The Clockmakers Daughter

It Begins

Mira walked down the white marble hall, her footsteps echoing off the cold stone, ash stirring in her wake. It tickled her to see all that pristine white tainted with black soot and brown smoke stains covering the prized tapestry’s of horrors that covered the walls. The fire had raged for almost half of a time change, chasing all from the twisted remains left behind, three of the spirit creatures and several faceless falling to it. White, however had woke quickly from his death, crawling away from the flames. He had recovered well and was back to his favorite pastime, torcher. He called for all of those remaining in the prisons, and they had to answer his call.

She was one of the last to answer, his favorite because of the amount of pain that she could withstand. The day her lady had lain with them was one of the moments she cherished fondly because of the marks she had left behind, giving them pain for once. When she had unlocked the cuffs from her wrists that day before the bloody twins took her, she had vowed to serve her whenever possible as thanks for every ounce of pain she had returned to them.

She smirked slightly before smoothing out her expression once more, how she loved it when her lady killed them over and over again. Even though she seemed to have forgiven the Black his crimes, it was worth it to follow her. Mira believed with every tic of her clock that Lady Aliya would end White one day and she was going to help bring that about even if it stole the life from her.

A scream rang out, urging her to hurry. White was apparently impatient, beginning before all of his slaves were there to witness the punishment that waited on those who disobeyed, however unintentional it may have been. She rushed into the wide open space that had once served as the jokers laboratory, few others scurrying around her. He stood in front of eight spirit golems, their eerie masks adding to the feeling of terror that seemed to hover in the air above the mass of bodies waiting for him to speak, the first body slowly dissolving at his feet.

The air was thick with fear, so much that you nearly choked if you dared to breathe. This was bad, far worse than she ever recalled him being, his red eyes searching the crowd, cold and demented. They pierced like a blade as they passed over, not seeing people, but things, his to take, his to give, and his to kill. How she hated that bloody stare and the malicious glee that hid in their depts. They fixed on her, dread welling up with in her as he motioned her forward. Her feet slowly drug against the floor, unconsciously trying to save her life, for his eyes promised to take it from her. she reached his side, feeling pity and shame from those at her back, pity for the pain, and shame for being too scared to try to stop what they all knew was coming.

“Favored slave,” he spoke, not knowing her name, nor caring that she even had one, “Do you know what I have called you here for?” He began to walk around her.

“No, master.” She answered, head down.

“Are you not the leader of the harem workers?” He asked politely charming making her smoother a wince, it was always worse when he spoke nicely. “The only ones with access to the tunnels into the lower prisons?

Keeping her head down and her voice steady, she answered, “I am, master.”

He smiled, gently laying a hand on her shoulder, pushing down with barely any pressure. Mira sank to her knees, knowing it would be worse if she denied him, how those fingers would dig and tear at her. It was one of the first lessons taught to the harem. If White wanted you on your knees, to your knees you would go. “And were you aware that you harbor a traitor, one who helped those who destroyed our home?”

“No, master.” She lied with practiced ease, not even the slightest change in breath to make her seem guilty, he would look for any reason for her to be so.

White leaned down near her, his gaze searching the crowd as he stopped before her. “Lier.” He breathed against her in a sick perversion of a lover’s voice. He rose and walked a short way behind her, her back clear for all to see.

She closed her eyes when she heard the whisper of steal as his whip uncurled, sharpened to a razors edge. Metal, she fought back useless tears. He only used metal when he had no intention of letting his target live, always ending by wrapping the neck and pulling the head from the body. So this was to be her fate.

An expert at its use, the first strike merely tore the cloth from her, leaving pale, scared skin bare to all. The second stole her breath as it ripped flesh away, breaking several ribs on her lower left side. The third broke her, shattering bones on her upper right shoulder, her scream breaking through the silence, resounding back across those frozen in horror. She fell forward, harsh, gasping breaths burning her, making her lips want to plead for mercy, for death. Mira bit them closed, knowing that begging would only prolonged the suffering.

White strolled over to her, pulling her back to her knees by her hair, ripping another agenized scream from her battered body. “You will remain on your knees, slave.” She shook, but held herself up, recognizing the last stage of his attack. She wished that she could have done more for her lady, but mostly she wished she could have seen his permanent death at her hands. It was a small comfort to know that it was coming, his worst weapon already gone. She heard the dreaded sound of the whip recoiling, her eyes closed, ready for the pain to end.

“Stop!” Came a pleading feminine voice from the crowd of onlookers. “Please, it was me, I showed them the way!” the voice cried.

NO! Mira shouted in her head as her closest friend pushed forward to the front, no one making any move to stop her. Her mouth could not form the words, not that they would save her. From the moment Damia claimed guilt her death was guaranteed. Still the hopeless words played over and over in Mira’s head. PLEASE, PLEASE, NO!

“I see.” White grinned as two of his smiling golems took her arms, their black claws cutting thin lines into the woman’s arms. “And why would you betray me so, slave?” He forgot Mira laying on the floor with fresh blood in his sights.

“Because I hate you.” The words were said with every scrap of venom those in the room felt for him. “I hate you so much, you sadistic bastard.”

Her head snapped back, slamming into one of the creatures masks leaving blood behind from the blow he delivered. Mira started to crawl towards them, leaving a faint red trail behind her, one arm straining to carry her to where her sister in fate was being held. “Perhaps you should feel the effects of your actions.” He said, walking behind the line of monsters. He returned, carrying a clay jar, throwing the contents on her as his minions moved away. A grin spread across his face as a single spark tossed in her direction engulfed her body in flames.

He made them stay, stay through the sounds of her shrieks, the acrid smoke drifting through them. He made them stay, reminding them why they did not disobey, why they followed blindly without hesitation or questions. For Mira, who crawled ever closer to the remains of her friend, why she would do anything to keep him from ruling the land of wonder. By the time she made it across the room, all that remained was a small golden clock, still warm from the person it once lived within. She clutched it to her chest as she continued on, forgotten by her tormenter. She nearly reached the hall when the floor shook, hard enough to bounce her poor wounded body, pulling a whimper from her lips. She could hear Whites voice as he announced something, too far gone to catch his words, the floor trembling again.

A small form ducked down in front of her, white hair swaying gently to its waist. Bejeweled eyes of pinks and reds looked down upon the faceless woman, her head cocked to the side. “You are strong for one of the unfinished ones. Had I the power still, I would give you a role this day.” Her voice lowered as the floor quaked more, “you must listen. You must find your lady and tell her, it lives.” She reached out a childlike hand, a white light beginning to shimmer around Mira, “remember, child. It lives.” A loud roar filled the room as she disappeared. The sprite like being looked out, sorrow filled eyes watching the man in the center of the room and the large black beast that barely fit in the enclosed space, before she also faded away.

Mira felt damp grass beneath her, wetting the front of her tattered gown. Her sight began to dim as sweet laughter reached her ears, her lady’s voice, playful and light. She began her tortious craw again, dragging her now numb body toward the sound of her hope, the golden clock still grasped in her hand. Her mind focused on one thing in those finial moments. “It lives, it lives, it lives.” It refrained through her head. Warm hands grasped her, gently turning her over. Sound left her, the silence deafening as the vision faded away. In the darkness, a flicker danced. A violet glow lit her from the inside, angry, determined words rung in her head as the whole of her warmed. “YOU WILL LIVE!”

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