Friday, 25 September 2015

What are your terms, sir?



In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

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http://writeworld.org/post/127862294589/what-are-your-terms-sir
#writeworld #shortfic

“What are your terms, sir?” she asked.
“No!” her brother shouted. “I can handle this.”
She ignored him. Her chin lifted. A tiny muscle flexed in her jaw but only those who knew her well could have seen it and known how much it cost her to say those words.
“No,” he repeated, quieter now as everyone ignored him. The figure on the throne leaned forward a fraction. “You,” it said.
She closed her eyes.
Her brother was shouting again. “No. Ignore her. She doesn't know what she’s saying.” The guards that restrained him made sure he got no closer to either his sister or the king of the fae.
“She knows,” the king said.
“My brother returns home, unharmed - no memory loss, no lost time, no tricks or there is no deal.”
The audience of courtiers and soldiers made small nervous noises at her use of the word ‘tricks’.
The king waved a hand and the people fell silent. “How will you know if he doesn't?”
It was a good question. Her hand trembled. “You will not break your word.”
“Your brother will never return to this world.”
“Agreed.”
“You can’t make deals for me,” he argued. “What about what I want?”
Ignored again.
“Do I have your word?” she pressed. The crowd hissed at her rudeness but the king had not taken his eyes from her face. She was unable to read his emotion.
“Are you sure about no memory loss?” he checked.
“Yes.” She glanced down quickly, unsure if she had made a mistake.
“Wise. He should remember you and your sacrifice.” He made a gesture at the guards. “Take him to his home.” He glanced back at her. “He may lose some time because of the nature of this world. That I cannot control. I will do the best that I can.”
She nodded. She knew that, visitors lost hours here. “I-” she started to say and then took a deep breath. “Goodbye, Oscar.”
“No, Jessica - NO!” He tried to fight but the guards carried him out of the room. The shouts faded quickly.
Jessica stood. Arms folded across her body to clutch at the other. “My Lord,” she said and bowed her head. She didn’t thank him. That was an insult and it may leave her owing him a favour. She didn’t want to owe the king a favour. She took a step back.
“Jessica,” he said.
She heard the warning tone and stopped.
“You sit here.” He pointed to the step between his feet.
“I-?” Her head lifted and she looked him full in the face. Her confusion plain.
Someone in the crowd tittered nervously.
Her face fell. She had only thought to bargain for her brother; not for herself. She had not argued her position, merely that she would stay. It was a serious oversight. One that she could not fix now he had held to his side of the bargain. She was lost. She had no standing here as a mere human nor could she leave to find her own place in this world. She was to sit at his feet like a dog.
“Come,” he insisted.
A guard stepped up to force her to move but he waved them back. He stood and pointed at the floor. The whole court had to rise to its feet when he stood. It made her feel smaller. She wasn’t sure what he meant by the gesture. He had made her the centre of attention.
She went. She had no other choices. She had asked him to keep his word, and it behoved her to keep hers. Slowly she climbed the stairs. Uncertain of how to sit, she knelt as he resumed his seat and then she tucked her feet behind her. Her back ached and she was exhausted.
The court returned to their seats and the banquet resumed. Servers moved among them with food and drink.
She had a lovely view from his feet. The faces of some of the court were wary and she guessed that it was because of her. She was an unknown; a human in their world.
A very tall fae male watched her speculatively and a new thought occurred; she had her back to the king. Was that an insult? She remembered that historically people had to walk backwards out of an audience so that they did not insult a royal. Was it an honour to sit at his feet? She could see well because she was up so high. Did that matter? She was literally higher than everyone else.
All of them.
Except for the king and the occasional server who brought him a tray.
Or, was she a pet? Was she something else? He had asked for her. She hated to think of that even if he had a pretty face. All fae were beautiful even if some were terrifying with it. He was awful in the original sense of the word. Awe inspiring.
The strain of the last few days was telling, and the weight of her worries heavy. She almost leaned against his leg but jerked upright and fought to keep her eyes open. Food or drink might have helped her but she knew to eat it would mean she could never leave. Not that she had bargained for how long she was staying.
She was a fool, an impetuous fool. She hoped her brother was safe and that he was worth this. Would she ever see him again?
Losing the battle, her eyes stayed closed. She slumped a little and leaned against the throne and his leg. He didn’t move but the King of the Slaugh - the dark fae- had tentacles as well as human limbs. And one of the thicker ones snaked down to cross in front of her chest and then twine around his leg. It held her in place like a seatbelt and stopped her from tumbling forward or down the steps. Another thinner and more delicate appendage reached down and tucked her hair away from her face, placing it neatly behind her ear. She didn’t notice the light touch but plenty of the court did. The tall fae was one of them and he frowned.