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Chapter 6 : Midnight
Fiona’s breathing had been getting slower and slower for several hours now. The defiant dark elf made no response at all to Anton’s presence as he knelt down in front of her and raised one of her ears with the back of his finger. Her ear flopped back down limply as he let it go.
With two fingers pressed against her forehead he tilted her head back just a bit and then let her head fall back into place, still she gave no response.
Though he himself couldn’t see her face from his vantage, Kianna could and with growing anxiety she had watched her sister’s eyes go from glaring with anger to nearly comatose in just a few hours.
It was Kianna’s whining that had prompted Anton to check in on the second dark elf and he wasn’t happy with what he was looking at. He turned to Kianna with a hard look on his face.
“Hhmmph hhmm!” moaned Kianna through her gag as she looked from him to her sister and back.
“It’s her life and her choice” said Anton softly “I’m not going to save her from her own stubbornness”
Kianna’s ears pointed themselves straight upwards in panic as her eyes widened with fear.
Anton shook his head as he stood up and went back to his seat.
“HHMMMMPPHH HMPH HHMMEEPH!” cried Kianna as she struggled against her bounds.
Turning to Anton she flattened her ears back submissively and pleaded with her eyes as she continued to whine through her gag.
Anton shook his head again as he turned his gaze back to Fiona.
Shaking with desperation, Kianna pulled tight against the chain attached to her shoulder harness and lowered her body as far down as she could before arching herself to the side and twisting herself painfully at both her waist and neck until she was essentially hanging upside down. Once fully bent into this awkward position, she got her face as low as she could and began to frantically call to her sister.
Fiona continued to stare at the floor as she blatantly ignored her sister’s urgent cries. Kianna wouldn’t be discouraged however as she could still tell that she was being heard by the slight, annoyed tightening of her sister’s eye. Finally, by moving only her eyeball, Fiona looked over at her.
“Mmph hmmph mmm!” moaned Kianna as she pleaded with her sister “Humph hm!”
Fiona stared at her for a moment before further tightening her eye into a full glare and turning back to the floor with a tiny huff.
“HHHMMMPPHH!” cried Kianna as her ears pointed themselves straight back behind her head and her face became marred with a sudden, intense looking anger.
Twisting herself back into an upright position, the now furious dark elf glared at her sister and started bucking wildly on top of her sybian. Throwing her weight to the side and towards her sister’s direction she angrily began to move the weighted sybian across the hardwood floor of the dungeon until with each determined thrust she gained ground inch by inch.
Amused, Anton simply watched the spectacle without interfering.
When she had gotten as close to her sister as her chain would allow, Kianna grunted in frustration and began to cry out as loudly as she could while thrashing her body wildly back and forth.
This continued for some time until Fiona finally gave in. Her annoyance at its limit, she lifted her head with an angry sigh and shifting her whole body to the side, she turned to glare at her sister.
They made eye contact for only a fraction of a second before Kianna reared her head back and brought it down as hard as she could as she just barely managed to clip the very edge of her unsuspecting sister’s forehead.
More dazed than actually hurt from the surprise headbutting, Fiona angrily shook the shock from her vision and turned back to her sister. The rage in her eyes died immediately at the sight of her sister’s face.
Kianna’s eyes were now swimming in unshed tears. As a lasting sign of her previous anger, a tiny but dark bruise was just barely forming on her left temple. This evidence aside though her rage was completely gone and had now been replaced entirely with nothing but obvious fear and concern.
“Hhmmph! Humph hmph!” she whimpered as her heavy tears rolled down her cheeks “Meh hmph!”
Fiona lowered her ears and went to look away but was stopped short as Kianna began to thrash about in obvious panic.
“HMM! HMM MM HM!” she exclaimed as she stretched her neck out as far as she could towards her sister “HMM HMM!”
Blinking in frustration, Fiona’s eyes began to burn as they tried to form tears from nothing. Groaning with her own surge of determination, she pulled against the chain that held her in place and leaned as far to the side as she could until she was just barely able to reach her sister’s face.
Kianna immediately began to coo happily and loudly as Fiona finally reached out to her.
Pressing their foreheads together, both of the dark elves clamped their eyes shut and folded their ears back and away from their heads as they leaned against each other.
“Mmph!” groaned Fiona miserably as she rested her head against her sister’s and let her shoulders slump in exhaustion.
“Mm! Mmm, mmm…” hummed Kianna as she angled herself so as to give her sister as much support as she could provide with the awkward position that they had to work with “Mmm, mmm…”
Anton’s amusement quickly began to shift to intrigue as he watched the two dark elves. Although he was fairly familiar with dark elves as a whole, he had never before witnessed a sight quite like this one. In his experience with them he had found the dark elves to be very eccentric, domineering mavericks who maintained a constant level of independence. And although they weren’t completely heartless there was very little true compassion to be found for each other among them. Even between lovers and family members the level of care was limited and more often than not seemed to stem from a place of pride rather than out of actual love. Despite these shortcomings, the dark elves were still very gregarious creatures who did seek out and enjoy each others company, especially in casual settings. This friendly but compassion-less nature just meant that they never formed any real camaraderie with each other and only ever kept their relationships with one another at arms length. This dynamic was the only way that Anton had ever seen the dark elves function and it seemed to be the natural way that their minds worked at both their cultural and social levels.
But this was clearly not the case with these two sisters.
Not only was legitimate concern being displayed here, but it was also quite obvious that both of these two dark elves were finding relief and comfort in each others touch and presence.
Whether or not this behavior was a side of themselves that dark elves usually kept hidden away, or was in fact unique to these sisters alone, couldn’t be said. But it was certainly interesting to see nonetheless.
“Mm… mm…” hummed Kianna as she continued to murmur softly while holding her sister’s head up with her own “Mm… mm… mm…”
Fiona’s position was obviously uncomfortable for her but she continued to stay stretched and angled as she was in order to maintain her contact with her sister. After several minutes of apparent dozing her eyes suddenly shot open and immediately became panicked.
“Hm!?” mumbled Kianna as her sister started to tremble and whimper frantically.
Fiona’s eyes were pleading as she looked into her sister’s and began to buck her hips up and down as she desperately tried to escape from the sybian that was coming to life beneath her.
Kianna’s eyes widened in understanding as she realized her sister’s plight. She whined through her gag as Fiona pulled away from her and curled in on herself as she tried to power through the onslaught that was now taking place both below and within her.
“HHMMPH!” groaned Fiona as she began to thrash back and forth. With her ears now drooping in sorrow she turned to her sister and cried out in obvious distress.
“HMM HMM!” groaned Kianna as she jerked against the chain that held her in place and struggled to pull her arms free of the binder that held them folded away behind her back.
Her mind and body at their limits and desperate for any relief she could find, Fiona gathered what little strength she had left and with a surge of adrenaline she threw herself towards her sister. Nearly toppling herself over with her first attempt she managed to stay upright and with renewed vigor she kept making tiny hops until she turned herself and the sybian completely to the side and was now facing Kianna.
Kianna’s ears had pointed themselves straight upwards in excitement as she moaned frantically through her gag to cheer her sister on.
Anton had his elbow planted against the armrest of his chair and was casually leaning to the side with his cheek resting against his closed fist. He couldn’t help but to let a broad grin spread across his face as he watched the dark elves play out their little drama.
With her eyes clamped shut in determination, Fiona threw herself forward until inch by inch she came closer and closer to reaching her sister. With Kianna urging her on the dark elf leaned as far back as she could and with one last mighty thrust she covered the rest of the distance and slammed the face of her sybian straight into her sister’s. The momentum of the impact not only caused her to slump forward and land in a heap against Kianna’s shoulder but actually caused the small wired control box for the sybian to fling forward as well.
Kianna grunted as she did her best to catch her sister as softly as possible. Fiona was still trembling and whimpering as she desperately pressed herself against her sister and nuzzled her face into the crook of her neck. Kianna leaned back into her and cooing softly she tilted her head and pressed it into the back of her sister’s in an attempt to hold her steady. As she worked to comfort her sister Kianna happened to glance downwards. She stiffened and her eyes went wide as she noticed that the control box for her sister’s sybian had come to rest right next to her foot. Although her bent legs were strapped to the sides of the sybian that she sat on, and the leather cuff that was wrapped around her ankle was attached to the thick belt around her waist by a thin chain. Kianna could still move her foot outwards a bit and this tiny amount of freedom would be just enough for her to reach the little knob that stuck out from the side of the control box with her toes.
Kianna sat frozen as she stared down at the ominous little controller. Moving just her eyes she slowly looked over at Anton.
Anton’s grin faded from his face as he narrowed his eyes at the dark elf and slowly shook his head.
Staring straight at him, Kianna’s eyes tightened as her ears laid back submissively behind her head. Groaning softly, she swallowed a lump in her throat as she turned away from his gaze. Listening to her sister’s frantic whimpers the dark elf groaned miserably as she hunched in on herself. Her turmoil clear in her eyes she glanced back at Anton again before quickly looking away and staring at nothing.
Anton remained motionless as he watched the dark elf’s foot slowly begin to move.
Kianna tilted her head back just enough to see what she was doing as she grasped the controllers knob tightly between her toes. Pulling her foot inwards while keeping the side of the little box pressed against the floor and holding the knob steady caused it to twist against the rest of the controller and this simple motion was enough to fully switch the offending machine off.
The tiny click sound made by the controller rang out loudly in Kianna’s ears as she felt Fiona’s entire body immediately collapse against her as she began to moan in relief.
Moving only her eyes again, Kianna slowly looked back over at Anton. A deep chill ran up her spine and her heart sank into her chest as she watched a thin, sinister looking smile slowly spread itself across his face. Seeing that he was, at least for the moment, going to stay where he was seated the now very anxious dark elf looked away from him and whimpered nervously.
Fiona remained completely oblivious to the interaction as she laid against her sister and continued to moan softly. After a few moments she began to go quiet.
Leaning her head back so as to be able to see her sister’s face Kianna took on a look of irritation as she found her sister in the process of falling asleep against her shoulder.
“Mmph! Hmm!” she exclaimed through her gag as she began to twist her torso back and forth.
Fiona had her own annoyed look plastered on her face as she was forced to lift herself up and off of her sister. Slumping forward with her ears pointed straight back, she sat with her head hanging limp and groaned softly in irritation.
“Mm, hmph” cooed Kianna as she lowered her head down and tried to get a look at her sister’s face.
Fiona went to turn away but was stopped short when Kianna ducked her own head low and forced her sister to raise her head by pressing their foreheads together.
“Mmph! Hm, hm!” exclaimed Kianna as she tried to get her sister to look at her.
Fiona kept her eyes shut as she kept trying to pull away. Her ears went limp and hung from the sides of her head as her body was suddenly racked with a series of silent sobs.
Kianna pulled back as the look of irritation on her face melted away and became one of concern.
“Mmm?” she hummed as she watched her sister take one labored breath after another.
Leaning back in Kianna started frantically nudging at her sisters face while cooing loudly. Fiona remained still and unresponsive as she let herself be pushed back and forth but Kianna refused to give up and after several minutes of effort Fiona finally surrendered and blinked opened her eyes.
“Mm!” moaned Kianna sadly as she looked into her sister’s tormented eyes.
Fiona’s eyes had become so bloodshot with her exhaustion that they now appeared to be completely red. Although she was looking back at her sister, the dark elf had become so haggard that her eyes seemed distant and nearly devoid of life. She blinked several times and shook her head softly as she made an effort to maintain her coherency.
Kianna was motionless for several moments as she stared at her sister. With a small sound she suddenly turned and looked right at the pitcher of water before looking at Anton and turning back to Fiona.
“Mm, mm!” she exclaimed as she made sure to have her sister’s attention.
Fiona leaned back and blinked again as her eyes focused on her sister’s.
“Mmph!” declared Kianna as she ducked her head a bit and waved her ears back and forth before laying them down flat behind her head in a submissive manner.
Fiona blinked again as she creased her brow in confusion.
Mumbling in annoyance, Kianna pointed her ears straight upwards and slowly waved them back and forth again before laying them back down behind her head. She then tilted her head to the side and nodded towards Anton.
Fiona glanced over at Anton and turned back to look at her sister with the same level of confusion on her face. Kianna hunched down and sighed in irritation as she continued to raise and lower her ears. After watching this for another few moments Fiona’s eyes suddenly went wide in realization. Pointing her own ears straight back the dark elf narrowed her eyes into an angry glare and began to groan in a soft but menacing way.
Blinking in surprise, Kianna immediately pointed her ears straight back as well and returned her sisters glare as she too began to groan in her own threatening way.
The two dark elves had now both became rigid with tension as they sat completely motionless and stared each other down.
Anton sat up straight in his chair as he watched the two dark elves with a renewed vigor. Even setting the aggression aside this interaction taking place between them was certainly interesting. It was quite obvious that Kianna was attempting to convince her sister to surrender, and how she was conveying this message was through her ears.
The methods that the elven races used to communicate with their ears seemed to be instinctual rather than cultural. As the gestures, and the meanings behind them, were identical and universally understood regardless of which of the four species was utilizing them.
Even for non-elven people it was fairly easy to interpret the meanings behind many of the different gestures, with lowered or drooping ears indicating emotions along the lines of sorrow, anxiety, fear or possibly fatigue. Ears pointed straight upwards implying excitement, intrigue, alertness and sometimes panic. Ears held sharp and pointed straight back, the gesture the two dark elves were utilizing at the moment, was an obvious sign of aggression and could even be considered a warning, as the implied message was one of displeasure, annoyance, frustration and anger. This particular gesture was also seen as a kind of threat display as it was often utilized as a signal for potential, or imminent hostility.
There were other less commonly seen gestures as well, and it could easily be said that any emotion an elf was feeling could somehow be communicated through it’s ears.
The specific gesture that Kianna had displayed, and was currently attempting to convince Fiona to emulate, was one of these less commonly seen variants. And Anton had actually been giving this quite a bit of thought over the last few hours. He had witnessed this same display in the past but thinking back on it, the only other times that he could remember having ever seen this done before was when it was being preformed by younger elven children who were being scolded by their parents, older siblings or other elders. And he was a little surprised to realize that he had never actually seen another adult elf of any kind ever display this particular gesture. Or at least not one that was free.
Looking at it a little closer, this gesture began to make much more sense for it’s supposed implications.
As all elves, regardless of their particular species, were naturally very proud beings that stood tall in the knowledge that they as a whole were considered among the myriad of Terran races to be in the upper ranks when it came to magical prowess and capability. This distinction gave them all a collective arrogance, and a major sign of their status as elves would of course be their ears.
These same ears however were not only incredibly sensitive to sound but were also highly sensitive to touch, and in the minds of elves at least, would be considered one of, if not the most, vulnerable part of their anatomy. Despite this, their pride still dictated that they keep their ears out and on display as a sign of their confidence. This was an unsaid aspect of their psyche and nothing new, as even during the times of war throughout the past, none of the elves would ever wear any type of helmet or armor that would completely encompass their ears.
Taking all of this into account was certainly giving this particular gesture far more significance. As although it was similar in appearance to when an elf merely lowered it’s ears, it was also markedly different.
When this gesture was preformed the elf’s ears would not only be lowered but would also be folded down as tightly as they could be and then held pressed as far back behind their heads as possible, until the very tips of the ears were nearly touching. In this way the ears would be hidden away and be completely out of sight of anyone facing the elf. And this was where Anton was beginning to believe the true meaning behind this gesture really was.
This was not just another way to convey an emotion. This was an actual message.
It was a confession. And it seemed to mean that an elf had registered and was acknowledging that whoever was responsible for triggering this response was greater than themselves and that they were enough of a threat that the elf in question was willing to openly surrender it’s pride to them and make an attempt to protect it’s ears by hiding them away.
In other words, this was apparently an elven way of saying “You win”.
Since this gesture was clearly a signal for submission it would of course stand to reason that it could potentially hold more significance, and possibly even have a deeper meaning, to such a domineering race like the dark elves.
Both Kianna and Fiona certainly seemed to find it important. Or at least Kianna did the first time she displayed it, as since then she seemed to have no issues with performing it again and with far less fanfare than the original time.
“Humph!” exclaimed Kianna as she straightened her back as much as she could and attempted to loom over her sister.
Fiona’s glare deepened as she followed suit and both of the dark elves ended up craning their necks upwards in an effort to look down on the other.
Her irritation morphing into rage Kianna reared her head back as she projected her intentions to headbutt her sister.
Realizing what she was about to do, Fiona blinked and dropped herself back. With a quiet groan her face became strained and she shook her head as her fatigue resurfaced. Kianna’s face softened as she watched her sister’s ears suddenly go limp and her entire being slump to the side as she fought to remain upright.
“Hmm!” moaned Kianna as she leaned forward and nuzzled her face against her sister’s.
Fiona clamped her eyes shut and started to tremble as she pressed herself back against her sister.
“Humph! Hm, hm!” whimpered Kianna as she worked to lift her exhausted sister and help her stay upright.
The two dark elves both ended up slumped against each other as they pressed their foreheads together so as to be able to look into each others eyes.
“Mm, hmph!” pleaded Kianna as she again moved her ears up and down before laying them flat behind her head.
Fiona’s eyes were sorrowful as she tentatively shook her head.
“HMM!” exclaimed Kianna as her eyes welled with tears and she began to sob “MM MM! MM MM!”
Fiona was still for several moments as she watched her sister’s thin tears slowly roll down her cheeks. With an exhausted sigh she pulled herself away and sat slumped with her head hanging limp. After another moment of stillness she slowly lifted and then turned her head enough to lock eyes with Anton.
The dark elf’s eyes were full of raw hatred as she glared at him and pointed her ears straight back behind her head.
Anton’s expression was stoic as he folded his arms over his chest.
“Mmph!” cried Kianna as she leaned forward and bumped her sister’s forehead with her own “Mm mm!”
Fiona turned her glare on her sister and huffed in indignation.
Kianna started whimpering softly in encouragement as she stared back with pleading eyes.
Fiona sighed and shut her eyes as she let her head fall forward. After a moment of stillness she finally gave in and looked back up at Anton. The defiant dark elf’s ears were still pointing straight back as she stared at him. Her exhaustion showed clearly in her eyes as her gaze became locked to his. With another tiny sigh she twisted her torso at the waist until her shoulders lined back up with her head and she was fully facing him.
As Anton watched the last of the emotion drained from Fiona’s eyes and she slowly lowered her ears before folding them back behind her head. With her ears now laid back submissively, the dark elf kept her eyes on his as she lowered her head and hunched down onto her shoulders.
Anton’s face remained stoic as he nodded softly.
“Okay, this is interesting…” he whispered to himself “Very, very interesting…”
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