The crowd was surprisingly quiet for being so large. Of all the auctions they’d attended, the ones on Glausse always drew the biggest crowds. Of course, they were in the city of Decadence, where the selling of slaves had become a national pastime.
Dain kept himself perfectly still, swallowing the bitterness and hate as drunken citizens ogled him as if he were a prized heifer. The girl to his left, who couldn’t be two decades old yet, cried silently as she was inspected and assessed over and over again. He tried to send her what strength he had left, willing her to calm down before she made things so much worse for herself.
This wasn’t Dain’s first auction, wasn’t even his hundredth. Over the last six hundred years, he’d become well versed in the buying and selling of flesh, as well as the many ways to take advantage of such situations. His captors would never actually sell him- he was much more valuable to them than any amount of coins- but they managed to make a fortune pretending to sell him at every opportunity, slipping out with their prize before the transfer could be made.
Between auctions, well… Dain didn’t like to think about that. The long and humiliating hours spent in Mistress Regina’s bedchamber were shoved to the back of his mind each morning, as if they never happened. Of course, it all returned to him in dreams, but there was nothing he could do about that.
A group of spectators to his right caught his eye. Two large, blond men escorted a tall, caramel skinned woman into the showroom. She was stunningly beautiful, though she didn’t spark any kind of physical reaction from Dain. That didn’t surprise him, though… after the horrors he’d been party to, he was sure that his libido had shut down permanently.
The three spoke quietly among themselves, but the woman’s eyes returned to him again and again. Poor woman, he thought to himself. She had no idea that she was about to be swindled for a small fortune. If her bid won out, Dain would be long gone before she realized something was amiss.
He wondered if his captors would present him as an ordinary house slave this time, or if they’d demonstrate his powers in order to raise his worth. He hated that most of all, and wished he could somehow harness his own energies and aim them at his captors in his few moments of freedom. Unfortunately, he had no idea what he was even capable of, let alone how to use it. He was as helpless without the restrictive arm bands on as he was with them. Helpless. That word easily summed up his entire existence.
The woman ventured near the auction block, casually looking over the other offerings before stopping right in front of Dain. Her eyes were a vibrant orchid, mesmerizing and strangely familiar. He knew he’d never seen her before, but something deep inside of him reacted to her presence, as if she were an old friend come back to him after an extended absence. Strange. The longer she stared at him, the more he wanted to throw himself into her arms and weep.
He mentally shook himself, banishing the foreign sentiment and steeling himself for what was to come.
The gavel cracked against the wooden block, echoing loudly throughout the showroom and silencing the crowd. Dain took a deep breath and waited.
“Citizens of Glausse,” a loud voice carried across the throng, “welcome to the fair city of Decadence. A city well named, for our offerings can be considered no less than decadent. Today’s bidding begins with the lower ranks, but take heart… we have quite a treat for you this morning.”
With those words, Dain knew his role in today’s events. His power would be demonstrated, driving the bids for his ownership through the roof. What would they have him do this time? Dissolve the walls, call the rains, paralyze the entire crowd? After all of these centuries, he still had no idea as to the full extent of his power. The demonstrations so far had been minimal- enough magick to draw interest, but nothing so extravagant as to cause fear- but he knew that he could do so much more.
He’d been used as a weapon more than once… for the right price, of course.
All throughout the initial sales, the woman watched him with keen interest. Her eyes reminded Dain of his own, though hers were more pink than the deep violet of his. He wondered briefly if they were from the same tribe. As she studied the symbols etched on his bare scalp- proclamations of his magickal capabilities- he knew she would bid on him. Dain was overwhelmed with the urge to warn her not to waste her time and money. For just a moment, he allowed himself to imagine her taking him with her… but that was only foolish fantasy, so he dismissed the thought immediately.
A hard shove at his back brought him out of his reverie and into the present moment. It was his turn to stand at the center of attention, and it was his turn to show them what he was made of. Once again, he fantasied about turning the power on his captors and ending his imprisonment once and for all. He’d kill them all… he’d have to… the only way to escape the Fury was by death- his or theirs.
Dain closed his eyes as Gregor- his current owner and wielder of his powers- stood behind him to release the arm bands that kept his magick locked down. As his arms were freed, he felt the power thrum through him. Gods, he would give anything to be able to harness that power, control it and aim it at will. Instead, he stayed still, knowing that if he even attempted to use it, he’d be killed or worse… most likely worse.
Gregor’s voice held the crowd captive, the melodic cadence pulling them in, revving up their anticipation levels. “What we have here is no ordinary slave. This one holds magick beyond your wildest imagination.”
With a large hand locked on each of Dain’s wrists, Gregor aimed Dain’s hands out toward the crowd. The entire room gasped collectively and took a step back.
“Behold the power of sorcery!” Gregor cried out, then leaned forward, speaking where only Dain could hear him. “Make the walls quiver, slave.”
On that order, Dain focused on the walls, seeing them shake and shimmy in his mind. The crowd grew more and more restless as their surroundings grew less solid. The walls rippled all around, soliciting more gasps and cries from the onlookers. Gregor raised Dain’s hands toward the ceiling, instructing him to summon the heavenly rains from the stone tiles above them.
As the water began to fall on and around them, the crowd grew silent, completely caught up in the display before them. “How much,” Gregor called out, “is a wizard worth to you?”
The auctioneer stepped forward to open the bidding and control the frenzied masses. Dain watched with heightened interest as the mysterious woman matched every bid, and was eventually named as Dain’s new owner. He sighed, knowing that he would not be going with her, regardless of what the woman thought she’d accomplished there today.
As the auctioneer barked instructions and payment options, Dain scanned the thinning crowd for his mysterious owner. Her head was cocked to the side as she listened to whatever one of her bodyguards was whispering in her ear, but her eyes remained on Dain the entire time. He was overcome with the urge to stop her from giving over her coins, to shout as loud as he could that she was about to be taken for a small fortune. By the looks of her, the loss probably wouldn’t affect her much, but for some reason Dain couldn’t begin to understand, he wanted to save her from the outrage and humiliation that she was bound to experience.
He stared at the stranger, trying with all his might to warn her with his eyes, until large hands on his arms turned him and ushered him off the auction block and toward the holding cells at the back of the building. Moments from now, he’d be on his way to the next realm, but Dain had a feeling that it would be a long time before he forgot about those strangely familiar eyes…
Once out of the public eye, he was covered in a nondescript cloak, the hood hiding his face completely. With a guard at each arm, Dain was hurried toward the rear entrance. He was jerked to a halt as loud, angry voices rose above the noise around him. Something was going on behind him, but he couldn’t make any sense of the shrieks and curses that seemed to suddenly come from everywhere all at once.
As the chaos increased in volume, Dain was once again seized by the arms and shoved forward. He tried to keep up with his captors, but they were in even more of a hurry to escape than before, making him wish he could see what was going on behind him. A change in light beneath his hood told him they were outside now, but instead of turning right toward the portal they’d come through earlier, Dain was shoved to the left, which he knew would lead them right into the middle of a crowded avenue. How would they possibly escape if they were surrounded by curious onlookers?
The gasps and murmurs surrounded him as they pressed onward through the crowd, heading to… where? This had never happened before, and Dain was beyond curious now. What had happened back at the auction to put them on the run like this?
Finally they stopped, but instead of the hood being removed from his head, incredibly strong arms snaked around his waist and he was hoisted into the air and over a very muscled shoulder. Panic began to set in, as it was becoming clear that something had gone terribly wrong. Suddenly the air condensed around Dain, a sure sign that they had entered the void. The silence was all consuming before light and noise exploded around him once again.
The voices were unfamiliar, and as Dain concentrated on deciphering the words spoken in a language he’d never heard, he was all but dropped to the ground as the hood was ripped from his head. Light temporarily blinded him, causing him to squeeze his eyes tight for protection. After a moment, he opened them, blinking rapidly at the sight before him.
The woman from the auction stood facing him, her bodyguards on either side, and they were all smiling broadly at him. He stared back in confusion until one of the bodyguards stepped forward, circling behind Dain as he spoke.
“I’m going to untie your wrists.”
Once his arms were free, Dain rubbed his wrists as he studied the familiar stranger. She met his stare, and he felt that she was looking straight into his very soul. After what seemed an eternity, he found his courage along with his voice.
“Who are you?” he demanded.
The corners of her mouth curved up in just the faintest hint of a smile as she answered, “Ah, Dain. I knew you would not remember. Too many years have passed us by, and you were very young when last we saw one another.”
Resisting the urge to reach out and shake the truth out of the woman, Dain stood stone still, silently willing her to continue.
Her lips curved higher, displaying her obvious elation. She raised her long, slender arms as her hands opened toward him. With a step in his direction, she wrapped those arms around Dain, pulling him close as she hugged him against her. The emotion she was feeling was evident in her voice as she managed to choke out, “I’m your sister, and I’ve finally found you.”