Empress Sabine glanced past the supplicant when she heard the game warden step through the far door. Once her gold-flecked gaze targeted him, the warden nodded and slipped out of the audience chamber.
Her attention returned to the bundle of rich fabric, precious gems and metals quivering before the dais. “Your concerns are noted, Lord Enlad. Unfortunately, your plea, coming after game selection and training, does not sway our sympathy.”
Raising his face to the Empress, a death sentence in itself, the noble cried, “Take me! Take me! Spare my son!”
The imperial eyes narrowed and darkened to smoky amber. Her lips parted exposing deadly canines. “If he survives, your son will be returned to your family.” A nod signaled the Imperial guard to half drag, half carry Lord Enlad from the Presence.
Sabine lived for Harvest Game Day ever since the former Emperor, in his misguided love for her, commanded an enchantment that condemned her to immortality in this dreadful human body. This one day they bathed her in non-perfumed emollients and combed out her black of blackest hair to fall free, unadorned.
At the appointed time, the human attendants left her standing naked at the rim. In the arena below, the game waited, chosen for their strength and trained in physical combat. It amused her to see their expressions, not sure of the meaning of this naked woman, and then her transformation to panther.
Gold lit her eyes. The growl came from joy.
Who is the strongest, hummmm?
Written by Suzanne Driggs
Copyright © 2010 Suzanne Driggs