Dianta Venderglast was more terrified than she could ever remember being in her twenty-five years. She had been en route to Kur Maeth on board the sailing vessel Killean's Fancy, when they had come under attack in the Aborean Sea. The attack had been totally unexpected, after all, what pirate would dare operate in waters patrolled by the Kur Maens?
The Dread Pirate Anthilles, that was who. With the Kur Maens busy fighting a war with Rakore, he had moved into previously safe waters and began a series of raids. The Killean's Fancy being his latest target. The crew had been overwhelmed quickly, what little resistance they offered was quashed instantly, the bodies of anyone who tried to fight back littered the deck.
Within minutes, the remaining crew and passengers had been rounded up and herded into a group on the main deck. The pirates quickly sorted them into smaller groups; sailors, male passengers, women, children and finally, injured and older sailors and passengers. As soon as they had been sorted, and Elf appeared on deck. He strolled among the pirates, giving directions in a low voice.
He came to the group of injured and older men and women, spoke a few words to the pirates guarding them, and to everyone's horror, six pirates came over and began killing them. It was over in a heartbeat, fourteen souls murdered where they stood. Some of the women began to cry and scream, they were ignored.
Another group of pirates come over and began to shackle the sailors and the men. None dared resist after seeing the fate of the wounded and the old. Once they were done, the men were all led below to the hold, leaving the women and children alone on the deck with the pirates. Dianta felt a cold lump forming in her stomach as she watched the pirates leering at the women. She had an awful feeling that what was about to happen next, would be just as horrific as the murders had been.
The Elf came over and began wo walk along the terrified group of women. He seemed to be inspecting them as he went, pausing to occasionally grasp a chin and force a woman to look up so he could get a better look at her face, one woman tried to pull free and he casually backhanded her to the deck, and then grabbed her by the hair and stood her back up.
“From this point forward, you are my property to do with as I see fit.” He announced to the terrified women, “Be that to ransom you back to your families, sell you in the slave markets...or perhaps turn you over to my crew for their amusement.”
Several women began to sob as he made this announcement, but he continued to speak, “DO not bother to plead for mercy, for I have none to spare...you will do as you are told...without hesitation or resistance...the penalty for either is the lash.” He stopped in front of a pretty young girl of perhaps seventeen, “You girl...what is your name?”
“M-Magda Sir.” She replied nervously.
Magda...a pretty name for a pretty girl.” He mused. He beckoned he to come closer. She swallowed hard and stepped closer, “Remove your dress.” He instructed her. She went pale and stood frozen in shock.
Quick as a striking serpent, he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her out into the waiting arms of one of his men, “Ten lashes.” He announced. The sailor pulled her over to the mast, ignoring her screams and futile struggles. He pulled her arms around the mast, so that she was hugging it, and then tied her wrists with a length of rope. He reached up and tore her dress off her back, exposing the pale skin of her back. Then a whip was handed to him and he began to use it on her. Her bloodcurdling screams as the lash tore into her defenseless skin caused many of the other women to put their hands over their ears.
After the tenth stroke of the lash, Magda was horse and slumped against her bonds, her back a criss-crossed pattern of cut skin. The sailor handed the whip to another man and cut the poor girl down, laughing as her breasts fell out of the remnants of her dress.
The Elf, who Dianta would later learn was Anthilles, poited to another woman, “You...remove your dress.” He ordered. The woman began fumbling with the buttons and stays instantly. Within a few short minutes, she was standing on the deck clad only in her undergarments. “Very good...you understand now that I am deadly serious.”
The women shivered at his cold tone. He resumed his inspection and stopped before Dianta. He stared at her intently for a long few minutes, “What is your name?” He finally asked.
“Dianta Venderglast.” She replied in a terrified whisper.
He nodded and resumed his inspection. When he reached the seven children he scowled at them for a moment before moving back to where a group of his men stood waiting. He spoke in quiet tones to the men for a moment, and then they came forward, herding the children away to the aft cabins. Another group of men came forward and led six of the younger women away, their leers and crude comments foretelling their fate.
Anthilles stood by as a final group of men came and led the remaining women over to the railing, where they were helped across to the pirates ship. Dianta felt more fear rising up in her throat, they were being taken away to who knows where and for reasons she could scarcely imagine.
It had been two days since they had been taken. Dianta and the group of women with her were to be ransomed apparently. They had endured the sounds of another group of women that had been handed over to the crew. The sounds had left no doubt as to what was happening to the other group. Of the group of children, there had been no sign.
The pirate Anthilles was a constant presence. He would enter their cramped cabin unannounced and at all hours. Usually he would walk through, disinterestedly looking them over as they did their best not to tremble at his gaze. Twice he had pointed to a woman and had her remove her clothes. As the poor woman stripped, Anthilles watched the reactions of the rest of them. After letting the humiliated woman stand and shiver for a bit, he left.
They were fed twice a day, and both water and wine were provided. Their toilet was a closet in the rear of the cabin, equipped with a cut out seat. The waste went down a chute, apparently it led over the side. It was too small to be used as a means of escape, even if one of them were to brave the stench and foul remnants in the chute itself.
It was that evening when their recently established routine was interrupted. The door was flung open and Anthilles entered. This time he was not alone. This time he was accompanied by an old woman, white haired and stooped with age. She stood behind the pirate, gazing in at the latest group of captives.
“Ladies, I would like you all to meet Lysette...” He said pleasantly, “Lysette is my longest surviving 'guest'.” He smiled at his own joke, but the humor was not reflected in his eyes.
Lysette shuffled forward and looked all of them over, finally coming to a halt in front of Dianta, she looked into the terrified girls eyes for what seemed an eternity. Finally, Lysette sighed and turned back to Anthilles, ”She has no real destiny. She isn't related to anyone powerful enough to challenge you...and she will probably do.”
Anthilles nodded and stood aside to allow Lysette access to the cabin door. The old woman turned and exited the cabin without another word, but Dianta saw the look of pure hatred that was sent at Anthilles' back as she left. Anthilles, either didn't see, or didn't care, he stepped over to stand before Dianta, “You have been chosen to be my newest consort.” He told her, “Please me well and your life will be comfortable...displease me and your life will be short and pain-filled.”
* * *
Lysette sighed as the door to her cabin was padlocked behind her. She sat down on her bed and waited to make sure that no one was going to disturb her for a bit, once she was reasonably sure that she wouldn't be bothered further, she moved over to her table and sat down. She began slowly running her hands over the smooth surface of her crystal ball.
Soon she began to see the images that confirmed what she had suspected about the new girl. She was the one. The one who would ultimately lead to Anthilles' downfall. She would be unlike the others before her, he would come to care for her and then even to love her, in his own twisted way. And that would open him up for his downfall.
All this, Lysette had foreseen, but had held her tongue about. It was a dangerous game she played, but her freedom was worth the risk of her life. She had given the pirate everything he demanded since her capture years ago...he owed much of his success to her visions. But she never gave him cause to doubt that she was completely under his thumb. She would remain patient and continue the charade of the weak and unresisting captive...for now there was hope. It all hinged on one human girl...and the twisted desires of her captor.