Cage of Glass – Chapter 16

Eteri took a few steps away from the entrance and towards the edge of this immense hall. Her naked feet felt the damp and soft grass beneath their soles, tickling her skin.

With each breath her head began to swim and feel a little lighter, like she had been breathing in some sort of weird fumes from the forge. Once she had mixed in the wrong chemicals and she had felt the same sensation.

This time though, it did seem to come from the air itself. At least it would not poison her, she reasoned. What good would she be to the Zalethi otherwise?

She reached for the closest tree, marvelling at the white leaves hanging from the crimson trunk. Whatever kind of plant it was, she had never seen it before. Its bark peeled off in scales, and thick yellow fruits hang from its branches. She touched one, bringing it close to her face, even though she did not dare to pick it up. 

It smelled like citrus and with a hint of apple just beneath. Very strange, but not at all unpleasant. 

What kind of tree was this? If this was a garden and an orchard, it was indeed very strange. Just like the animals and plants she had seen etched on the door, they looked completely different from everything she had ever noticed before. 

She wasn’t the girl with the highest amount of experience in such things, but still…

And this was where she would live from now on? She had expected a wardrobe or perhaps a cell, this was… nice

Perhaps a little too nice, she corrected herself, leaving the tree and walking forward, without a real aim or goal. Nobody had given her any other kind of instruction, except perhaps to find this… Nives, whoever she was. 

Nives was not a Rasena name. It sounded southerner, perhaps even Sabja. 

If only she could find someone else in this place – it seemed to go on forever. More trees and boughs peppered the landscape, some of them standing out starkly with their bright dashes of purple or gold against the grass, though others looked to be simply pines, at least from their shape. 

A silvery brook cut through the space and she decided to follow it. At this point, there must be a spring or a hole from which it came, and perhaps she would find someone there. People and animals usually followed water, after all. 

To her right, the filtering light of the afternoon showed the outside – whitish sky of the early evening and the far-off hills. The suburbs of Velathri where she used to live and which she would most likely never see again. 

She felt an impulse to reach for the glass and touch it. Perhaps it would just break against her touch and she would tumble forward or she would fly like a bird an-

“Hey! Who are you?” She heard a female voice call her. Eteri turned, holding her hands to her chest as if she expected the foreign voice to command her to strip like a slavegirl at once – what she was was another young woman, perhaps two or three years older than her, waving her arm at her as she reached for her at a brisky pace. 

Eteri’s cheeks grew flush as she took sight of the state of her clothing… if clothing one could call it. She was covered with a series of tinkling crystal beads that did nothing to hide her nudity beneath. The Birdcage’s temperature felt comfortable like a day in late spring or early summer, so it was not like she needed to wear anything else, but she realized that it must not be a matter of cold. 

She was another slavegirl. That was her required outfit. 

“I’m sorry,” Etery bowed deeply at the newcomer. With every step she recognized new details. She kept her brown hair cut short and she had an inquisitive look in her olive eyes, but nothing that would suggest animosity. She just seemed curious at seeing her there. Which was better than Eteri could hope at that moment. “I was sent here by the Zalethi! I’m…” she drew in a breath and it felt like she was trying to breathe underwater. “I’m her new slavegirl.”

The newcomer stopped a few steps away from her. She looked gorgeous with her smooth skin and gentle curves beneath the tinkling baubles that more than hid suggested her femininity and how easy it would have been to just part them and…

Eteri’s cheeks grew even redder at the thought. Would it be requested of her to wear anything like that? 

“We did not hear anything about that,” the girl said, scratching the side of her head. “But if it’s the will of the Zalethi, so be it. It is still weird you came up here at once! We don’t get much new company here.”

“I can imagine that,” she replied with a whisper. 

“You must be really special if the Zalethi has sent you up here at once. But you don’t look… well… you are quite plain.”

“I-I know.” It still stung to hear it. But if the Zalethi had accepted her request, she must see something in her, didn’t she?

She had yet to consider what it might be. Too many thoughts at once! She was getting too worried and too overwhelmed to put her thoughts in a line. She would have needed a warm bath, a cuddle with ati and apa and then a few hours in the workshop, creating vases and decorating plates to clear up her mind. Work with her hands. 

She was good with her hands… which, as she looked down, maybe was one of the reasons why the Zalethi had picked her up.

“I was told to look for someone named Nives. Do you know her?”

“She’s one of ours. She’ll be happy to not be newest girl anymore!” She chuckled and Eteri found herself smiling in return. This new girl was a bit weird, but she did inspire trust in a way she did not expect. Huin took her hand into her own and looked at her nails. 

“These are so dirty! What are you, a farmer?”

“No, I’m a… ceramist.”

“No ceramics here! I hoped you’d be a farmer, you would have been useful for taking care of the orchards. But it is what it is, I guess. Now come on, I’ll have you meet with the others!”

“S-Sure.” Eteri followed her. Huin’s hand never let go of hers. 

Author’s Notes: Here’s Huin! And soon we will meet the others.

As always, thanks for reading.


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