4 (Part 1)

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Patrician Chrysostem parted crowds

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Patrician Chrysostem parted crowds. Her presence affected everyone, merchant, noble, slave, they pulled back, staring at her with longing on their faces. She ignored them, head high as she glided through, Macbeth trailing behind her. The woman didn't look back to see if she followed. She didn't need to, if Macbeth strayed too far, her proximity collar would activate, for a quick, painful death.

Would that be a better fate than what awaited her in the Patrician's home? Even if it was worse, she didn't want to die, not when there was the slightest chance she could escape here. Instead she kept close to her new mistress, studying the layout of the town, searching for guards. She could see none but that didn't mean they weren't there. Many Pathosian men strode about the market favoring their right side. She saw the bulge of weapons hidden beneath their flowing robes. Would they shoot her, cut her down, if she ran now? If they didn't, the town was surrounded by that yellow grass. She would have to travel the roads or be cut to ribbons by the foliage.

The Patrician turned down a private alley, leading to an estate set away from the street. Despite being in the center of town, once they cleared the street side buildings, the grounds opened. Macbeth followed along a stone pathway lined with shoulder high flowering trees, a constant rain of small orange petals swirling on the breeze. There was no yellow grass here, but shorter, almost blue grass. Statues dotted the grounds of nude Pathosians playing instruments, or holding pronged spear-like weapons, all carved from a dark gray stone streaked with iridescent hues of purple and green. Bursting flowers beds were everywhere, species Macbeth never saw before, in bright hues of red, orange. There was one that shimmered from blue to green, like the peacock feathers in Alexandria's museums.

There was no time to study them. The Patrician's pace did not slow. She entered a tall archway, the air heating up several degrees around them. Patrician Chrysostem approached another slave stationed at the entrance. He appeared human at first until he turned his head, revealing long pointed ears, a parbreed, half-Fey. He bowed low to the Patrician, his elongated fingers flat against the front of his thighs.

"Welcome home, Mistress." He spoke in a light baritone, with the echo of another tone, like pan pipes, ringing after each word.

"Anthony, I have acquired a new translator for the household. Show her to the slave quarters, the baths, and dress her for evening meal. I expect her to know her role by then." Patrician Chrysostem turned to Macbeth, her fingers sliding against the proximity collar until it popped off her neck. "There, that is better, is it not?"

Macbeth nodded, not trusting herself to speak. If they were so sure she wouldn't run without the collar, she needed to find out why.

"Now heed what Anthony tells you. I shall introduce you to the household this evening." The Patrician sauntered away. The parbreed stared after the woman's swaying hips until she turned the corner. The intensity of his gaze made Macbeth uncomfortable, especially when he focused it on her, pale blue eyes studying her from the tips of her toes to the roots of her hair.

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