“There are five sentient races in Loras: Demons and dragons are the ruling ones, the most powerful and cunning of all. Xanths and Rakans are the creators, the smartest. Most of the inventions belong to them. And the fifth – humans, the performers. The most loyal and hardworking.”
"But mother, I don't want to be the most loyal," Ardelia wrinkles her nose, trying to decide what she would like to be. "I want to be the smartest and most cunning one,"
"You will," her mother laughs, playfully sticking her tongue out at the girl, "But first - learn the alphabet. Now, what letter is this?"
Arda obediently names it, then she names the next letter, and then another...
The picture changes.
She is standing in her old kitchen, holding the knife she used to cut vegetables with. Matt stands in front of her and looks at her, head bowed.
"I'm selling you."
The heart makes a somersault, the cold shoots through the back, and hits the heels.
"Why do I need an illiterate wife?" the husband mockingly pulls the words, and his nasty grin causes an unprecedented fit of anger.
The knife, still clenched in Arda's hand, goes straight between his eyes with a precise throw. But the man doesn't seem to notice the handle sticking out of his head.
"I'm selling you."
A moment and…
...she is lying on a bag of rotten straw in a dank, damp barrack. The fat slaver swings the whip, and her back immediately responds with pain.
"No one will buy you. Who needs a non-literate one? So I'll have you to myself."
Arda wants to close her eyes, tries to push the fat man over her, but her hands and feet are tied, she can't move. She shudders with disgust, and at this very moment...
The surrounding reality is changing again.
Instead of a hard bag - there is a bed, instead of a barrack - the walls of a mansion.
Leonid is sitting in a deep chair next to the bed. His shirt is unbuttoned, and Arda swallows involuntarily, admiring the cubes of abs under it. She tries to get up, but in vain.
"You're tied up..." the man's deep voice is mesmerizing. "If you want freedom, you'll have to learn."
He reaches out to her, stroking her belly. Amon the Almighty! She's absolutely naked!
"You don't want to learn," he chuckles and reaches out to kiss her. "Do you know what punishment awaits the negligent students?"
Oh, Amon! Arda tries to arch forward but can't even take her head off the mattress.
"Don't jerk around. Better repeat after me out loud..."
The demon dragon frowns and moves away. She lets out a frustrated sigh.
"Why am I displeased?"
"Master..." she exhales, realizing that, once again, she forgot to address him correctly. "What do I have to repeat, master?"
"The alphabet, of course," the man chuckles again.