Chapter Four: Beginnings

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Chapter Four:


The sun glinted off the icy river—one of the only ones that ran fast through Soren's territory as far as I knew. Though the sheen of ice was bright in the daylight, I knew that the water underneath was swift. Swift water bothered goblins; I'd know that even before I became a slave.

It'd been more than a year since Lydian and the destruction of my village. I'd gotten used to the short-term alliances made in the slave barracks in Soren's territory, gotten used to stepping over dead bodies, and gotten used to doing whatever it took to live another day.

But just as I became accustomed to the life of a labor slave I was yanked out of it roughly and now spent my days tailing the young goblin lord. In some ways it was better—better food and care, no harsh overseer to whip my back—but in others it was worse.

I was surrounded all the time but not by my own kind. No, they left me with stares and whispers and accusations of being a blood traitor. As if I had any choice in this. And when I followed Soren diligently and responded politely to his inquiries, they were breaking their backs working fields and tanning hides and getting whipped just because the goblins thought it was fun.

I learned a lot about what goblins viewed as fun in the past weeks, ever since I became Soren's personal slave. Pain and fighting of course, seeing the fear in others, but also plotting and manipulation, intrigue I wouldn't have thought their animalistic mind capable of.

Which led me to the river. The only place where none of them went and the place where I could be without stares and whispers and brutal snarls.

The Permafrost could be called beautiful if I forgot what creatures dwelled here. In the sunlight the snow glittered and the blue sky was the color of robins eggs. The forest I'd found dead when I first was brought was more alive than I thought; the wind whispering through the skeleton trees and hardy, little animals climbing through the undergrowth to scavenge what they could. They were survivors, like me. This world had more life in it than I'd originally thought and there was even a beauty to it that I found I could love...if I could forget why I was here in the first place.

"So this is where you go." I froze at the voice. I hadn't heard Soren come up behind me. Why was he looking for me? Did I forget something? Fear paralyzed me.

"Excuse me, master?" I asked when I found my voice.

"You always go off when you have free time and no one can ever figure out where. I decided to find out." The goblin lord sat down beside me and I stiffened, daring to look at him through the side of my vision.

His clothes were drenched in sweat and the muscles in his arms were tense. He must've come from a sparring match. I stared at the bulk of his arms, thinking how easily they could hold me down, immobilize me....then I snapped out of the poisonous thoughts. He'd given me no reason to fear that fate. Part of him even seemed to be looking out for it as to get to my room, you had to go through his. No one had come and tried to touch me in the night which was more than I could say for when I was in the barracks.

"Congratulations on figuring it out."

"Why here?" he asked as he thrummed his fingers against his thigh. One of his knees started bouncing and I caught him glimpsing at the river in revulsion.

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