The slap was resounding, sending me stumbling back. I tripped over a low table, falling heavily. Stars danced in my skull, and my tongue ached where I nipped it.
"Hey now," Kurlog said, voice rumbling in the room. "Don't go damaging the goods."
"What are you on about?" My vision was clearing, so I could see Besedie glaring at the big warrior.
Kurlog stepped away from Steven. "Don't rough her up. I don't want any marks on my girl."
I stiffened, but remained on the floor. Better to remain low while they had their conflict. I could just see Rhaelgyr at the edge of my vision, and his eyes were open. He remained motionless, so I reached out to his mind.
Pain sent me reeling back. Rhaelgyr's thoughts were a mash of screams and growls. Whatever that baton was, it had looked him into a loop where all his nerves were constantly tortured. There wouldn't be immediate help from him.
Besedie stood over me, fists clenched as the former Chaos Lord came closer. "That's not the deal."
Kurlog chuckled. "Neither was fucking your little girl, but I did that anyway."
My father's shoulders hunched, but he kept his glare on Kurlog. "Temporary charms are not my concern. You are not taking her."
With a laugh, Kurlog came closer, leaving Steven alone on the floor. The younger Chaos Lord's eyes opened, meeting mine, and he smiled. As the older men faced off, Steven reached out with a tendril of telepathy.
~Sorry about this. I tried keeping him away.~
Steven's mind voice brought a wealth of memories with it. So studious, quick and observant, he'd been a shining example of humans. We'd been lovers, tender and sweet, his mortality giving him an unusual zest for life. ~It's not your fault,~ I told him. I wanted to care for him again, protect him from Besedie's wrath.
~Kurlog could have killed me.~ Steven stirred, rolling to his back. The guard paid him no mind, watching his master. ~He held back, but didn't tell me why.~
~Maybe to trade your life for me,~ I suggested, staring at the warrior as he towered over my father.
"I've been your lackey. I want a serious reward." Kurlog was getting angry, his face flushing.
"We can discuss an increase in payment." Besedie was no longer frustrated or snappy, trying to keep the Chaos Lord calm. "But Morgan is out of the question."
Kurlog laughed, planting fists on his hips. "You want her even if she doesn't want you?"
The air became burning hot, searing my throat. "It's nothing like that," Besedie hissed. "You will leave now, and take the whelp with you."
So much for calm negotiations.