The stone wall felt cold on the moist skin of her back as she sat on the mattress, but she didn’t have the energy to put her clothes back on yet.
Thank god he let me have sheets and a blanket, she thought with a hidden scowl. What would it cost him to bring me a box spring and a frame, anyway? Or just permit me to request something better from the Gireid?
She clutched the top sheet to her chest. She took that precaution only because some emergency might obligate Tirith to enter. Modesty in front of Benjamin would serve no purpose, considering what they had been doing for the last hour. Her tattered clothing lay in a pile where he’d made her strip for his entertainment.
Again, he didn’t bring me any new clothes. With the buttons of my blouse gone, it’s gotten hard to cover things. Maybe I should try sewing something more effective out of what I have. Would the stone allow me to do that?
She didn’t want to mention clothes to him again. Last time she’d been insistent about it, and he’d suggested he might just order her to go naked. Benjamin understood how to use her fear to maximum advantage.
I suppose I should be thankful he let me remove them. He couldn’t do any further damage to them, that way.
He pulled his sweater back on and straightened it. She inspected his narrow face and wished she dared request him to shave. With night long since fallen and the room lit only by a single Tasuithan flux lantern, his two or three days of growth gave him a demonic look. She shifted her gaze to his boots, standing nearby.
The remains of their meal sat on a low table across the room. He went to it and picked up a small hunk of Gireidil bread. She stared with apprehension at his back as he poured some of her clan’s home-brew ale to go with it. Why didn’t he speak? What was he thinking? Was he waiting to see what she would say first?
He already had the details. He must have reviewed the recording of her encounters with the Gireidil hunters and the police officer who stole the rock. She sent the record across his ‘link’ equipment before he returned to Chald. But the device she carried only recorded what she saw and heard. It had no way to show her reasons or intentions.
When he had arrived, he had simply ordered her to feed him a late meal, during which he decided that she should begin his customary after-dinner recreation. His vigor during that entertainment had made it quite clear that her body’s main task tonight was to absorb his frustrations, but he had yet to actually say anything about the events.
She finally surrendered to the inevitability. She would have to be the first one to talk.
“We were totally out-gunned, Benjamin.”
Her eyes remained fixed on the far wall, now. It occurred to her that she was avoiding looking at him. It was only the slave-stone’s compulsion that drove her to report to him, after all. She didn’t want to know his opinion of her work, just yet.
He didn’t respond, so she continued.
“I already knew they were trouble, since they were able to kill your warbeast and take the rock. If the warbeast patrols hadn’t been so active after that happened, I might have been able to bring more firepower, but…”
She closed her eyes and tried not to think about the blast of power from the police officer. It had deeply terrified her. Logically, it should have been the same power the “mad beast” had been packing, the same power she herself could wield, but she’d never seen the beast utilize it in action. Had it been capable of getting so much out of it?
Her weapon stone gave her the ability to throw flux-flame at significant levels, but nothing like that torrent. Until that moment, she hadn’t been aware that a human being was capable of channeling that much power.
Her master continued to hold his silence. She hadn’t told him enough, yet. Did he already know about the follow-up her people attempted?
It didn’t matter. She was about to tell him about it, anyway.
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