Title: Circus Side-Show (Chapter One)
Fandom: Heralds of Valdemar
Genre: Fantasy, Tradgedy
Characters: Kitty Namir, Companion Daveigh, the kyree Orir
Disclaimer: Valdemar and concepts belong to Mercedes Lackey; this fic and original characters belong to their author.
Summary: Kitty lived a good, happy life... until the circus she worked in was sold, and the new owner took her into slavery. Locked up, sick and unable to escape, death seemed her chance at salvation. Then hope arrived in the form of a Companion. But Daveigh is quickly locked up as well, used as an attraction to the show, and now BOTH of them are fighting for freedom-- and survival.
She wasn't well and she knew it… but she couldn't do anything about it, and she was sure no one else would bother to help her either—not since the others had left, cast out to their own Fate. Her only friends, left in the street to live or die as the Gods saw fit.
Even so, she envied them, she really did. But she really envied Morgan, for he had escaped long before, thanks to the salvation that was his Companion.
When had her life come to this? When had she become an animal instead of a person? When had it happened that she was a possession, owned by whoever happened to hold the key to her cage?
Certainly, it hadn't always been that way.
Before the circus had been sold…
To the man who now owned her in every possible way…
She was shivering now, though she tried hard not to, and she knew that it wasn't a shiver of cold—it was warm out, at least, where she was now, though it wasn't always. Her shivering continued, despite that.
Her illness was causing her to tremble, and that illness was caused by… what? Malnutrition? Starvation? The occasional sexual assaults and not-so-occasional beatings? The fact that she was living in squalor and could do nothing about it?
Her eyes opened slowly, gold glinting in the gloom of her cage. A real cage, unlike the ones with breakaway bars that she had dwelled in during her happier times. She couldn't see anything. She never could, but she couldn't seem to stop herself from looking anyway, perhaps in the hopes of seeing a friendly face.
The familiar Mindvoice would have to do, as the shadows of her tiny prison gave no inkling of giving way to light—and she didn't want them to, anyway. Light would mean another show, another dance… and most likely another forced servicing of at least one of the marks that her new owner brought in.
:Kitty, are you alright?: Orir's voice was soft and strained, and she could tell that the kyree's strength was beginning to run out, too. Worry toned his words as he continued, :you're sick, aren't you?:
How long had it been since Sadah had passed away from illness, left unattended and without treatment for too long? A week? A fortnight? A month? More? She couldn't remember. Her mind was going, too, it seemed, as her body slowly gave way to whatever diseases were crawling in the cage with her.
Orir was silent for a moment, and she asked the question before thinking; :Orir… we're all going to die, aren't we?: Even as she asked, she wished she could take it back, and her eyes sting with tears she had thought she was too worn to shed. :I'm sorry.: She whispered, as sadness washed down the mindlink that had been established between herself and her kyree friend. :I shouldn't have said that.:
:It is alright.: Orir assured her despairingly. :Now rest, youngling. You need your strength.:
He was different than he had been before. He let his age show, now, and he was no longer happy and boisterous as he had been. The last time she had seen him—in a passing glance on her way from her dance—his fur had been matted and scraggly and he had been obviously starving, much as she herself was.
She missed the Orir that had joked around with her and Morgan.
She was glad he was alright.
How had she missed the fact that he was her best friend? How could she have overlooked it when he was there, and only realized the fact when it was far too late? When he was gone to Haven with his Companion and she was a prisoner in her own life? She wished she had figured it out sooner, and told him that she loved him.
Not in a romantic sense, of course, but as a brother.
She missed him, she realized vaguely as she slumped lower on the wall she was propped against, her tail shifting halfheartedly on the ground beside her. And she would never see him again, because she was going to die alone in a horror of a prison, just as Sadah had.
:You most certainly are not!:
Somehow, the unfamiliar Mindvoice managed to drag her back to wakefulness enough for one of her ears to flick slightly. Her eyes cracked open once more, then shut almost immediately. She was too tired to keep them open for long anymore.
:Do not go to sleep, Kitty! Stay awake!:
What did the Voice know? It was probably a figure of her imagination, anyway.
And she was so tired…
:If you go to sleep, you will die! You're sick, Little One… you must stay awake!:
Golden eyes, once shining but now flat, remained closed as she slipped into blissful unconsciousness.
Daveigh swore in three different languages and forced her legs to move faster, despite the burning that was beginning to flare through her muscles. She could rest later—and had tried to convince Kitty of that as well, but she hadn't been successful and now the girl was going to die—
Snorting defiantly, Daveigh's head came up and her nostrils flared.
She was not going to lose Kitty before they had even met, and she most certainly was not going to let her die thinking she was alone and unloved! Not only was that no way to leave the world, but it wasn't true!
Hooves thundered against the hard-packed road and she stretched her neck out, her mane whipping into her eyes. She was moving so fast now that she would be barely more than a blur of silver to onlookers, and it still wasn't fast enough.
The girl was slipping…
:Kitty!: She wasn't close enough for her to hear, but Daveigh shrieked vocally along with the mental Sending, her voice echoing through the trees on either side of her before fading away. Vaguely—so dangerously close—but she Felt Kitty respond to the desperation in her Mindvoice. :Do not give up! DO NOT!:
But she was so tired…
Daveigh could feel it herself…
Whoever did this to her is going to pay.
The thought was only half-formed, but she got the feeling it would become a driving force in times to come. And though her entire being was completely focused on reaching Kitty in time, she had firmly cemented the vow in her mind: there was no way the bastard responsible was going to get away with it.
:I'm almost there, Catling! Please just… wait for me! Please!: