Phantom: Karma Slave
by PhantomChajo

Chapter 1

Time slipped past her as she lay there on the muddy ground, several body lengths from the shallow grave she once resided in. The rain continued its torrential downfall, showing no sign of slowing anytime soon. Warily she got to her feet and looked about for something that could act as shelter of some sort. In the distance, she could make out what looked to be a small stand of trees as the lightning lit the sky.

Turning slightly, she made sure everything that had been with her in the coffin was with her. Then she made her way towards the trees. As she did, she would pause and tilt her head up and back, letting the cold rain wash the mud and muck from her.

By the time she reached the trees, she was clean once more, though soaked to the skin. She was lucky that the ground was a little higher here then back in the open area. The water, dripping from the tree branches, made its way down the gentle slope to join that, that had already gathered there. Even though the storm was abating, the rain continued to fall. She found a spot between several exposed roots and made herself as comfortable as possible, with her knees drawn up against her chest and her arms wrapped around them. From this position she could easily reach her weapons in case she was forced to defend her self against anything that attacked her.

The pair were soaked and covered from waist down with mud. But at least they were able to ride in the wagon, now that the land had leveled out again. Both sat hunched over against the rain.

"Why couldn't we find somewhere to wait out the storm?" asked one of the pair. Being the larger of the pair, the cloak just barely fit him.

"Because his Lordship said so. Now quite your complaining," returned the other with an annoyed sigh. This one had the advantage of being smaller, thus better protected against the rain, but his hands were still cold from having to handle the wagon reigns.

The first mulled the idea over for several minutes before replying. "Ohhow long is the rain gonna rain?"

"As long as it needs to rain, now will you shut your mouth? It's bad enough as is, I don't want to have to listen to your ramblings all the way there," snapped the second.

The first hunched lower on the bench, looking for all the world like a puppy that had just been kicked.

Hours passed and the steady drip of water from the leaves was the only sound for the longest time. Then slowly the horizon to the east began to lighten. Dawn's arrival was heralded by the waking calls of birds, animals and other creatures that called this area home.

Still sitting beneath the tree, she slowly uncurled herself. A hush descended as she moved, all the creatures unsure if she was a predator or not. At first her movements were unsteady as she used the tree at her back to rise. The more she moved, she regained her natural grace.

Having stood, she moved away from the tree so that she could feel the warmth of the raising sun on her. Though the light stung her eyes slightly she still enjoyed the sensation. Once the sun was over the horizon completely though, she moved back into the dappled shadows the tree provided.

Looking about, then down at herself, she decided it was time to find out what she had and what was changed. Taking her time she removed all that she was wearing. From dark cloak and black chain mail shirt down to the last item she found. A black silk-like scarf that was wrapped about her waist, hidden beneath everything else she had worn.

'Must be of some importance to have been covered as it was,' she thought to herself as she held it in her hands before setting it to the side.

Once more stepping from the shadows, eyes narrowed slightly against the light, she looked herself over, from head to toe, or as much as she could see.

She held her hands out, looking at the long, slender fingers. Rough calluses on the palms fit with the fact she had swords. 'I know how to use them at least' she thought as she turned her hands over, smiling at the site of her ebony skin. 'Good, that has not changed it seems..what in the name of all that's holy'

Along the back of her right, from wrist up to the shoulder, were splotches of red. Bright flaming red at that. As she studied the splotches, twisting her arm this way and that, it became clear as to what it was. A Red Dragon tattoo. Whomever that had done it in the first place used her natural skin coloration for the outline and sections of it's body. The tip of it's snout rested just even with her wrist. The head was well defined, extending back into the neck which in turn flowed up to the rest of it's body. The forelegs wrapped about her arm, like wise with the wings. The body covered most of her upper forearm, elbow and part of her upper arm. Its tail twined up to her shoulder then vanished beyond her area of site. The Dragon was exquisitely detailed to say the least. If she studied it close enough, she could make out the fine lines of it's scales.

With a grumble she checked her other arm. As with her right one, the left was similarly tattooed. Though instead of large areas of color, it was devoid of it. Instead it was outlined in silver. Just as detailed and exquisite, though the artist had used her skin color as the body of the dragon and the color for the outline. This time, instead of a Red Dragon, it was a Black Dragon.

"Hellfires and Damnation! What is going on?" she muttered to herself. "Am I a slave this time? Or is it some deity's joke upon me? Dragons have caused me nothing but trouble and here I am wearing a pair as decorations." With a groaned sigh she slid her hands up though her hair, raking it back with her fingers. Wincing as she hit a few snags, she pulled her hair about so that she could untangle the knots. She growled a curse when she saw, for the first time clearly, the color of her hair. Bright, flaming red with streaks of both lighter and darker reds. The color of a Red Dragon's scales when it's in the prime of it's life.

With a disgusted snort she turned back, once again retreating to the shadows. Crouching down she picked up the scarf again, running it though her fingers. After several moments of contemplation, she tilted her head to the side. There was something about the scarf. Something. Magical. Standing back up she shook it out. It was large and round.

"Let's see how much of my luck holds" she muttered.

Finding a clear spot that she could lay it out on, she did just that. It shimmered and darkened as it lay flat on the ground. Raising an eyebrow just slightly she knelt on the ground at the edge of it and gingerly reached into it. Her hand vanished into the blackness. Pulling it out, she looked at it.

"Well, now I know why I didn't have that much in the way of any gear." She smirked slightly. "Might have lost everything from last time, but I did get things in return for them."

Reaching again into the inky blackness she thought of clothes. As her arm vanished up to her elbow, she felt something with the tips of her fingers. Leaning down she reached in further to grasp the object. When she had it, she pulled her arm back out she held a bundle of cloth. Setting it to the side she reached in again, still thinking about clothes. Again she withdrew a bundle of cloth. She continued to do this till she no longer could find anything.

She then grabbed the edge of the portable hole and picked it up, folding it over on itself. A moment later, it was once again, an ordinarily looking piece of black silk.