Free Fiction: Advent, Day Fifteen
Title: Perpetual Winter
Spoilers: World of Egaea (WIP)
Word count: 590
It never stopped snowing. Drayis was certain it had to, at some point, or else food wouldn’t grow. Food had to be grown, because his men, women, the Humans, and himself were all fed well. Meat, dried fruits, stored root vegetables… It had to come from somewhere. If the Varan farmed for the health of their captive food, then the snow had to stop.
Drayis stared out the window of his prison. It was a large prison, yes, shared with dozens of Human men, but it was still prison. The snow fell steadily outside, and, despite the two fires burning in the central hearths, he was cold. He wanted to go home. It was exhausting being on guard all the time, battling with the Varan whenever one of the Elves was to be taken and milked.
Milked. It was what they did to cattle in Tridéa, but here, in the wastelands of the north, the Varan milked Humans.
And now they milked Elves.
Blood. How it worked, how it sustained the pale, red-eyed creatures here, Drayis didn’t know. The few meetings he’d taken with their chief, Meh’al, hadn’t provided any answers. All he’d managed was to secure his females’ protection from rape. The Varan, he thought, were as cold as the landscape they faded into.
Drayis closed his eyes. Captain. When had they started calling him that? The moment their actual Captain had died. First Mate quickly became Captain, looked to for leadership Drayis wasn’t sure he could provide. Not in these circumstances anyway. He turned, forcing a calm expression onto his face, even if it didn’t quite reach his eyes.
It was Behrek, and the old cook didn’t look too healthy. “They say it’ll be my turn next,” Behrek murmured.
Drayis clapped him on the shoulder. “You’ll do well, I know it. Just remember to stay calm. It hurts only a moment, takes but a quarter hour, and then you’ll be back here. We’ll take care of you when it’s done.”
Behrek nodded absently and wandered off, waiting for the Varan guards to collect him. To take him to that room. Drayis shivered, his eyes darting back to the white expanse outside the window. It never stopped snowing, and because they weren’t given adequate clothing against the cold, they wouldn’t ever be able to escape. Their long lives now seemed a curse, and Drayis wondered just what the hell he’d done wrong to deserve this fate. What any of them had done. He cursed the snow. Cursed the ice that had damaged their ship. He cursed the Varan and their arrogant chief who couldn’t be bothered to see that they were people with thoughts and feelings and needs, not livestock. Livestock was simple minded, right? Right? Did the cattle and sheep and goats and all manner of food they lived off in Tridéa feel this same affront to being used, bred, and slaughtered all so another creature might survive?
Or did they know? Did they know and hurt and ache to escape as he did?
The door opened and four Varan guards, dressed in their furs, so much of the pale, pale skin exposed to the snow as it the bite of cold didn’t bother them a bit, appeared. Their red eyes sought out Behrek and two Human males. In moments, the doors were shut and locked again, their fold three shorter for the next hour.
Drayis returned to the window, staring blankly at the never-ending winter beyond the thick glass.
It would be his turn tomorrow.