Monday, November 9, 2015

Unmasked: Part 5: Confinements

So, he wasn't going to eat her. He was going to keep her. She wasn't sure which she preferred. He seemed kind enough...for a wolf anyway, but, damn, that blasted belt hurt and he seemed far too eager to use it again. He seemed far too eager to do a lot of things. What was she now? A slave? Did wolves even keep slaves? She knew so little about them. Most Kin viewed them as nothing but rabid beasts out to kill them all. They clearly didn't think much more of her since they had given her over to the things they hated so fiercely.

She wandered over to the table where her mask lay and picked it up. One of the leather strips used to fasten it in place was cut. She felt naked without the smooth metal pressed against her skin. Among the Kin, she might as well be naked without the mask. Upon reaching the age of three summers, a Kin was expected to wear their mask when among other Kin. One only saw the bare face of one's mate or of infants. The only people Constantina had ever seen unmasked were babies and the three
wolves who had captured her.

She looked at Rodrick, who sat watching her intently as if she were the most interesting thing in the room. He was utterly unperturbed by his bare-facedness, confident in his control of all that surrounded him, including her. She looked away, sitting back down and peeling the broken bit of leather away from the side of the mask. Fortunately she had not tied it correctly that morning and woven the long thongs into her braid as she usually did, so he had only cut one side.  Separating the two pieces, she deftly tied the broken strand round the hook on the edge of the mask.

"You really shouldn't bother with that. You won't be wearing it anymore," the wolf said, rising from his seat.

She examined her work, adjusting the knots ever so slightly. "It is mine, and I shall do as I please with it."

Suddenly, the delicate metal was plucked from her hands. "Actually, it is mine, just as you are." He set it aside. "Look, I know you probably hate me now. Perhaps you did before you came to these woods, but, understand, whatever horrors you've been told about my people, the same prejudices exist for yours. If what has happened to you is much to go by, I would hazard the prejudices against the Kin are more accurate than the fairy stories you've been told of mine."

She inched her chair away from him. "Do you deny raiding Kin settlements and killing many of us?"

He closed the distance between them, catching her braid in his hands and lifting it to his nose. "Nothing your people have not done to us before. I'm just better at it." He looked up thoughtfully, still holding her hair. "That is incorrect. They aren't your people anymore."

The ease with which he accepted his new ownership of her was rather shocking. But, then again, her resistance was a bit of a poor showing. Of course, this wolf had made it painfully clear that resistance was pointless. She wasn't sure why she bothered, to be honest. He said they weren't her people anymore, but she didn't know if they had ever been to begin with. Her body had quickly diverted from the acceptable standard. A strange defect among the tall, slender masses of Kin, she was small in stature and round in all of the wrong places. As a youth, she had often been compared to the potatoes she grew in her garden.

Her family had been further disappointed when her powers failed to extend beyond the growing of things. It was a useful talent, to be sure, but not terribly prestigious and frightfully basic. It was swiftly determined that she had no hopes of marriage, so they had sequestered her to the back of the house to busy herself in the gardens. She spent her days digging in the dirt like a barbarian, nurturing her plants, and playing with the tabby mouser her family kept. After the last raid, the Council had called upon those families with undesirable children to offer as bribes for peace. In the end, it was Conna who had been chosen for the dubious honor of sacrifice. She didn't know if that said more about the wolves' tastes or the distaste of the Kin.

"One cage for another," she muttered to herself.

Rodrick leaned down, pulling her hair taut. "You might find that you like cages," he growled softly, nipping the top of her ear.

She shivered in spite of herself.

He lifted her off the chair like she might do with a doll and slid into the seat beneath her. He settled her onto his lap, resting a hand on her hip. She perched there self-consciously, waiting for a comment about the pressure she was putting on his thigh. She clutched her satchel nervously in her lap. Looking down, he gently pried her fingers from the leather and tossed the flap open. As he started to reach down into the satchel, she slapped his hand.

He pinned her with a skeptical look. "I thought I explained your situation rather plainly."

Her eyes narrowed stubbornly. He lifted both brows, as if daring her to challenge him. She huffed and looked away.

"Good girl."

"Fuck you."

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