"Your prize has arrived."
A simple statement. Yet it carried weight when that 'prize' was another human being, enslaved against her will. If she could have, Steff would have just refused it, but then, she would have been sold off, and the gold given to her anyway. Fucking stupid tournament rules.
The guards parted at the entrance of her new room, moving to either side of the stone doorway, bringing through another figure.
The woman in black stood in front her, hands folded in front of herself, eyes downcast and expression neutral. Studying her for a second revealed more than she had seen from behind this morning. She was taller than Steff, and curvy, though her breasts appeared to have been restrained with some sort of band under her clothes. She had been relieved of her weapons, and there was a black collar around her neck now, without any visible way to open it. Her black hair flowed down her shoulder, ragged from a recent struggle.
The foremost guard approached Steff where she sat on her cot, and held out his armored fist. It held an open bracelet, ready to clasp over her wrist and confirm that she was the master of this new slave. She took it, then lay it on the cot next to her, leaving it open.
She waved the guards out, and they left in single file, brushing past the woman standing in her doorway, not having moved an inch. They door closed behind them with a dull boom, echoing through the entire room.
For a moment after they left, Steff continued to study her, then spoke in a soft voice, patting a spot on the bed next to her.
"Come, sit down, will you?"
Eyes downcast, the woman did, with precise, mechanical movements.
"What's your name?"
"This one is called Tara, mistress."
Steff closed her eyes and sighed. Of course she was already acting like any other slave.
"Okay. First rule." She said as the woman visibly flinched. "Never refer to yourself as 'this one' in mine or anyone's presence.
Use 'I' or your name."
"..Very well, mistress."
"Who are you?"
"I am Lora, mistress."
Steff shook her head, yawning a little due to the aches in her body.
"No. Who are you? Who were you before you were enslaved? What's your life story?"
"...My name is Tara. Before..this, I was the daughter of a wandering warrior, traveling with him on his quest to gain strength. My father's name was Elor. He was a Body Cultivator. Somewhere along the way we met Lyssen, and his sister Lyac. They were orphans, so my father looked after them. That was maybe two years ago."
"What happened, you've been saying 'was' when talking about your father.
"...He was killed shortly after we met Lyssen. He died in a random battle against bandits when he slipped in a puddle of blood. I started travelling with Lyssen and Lyac, and have been since...today."
"What are you good at?"
"Fighting, i guess. I used to be a really good fighter. I..actually haven't seen much action since we started travelling together."
She frowned, shaking her head, then continued.
"Little to none, now that i think of it. I was...always placed in a support role in battle, distracting enemies. Why would i agree to that?"
Steff had her suspicions about that, but kept her silence.
"Describe your time with Lyssen, if you want."
"It was....it was..happy. I felt, complete, i guess, really satisfied. I was content. He was always so smart. Everything he said worked out like he predicted. Until today. Looking back...it feels like a haze."
"I think i know why."
She was silent, waiting for Steff to elaborate, and with a small sigh, she did.
"Where i come from, there's a concept called 'The Chosen One..-"
While the girl spent the next half hour in enraptured silence, Steff slowly explained everything she knew about main characters of some books. How they attracted people to them, made their flaws and misgivings magically go away, made the universe seem to revolve around them, how they were always right.
The woman was disbelieving at first. But slowly, she saw what Steff was trying to say, comparing it her own experiences.
"Why are telling me all this? What do you get out of it...mistress?"
Steff gently reached over, laying a hand on the other woman's shoulder.
'I like to think i'm a good person, Tara. I've always been against the idea of slavery, and always will be. You are your own person, not someone i want to command around to follow my wishes. If i could, i would set you free right here and now, but, the collars used during a Demon's Duel are unbreakable, permanent. I checked. Once it comes on, there's no way to get it off. You probably know this"
"I do, mistress."
"So, here are my options. I could sell you, and then forget about you. But i won't. I'm not that cruel. You didn't ask for this and your only crime was being an unwitting member of that bastard's harem. I would probably never forgive myself if i knowingly condemned another person to a life of subservience, knowing the kinds of people out there, it wouldn't be a nice one."
"The second option is, i keep you. I try to give you a good life. I can't promise that things will always be the best, but i'll try to be a kind and caring to you. I'm not perfect, but i’ll try. If you need anything, feel free to ask. I'm not cruel, well, not to those who don't piss me off or deserve it, and i'm always ready to help you with anything you need."
Tara didn't answer, looking down at her waist, hair falling over her eyes. Gingerly, Steff took her chin in her hand and turned her head to face her.
"I want to try option two. You're a person. You deserve a better shot at life. But, this is what we're stuck with, so this is what will have to do. Okay?"
Tara was twitching visibly, forcing her arms to her sides as Steff picked up the bracelet and clamped it over her own arm, locking it tight. There was no mental connection, no sudden rush of energy, nothing. Just a black metal band, there to tell the world of her ownership of Tara.
Slowly, she flexed it, feeling nothing out of place.
They talked, covering different subjects, with Steff adjusting her plans to factor in Tara's presence. The woman proved to be actual good conversation, some of the best she’d had in a long time. not that that was saying much. Still, Steff found the hours slipping away, becoming more and more relaxed next to her as they talked. Tara was straightforward, if at times demure and almost...
...submissive, if she had to say. Still, Steff found herself going through her own story, telling her what she had been doing the last two years. Which amounted to getting into trouble, whupping ass and sticking it to the nobility, something the woman seemed to love hearing.
"Tara, did the guards give you anything to drink?"
"Yes, they did. A fruity, pleasant mix, too."
"I don't mind, mistress. I was....sexually active before. though, after Lyssen." She waved at the general area of the stadium.
"Not many people went for me, mistress. Guess he kept them away."
"How did that happen anyway?"
"Long story. I keep my breasts tied down now. It does make me look underdeveloped from certain angles, mistress."
"So, Tara, tell me. What are your preferences? Do you like boys or girls? Maybe both?"
The other woman blushed a little, ducking her head.
"I...i like women, better, mistress."
"How about...women with something extra?"
"I have a dick, Tara. Long story too."
The girl was silent for a moment, shock on her face, before turning towards Steff, something akin to excitement on her face.
"Well, damn, girl, if it wasn't for the aphro, i'd think you were horny as fuck."
Standing, Steff tossed her shirt over her head, letting it land in the corner, followed by her breast band. She didn't miss the way Tara's eyes followed her, locking on to her generous boobs as they sprung free.
"Already enjoying the show?"
"I am, mistress."
"Good, cuz you're about to get more."
Stripping out of her pants, she kicked them to the side, then slowly, almost teasingly, peeled off her shorts, allowing her
stiffening member to flop free. All of a foot away from Tara's face.
The dark haired woman just stared at it, eyes wide and mouth open. Seeing as she wanted it, but wasn't moving, Steff decided to take charge. She took a soft but firm grip on the other woman's head.
"Now, open wide. We have gag reflexes to test."