007 What to Do about the Girl

The sound of a dirge drifted through the cramped passageways and darkness. The girl, who had tried to seduce Faithful, rubbed her many pairs of spider-legs together as she sang her lament from his doorway.

She threw herself before Faithful and clutched at his feet. Her ears drooped in dejection and her spider-legs wrapped tightly round her body as if she were dying.

“Please, sir, you must accept me. They will kill me if you don't.”

She grovelled in the darkness with her hair and legs and wings all tangled together. Faithful set me down before he stooped and raised her to her claw-feet. She quickly morphed her wings and spider-legs into a tasteful gown.

“Explain yourself,” Faithful ordered.

“Natia decreed that a priestess must serve each finalist on the night before the tournament,” she thrummed into the ground. “None desired you, so Natia personized me to serve you. If you accept me, I shall remain with you for life. I will serve your God. Please, I beg you to take me or they will destroy me with fire.”

“If she is new, how she know so much?” I asked.

“I was granted all necessary knowledge to fulfill my duty,” she replied. Fear of her loveliness overcame me. I sat there below them as rigid as the stones at my feet, saying nothing and doing nothing.

Faithful’s thoughts again penetrated my mind. “You know that I must honor her. If she speaks the truth, it would be like murder to send her away.”

You aim to accept her?

“Yes, it's the only noble thing to do.”

She is lying. I cannot tell you how I know, but she is surely lying.

“Nyla, your fear is hindering your judgment.”

He bore no remembrance of the fear and the torture of his childhood that I had taken into myself. Grief filled me as the girl before me destroyed any chance that the one man who might love me ever would.

A mob of priestesses and devotees of Natia trampled toward us.

“You would refuse the gift of Natia?” the chief priestess demanded with raised weapons.

Faithful stepped in front of his new slave in her defense. “You offered me this girl as a trifle to win my allegiance to Natia. You intended for me to dishonor her. I will accept her, but not in worship of your Natia. I take her because my God demands that I preserve her life. This woman is now my wife and when I have vanquished in the duel tomorrow, she shall be my princess.”