Conversations With a Beast, part 4

When is an option viable? The second you think it into existence…

It had been hours, and I was stewing in fantasies of fraternal emolation. A new, more satisfying image would boil up as I sat with my ear mech translating while various ambassadors spoke. Warded against lies, I had to trust that what  was funneled into my hearing was true.

I wasn’t so sure all the time, but there was truth enough to the fact that this enclave was nothing more than a glorified marriage market. Old Kingdom titles and New Stock monies kept haggeled alliances contractual, but had this been dealings on the White Market, most of the women (and a few of the men) would have been sold. Actually, I couldn’t be sure that “selling” wasn’t taking place.

It made my seat there that much more uncomfortable. My clan had polished me up for this engagement (an unfortunate pun), and I had read as much of the joint histories as I could, but I was ill-prepared for any kind of verbal exchange concerning current events and commodities. The clan hadn’t seen fit to educate me prior, and no wonder. I wasn’t meant to speak, at all, simply to sit there being ogled and quickly dismissed.

Present enticements included: warlockian heirs, a handful of daughters from the old corporate regimes, some from the newest mag startups, a couple princesses of the lesser kingdoms… And me. The other clans hadn’t bothered to send anyone else, and maybe that was the point.

I would’ve sat there longer, silently plotting fantastical revenge, but a server had the ill-fortune of a weak ankle or an invisible stumbling block placed in his path, causing the man and his entire tray of drinks to topple and come crashing to the floor.

Broken crystal lay around him as he lay covered in wines and other liquid amenities. Stunned, I could understand why he stayed unmoving in the middle of the carnage. As for the attendees who witnessed, nothing excused their frozen posteriors, especially after I left my seat and began helping the server.

Rather, there was one other individual who stood, the man seated clear across the other side of the cavernous room. I did notice him, being that he was difficult to keep from noticing. However, my regard was painfully cut short by the contrastingly quick insults I heard being said of me. My ear mech ensured every word was translated.

“They really did bring a servant…. What did you expect of the blackborn? … Embarrassment… affront… Someone remove her.”

Hell, no. I wasn’t going to be tossed out like garbage. It didn’t matter that I didn’t belong or that I wanted nothing more than an excuse to be released. I was not the refuse here. So after getting the server onto his feet, I took the only two remaining glasses miraculously still filled with a bit of… Something (I wasn’t sure what they held), and I was going to toast the room twice, then see myself out.

In the act of turning around to do just that, I came face-to-face (well, more like face-to-shoulder with Fenrick Bremeerson, commonly referred to as the Beast of Bremeer. He has a reputation, one that made what I did next highly inadvisable and out of character for me. I should’ve felt shame, but being in a room full of bullies made me bold.

There was an opportunity for an exit that was worthy of me, and the option became viable the second I thought it into existence. He was there. I was there with two glasses. So I thrust one into his hand, clinked mine against it, and downed the drink while he–surprisingly–took a sip of his own. 

“Let me take that from you.”

Bremeerson’s request sounded perfectly reasonable even though the part of my mind where I still had sense asked, what did he expect to take?

So I handed my glass to Bremeerson as he requested. He placed it on the server’s tray, and then–because I must have been in shock–I walked out on his arm.

I heard the clamor we caused behind us, not caring, because I could only place my attention on my escort’s next words.

“You just downed Sun’s Flare. It’s going to hit you in a minute.”

It took less than a minute, because I felt like throwing up.



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