I will not reveal much of the plot, but I will post a short excerpt from something I am writing. Just tell me what you think. Markus raised his first two fingers over his head as a soundless signal, never diverting his piercing gaze. A young woman entered the room, her hair as dark as the shadows lurking in the corners of the hall. She lacked the pale blue eyes and sinister features that the families held, and instead bore dark, kind eyes that were glued to the floor. Her movements were short and precise, as if something was restraining her, and I realized with a sickening sensation that her feet were bound with a rough cord. She was a slave. "How??" I thought "How could this gentle, beautiful creature be kept enslaved like an animal? What had she done to deserve a life of servitude?" I shifted uneasily in my seat as she quietly set the tray down, Markus's eyes followed my movements which made me feel even more uncomfortable. I could see in my peripherals that the tray harbored a variety of food that suddenly seemed unappetizing even though my stomach growled nosily. The silent woman collected the empty cups and bowls, and for a fraction of a second, her gaze met mine. Never before had I seen an expression that held such desperation. Her face was composed, as if carved from stone, while her eyes seemed to scream in agony. It was a fleeting moment that seemed to halt time in its tracks. As this happened I noticed her hand brush a goblet before us, tipping it over and spilling the dark contents across the table. It all happened so fast then. The woman, staring down with a horrified expression, all color drained from her face. Markus, leaping up from his throne, bringing the back of his hand across her face with a echoing slap. Her body, falling down on the cold stone floor with a low thud, the ragged shirt lifting, exposing a protruding rib cage. "INCOMPETENT FOOL!" Howled Markus. "Need I remind you that it is your damned insolence that is the very thing that condemns you?!" He was standing over her now, shaking with fury and let loose a vicious kick to her exposed body. She yelled once, making her pain audible. Markus drew back his leg for another kick. Subconsciously I sat up, drawing the chair back ever so slightly, making a scraping noise against the stone floor. Markus halted his action, spinning around to face me. My body was rigid, sitting straight up on the edge of the seat as my hands clutched the armrests, knuckles exposed and bone white. His eyes were furious. I knew he was waiting for me to make the slightest objection, anything to give him an excuse to terminate me. I realized my display of disapproval and lowered myself into a relaxed manner composing my face into an expression of nonchalance. Seeming satisfied, Markus turned to the sentries and waved them forward. The hulking masses took the woman by the arms and dragged her out of the hall, her face blank and emotionless. Slowly Markus sat back down, adjusting his shirt collar as if a slight business matter had interrupted our meeting. "Please, wont you try our cuisine? I daresay it's as delectable as it's known." His eyes searched mine for any remaining contempt which I stowed deep, plucking a fruit without any consideration to the selection. I popped it in my mouth, trying to make a satisfied expression while murmuring "Very good thank you." I didn't eat until I was full, but merely took a bit of everything, trying to play the part of a considerate guest. It seemed enough, and he continued on with his speech without any remark towards the woman. I was only half listening, picking up bits of war stories or personal achievements. It seemed a well rehearsed speech, and I imagined the countless other people who had sat in this very seat, completely vulnerable to evils surrounding them. And ever more my thoughts returned to the woman. Her face, her eyes, the way she seemed to carry a flame within her amidst the hard cold emotions of her masters. I mumbled bits of generosity while I was shown out the door in a daze. Without realizing it I decided I would return again. If but once more, just to see her face, and witness the majesty of fire burning within ice.