Iselora rolled to her side and groaned. Her body ached from the night before. The purification ritual was taking a toll on her body again. With a sigh, Iselora sat on the edge of her bed, nausea overwhelming her senses, further indicating her weakened state. Several years ago, Iselora was found at the base of the tower of the Minders. After much deliberation, the Minders decided to take in the dirty child lost in the woods. Iselora does not know whether it was done from mercy or desire. Iselora’s appearance showed hints of High Elves blood but it must have been muddied by another species that is unidentifiable. A knock brought Iselora back to reality. After taking a deep breath she rose to answer the door. As Iselora expected two Minders were waiting to enter. “The child is rude, Maude, ″ the first Minder said in a nasally voice, Maude snickered. “The child is slow Gillian″ Maude replied in a gnarled voice. Both Minders cackled as they pushed their way into the room carrying a wrinkled brown package. Their appearances were almost identical except for the color of their eyes. Maude’s eyes were a bright yellow that seemed to continuously glow, while Gillian had eyes as black as night. Both colors were a near perfect fit to their personalities. The women that stood before Iselora must have been tall centuries ago, during their youth. Over time, gravity pushed their backs into a step curve causing them to form more of a spherical shape; their faces almost level with their waists. The amount of wrinkles that covered their face and hands would not have been able to total the amount of years they have been in this world. They held an ancient power and did not shy away from using it on the girl they had taken in.
Iselora was used to their ways, “My deepest apologies for keeping you waiting. May I offer some tea as a proper apology?” she curtsied low as a sign of respect. Both women sneered at the sight. Even when curtsied, Iselora was taller than both of the women.There are other Minders that patrol the human and night realms, but Maude and Gillian are two of the strongest from either realm. This meant that they considered their words to be law. “The child thinks we have time for tea. Stupid child”, Maude spoke with anger. “Child, sit.” Maude lifted her crooked, boney finger towards a seat in front of a mirror. Iselora quickly sat as to not provoke the women. The Minders turned their attention towards the package that they had carried in. Gillian placed the crinkled paper on bed and began to unwrap its contents. Through the mirror’s reflection Iselora saw a flourish of red as it unfurled from its packaged state. Iselora swallowed hard, terror building inside of her chest. Something was not adding up and red flags were going off everywhere. Before Iselora could entertain any possibilities, Maude and Gillian were hovering over her, eyes sparking with malice. “The child needs another lesson of respect Maude”, Gillian cackled while imagining the torture she wished to inflict on Iselora. “There is no time dear, the child is expected to be delivered soon. He is offering a magnificent payment for muddied blood”. Maude whispered lovingly to her counterpart. Iselora’s ears pricked at the Minders referring to someone actually wanting to purchase her. The thought of it made her chest tighten even further. The Minders simultaneously picked up on Iselora’s tense body language and smiled with more cruelty than before. “The child is being promised for payment. But, the child has to be presentable.” Gillian chimed as she roughly grabbed a fist full of Iselora’s hair. The deep red strands spilling from the old woman’s grip looked like fresh blood flowing from her fingers. Iselora flinched as her hair was pulled taunt and then suddenly, the pressure was gone. The only sound was the high pitched cackling that came from the two women holding freshly cut hair. Iselora stared in disbelief as Gillian let the loose clump fall to the floor. Tears began to sting at Iselora’s eyes as her hair was grabbed over and over until all that was left were a few straggling pieces clinging to her scalp. The Minders could not stop laughing at the torment that was being inflicted towards their ward.
As the last handful of hair fell to the floor Gillian tossed the shears on the bed and turned back to inspect her work as if she was inspecting a painting. Maude spoke up first,“Get yourself presentable. We will be back at sunset.” Iselora nodded in acknowledgment as Maude and Gillian left the room whispering to each other in excitement. Iselora’s crumpled, defeated figure was left seated in front of the mirror, staring at the massacre that had just occurred to her hair. As Iselora raised her head to look at herself, a small scream escaped from her lips. Her face had morphed. Iselora inspected the stranger’ face in the mirror. Thin lines of red streamed down the face from bright red eyes. A shaky hand reached up to touch the vivid color and came away with the warm red liquid. After inspecting her fingertips, Iselora’s mind finally clicked in a realization that she was indeed crying blood. Iselora returned her face to the mirror to find that her eyes had reverted back to their natural hazel color, but the blood remained on her cheeks. Iselora quickly collected herself and cleaned her face. After what seemed to be hours, Iselora turned towards the dress. The true meaning of the dress was unknown, but to Iselora the dress meant freedom.