There’s no fair or unfair in battle.
This wasn’t going to be a last stand nor the last sign of his rebelling against this entire ordeal. When he said that he had every intention of hunting her down and putting a brutal end to her, he meant it. He would surpass the grave to achieve that goal at this point. But as he brazenly stated to her, he had no intention of doing it by her rules. That would utterly and completely defeat the point. So she could seemingly offer herself up as a sacrificial lamb all she wanted but Vandrad wasn’t buying into it. He stood there, his laughter fading away as the stone-cold face of his anger clung to him. He waited, assuming that she was planning on marching over and trying to goad him some more. But all she did was stare back at him, considering him for the rebel he was proving to be. If anything, it meant that he was going against what she was assuming he would do – and that was just how he liked it. He was not a trope to be enjoyed nor a one trick pony to antagonize. She wanted to play games? He’d find a way to operate beyond the board.
After what felt like hours, she finally shrugged and relented to his wishes, having come to some conclusion about not pressing him further. He highly doubted it would be the last attempt to rile him up but he had, at the very least, claimed some semblance of a personal victory here. Even if she wrote it off as lacking any real effect to her goals, he’d still gone completely against what she had assumed. A step was still a step and when it came to being chained, bound and essentially enslaved, any gainage was better than what waiting for him. With their stances individually set, Mercury went back over to the camel and set herself on it, beginning their journey again. The chains were not linked back to his cuffs, giving him some semblance of freedom but he chose not to press it – for now. He followed after her, his eyes boring holes through her back as he pictured several different things he wanted to do to her.
They still had a couple of hours worth of travel, as he found out. On they went, her leading the way and him following behind like a dutiful slave. Several times his eyes spied the canteen on her camel, seemingly hanging there as a means of teasing him. Though it was close to her, he surmised that he could quickly dash up and grab it. But he never did and interestingly enough, neither did she. Two hours wandering in the desert and she, not once, pulled it around and drank from it. She didn’t even seem bothered by the blistering heat, which was just as strange. Perhaps the canteen was brought along for him? He shook that thought away – it was probably another test or means of pushing him further into subservience. By the end of the trip he was quite thirsty but he would sooner be damned rather than test his luck with whatever was in her water pouch.
A building rose up out of the horizon – their destination, no doubt. Vandrad narrowed his eyes to get a better look at it right as she spoke up, declaring it time to for the show. Before he could think to ask what the hell she meant, the chain was once again reattached to his cuffs. Adding further insult to injury, she summoned a hard metal muzzle that latched itself to his mouth and additional, weighty chains to wrap around his ankles, silencing and slowing him all at once. She would be able to feel the rage simmering off of him as his eyes widened, bloodshot veins practically piercing his sclera. Yet they continued on, with the Prince once more practically being dragged right after the Silver Wolf wizard.
The house for the Ring of Blood was far bigger than he imagined it would be. In fact, he was sure that such a sizable structure would draw a lot of unwanted attention. But there was a heavy magic aura in the air that he could still feel, despite his minimalized magic. Places like this always had plans ahead of time in case trouble started brewing. Maybe the building itself was warded to teleport if things went awry. That was the only thing that made sense. He shimmied to the side enough to see the line that awaited them. Masters and slaves gathered in a column, awaiting entrance several meters up by the guard post. He could practically smell the pompous elitism from here, an all-too-familiar scent that had hounded him since childhood. No doubt there were probably Bellum dignitaries here as well. One might have thought that would bring him ease – perhaps he could get their attention and possibly saved. But Vandrad knew better than to think that; if they were here, they had no positive aims. They probably wouldn’t even recognize him. A flash of steel caught his gaze as a sword was swung at a slave that had proved unworthy. With his life essence still pouring from him, the slave was thrown into a sizable and bloody pile just off to the side; a grim reminder of what happens to lowlifes that weren’t worth anything.
It wasn’t long before it was their turn to step up and for Vandrad to be appraised. Mercury busied herself with one guard to gain entry while another fellow, a merchant no doubt, began to examine him. Like a piece of meat he was observed and investigated, the sniveling weasel stopping in front of him and looking at him like he was some kind of good in a store window. The Prince narrowed his gaze once more at the smug man, already mentally deciding that this bastard would die as well. Maybe he would break this guy’s legs off and use them to beat Mercury into a bloody paste.
No, that was too quick a death for her. She needed to suffer more than that.
Mercury offered him to the merchant, so long as she received a fair price for him. The man seemed almost insulted by the notion that he would cheap her but even Vandrad was educated enough to know an actor when he saw one. He assured his false fairness before asking his name, the Prince already sighing and closing his eyes in annoyance. Imagine the shock when she named him ‘Ashur’; a fabricated designation that lacked a royal title as well. His eyes flew open, his head snapping to look at her in surprise. Why the hell wasn’t she selling him honestly? What did she seek to gain by lowballing herself?
Like a ticking clock, his mind struck true midnight and gleamed the truth. This stuck up bitch was using him for a job. Why else would they be here? Such a realization may have quelled the anger of others but now Vandrad. No, the idea that she was outright using him and throwing him into a job without his consent seemed to overwrite all the previous rage that had been bubbling and brewing. His muscles flexed once more, timely considering she walked right over and began to showcase him to the merchant via feeling him up. He growled behind the muzzle, an almost animalistic sound rumbling inside the metal contraption. He listened very intently as she wove a salacious tale of him being a thief that had attempted to rob her store. She oversold his strength, declaring that an entire regiment of soldiers were needed to quell his power. And she had brought him here to be sold, as he had apparently destroyed her store in his fit of rage.
The merchant didn’t seem very impressed, tossing a measly amount of jewel out for him. Even as someone being forced to act as a slave, he was shocked and insulted. Luckily Mercury was leaning hard into her role as the master, haggling hard against the lowballing. They went back and forth before agreeing – begrudgingly – on one hundred and seventy five. Great – good to know his very life wasn’t even worth a quarter of the fortune he had in Bellum. As the money changed hands, the merchant ordered the guards to remove him. But instead, Mercury insisted she would be the one to take him. They seemed perplexed by this, voicing their disagreement. But she didn’t let up, painting him as a true monster to be feared. If he wasn’t so angry and one hundred percent sure he hated her, he may have been touched. At last the merchant agreed to let her go, if only to get her off his case. Then a hard yank from her tugged him inside, the pair finally entering into the funhouse of carnage. Off in the distance he could hear the audience and what was surely the sound of combat. He glanced around slowly before his gaze settled back on her, just in time to catch her wink. She’d played them right inside, he would give her that.
But that wasn’t going to save her. Whether this was a job or not, Vandrad stood by his word. She was going to die – at this point, it was just a matter of when.