Mist of Vision: The Beginning
Violante was nervous. She had never traveled this particular road through the Swamps before, and for good reason. For one, it was the worst road you could choose, having so many potholes and overgrowth it was almost not even a trail. For two, it was foggy and nearly impossible to see. For three... let's just say her company wasn't the greatest. It was-- at least, these were her names for them-- a Monkey, Idiot, and Nobody.
The Monkey was what the name implied, except he wasn't a monkey. He was called that because he climbed trees best out of the three. The Idiot was everything the name implied. And Nobody? Well, let's just say he was the leader and no one knew his real name.
Not that she cared. She had just been kidnapped. Not that her idea of fun was running around in the middle of almost nowhere anyhow. Violante wasn't completely sure why she had been kidnapped either. For goodness sakes alive! All she was was a street cat. And not an important one either.
Nobody called a halt not too much later. She was glad for the chance to rest and eat something, but it didn't last long. She also kept hearing whispers between the Monkey and Nobody about something called the Mist of Vision. Understandably, she was curious, but when she went up to Nobody to ask more about this, she received a cuff on the side of her head and a command to stay silent. So now she did.
Most of the time. She liked making sarcastic remarks about things, and often did when Nobody was in a seemingly good mood. Well, that was ending, as his mood became more and more foul. Although unsure why, she didn't bother to ask, and rather put up with the idiocy around her silently.
Traveling all the rest of that night got them out of the Swamps, and Nobody led them across a broad plain, that stretched as far as the eye could see. He and the Monkey often talked and argued late into the night now, when they thought the other two were asleep. They were half right-- Idiot was asleep, but Violante was not. She was smarter than that, and she wanted to know where they were going exactly.
During one of their late night arguments, she heard more about this "Mist of Vision" thing. According to Nobody, it was a place where you could learn your future if you had no fear of possible death in the place, for it commanded the life of every thirteenth person who came. It sounded interesting to Violante, as long as she wasn't the thirteenth person to go. Not that she was enthralled with the prospect of finding out her future. She could basically guess it had something to do with living in the streets alone the rest of her life unless she found somebody to call friend. Which hadn't happened in all her fifteen miserable years of existence and she didn't think would happen anytime soon.
She had no particular interest in other people, however, except watching their daily habits, so she was fine with no friends. She doubted being able to put up with them, because as she had observed, people were generally annoying jerks. She often forgot that she was a person too, although if anyone pointed that out to her, she'd give an icy glare and her punches were nasty. One particularly annoying person who pointed out after she gave him a black eye that that just proved his point, went through a wall, and she didn't see him again.
Thinking back on this, Violante remembered that there was one person she had seen who had not been that way. She realized that she had liked him. He was friendly, he smiled a lot, he was gentle and kind and had dashing good looks, and she had fallen for him. The key word here was "had". She had liked him, but one day about a year ago he had up and left, without warning.
A tear leaked out of her eye at the memory. She hated crying and anyone who made her, and now, frustrated, she tried to forget him. It was easier said than done, but it helped that there was a sudden disturbance.
A group of about three masked... Whoevers--she decided they were-- had found the little camp and thought it'd be worth attacking. She sat up, thankful now that they had surrounded her with baggage in case she should decide to try and escape. Nobody was a light sleeper, so he'd easily hear her climbing out and could catch her. That was beside the point though.
She was generally out of sight of the Whoevers and could watch and assess the situation at her leisure. Nobody was fighting two of them, and Monkey had the third. So they were all occupied. Idiot was just waking up, and he sat staring dumbly at the fighting going on around him.
Violante was quite content where she was, since she wasn't in any trouble and settled down to watch Nobody quite skillfully keep two at bay. Her owlish eyesight helped her see more clearly, but she didn't see the fourth Whoever standing in the shadows until it was too late, and Nobody was dispatched. Monkey followed soon after.
One of the Whoevers made sure Monkey and Nobody were dead, and seemed to realize something. He called the others over and they conferred for a little in silence before splitting up again to poke around the camp.
Idiot still did nothing as the four Whoevers started toward the baggage where Violante was hidden.
One of them began to dig through and was rewarded with a punch to the face. The three others all then began to go through at the same time, and a scuffle ensued, in which it looked like three grown men were fighting over food and various assorted clothing that was fighting back.
Idiot still sat there.
When the fight was over, the Whoevers had pulled Violante out and by sheer brute strength managed to subdue her. She stood glaring at them as they tied rope around her wrists and arms, securing them to her sides. The one she had punched stood off to the side watching, as he held a blood-stained rag to his nose.
They all wore masks, but she could hear a smile in his voice as he said to his companions, "She has fight. Maybe we could make 'er one of us."
She gave an indignant huff and was about to say something when another said, "Or we could sell her off. Someone like her would make a pretty penny."
She glared. "Just you try."
"I'm more for bringing her to Delse. She can deal with her," a third spoke up.
The rest agreed after a little more debate, and after picking through the baggage and finding the most valuable things, the leader of that particular group placed Violante in front of him on a horse and they galloped off.
Eventually they reached a broken down shack, and by that time, Violante was so sick of riding the horse that for all she cared it might as well have been a palace. A few more masked people came to take the horses and goods, and the four who had captured Violante went in.
One of them pulled open a trapdoor in the floor and they went down a long dimly lit tunnel which branched off into many others. They turned into one of these tunnels and came out in a room of large proportions that was lit just so, so that you could see decently well when your eyes adjusted, but not too well, which lent an air of mystery to the black-robed figure on a throne at the far end.
Toward this figure they now pushed Violante. Since her hands were still tied, she could not keep her balance as well and fell to her knees in front of the person.
The person waved a hand dismissively. "You may leave, Soolon, Shomix, and Talsan. Krayan, Dasir, I wish you to stay and explain the meaning of this. And for goodness sakes, remove your masks. Those are only necessary outside here. She will not be an issue." The figure gestured at Violante.
"We found her with two deserters," one of them said, removing his mask. He had a well-defined face, slightly squarish, and dark eyes. His hair was black and fell tangled to his shoulders. "Rakang and Tauban."
"Deserters, Krayan? I'm especially surprised it was those two." The figure sat back. "Well, this is new, especially since everyone who deserts earns death, by our standards. She is not of us, however." Violante glanced up at the person. It looked to be a female, for all she could tell, and guessed that this was Delse.
Delse seemed lost in thought for a few minutes. Then she turned to the other. "Dasir."
"Yes?" This one had also removed his, no, wait, her mask. She had brown hair that tied back in a messy braid and, Violante did a silent double-take, red eyes.
"I want you to discover who the deserters were. Go back to where you killed them if necessary. Bring their bodies back and tell everyone what happens when you desert. This cannot happen again. Krayan, you and Violante are coming with me." She got off her throne and started toward the door
Violante started. She had never given her name. She hadn't spoken at all!
Delse turned. "Oh, by the way, I can read minds. Come along now."
Krayan pulled her to her feet and cut the ropes. "No tricks now," he said, displaying a knife.
She ignored him.