Legends of Tirum has a wide cast of characters, from the very good to the very evil, the open to the enigmatic. In many ways, the most enigmatic of those is Urasi Melanova — the Earth Shaman, and a Pyracanthrian, capable of shifting form between human and a large, dark lioness. Urasi comes with secrets, and one of those has held her as a madman’s captive for two years, regardless of the evil done to her.
“A Monster’s Grasp” — Excerpt from MISTRESS OF CATS (Legend of Tirum Book 4)
“You must believe me a stupid man.”
Urasi wisely kept her mouth shut and pretended to sleep. The merchant only left a few hours ago, and Brahmad sounded as if he was spoiling for a fight. She knew better than to give him the excuse he wanted to beat her.
“Wake up!” The sharp point of his leather boot jabbed her side, hard. Urasi grunted and shifted away from the contact. Though in her leonine form, she wasn’t idiot enough to believe she had any chance of besting him, should she attempt to fight back. The collar around her neck would not permit her to turn on her master.
There was a metallic scraping sound, like her chain being dragged across the floor, and Urasi fought to keep her eyes firmly closed. She couldn’t afford to give in to the urge to see what Brahmad was up to.
In the next instant, she had her answer as a hand grabbed hold of the golden collar around her neck, jerking her up from the floor as he hissed against her ear, “You will be human.”
Her body reacted immediately to the command, and pain sliced through her as bone, sinew, and muscle all expanded. Her heartrate slowed, and her skin felt as if it was ripping apart around her as her body realigned itself from beast to woman. Desperately, she fought the painful, forced transition as her Majiik gathered low in her belly, becoming her enemy rather than her ally. Forced transformations were painful and unnatural. They turned the same Majik that normally allowed her a swift and uneventful transformation into a terrifying and excruciating event.
Urasi struggled to gain control of her Majik, to halt the transformation the collar around her neck was forcing within her. She knew what it meant when Brahmad wanted her human, and she would do anything — even fight the core of her very being — to avoid the violence she knew would follow.
Brahmad preferred having her as a trophy pet. He only forcibly bade her to be human when he wanted her in his bed. While never a pleasant experience, most times it was a mercifully brief one, and fuelled only by his lust.
This time would be different. He was enraged, and she would bear the brunt of his fury. This man wasn’t above torture — she’d swear inflicting physical harm brought Brahmad pleasure.
Even as she fought her transformation, she knew it was useless. The collar around her neck burned like acid poured over her skin, and the change progressed relentlessly, in spite of her wishes to the contrary. She hadn’t the strength, the Majik, left to fight the will of the Collar of Ramiel.
With a final, roaring cry of pain and denial, she arched up as her soul was torn by Majik. She collapsed to the floor with a moan, weak and shaking, and human. Huddling there on the floor, she made the mistake of looking up at her captor. The terrible light gleaming in his eyes sent a shaft of terror through her. He enjoyed the pain forcing her to shift caused, but it was nothing compared to the ripping pain in her soul as she heard a distant, quickly hushed, cry.
“Please… don’t…” The whispered plea flew from her lips before she could cage it.
He reached down, grabbed a fistful of her jet curls, and forced her head back until she had no choice but to meet his cruel gaze again.
“Answer my question, Shaman. Do you believe me stupid?”
“N-no,” she stammered, fighting for composure. She would tell him anything, to avoid what she feared was inevitable.
Her denial seemed to infuriate him even more. His free hand flashed to her throat, clamping across her windpipe above the collar and cutting off her air. She clawed at his wrist, fighting desperately for air.
“Don’t lie to me, bitch!” He shoved his face into hers, and spittle rained on her face as he screamed the words at her. “You’re trying to escape. My spies have heard you conspiring with that damned merchant. But you’re mine! Do you understand me? Mine!”
He released her throat, grabbed hold of her meager body drape, and ripped away her only defense against him. As she stared into the face of all her nightmares, Urasi knew there would be no escape for her. Not now, or ever again.