Vesper was at peace.
The water of the bath was warm and soothing under the light of the sun as it shone through the trees in the jungle. Her head rested on the edge of the bath and she looked up at the sky, a mixture of clouds and sun framed by the branches and leaves. She breathed in deep and closed her eyes, a heavy sigh of relief emerging on the exhale. Suddenly, she felt a small ache in her back where the new scars were, and her mind instantly darkened.
“A pound of flesh….” The man blankly stated as he slammed his cleaver down in front of him, his back turned towards her. She pressed herself as hard as she could against the wall and tried to sneak her way toward any sign of an exit, but the floor had creaked beneath her feet and the man turned, a pig’s head staring at her from across the room. The fear paralyzed her as she watched helplessly, and she attempted to will her magic, but it didn’t respond, her hands empty as the man advanced on her. She swallowed, her throat tight, heart pounding in her ears, and she heard a small girl’s voice, demonically distorted as it growled, “feed me…”
“A pound of flesh…” The man blankly stated once more as he readied a mace, holding the massive weapon easily with two hands. He advanced again and Vesper felt her breath stop. “Whose flesh?” She asked, her voice cracking. “Yours,” the man answered, and suddenly swung the mace at her. She squeaked and dodged his attempt, and made for what seemed like a door. Then she felt the pain, the loosing of her flesh from her back as his next swing made contact. A pound of her flesh taken, she had made her way from the cabin and promptly fell off the cliff it resided on. She limped, bloody, battered, bruised and dazed, until she made it to town, where Vindya had found her. Originally she couldn’t remember the cabin’s location or how she made it to town, but over time, she and others remembered the location of their captivity, and the pig-headed man hadn’t been seen since.
Her thoughts moved to Vindya. Vindya visited their new home earlier and in talking about their departure and abrupt move, asked, “Why did you leave them?” and Vesper told her everything. The hesitation to join the clan to begin with, the feeling of being an outsider, of being taken advantage of, and of being insulted behind her back. She opened up completely to Vindya.
“That was the thing. Once he told me his intentions for Taryn, and while still hesitant, I trusted his word. Yet at the ball, he still had complaints that he never brought to me, but to other people, whereas I had always been open about what was bothering me with him. When I did have the chance to say something, at Aerty’s tavern opening, I didn’t say anything because I had told Kaz I wouldn’t. I respected Aerty, Kaz, and Taryn enough to not cause some big scene on a special day.” Vesper sighed. “But it no longer matters. I have moved on.”
And she had. Vesper no longer held a concern for those who would take advantage of her or speak ill of her in secret. She was happy, at peace, and finally home. She heard a slam of the front doors and raised an eyebrow. She slowly got up and climbed out of the tub, and made her way inside. She heard another slam and peered across the hall, her eyes suddenly lighting up. “Ashira!” She ran to the front doors and flung them open, her pet instantly greeting her with a nuzzle. “You found me…” She murmured as she scratched between the big cat’s ears, eliciting a loud purr in response. “Welcome home, Ashira. Draz will be happy to see you.”