The smells from the dining hall were getting stronger. There was nothing I could do to dispel the nauseating aromas of pan-seared octopus meat and baked elephant tongue. Just the thought of the elephant’s tongue on a baking tray in the oven brought on the involuntary gag-reflex though I hadn’t eaten for days. At this point I could go another couple of days; that’s how long it’ll take to get rid of the memory of the smell.
I sat at the head of the table, unable to move, unable to take a sip from my wine glass, unable to even scratch my nose. I was strapped to the chair, hands and feet bound, and mouth gagged. Why am I in this predicament, you may ask? What did I do to warrant this particular situation? And why am I unbelievably comfortable with it?
Truth is, the restrictions aren’t for me. Well they kinda are . . . they are there so I don’t run off and get myself killed in an attempt to escape. I had only run off twice; the first time I nearly made it out the front doors before the Butcher found me, after which Master had to beseech the man to not cut me up into bite-sized chunks for dinner that evening.
The second time I escaped, I made it through the kitchen and into the rear garden that over looked the Bleak forest. I skirted the boundary and climbed over the far fence making my way through the forest. It was as the name suggests, bleak, drab, and forlorn, but I was determined to get away. Little did I know I was jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
I quickly made my way through the forest, as silently as I could go, stopping every now and then to listen for following footsteps. There were none thankfully, so I continued. Deeper into the den I went, until the canopy overhead blotted out any sign of the sky. The forest grew so dark, that I could barely see my hand when held in front of my face. And because of that I have no idea how long I was in there.
I felt a strange sense of foreboding, knowing I shouldn’t be going this far into the woods. This place, this world was unfamiliar to me, yet I trudged onward. Until . . . I heard the cry. Well it was more like a shriek, the kind that could split your eardrum had you been standing too close. I covered my ears instinctively and hid beneath the over-large roots of a tree. Then a shadow passed overhead in the already pitch black forest. It took every ounce of courage left in me not to scream, or cry, or run, or do anything that would draw attention to myself. So I stayed absolutely still, hidden beneath the tree.
The shriek came again, from another direction, but closer than before. My heart pounded. The branches of a tree close by cracked and strained under the weight of whatever was out there. The rustling leaves shook me to my core when the thing took flight, it’s giant wings flapping and sending gusts of air to the undergrowth. Then it landed on the root right above my head. It’s talons, as long as my hand, curled around the branch in a vice-like grip. My heart pounded so hard and so fast I could hear nothing but my own beating heart. I raised my hand to my mouth and clamped it shut, hoping my breathing wasn’t as loud as it sounded to me.
Then it screeched again, and just as I thought, the screech was so deafening and alarming, that I think I may have screamed along with it this time. It extended it’s wings and began flapping about noisily.
“Trixa!” Master called. “Nom bele gyah torreh, eh?” he said sweetly to the thing. It cooed at his voice, and hopped down from his perch atop my hiding hole. “Seeka, seeka, nom bele goo iyah Trixa.”
The dark thing wobbled up to him cautiously, sniffing the air for his familiar scent. Master held his hand outstretched before him and the thing walked right into it, allowing the Master to caress its head and back as a dog would any outstretched loving hand.
“Seeka, seeka” the Master serenaded the thing until there was complete silence around. But just when I thought it was safe to emerge from my hiding place I heard the Master, without any inflection in his voice as he serenaded the creature, “Stay right where you are Adell,” and I froze. “This will be the last time you will ever try to escape. You must stay exactly where you are tonight. If you move, Trixa here will gut you without a second thought, and I will not be around to save you this time.”