57: Ria

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Her senior warrior sister sat before at the table in front of them, working her mysterious arts in silence.

Although Ele Amis was indeed a senior warrioress of her tribe, she did not wear the T’hana, having put it aside for the Sen, a wide wrapping somewhat like a ‘tubetop’ around her breasts, and Prina, a garment somewhat like a sarong skirt. It was the garb favored by the civilian girls of her adoptive tribe.

It was a way of dress that Ria couldn’t adopt without slipping back into the Alwarzi mindset. Wearing revealing garments was a challenge to her soul that she wasn’t ready to undergo. The fashion simply showed more skin than she could allow until she achieved control of all her central gates. She was far safer in her T’hana or the civilian Gao, the conservative full-body robe in silk used in colder climates, that bore a faint resemblance to a kimono.

Amis was invoking a flux method that Ria didn’t  recognize. Clearly, it was neither any of the methods of force nor any of the methods of self-tempering that Ria studied. Instead, Amis had created a pattern on the tabletop in front of her and spread powder across it. Making a triangle with her hands, she uttered a short phrase in Bruxilan, and the powder rose from the surface as the pattern lit with the glow of flux-light.

Ria thrilled a bit to see this witchcraft-like art, that resembled so much the ‘magic’ in Osril fantasy movies. She had known already that the flux arts included such methods, but the opportunity to experience them in person was rare.

In the middle of the pattern lay the tiny slip of paper that Ria had sent after the villain Benjamin Dawes– in Alwarzi, Dar Jares Bejei– upon his exit from Dawes Corporation the previous day. In previous attempts, she had attempted to track him herself, and such attempts had always failed, but her senior warrior sister had lent her aid this time, a small packet containing these slips. She had only to send flux into one of them while her vision was locked on the target, and the slip transformed into an invisible tail, following the target for twenty four hours, then returning to its sender.

A short while ago, it had come home to her. Now they would learn if it had followed him successfully.

“Lord, the first viewing will be at high speed, while it transfers the memory into the record stone. It will take about an hour, and cannot be paused or slowed.”

The senior warrior sisters– no, nearly all the members of the tribe– called Master “Lord”. It was natural. The normal Jhisari like Amis did not carry a slave stone within their skull.

Only she and her four fellow rescuees, all sold by their families to Master’s enemies and in turn stolen by him in the hope of freeing them… only she and her fellow ex-slaves called him “Master” in their hearts and “Father” aloud.

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Properly, he was “Lord” as a Judge of the Utichit Ilidi. The Judge sent by his people to bring their wayward children, the Alwarzi, back to their proper duty.

Master nodded at the senior sister’s words. “I understand. Proceed.”

She placed the record stone, a small object like a perfect pearl, on a cloth laid before her, and uttered another phrase, too quiet to distinguish the words. The pearl glowed and a view of Benjamin from behind and above appeared. It was at a rapid fast forward, almost too fast to catch the actions. If it would take an hour, then they were seeing the man’s life at twenty-four times normal speed.

“It will be possible to rotate the view and see from other angles later,” she explained as they watched. He was going to many places, researching on a computer in an office she had never seen before, an office which seemed to belong to him. He was dining at a restaurant. He was researching at a computer in his brother’s mansion. He was having his way with a maid in a bedroom there– she’d been used the same way herself, too many times to count, before her rescue, so this wasn’t embarrassing to watch– then slept overnight with her so he could use her again in the morning while she fed him breakfast in bed.

They watched him make a visit to two unidentifiable businesses once he left the house, have a quick lunch, then visit another business, that was perhaps a photography studio. The final scene was a return to the previously unknown private office, where he checked the contents of the two envelopes he had received at the last business.

The sequence ended. Immediately, Master stated, “I wish to see that last scene again, at normal speed. How soon can you do the playback?”

“In order to view real speed, or change angles or foci, I must display from the record stone. I need a half-hour to prepare the playback.”

“Proceed.”

A half-hour later, viewing at normal speed and a better angle, they were able to see what the images had shown. According to the letterhead on the envelopes, the business specialized in “Glamour Photography” and the envelopes contained photos.

The first envelope was highly adult in nature, photography featuring a strikingly beautiful blond woman who looked very much like a full-blooded Ilidi. The pictures were quite erotic, many of them nude or semi-nude, but, true to the claim of “Glamour”, they were more artistic than pornographic. That being said, the set did include shots in which the woman was pleasuring herself. He lingered for some time over this packet, then opened the other.

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This shoot was far less immodest, and the model was a teenage girl. It was normal fashion photography, sexy but innocent, and the young woman was an excellent subject. In fact, she appeared to be the younger sister of the model in the erotic photographs. She had light brown hair rather than blond, and she was equally beautiful.

And she equally possessed the facial structure and fair skin of an Ilidi or highborn Alwarzi.

“Master… Father, are these two among the girls that still remain?” Ria asked.

After a long pause, Master answered, “They are not. I must learn more about these two.”

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