Invited for a victory party on Habrano, the guests soon end in an unnatural sleep to serve the Emotion Riders as players in their dangerous and unfair mind-game. Sidarra is sent to search for his beloved Oleyni more than once and when he finds her, their love becomes a part of the game and soon she’s bait for another heart-stopping adventure. Will he survive and get Oleyni back alive?
Sidarra hung in the dark. From the pain in his joints, he gauged he had been hanging for some time. He could see neither the ropes above him nor those below. He exhaled, trying to reach the rope with numb fingers, searching for a clue. He felt a chill in the air, but no wind, no movement that told him where he was. When he tried to move he felt no clothes on his skin. How’s that possible? Where am I?
He remembered Oleyni’s beautiful body close to him. They had made love close to the lake, surrounded by long-leaved flowers. And then, after a love-filled night, they had dressed for the reception. He had joked about women making such a fuss about their dress and hair. Faintly, another image knocked at his mind. It had to do with the banquet hall and wine and the many servants running, but he could not get it clear.
Groaning, he lifted his head, but nothing changed. He was caught in complete darkness. “Hello?”
There was no echo, as if the world around had ceased to exist. Sidarra groped around the tethers holding him and tried to pull up his weight. He knew if he did nothing he would go insane sooner than later.
In the distance, a small light appeared. He squinted as it slowly got closer, getting bigger and taking the form of a large metal cage, illuminated by the strange light that seemed to come from nowhere. The outline of a person inside got more distinct.
With a start, he recognized her. “Oleyni!” He screamed through the darkness and she turned to him. “Oleyni, are you all right? Do you know where we are?”
“No! How did this happen?” She stood in the cage, hands around the bars. She wore hardly anything that could be called clothes, just a few small patches that barely covered her breasts and pubic hair. “I just woke and was in here!” The cage stopped its movement. Chains rattled as if a machine above directed the movement. They could see each other but not reach out. Oleyni had tears in her eyes. “Are you hurt?”
“Could be worse. And you?”
“No, not yet. How do we get out?”
“I don’t know.”
From somewhere in the depth of the darkness, a low voice spoke. “Oleyni will die when the cage gets smaller and smaller during the time of the sun and moon to circle.”
The cage dangling in front of Sidarra changed form and Oleyni had less and less space. Finally, she crouched while the metal pressed on her from all sides.
“Stop it!” Sidarra shouted.
The voice continued, “You will fulfill the tasks I give you, Sidarra, and if you fail to bring the key to her prison, she will die when the moon turns dark again.”
The cage remained so small Oleyni had to roll into a fetal position to not be smashed. She whimpered.
“I will do what you want!” Sidarra screamed. “Just stop it!”
The cage grew as if drawn by magical hands and when Oleyni had enough space again, Sidarra let go of his breath. “Are you all right?”
Oleyni shook her head. “No, I’m not. Whatever holds us here has a cruel sense of adventure.”
“I’ll do what—”
The ropes holding Sidarra ripped with a thunderous sound and he fell. He heard Oleyni’s shrill scream while he dropped, the loose rope still around his wrists. He experienced wind on his naked skin and the stomach-turning feeling of falling with no bottom to hit.