The Master and The Slave
Darkness envelope Neya's sight for a short moment then light flooded her eyes again. She stands on the edge of a snowy cliff while the cold wind brushes her face. Below the cliff, the ocean's waves crash against the rocky bottom. The mainland and the ice wall are visible from where she stands, but none of them distract her from the horrible truth.
She had seen her butler, savior, friend, and father died right before her eyes.
"Nesto!!" A high pitch cry echoes to vast empty oceans in front of her while her arm stretches out forward.
"Nesto!!!" She screams again.
"Nesto...." Her voice barely audible, as she said it.
Then comes the wail of grief, tears flood out from her eyes and drenching both cheeks. She broke down at the spot she stands, dropping down to her knees while pressing both palms on her eyes, she felt the emptiness and hopelessness closing in her heart.
She wanted to believe what she saw was another nightmare, but it wasn't. It was real; she saw the root pierce his heart because she wanted to come and help him. It was her fault, she was supposed to be on that ship. She leans forward and starts slamming her fist onto the snowy dirt.
"Neya..." Vel said as he reaches out his hand to the sobbing girl, wanting to comfort her, but he was stopped by Vizrez.
"Give her some space," Vizrez said while a look of sadness gloom over her as she looks away.
She stops slamming the cold harden dirt after her hand reddens and embrace herself with both her arms while quietly cry the rest of her pain out.
Vel and Vizrez instinct flare up causing them to ready their weapons while their gaze jerk around them. Out of thin air appeared a dozen tall humanoid creatures with red leathery skin without a single hair on its body and a pair of spiral horn attach to their head. Animal skin and fur cloth cover their slender body while holding a wooden spear in their hands.
The most striking feature about these creatures is their fully black eyes. Vizrez had heard of this creature before, Nesto also said he had once encountered one in the city.
Nesto calls it "Xintari".
A race that entirely made up of only female gender.
The Xintari shout gibberish nonsense at the cyclops woman and Woodfolk boy while pointing their spears at them.
"What are they saying?" Vizrez ask.
"Weapons. Let go?" Vel guess.
"Do we fight?" Vizrez asks as her grips tighten around her weapon.
Vel looks behind him, seeing one of the Xintari manage to sneak behind him and point her spears directly at Neya. The sobbing young girl still grieving over Nesto's death, unmoving and uncaring of the world. Neya doesn't care if her life is in danger, she just wanted to be left alone.
The Woodfolk boy without a choice drops his bow and arrow to the ground in fear of putting Neya's life in danger. Vizrez notices Vel actions, and when she looked behind her, she did the same thing by letting go of her weapons.
"Damn-it," Vizrez cursed.
The Xintari tied up the hands of the three unknown outsiders and forced them to walk through the snowy forest with a sack over their head. They traverse through the forest until the sun was replaced with the moon. Vel felt the numbing cold on his hand and feet crept toward his chest while Vizrez tries to keep herself warm by rubbing her hands together.
Neya, on the other hand, is walking with despair looming over her, she barely had any care left to give to the world or to the situation that she is in.
After a long hike through the snowy forest, they arrive at what seems to be a town filled with simple wooden cabins with curved roofs that resemble a wool hat. The Xintari shoved the outsiders forward until they meet with the edge of a deep, wide, rectangle shaped hole with grated metal bar covering the opening.
The Xintari lift the grated metal bar and shove the outsider into the hole. Vizrez falls into the muddy dirt below the hole, so do Vel and Neya. The Woodfolk boy took off the sack over his head, then look around him and only saw the night sky above him. He looks for a way out of the hole but found none except for the opening that they went through.
"Where?" Vel ask.
The cyclops woman takes off the sack over her head and lets out a sigh, "This must be their prison."
"What should we do?" Vel ask.
"I don't know..." Vizrez said as she sits on the muddy dirt and leans on the cold wet wall.
Vel looks over at Neya, seeing that the elf girl had taken off the sack over her head, and sit while facing the dirt wall. She then hugs both of her legs and buried her face between her knees. The girl continues to quietly cry even after her eyes has swollen and puffed from the sobbing earlier.
The boy looks at the girl again with painful eyes, he wanted to say something, but he knows that no matter what he said, Neya would only ignore it. So Vel with no other choice, but to give up and hope that some kind of opportunity can help him and the rest to get out of here.
He took a seat near the wall, and leans his back against the cold, hardens dirt behind him.
Time passed, both Vel and Vizrez had gone to sleep from the enormous fatigue that showers them, leaving only Neya left to be awake. She heard whispers coming from the two Xintari above as they speak to each other, but even if she could hear it, the elf girl couldn't understand a single word they said. Every word the Xintari spoke of, sounds foreign to elf girl.
Then something familiar can be heard, the sound of light footsteps that Nesto usually made travel into her ears. At first, she ignores it, she guesses that it must be the sound of footstep Vel making, but the woodfolk boy is sleeping. It couldn't be him, then it must be the guards, the Xintari are light on their feet.
However, there is one thing that she couldn't forget the smell of tea that Nesto usually made. Somehow, she could smell it, the delicious smell of sweet tea lingers under her nose then gently caressing the inside of her nose, she lifts her chin up and glances behind her. Expecting him to be there, standing while holding the tray of tea with that gentle smile of his.
But there was no one there.
'Has she gone mad?' She thought to herself.
After losing her hope yet again, she retreats her face back to between her knees. Then she felt a warm hand placed upon her head, at that moment she realizes its Nesto's hands, the warmness, the rough texture, the comforting and caring touch. There is no denying, he is there behind her, she wanted to turn around and face him, but she is afraid that it might another trick that her mind is playing.
"A.re...you real?" Neya whispers while trying to keep her voice from being shaky.
"I don't know, what do you think?" Nesto soft voice travels to her ears.
"I think that you are just some hallucinations that my mind creates because I am going insane," Neya answers, still keeping her head down in between her knees.
"Hallucinations... If I'm a figment of your mind then why don't you turn around and confirm it."
"I don't want too," Neya said.
"Because I don't want to lose you again!— I fail you... I broke our promise, I was supposed to protect you! You warn me about my decisions, but I didn't listen and look what it has caused me," She said while a tear slide down her cheek.
"So after what happens, after you broke your promise, and after I— Neya, are you going to sit here and give up?"
"Yes. I couldn't live without you, I couldn't see the future without you. Without you! I don't know what to fight for anymore... There nothing left except for misery and despair," Neya said, as her body trembles with anger and fear.
"Neya... open your eyes, and look behind you."
"No," she said stubbornly.
Neya felt his hand left the top of her head, she lifts her head up while pleading, "Wait! Don't leave me."
She turns her body around and Nesto was nowhere to be found again. Her heart drops as she clenches her teeth and lowers her gaze with despair-stricken eyes. A sudden warm gentle hand crept on her shoulder causing her to lift her gaze up again.
"I may not be the reason for you to continue living, but look around at the people close to you, how about them?"
Her gaze went to the giant, funny, kind and rough, but warm cyclops woman sleeping with her back leaning against the cold, harden dirt wall. Then her eyes went to the Woodfolk boy, who is handsome, selfless, caring and currently shivering because of the cold.
"I can't... I don't know..." Neya let out as she places a single hand on her forehead.
"You can and you know"
Then she felt it, the full embrace of warmness, comfort and good around her body. It as if someone just wrap both his arm around her body and gently snugging her with a hug. She never so happy and sad at the same times because she knows that this is going to be her last time of feeling him.
"I have faith in you."
She can imagine the smile that came with that words. After the embrace left her, she felt a new resolve rise inside her and determination like never before. Neya look around her and look for an opportunity, instead of seeing it, she hears an opportunity coming from the two Xintari that are still chattering with each other.
In one of the foreign words that they spoke of, a particular word snatches her attention; the name 'Yana'.
She stands up and marches herself to the centers of the pit then yell out "Hey, does anyone speak any elven language here!!!"
"Because if you do, I have some information about Yana that may interest you!!" She yells out.
Her yelling causes Vizrez and Vel to wake up in surprise; they look at each other confused by what happens then look back at the smiling elf girl. The two Xintari walk to the metal grate and yell out obscene words at the small girl.
"Yeah!! Yana! Yana! Yana!" Neya yells out, hoping that they understand what she is trying to say.
It seems to have worked when the two Xintari guards look at each other with dire looks and cause one of them to leave. When the Xintari came back, she brought a new Xintari woman with a stern and serious expression on her face. The new Xintari has a similar feature to the others except for one of her horn has broken off from a long time ago.
Neya could feel the glare from the Xintari woman, "I'll talk, if only you let us out of here and gave us warm clothes for the cold."
She ignores the elf girl demands and kept staring at the girl before saying "What is Yana to you?"
Neya considers her answer very carefully, if she answers it wrongs, she will never get Vel and Vizrez out of here. She takes a long breath in before answering, "She is my enemy."
The Xintari kept on looking at the elf girl even after she gave her answers, the woman turns her body around, and nod at the two guards before leaving. Her mind is restless as it thinks, whether her answers is the correct one or not, then luck struck as the guards open the metal grate and toss several cold resistance clothes into it.
"It worked," Vizrez said grinning.
Neya took the cloth and brought it to shivering Woodfolk boy first. She passes on the cloth, and Vel kept looking at her with a small smile on his face, then he asks "You. Ok?"
"I'm fine now," Neya said with a huge smile of hope on her face.
"Come on, let's go," She continued talking, as she passes Vizrez share of fur clothing.
After everyone put on the thick clothing to combat the cold, only then the wooden ladder is lower into the pit for them to use. Neya and the others climb out of the pit and into the town where they see the stern Xintari staring at them with an unamused face.
"Come with me, thief," The Xintari said as she starts walking.
Neya confused by the word 'thief', she ignores it, thinking it must be some kind of name-calling, and follow her while both of her friends follow beside her. They were not alone as the two guards from earlier, accompany them from behind, and keep watch over them to make sure the outsiders don't do anything forbidden.