"Don't sell me to her."
There they were. Those five words. Behrin closed his eyes and shuddered. The fact that the game had ended long before she'd spoken caused him more pain than he'd ever imagined. He was so afraid of this kind of hurt. This kind of pain was nothing but a maelstrom of emotion where every decision was wrong and the ache chose its own time of when to leave and he was so afraid...twelve-years-old afraid...that the time chosen would be never.
"What do you want her for?" He spat. His fear made him mean. "Sell her to the Night Hags? Or maybe you need her for one of your own spells, is that it?"
He smirked at Islinn,feeding off of her fear.
"You cheap prick." Alora thought angrily as she watched him bait the girl. Any regret she'd had earlier about bullying Behrin disappeared. She tossed the coins onto the platform. The loud noise caught Behrin's attention and he jerked a chin at Clive to gather them up.
"Done. A bitch for a bitch." He said,his voice hoarse.
Anger rolled off the crowd, as thick and heavy as the late day heat, and Alora knew she was on the verge of an ugly situation. Loki had finally come to and was prancing in place as he fed off of the uneasy air. She held her hand out to Behrin for the rope.
"What's her name?"
Behrin's face was swollen from the sun and the shock of what had just happened. A strange whine found its way through his lips as he dropped his head and watched his hands work the rope.
(Twelve again; yes,made me twelve again,oh god I can't let her go, Islinn, can't, she's so special and she owns me, oh shit,Islinn owns me,what have I done)
"You lied to me." Behrin whispered as he looked up into Alora's eyes. Tears dripped from his gaunt cheeks.
Alora reeled in an extra notch of leather in an attempt to calm Loki and eyed this new development. His thoughts droned in her head as he pouted up at her like a little boy picked on one too many times in the schoolyard. She tried to shut them out but her and Behrin seemed to be locked into the same panicky room together.
"Give me the rope." Alora forced the words out through the flow of mental garbage. Her head felt heavy and thick, like it was stuffed with wool. She experienced a terrifying moment of dizziness as the girl's almost uncontrollable fear slammed into her.
"You lied to me." Behrin repeated. "You said you didn't want my soul."
His mouth worked uncontrollably and he looked down again.
(So special,so special,it hurts, I feel it, I feel it moving and who owns who, I know ,I know Islinn, its like my mother's friend, it moves,my soul moves when it leaves, that shift,so pregnant,so heavy,but moves so special, heavy,like a child, twelve years old,pregnant, that shift)
"Give me the rope!" Alora screamed. She dropped the reins and clapped her hands over her ears. A sound like thunder rolled through her mind.
Behrin's hand jerked out with a horrible, rickety movement and he stared at it, his sense of betrayal now complete. The deluge in Alora's head stopped and quiet descended. She shivered, bathed in a queasy cold sweat. She snatched the rope from Behrin's hand. She gave it a speculative look then glanced at the girl. An unsettling sense of vertigo accompanied the slow drag of her eyes.
"Islinn? Is that what you're called?" Alora asked as she seized on one of the words that had been trapped inside her head. A dry,foul taste was in her mouth. She scrubbed her face with a shaky hand.
Islinn nodded slowly. She stared with dismal horror at the rope in The Twiceborn's hand. It wasn't thick. Some of the fibers were green. It made the cord spiky and tough. No wonder she'd pulled and tugged at it since leaving the settlement. All of this crowded out any pertinent thought and, somewhere in the back of her mind, Islinn knew she was viewing all of this with the clear-cut detail enjoyed by those on the brink of madness. All she could see was the rope. And the hand that held it.
The sight ballooned and spiraled down inside her. The distillation of this one moment contained her entire life. Every breath before had been nothing but a rehearsal for this sad, sick show. Her hands rose up and covered her mouth. All of this was some terrible mistake. Behrin hadn't really meant to sell her. Somebody would soon be along to straighten everything out.
Loki's hundquarters slammed into the platform with a jarring crunch. Alora tried to steady him with her legs but he wasn't having any part of it. He sensed trouble, just as she did, and he was all for kicking up a row. More eager than usual, thanks to her earlier choice of fluids. She took a moment to size up the situation.