The dancer awoke to find herself on her back atop a table, her feet and hands bound. Her wrists were raised above her head and tied down to something. She squirmed in frustration, her breathing heavy and fast.

She glanced about, found him there, in the room with her, half way hidden in shadow, a ludicrous grin across his face.

Sakura gasped.

He’s going to kill me.

“She told you not to harm me.”

Giggling, he came into the light. “I’m the Spider of Yukai City. No one tells me what to do. Besides, after I’ve devoured you, I will disappear. That witch bitch and her apprentice are transient visitors to be gone soon after this conflict is over, but I… I will remain in the city, as I have always done.”

“Why”—she could hardly get the words out for her shaking—“why am I not dead yet, then?”

He laughed. “Curious, aren’t you?” He came closer, looked down upon her. “I like that. And so I shall answer you.” He put a hand on her thigh.

Sakura tried to jerk away at his touch, not out of anger, but pure repulsion and disgust, but she had nowhere to recoil to.

This little wretch stroked her thigh, Sakura’s silken kimono barely covering her upper legs. His eyes were not lascivious in that way, though. No, he wanted something else entirely.

“I like to eat my prey alive, squirming in my web.”

Her lower lip trembled as she tried to suck in a breath of air, but her chest felt constricted, as if she had been wrapped in a coil of thick rope keeping her from taking in another breath.

“You’re mad,” she said, tears streaming down her face. “You’re utterly mad!”

He cackled in what she thought pure delight. It was exactly what he wanted—what this killer lived for, and she was giving it to him. She felt angry now. She had to do something. Surely there was something she could do. She squirmed and thrashed, he howled with laughter and delight.

And then an idea came to her.

“I—“ she said, but the words didn’t come out very well. “I can squirm more if you release my hands.”

“What?” he said in surprise? “What’s this?

“What?” she asked him.

He took a step back, his head cocked to the side. “Never before has my prey said such a thing to us. Isn’t that right, Nazrednas?”

She said nothing in response to his addressing of some other person. Whoever he spoke to, that… person… wasn’t present, which only served to reveal his madness even more. Though Sakura didn’t need these indications to know he was utterly insane.

She could see it in his mind with her gifts.

“They always squeal, ‘please, please let me go—please don’t kill me, I will do anything’” he said mockingly. “Always so predictable,” he added, looking past her, then he turned, his eyes locking with hers so sharply Sakura almost recoiled with fright.

“Do you want to play, beautiful kitten?”

What could she say to a question like that? He might be mad, but he’s not an idiot!

“I just—I just want to have a chance to escape.”

Gahhhahahaha!!!” he laughed so hard and with such exuberance the dancer jerked in surprise. “Perhaps I shouldn’t eat you yet. We can have so much fun.”

He moved to the side of the table where her hands were bound. She felt him cutting at her bindings. Her hands, they were loose, but still tied together.

She looked at her wrists, a breath of fresh air coming into her. She had some time. Maybe not much, but he wanted to “play” so she would play!

“My feet,” she suggest. “I can barely move.”

He looked toward her feet, bound together, but also to the table. “Oh yes,” he said, seeming to remember he had her securely fastened to the table on both sides. He released her, unbinding her feet completely.

Sakura sat up. She looked at him for a moment, her eyes going to the stairs leading up toward the light, the soft sound of thunder rumbling over the city. “I can try to run?”

Grin widening to reveal his sharp, cracked teeth, his eyes also brightening as he nodded. “Yes!” He turned slightly, his countenance changing somewhat. “I know—I know. She’ll be coming soon, to take her away. We can’t let that happen, now can we?”

Hurriedly, Sakura hopped off the table, looked at him one last time. He fingered the edge of his blade. He wanted to stick that knife in her belly and kill her, watch her, talk to her as she bled out in his arms.

The dancer shivered. She wanted to wretch in front of him, but she wouldn’t. This was her chance at escape. He nodded. “Go, little kitten. Run!”

Needing no farther encouragement, she did as he bid, hardly believing that he would allow her to try to escape.

He wants something new, but I can use this opportunity to get away from him—and if I can’t, I’ll give him something new!

No longer hesitating, Sakura scrabbled up the stairs. She was unimpeded by her hiyori geta, wearing only her tabi socks now.


About the author


Bio: "I’m a businessman. My family has a seat in the Dwarven Merchants Guild. Merchants buy and sell goods. Businessmen buy and sell stores. In my spare time, I manage a spy network. And occasionally, I write books."--Varric Tethras

Wakiagaru is complete.
The Reconnoiters is complete.
More stories on the way.

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