Chapter 5: The Gist of It...

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(*Author's Note: Depiction of Adrian's Castle above - from a distance.)

I paced around my new gilded cage. Velvet walls dove into high ceilings and plush blankets swallowed up the humongous bed centered in the heart of my own personal bedroom. Hell's V.I.P guest.

It had been hours since Adrian had introduced me to my own personal care taker, a willowy, sallow entity with wispy, salt n' pepper hair and coal-black eyes. The elderly woman moved like she embodied the wind, deathly silent, with a toothy smile that would be cute, like the way my grandma used to look when her first pair of dentures were far too big for her mouth, if it weren't completely terrifying on her gaunt face.

Lucille was her name. She was a servant here just like I now was, I felt pity for her in that way. If I stayed here long enough would that be me? Would I turn into some faint trace of my former self too alienated from my prior existence to be linked to whom I once was? Was Adrian even telling the truth? Would he ever let me go?

My mind raced as I tried to shut out the fear unfurling in my gut. I plopped down on pile of furs on my new bed. They rippled with unnatural hues and textures that made me certain they had been poached in the miles of wilderness outside these walls.

I couldn't let myself think for even a second longer that I may not get out of here, especially alive.

It felt like hours passed before the door to my room creaked open, Lucille's beady eyes peeked at me from around the massive iron seals and with one bony finger she signaled for me to emerge from my prison.

"The Master wishes to see you, Lady Koraline." Her voice was low enough to be a whisper and raspy with old age.

"I'm coming." I answered and darted toward the meager freedom before me.

I entered the halls of Adrian's castle. Paintings, perfectly reserved, adorned the stone walls. Beautiful dark creatures, mostly unclad, danced down the walls like an old timely picture film. This place was truly beautiful and terrifying.

I entered the massive space that was Adrian's library or study, judging from the countless withered novels and the mahogany desk Adrian was seated at, I assumed the title could go either way.

"It's about time." Adrian said, his voice feigning petulance, as his long, elegant fingers tapped the wood before him impatiently. "I hope that you're not so slovenly in the tasks I assign you, Koraline." He teased darkly.

"I came as soon as I was summoned, Adrian." I retaliated dryly.

"Indeed, good girl." He smirked, a slow sexy grin that made my blood boil in more ways than one. I looked away, admiring the classic bindings of the endless sea of books encasing the walls.

"Hardly." I hissed under my breathe.

"Promise?" The cockiness in his voice was replaced by something much more sultry. I couldn't hide the blush creeping over the apple's of my cheeks.

"What do you want, Adrian?" I demanded, flustered despite myself.

"Oh... I have immeasurable, insatiable desires, Koraline, but at the moment, I just want to relay to you, in depth, the services you will be expected to provide me during your stay here." He said slowly, lingering on the phrase as he relayed it.

I paused for a moment, taken a back by his manner. I had truly never had to deal with someone like him, or something. Whatever he was, it definitely wasn't human.

"Take a seat." He gestured to a beautiful, cherry leather Victorian seat centered in front of his desk. I gingerly took my seat as Lucille took the hint and whisked out of the room.

"Okay, so shoot." I said, situating myself on the plush furniture. He grinned, yet again amused for reasons beyond me.

"Very well," He continued. "you're here for one reason overall." He said. "You are to act as the Fury to my court. You will be expected to retrieve items I see fit to... seize from my clients if they do not meet standard. You will serve as a guardian to my castle as well as my right hand women for any and all tasks I deem necessary for you to fulfill. You will obey me without hesitation, exception, or question. Understood?"

I laughed harshly. Either he was dreaming or I was, 'cause like Hell that would ever happen. "Okay, so basically I'm your assistant, repo woman, and otherwise lap dog, is that it?"

"Mmm, you do know how to turn a phrase, Koraline." He chuckled at me. "Yes, I suppose that's just about the gist of it, oh and while you are in my services you will devote yourself entirely to me. I won't tolerate any divided attention." He smiled devilishly but something hungry lay just beyond his pearly grin.

"Okay... These clients of yours... You expect me to be able to seize items from your little patrons of Hell? How am I supposed to do that?" I asked, incredulous.

"Oh, Darling." He purred. "Do try and have more confidence in yourself." He grinned. "I will also bestow you with a portion of my power." He informed me, pleasure lacing the words. "Which I'm sure you will come to enjoy immensely."

"P-powers?" I spurted. "What do you mean?" I barked.

"Don't overwhelm yourself just yet." He cooed. "I will train you on how to implement your skills. I will bestow you with your required abilities as I see fit and when you are ready to have them, if you are ever ready to have them. For the moment, consider class in session." He smiled brightly, shooting me a wink that pulled at something deep within me once again, sending a slow shiver across my body.

"Anything else, Professor?" I recovered, having no way of knowing what I was getting myself into.

"Mmm, not at the moment..." He mused. "Class dismissed." He purred and with a flick of his wrist the ominous smoke of his wrapped around me once again, transporting me to my room. I shrieked as it materialized me a few feet above my bed and then disappeared just as quickly. Leaving me to plummet down onto the fur where Lucille had found me.

I gasped as I hit the soft blankets. Royally pissed that he had the gall to teleport me like some doll he had finished playing with. The nerve of that guy, I simmered and rolled over to stare at the intricately painted ceiling above me. This was not over, he would be hearing much more about his little theatrics later, I promised myself and my eye lids grew heavy and dropped downward until I was in a dream within a dream of ruby canine eyes, dancing half-naked paintings, and beady, black eyes.

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