“So how did a wench with such a lusty appetite come to the point of throwing herself into the river?”
“If you’re such a mighty Sorcerer, then you should already know the answer to that question.”
“I can see the feasting has made you rather bold,” he chuckled. “Really. You could be fascinating.”
“What do you want?”
“I already have what I want, Girl. Question is…what do you want?”
The girl chortled, the bark cut short from an upsurge of bile burning the back of her throat.
The pain of eating too much came upon her in that moment.
She curled into a ball and wondered if she would burst from gluttony until her silent memories swept in.
The image of empty faces and condemning eyes seared through and emptied her again. But the ache remained in her belly and the Sorcerer looming over her made her uneasy.
Yet she also remembered this was the first conversation she’d had in almost seven years.
“What do you think?” she muttered, sitting up. “I want to not be so alone. I want people to care. What else could I possibly want?”
The Sorcerer raised his brows and the hairless arches deepened the grooves in his forehead.
“Come on, Girl. Don’t be so paltry in what you wish for. You can do better than that.”
The heat rushed to her cheeks, but she said nothing.
The Sorcerer rested his chin on interlaced fists and waited.
That squeeze clenched inside her breast.
But this time she wasn’t so foolish to hope her heart beat again. Staring into the colorless eyes of the Sorcerer, who gazed back at her with a bland expression, the girl couldn’t move.
“I want anybody I choose to fall in love with me,” she finally said. “Can you really make that happen?”
The Sorcerer of the Caverns smiled, his teeth the longest she’d ever seen, the dark yellow gleaming against his matted dusty beard. He nodded.
“And what do you want of me?”
“I want to lay with you,” he said. “And I want you to give me your heart.”
The girl froze.
Although her heart had been dead for years, she clasped her hands over her breast to protect what rested underneath. The thought of giving it to the Sorcerer made her stomach churn.
She shook her head before she spoke.
“Not so hasty, Girl. I think you may like what I have in mind for you.”
“I said no.”
She stood and looked up the staircase spiraling out of the Caverns.
Then the snap of fingers made her flinch, and the sound bounced off the stone and reverberated up the tunnel.
A boulder slid across the top and the girl watched the nighttime stars disappear.
She couldn’t quite believe this was happening to her, but she still wasn’t afraid.
A calm descended on the girl as she watched the Gateway to the world above close off to her. She looked at the Sorcerer.
His robes cascaded around his throne; his hair and beard were dull against the opulence of gold and velvet.
“I’ve heard stories about you all my life,” she said. “But never once did I hear that you could force me to stay. Not even once.”
“That’s true,” he replied. “However, I can insist that you listen to what I have to say before you refuse me.”
The Sorcerer waved his hand to the sofa.
The girl saw the table was clear, the ruins of the banquet gone as if the feast had never happened.
Instead, a bronze triad of candles stood in the center of the table beside the crystal she pulled from the tunnel walls.
“Have a seat,” he continued. “You may find my offer enticing.”