311 A Matter for the Master
Rima had never been much of a drinker. Alcohol of any kind was a luxury she'd never been able to afford. But as she tried groggily to awaken, she imagined that this was what it was like the morning after a particularly heavy night of drinking. How did all those people down at the inns and bars do it day after day? She felt like her head was going to explode.
Still, as she became more and more aware of her surroundings, she realised that she was hanging upside down, and something was digging uncomfortably into her stomach.
"Oh," said an unfamiliar voice, "Just in time".
Rima registered the sound of a door opening and then she shifted suddenly, plunging towards the floor. Rima hit it hard, the air rushing from her lungs with the unexpected jolt. Rima coughed, then, when she managed to get a little more air in her lungs, turned to look up at who had been holding her.
He appeared to be a teenage boy. Perhaps only a head or so taller than her short self. He was dressed in traditional Tribal garb, but with no adornments on his upper arms. Instead, he wore cuffs that went from his wrists to just shy of his elbow. They appeared to be made from quite expensive material as well. It made her wonder where he'd gotten them from. He did not look at her, instead looking at whatever was in front of him.
Rima twisted to look over her shoulder as she sat up.
What she found was a middle-aged man in a black silk robe with his hair pulled back and twisted in cords down his back. A few necklaces hung in the gap of his robe against a bare chest. Rima frowned and took in the room around her, it seemed like a formal meeting room, why was this guy naked beneath his robe? His dark eyes looked from the boy to her, then back to the boy.
Those eyes unsettled her. She didn't like them.
"Well, would you look at that, Yashi actually listened and brought me back a woman without me having to make a wish," he said.
The boy beside her smiled, "Not exactly, Master. I found her rather interesting, so I brought her to see if I could make up for my first and only failure".
The man's eyes snapped back to the girl, interest in them as he looked at her for a moment. Then they widened as he stood.
"Who are you, girl?"
Rima frowned. She really didn't like this guy. She was still dreaming, right? Though that didn't explain the pain. Nor this strange place she'd never seen before.
"What's your name!" snapped the man.
Rima flinched, "Rima".
The boy beside her side, his stance relaxing, clearly he was not in the least intimidated by the man's display, "She's Elva's daughter, Master".
"Elva's daughter?" asked the man, he then stalked towards Rima, she went to move away but he caught her arm, pulling her towards him and grasping her chin. He stared at her features, seeming to drink them in, "How old are you, Rima?"
Rima struggled against him before he jolted her back to look at him, "Cooperate, girl, how old are you?"
"I'll be nineteen at the beginning of winter," said Rima.
The man grinned. Rima didn't like his smile. It was too…evil.
He released her, "Get her cleaned up and put her in a room".
"Then, she does count as a replacement?" asked the boy beside her, Yashi.
She looked up at him, only to notice him staring back. His eyes, that blue.
Rima gasped and shuffled back, the Djinn.
The room was silent for a moment before the man sighed, "Where did you find her?"
"She was among the Red-Eyed Snakes. Though considering her lack of Tribal adornments I assume she was only a guest there," Yashi said.
"Is that true, girl? You were a guest?" asked the man.
Rima sensed impending danger for the Tribe. She had yet to know this man's name, but she could see the threat of violence in his eyes, "Yes, just a guest".
"Did they know who your mother was?" asked the man.
"No. I told them only that my mother had run from her tribe to Rene," said Rima.
The man stared at her with narrowed eyes for a long moment before he spoke again, "Rene? Then why did you come to the Hava Rastellan?"
"To search for my mother's tribe," said Rima.
The man chuckled, "Well, you've found it, Rima".
Rima raised an eyebrow, "But…I heard from travellers that the Blue Suns were gone".
"In a way, yes, they were assimilated into Black Sands. After all, how could I decimate my Bride's Tribe? Who was your father?"
Rima shook my head, "I don't know. My mother only said he was a traveller from the Southern Continent".
The man nodded, "Then you will be my daughter from now on as you should have been, you will be of the Black Sands, and you will do as you are told while you are here".
"Then the wish is fulfilled?" asked Yashi.
"Patience, Yashi," said the man without turning to blink at the Djinn, "Your mother, what happened to her?"
Rima frowned, "She died over a decade ago, she got sick and never got better".
The man actually looked sad for a moment, his eyes showing something other than the greed and malicious intentions she had perceived so far. But it was gone just as quickly.
The man turned to look at Yashi, "Yes, I see this wish fulfilled, Djinn. You may take your payment".
Rima watched as the Djinn grinned and took a deep breath. As he did, she could see the man still for a moment, then as Yashi breathed out, and the man moved once more.
What had just happened?
"I'll be up in my quarters as always if you have need of me, Master," said Yashi, then he turned and walked out.
Rima turned back to the man, "Who are you?"
The man grinned, "Me? I am Gryffyn Blacksand, Chieftain of the Black Sands Tribe, and now, your adoptive father".
Rima frowned, adoptive father her ass.