Mists of Kel Doran
Season 1 - Dragon-Touched
Episode 1 - The Weave of Fate
Chapter IV - Intimidation
Chapter IV - Intimidation
Approximate read time ~ 10 minutes
Ava watched from her second story perch as the ships collided off the coast. Her heart ached at the familiar sight; friends on both sides tangled in unnecessary blood sport. Many fled the deplorable conditions of Wyvern’s Rest, a sentiment close to Ava’s heart. For others, however, life had become a series of failure and frustration, with the kingdom of Cyrea at the heart of it all. Their recourse, chaos in the streets, panic in the cities, and terror on the high seas. The end result…death. The death of her friends, acquaintances, and in many ways, Ava’s own slow, torturous death.
The blonde girl studied the conflict, mesmerized at the way life played out. She wondered how many involved were once friends…how many were once related. She wondered how much more she could endure, the sight of those she knew, dead at sea. Meanwhile, the only man she longed to see dead stood mere feet from her, eyes fixed, mouth agape, with thoughts that most civilized men would not dare.
She did not have to look to know he was there. The faint wheeze with each breathe, the heave of his belly as he labored for air, all clues that let Ava know Varin was, to her dismay, present.
“Is there anything else Miss Ava can do for you, Mr. Aerent?” Varin said in the same condescending tone. They startled Ava. In all her attempts to remove Varin from her mind, she had forgotten her ‘customer’ for the night was still in the room. The young girl closed her eyes in shame, as though wishing upon a star she could not see, hoping for a miracle that would not come. She held her breath, then looked back toward the bed. She focused her eyes and let the morning sun reveal what the candle light could not.
Mr. Aerent was a short, big-nosed, hairy man. His chest and back were hairy, his ears and nose were hairy, his arms and knuckles were hairy, yet his head was as smooth as a baby’s bottom. A gag reflex came over the young blonde as she recalled brief moments of her night’s encounter with the businessman from Crossroads. Moments that, with luck, she would soon forget.
A concerned expression crept over the hairy man as he glimpsed the athletic frame of his night’s companion. His eyes surveyed her curves as though for the first time. His mind wandered to a place Ava would not dare assume, then inhaled, gagged, and choked slightly.
“I’m sorry………did you say Ava?” he began, drawing his eyes away from the slender frame.
“Why yes, Thibold,” Varin injected, broadening his chest and lifting his chin. “Only the best for our most esteemed guests,” he continued.
“The, um…yes, she was more than…” he quivered, but Mr. Aerent was not able to continue. His cough soon consumed him and his belly convulsed. He leaned to the side, placed his hand on the edge of the bed, and attempted to clear his throat, only to lose focus and hack up prodigious amounts of thick fluid. Ava’s eyes darted back toward the window as her stomach churned, a desperate attempt to conceal her revulsion. She was appalled, but Varin’s employ taught her to conceal the disgust from within. He cherished money above all, and the loss of a single mark would signal a long, painful evening for the young girl.
Ava gathered her thoughts, dreamt of better times, and blocked out the rotund businessman’s hacking. In time, Mr. Aerent tightened his collar, wiped the saliva from his mouth, and resumed his previous thoughts. “Uh…more than adequate, Mr. Wray. I wonder, my friend, err…if it would be alright, that is…if I could sample some of your Inn’s other…delights.”
Varin gave an overt bow and clapped his pudgy hands, followed by a crude motion toward Ava. “You heard him, whore...Again!” Ava’s stomach turned over as she fought to keep her composure. She took a long, steady breath, turned to Mr. Aerent, and offered a shy, courteous smile. She then turned to Varin and produced a similar smile. Only a trained observer would notice the difference between the two; for the smile she offered Mr. Aerent was one of disgust, pity, and indifference. The one she gave her master was one of contempt, loathing, and the kindled hope that she would one day watch him die; fortunately for the pretty blonde girl, neither of them were well-versed in anything subtle, let alone the nuances of a skilled actress.
Ava swung down from the windowsill and came to her feet, her curved, elegant form taller than the men before her. Her brilliant blue eyes were sad, her lips full and inviting. The soft halo returned as she came to attention, the morning sun enveloping her physique.
The nervous businessman’s eyes grew wide as the young angel presented herself before him. He considered Varin’s words for a moment; but quickly reversed his intent. “Oh my,” Mr. Aerent proclaimed. “Yes…umm, while I appreciate the offer, I must elaborate,” he continued, a gentle pat to his belly for emphasis. “I simply meant that a nice breakfast and a hot bath would do wonders for a,” he paused while he searched for the words. “For a gentleman such as myself.” He gave a wry smile, proud he had correctly guessed his own description. Seconds passed while lost in his own moment before he snapped back to the present.
Ava let loose a slow breath of air, relieved she was no longer on the menu. Meanwhile, Mr. Aerent had grown nervous that neither Ava, nor her master, had responded. He thought for a moment to ponder his etiquette.
“Oh! Yes, yes,” he said as he withdrew a small stack of coins from his purse. He counted them with deliberation and placed them on the nightstand. When the last coin fell, he gave them a gentle pat, like praising a loyal dog. Mr. Aerent then tugged at his jacket collar and worked his way to the center of the room. He passed his hand over his head; forgetting there was no hair to groom. As he passed by Ava’s window, he averted his gaze. His eyes nervously bounced between the floor and the young girl perched upon the windowsill.
Ava watched intently as he made a wide berth, tugging at his jacket and clearing his throat, his eyes never landing directly on her. She studied the man, and his odd behavior, as he staggered toward to the center of the room, meeting Varin with a hearty handshake.
“Ava will be happy to serve you, my friend.” Varin said as he grabbed Mr. Aerent’s hand and drew him closer. Ava’s shoulders sunk knowing once again, she would have to play her part. She sighed and returned her gaze to the conflict at sea. She thought of Varin’s games and wondered if her role would ever end. In her heart, however, she knew this was one part of many. One more role, one more indignity, one more shameful performance in her master’s elaborate play.
She did not deter her eyes from the sea and the fight that raged aboard the unsuspecting ship. As she watched, something caught her attention from the corner of her eye…dust. Not a speck of dusk, but a billowing cloud. She peered beyond the city walls, far south of the city as a cloud lifted from the horizon. Ava’s heart leapt. Travelers, she thought with renewed excitement. Her back straightened, her heart raced, and her chest lifted as she gazed beyond the wall. She had forgotten the highway still ran along the shores from Cambridge. She had dismissed the idea of worlds, countries, and kingdoms beyond the walls of her prison. She had given up on anyone drifting into this inn, in this town, to rescue her.
Her eyes widened as her cloud of hope bloomed on the horizon; but the excitement soon waned. Why would anyone look for me? she thought. Why would anyone care about a simple…? Her posture loosened and her shoulders rounded. A long, steady breath escaped her chest as she remembered her master’s orders and her part in his play. She did not acknowledge Varin. She hoped she could get away with it, even for a bit, if she pretended she did not hear him.
“AVA!!” Wray scolded as venom returned to his words. “Your customer... is waiting.” Ava knew if she failed to comply, he would beat her…again. She gave the ships at sea and the cloud of hope one last glance before her eyes fell his way, careful to appear surprised at her master’s request. There they stood, a short, well-dressed man and a shorter, fatter, bald man, still embraced in their handshake. Ava had never been so revolted. Neither of them resembled ‘men’, yet she was forced to please and serve just the same. The comedy in their appearance overcame the cautious young woman. She usually concealed her emotions from Varin; but in this situation, she cracked a smile at the sight of the two ‘holding hands.’
Varin saw the smirk, unfortunately, and Ava’s attempt to hide her laughter. She walked to the nearby chair to grab her clothes while he moved to intercept. Her elegant dress had slipped and fallen to the floor over the course of the evening. She bent over and grabbed the collar, lifting it to her body…but it would not budge. The lacy, green dress recoiled, then fell to a lump on the floor…draped across Varin’s boot. Her master had raced to meet her, to impose his will upon the beautiful girl as only he knew how. He stomped upon her dress with his muddy, steel tipped boot, stared her down in defiance, and dared her to retrieve it.
Ava had made up her mind long ago that she would avoid eye contact with Varin at all costs. She made a game of it and weeks would go by without fail; but this boorish act caught her off guard. Tall for her age, the slender blonde looked down, meeting his gaze. “You won’t be needing this,” came a heartless whisper, a twisted smile across his face.
What the Hell does he want now? Why won’t he let me put on my dress? she wondered. As she studied Varin’s eyes, his intent became clear. The disgust she experienced most of the morning returned while they stared at her feminine features. Ava sighed and stated, “but I need my clothes if I am to fetch Mr. Aerent’s breakfast.” She paused and looked away before finishing her thought, “my king.”
Varin was not persuaded by her propriety, however, and became enraged at her suggestion. “You speak this way to your king?” he gasped. “You’ll get breakfast for my client any way I see fit, you damn wench!” he yelled. He reached to grab the collar of her gown. With all the might he possessed, Varin yanked against the pink fabric, ripping it from collar to hem. What remained fell limp, clung to her shoulder as Ava protected what was left of her modesty. She moved her hands to cover herself, but Mother Nature had been too kind to this young angel. Her hips were too round, her breasts too full. She was still young, but every bit a woman. Try as she might, she could not protect her secrets from their prying eyes. Varin threw his head back in maniacal laughter as he raised his fist, revealing the tattered remnants of her nightgown . With his other hand, the man clawed at her wrists to pry them away from her attempts to conceal her gifts.
Anger swelled within Ava as her humiliation grew. She fought, but another insignificant tear escaped her eye and glided down her porcelain cheek. Laughter followed, first by Varin, then by Mr. Aerent, who enjoyed the spectacle all too well. As the two men stared at her supple body, something snapped within Ava. The insults and indignity continued as the numbness claimed her. Amidst the laughter and taunts, she took a long, steady breath and collected herself.
Her tears subsided. Her toned arms returned to her side and her spine straightened. She stood upright and proper, as her mother taught her when she was a little girl. Ava met her master’s eyes and stared at them... through them. She held her gaze and waited until his laugh faded and his smile disappeared. The young girl stepped toward Varin, eyes unyielding, then turned toward Mr. Aerent.
Ava strolled across the room with the grace befitting a princess. Her hips swayed and her breasts hopped to the rhythm. With an air of dignity, she approached the open-mouthed businessman. “What can I get you from the kitchen, my lord?” she asked with confidence, a generous curtsy added for flare. Mr. Aerent had no words. His eyes surveyed her curves as his lips quivered. He looked to Varin, then back to the nude woman. He opened his mouth again, but still, no words. This world does not offer such natural beauty, and never is it presented in such a way.
Ava stood there, patient and unwavered, while her radiant blue eyes met his. Mr. Aerent’s eyes darted back and forth across the room…Ava’s did not. He was truly intimidated, by her beauty, by her confidence, by every curve that she brought to bear, and every nuance of her elegant form. The fat, improper businessman became aware of his shortcomings, of every inadequacy. He shivered at the sight of the angel before him, then fell silent.
“Your order, Thibold,” came the unmistakable voice of Mr. Wray. “Tell the bitch what you’d like to eat.” Varin said while he rolled his eyes at the cowardice. He was accustomed to seeing his young prize nude; still, there was uncertainty to his voice - one Ava had never heard before. For as long as Varin had known her, she was meek and shy, often succumbing with little effort. Over the years, he made every effort to ensure she always knew her place; but this side of her, this…woman. This was new…to both of them. He regained his composure and added venomously, “and if you mess this up, bitch. Even the Gods won’t save you.”
Mr. Aerent, spurred on by Varin’s words, caught his breath and stammered, “uh, right. Eggs.” “Please,” he added, followed by a gasp. He looked around to make sure no one noticed his bout of shyness. “And toast!” he proclaimed as enlightenment took hold.
Ava acknowledged with a nod and a sly wink, then turned toward the ornate double doors to the hallway. She walked with absolute confidence, sensing their eyes absorb every curve, every subtlety, and every square inch as she walked away. She threw open the doors and strutted into the hall, completely nude. Both men stared, their mouths agape, their eyes fixed on the now vacant opening.
They took a moment to look at one another, then back toward the hallway. Nothing was said. Nothing was needed.
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Mists of Kel Doran