The two rough guards pushed the girl through the streets. Her purple wings were tied together, and her white hair that had the very faint violet highlights covered her face. She pulled, struggled, tried to break free of the men’s strong grasp, but the more she struggled, the harder they held her.
They chained her wrists and ankles to a wall in and let her go. She looked up at them, her hair falling away from her face and revealing icy, cold eyes with flecks of indigo. She had a small nose and plump, pink lips. A small crowd of people gathered around to watch the show.
“Where are your people hiding?” One of the men yelled. She didn’t answer. He swung his foot up and it landed in her side, and she flinched.
“I said, where are the Elementals?” the man hissed. He hit the side of her face, and blood trickled down her chin.
“I’ll never tell you, Imperials!” she shouted. Another blow to her stomach. The crowd started cheering.
“I wouldn’t antagonize him if I were you,” the other soldier said. She began to go unconscious as the sun set into the western sky. The man grabbed her neck and held her up.
“Now,” he said. “Tell me where your people are hiding, and I will let you go,” she panted, choked, avoiding his eyes. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he let go of her.
“Very well,” he nodded toward a man who held a bow. The Archer loaded his bow. Aimed at the girl’s head. Let go of the arrow.
The arrow spun in mid-air and landed off to the side. Another arrow lay beside it. A shadow passed over the town as the dragon circled.
People screamed and covered their heads, as if it would save them.
“It won’t!” The girl shouted. The dragon’s belly glowed as fire shot out toward the ground, destroying all in its path. People ran and screamed. The archer shot at the huge beast, but the wooden arrows could not pierce its steel hide. The dragon roared and dove down toward the town, and a man jumped from the beast and rolled onto the ground. He ran toward her, using his dagger to brake the shackles from her wrists and ankles.
The man struggled with the metal cuff on her right wrist. The building she was chained to caught fire and singed her hair, and the heat stung her injuries. She shouted in pain as the man brought down his sword on the chain and lifted her onto his shoulder.
Carried like a sack of grain. The girl thought. She fell into unconsciousness as the man carried her through the burning streets.
She awoke to find herself in a large bed with huge wooden posts. The doors opened, then closed. She jerked up, realizing her joints ached, her head throbbed, and her throat was sore.
“Ah, so you’re awake,” the young woman said. She carried a tray and set it on the table, then started to pour tea into a cup.
“Where am I?” the girl said.
“None of your business,” was the reply.
None of my business? The Elemental girl thought. I’ve been captured, tortured, tormented, nearly killed, and kidnapped, and it’s none of my business where I am now?
“The Lady wanted to speak to you as soon as you recovered. You better get dressed,”
What? “Who is the Lady?”
“Don’t know,” the girl said, opening a wooden wardrobe. “Only Captain Sarda has seen her. I reckon you’ll be next,” the girl looked around the room. It was rather large, but simply furnished. Besides the bed and wardrobe, there was a fireplace, wash basin, rug, small table, and a rocking chair. She pulled back the thick blanket covering her, only to discover that on her wrist was a black metal cuff with four chain links attached to it.
“Worked on it for over two hours. Couldn’t get it off,” the girl answered. “Now what’s your name?”
“I am Melee,” the girl said, laying a beautiful violet dress on the table. She handed Vale the cup of tea and said, “You had better drink this. You are going to need all the nourishment you can get,”
Vale took a cautious sip.
“Good, isn’t it?” Melee smiled. It was good. Vale downed the whole thing in one sitting, then asked for a second cup.
“Nuh-uh,” Melee said. “You’ve been malnourished. One cup of tea a day. Physician’s orders,”
Vale reluctantly obeyed, and Melee helped her out of the bed. The tea helped the pain and her headache subside and soothed her throat. When she went to slip into the dress, however, a sharp pain shot through her left wing. She looked back, and saw that it was bandaged and twisted horribly.
“Great, a broken wing,” she said as Melee buttoned the side of the dress. It was soft and silky and more beautiful than anything she had even worn before. After twisting her white hair into a large bun, Melee led Vale out of the room.
The hallway was dark, with the exception of two torched on the walls. Across the hall was a door, which led to a stairway. They went up the winding, narrow stairs, finally stopping at the top in front of two large doors.
“Don’t say anything wrong, stay calm, and don’t insult her,” she said, opening the door and shoving Vale inside.
“Wait wha…” Vale began, but the door had already closed behind her. She inhaled deeply.
“Welcome,” the voice nearly scared Vale out of her skin. She turned toward the voice, but it was very dark and she couldn’t see anything.
“What is your name?” the female voice said again. Vale could barely make out a figure standing in the corner.
“Vale,” Vale answered. Raindrops hit the glass windows and fell against the roof, echoing like drums throughout the tower. Lightning flashed across the sky, lighting the room and giving Vale a glimpse of the figure in the corner.
“I am Lady Rune,” the woman said, stepping into the light. Vale lifted her chin slightly.
She’s like me.
“Elemental, yes.” Rune said. “And so are you. Tell me. What is your Element?”
“Air,” Vale said. Rune smiled.
“Excellent,” she replied. Vale raised an eyebrow, obviously curious as to what this meant. But before she could ask, Rune went on.
“I rescued you from death, Vale,” she said. “I expect to be compensated for the losses,”
Vale didn’t respond.
“Are you a member of the rebellion?”
“No.” Vale responded. “I lived in a hidden village with my fellow Elementals. The rebels were smuggling food and supplies to us. I was assigned to meet them at Dragon’s Peak, but when I arrived they were all dead and the Imperial soldiers captured me,”
“I see.” Rune said. “I have every reason to turn you back over to the Imperials. Unless…”
“Unless you do exactly as I say.”