Chapter 6 : Late evening
The room was silent for a long moment as the three motionless beings all stared at one another.
Without a word, Anton shifted his eyes away from Olivia and locked them with the huli jing’s.
The fox girl stared back at him for a moment before raising her hands as a show of parlay.
“The night is yours.” she said softly as her dagger disappeared and she held her now empty palms out in surrender.
Anton nodded before turning back to Olivia. The dark elf jumped as Anton’s bubble disappeared and instantly reappeared as a shrunken down version that now surrounded only her.
“I think I could do with something sweet right about now…” mumbled Anton as he turned back to the huli jing “What would you recommend for dessert?”
Blinking, the huli jing quickly clasped her hands together as she recomposed herself.
“As a seasonal treat, we are currently offering fresh mulberry cobbler with a side of cinnamon flavored ice cream.” she said in a cheerful tone “It’s quite a delightful experience, and one that I would highly recommend.”
“That sounds lovely. I’ll take an order of that, please.” said Anton with a nod.
“Excellent choice, Sir. I’ll be back with your order in just a moment.” said the huli jing as she gave Anton a light bow and nervously tapped on the the disc to deactivate the ward before quickly disappearing from the room.
Moments later, the fox girl, now sporting three tails, returned with Anton’s treat before bowing again and quickly retreating from the tension filled room.
Alone again, Anton tapped his disc and reactivated the rooms privacy ward.
“Alright then…” he sighed as he turned his attention away from Olivia and glanced down at his dessert “I guess I need to decide what to do with you now…”
Olivia said nothing as she narrowed her eyes and stared at him.
“Hm, so let’s see here…” hummed Anton as he dropped his aura field from around the dark elf and spread it back out to fill the room and leave them both locked behind two barriers now “So, aside from the gun, the fox assassin, the poisoned green beans, the tiny glass shards in my drink, and the booby trapped chair… Did you have anymore surprises planned for the evening?”
“…So you found all that?” questioned Olivia as she tightened her jaw in irritation “…How are you still alive then? You should be dead twice over by now.”
“How indeed…” mumbled Anton.
“…What are you? Some kind of undead? …Or a type of Voidling? One that can put himself back together?” questioned Olivia as she watched him eat a small spoonful of ice cream “…Answer me!”
Anton casually finished a bite of cobbler before glancing up at the waiting dark elf.
“Do you really think that you’re in any position to be demanding answers from me?” he asked calmly before turning his attention back to his food “What I am, and how I am alive, is no business of yours. You have more important matters to be concerned with right now.”
“Such as?” mumbled Olivia.
“Such as convincing me not to test whether or not you would survive everything that I’ve gone through tonight.” said Anton nonchalantly “I don’t think that you would. But who knows? Maybe you’ll prove me wrong.”
“Spare me your arrogance.” said the dark elf as she pointed her ears straight back behind her head “You may be more difficult to kill than the average person, but that only changes so much. I’m not afraid of you.”
“You don’t have to be afraid of me to be burnt by my flames, Olivia.” said Anton calmly “Bravery will not save you from incineration.”
Olivia was silent for a moment as she stared at him.
“…If you expect me to beg, you’re going to be disappointed.” she said callously.
“No. I don’t need you to beg.” said Anton as he shook his head “Honestly, for the moment at least, all I want from you is a bit of cooperation.”
“…Cooperation?” questioned Olivia.
“Yes. I have questions for you. There are a few things I still don’t understand.” said Anton as he met her eyes “Have a conversation with me. And answer my questions, truthfully. For the moment, that’s all I ask.”
Olivia said nothing as she stared back at him.
“…Make no mistake, dark elf. My curiosity is the only reason that you are still sitting there comfortably.” said Anton “I will get the answers I seek from you. One way or another. And I would imagine that having a simple conversation with me would be far more comfortable for you than experiencing the agony of having all your memories ripped away from your living essence… But perhaps you disagree?”
Scowling, Olivia looked off to the side before leaning back in her seat with a sign.
“Fine, you filth…” she growled as she picked up her wine glass “What are your questions?”
“…Hm. You know, you do so remind me of your daughters.” chuckled Anton “I can see where they get their attitudes from.”
“Are insults really necessary?” muttered Olivia “Or will you not be satisfied until I’m as miserable as possible?”
“…Is being compared to your daughters really an insult to you?” questioned Anton as he arched an eyebrow at the dark elf.
Olivia said nothing as she narrowed her eyes at him.
“…Hm, well? Is it?” prompted Anton.
“Can we just move on, please…” growled Olivia “I’d really like to just get this over with as quickly as possible, if you don’t mind…”
“I don’t mind at all. But if you want this to end, then you’ll need to answer my questions.” said Anton calmly “…All of them.”
“Oh for the love of… Fine!” hissed Olivia through her teeth “Yes. It is.”
“Why?” asked Anton.
“Because I can not stand those two! Or the thought that I am connected to them in any way. Plain and simple.” said Olivia in a annoyed tone as her eyes began to glow with an angry red light “And so the last thing I want is to be told that I am similar to them, or that they are similar to me…”
Taken aback, Anton was still for a moment as he stared at the furious looking dark elf.
“…You can’t stand them?” he questioned in a perplexed tone “…Why?”
“…Because they exist.” mumbled Olivia before taking a sip of her wine “They’re both nothing but failures and burdens… The fact that I’m stuck here tonight dealing with this nonsense because of them is prove enough of that…”
The room was quiet for a moment as Anton stared at Olivia and watched her as she looked off to the side at nothing. Once again, a deep anger could be seen forming in her eyes as her mind seemed to go distant.
“…I don’t understand? If you can’t stand them, then why even bother going to all this trouble for them?” asked Anton “Why not just be done with them instead?”
“Because regardless of how I might feel about them, they’re still my daughters.” said Olivia “They belong to me. And I’m sure as Hell not going to just sit by and let some random human… thing, or whatever you are, take them from me.”
“…I see.” said Anton with a nod “…Well. This is certainly an interesting development. …I can’t say that I was expecting this kind of response from you, to be honest.”
“And I’m afraid that I couldn’t care less about what you were expecting…” sighed Olivia “Now if we could just move on to your next question, so that we can be done with this nightmare of a night already, that would be wonderful…”
Going still as he gazed at the dark elf, Anton took a moment to put his thoughts together before he finally spoke again.
“…Who are you, Olivia?” he asked softly.
“Excuse me?” replied the dark elf.
“Who are you?” repeated Anton “Honestly that question sums up everything I want to know… So, again, who are you?”
“You know who I am.” mumbled Olivia “What asinine game are you trying to play here?”
“I know your name, yes. But I don’t know who you are.” stated Anton “And ultimately that’s what I want to know. So let’s just cut to the root of this. I want to know who you are, where you came from, and how you came to be this way… So tell me, in your own words… Who are you, Olivia Vale?”
Staring at him for a moment, Olivia lightly tilted her head in surprise as she seemed to find actual sincerity in his eyes.
“…And why in the world would you want to know all of that?” she asked callously “What good would having any of that information even do for you?”
“…I want to know, because I want to understand you.” explained Anton “I want to understand why your relationship with your daughters is so strained. And why you’ve chosen to keep their Father out of their lives. I want to know why you’ve done the things you’ve done. Made the decisions that you’ve made… I want to know, why you are the way you are…”
“…Why I am the way I am?” repeated Olivia as she narrowed her eyes “And what exactly do you mean by that?”
“What I mean, is that your daughters don’t know anything about dark elves as a whole. They don’t know anything about their own culture, or their peoples way of life. They barely seem to have any understanding about their species specific quirks, or their abilities… They have no idea what they’re even capable of… Now why is that the case?” said Anton “Why don’t you have anything to do with other dark elves? And if you do, then why are you keeping your daughters away from them? Where is your family? And why were you never taught how to use your magic? Or if you were, then why would you hide the fact that you can? And why did you choose not to teach your own daughters how to use theirs? …I don’t understand any of this, Olivia. …I don’t understand, why you are, the way you are?”
Olivia was still for a moment before she turned to face Anton fully.
“You seem to have a lot of interest in things that are none of your business.” she whispered softly.
“Anything and everything that concerns the girls is my business now.” replied Anton in his own soft but firm tone “They have been neglected their entire lives. They were left powerless, and adrift in a sea of questions with no answers in sight… And I want to know if this was done on purpose or not… I have my suspicions that it wasn’t, but I want you to confirm that. I want you to help me to understand all of this. Again, I want you to tell me, exactly, why things are, the way they are…”
Olivia was quiet for a long moment as she seemed to be assessing the man in front of her.
“…You want honesty from me. And understanding. Fine. I will oblige. But in exchange I demand the same in kind.” she said at last “I have questions as well, answer them. And I will answer yours.”
“…Alright. If that’s what it’s going to take to make this easier, then so be it.” said Anton as he nodded slowly “Ask your questions. And if I can answer them, then you have my word that I will.”
Olivia was quiet for another moment before she spoke again.
“In our last encounter, my daughters were using their magic. They have never been able to use magic before. And yet now all of a sudden they can…” said Olivia as she tightened her eyes in question “Tell me, did you have anything to do with that?”
“Yes, I did.” said Anton with another nod “They can use their magic now, because of my help.”
Olivia stared at him for a moment before shifting her eyes to the side and going still.
“…They have a ways to go still. But already they show plenty of promise.” said Anton as the silence began to drag “It won’t be long before they both become powerful sorceresses… You, yourself, have seen the signs of this first hand…”
“…And why exactly did you help them?” asked the dark elf.
“Because I wanted to.” said Anton nonchalantly “And I’m not being facetious with that answer. That is legitimately why I did it.”
Seemingly mulling over this information, Olivia continued to stare off to the side for a bit before bringing her eyes back to Anton.
“…If you’re wondering whether or not the same methods that I used to teach them with, would work with you. Then the answer is more than likely yes.” said Anton “And depending on how the rest of this night goes… This may be a conversation that I would be willing to continue with you, at some point…”
“…Absolutely not. You can keep your methods to yourself.” said Olivia “I will not live in your debt. And so I will not ask you how this was done.”
“…Very well.” nodded Anton “I can understand that.”
Olivia kept her eyes on him for a moment longer before finally looking away again.
“On second thought, I think I’d rather not know anything more about you… Let’s just get the rest of this over with…” she mumbled before swallowing the last of her wine.
Anton said nothing as he watched her refill her glass.
“There’s a lot of background information that goes into your questions… So I suppose the easiest place to start would be at the beginning…” said Olivia as she placed the wine bottle back onto the table “I don’t appreciate having to repeat myself, so pay close attention…”
Bringing his eyes to the dark elf’s face, Anton went still as he waited for her to continue.
After taking a quick sip of wine, and settling into her seat, Olivia began to speak.
“I have never known my Father, I don’t even know if he is even still alive. And if he is, I don’t know whether or not he is even aware that I exist… I do intend to seek him out at some point. But I will do so in my own time.” started Olivia as she stared at her glass and started lightly tilting it back and forth “As for my Mother, she was, or is, not a dark elf… I can only remember her faintly, and so I can not tell exactly what she is, but she seems to be humanoid in nature. So either a human, or perhaps a dwarf… She cared for me, but she also feared me… Even when so young, I could still see the fear in her eyes… That is actually my clearest memory of her… Her fear…”
Anton remained silent as he let the dark elf speak.
“When I was just under 2 years old, she left me at an orphanage… I won’t bore you by giving you a full retelling of my time there, suffice to say it was pleasant enough, if a bit lonely and dull. I was well cared for, but I was never adopted… I supposed there is probably someone out there who would be willing to bring a young dark elf into their home. But I never met them…” said Olivia as she continued to stare at her glass “When I came of age, I set out to find my own way in the world. And at that time, I considered seeking out my own kind, but decided against it as I felt that I would not be accepted by them. For you see, I couldn’t use my magic. I was, and still am, a completely magic-less dark elf… And while this has made things difficult for me at times, it was honestly a sort of comfort to me as well. As it explained why I was abandoned by my parents. They knew I would be magic-less. That I was a broken child, and unfit to be kept… And this was something my young mind could understand. To me, this was even reasonable… Those around me did their best to assure me, many times over, that this wasn’t the case. They forever claimed that they could find nothing that was actually wrong with me. But even still, my abilities never developed. And it didn’t matter what I did, or how many courses or classes I was put into, nothing ever worked. I was born a magic-less child, and I would stay that way.”
Clenching his jaw, Anton worked to keep the frustration he felt from showing on his face.
If the dark elves weren’t so keen on keeping themselves as mysterious as possible, then those caring for Olivia would have had a better understanding of her, and this poor child wouldn’t have been left to suffer in confusion and doubt.
It was an unfortunate and aggravating circumstance. And one that he could potentially help to change with the book he had been thinking about writing.
“I was powerless when I took my first step out into the world. But I would not stay that way. I had long ago vowed that I would prove my worth to those who had abandoned me. And while I had no magic available to me, I knew that money could be just as if not even more powerful than any magic could be. And so with my goal in mind, I set out to build myself a fortune.” continued Olivia “I knew that there were companies out there that were capable of generating vast amounts of money seemingly overnight. But I had little knowledge on how the internal workings of such companies functioned. And so while working on getting myself a degree in business, I searched for a job at the most successful companies that I could find in my area… And after a bit of a difficult road, I finally found an investment firm that was willing to hire me…”
Going still for a moment of reminiscence, Olivia took a small sip of her wine before continuing.
“If I had known what I would find in that cesspool… I never would have walked through those doors… But sadly that’s exactly what I did…” she said through her clenched teeth “As a student still in the process of acquiring my degree, I came on as little more than an intern. This was fine with me though. As even though my position wasn’t glamorous, I could still use the real world experience from this job as credits towards my degree. Over all, my initial position was rather dull, as I was essentially a gopher for those directly above me. Luckily though, my superiors refrained from giving me any tasks that were too demeaning. I assume they were afraid of inciting my ire, making this an instance in which being seen as a monster actually worked to my benefit. Be that as it may though, it wasn’t long before all of the upper management, as well as all four of the company’s owners, were well aware of my existence… And one owner in particular, quickly took notice of me…”
Tilting her glass back and forth, Olivia seemed to contemplate taking another sip before apparently thinking better of it and continuing.
“He was the eldest of the owners, and in the beginning I thought he was an elder relative of the other three, as all four of them were human men. But that turned out to not to be the case, as none of them were actually related. This man was a bit of an eccentric, and he took a vested interest in me right away. And while I at first thought him to be something of an idiot, I did find the fact that he wasn’t afraid of me somewhat refreshing… Unlike the others in the company who were worried that I would scare away clients, simply because of what I was, he instead saw potential in me…” said Olivia as she continued to stare at her glass “He wanted to start including me in his meetings immediately. And when others would argue against this, he would say… ‘People are only afraid of monsters when they’re not on their side. When they are though, they love them. What’s more comforting than to know that a monster has your back? Nothing! And she’s a dark elf! Which is second only to a demon in most peoples minds. No. No, no, she’s not going to frighten anyone away. Mark my words! She will give our clients confidence in us. People are going to love her!’ …That’s what he claimed.”
With a small smile on her face, Olivia took a quick sip before going on.
“And he was right. It was just as he said. People would be nervous when first meeting me, of course, but they would quickly warm to the idea of having me on their side. They couldn’t wait to shake my hand. They’d even get excited about that idea… And it wasn’t long before these successes were noticed, and the others were trying to include me in as many of their meetings as they could as well… Raises and bonuses in the form of gifts, such as jewelry and accessories, were soon to follow. And in order to uphold the ‘ professionalism of our company’, I was encouraged to shop at certain places and dress in certain ways… In those early days, in my youthful naivete, I saw all this as them training me. Setting me up for success. When in reality, none of them were actually taking me seriously in any way. It was only my presence that they were interested in. Which was why I needed to look my best, for them, and for the company… That’s all I was though. Something nice to look at. I might as well have been a part of the furniture for all I really mattered… I was little more than a mascot. A pet on display… But all that would change once I finished with my schooling, and I had my degree.”
Pausing for a moment to finish the last few sips of her wine, Olivia glanced at Anton before looking away again.
“All of this will be relevant in the end.” she said as she made to refill her glass “Though I do apologize if this part of the story may be boring you…”
“Not at all.” said Anton as he shook his head “Please, continue.”
“…Very well.” said Olivia as she settled back into her seat “As I was saying, once I had my degree, I insisted on taking a more active role during the meetings. My mentor was hesitant about this at first, but I quickly proved that I had been paying attention this whole time. And that I was far more capable at negotiations than I seemed. When this became apparent, he was delighted. And I was given more and more opportunities to prove myself. It wasn’t long before my record of success began to surpass my seniors, and eventually even rival those of the owners… Almost overnight, I was a star, a key player in the company. But I wasn’t satisfied with just that. Success meant nothing without money after all. And money had always been my goal. So once I had proven just how much money I could bring into the company, I made my move… I still remember that morning, and the look on my mentor’s face, when I demanded to be made a partner in the company. There wasn’t a hint of surprise in his eyes, he merely nodded, and invited me to sit down and plead my case. And when I did, and was finished, he began to speak… That was when I discovered just how ruthless this man really was. You see, I had always thought that there was some kind of connection between him and the other owners, but that wasn’t the case. The other three were merely a means to an end for him. And while he had no ill will towards any of them, profits split four ways was already a stretch, and five ways would be out of the question. Someone, or someones, were going to have to go. And as I was already proving myself to be quite the asset, I was clearly in the staying group. From that point on, we began to have discussions in secret as we developed our coup against the other owners… Unfortunately, at that time I had yet to learn the art of discretion, and so it wasn’t long before suspicions began to develop. Not that I cared, of course. I was young, arrogant, and in my own mind, invincible…”
Pausing again, Olivia’s eyes went distant and took on a haunted cast as she slowly sipped away at her wine.
For his part, Anton remained patient and merely waited for her to eventually continue. After topping off her glass with a sigh, she finally did.
“It was my own confidence that was my undoing.” said Olivia as her expression hardened “As I said before, I was arrogant. And that arrogance clouded my judgment enough that I hadn’t noticed just how much resentment was being directed towards me. Nor had I any idea that I was being watched as closely as I was… Again, I hadn’t yet learned to be discrete with my life… And so it was an easy task for those bastards to learn everything there was to know about me… They knew where I lived, where I had went to school, and even where I had grown up. They knew that I had been orphaned, and was alone… They knew that no one would come for me… That no one would even know I was gone… And most importantly, they figured out that I was powerless, and essentially harmless…”
Registering the shift in tone that this story was taking, Anton stayed still and said nothing.
“Money had always been my motivation. And so when one of the other owners approached me with a deal that could have potentially been better than what I had with my mentor, I was willing to hear him out… This man was years ahead of me when it came to experience in negotiations, and he played me like a fool… Looking back, the gap in skill between us was so obvious. He would tell me just enough to get me interested, before abruptly ending the conversation for one reason or another. This went on for a few days before he finally invited me to continue the conversation with him in a more discrete setting. He claimed he had a place where we could speak privately and for as long as we wanted to, without interruption. And so we made arrangements to meet there one night. He gave me a preset portal token, and when I used it, I was taken to a house on a private beach that was surrounded by large rocks and high cliffs.” explained Olivia as she stared down into her wineglass and let her eyes once again go distant in memory “Still convinced of my own invincibility, the thought that a mere human could ever be an actual threat to me never even crossed my mind… I was stupidly naive… I really did think I was invincible… And I would soon be proven wrong…”
Saying nothing, Anton slowly set his jaw.
“I was annoyed when I found all three of the younger owners there, and even more so when they began to laugh and toy with me…” said Olivia “It took me far too long to realize I was trapped… And by the time I did, it was too late…”
“Wait, Olivia. We don’t need to…” started Anton.
He stopped when the dark elf eyed him with annoyance.
“You said you wanted to understand, right? Isn’t that what you’ve going on and on about this whole time!? Well now you’re going to shut up and listen until you do…” growled Olivia before dropping her eyes back down and continuing “I was a prisoner now, and the first thing my captors did was try to enslave me… Apparently they found the idea of a dark elf slave to be very entertaining… Fortunately for me though, their curses wouldn’t work. None of them did. No matter how many times, or different methods that they tried. Nothing ever worked. So then they gave up on that idea, and did the next best thing they could… They chained me up, and beat me until I couldn’t fight them anymore… This happened again and again. Day in and day out… I refused to fully break for them though, so they eventually changed their tactics, and an endless train of elixirs, love potions and mind altering drugs soon followed… They used anything and everything they could get their hands on… I don’t think that there was anything that I ate in house that wasn’t laced with something… All this in an effort to make me break for them, which I still refused to do… Over time though, the drugs kept getting more and more powerful, and exotic… After a while, they even got desperate enough to start trying weirder things… Demonic things… Things like aphrodisiacs, and even, fertility drugs…”
Staring at the dark elf, Anton paused as the realization of what she just said reached him. His breath became locked in his chest as his heart sank and his eyes widened.
“…Oh no.” he whispered softly to himself as he closed his eyes and shook his head “Oh, please no…”106 Views