For those of you who wanted to know what happened to Celeste, this is for you. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of this and whether you want another another chapter, and if you have any specific questions you want answered.
Here’s the story. Enjoy!
The tall blonde girl stood before an oak table laid out with dozens of wine glasses. She was expected to polish all of them until they gleamed blindingly in the light. It had been a week since her mother had been burned alive by the master of the house, and a week since she had spoken. Celeste’s mother had paid for her crime, which had really only been a misunderstanding between herself and the young mistress.
I should have been the one to pay with my life, she thought to herself. My mother played no part in it.
The door opened and Celeste turned to face the guests. Her eyes opened wide when she made eye contact with the master of the house and another young man. She quickly averted her eyes and curtsied.
“Oh, it’s you,” the master said. “I had hoped the other one, Wilhelmina was here.” Celeste did not reply. It was neither her place nor her right to speak unless given permission. And even then, she had been unable to. The doctor had put it down to stress and shock. Although Celeste should have been imprisoned for her crimes, if not executed, the young mistress, Daphne Lully, had seen fit to keep her around to gloat about her mother’s death.
“Oh, but she is quite a fair specimen,” the guest replied. His voice was soft and clear but his words cut her like a knife. I am a person, Celeste thought. But she kept her silence all the same. Then she realised that the voice was familiar. No, it can’t be. “Might I take a closer inspection?”
Celeste kept her eyes downcast as was custom for slaves when close to a superior. The man walked closer to her and with every footstep, her heart thudded that much louder. When he was right in front of her, he lifted her chin slightly.
“Look at me,” he said, and she was helpless to deny him. His eyes were green this time but as he gazed at her, the colour darkened, replaced instead by the obsidian pair that she had first been greeted with.
He combed through her short blonde hair, placing loose strands behind her ear. Behind him, Celeste’s master coughed to get the guest’s attention.
“It would be ill-advised to take that one,” the master said. “She still needs to finish her obedience classes, which she won’t pass until she starts speaking again.”
“She is a mute?” Quinlan asked, brow raised a fraction. But his gaze didn’t waver from Celeste’s.
“Only for the past week. The doctor thinks she went through a traumatic experience.”
“Yes, I imagine losing your mother is rather traumatic,” the faery spat. The amused expression Celeste had seen the first time Quinlan had visited was absent as he whirled around to face Celeste’s master. “Wouldn’t you agree?”
“I… I’m not certain I know what you’re talking about,” Master Lully stated.
“Of course you do. But I haven’t time to mess around. You will give me this slave and I will give you exactly what you deserve for her. I want the paperwork as well, of course.”
“Two hundred drachmas then.”
“For the crimes which she stands accused of and her obvious behavioural problems, she cannot be worth more than fifty.”
Master Lully’s lips pressed together and his brow knitted in anger. “Now, see here! This is a talented slave. How many slaves that can play the flute as well as she can are few and far so I will not accept anything less than two hundred.”
Celeste couldn’t be certain that her master knew who he spoke to. Certainly no one would speak to the Unseelie King in such a manner. But here he was, face red with fury, defying one of the most powerful beings in all the realms. Just as Celeste had done, for all the good it had done her.
“I’ll amuse you for the time being and offer you your two hundred drachmas.” Quinlan said. “Shall we shake on it?” He offered out his hand and Master Lully looked at it apprehensively, eyes narrowed at it as if it may have been a trap. But then he nodded and he shook the faery king’s hand.
“Deal,” he said. “Would you like to come with me to draw out the paperwork?”
And just like that, Celeste’s fate was left in the hands of the Unseelie King.
“I’d ask that the slave come with us so I can search for anymore defects I might have missed,” Quinlan said.
“Whatever for? You already said that you would purchase her.”
“I would ask that you remove her tracker.”
“That is against the law,” Master Lully said, eyes narrowed. But Quinlan only smiled back.
“And so is killing a slave. There are procedures to be followed. Even slaves are permitted a trial.”
“Are you a Peacemaker come to arrest me, or a customer here to purchase my slave?”
“The slave will suffice,” Quinlan said. The two eyed one another for a drawn out moment. Master Lully appeared stiff, his back erect, as though he may have to strike at any moment. In contrast to him, Quinlan appeared the picture of calmness. What did a faery king have to fear from a mortal Spellman?
“Come with us,” Master Lully said, pointing at Camila.
Celeste followed Master Lully and the faery king to an office. It was sleek and modern but it had a cosy feeling to it thanks to the electronic fireplace. Master Lully went through several of his drawers and came out with a device.
“This will remove the device in her rear,” Master Lully stated. “Come here,” he told Celeste.
“Be certain that it does,” Quinlan said.
Celeste walked towards her master and allowed herself to look directly into Quinlan’s eyes. A light amusement appeared there as though her insolence did not bother her. A crack rang through the room and moments later, Celeste felt a stinging sensation on her cheek. Master Lully had slapped her.
“Do not gaze in the eyes of your superiors, slave.”
“Please refrain from harming the merchandise,” Quinlan said.
“Until you pay me and sign that contract, she is mine to do as I wish.” Celeste ground her teeth together to keep her from doing something she knew she would regret. “Bend over,” Master Lully ordered.
Fear seeped its way through her then but she barely hesitated as she did as instructed. Her master lifted her dress and shame overwhelmed. Shame. What a useless emotion when your own flesh belonged to another. Her underwear was next and at this display, true panic overwhelmed her.
“Be sure to remind this one who the master is. I’ve heard of young men like yourself who wish to keep these base-born slaves as lovers and paramours.” Celeste felt something cold cup her behind. Cold heart, cold touch. He slapped Celeste’s rear then and she cried out. She knew it was not the force of the slap but rather the sheer humiliation of the act itself. “Slaves are lower than dogs. They have no loyalty and they must be kept under control by whatever means necessary.”
Tears welled up in Celeste’s eyes but she forced down the sobs that threatened to erupt from her.
“Care to hurry this along?” Quinlan asked. “I am not so fond of mongrels, myself but be rest assured,”— there was a tug at Celeste’s hair and she was forced to peer into those dark orbs – “she will know who rules over her.”
The faery king released her and her head sagged and she was staring at the floor again. Something cold touched her rear and a sharp pan pierced her there.
“The tracker has been extracted. You may dress, slave,” Master Lully commanded.
Celeste was more than relieved to dress herself, but whatever sense of modesty she might have had had been peeled away. As she pulled down her tunic, she saw her master give the tracker to Quinlan. He sat behind his desk and took a piece of paper from the printer.
“This is the contract,” Master Lully said. “You will pay the agreed two hundred drachmas.”
“Indeed,” Quinlan said. Celeste watched him play with the tracker. It appeared to look like a small coin, flat and round. Celeste detested that such a thing had been inside her, marking her as the property of someone else.
“Remind me your name again, please? Quinlan was it?”
“An old name, that one,” Master Lully said. “And what might your family name be?”
“My kind is not so keen on family names. You can make out the contract to King Quinlan of the Unseelie Court.”
Master Lully stared at the fey for a moment, and a nervous smile appeared on his face. A light chuckle followed. “You’re not serious?”
“The fey do not lie.” And then he let the Glamour drop. His hair and eyes darkened. The feature of his face sharpened, and a dark aura seemed to unfurl from him. “What are you waiting for?” Master Lully only stared at him, with his mouth hanging open. Quinlan stepped closer to the Spellman, causing him to reel back in fear. “Write it!”
“Of course, of course!” He reached for a pen and quickly scrawled out something on the paper. “If… if you could sign here, please?”
“Will you not be needing payment first?” Quinlan asked.
“No, no! Take her.”
“I wouldn’t wish to rob you. After all, we had an agreement.”
Quinlan raised his hand and a symbol shone over Master Lully. It might have been some ancient language. Celeste did not truly know. But that symbol held power in it and she could feel it deep within her.
Dozens of coins appeared from a void around the glowing symbol. Celeste watched as the drachmas pierced their Master Lully’s flesh.
Master Lully’s growl should have scared Celeste. Inside, however, she felt a sense of joy. That is what scared her.
More coins rained down on Master Lully, and blood poured from the wounds. His bright pleading eyes were seared onto Celeste’s memory but Quinlan showed no remorse.
“One hundred and ninety five drachmas,” Quinlan said. “Now, I’m sure I’m missing something.” He tapped his cheek and then appeared to have a light bulb moment. “Five missing drachmas.”
“Please…” Master Lully groaned.
“I’m not certain you should have the right to live. Perhaps I will ask the girl.” The faery king turned to gaze at Celeste then. “Should he be permitted to live?”
Celeste’s mouth was dry. She knew not what the right thing was in that moment. Everything seemed to blur into one. Her humiliation and anger. Her grief and malice. Count Lully would be her master no more.
“No,” she said. Quinlan only nodded and a coin penetrated Count Lully’s heart.
“Two hundred drachmas, in full,” Quinlan said. Then he took the contract and signed it. “I promised you that you would belong to me, and now at last, you do.”
The faery king turned around to look at her, but instead of cowering to him, Celeste forced herself to raise her chin.
“I will never belong to you.”
“According to this contract, you already do, deary. And trust me when I say that I will make good use of you.”