* * *
Next thing she knew, someone slapped her across the face so hard it split her lip and flung the other side of her face into the beam. She would have registered immense pain, except what was in front of her stole every bit of her attention. She sensed the emotions coming off of the person joining her in the cavernous space. If pure evil were a feeling, this would be it; hatred, jealousy, rage, loathing, greed, mistrust hit her all at once, and then she tried to shut them out. She pushed against it with her mind, despite the throbbing in her head. She had minimal success, making it slightly less overwhelming. She could make out a shadow of someone hunchbacked. From what little she could make out, it looked like he, or she, had been born with some hideous deformities. It seemed lopsided. One arm appeared to be longer than the other. Its breath smelled like putrid sewage … no that wasn’t it; it smelled of death. She could also hear the voices of several others behind her, but they weren’t speaking a language she understood.
Then a high, whiny voice spoke in English. “How is it you know Nias, what business does he have with you, human?”
Fuck, fuck, fuck, did it just say human like it wasn’t one? She only wanted to go back home. She wanted to wake up from this whole nightmare. She began crying again, and she couldn’t breathe right. The chains were too tight and she couldn’t calm herself.
She was screaming again!
“Stop!” It slapped her, hard. “What is your business with Nias? Answer me or I will not continue to be so kind,” it whined in a macabre, singsong manner.
Although fearful, she felt compelled to lie. “I don’t know who that is! I have no idea who…what do you want from me?” she managed to choke out through the blood running from her mouth.
It tore through her shirt with a razor-sharp claw, drawing down her chest, diagonally over her breast, across the chains, ripping across her stomach. She cried out and then bit her bleeding lip. The nails made a scratching noise as they pulled over the last of her bindings. Sharp pains were now emanating from her torso in concert with the continued pulsing in the back of her skull.
“Do not lie to me, I saw you transcend in with him! You were in his home; I saw you converse. What did you discuss?”
Her vision was hazy and she wasn’t sure what she should say. She didn’t want to make it angrier, but she had the feeling giving it too much information was definitely a bad idea. Actually, she couldn’t think of a good idea at all.
“Speak!” It ran one of its razors slowly down her arm.
It was horrifying, but the feeling of being trapped and powerless over the situation was starting to make her angry, despite her terror. She clenched her teeth and began to struggle again, but this time with fury. She shoved aside the pain and pushed back at it with her mind, grabbing the emotions within its head and twisting them. She attached herself to the darkness within it and it consumed her; she knew it would, but she also knew it would only last until she gained control.
When attempting to alter someone’s emotional state, she used the opposite emotion to push it out. Her success varied. It depended a lot on how in touch with the opposing emotion she could get, and how strong the target was. Although the utter darkness and pure hatred was heavy and difficult to move, she found its self-doubt and the creature allowed her manipulate it; at least, she hoped, enough to get it to stop injuring her. She tried her best to channel pleasure until she could feel its hate dissipate, if only slightly. Unfortunately, she was finding it a little difficult to find any pleasant images to pull from. She only wished hate could move hate. She was feeling plenty of that and channeling it could have knocked the fucking thing on its putrid ass.
Jade thought she would try to trick it into letting her go. She tried to speak evenly. “I was taken by the man you’re referring to, but I’m not sure how.” The best lies were always the ones that contain at least minimal truth. “I have no idea what he wanted from me. What is it you want from me?” Her anger and pain were starting to make her breathless.
“I need to know what the Djinn are planning. They are a bad lot. They hurt people, did you know this?” It continued in its high-pitched, unholy melody. She could sense immediately it was lying to her but decided to play along.
“I didn’t, but I knew when he abducted me that he had bad intentions. I was afraid for my life.” Yeah, does this stupid thing not get that I am afraid for my life now?
“Yesss,” it hissed, “you were right to fear for your safety, you are much safer now.”
Really? Did it really just rip its claws through my body and tell me I was safe? She had to get out of here. The pain in her head was abating, but it was starting to swim now, probably from blood loss.