This section involves more violence about Hook’s (Small Fry’s) hand.
“Easy, easy. Ma’am, I think it’s possible he doesn’t speak English.”
Charming was trying his best to reason with the woman – with his mistress – but she had just knocked out this damaged-looking fae – a fae wearing strange clothes and with a Mask that didn’t quite hide all his strangeness – for the second time.
The woman – who still hadn’t bothered to tell him her name or ask him, which was making him more nervous than he already was – looked his way. “Not speak English?” She raised her eyebrows. “You’re saying he’s not from around here.”
“That is – that is exactly what I’m saying. When he comes to, let me – would you please let me try talking to him, translating for you? I might have a language in common with him.”
“That hand is going to have to go.”
Charming did not jump, but he wanted to. He hadn’t heard the man coming up on them, but he was looking down at the fae – probably an Ellehem “returned god” – and his mangled, destroyed hand.
“Hands can be healed. I’m lousy at the words but I heard him using them just before – ah!”
Because the man with the axe had just cut off the remainder of the Ellehema’s hand with one swoop and was applying a brand to it, cauterizing the wound.
“Shit, shit.” Charming took a step back. “It can be healed! He can heal it! Why would you – why -” He dove for the man with the axe in a rage.
He managed not to fall over, but it was difficult. He did stop.
The woman-his-mistress glared at him. “Bad dog.”
The pain of her disapproval ripped through him.
“You will not attack any member of my team. Understood?”
But who was her team? He ought to ask. He wasn’t going to.
“And if this thing can heal, he will use all that energy to heal my people, understood?”
He was, by the very definition of the word, her people. “Yes, ma’am.”
“You may translate when he wakes up again. Get him out of the rocks and tied down somewhere. In there.” She gestured at a mostly-intact building. “That’s going to be my headquarters.”
Her smile was terrifying. “We’re going to come out ahead on this – humanity is. You’ll see.”
Charming had a horrible feeling that he would.
Note: This Text is Greek, generally ungrammatical when spoken by Charming.
He woke in pain and a splash of cold water. He threw up his hands to protect his face – tried to. His hands, the left one still a world of pain, were bound to something down by his side.
He blinked his eyes open. There was a man standing to one side of him, handsome, unsmiling, his hair cropped short, his blue eyes boring into Small Fry.
He kept looking around. To the other side of him – his unwounded side – was the woman with the stick. She had taken a moment to clean up, it looked like, and was wearing some sort of jacket that fit her nicely.
She was also not smiling. Small Fry’s instincts screamed at him to keep looking at her, not to take his eyes off of her, but the pain in his hand made him look.
He swallowed half of a whine when he saw what remained of his left hand. Healing that would take hours, weeks. Who would just cut off something like that-
Unless it was all about punishing him, reminding him of his place. He looked back at the woman.
She spoke to him in her incomprehensible language again. He opened his mouth, willing to try the Working again, and she jabbed the stick warningly.
This time, she didn’t actually break the skin. He wondered if she’d already grown tired of him passing out.
The man spoke slowly to Small Fry.
Small Fry perked up. He understood that! It was in the Spell Language! Not the Old Tongue, the older form of the language that Small Fry and everyone he knew usually spoke, but in the language they used to shape spells.
Small Fry nodded eagerly. The man’s pronunciation was accurate, crisp, but he seemed to be aiming each word on its own.
“Woman, Charge. Err… Leader, General. Working – no. Or – Pain.”
“I understood that part already,” Small Fry put in dryly. “My hand?”
The woman shook the stick near him and said something warning that was clear without translation.
The man translated anyway.
“She want you say you’re her, you –“ he filled in the Old Tongue words, as if there could be any lack of understanding with that. “I am hers. She want you say you belong her.” He paused . “Those words are, I, then belong, then to, then you,” he said carefully, pronouncing the words of his language crisply. “Or… pain.”
He looked pointedly at where his hand had been.
“More pain,” the man clarified.
Small Fry swallowed. He could imagine more pain. He could also imagine ways that things could go worse if he agreed. He’d managed to avoid Belonging to anyone, despite his miserable status, for this long. But now-
The woman stabbed him with the stick, right into a previous wound.
Small Fry screamed.
The man put his hand over Small Fry’s mouth. “She continue that will,” he murmured. “It – easier, the words.”
“I have a translation Working-” Small Fry murmured.
The man spoke in his own language to the woman. She shook her head no and pushed the stick towards Small Fry again.
If she kept that up, he was going to have bleeding sores for months. He whimpered and looked at the man. “You belong to her?“ he confirmed.
The man nodded grimly. It didn’t look as though he thought this was a good idea, either.
But Small Fry knew what his pain tolerance was – wasn’t. He knew he would give in eventually, and the woman already seemed to know what Workings were.
He gulped. “I-“ Very carefully, he looked at the woman and repeated the words that the man had said to him.
The woman said something back to him in her language. Small Fry felt the bond settle over him.
Then the woman continued to talk, a string of words that made no sense, words he was clearly supposed to do something about. But what? He had no idea what she was saying. He whined, deep in his throat.