A final delivery (Talia, p. 60)

She walks through the stone archway; torches are burning on the walls of the inner chamber. The red robed figure sits at the head of the table, smiling, beckoning her in. She steps forward, only halfway up the long table and sets down a wrapped and folded bundle.

“That is the last one.” She nods slowly, “I’ll be going now.”

“Really?” He raises an eyebrow. “You think this is all I want from you?” His expression becomes serious. “You think that just because she has left that my interest in you has diminished?”  He rises and walks slowly down the opposite side, keeping the table between them.  “I know why you refuse to visit… I know you lack her protection.”  He raises a hand to stop her from speaking.  “No… don’t deny what we both know.”  His smile returns. :I will come to you, for now. But when it is time you will come, and I will claim you.:

She begins shaking her head.

“Still defiant?”  He smirks.

“I am finished… you have no need of me.”

Anger flares in his eyes and the torches respond, their flames nearly reaching the ceiling.  “You will learn your place! And stand where I tell you to stand.”

At his outburst, she finds her blade is in her hands and she is backing towards the door.

He sneers as the distance widens. “Go for now.”  He waves a hand dismissively, the torches returning to normal.  “But you are still marked… are still mine. Freedom is an illusion.”

She backs from the room into the darkened hall. A moment passes and she finds herself standing in her room, sword drawn, candles flickering slightly. She looks about, sheaths her sword and sets out from the inn, hurriedly and filled with dread.

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