He’d never been in it. Never wanted to suffer it. It clouded perspective and made a nuisance of itself. He’d not climbed to the heralded leader of the Soundless Sea’s inner sanctum by falling in love. And yet, when he watched Nyathena and her submissive, he couldn’t help but feel an angry stab of bitter jealousy. Those two, while not insipid, were difficult to watch for their simple caresses and the ease with which they flowed together. The tan-skinned tribesman felt a wave of seething anger coiling within towards them and needed to vent his frustration before it overwhelmed his calm and collected exterior. He needed the patronage of the Chelchester Estate, and could export wares that the island needed in return for vital supplies.
He stormed down the entry of the Estates manor house and into the centre of the courtyard. When he came to a standstill he took a deep, clarifying breath. Usually, he’d practise his forms with a sword in each hand, a style of fighting that had seen him rise amongst his peers. A vicious, aggressive style that complemented his slender frame and swift strikes. Sadly, his weapons were within the confines of the Estates hold, he’d been asked to surrender them, so he’d have to manage without them.
Using open fists in place of the sharp blades the unlikely warlord twisted through the coiling forms of his martial style, a confident grin on his face as his imaginary foes were torn asunder through his movements. He felt uncharacteristically cruel as they took on the visage of his host and her servant. Each flick of the wrist dispatched another element of their pathetic love. Love had no place in his callous heart. Notions of romance became meaningless as his kicks flew, swirling to coil around the imagined foe’s throat, a swift strike would see heads severed.
Partway through his meditative routine, Demios noticed that he was being watched. His eyes hardened to the fact that one of Nyathena’s slaves was so brazenly eyeing him. An elf, too. His lip curled in venomous disgust even as he took another deep breath. There was a rage inside that was refusing to quell and he tried his best to block out his observer as the routine continued to flow through his tightly coiled muscles. The Soundless Sea was a ruthless environment and to approach it untrained was a death sentence. As such, each of his limbs was a piece of perfectly formed art; honed to the act of armed combat. The flow of movement through his arms, twisted and coiled as his body turned, his hands clasping together, before he turned back the other way, his legs, carrying the motion with smoothly practised art. Inside, he could feel his thoughts slowly calming as his breaths remained even. So what if the two of them were in love with one another. They weren’t fighting for their survival in the Soundless Sea, they had the privilege of being tucked away in their personal corner of the world.
Demios returned to a neutral stance as his first form came to a close. His inner ear twitched as the sound of clapping reached him. His head whirled round to look at the lowly slave that had been watching him, ire returning swiftly.
“Do not condescend me with your gratitude.” He snapped.
Jaraleth, the elven slave, stopped showing his appreciation instantly, his hands returning to his sides.
“You’re the one she is having trouble bringing to heel, correct.” Demios accused as he drew closer to the elf. Before he had the chance to reply, Demios gripped the other man by his chin, looking deeply into his pale blue eyes. Jaraleth gave a started squeak, but daren’t move as the strong outlander’s hand held him tightly on the soft, fleshy tissue under his jaw.
“Do you not love her, too?” Demios fumed at him. Hung up not the notion of romantic love between a strong woman and her lowly servant.
Jaraleth could barely gurgle his reply, uttering a barely audible, “No.”
Demios shoved the elf away from him, who struggled to catch his breath after the assault.
“I hate her,” Jaraleth urged as Demios made to move off. The words wrapped themselves around him, dragging his attention back to the elf.
“Why?” He inquired.
“For keeping me captive.”
Demios snorted. “You’ll get over it.” He’d had his fair share of slaves and servants that had claimed to hate him for the very same reason. They soon turned their hatred to respect and he assumed that Nyathena would turn the elf attitude around in due time.
“Can you teach me?”
Demios frowned. “You want me to purchase you from her? Where would the gain for me be in that?”
“No, not that,” Jaraleth shook his head, his long hair flowing behind him, the beads and gems in his elaborate headdress glittered in the light. He didn’t wish for any mortal to own his physical soul, but he’d been traded into slavery from his birth, he had little choice in the matter but to wait out his time under another heel, he would live longer than those that held his leash, their life over in a heartbeat compared to the longevity of his heritage. This moment in his life was fleeting, insignificant, in the grand scheme of life.
“I’d like to learn how to fight, to flow, as you do.” He said, pressing his luck against the warrior’s barely restrained anger.
Demios looked the slave up and down. Dressed as he was, like a puffed-up tart in a baker’s shop window. The harem trousers, beads and trinkets didn’t do much to display the elf off as a fighter, yet, there was something about him that made Demios consider his request and not just dismiss him instantly.
“To what ends?” Demios asked, leaning back to take in the entirety of the other man. “To murder your Mistress and those under her leash? To earn your freedom through violence?”
Jaraleth returned the stare boldly. He was on the precipice of change and his next words could make or break that chance. Did he wish to dispatch Nyathena in such a brazen way? No. But would Demios respect him more if he lied, stating murder as his reason?
“No,” Jaraleth stated truthfully. “I care little for her, it’s true, but I do not wish to kill them.” Caleb had been kind to him since his arrival and he bore the man no ill-will other than a burning resentment that the large man wished for him to submit to Nyathena and become another house slave for the Estate and its parlour. “My plans stretch much, much further than petty vengeance on this insignificant spit of earth.” He sneered at the floor.
Demios reached to take the elf by the shoulder, leading him back into the interior of the manor. “Then, tell me of these plans, and I shall speak with your Mistress about training you.”