Just to clear things up, I'd like to mention that this is a repost of chapter three. I just couldn't stand the old version so it had to go. For those of you who read it before, you may want reread this chapter because this newer version is completely different (and hopefully better and not so much of an info-dump as the old one). And just a tip to anyone who actually remembers the old version: just forget everything you read before because some of it may or may not apply to later chapters, and I don't want anyone to be confused as the story progresses.

I hope you guys enjoy it :)

Chapter Three: Magic

The sound of a door creaking open and then footsteps approaching me stirred me from my sleep. At first, I thought I was simply dreaming or imagining the noise, but when I heard the sound of a chair scraping across the floor and someone sitting in it, I realized I was really awake.

When my eyes fluttered open, the first thing they landed on was a man sitting on a chair in front of me. He was not what I was focused on right away, though. I sat up on my elbows and rubbed at my eyes as they adjusted to the bright light, and then I started to observe my surroundings. I was lying on a bed covered with blankets in the center of a small room. To my left there was a nightstand, which the man was seated by, and in the corner a wardrobe. To my right was a large window and a bookcase next to that. The walls were also adorned with a few pictures, but I barely took notice of those. I recognized all of my surrounding and I immediately realized where I was. I was back at his home, back in the place I'd been locked up in for almost a year now.

I finally turned back to the person by my side. He was staring at me, waiting for me to fully wake up before he said anything. When he realized that I finally remembered where I was, he introduced himself.

"My name is Mer, Miss Avalene. Master Marrok has requested that I prepare your tea."

I cringed. Marrok. Just the sound of his name seemed to make my skin crawl. I did not want to think about him, though, so I focused my attention on Mer once more.

"So you are… a servant?" I inquired gently.

I thought I knew the answer to my question already, but I still wanted to be sure. Marrok had plenty of servants around his home, all of them human, who came to attend to me and did any of the other things he asked of them. Mer was old, I guessed around his early seventies, with patches of white hair growing on either side of his head while the top of it remained bald. Though he was sitting down, I could tell he was small, and I would have been surprised if he was any taller than me. Not only this, but his skin was so pale that he appeared almost ghostlike against the dark furniture of the room. He definitely had the look of one of Marrok's servants, so I couldn't imagine he was anyone else.

He answered my question with a nod, and then proceeded to take out some items from a bag at his side. First he pulled out a tray and then all the other things he would need to make the tea. I watched as he poured hot water in a cup, and then as he started to add some other ingredients. He worked quickly, not bothering to look up at me when he did so.

"How long have I been unconscious?" I finally asked him, breaking the silence between us.

"It has been a week and a few days since…the incident between you and Master Marrok."

I nodded, knowing that by 'the incident' he was referring to my punishment. I never did wake up right away after them, and I supposed this was because it took some time for my mind to recover. I shuddered a bit, suddenly remembering what it had been like. To be in the fire, to be burning, it was one of the most horrific things I'd ever experienced. I shook my head and pushed those thoughts aside, though, deciding that all I wanted to do was forget about it.

The silence between us returned and we stayed that that for a couple minutes longer. Still, there was something that had been on my mind ever since Mer introduced himself that I wanted to ask him about.

"Where is Keeva?" I said, staring at my hands in my lap as they gripped the blanket tightly.

I heard him stop moving for a moment, to think this over I assumed, and a couple seconds later, he replied shortly, "Master Marrok dismissed her yesterday morning."

My hands gripped the blanket tighter and I tore my eyes away from my hands to look at him. He kept his eyes downward, seeming to be engaged in the work he was doing.

"What do you mean he dismissed her?" I said, trying to disguise the apprehension in my voice. But whether or not he heard it I wasn't sure. He simply shrugged, not bothering to look up at me as he continued making the tea.

"She no longer works here, Miss."

I felt my heart sink at his words. Marrok wouldn't just "dismiss" someone. Keeva was gone, and it was most likely my fault.

She was, like Mer, a servant that worked for Marrok, coming to attend to me on a regular basis. But, unlike the other servants, she and I had formed a friendship of sorts. She was the only servant who would actually talk to me, sharing with me stories of her childhood, her family, her hometown. We'd tried to keep the friendship a secret, not wanting to know what Marrok would do if he found out. But it was foolish for us to ever think we could hide anything from him. He always knew about everything that went on in his home.

I suppose our friendship hadn't mattered until we made just one mistake: Keeva told me how to escape. She was from Gevoden, and she knew the quickest ways from his home to her hometown. Over time, I'd dropped hints to her about my desire to escape, and she dropped hints back to me about the quickest way to get out. I hadn't thought we were being too obvious, but Marrok was no fool. Of course he had found out.

When I tried to escape that night, I had taken a different route that led me to Gevoden quicker than usual. I had taken the route that Keeva told me about, and Marrok must have found out and determined that she couldn't be trusted. So he solved the problem; he got rid of her.

It was taking me all the strength I had to hold back my tears. I looked down at the blanket, trying to hide my face with my hair, and trying to convince myself that there was still a possibility Keeva could be alive. Maybe she'd gotten away. Maybe she'd known that he would come for her and she was prepared for it…

I took in a deep breath, turning back to Mer. He was still fully concentrated on making the tea; it didn't seem he'd ever noticed my brief state of distress. I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking. His lifeless brown eyes didn't reveal anything about him, yet I still felt there was something he was holding back.

"Mer, could I ask you something?"

He looked up for a second, I guess caught off guard by my question. I saw a curiosity glaze over his eyes for just a second before he looked back down and shrugged, "I suppose so, Miss."

I hesitated before asking, but kept my eyes on him the entire time, "Do you… enjoy working for Marrok?"

At this he stopped what he was doing, tearing apart a yellow leaf, and looked up at me again. His eyes held an expression of uncertainty, as though he suspected I had an ulterior motive behind my questioning. When he did answer, though, he sounded sincere and completely sure of himself, "Why yes. I do enjoy working for Master Marrok."

He stared at me for a moment longer, and the room grew silent around us. Then he abruptly looked back at the tea, sprinkled the pieces of the leaf in the cup, placed it on the tray and put the tray on my lap.

No other words were passed between us. He stood up, bowing to me once more before walking to the door. "Please drink all of your tea, Miss." And that was all he said before he turned and promptly exited the room.

I reluctantly brought the tea to my lips and took a couple sips of it, cringing at the bitterness of the liquid. After a couple minutes, I managed to drink most of it but put the rest aside. Then, with nothing more to do, I leaned back into the pillows, closing my eyes and becoming absorbed in my thoughts.


I wasn't even aware I'd fallen asleep again until I heard the door open and someone walk into the room for the second time that day. Just as I suspected, when I opened my eyes I saw Marrok standing at the foot of my bed. He watched me as I sat up and took in his familiar appearance. His silver eyes were narrowed, and the scowl that seemed to be ever present on his face was there. He towered above me, and I had to lean my head back to look into his eyes.

The tension in the room was building as we both remained silent, and I dropped my eyes from his, focusing on the blanket, and trying to determine whether or not I should say something. I'd just opened my mouth to break the silence when he beat me to it.

"You met Mer earlier. He will serve you from now on."

Somehow, I knew this topic was going to come up. I found my thoughts drifting back to Keeva, and Mer's words echoed in my mind again. He dismissed her. It was a topic I'd prefer to avoid, but I knew I wouldn't be content unless I knew exactly what had happened to Keeva. After all, there was still a chance he'd just kicked her out, wasn't there? I looked back up and stared at him for a minute, trying to carefully form the words in my head before asking.

"What…" I began, "What did you do to Keeva?"

He remained silent, but his entire face seemed to darken at the sound of her name. Then I saw a spark of something in his eyes, and a grin spread across his face. I clutched the blanket tighter and looked away when he began to walk closer to me. He leaned down, placing his hands on the edge of the bed so we were at eye-level. "Why do you want to know?" He asked almost tauntingly, the grin never leaving his face.

I didn't answer him, and a couple seconds later I realized I had been holding my breath. I let it out shakily and shook my head. "I…" I began but couldn't finish. There was silence once more, and then he spoke again.

"Keeva shouldn't have told you the things she did. I was even kind enough to warn her of this. But of course she didn't listen, and humans like that don't deserve to live." His grin grew even wider. "I didn't mind getting rid of her; it gave me something to do. Though I must admit, I was a bit disappointed," he paused and spoke the next words slowly, letting them all sink in, "She didn't even scream."

I knew what he was trying to do. He was trying to make me feel guilty while at the same time giving me a warning: if I didn't want to end up like Keeva, and if I didn't want any of the other servants to suffer her fate, then I'd better make sure I never tried to escape again. The guilt was there, yet something else was rising up within me, something I hadn't felt in a long time: rage. I could barely suppress this anger, and I already felt myself losing control of my temper.

"You killed her…" I finally managed to say, almost in disbelief. Of course he had killed her. I knew this was not something I should be surprised about, but now the reality of it was finally sinking in. That was the last straw. I was sick and tired of him ripping me away from people I cared about, and sick and tired of not being able to do anything about it. Suddenly I turned to him, and before I had the chance to control my emotions, I screamed at him, my temper flailing, "How could you! You sick bastard!"

I regretted it as soon as the words were out of my mouth. What was I thinking? I had never dared to speak to him that way before, and I knew it was not going to come without consequences.

Before I could say or do anything else, he lifted his hand and slapped me across the face so forcefully that I fell back against the bed. Immediately after, the entire left side of my face began to burn, and hot tears sprung to my eyes. When I pressed my fingers to my face, I flinched at how badly it stung. It was the first time Marrok had hit me in a while, and I'd almost forgotten just how strong he was.

But he was not done with me yet. Once I slowly turned my eyes back to him, he extended his hand out to me and grabbed my chin in a tight, vice-like grip, bringing my face just inches away from his. His eyes were burning with anger and his normally calm and in control demeanor was thrown aside and buried under a blanket of fury.

"You are not to speak to me that way," he hissed at me through clenched teeth, still crushing my jaw in his hand and tightening his grip with every word, "Are we clear?"

My voice got caught in my throat. For a moment, I was frozen in fear, and all I could do was stare at him. This seemed to upset him even more. Without warning, he gripped my chin tighter and slammed my head hard into the wall. I couldn't help but cry out in pain, and, to my horror, I thought I'd heard a crack. Marrok remained unfazed by his antics, however, still intent on getting an answer out of me. "Are we clear?" he screamed at me again, this time louder and more demanding.

"Yes!" I shouted back at him, the volume of my voice nearly matching his. I thought better of it afterwards and lowered my voice down to nearly a whisper, "Yes, we're clear." I repeated, forcing my eyes down to the ground. He was silent for a few seconds longer before letting go of my face.

Immediately, I raised a hand to the back of my head. I could already feel a lump forming in the center, and I had to try hard to keep in the tears that were threatening to fall when the pain really started kicking in. I shifted in discomfort when I realized that he was still staring at me—I could feel his gray eyes on me, and it made a shiver run down my spine. I managed to keep myself from looking at him, almost afraid that if I did he might do something else to me.

"I will not tolerate any disrespect from you," he said, his voice low and still seething with anger, "I don't think it would be wise of you to tempt me. If you do, I just might slip and kill you sooner than I intend to."

My head shot up when he said this, and another involuntary shiver ran down my spine. I did not want to think about my death, and I did not want to think about how I was going to die in the hands of Marrok. At my obvious state of distress, he smirked and then continued.

"But…you are getting very strong. Perhaps I should just take your magic now." My muscles tightened when he began to walk towards me, and I instantly recoiled when he grabbed my arm in his stony grip and pulled me back towards him. I closed my eyes, thinking that this was it, that he was going to kill me right then and there. But after a few seconds of silence passed, I realized that nothing was happening. I took a deep breath and cracked my eyes open to look at him. To my surprise, his eyes were shut, and his entire face seemed to be concentrated. For a moment, I wasn't sure what to think. What on earth was he doing? But the answer to my question came sooner than I anticipated.

I wasn't sure what it was, but suddenly I felt an unfamiliar energy rising up within me. Almost instantly, I felt more powerful, as if this new energy flowing within me had finally been awakened after being locked away for a long time. It kept growing stronger and stronger until I felt as if all my senses were heightened, and I was suddenly very aware of every little thing happening around me.

I could hear the gentle rustling of the leaves on the trees outside the windows; even hear the flapping of a bird's wings as it swooped past my window. The colors in the room appeared more vivid and full of life, the dark hues of the walls and floor becoming richer and the blanket I was clutching turning an even deeper shade of maroon. I could feel the presence of not only Marrok beside me, but somehow I knew there was someone else close by, someone outside in the hallway. This sudden change overwhelmed me so much to the point where I felt as if I was in a state of euphoria.

Then, just as quickly as it had come, the good feeling started to fade and pain replaced it. From where he was gripping my arm, there was a sudden aching, and following that aching came numbness. My senses no longer felt heightened, but instead they began to feel like they were dwindling away. The numbness began to spread not only through my arm, but throughout my entire body, and I gasped when this new feeling began to overpower me. To my relief, Marrok's grip on my arm loosened after this, and he finally released me.

"You felt that, didn't you?" He said after opening his eyes and taking in my puzzled expression.

At first I could only stare at him, still in shock over everything that had just happened. But once I finally found my voice again, I answered him in a whisper, "Yes."

He smirked. "Do you know what that was, Avalene?" When I shook my head he looked at me condescendingly, as if it was something he'd expected me to know. "It was your magic."

My eyes widened, and I quickly looked back down at my arm where he had touched it. Of course, that explanation made perfect sense, but at the same time…it didn't. What I didn't understand was how it was possible that something that strong was within me, yet I'd never felt it until now. Weren't you supposed to be able to feel your magic? Something about this just wasn't right.

"It was just as I thought…" Marrok said. When I looked back up at him, he was staring out the window, seeming to think something over. A silence passed between us and then he continued. "Your magic is strong, but still not at its strongest. I will not take it today, but soon," he turned back to me, "soon it will be mine, Avalene."

Then he turned on his heels and strolled calmly out the door without another glance in my direction. I could only sit there, still in a stupor over everything that had just happened. For the first time, I truly understood what he meant when he said I was getting stronger. That power I'd felt was riveting, awakening; I longed to feel it once more, though I knew I couldn't bring it forth on my own. After all, having power meant nothing if you did not know how to use it.


And that concludes chapter three! I'm actually a lot happier with the way this version of it turned out compared to the other one, so I really hope you guys liked it too. If anyone has any questions please let me know, and constructive criticism is always welcomed. I already have chapter four written, but I just have to edit it. I'll try to have that up as soon as I can since that chapter's where things really get interesting :D

If you took the time to read it, please leave me a review. I love all kinds of feedback from you guys so please send me some!