eight years

It had been difficult, at first, to take the patrician lords of Nodens seriously: to see fish boiled alive for their changing colors or birds roasted in flight, caught by swooping serve-droids, to be prepared and eaten while still hot from the targeting lasers.

She had even laughed, one day, when Rufin Taurias sent out a troop of slave children dressed as gladiators to fight with a gaggle of rotund, white-furred beasts for his guests’ dinner entertainment. Eight years had not dulled that lingering shame, but she had not realized, she had not known–

Kharamaneh still remembered the screams, the stares of laughing contempt, and the splashing gray flood from a fighting-beast’s heart when its own master struck it down mid-lunge. She remembered Taurias bellowing in alarm; the shriek and cringe of the other beasts, shying from the whips yet scrabbling with pathetic thirst for the blood of their own kind on the floor. She remembered the frail heat of a boy’s thin body in her arms, and the fear, and the hate, and the feral wonder in his eyes.

Eight years.

It seemed that he, too, remembered.

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