First Page: Romantic Fantasy
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I jolted awake when the ice water hit my face. Blinding pain radiated out from my side when I reflexively jerked back to avoid the second bucket. I flung up my hands to deflect the water, or tried, but my wrists and ankles were bound to the chair I was sitting on.“Who sent you?” A man stood over me, face set in grim lines. He wore a topknot, dark blue trousers, leather boots that laced up to mid-shin and not much else.Presumably the better to throw water on me.
Adrenaline flooded my mouth with a metallic taste even as I fought off the dizziness to look around. Stone walls surrounded us, the only way out a door of metal bars. A silver globe of light directly above didn’t do much to illuminate the cell, just made the shadows starker and gave the impression of things moving in the corners.
I shook my head and tried to blink the water out of my eyes, certain I was seeing things. Or at the very least, please gods, hallucinating.
“What were you doing in Lord Anyang’s chambers?”
Breathing sent shards of pain through my chest. Even sitting slumped in the chair hurt. I felt as if I were one big massive bruise that got bruised some more.
“Speak, or I will force it from you.” He laid a hand on the handle of the coiled whip attached to his belt.
“I don’t know. Where am I?” I pushed the words out with an effort.
His eyes narrowed. “Playing the fool will get you nowhere. Seeing as you are a woman, I have been lenient, but do not overestimate my capacity for mercy.”
“Don’t worry. With how much I hurt, I don’t think I’m in any danger of overestimating your mercy. I really don’t know what you want. I don’t even know where I am, much less who your lord Anyang is.”
His head reared back slightly, an insulted look on his face. “I have done nothing to you. Yet. I don’t beat women when they are unconscious.”
I tried not to think too hard about what he would do to a conscious woman.
He sent me a considering look, “You speak of pain. Where?”
“Everywhere?” At his piercing look, I hurriedly revised my answer. “It hurts to breathe and my right side hurts.”
He crouched beside me and lifted my t-shirt up. A large blood-purple splotch covered my side and halfway across my ribs. I stared at it, trying to figure out when and how I’d gotten that particular bruise. He let my t-shirt fall and raised his eyes, “You didn’t get that at my hands.”
“I don’t know where I got it then. On top of not knowing what the hells is going on or where I am or who you are or anything.”
He stood, “You expect me to believe that you don’t remember or know anything?”
“No.” I winced. “No, I guess I don’t expect you to. But could you tell me where I am anyways?”
“Tavaneth.” With that, he walked out of the cell, locked the door carefully behind him, and walked out of sight.
I hurriedly closed my eyes as the world swam before me.
Muttering a prayer that I’d heard wrong, I let my head fall forwards as I grew lightheaded from hyperventilating.
Tavaneth. The setting for all of my bedtime stories growing up.