Unleashed (Elf Slave #5), page 1
Unleashed (Elf Slave #5)
Chapter One: The Faedari
Chapter Two: Astanya
Chapter Three: The Dark Visitor
Chapter Four: The General’s Villa
Chapter Five: Den of Depravity
Chapter Six: Judgment
Chapter Seven : Escape
Chapter Eight: Revelations
Chapter Nine: The Rendezvous
Copyright © 2016 Sarah Hawke
Published by Jade Fantasy
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or used fictitiously.
All rights reserved.
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This erotic dark fantasy novel contains adult content. If you are offended by adult language, themes of bondage/submission, and/or fantasy violence, then you probably shouldn’t read this book. Consider yourself warned!
Fire. Blood. Death.
Gabriel Kristoff, Grand Duke of Glorinfel, was dead. A river of blood gushed from his neck, and when I stared down into the dark pool I could see the reflection of my gaping green eyes. They were shocked but not horrified; they were confused but not sad. It was more difficult to convince myself that he was dead than it was to convince myself that I was still alive.
“Take my hand, Elara. We have to leave—quickly!”
I dragged my eyes away from the pool and back to the faeyn woman standing behind me. Astanya’s dress was torn, and her face was spackled with Kristoff’s blood. A part of me still couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. A few days ago, I’d watched as Master Kristoff had dominated her in every way imaginable. He’d rammed his cock so far down her throat she had nearly passed out. He’d fucked her ass so hard she had nearly screamed herself hoarse. And each and every time, he’d splattered her with his seed and marked her as his property.
Astanya had been so slight, so fragile…and yet I had just watched her disarm and then subsequently murder Master Kristoff with the calm, cold efficiency of a professional assassin. I had absolutely no doubt that if she’d wanted to, she could have killed me, too.
“Please, Elara,” she begged. “We’re out of time.”
I took her hand. She dragged me through the estate at a full sprint, ash choking our lungs and billowing clouds of smoke following in our wake. I must have unleashed an even more powerful spell than I’d realized; the flames were devouring the mansion so quickly they almost seemed alive. By the time we escaped, the house servants had fled into the courtyard even as the guards charged in to try and stop the blaze. No one spared a glance at our passing.
“Just stay low and follow me,” Astanya whispered into my ear. “I will lead you to safety, Netharine. I swear it.”
She flit between the shadows with the grace of a prowling cat, her blue eyes flicking back and forth as they drank in her surroundings. Distantly, I wondered how many other times she had done this. How many other Imperial nobles had she killed? Had she been a Faedari agent her whole life, or had they sent her here specifically to find me?
I didn’t know the answers, but the bottom line was that she was the only one in Sanctum who could save me from the Covenant—and the only one who could help me rescue Larric.
Two guards were still stationed at the gate by the time we arrived, and neither of them were disciplined enough to watch the streets while their master’s estate burned. When Astanya brought us in close, I assumed she would take us up the steps and use a rope to scale down the wall while no one was paying attention. I was wrong.
Both men were dead less than a second after she released my hand. She slit the first guard’s throat before he even knew she was there, and she hurled her dagger into the face of the second just as he pivoted towards her. I tried to turn away but couldn’t; my eyes locked onto their still-twitching corpses while Astanya dashed over to the portcullis lever. The grinding of the pulleys was barely even audible over the screams from the courtyard.
And then we were gone. I was convinced that every step we took beyond the mansion would be our last. The Imperial Army’s legionnaires, the Covenant’s Inquisitors, the Emperor’s Praetorian…I knew in my heart that one of them would spot us sooner or later, and when they did they would cut us down and that would be the end of it.
But they never did. I didn’t understand why the gods had suddenly taken pity on us, but just when my heart was about to burst from anxiety Astanya yanked me into an alleyway and opened the door of a nondescript, two-story house. There were no candles or glowstones lit inside, and I closed my eyes for fear of what might leap from the shadows…
“We’ll be safe here,” she assured me, locking the door and squeezing my trembling arm. “I promise.”
Her words should have soothed me, but they didn’t. I doubted anything could. I collapsed onto the floor, my hands shaking and my face streaked with tears. In the darkness, I could see the grim visage of Master Kristoff’s face staring at me as his life’s blood seeped from his throat.
You will be my weapon, Elara, he had told me so many times. You will be the one that helps me save the Empire. You will be the one that helps me save all of Calhara!
For a time, I’d believed him. Just like I’d believed that he truly cared for me. Just like I’d believed he thought of me as more than his elf slave. But he never had, not even for an instant. I had never been anything more than his tool, his weapon, his perfectly obedient cunt.
Now he was dead. And I was nothing.
“You don’t have to be afraid, Elara,” Astanya assured me. All I could see in the darkness was the silhouette of her blond hair and the faintest flicker of her blue eyes. “I will take care of you.”
She embraced me until I stopped shaking, but no matter how hard she squeezed the tears refused to dry.
“You’re with your own people now, Netharine,” Astanya breathed into my ear. “At last, the revolution can finally begin.”
Chapter One: The Faedari
I awoke atop a soft bed in an undecorated, gently-lit room. The smell of lilacs wafted in through the cracked window, and I could hear the muffled voices of a street-side merchant and his customers. For an instant, the previous night’s escape seemed like a dream—I half-expected to see one of Master Kristoff’s house servants dusting the shelves on the other side of the room. But when I tossed aside my blanket and swung my legs over the edge of the bed, I remembered everything with perfect clarity.
And I knew that my life had just changed forever.
“Easy, easy,” Astanya said as she dashed over to my side. “I don’t think he inflicted any real damage, but you did hit your head a few times.”
I blinked the haze from my vision and studied her. She barely resembled the haggard, blood-splattered assassin who’d saved my life the night before…or the meek, subservient avenari I’d known before that. Her hair was drawn back into a functional ponytail, and she was clad in form-fitting leather armor. Behind her was pile of weapons—swords, bows, arrows, even a few other suits of armor—all clearly stolen from the Legion.
“Where…” I cleared my throat and wet my dry lips. “Where are we?”
“A safe place
I closed my eyes and let out a long, slow breath. “Faedari,” I managed. “You’re one of them.”
She nodded and smiled. “Yes, and I’ve been waiting my whole life to find someone like you.”
“What?” I breathed. “Why?”
“You are one of the Netharine,” she said as if it were obvious. “The gods have granted you powerful magic so you can save us.”
A knot twisted in the pit of my stomach. “You think the gods made me Unbound?”
“Not the human gods—our gods. We’ve all been waiting for them to send another.”
“Another? There are others?”
“Precious few,” Astanya said somberly. “Most are captured and identified by the Covenant long before we can save them. But you…everyone was hoping I could get to you first.”
“You were there for me all along?”
“Of course. They send me to find and protect you. I wasn’t planning on making my move so soon, but we ran out of time.”
“How?” I asked breathlessly. “How did you know? Larric?”
Astanya shook her head. “The vaeyn Shadow Knight, Karethys. She sent us a message over a month ago just after you left Skyfall.”
I placed my palms against the mattress as my thoughts flashed back to my time in Korvale. Karethys, a Shadow Knight of the Matriarch-Queen, had been in Skyfall representing her people before Grand Duke Darkstone. She had also been a secret ally of Larric and the Faedari, though I didn’t know much more than that.
“She knew I was Unbound?” I asked. “But she never saw me cast a spell!”
“Perhaps Larric told her the truth, or perhaps she figured it out on her own,” Astanya said with a shrug. “The vaeyn have far more experience with Netharine than we do. She’s one herself, after all.”
I nodded idly. “Larric probably told her. He knew that she’d try to protect me.”
Astanya smiled and placed her hand on my knee. “The important thing is that I reached you in time. Once we figure out a way to escape Sanctum, we’ll be able to keep you safe from the Covenant.”
I pushed aside my memories of Korvale and shifted all my attention back on the present. “I can’t leave,” I told her. “Not without Larric.”
Astanya’s smile slowly faded. “We’re trying to figure out a way to rescue him, but we’re not even sure he’s still alive.”
“He’s alive,” I said with more certainly than I felt. “And we have to save him.”
She stared at me for a long moment, her face unreadable, before I heard a shuffling sound from the hallway. I almost leapt off the bed when a faeyn man appeared in the doorway.
“I’m afraid there’s no way into the Temple of the Triad or the Aetherium,” he said. “Not without placing our people in even more danger.”
“This is Fargoth,” Astanya told me. “He’s the leader of the Faedari cell here in Sanctum.”
“What’s left of it,” the man muttered, stepping forward. Unlike the two of us, he had the tanned, weathered skin of someone who’d spent a great deal of time outdoors, probably as a laborer. He was wearing a suit of Imperial leather armor beneath his black cloak, and I could see the glint of metal from several weapons on his belt. “After the last purge, there aren’t many of us left. And there’s no way in the void we could possibly deal with all the Inquisitors guarding him. Once they realize the two of you aren’t among the dead, they’ll start looking you—for us. Every faeyn in the city will suffer.”
Astanya abruptly stood and glared at him. “Elara is Netharine. It is our duty to save her—at any cost.”
Fargoth shook his head and sighed. “You weren’t supposed to blow your cover so quickly. Not until we had more people in position!”
“Kristoff was about to kill her! I didn’t have a choice.”
“Is that true?” he asked, glancing over to me. “Or did her bloodlust get the better of her again?”
“H-he attacked me,” I said. “He would have killed me.”
Fargoth grunted. “If one pitiful Imperial noble can kill you that easily, what use are you to us?”
“Faarea!” Astanya hissed. “You will show her the proper respect!”
His lip quivered and his eyes burned, but he eventually sighed and turned away. “I apologize. I know you’ve been through a great deal, but you have to understand what’s at stake. We had only just begun to make progress again before the Inquisitors rooted most of us out. Now…” He paused and glanced back at me. “We need to get you out of the city as quickly as possible. The vaeyn are waiting for us near the border of the Wreath.”
“I’m not going anywhere without Larric,” I said. “I owe him my life. I won’t abandon him now.”
Astanya nodded and smiled. “Then we’ll figure something out.”
Fargoth turned back to her. “We can’t—”
“We’ll figure something out,” she repeated more forcefully. “I’ll help Elara extract him myself if I have to.”
He sighed and shifted his hands down to his hips. “Fine. I’ll contact our other operatives in the city, but I can’t promise anything. The vaeyn won’t wait for us forever.”
“They might be able to help,” Astanya suggested. “They have a few agents in the city, and Karethys should be arriving soon. She won’t want to abandon Larric any more than Elara.”
“We’ll see,” Fargoth murmured. He tossed me another look, then turned on a heel and slipped back out of the room. I heard another door open and close a moment later.
“You’ll have to forgive him,” Astanya said, sitting back down on the bed next to me. “He’s a good man and he means well, but…well, the recent purge rattled him. For a while there, the war offered a lot of us hope. The Empire seemed like it was on the brink of civil war, and Fargoth was convinced we could exploit it. Then he got greedy.”
I pursed my lips. “He lost someone.”
“We’ve all lost people, but he’d just gotten married. His wife was pregnant, and she was ecstatic about giving birth to a free child. I’m sure you can imagine how rare that is.” Astanya sighed, and her expression sank. “His wife was one of the first people taken by the Inquisitors. She’s still alive, but after she gives birth they’ll probably kill her and sell her child to the highest bigger. That, or she’ll spend the rest of her life in some random nobleman’s harem.”
I closed my eyes and struggled not to be sick. I wasn’t even thinking about Fargoth—I was remembering the pair of faeyn Larric and I had met outside Lakewatch. They had taken a risk to meet us, and in the blink of an eye an Inquisitor had appeared and murdered them.
How many others will die for me before this is over? How can any one person be worth this kind of sacrifice?
“Things will be different once we’re away from Sanctum,” Astanya said. “We can’t save everyone, but…well, the vaeyn have promised to help us. With their help, we might finally be able to destroy the Empire.”
I forced myself to swallow and reopen my eyes despite the tears sliding down my face. “There are things you need to know,” I whispered. “Things about Emperor Lucian.”
“We already know all about him, believe me. He murdered his father, and now he’s gone mad with power. The vaeyn don’t even need to attack—all they need to do is sit back and watch while his machinations destroy the Empire from within.”
“It won’t be that simple,” I said.
Astanya studied me for a long moment. “I didn’t expect you’d learn much when Kristoff sent you to meet with him. I almost intervened to help you escape before you left. Please tell me he didn’t hurt you.”
“No, not exactly. Lucian met with me personally. He told me things…” I paused and met her eyes. “He is Unbound.”
She blinked. “What?”
“He demonstrated his power to me. He
“But that’s…” she trailed off. “How is that possible?”
“Karethys already knows. She’s been working with him, or perhaps just manipulating him. I don’t know for certain.” I swallowed again. “Lucian may be mad, but there’s a method to his insanity. He wants to destroy the Empire—at least, the Empire as it is now.”
Astanya stared at me in silence, probably trying to figure out if I had gone mad myself. I didn’t blame her. I still hadn’t had time to work through everything. It felt like a century had passed since I’d been standing in the Imperial Palace speaking with Lucian, but the meeting had taken place just yesterday.
“He’s using the war as a means of removing his enemies and crippling the Covenant,” I went on. “Once they’re gone, he plans to remake the Empire and place Unbound in charge of everything. He even offered me a place at his side.”
“You?” Astanya breathed. “An elf?”
“He doesn’t seem to care about race. He sees the Aether as some kind of god. He says it chose to give me this power, and that’s all he cares about.” I pressed my lips together and eyed her again. “He also knows a channeling technique I’ve never seen before. He was able to share a fraction of his power with one of his Praetorian guards. She was able to channel as if she’d been bonded to the Godstone.”
“You saw this?” Astanya asked. “You’re sure it wasn’t a trick?”
“It wasn’t a trick. He said he’d spoken about it with Karethys.”
“She’s never mentioned any of this. Not that I’ve heard.”
“I only know what he told me, but I don’t think he was lying. He seemed convinced that she would be a partner in his new Empire—and so would I.”
“That can’t be true,” Astanya breathed. “I’ve met Karethys. She hates the Empire more than anyone, and she would never betray the vaeyn.”
Other author's books:
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