Brant and His Master
Daisy woke with a start when Brant came storming into the cave. She hadn't been aware he had left. She had no idea what time it was outside, but he was awake so it was probably day time. eh seemed to be leaving the cave from time to time.
Daisy sat up and watched Brant. he was long pas the stage where she felt any real sympathy for him, she was afraid. his life hadn't been perfect, but whose is? The slights he thought were so egregious were just part of growing up.
But, Daisy reminded herself, to him they were painful. And she was there to help remove pain. So she had to stay charitable. To her potential murderer. Or she could just escape, which seemed like the best plan. She decided, again, to do that should the opportunity arise.
Brant sat facing away from her—he often did these days— and chanted quietly. But this wasn't the Brant Rant, this was something else, a measured cadence, specific words. Except he seemed to be having a little trouble. he would get to a certain point and falter. Then he would pause, and start again.
After four or five attempts he stood up and grabbed his red hair in both hands, growling with animal fury.
“Do you know what your...friend has done?” Daisy just shook her head.
“She has stolen my notebook! She went into my room and took my notes! That is personal property that she stole! And those idiots who run that store just let her. They never had any respect for me...” Brant faltered a little and went back into his regular Brant Rant.
Daisy thought about the irony of complaining to your kidnapped sacrifice victim about being robbed, but again, it didn't seem like Brant was in a “compare and contrast” mindset at the moment.
Daisy stood and stretched her muscles. She missed sunlight, she missed running, she missed not smelling like a goat. She focused on isolating muscles, feeling each stretch and get some semblance of life into it. Brant watched her with a sullen glare, the Rant fading a little as he did. finally he shook himself and brought her a cup of water and some bread and cheese. His store of food seemed to be all grains and cheese; they store well and last long but it wasn't a good long term diet. Of course, Daisy realized, no matter what happened, she wouldn't be there in the long term. So. silver linings.
Daisy ate quietly, then looked at the bread. Bread, she knew, is almost the same as cake, from a nutritional point of view. the sugar is locked in starch instead of free, but to your body it's all just sugar. She thought about this and quietly focused on the bread. The texture and weight changed subtly. She took a bite. It tasted...exactly like you would expect cake with no chocolate, vanilla, or any other flavors to taste. Still, it was a start.
Just then there was a noise, a low howl. Brant looked up, face whiter than normal. the candle on the table seemed to flicker and turn red.
“Fool! Idiot! Simpleton! You have led them here!” a voice screamed. It was not a pleasant voice. Low, raspy, no, rocky. And half-insane, if Daisy was any judge. But not the happy kind of insane like her. This voice had been shaped by endless loss and hatred, most of which was directed at itself.
“Who, Master?” Brant said, falling to his knees on the cave floor.
“Does it matter? Some girl and some idiot wizard. They are close, and they have discovered the illusory wall.”
“No! Master I was so careful...”
“SILENCE. You are a fool and if I had any better tools nearby I'd throw you away like the trash you are! Be silent and I will deal with them. See that your prisioner does not escape if you can even do that right!”
the voice seemed to pass out of the room.
Brant cowered in his corner of the cave, not even looking over to where Daisy was. His breath was ragged and shallow, and she suspected he was crying.
“Brant...who...what have you done?”
“Don't talk to me like that! He was the only one to offer me any chance of a better life, of making anything of myself,” Brant said, his voice thick and heavy.
“Brant, you know he's lying, he can't give you power, and even if he could, you know he won't.”
“People like you always try to stop us from accessing great power. He said you'd say things like that,” Brant said, his voice still trembling.
Suddenly a tremendous boom echoed through the cave, sounding for all the world like an explosion. Daisy cowered against the wall, and held her pillow over her ears as the sound rolled through the room. Brant rolled next to the altar, shielding himself in its lee.
There was a second blast and then peace and quiet. Or at least quiet. The air felt shattered and unsettled.
A few moments later the candle flame was suddenly tinged blood red again.
“Why did you choose this one, fool? She has power and has powerful friends. Any maiden would do, but you chose this one. Idiocy. But you have made yoru choice. Do your duty, worm. Free me and I'll elevate you beyond anything you could imagine. Fail me, and I'll show you what suffering truly is. I've repulsed those invaders for now, but they know where you are now, and my power is yet weak. Now it's up to you to keep them out until the time of the ceremony. I will have blood that night, hers...or yours.”
And the candle flickered and went out, leaving them in total darkness.
Outside the cave Kaelyn looked into Mason's eyes, and said, “Hey! I can hear Daisy's heartbeat again!”