“Mmmm, Riley is definitely sexy.” The low voice grated on Riley’s nerves. He knew they were in there but had thought it best to not acknowledge they’d come into the room. There were two of them, females. The one speaking was Cinka, a Sairah, with waist length red hair and pale skin. She was dressed skimpily and leaning against one of the serving bars. She was absolutely beautiful, but that was overshadowed by the way she stood. It was as though her entire self-value was tied up in what she could do for a male. “I could stand here all day and watch him do that, and I bet he could keep that up all day,”

Riley hated the way that she tried to lower everyone else to her standard, as though making herself less of a lower caste person. It wasn’t like Riley to dislike someone, but for this Sairah, he made an exception. She bothered him. He could not understand why anyone would choose to live the life she did and actually be happy with it. It seemed so, shallow.

“What do you think, Maelinn?” Cinka had turned her attention to the other female, who was turned away from her and Riley. Her voice carried with it a lilt of digging, purposely trying to drag the other young woman into a conversation she obviously wanted no part of.

There was a sigh. Maelinn blinked, but didn’t respond. She was comparable to the Sairah in appearance, physically, except she did not flaunt it in the same manner. She was reserved, as she had been brought up to be and in her conservatism much more attractive, at least in Riley’s opinion, than Cinka could ever be.

Riley opened his eyes. Maelinn was wearing a floor length Taipa, a robe of the finest spun fabrics that shimmered in gold and red. It matched her skin and hair, for the moment. Maelinn had very pale skin and white hair. She was almost albino, for reasons unknown. She was a hybrid, of Rishan, Littan and Kourwine make. One of a handful that had survived and she, like Cinka, belonged to Zaile.

‘… 543,.. 544,.. 545,…’ Riley tried to restrain himself. He had been in this room first. The last thing he wanted was to listen to Cinka. She was rude and unnecessarily cruel to Maelinn and worse yet, she knew about them. Zaile didn’t know, but Cinka did. Riley was in love with Maelinn and it was a shared feeling.