Cage of Glass – Chapter 29

Eteri had touched the Zalethi’ skin before, but she did not expect it to feel so… soft. Could it even be called skin?

She had entered the bath after her, feeling once again like an intruder in a space that did not belong to her and in which she ought not to step in. Eteri poured a little more salts into the scalding water – the steam caressing her exposed skin. She was still wearing her not-dress made of trinkets and baubles and yet she felt more naked than the Zalethi herself. 

She picked up water and scented lotion and began to scrub her with a golden sponge, starting from the skin just behind her neck. The smooth surface reflected her face, her eyes and her mouth hanging slightly-open. She could get herself lost in the starry night that composed her body, feeling like she could just fall into it and never come out, perpetually falling…


“Ah! M-My apologies!” She squeaked, going back to scrubbing her body. The soap streaked bubbled over the Zalethi nodded, which made her feel… why was her heart beating so fast?

“You are using too little strength. Rub harder, girl. I am not going to break.”

Eteri nodded, scrubbing harder, pushing all her strength into it. She felt like she was trying o move a mountain with hoe firm against her hands the Zalethi’s back felt. 

“That’s better,” she purred with her sweet-sounding voice. Eteri’s cheeks flushed and she kept rubbing, moving from her neck to her rounded shoulders to her thinning waist and to the two small dimples above her hips. She lingered there for a moment, thinking of her sister and how she also used to have the same dimples – it was something else that brought her home. 

But only for a moment. She needed to show her she was being useful. The Zalethi’s words still ringed in her mind from before – how she had to be useful, and to be pretty and to serve. 

The threat lingering over her head of course was that she would be easily discarded otherwise. 

“It was a long and tiring day. You surely lack in technique, but your eagerness is inspiring. I will have to make sure Nives oversees your training. Your hands seem to have great strength in them – I can sense you are used to giving shape to objects. You did mention you used to be a ceramist.”

Eteri nodded. She wasn’t sure the Zalethi could see her, but she had no doubt she would understand. 

“I did.”

“How was your final day then?”

Why did she even care? Did she just mean to play with her?

“I… I spent it with my family. We went to the Harvest Festival and I managed to sell some of my wares to a Noble.”

“Most intriguing. I will have to look into that. You must truly be skilled to attract the attention of a noblewoman like that then. How do you feel, Child?”

That made her stop. Her hands lingered around the Zalethi’s waist. How did she feel? She felt like her emotions hooked inside her flesh from a thousand different directions at once. Taken in a steel spiderweb. 

“How… how do I feel?”

“Yes, my newest slavegirl. How do you feel?” She chuckled. The Zalethi turned in the pool, leaning now back and offering the front of her body to be cleaned. Eteri’s eyes lingered over her neck, to her slender stomach, to her large breasts dripping water and soap. “I am quite interested. Do not you think it would be to our profit to compare our moods?”

She’s playing with me. She’s goading me

These were the kind of thoughts that flapped about in Eteri’s mind with their horrid wings. 

“I… I feel like I am trying to do the right thing to help my sister.” That was it. She must start from the things she did know. The things she was sure of. “I am grateful for the chance to serve you, even though I miss my family immensely. I have no idea why the Twelve imposed this challenge and this trial on my shoulders, nor why they were so cruel to make it so my sister was the one to be… chosen first.”

“Ah, that’s quite the blasphemous thought,” the Zalethi chuckled, her hands reaching out to play with the beads over her chest. She shifted them to reveal a patch of Eteri’s skin, so pale and so human compared to her own. “Are you not afraid? Are you not wracked with panic?”

“I-I am, Eternal Grace. I don’t know which step to take. I just want to keep my sister safe.”

The Zalethi’s smile turned thinner at those words. 

“You seem so caught up in this notion that your sister cares about you just as much as you do. Your regret will fade, and you will be grateful to live your life like you want. Free. It is not too late yet, Child. I can still change my mind. You just have to admit you were wrong.”

Eteri pursed her lips. This was… she just wanted this, didn’t she? 

To admit that she had been wrong to lay down her life for her sister. 

All this charade to just force her to go back on her word. Just because she found Tatia more attractive, or perhaps due to some other inscrutable reason she wouldn’t find looking into that body of stars and night. 

“I will not.”

“You are stubborn. That is most unwelcome. Let me tell you how I feel about today, my little flower. I am trying to find something that has been eluding me for decades. A person most dear to me is about to leave me forever. One of my Loukomon just showed himself to be an embezzler, an assassin and a traitor. And right when I thought I could find some moment of respite with a new and gorgeous slave, here’s here unkempt sister making a fool of herself in front of the entire city!”

She stood up and leaned forward, clenching her fist. Eteri felt the same invisible force lifting her out of the pool as drops fell down her naked legs. She dangled in the air as the Zalethi pulled her close, so close that she could see her scared face in the mirror sheen of her skin. 

“So tell me, my dear slavegirl. How should I feel about you?”


Author’s Notes: Thanks for reading.


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