“You came,” Asa’s voice echoed through the water channels, reaching Kristene before she even arrived at the secluded mansion where he was. “I knew you would come,” he added.
She didn’t reply, sighing instead. It felt like it was a game of tug o’war, and she had lost the moment she decided to listen to him and pay him a visit. Wasn’t it usually men who visited her, instead of the other way around?
But then again, it was Lord Asa she was dealing with now. He obviously was no ordinary human being. She had yet to find out if he even looked human at all.
At last, she was in the mansion. The North was not a realm built to the siren’s convenience. Asa’s mansion was the only place with tanks and channels like they did in the South. She wondered why.
“Because this is the capital of the realm, Kristene,” Asa said. His voice reached her from a distance, no longer in her mind, yet she didn’t see him just yet. “I’ve prepared for your arrival.”
She submerged further into the water, closer to the ground, where the sound came from. “Lord Asa?”
“Basement,” he answered her unasked question.
“Alright.” She glided swiftly down the stairs, until she reached the basement. There, the surroundings were much darker. If her eyes were as dull as a normal human’s, she wouldn’t be able to see a thing. In the darkness, she located a pair of piercing blue eyes, glowing like the devil’s, radiating the matching malice. The only difference was that the devil’s eyes would have been red, but Asa’s were blue. They looked less intimidating than they would be had they been red, but nonetheless, the menace confirmed the rumors that he was a malicious creature. In fact, the only visible thing about him were those eyes. Everything else were dark shadows, a kind of black smoke, or mist. Kristene could make out some silver chains holding in the shadows, even though she couldn’t see the true shape of Lord Asa.
The ice blue eyes had been fixated on her since she entered the room. Asa didn’t speak, letting her take in the situation instead.
“Chains?” was her first word.
“Yes, chains,” he answered. There was no rage, although the smoke spoke in a language of wrath.
“The dark shadows of power, Lady Kristene.”
When she finished inspecting the room, she raised her head to meet Asa’s eyes. “Lord Asa,” she began, “I don’t suppose you would tell me about my wings just like that.”
“You’re right,” he agreed with a snicker.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Sing me your saddest serenade, Lady Kristene.” As his eyes blazed into hers, his tone was even, and calm. The moment temporarily froze. Kristene tried to contemplate what good it would do him if she sang her saddest song.
Then, her eyes fell upon the chains.
“Aren’t you all powerful?” she asked, seeing no need to confirm what the song was for anymore.
“Power, my dear, works on anything but oneself. And, to be frank, I couldn’t care less about these chains. But when there’s a chance, I don’t see any reason not to take it, either.”
“Deep,” she commented, chuckling. “Why couldn’t you care less about these chains?”
“I deserved them.”
“Did you get punished by villagers for breaking a maiden’s heart or something?”
He sighed. “What an imaginative mind you have.”
“Stories are required for making songs.”
“Yes, yes. I know you’re a siren.”
Kristene would have asked more, since it was impossible to tell what Asa would do once he was free. Would he destroy her? Would he bust her out of his realm at once? Would he vanish? Or would he stay and tell her his story? The devil’s story couldn’t be a happy one, or he wouldn’t be the devil. And if his story wasn’t a happy one, she could sing about it. She was curious about how those chains came to be, but somehow, she felt that she still had plenty of chances to find out. For now, she wanted to know about her wings.
And so she sang.