A snippet from my current chapter ‘Mad Jack’
“I’ll enjoy breaking you, little lioness.”
I pressed away from him, panic filling my veins, pushing the drugged euphoria away, bit by sluggish bit. My breathing sped up, setting off a ringing in my ears. I struggled again. Succeeded in flailing my limbs a bit in an uncoordinated fashion.
“Ye’ll be doin’ no such thing, Sulyan.” Jack was suddenly there, between my oppressor and I. The Ishkaran held ground a moment, glaring at Jack. Jack didn’t budge.
“Mind your place, cur,” Sulyan growled, low. “Or I’ll put you there.”
“Ye would’na be so brave if ye didn’t hold the leash, Houndmaster. Slip the collar an’ face me proper.”
“Ah, but hold it I do. And use it I will.”
“Iff’n ye harm me wi’out Jimenya around, ye’ll answer to Pashu Sirricos. He’ll not take kindly to having his prize hound damaged without a healer around. Lay a hand on her in harm an’ the consequences of attackin’ ye be damned.”
Sulyan’s jaw tightened, and his eyes turned flat and cold. “There are healers here, cur.”
“Ye dare not risk that, an’ ye be knowin’ it,” Jack retorted.
A shrill beeping joined the ringing, and it took a moment to realise that it was outside my body. It broke the stalemate, and, with a last contemptuous look at Jack, Sulyan strode away. A moment later the beeping stopped, and the sounds of a one-sided conversation in Ishkaran began. Jack’s hands tightened to fists and he growled something under his breath. It seemed I had a partial ally at least.
I attempted to move again, bringing his attention back to me, giving me my first good look at him. Brown eyes glinted in the firelight. He had black hair, thinning in front. Raw hatred twisted his face into a stubble-cheeked scowl.
Despite the earlier chill, he wore only a sleeveless vest and baggy trousers. The tattoo of a flask holding sprigs of thorny plants was inked into his left upper arm. The image tickled my memory, but slipped away before I could capture it. The back of Jack’s hands and forearms were covered with flexible bracers of pale sea-green metal. Barcollym trico. Now I knew why I kept smelling it. The bracers had no obvious ties or stays to hold them on. More metal glinted around his neck.
A slave collar?