Our pace after meeting Corin and Joel was a relaxed speed. We actually gained more ground and moved faster. My mind was itching for a change of scenery from the monotonous black stone corridors.
The scenery finally changed with the way ending before a wooden door reinforced with steel brackets and braces to form the symbol of a majestic lion's head on the surface.
Corin made symbols with his hands that roughly told me this symbol was the sign of the Emperor. His arms made a circle and hugging motion that I took for world.
Kalia finished off his sign language by providing her interpretation. "The Realm of Leinard is our world. This lion symbol is the mark of Our Emperor, Ren de Marc Aueralius. Favourite son of Lord Dan."
Kalia frowned at the condescending pat Joel gave her head. She brushed aside his hand with a huff.
I glanced at her with a look of warning. Knowing their names didn't make them less of our henchmen escorts. We couldn't be complacent.
Joel knocked on the door. We waited for a command to enter. He opened the way for us.
We stepped inside a barely furnished room with iron scones burning bright orange light against wood panel walls. In center was a large redwood writing desk, a tall book shelf containing leather bound tomes against one side of the back wall. A man sat in a high back leather chair behind the desk. His attention was occupied on a set of papers spread out across the desk.
"Leave henchmen." He ordered the men.
Corin lightly brushed my shoulder as he and Joel stepped out of the room and closed the door behind them.
The sound of a ticking clock filled the silence. Kalia and I stood a few paces with the door behind our backs, not daring to go further.
"Bloody disappointing. Chief Randall gets boys." The man looked up. I saw he was Chief Morisset.
"He also owes that old quack a tithe. I guess he won't be holding them for much longer." He spoke his thoughts aloud, not caring if we heard.
I gulped nervously when he rose and stepped around the desk, so he was before us. He leaned against the desk's edge, regarding us with obvious disdain on his face.
"Guess you're both lookers by Chief Randall's standards, 'specially you Blondy Blue-eyed Girl." Chief Morisset pointed at Kalia.
Kalia's hands twitched and curled with an urge to make fists.
"Lemme guess, from Armia Garden's right? Yeah, your pretty looks would fetch me a fine amount of lein. Bet you dance graceful like a Dweamer's daughter too from your looks. A virgin too. I'd get five to ten thousand for you at a high class Lupanar for sure." He smirked.
His expression turned stone-cold when he gazed upon my face.
"There's something I don't like about you."
He surprised us when he threw a dagger at me; the tip of it narrowly missing the corner of my eye.
I tensed at the dull thwack I heard from the door behind me. From the corner of my eye I saw Kalia gulp nervously. Her eyes drew both of ours towards the fresh short strands of black hair littering the floor near my feet.
My heart pounded my chest. It took all my will to stay standing and not faint.
"There it is. Now I know you will get me nothing." Chief Morisset spat out.
"That's enough!" said a man, bringing in a breeze to our backs from the opened door.
The door closed. An elderly man with a wise beard of silver-white stepped past us. His rich indigo robes stirred a light cloud dust about the floor when he went to stand next to the chief.
"Geh. Master Orlando Asuras. I didn't know you were in the North Hold today." Chief Morisset didn't hide his annoyance of Orlando's untimely intrusion.
"I'm here for my slaves, Amos. I wanted to be sure they were unspoiled for Milady Anwar."
The two men continued their conversation in a formal tone. I sensed traces of a distasteful relationship between the two of them.
I observed the elderly man called Orlando. Although he was shorter, his majestic indigo robes and tall stance made him appear taller. His long beard and flowing hair, stern grey eyes and stoic demeanour afforded him an impression of importance.
Amos sighed when he returned to the high back chair and propped his feet up on the desk, so his boots dirtied the papers he had previously looked over.
"Let's have a look at you both." Orlando changed subjects with a firm clap.
His observation of us was brief before he returned his attention back to Amos to issue his orders.
"No dilly-dallying Amos. I expect these girls, in the same condition they are in now, at the temple before light-fall."
"Like I would touch filth." Amos grumbled.
He rose from the chair and walked towards us. I tensed when he roughly retrieved his dagger from the door, opened it and left the room.
Orlando stood before us with calm smile. He called henchmen into the room and issued instructions to take us to a temple in the Main Zone.
He left us to the care of two henchmen.
Kalia and I breathed a sigh of relief when we found the henchmen removed their helmets, so we saw it was Corin and Joel.
"Did the other man say temple?" I whispered bravely to Kalia.
Kalia nodded. "I think so Neven."
Corin's hands did an elegant flourish that resembled an image of a lady.
"Lady Anwar's temple?" I rephrased his signing.
He nodded with a jovial smile. He and Joel donned their helmets, so they were henchmen again.
They left the room and entered another length of black stone corridors lit by white flaming sconces. Joel sighed that they were head for a pair of jade doors of the Main Zone. At least, that's what I thought his hand gestures were saying.