203 The Dawn of a Warrior II *
"He was lucky," the Slave Master had grunted as he'd watched his prized Pentablades fall one after another, "He will not continue to be so".
He'd given Ebony quite the glare as he'd stood and left. He had also, however, earned quite the profits from lost bets thanks to Aegin's surprise win. Ebony wasn't going to be in any form of denial however. Aegin had won, but it had nothing to do with luck. Even as far back as she'd been standing, she'd seen the change in his eyes. The Decision to turn the Pentablades from opponents into prey. She was not the only one between them fighting past demons, but the complete and utter cold acceptance of death in Aegin's eyes had been a stark contrast to the joking, teasing young man who'd always kept her company. It had even scared her a little.
The Madame had stood also, then dragged Ebony with her down into the Warrior cells below. They'd stopped before a cell, then she'd had one of her subordinates untie the rope at Ebony's neck as another opened the cell door.
"You get an hour. Don't waste it," the Madame had spoken.
Ah, clearly the Slave Master's way of letting Aegin know that Ebony was still okay. And of course, an opportunity for more carnal desires. Would Ebony have to be convincing in that sense? She wasn't sure she could. Let alone whether or not Aegin could. Was this a ruse she really wanted to continue with? Thank goodness the only part of the cell that was see through was the window at the door. It was also the only source of light, so Ebony strained to see through the darkness.
"Ebony?" Aegin had asked, his voice still distant, but with a trace of surprise. He clearly hadn't expected to see her, so it hadn't been something he'd asked for.
"Yeah," Ebony replied, then she hesitated before she asked, "You okay?"
Aegin's silhouette, which she could vaguely make out was sitting on a cot on the side of the room, shrugged, "A little tired but fine otherwise".
Ebony couldn't help the silent wariness in her body language. After a moment, Aegin spoke.
"It's okay, Ebony. Really. Death, taking lives, it's not exactly anything new for me. It's what I trained to do my whole life".
Ebony hesitated before she moved over to the cot and sat beside him, resting her crutch on the side, "Like I was a slave?"
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"I was one too. In a sense," Aegin nodded, "My mandate was to take orders from my Masters just like you. Only my orders meant spying on the enemies and the allies of my Masters both, and when it came to it, taking out both threats and competition in a variety of ways. It was not always by killing them, but that was quite common".
Ebony only nodded, "I thought so. Thank you for telling me though...are you going to be okay out there? I know there must have been a reason you left that part of yourself behind".
Aegin nodded, "There was. But Rassa's not here to spill blood in my stead, and I'm not sure he ever really liked that part of himself anyway. At least one of us has to stand between life and death or we'll never live the way we want. If that has to be me for a while, so be it".
Ebony sighed, turning away. She accepted that Aegin was right, but that didn't mean that she had to like it, "The Slave Master will never make it easy for you".
Aegin nodded, "I wouldn't expect him to. If I expect to last longer than this trial. I have to do more than win. I have to put on a good show".
"It sounds so terrible, to make theatrics out of killing," Ebony admitted softly.
Aegin turned to her, then away again, "I don't want this Ebony. You know that, right?"
Ebony turned to look at Aegin, "Of course I know that".
Aegin sighed, "Good. Because I'd rather have you look at me as the friends we've come to be".
Ebony took Aegin's hand in her own, "If I ever begin to look at you differently, tell me. Or, if it comes to it, I'll tell you my concerns first".
"And I you," Aegin replied.
"It's not so hard for me," Ebony admitted.
"Perhaps not, but that doesn't mean it won't become that way," Aegin said, "We get through this together. Agreed?"
"Agreed," Ebony responded.
In the silence between them as they held hands in the silence, Ebony whispered, "They gave me an hour in here, I think they believe we're...you know...".
"Together?" asked Aegin, "Well, they can believe what they want. It's no longer our place to make them believe otherwise. And frankly it may be dangerous to make them believe otherwise".
"So what should we do?" asked Ebony.
"Continue as we are," Aegin replied, "If they ever question why we're not being intimate. Just tell them that you'd rather not have a child here".
Ebony paused for a moment, then nodded. They lapsed into silence once more before Ebony whispered her confession, "I can't have children".
Aegin turned to look at her in surprise, realising that he may have been too insensitive with his last comment, "Shit, Ebony, sorry...I-"
"It's okay," Ebony assured him, "It wasn't until I tasted freedom that I even entertained thoughts of having children...they were more like dreams. My Masters made it so long ago that I would never have any".
Aegin hesitated before he spoke, "I would have thought the Masters would have liked the idea of...breeding their next generation of servants".
Ebony scoffed, "Some did. But prior to being sold to Jerrica I was intended to be sold to a Brothel when I came of age. Brothels, particularly higher class ones, look down on workers who suddenly can't work because they're with child".
Aegin could understand the logic, he'd been in plenty of such brothels. But he hadn't ever thought about what it was like for those women.
"Well," Aegin said, "It's probably not any consolation to you, but I think you would have made a great mother".
Ebony chocked on a laugh, "Thanks, Aegin. You cold bastard".
Aegin chuckled softly in reply.