War Front, Book Four

The Pahmar-Raht had been left tied up in the wire-topped round pen, water and food a tantalizing claw’s length away. She pressed her nose against the wire, licking at the morning dew lining it, but it was not nearly enough to quench her thirst.

The dark elf was hovering nearby again. Always watching, that one. She bared her teeth at him warningly, but he knew as well as she did there was a barrier between them, and it was all just a bluff. She growled deep in her throat as the dark elf put his hands up against the wires, wishing her long fangs could reach through to pierce his foolish flesh. The reek of alcohol clung to her nostrils as he leaned closer, and she turned away from him in disgust.

“I know what you are,” said the dark elf. The Khajiit didn’t honor him with an acknowledgement, though it sent a thrill up her back that set her tail to twitching. “You know what I’m saying, don’t you? You’re not a lion. You’re not even an animal.”

The Pahmar-Raht turned her head to watch a bird hopping about where a horse had spilled some of its oats. She dug her claws into the ground, lashing her tail, licking her lips as if imagining the taste of bird’s flesh. If that wasn’t enough to show her disdain for the sotted elf, she wasn’t sure what was.

She was surprised then, and affronted, when the dark elf slammed his hands against the wire. “Don’t you?!” he shouted.

The dark elf was awash in his fermented poisons, and didn’t merit a second thought, the Pahmar-Raht told herself. But still she glanced back when she heard the thump, like something falling to the ground.

The sot had slumped against the side of the fence, making sniveling noises. When he noticed her watching him, he dragged himself back up to a standing position using the fence, though his legs were slack and limp along the ground.

“I am going to lose them,” he told the Khajiit in a slur as she continued to stare curiously. “They get better and then they get worse, just to taunt me. Like they taunt you here. And then one day they’ll be tired of playing with me, and I’ll be just as caged as you are.”

Well, that wasn’t the Pahmar-Raht’s problem, and she took offense to him comparing the two of them like that. She was about to tell him so in her own language, when her nostrils caught the scent of something that made her barren mouth water.

In falling to the ground, the dark elf had pushed a hunk of meat through the wires. It was raw, and the scent prickled her belly with long-awaited anticipation. She rocked from foot to foot, kneading the ground hesitantly, but hunger won out over good sense.

The Pahmar-Raht sniffed at the offering, then pulled it through the wires with careful teeth. She was sure to give the dark elf a good view of her fangs as she bolted the meat down. The dark elf didn’t seem to mind, slowly sinking back to the ground as his arms finally weakened.

She felt a twinge of pity for him, and almost considered giving him a motherly lick to the face to make him stop moping. But then she remembered he was the enemy, and drunk besides, and turned away.

“At least you have a chance,” said the dark elf. “If you just follow their instructions–and I know you know you understand them–they’ll be kinder. They might let you go.”

It was like a taunt to the caged Khajiit, and she turned around and walloped the wires between them with her massive paw. To her satisfaction, the dark elf crumpled like a rag doll, and had to pull himself away on his elbows as she roared up and down the fence. Point proven, she sat down and washed between her toes, eyeing him murderously as he propped himself up against a hitching post–and trying not to think of the starving fatigue already tugging at her bones from the small display.

“Maybe I was wrong,” said the dark elf, rolling his head around as he tried to resist the alcohol eating away at his consciousness. “But think about it. Just think…” He slumped to the ground as he blacked out. The slack-jawed expression on his face, like the animal they thought she was, began formulating a plan in the Pahmar-Raht’s mind. She could use him, perhaps. Though she had no intentions of letting the dark elf think this had been anything more than a sujamma-soaked memory until she was ready.

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