Eos bowed again and continued, "Forgive me, Master Seti," and tried to step round him but he blocked her. With strong fingers, he grabbed her chin and forced her to look up at him. HIs eyes leered into hers and travelled over her body before he smiled again, "And what is my little brother's favourite whore doing out of his quarters?" he asked.
"I was summoned to see Lord Griffin, master," she answered, trying in vain to pull away.
"I see, so you sleep with father as well, then? Trying to weasel yourself to a higher position?"
"No, master. Lord Griffin merely wished to ask about Master Azea."
Seti snorted and his hand grabbed her throat instead, lifting her feet off the ground to see her eye to eye, "Likely story. I'm sure you must have slept with plenty of men back in the cat house, haven't you?"
Eos couldn't answer. She couldn't even breathe.
Suddenly, he slammed her against the wall, her head hitting the hard surface. She couldn't even cry out since his grip on her throat had not slackened. If anything, it got stronger. She felt his other hand grab her silk clothes and rip it off.
There were yellings in the background, but she couldn't make it out as her head was beginning to spin. Eos was panicking as she clawed at his hand to get him to release her but it was like scratching at a marble statue. Tears leaked out of the corner of her eyes, blurring her vision further.
Finally, his hand was wrenched free from her throat and she fell onto the ground. Everything was hazy but she could see a tussle going on and shouts. A louder voice yelled out something and it stopped as she was gasping thankfully for air. A cloth wrapped itself round her as she was lifted from the ground. She smelt a familiar cologne and could have cried again in relief that Master Azea had found her.
When everything stopped becoming so confusing, she found herself in Master Azea's bed as he held a cold cloth to the bump on the back of her head. She never saw him look so angry before. "Are you alright?" he asked, seeing her watching him.
Eos opened her mouth but somehow, the words were stuck in her throat. She tried to clear it but, instead, started crying.
Master Azea lifted her gently onto his lap, "It's alright," he assured her, stroking her hair, "We'll leave tomorrow. You'll be safe with me then," he told her, holding her. Eos didn't know what he meant by leaving. But the fear was still gripping onto her and she didn't care what he meant. As long as it would get her away from Seti.
At last, when she managed to calm down, she pulled away from Master Azea and hugged her knees, "What happened?" she asked him.
The master took a lock of her long hair and kissed it.
"Adna told me that father summoned you and I was a little worried over what. I was in Jordah's quarters. Apparently Seti had raped one of his maids last night and I had to go help him calm her and had to go see father about it as well as settle the compensation fees to her family. So by the time we settled it, I returned and Adna told me where you went so I went after you. Gods bless, I managed to get there in time. I was this close to just stabbing his head with my sword when father turned up to stop us. After that, I didn't bother to stick around," he explained.
Eos nodded and kept silent for a brief moment before leaning over to kiss him. "Thank you," she murmured.
Master Azea shrugged, "You're my responsibility," he told her, stroking her hair, "Now go help the servants pack. We leave first thing in the morning. Your new clothes are all ready anyway."
"To Rozen of course. Didn't I already say?"
Eos looked surprised. From what she was told, the trip wasn't for another month. If they left now, it would still be winter there. Master Azea saw the look on her face and said, "I'd be more comfortable if you were out of Seti's reach indefinitely," he told her.
She couldn't help but to agree.
Master Azea observed her for a moment then wrapped an arm round her to bring her closer to him, "From now on, don't go somewhere I can't see you."
Eos stowed the her necklace into one of the packs. Master Azea was being fussy. He insisted she brought her all her dancing clothes along with the new clothes he had ordered for her for the cold weather. In the end, what could have been only a few packs turned out to be enough to fill a wagon. And that was not including his clothes.
"Does the master always lug so much baggage around with him when he leaves?" Eos asked Adna who was going over the items one more time.
"Hm? Yes, of course. After all, he will be staying there for a few months," Adna said, looking down his list as he went through the packs one by one.
Eos looked at the luggage that was being stowed onto the wagons so they could leave at once the next morning. "Hey, Adna, have you been to Rozen too?" she asked, sitting on a bench nearby.
"Of course. I follow Master Azea wherever he goes," Adna replied, checking something off on his list.
"How is it there?"
Adna frowned, thinking it over, "Cold. I don't really like it. And many people there look down on us desert people. They see us as uncivilised barbarians," he said with a snort, "Stupid pale faced creatures."
Eos swung her long legs. "If you don't like it, why do you still go?"
"Because," Adna said, going through one of the master's bags, "Master Azea goes there for training and his presence is also to strengthen ties between the desert and Rozen. Where Master Azea goes, I must of course follow. What kind of manservant would I be if I didn't?"
"I guess so," Eos said.
There was a moment of silence before Adna spoke out, "By the way, try to be more careful from now on."
"I know, I know. I will."
"I hope so. I've never seen Master Azea quite so angry since coming to serve him when he was eight," he said.
"Wow, that's a long time."
"Yes, seventeen years to be exact."
Eos fell silent. Finally she nodded, "By the way, Master Azea said Seti raped a maid from Master Jordah's quarters. Is she alright?" she asked, deciding to change the subject. This time Adna sighed and looked up from his list, "I wish I could say she's fine. But needless to say, she's traumatised by it. Compensation fees have been sent to her family, but that's hardly enough. Not only can she no longer marry, but she doesn't wish to serve here anymore because she fears it will happen again. Her family wishes to move out of the city completely back to their hometown. And Lord Griffin is trying to keep matters under control of course. This isn't the first time this has happened though. But it's usually confined to Seti's servants and Lord Griffin still has to quieten them down."
"He's disgusting," Eos found herself saying.
Adna tapped her head with his quill before going back to work.
"Eos?" Master Azea's voice floated to them. He appeared, looking round and gave a small sigh of relief when he saw her. "Don't wander off," he told her, "Come."
The girl got to her feet and hurried after him as he walked back into the building. "What were you and Adna talking about?" Master Azea asked, sitting on the bench just outside the entrance with his feet in a copper basin. Eos poured warm water from a pitcher into the basin and washed his feet. "I was just asking him what it's like in Rozen," she answered, drying his feet with a towel and tying his sandals back on for him.
"Ah, yes, Rozen. It's an interesting place. Very different from the desert. I don't quite like the women there though," he added teasingly, watching her, "I much prefer the ones here," he told her, bending over to look her in the eye.
She looked at him before pulling the string on the sandal too hard, making it pinch. "Ow!"
"Forgive me, master," she replied drily before washing her own feet. Unlike him, she went about barefooted. Master Azea pinched her nose, "Meanwhile," he said, "Are excited? You've never left this city before, have you?" he asked.
Eos dried her feet and went after him, "No, I haven't. But Adna said it might still be winter there. Won't it be cold?"
"It'll be extremely cold," he agreed, "A friend of mine wrote and said it was snowing."
"Yes. Frozen rain that comes down in white flakes. It covers the ground and its very cold. But its beautiful as well," he explained. Eos had heard of this phenomenon from the boasting travellers in Desert Gem but she thought it was mere boasting.
As she took her evening bath with Master Azea, she wondered what other strange happenings she would experience in Rozen. "I daresay you'll find it an interesting experience," Master Azea said and she scowled openly at him, caught off guard. He grinned lazily at her as she pinned her hair more securely to keep it dry.
She turned her back to him to reach for the soap so she could wash herself again when she felt warm lips at the back of her neck, jolting her. Neither of them said anything else but Eos ducked her head, looking worried.