, and wholly submissive to any who exuded dominance over her. She had no voice to stand against those who would persecute her. Behind Narghast's eyes and ears, she was a victim of her sister's bigotry. Often was Fayre ordered around by Portia as if they were master and slave instead of blood kin.

The third Savage under the reign of Narghast was an older mousekin called Felhaan, who had been a resident so long of the Narghast manor that he might be considered part of the furniture. His presence was comfortable and familiar, tending to his master without fail, silent and unyielding. Portia loathed Felhaan for his refusal to follow her command. Fayre looked up to him as mentor, often speaking with him in a secluded area of the residence. But Felhaan's manner was withdrawn and soft spoken, yielding the secrets of his personality and back story only after years of whittling away at his seemingly gruff exterior. After many years sharing the same household as the older mousekin, Fayre still felt like she barely knew him.

But she did know one thing. Felhaan was concerned, perhaps even afraid. He had told her as much. Felhaan had said that with his master's failing health, the estate would soon be up for auction, and them along with it. He loved his master, and would not tolerate serving a new one, someone who was likely to not be as accommodating to Savages as they were used to. Everywhere in Stonetide slaves were beaten and tortured just for entertainment, such as within the stone walls of the Arena, a place he dreaded going. But here, within this one secluded manor, they were almost as equals, treated as friends instead of as property.

Soon, though, that was all about to change. Much sooner than any of them could have predicted.

It was in the evening hours, as the sun had just dropped below the tree line and the otherworldly moonlight of twilight spilt into the windows of Narghast's bedchamber. Narghast himself had just finished receiving a guest, a fellow councilman from across the city. His three slaves had done their best to groom their master to his satisfaction, dressing him properly and making him appear lordly even from within his bed.

The four were relaxing, Portia away in the estate performing some unknown business. Despite Portia being her sister, Fayre appreciated the bedchamber more without her company. Her feigned respect and false enthusiasm grated on her nerves. She wondered, not for the first time, if Narghast could see through her flimsy disguise to the selfish, stuck-up creature within. If so, he made no indication of this knowledge, even with her away.

Felhaan was at Narghast's bedside, faithfully reading to him one of the leather-bound tomes from his study. Suddenly, while the others thought him asleep, Narghast spoke up, sending Felhaan out of the room for a moment. He called Fayre over. Suddenly in the private company of her master, she became nervous, reflexively running a slender paw through the fur atop her head, her triangle ears folding back at her touch.

She sat herself upon the stool Felhaan had vacated.

“Fayre, for all these years you have been a faithful servant and one of my best assistants during my last years. Such is why I fear for your safety now.” He leaned closer, intently, his voice solemn as the dead. “I am dying, Fayre.”

“No, master!” cried Fayre weakly, paws grasping at his shaking hand. Tears began to leak down and soil the fur of her cheeks.

“The cleric within town has diagnosed me with the Pox. He gave me a few weeks, however, with events that were set into motion, I'm certain it will be much shorter.”

“You mustn't speak that way!” uttered Fayre breathlessly, her voice desperate.

“Listen to me, Fayre. Head well the words of a dying man.”

Narghast leaned back onto his pillows, resting his tired frame a moment with eyes closed before resuming.

“I fear for your safety as well as the others. I have tried to reason with Felhaan but he simply won't listen. His head is filled with stubbornness, intent on seeing his master through to the end. I suppose I am to blame, I chose him as a slave for just that quality. But you, you are young yet, with a grand life ahead of you. But not here, not within this city. Such is why I've arranged safe passage for you.”

“What are you saying, master?” Fayre managed, an occasional tear still streaming down despite her effort choking them back. “You want me to leave you?”

“As unsafe as it is for your type here already, by tomorrow this city will have changed,” Narghast revealed, his voice dropping away, his energy spent. “You must away from here, without a moment's hesitation. Take your sister and escape into the wilderness in the north. There you may have a chance freedom.”

“But I do not want to leave you, master,” Fayre pleaded.

“Worry not, Felhaan shall tend to me. You have been as good a friend as I could have asked for. Now, locate your sister and flee to the wilderness. This is my last command for you.”

And so, Fayre, confused, hurt, and uncertain, left the bedchamber, navigated the corridors and rooms of the estate until she came upon her sister in the lounge, where she was gulping wine directly from one of the master's bottles and helping herself to the master's smokeleaf.

“Portia! You mustn't!” Fayre cried, exasperated. “Those are the master's!”

“What's his is mine,” declared Portia boldly, without remorse. “With that old coot locked up in the bedchamber, he will never know.”

“You mustn't speak of the master as such! He is fair and kind.”

“And old,” retorted Portia bluntly. “A shriveled up prune who can't lift his arse from his bed to relieve himself. Why should I respect anyone like that?”

“He is your master!” Fayre exclaimed. But Portia merely shrugged, taking a healthy swig from the wine bottle and sampling more of the smokeleaf.

Foregoing the obvious heresy of the scene she was viewing, Fayre recalled her master's last wish.

“Portia, we must leave this place!” relayed Fayre, urgently. “We must make haste into the wilderness.”

Portia paused, shooting a hostile look Fayre's direction. “Why in the nine hells would I want to do that?”

“It was the master's order!” declared Fayre.

Portia scoffed, taking another draw from the bottle. “The old bastard's finally gone senile, ancient as he is. I had expected that years ago.”

“He said he is dying. He wants us to leave tonight,” Fayre explained urgently. “We must escape into the wilderness!”

Portia took another drag from the smokeleaf, saving the strong taste in her mouth, exhaling slowly. “You do that, and best of luck to you. You may last a week out there.”

“But the master commanded us!”

“Sure he did,” replied Portia testily. “But I'm staying right here!”

Then, without warning, a deafening explosion tore their world apart.

.

Fayre was blown across the room, smacking the far wall painfully before falling in a heap. Portia toppled over the back of the padded chair, shards of glass from the bottle she held lodged into her paw. She wailed out in surprise, hissing and spitting in anger.

The front half of the building was now an open window to the world beyond, the remnants of the upper floors falling like deadly rain. Wooden planks lay everywhere, pulled asunder from their resting places in the walls and ceiling. Wooden splinters covered the carpeted floor.

Bringing herself slowly to her feet, Fayre gripped her pounding head, attempting to right her vision. She heard nothing for a moment, then listened to the world as if from a great distance while her auditory sense slowly returned. When she was able to see straight, the view shocked her to her core.

From within the lounge, or rather the remnants of it, she could see a great chunk of the house tumbled into shatters. What was nearly the entire front half, all three stories and wrap-around porch, had been reduced to rubble in the flash of an eye.

She walked forward on unsteady feet, pulling her paw from her scalp long enough to discover blood on her paw. Faintly, she heard her sister mewing fretfully, all the while cursing and sputtering at her injured hand.

A large wooden splinter stuck in her lower paw, and she withdrew quickly. The gash of the building was too dangerous to approach, cluttered with shrapnel as it was.

Filling with concern for her master Narghast, Fayre called to her sister, then took off down the corridor.

The paintings lining the walls were shattered into pieces upon the floor, the glass shards glinting like diamonds upon the wood. As carefully as she could whilst still hurrying, she edged around the glass, scooted around a fallen beam and passed over a section of fallen ceiling, until at length she arrived at the bed chamber.

The sight nearly undid her. Strewn across the master's bed was a large wooden beam, the bed's frame twisted and snapped in half under its weight. Beside it was a kneeling Felhaan, eyes closed in silent mourning beside his beloved master.

Fayre approached, unable to calm herself. Tears dropped freely.

“Is he...” She could not bring herself to finish the question. She didn't need to.

“He has passed,” Felhaan said silently, his manner as solemn as ever. “He is at peace.”

“No,” said Fayre weakly. Only a moment ago had he spoken to her. Only a moment ago had their estate been whole and healthy. What had happened? Why?

It was all too sudden. Her mind was in shambles, her emotions beyond restraint. Her thoughts were disarrayed, shattered as violently as the house had been.

That was when Portia staggered into the bed chamber, eyes wide in shock, holding her injured paw. She beheld her fallen master a long moment, wordlessly, before panic gripped her.

“What are we to do now?” cried Portia hysterically. “The manor is ruined and Narghast is dead. What's going to happen to us?”

And in that moment, shining out brightly from the disarray that was her thoughts, Fayre remembered her last order given, the words of a dying man.

“We must escape,” said Fayre quietly, then again with more resolve. “We must leave this place, and head north. It was what he wanted.”

She turned to her older sister, saw the shock and fear in her eyes, saw her nod slightly without her usual resistance.

Fayre then turned to Felhaan. “Come with us! We must leave, he commanded it of us!”

“Then do so,” said Felhaan, head still bowed with eyes closed. “I will tend to my master.”

“You must come with us!” cried Fayre in desperation.

“I will tend to my master.”

Felhaan would not face them, nor would he stand nor even move. His resolve was steadfast, and grim. He would be with his master.

Fayre, who only then knew how much she cared for Felhaan, never realizing or admitting it to even herself before, tried to persuade Felhaan, pleading and begging. But Felhaan would not move. He would not even look up at them. It wasn't until they heard the approach of many footfalls that Fayre, with Portia in tow behind, fled for the rear exit. They left behind the half-standing shell of their estate, which had been their home and their comfortable way of life for many years.

In the yard, nearing the tree line beyond, Fayre looked back only once, and that was when she heard a bloodcurdling scream that was unmistakably Felhaan's.

boom

And there we have the explosion. Interesting, because it seems like Narghast knew something like that was coming. How did he know that, and what does his death really mean?

Nice set up for those questions. Plus some interesting new characters, who seem to have a tough road ahead. Looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Style-wise, still looking good. A couple cases of the same word being used more than once in quick succession, but nothing that can't wait for a revision sometime.