Warning: rough situation, very unpleasant, even if the characters are baddies.
Ardell and Delaney are characters in Addergoole, and relatively unpleasant ones, at that.
“Hungry.” Del’s voice was soft, barely a whisper.
“Silence.” They both flinched, Ardell and Delaney, and they were both silent.
“I’m sorry.” Ardell mouthed it; Delaney knew those words by heart by now. She shook her head. No. No, this wasn’t Ardell’s fault. They’d thought it was a good place to settle, both of them. They’d thought the town looked comfortable and more than willing to trade safety for shelter and food. They had also, of course, thought they were invincible. Twenty years of surviving – thriving – after the apocalypse had not yet proven them wrong on that one, on any of those points.
They had not accounted for the man on the mountain. They had not accounted for the village already having a protector, one who did not want others horning in on his business.
They had not accounted for the fact that he might be more powerful than they were, even combined.
Delaney twitched. More than anything, she hated the praise. She hated the warm rush through her and the sense that she was doing right. She looked down at her knees, at the cold stone floor under them, and said nothing.
“Now.” The man – he had not given them a name; he had not given them anything, yet, except collars and chains and a cold stone chamber. “You’ve been here a while. Are you ready to listen to sense?”
Sense? Delaney’s tongue darted out and she licked her lips. What was sense, here?
She looked at Ardell, thinking about the last time they had been chained and naked and kneeling. She looked back at the man and wondered what sort of sense he wanted to pretend he was making, wanted her to pretend he was making.
She nodded, slowly, and mouthed the words Yes, Master. She would do what he wanted. That’s how this game worked.
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