You have been taken by the Mists

Author Topic: Naliah-A Diamond Uncut  (Read 147 times)

Little Lotte

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Naliah-A Diamond Uncut
« on: October 06, 2019, 12:39:45 AM »
The sensation of her stomach growling is what woke the small child up, a gnawing and aching hunger that lingered from the previous day. Food had become scarce for the family in the past few weeks and in a land where famine ran rampant over the Wastes, even a family with wealth began to feel it. What was once a lavish home, filled with trinkets and statues dedicated to the gods, was now a barren building. The family had sold off every object they could in order to feed themselves, since their crops had failed. They were at their wits end. In a house with five children to feed and clothe, the parents who were no longer as young as they once were, ended up in a desperate situation . As the young girls eyes fluttered open from her slumber, it was the hushed whispers of her parents that drew her attention away from the pain of emptiness in her belly.

“Gamal, you know that this is the last thing I want to do...” Her mother's words, though quiet, held an obvious sadness to them and the girl, despite being only ten, understood this.

“She is our -daughter-, Rania! How can you have these thoughts?” Gamal’s voice rose slightly, unable to keep the pain from his voice, and the girl heard his mothers hissed whisper soon after.

“Do not think that this is a thing I want, but I -will- put my trust in the gods and Shai has shown me she will taken care of!”
A scoff was all the girl could hear from her father, his response to her mother's declaration.

“Our children are starving, Gamal.” The finality of the statement brought silence to the conversation. The only sound the girl could hear was the beating of her own heart, accompanied by the loud proclamations of her empty stomach.

The girls amber colored eyes drifted towards the window, the sheer curtains billowed in the soft wind of the desert that crept in. The sky was lightening up, black and purple soon turned to blue and pink as the sun rose into the air at a leisurely pace. She barely heard the door to their home open, entranced as she was by the beauty of the new day. It was the sudden touch of her father's hand on her arm that finally caught her attention and she turned her head, letting her eyes focus on him.

“Come with me Naliah. There is someone you need to meet..”

He offered his hand out to the small child, her eyes focusing intently on the flaws of it. Her father's skin was so dry and hardened from laboring away in the harsh sun of the Amber Wastes, she marveled at how he never complained about the cracks along his knuckles that had bled on more than one occasion. Dark hairs curled along the back of his hand, bringing back a long forgotten memory of those very hairs tickling her cheek as he brushed away a dirt smudge affectionately.

After a moment's time she took his hand and rose from her cot. Her father had always been her favorite person, a kind man, who always only wanted the best for his daughter. She followed him willingly. He lead them out into the small sitting room where her mother stood in quiet conversation with an unknown man.

Their postures intrigued the child, it was like nothing she had ever seen before. Her mother, usually a practical and stern woman had her head bowed. The mysterious man, he towered over her and while he stood motionless during their conversation he carried with him an air of authority. He was young too, quite possibly in his thirties and his face was handsome. His dress alone was enough to tell her that he was wealthy, like her family had been at one point. He wore black kohl around his eyes, which were a surprising green in color. As soon as the girl and her father entered the room, the strangers eyes were upon her, appraising her.

“This is the child?” His words were clipped, cold and critical. “She is quite small.”

“She will grow, especially under your house.” Her mother responded quickly to his comments, desperation ringing through in her words. The strange mans hand came up, cutting her off quickly.

He stepped forward then, towards the child. His next action surprised her. He knelt down in front of her, bringing himself down to her level, their eyes meeting head on. He smelled of saffron and sweat, though the pairing was not unpleasant.

“What is your name child?” When he spoke to her, he adopted a warmth, his head tilting in towards her.

“Naliah.”

“Well, Naliah, I am called Atef. Do you know why that is?”

The child furrowed her brows a bit in confusion and looked up towards her father. His expression was hardened, a dark rage burned in his equally dark eyes. She drew her tongue along her lips and looked back to the man and then shook her head.

“Ah...I am called Atef because those I take in become my children, and I their father.”

The girls mouth hung open at that, her breath failed her and her heart stopped. She looked up at her father again, who remained stoic in his rage, his eyes focusing on the wall ahead of him. Her vision began to swim and she looked back at Atef, gasping in a shallow breath. She couldn’t find words, she couldn’t move or think...she could simply stare. And as she stared at him, he smiled. A smile that the parents could not see. A smile that was purely for her. A smile that was full of sinister intent.

He rose then to his full height, and turned towards her mother. Ignoring her father was an obvious insult, but the man, this Atef, did not care.
“The gods truly do smile on you this day. I will take the child off your hands and see you handsomely paid.”

Naliah felt her father shudder next to her. Emotion radiated off of him in waves, torrents of sadness and rage. Their hands, still clasped together, tightened and she suddenly felt all of his emotions as her own. Tears began streaming down her cheeks as the realization of this event began to sink in.
“You are truly a kind man, Atef. Our family is eternally grateful for this honor.” Rania fell to her knees, bowing her head. Submitting to him.

“Yes, yes I know.” He patted the mothers head, like an animal he was praising. “I wish to leave this hovel now though, prepare the child and bring her outside to me. Now.”

And then, just as quickly as a sandstorm rises on the dunes, he was out the door, leaving the family to stare in shock. Gamal, pulled his daughter to him then, wrapping his massive arms around her tiny form. She in turn, clung to him and shook her head.”

“Father, I don’t want to go with him..please don’t make me.” Her voice muffled but the cloth of his shirt as she hid her face. Behind them, her mother was gathering up as many of Naliahs belongings as would fit in a small leather pouch, giving them their time together.

“Naliah, I know...I know that this seems scary, but let us look at the good. The gods have blessed this, do you know what this means, child? It means...that you go with their favor. That for all of your life, they will see you, they will protect you.” The father leaned down to plant a kiss upon her head, tenderly stroking away the dark chocolate hair. “You belong to them, and no one else. This is an honor.”

His words calmed her, relaxed her...just long enough for her mother to grab her by the arm and begin leading her to the door.

“You have been a good daughter, Naliah. Do not think otherwise. This is simply the will of the gods.” There was only a touch of emotion in her voice, nothing compared to the love that shone through in her fathers, but it had been this way all her life. This was of no surprise to the child.

What did surprise her though was once outside, with Atef waiting for them, her mother turned to her and cupped her cheek. Her fingers stroked along her face and she smiled, the silence around them deafening.

“You will bring honor to our family again, Naliah.”

And then she released her arm, turning her back towards the child, her last farewell. The sound of her mothers sandals retreating in the soft sand of the Wastes were all she heard as she turned her eyes towards Atef. Alone now, all she could do was accept the proffered hand that he had outstretched towards her.

And while she knew that she would never be a slave to her hunger ever again under the care of Atef, the price she would end up paying for that comfort would end up being much more horrific.

Little Lotte

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Re: Naliah-A Diamond Uncut
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2019, 04:25:59 PM »
“Naliah. Come scrub my feet.”

The girl had been beating the carpets with an old broom, freeing them of the vast multitude of dust they had collected from simply existing in the Amber Wastes. Atef’s voice came from the other room, quiet and firm, as it always did. He had a habit of speaking in soft tones so that if Naliah did not hear him, he had reason to punish her for her insolence. This time though, she heard him. After two years of working for him, she had begun to learn his tricks, and how not to see his switch.

“Yes, Atef.” There was a sigh of resignation after she spoke, a quiet one. So quiet that she had hopes he would not hear from a room away. Making her way into the kitchen, she gathered up the bucket and warm water, a luxury that was reserved solely for him. With a pumice stone and cloth in one hand and bucket in the other, she trotted carefully over to him, cautious to not spill a drop of the much sought after resource.

She could feel his eyes on her the moment she entered the room. Incense burned in the corner, saffron was his scent of choice, and the smell clung to his skin as if it were part of him. The room was dark and cloudy, but she knew that he was lounging on his chaise, his perch where he commanded those within the house. The air in the room was heavy, a certain level of discomfort settled in her shoulders as she knelt down before him.
“I am very pleased with how quickly you move little Naliah.” His voice was like warm honey when he spoke to her, soft and kind, which only served to make her feel even more uncomfortable. She had heard him before with some of his other slaves, his words were sharp and biting, but not with her. Never with her.

“Thank you, Atef.” Her tongue ran along her lips as she kept her eyes downcast. Fear ran down her spine whenever she lifted her eyes to look at him, so this was her preferred method of speaking to him. Gingerly she picked up his feet and lowered them into the warm water to soak, softening up the hard, thick callouses that adorned his feet from a lifetime of desert living.

“You have thrived in my household, little Naliah. Don’t you think?” He asked the question but it was clear by the tone in his voice that he did not expect her to answer. “I have done well by you. Better than your parents could have ever done.” This was a game of his, a game where he compared himself to her parents and made them look as terrible as possible‍. In the first year she fought it. She faced many punishments and bore new scars because of the ferocity in which she defended her parents. Yet, as time went on, she found herself agreeing with him.

“Yes, Atef.” With her typical answer quick on her tongue she dipped her hands into the water, marveling for a brief moment at the luxurious feeling of the wet along her skin. The sensation giving her a small thrill, which lead to a faint smile upon her lips as she picked up one of his feet, gently using the pumice stone along his heel, scraping away the dead skin.

It was his eyes upon her that she felt first, that emerald state that seemed to bore into the top of her head as she worked on his foot. His gaze was sharp, like a knife and she could always feel it thrusting it’s way into her when he thought she wasn’t aware. His hand, she felt next. It landed on her shoulder, in a gentle motion, his long fingers giving an almost tender squeeze.

“You are growing into a beautiful woman, little Naliah. I am pleased to have you here with me.”

The longer his hand lingered on her shoulder, the more her skin began to crawl, his touch becoming poison to her.

“You will watch for me. My enemies, my friends. You will watch them all and then report to me, in private, what you see.” Another tender squeeze of the young girls shoulder. “Do you understand me, little Naliah?”

There it was. The order she had dreaded hearing. Gingerly she set his clean foot down back into the bucket of water and dutifully picking up the next one so that she may scrub it. There was no fighting an order from Atef. She could not run, she had no where to go and so the young girl simply bowed her head, as she so often did and spoke her typical response to the green eyed man before her.

“Yes, Atef.”

Little Lotte

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Re: Naliah-A Diamond Uncut
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2019, 02:40:11 PM »

“I am sorry Naliah.” Atefs words came once again, lacking the sorrow he hoped they would convey to her. She had heard the words over and over once a week for the last few years now. At sixteen she had become wise to him completely, unaffected by his false apologies. The first time it had happened and he apologized, she forgave him. It was a slip up, an accident. He didn’t mean to hurt her like that.

It was clear now that she had matured that he had intended all of it.

Atef ran his fingers lightly across her stomach as she lay in his bed, on her back, amber eyes staring straight forward at the sandstone ceiling. She silently begged the gods to hear her and take her away from him. His touch was still poison, it still repulsed her but she had learned to accept it for her sake and safety.

His scent overwhelmed her, saffron, it was so strong as it always was on the day he came to her, because today was the day he bathed. His little gift to her, a way to ease her suffering as he stole more and more of her soul. He never stayed long afterwards, just long enough to plant a kiss on her shoulder and utter his hollow apology. Her body always remained rigid while he dressed, remaining prone so as to not suggest she wanted anything else from him. Her eyes would trace him around the room as he dressed, a bounce in his step from the act.

Tonight was no different. He slipped out the door, closing it behind him, leaving her in silence with the only movement the dancing silhouettes of the lit candles. It took her a moment to find her bearing, to let her breath come naturally but once she had found it, just before the pent up sobs wracked her body she uttered a few soft words.

“No you’re not.”

It was no secret to those within the house that this was happening, they had all heard the cries of protestation and seen him leaving the room every week. It was witnessing this that Naliah had found her first and only friend. Nef was older than her, but not by much and she worked in Atefs kitchens. It was her job to prepare the water for his bath which she then gifted to Naliah for his pleasure.

Tonight, just like every other night that this occurred, Nef quietly snuck into the room in which Naliah lay in a heap, her slender frame curled up on itself, with her bucket in tow. She had learned to save Atefs bath water, the only water they would know for the week, and she saved it for this occasion. The older girl rested a hand upon her shoulder, letting her know that she was there, trying in vain to calm the sobs that she had grown so used to hearing by now.

“Come now, let us clean you up, my friend.” With the cloth in hand, Nef began the task of cleaning the younger girl, thus freeing her from the iron grip of Atef, if only for a few hours. Nef spoke to her in a soft conversational tone as she went about her work, a light smile upon her lips. “You will never guess what that little scamp, Seth, did today.”

A soft grunt came from Naliah, acknowledgement of the topic at hand. Nef was all too happy to continue on with her story, grinning. “Simi had left last night’s roast out in the kitchens and Seth took it upon himself to eat and eat until he could no longer!” A quiet laugh from Nef before she continued. “Then he went out to work in the sun this very morning and found himself sick all over the sands. He cried and cried because he thought that Simi would beat him for wasting the food!”

Naliah’s eyes closed and she grinned gently, shaking her head. “Seth is too old to be acting like that anymore. Did Simi beat him?” She cracked open a swollen eye to peer up at her friend, who shook her head, grinning.

“No. She took pity on him and let him work in the laundry for the rest of the day.”

Naliah’s smile remained fixed upon her face, though over the course of the next few moments it faltered and began to fade altogether as it became clear that she was mulling over something in her mind. “Working in the laundry would be nice.” Her hushed words, so full of pain, changed the air in the room. Gone was the light hearted smile upon Nef’s face, replaced instead by a somber frown as she understand the meaning behind her words.

“You are brave, Nala, you know this yes? Much braver than I could ever be.”

“I should not have to be brave.” Naliah replied in a weak voice, shifting her body and laying on her back to give Nef easier access to the parts of her body she was wiping clean. “I was robbed of my childhood.”

Naliah felt her friends exhale of breath before she heard it hiss out between her teeth, a sad sound that bordered on frustrated. Her eyelids, swollen from the tears she had shed, opened. Gazing up at her dear friend, she forced a small smile upon her lips as if to make the other girl feel better. A quiet laugh came from Nef, and when she spoke her words were soft but the meaning behind them were quite profound.

 “You will be free one day, Naliah. You are stronger than us. You are the strongest. You -have- to do it.” Nef picked up Naliahs hand and brought it to her lips, laying a gentle kiss upon her knuckles. “Until that time, do not let this abuse break you. Use it to set yourself free.”

Naliah had no response. She had never heard Nef speak words like those before, she had never considered how others thought of her but there as she lay upon the bed being bathed by the only friend she had in the world, suddenly, she felt it. It was as if the gods themselves were speaking to her, through Nef.

She knew it then, that her friend was right. One day, the gods willing, she would be free. And happy.