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Ascent Chapter 2 – The Heralds

Updated: May 1

In the city of Tabharos at the temple of Karn, Jaras sat impatiently waiting for the delivery of the high priestess Ari. He leaned back in his chair with his left elbow pressed firmly into the arm rest. His chin propped onto his elbow, he gazed at the flickering flames emitted by the brazier. Beautiful fire. The soothing warmth caressed his skin. Warmed him. He appreciated the fire. It’s majestic nature. An elemental force of nature. Both life giving and destructive. It could save a life just as easily as it could take it.

The hot flames licked in the brazier with only the occasional hot ember drifting out to float through the air. Jaras had grown bored with waiting. He wanted the priestess here with him now. Ever since that night a decade ago, when she had slipped through his fingers, he had fantasized about little else but what he would do to that little cunt when he got his hands on her again. How we would hurt her for her faith in that whore-goddess. He would take from her all the pleasure that her body possessed until she was completely used up, no longer able to offer pleasure to a cock of a horse much less a mans. Until she begged to die. Only then would he consider snuffing the life from that worthless bitch.

Ever since his inquisitors had returned two weeks ago to let him know that she was on her way, he had been waiting eagerly, but his patience, usually short, was approaching an absolute end. Frustrated with the lack of updates of where the priestess was in her transit to Tabharos, Jaras was growing enraged. He stood, roared in frustration, and smacked the brazier over with the back of his fist. The metal seared against his hand, but it didn’t burn… the protection of Karn covered him like a second suit of armor even when he wore no metal, protecting him from harm. Glowing orange coals tumbled out across the stone floor as he kicked his chair back, beginning to pace around the room like a caged tiger.

“By Karn, where is that retched caravan?” he roared. “They should have been here days ago!”

The door to his sanctum opened, and a guard in black leathers entered into the chamber. A soldier, not a member of the priesthood. Immediately, that told him most of what he needed to know. If it were good new, priests would have been competing to bring to news to him. He scowled as the guard knelt before him, placing his hands onto his right knee. “Speak,” he growled.

“High Priest Jaras,” the guard said. “We have news of the caravan transporting the High Priestess of Ariadna. There was an attack in Baruck. A group of unknown soldiers desecrated the temple there, and in the chaos, they freed the prisoner and fled. Scouts are currently scouring the surrounding cities in an attempt to find her.”

Jaras’ eyes narrowed at the new. Worse than he had thought… This was not going according to his plan. He had plans for that holier-than-thou cunt. Her pained screams would have been an orchestra of pleasure for him to hear… and it was one he had been waiting for. “What direction did they head when they left Baruck?”

“Reports from the townsfolk stat they had fled to the south or west, my lord,” the guard answer. “Men have been dispatched to search those areas. They promise she will not escape.”

The sound of Jaras’ breathing almost echoed in the room. They were hard and shallow as he attempted to contain his rage. His blood felt like it was boiling that something like this could have happened. Jaras stepped forward toward the kneeling guard. “You have served the temple of Karn well today with your report.” He placed his hand on top of the guard’s head, and felt the abrupt tension in the man. “May Karn bless you in the next life.” Both hands grabbed onto the guard’s head to firmly twist it quickly. An audible snap and the cracking of bone filled the room before the guard dropped dead to the ground.

Jaras did not like disappointing news.

He kicked the dead body of the guard as he walked out of the temple room and proceeded down a hallway to another room, eager to take out his frustration. He had been saving himself up for two weeks, waiting to unleash on the High Priestess. Now without her as an outlet, he felt ready to burst… and he knew jsut what to do about that.

The room was a torture chamber, his personal one… and while it was filled with knives, tongs, skewers, and other assorted instruments of pain, it had only a single occupant… one woman with her neck surrounded by a thick iron collar that attached to the wall. At the sight of Jaras, she recoiled, pulling back as far into the corner of the room as she could go.

He admired the sight of her, unbelievably beautiful… because Veza wasn’t a normal woman. “Veza…” he chuckled as she cowered from him. “You wound me, acting like that. Don’t we get along? Are you not my servant?” He stalked over to her and grabbed her hair in his fist, pulling her away from the wall and back to the middle of the room, the chain stretching to its limit as he tossed the blonde woman down to the cold stone with her wings spilling out around her.

He smiled at her… a cruel, harsh smile. Veza was a siren… one of Ariadna’s faithful, and his personal pet. Her arms quickly faded into wings that could be as hard as steel… but not now, not since she had been given to him as a reward from Karn. “How long has it been Veza? Nearly ten years now that I have had you here?” He reached his hands up to pull his gloves off. He tossed them aside, moving his hands together to crack his knuckles. “I do so enjoy these chats that we have.” He stalked towards her. “I keep wondering how much longer you’ll last before you decide to give up. When will you choose oblivion over what I have in store for you?”

Jaras paced around the siren. Her wings were partly stripped of their feathers from the harsh treatment that Jaras inflicted on her over the years. He enjoyed seeing her suffer. The constant abuse by his hand had definitely taken its toll. She did not look as vibrant as the day he took her captive. Jaras reveled in that. Once upon a time, the dead that worshipped Ariadna had the same choice that other among the faithful dead had – they could leave this world behind and let Passage take them to what waited next, or they could serve her as heralds and guardians… Sirens. Of course, when Ariadna died in disgrace, they had become the property of Karn as surely as her priestesses had. Dozens of sirens had chosen to sacrifice themselves rather than serve, surrendering to oblivion rather than live as slaves to Karn’s followers… but some of them were coward. The ones like Veza that had chosen to endure and remain in this world, afraid to face the end. They gave in willingly.

Stupid cunts.

Jaras almost thought some of them gave up too easily. A few of the sirens that he had helped punish had already broken and given in to the desire to be released from the mortal plane. Either by his own hand or by attempting to fight back, one by one they died. Not many sirens of Ariadna were left now. Some lurked in the heavens still, playthings of the Furies and Karn. Most of the rest belonged in the custody of Jaras himself, held in his harsh hands.

Jaras paced around the fallen figure of the siren as she knelt on the floor before him, examining her. Her golden hair had faded with time. It had become dirty and dull from the cell. The bruises on her upper body had healed from the last time he had tortured her by now. Many of her feathers on her wings were still missing… too many to count. It would be impossible for her to fly if she even got free.

“You look so pitiful like this Veza. A wounded bird, flitting about on the ground. A bird without wings is nothing more than a rodent crawling on the ground. Flailing about helplessly, waiting for a predator to come along.” Jaras grabbed a whip that was kept in a cabinet not far from the Siren. The chains that bound her were too short to allow her to get anything from it. Jaras stretched the leather whip out, testing it in his grip. “Helpless birds that are grounded are easy prey for a snake. A viper is the deadliest in the world. Its venom kills and its bite is excruciatingly painful.”

He lifted the whip, his blood still boiling from the bad news. “What I’m saying dear Veza,” he hissed out, “is that I am the viper and you are the helpless bird with an empty head and a tight cunt.” Jaras swung forward, letting the whip fly through the air so that the tip of the whip cracked in the air before it struck across the siren’s back. A sharp cry of pain emitted from her lips.

“I’m feeling merciful today, Veza,” Jaras said, his voice low. “You have a chance to end your suffering for a time. What do you know about the High Priestess of Ariadna? Who are her friends? Where is she hiding?” Veza just looked at him, her eyes wide and afraid, but she said nothing. The silence from the siren was enough to anger Jaras further. His face grew red with his rage, and he brought the whip back to let it fly through the air once more. The sharp crack of the whip struck onto her back. It tore loose some of the feathers from where her wings melded into her back. The siren screamed in pain. Those feathers were embedded in her, and Jaras knew from wonderful experience that even one of them getting ripped out caused a great deal of pain.

“I don’t know where not know where the high priestess is, Jaras!” Veza sobbed with tears streaming down her face. “I’ve been here for ten years! I have no idea who her friends are.”

“I know that,” he growled. It was true that she had been with Jaras the entire time since the fall of the temple of Ariadna. Perhaps she didn’t know anything at all. It didn’t stop the fact that Jaras was angry. He wanted to have that priestess in his clutches. The way she evaded him angered him to the core. “What you say is true Veza. Very true. You have been my slave for that entire time. That changes nothing. You still know things about her. People she was close to. And I’m still mad and you’re stuck here with me, so you should be pleading for god damn mercy and screaming everything you know about the slut!” Jaras swung the whip several more times. The sharp crack of the tip flailing through the air as it struck Veza echoed in the room, and the crack as it connected with her back sent a shiver of delight through him as if he could feel the sharp sting on her skin. The pained cries that emitted from the siren brought joy to Jaras. He loved the sound of her pain. It made his cock hard.

For Jaras, pain was not a method of torture. Torture could be a result of pain, but hurting this Siren bitch was just a way to relieve his frustrations. Those delightful cries of pain were a stimulant for him. His breathing was getting faster and harder the more he hurt her. It excited him and resonated to the essence of his being. This was the purest form of sexual thrill that existed… Inflicting pain on a helpless woman. Jaras’ cock strained inside of his breeches… He was ready for more than merely whipping Veza. He had worked himself up into a sexual frenzy – A raging inferno of lust that demanded to be slated and quenched.

Stepping around to be in front of the captive Siren, Jaras pulled his breeches down in the front. His engorged cock pulsed angrily when exposed to the air. The High Priest took hold of Veza’s head, pressing his cock up against her chin. “You already know what to do,” he growled at her. “But what you don’t know is that I’m in a bad mood. If I feel your teeth, I will beat them out of your skull with my bare hands before I send you back to Karn with a mouth full of blood and cum.” His right hand circled into her dull blonde hair, pushing her down toward his crotch, the thick head of his cock pressed against her lips.

Obediently, Veza opened her mouth, allowing the tip of that cock to push into her mouth. It didn’t matter much. His cock seemed absurdly large compared to how small her lips were… it stretched them taut around it, like always.

Jaras gazed down at the siren. His throbbing cock between her lips was a sight to behold, and filled him with a thrill of pleasure. Who would ever have thought a decade ago that he would get a siren of Ariadna to do such a vile act? He pushed his cock forward, thrusting it into her mouth. The engorged shaft slid across her tongue. The beat of his heart raced through the veiny ridges that lined his cock.

She needed to open her mouth painfully wide to keep her teeth of him, her lips all but folded over them as he thrust into her. He could feel the warmth of her tongue on his shaft. The slick wetness of her mouth surrounded his member, coating it with saliva. She was his plaything. Not a person. Certainly not a divine being. Veza was little but a sex toy to take out his frustrations on.

Gathering up her hair into a pony tail, Jaras gripped harder. His hand forcing her to swallow down the rest of his cock. Tears streamed down her face as he made her gag on him, and Jaras laughed at the siren. “You like that, don’t you?” he mocked. “You know your place. You’re nothing more than a pleasure hole for the use of Karn’s faithful, and thats all you’ll ever be for the rest of your eternity… until you decide to end it.”

Veza could not speak at the moment with her mouth full. Jaras imagined that if she had been more defiant, more like the high priestess that had escaped capture, that she would have told him off. He had her for too long here. He knew she would not resist. She wouldn’t say anything to him. She cowered from the threat of harm. She would do anything that he wanted if it meant he did not hurt her… even though she knew by now that there was absolutely no chance she would ever escape suffering. These days, she was genuinely grateful for the mercy of slightly less pain.

Jaras could feel the burning desire for release growing deep within him… he normally could last longer, he’d been waiting for the High Priestess so long that he was ready to burst. His assault on her mouth grew more urgent and hurried with each passing second, his cock slamming forward to feel his balls slapping against her chin. The wet slurp of her mouth gliding over his cock was quite audible in the room. That burning need to orgasm overtook Jaras. His cock buried deep into the siren’s mouth, the jets of his hot seed burst forth to splatter against the back of her throat. The warm caress of his semen was the only warmth that Veza would ever feel from the cold hearted priest.

In the throes of his release, Jaras pulled his cock out of her mouth. His cock spurting the next few ropes of his cum across her cheeks and chin, plastering it to her face as he groaned and she gasped in desperately, breathing in some of his cum and coughing as she doubled over in his hands.

Still feeling frustrated and sexually aroused, Jaras pressed his body down over top of the coughing siren. His cock rubbed against her body, sliding down to find her pussy lips. He let out a pleasured groan when his cock found her entrance. His cock had barely grown softer in the slightest before he began to push forward, feeling his cock getting swallowed up by the silken embrace of her sex. Jaras thrust his hips rapidly, plunging the full length of that shaft into her silken depths. He grunted as he took his pleasure from her body. His cock glided deep, banging hard into the tight grip of her immortal body. Though she was a siren, her body could still feel the sensations that a woman deserved.

Jaras’ cock swelled with his need, his desire to orgasm building once more into a sexual frenzy. The High Priest’s hands wrapped around her neck, choking her as he pounded into her sex, banging her groaning, coughing head against the ground with each stroke as he fucking into her with full, brutal strokes. His cock head flared, splashing forth a torrential amount of his virile seed deep into her. Jaras took great pleasure in knowing that he was able to sully one of Ariadna’s blessed.

With his sexual burden relieved, Jaras pulled his cock free from Veza with a sicking squelch. He rose back up to stand at his full height. Panting for a moment, Jaras gazed down at the siren. Wounded and sexually abused, she lay pathetically on the ground, slowly curling up against herself… obviously trying vainly to protect her body from any more physical harm.

Such creatures were beneath him. Jaras spit on the floor before he grabbed the whip to hang it back up in the cabinet. He straightened his clothes and retrieved his gloves. Then he bent down and took hold of two of her feathers, one for each orgasm like always, and yanked them out. Veza screamed. Having any of her feathers ripped out was agonizing, but even that didn’t account for the note of despair in her cry. She knew that she had just come one step closer to her grim fate. He had promised her, years ago, that when her wings were empty she wouldn’t be worth anything to him anymore… he would just chain her up in the city’s fighting pits as a prize to be battled over by the gladiators, to be taken by brutes at the height of their bloodlust, until there was nothing left of her. “I’ll be back soon,” he promised her as he tugged them on. “Try not to be so pathetic next time. Weakling bitch.”

Jaras left the room to return to his main waiting chambers. The dead body of the guard had been removed already. He walked up to his chair, sitting back down.

Feeling good in the wake of taking out his frustration on Veza, Jaras was not prepared for what happened next. Leaning back in his chair, the door to the chambers burst open. Standing in the midst of the light that emanated from outside the doors stood Raska. The one-eyed Fury looked enraged as he stepped forward, his grey skin seeming to glisten with divine line welling up from beneath the scales. His one good eye staring back at Jaras sitting on the chair. “What in the name of Taelin’s stinking ass do you think you are doing, Jaras?” he snarled. His eyes were literally glowing crimson with barely restrained odium. “You had one task! One job! You can’t even manage to do that correctly!” Raska stomped into the room, his hands clenched into fists at his hips. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

The High Priest’s eyes were wide, but he narrowed them a second later. He didn’t know where this was coming from, at all, but he was not the Fury’s subordinate. In fact, if he didn’t come here with instructions from Karn himself, the Furies served HIM, not the other way around. He had done everything that he was supposed to do. “You will guard your tongue,” he hissed slowly. The only thing that wasn’t going according to plan was the capture of the high priestess of Ariadna, and now that he had taken our his frustrations, he was no longer nearly so annoyed by that. Jaras was certain that she would be found again in due time. Followers of Karn and guards were already scouring the countryside to get an update on her whereabouts. “Is this about the woman? The priestess of Ariadna?” he scoffed. “She is nothing. Everything is under control. My men will find her soon enough… She can’t hide forever. She will be back in our custody and delivered here.” Jaras never cared for the politics of his position. He knew things would get sorted out. He cared more about the destruction and devastation that he could cause to the temple of Ariadna and her followers.

Raska narrowed his one good eye. He came over to a nearby table that was in the room, and his fist slammed down into the middle of it, splitting the table in two with all the effort it would take to rip parchment in twain. “That was no a Priestess of Ariadna, fool! Do you think if a lowly priestess went missing that I would be here? You are sorely mistaken about her stature in the grand scheme of things.” He spat on the floor, and the saliva sizzled as the poison in it seemed to spontaneously boil. “I come with commands from Karn’s own lips. Your failure has infuriated him, oh High Priest. You will recover her… now. And I will not be leaving until you have.”

Jaras was not putting the pieces together. He sat up in his seat, leaning forward. His hands placed onto his knees as she stared at the One-Eyed Fury. “If she is not the High Priestess of Ariadna, then who is she?” He rose to his feet, being marginally more respectful now that he knew that Raska was acting as a herald for his god. “Why is she causing so much trouble for the followers of Karn? Only a High Priestess could wield magic in the capacity like she does.” Jaras considered. None of the other faiths seemed to have magic on the same level as that that had been bestowed by Karn and Ariadna. “She could not belong to another faith. Either Ariadna has blessed her or she is touched by Karn… And I doubt that.”

The One-Eyed Fury hissed. He came over to Jaras, grabbing him by the throat and nearly lifting him out of his chair. Jaras gasped at the unbelievable strength in that grip. “Simpleton! You don’t get it! That is not a priestess at all!. That is Ariadna herself!”

Raska released his hold on Jaras, dropping him back into the chair. Jaras coughed profusely for a few moments as he caught his breath. The tight hold on his neck had choked him, cutting off his air. His hand reached up to massage his neck. He longed to grab for a weapon… his hand seemed to itch. “Ariadna?” he growled. “Impossible! She is dead!” Jaras stood up from his chair, rubbing his hand across his still sore neck. He walked over to another table in the chamber that had not been broken. He retrieved a goblet from it, drinking the contents. The harsh ale burned as it coated down his throat.

“For a time, we thought so,” Raska growled. “But instead, she was cast down into this world as a mortal woman. Here, in this world, her power is limited… but still considerable.” He smiled. “But she can feel pain. She can be hurt. And she is mortal.” The One-Eyed Fury kept his distance from Jaras for now, which he was thankful for.

Jaras shrugged. “So what? If what you say is true, we can just hunt her down and kill her. Karn will have dominion over Fortune and rule in this world. All we need to do is find her. My men will get it done.” Jaras had confidence that she would be found again soon. His men knew the general direction the goddess had fled. There were not too many places she could be hiding.

The One-Eyed Fury closed the distance quickly between them. His hand pressed hard against his chest, harder than iron. “Do not mistake your position as a complacent one,” he spat. “Your relaxed attitude toward this situation is not appreciated by Karn. You have failed him twice now with Ariadna. Karn will not accept a third failure.”

Jaras took a step back. Then he gulped, nodding his head. “Yes. I understand. We shall send out more men to search for her. Double it. Triple it even. We have to get her back.”

“You mock me?” Raska laughed. “I will not hesitate to cut your tongue from your mouth as easily as my eye was taken from me. Your men are not enough to hold her if she has regained her strength. This needs to be handled with swiftness and precision. Call the Inquisitors. Bring them together. You will be handling this yourself.”

Jaras disliked being so threatened. His eyes flicked again to his warhammer, narrowing with fury. He had failed Karn before. He thought his strength, his position as High Priest protected him from the transgressions of his past failings. He now knew that not only was he not protected so protected but that Karn himself was upset with him. Even if he were to strike out and kill Raska, which was far from certain, others would come for him. They would not relent to kill him. The only choice that he had in this situation was to succeed. He couldn’t fail a third time. Failure would mean death. If not now, then it would follow him. Like a looming shadow, his life would be forfeit – he would spent the rest of it looking over his shoulder.

Jaras decided right then that he would not run… and he would not fail. He grabbed a quill from the table and dipped it in ink. Hurriedly, he scribbled out a note onto the parchment paper. He didn’t know where all of the inquisitors were gathered in the temple at the moment, but they would be found. “Guards!” He howled out the door for the closest guard to come running to him. Jaras had written out a note to gather all the inquisitors. If they were busy, they were to show the parchment he had provided. “I want you to take this note and find every inquisitor in Tabharos. I don’t care if they think they are busy. I don’t care if they are working on something else. If they are breathing, you will find them all and bring them here immediately!” Jaras shoved the note into the guard’s hand. The guard looked bewildered for a moment as he stood there with the parchment scroll in hand. “What are you waiting for? GO!”

Camden was lay on his bed in his chamber, enjoying himself, when a knock came on the door. He stared at the ceiling briefly before he sat up, turning to the side. His hand brushed across his face, feeling the stubble on his cheeks and chin. Camden would have shave it before it got too long, but he had found the rough appearance tended to make him look more intimidating when he was doing his job, and generally made it easier. The loud knocking on the door echoed through the chamber. Whomever was outside was quite insistent on rousing him from his supposed slumber.

He stood up from the bed, dusting his hands across his breeches to pull them up. “Alright. I’m coming. The world is not coming to an end.” Camden brushed his hand through his dirty blonde hair. He reached the door, undoing the latch that kept it closed. Gripping the handle, he pulled the door open to see a guard standing there.

“High Priest Jaras demands your presence, sir.” The guard breathed heavily. No doubt he had been running around looking for Camden in various parts of the temple.

Camden started to close the door on the guard. “Look, I don’t know what is going on, but I’m sure the regular guards can take care of it. You can go do whatever it is that Jaras needs done.”

The guard stuck his foot in the door to prevent it from being closed the rest of the way. “The High Priest insisted that I gather all of the inquisitors. He gave me this.” He held out his left hand which held a rolled-up piece of parchment.

Camden took the parchment from the guard, unrolling it. One eyebow rose, and kept rising. Truthfully… a request to gather all of the inquisitors. Not just a few of them – All of them. As a rule, the Inquisitors did not play nicely together. If it weren’t in the High Priest’s own hand, he would doubt the authenticity.

Camden sighed to himself as he handed the parchment back to the guard. “Alright, I need a few minutes to get dressed.” He closed the door on the guard. Walking over to a basin in the room, he splashed some cold water on his face to wake himself. He dried his face with a cloth before he grabbed his armor. The bulky armor helped to protect him and provided a great range of movement because of the design. Most of the metal plating was at his sword arm or over his chest where an enemy would strike. “Get up, slut.”

Reluctantly, Inara rose from the bed, wiping the spit off her lips and chin. The slave-priestess was barely dressed, but that was hardly uncommon. Where he went, she went. Other than breathing a bit hard as she caught her breath, she didn’t say anything, and she kept her eyes on the floor… after a decade as his pet, she had learned her place well.

Dressed in his armor, he grabbed his sword from where it leaned up against the wall. He strapped it across his back, securing the scabbard in place. Satisfied, he came back to the door to open it.

“Alright. Let’s go.” He stated to the guard.

The guard led him through the temple, passing by a few of the other inquisitor’s chambers. Camden noticed that their doors were open and they were not inside. The guard must have already informed them. Inara was following along after Camden, just a few steps behind and to his left as he had taught her.

The guard stopped right outside of the main temple chamber where Jaras and the other inquisitors would be gathered. “The others are waiting for you inside.”

Camden wondered what was so damned important that it required all of the inquisitors and the need to get him from his rest. Annoyed, but curious, he pushed the doors open and entered into the room.

Glancing about the chambers, Camden saw the other inquisitors gathered here. A dozen inquisitors, and half that many slave-priestesses filled the room. His eyes, however, were for Karrus with his long flowing crimson cloak. The stoutly built man preferred a more reinforced armor that Camden himself did. The dark metal looked menacing enough but it was Karrus’ attitude that would frighten most people.

Like two sides of a coin, where Karrus went so did Eve. The golden-haired priestess of Karn had proven her loyalty to Karn after converting from the faith of Ariadna. She had become so entrenched in the Karn temple that she had become an inquisitor. Camden couldn’t imagine what that was like. Hunting down your former friends and followers. His was not to question the methods. She was good at her job… no matter how he detested her. He rarely saw her further than an arm’s legnth from Karrus

Camden’s head turned to make out the figure of Inara. She moved through the shadows of the room, coming to lean against one of the pillars and out of sight of the others.

The High Priest Jaras sat on the large chair in the room, but next to him was a Fury. Camden had seen the creatures more than once over the years he had served the church, but not commonly… still, he recognized this one. Raska was one of Karn’s favorites. Everything started to make sense on why they had all been called together.

Jaras rose from his chair. “I’ve gathered all of you here to take on an important mission. In the recent light of events, I have discovered that the High Priestess of Ariadna we have been seeking is Ariadna herself. She is here and she must be dealt with at once. I’ve assigned Raska to lead the inquisitors in her capture. Seek her out and find her.”

Across the room, Karrus’ eyes widened. Eve’s reaction, however, was notable in its utter lack. Her face froze completely… not expression at all was on her face. Camden brought his hand to his face. His fingers rubbing over his chin in thought. “If Ariadna is here, what does she seek? Why is she here?”

Raska narrowed his eye at Camden. “She seeks the scroll of destiny. She can’t be allowed to find it. I will personally lead the inquisitors to find Ariadna. Gather your things. Make what preparations you need. We leave at dawn.”

Raska was speaking, but Camden wasn’t watching him… he was watching the room for reactions to the new. Most looked eager. Karrus had a shimmer of evil glee on his face… no doubt eager to recapture the target that had just escaped the captivity he had put her in. Eve still showed no expression, but her eyes seemed to gleam with fury. Camden could tell that they wanted this mission. They would hunt her down with no restraint. If they found her, they would capture her but if needed, they would not hesitate to kill her.

The reaction that interested him the most, however, was Inara’s.

He saw her from the corner of his eye… he was always watching the slave… and when the scroll of destiny was mentioned, her expression had changed. It shifted from one of being sullen and bored and submissive to surprised and… something else. Hopeful, perhaps? Camden had been with her long enough to know what something was up. He could tell that she knew something about this. The scroll of destiny was an artifact of great power… if legends were true, it was the original Laws that Taelin had written down to forge this world from the aether. Thing could change if Ariadna managed to get her hands on it.

What did she know?

Raska waved his hand to the group. “Dismissed. Meet outside with your horses at dawn.” The One-Eyed Fury was quite efficient with his standing in the temple. Camden had little doubt that he would lead them to victory against Ariadna.

The fact that Inara knew something about this scroll set him on edge, however. He had been with her for quite some time and she had never mentioned anything about it to him. A hidden secret that she kept from him. He couldn’t have that in a slave. Even if she was his to do what he pleased with, he would not tolerate disloyalty.

Karrus and Eve walked past him and he could hear them talking about where to look for Ariadna first. He did not care where they looked first. If the One-Eyed Fury was leading them, he would tell them where to go. They might make suggestions to them, but he would have the ultimate say in the directions they would search.

Camden looked at Inara, walking over to her. “Come slave. We have something to discuss before I leave.” He could see a hint of fear in her eyes. That was a good sign. She held a reverence for him that would serve his purposes well. Fear would be the key to making her talk. The more she feared him, the more he could extract what she knew.

Inara walked behind him as he return. She was dressed in one of the priestess-slave gowns of Karn, and the dark black material flowed around her body. It made her look slender and flowed down over her long legs. Camden appreciated the way it clung to her body. The walk back to his chamber in silence set an eerie tone between the two of them. An unspoken understanding that she was in trouble again. Still, she didn’t try to run… she knew better than anyone by now that there was nowhere to go. Ten years, and she hadn’t become like Eve… but neither had she remained the young, strong priestess she had been when he had been given her by Jaras. Camden noted that her head bowed down, staring at the floor as she walked. Her hands were held together in front of her. Fingers fidgeting together. She was nervous.

Upon reaching his bed chambers, Camden motioned into the room. When Inara did not enter, he took her by the arm and forced her past the threshold. He stepped into the room with her and his hand reached out to take hold of the straps for his armor to unfasten it.

“You’ve been keeping secrets from me Inara,” he said, his voice low. “I don’t like that you have kept something from me. You know something.” He paused as he dropped the breastplate of his armor to the ground heavily. “What do you know about the Scroll of Destiny?”

Inara backed up, hitting the edge of his bed and tumbled backward onto it. Camden grinned as he moved his foot to kick the door closed.

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