(I'm not having any luck with the "unrepeatable" part, but here goes. Draft 1.5 of something I'm hoping to use in a larger work.)
Nerada sat in a threadbare armchair beside the fire, kicking the legs of the chair as she waited. The chair was meant for an adult - her feet did not reach the floor - and it was uncomfortable, just like the hard, wooden children's chairs back home.
Except this is home now.
She slid off the chair and wandered around the room. It didn't feel like a new home. There was nothing to do here. There were no books on the shelves, and no toys on the floor. And only a single game.
A battered chessboard sat on a small table between the two armchairs. Most of the pieces were missing, leaving both red and blue with only a king and a single pawn.
A door slammed somewhere in the house. She could hear booted feet clomping down the hall, headed towards her.
"...my niece? No one told me my niece was coming here!"
Nerada had never met her Uncle Roderick. She recalled the day of her departure, her sister taunting her all the way to the front gate. Elise said Uncle Roderick was a dangerous madman, that he would chop Nerada into tiny pieces and scatter them along the road. Nerada said nothing. She waited until they were at the gate, then gathered up a handful of mud and flung it into Elise's face. The sight of her snotty sister wailing all the way back to the house was a better parting gift than the book of poetry Mother had packed for her.
The whole way here she'd told herself that Elise didn't know anything, she was just being mean... but now she was frightened. What would she do if her uncle was crazy? Run? Run to where?
The door banged open. The man who entered was dressed like a field hand, not a nobleman. At least he didn't look crazy.
He looked at her and grunted. "Well, there's no denying whose daughter you are. So. Mind telling me how you just showed up here unannounced?"
That was unfair. "Father said he sent you a letter."
"How? By messenger snail?" He snorted at his own joke. "Whatever errand boy he sent probably took his coin and lost it at the nearest tavern. Or got his fool self lost out in the woods somewhere. That's happened before." He collapsed back into his chair. "Too late to worry about it now. How long are you here for? A month? A season?"
He's not going to like this. Nerada mumbled an answer.
He leaned forward in his seat. "Didn't catch that. Speak up."
"I'm to live here now."
Uncle Roderick reared back like a startled pony, red spots appearing in his cheeks. "Live here? Permanently? How did- ah, now I see. You've done something to displease him, is that it?"
To her surprise, his tone softened. Was he... pleased? And was that a hint of a smile on his face? Maybe he would be less pleased if he knew.
Father told her, over and over again, that the cellar was off-limits. But it was a slow, dreary, dull afternoon. She'd found the door was left unlatched and open. No one was around to tell her no.
She didn't understand what she'd seen down there, but she could not forget. The rusted iron cages, and the creatures inside. The way all those eyes had rolled in her direction when she wandered into the side passage. The weight of all those eyes staring at her, waiting in fear to see what she'd do next.
She couldn't take it. She'd dropped the torch and bolted for the exit. Unfortunately, Father had chosen to come down the stairs at that exact moment.
For a moment, he was furious. She could still see his lip curling back, his hand raised to strike her. Then he'd relaxed, and his hand dropped to his side. He only said five words.
"I suppose it was inevitable."
The arrangements for her to move were made the next morning.
Her uncle's voice brought her back to the present. "You know how he can afford that fancy estate, girl? How he makes his money?"
Nerada's mind jumped back to what she'd seen in the cellar, and she squirmed.
Uncle Roderick leaned forward once more. "You do know."
"I found... creatures in the cellar. In cages."
"That's not all you'd find down there." He let out a disgusted sigh. It was our grandfather - your great-grandfather - who started smuggling the star poppy, but it was my brother - your father - who got us into the slaving business." He gripped the arms of his chair until his knucklebones showed white. "We fought, he shipped me out to the butt end of the kingdom here. Just like you, I suppose."
"But that's not allowed!"
"You saw who was in those cages. It wasn't people. As long as he sticks to the beast races, no one cares. 'Specially not since he's got the right name and enough money."
An unpleasant silence followed. Nerada tried to turn her thoughts away from the cellar. It wasn't a problem she could fix, not now, not for a long while. Someday, she promised.
Hoping to change the subject, Nerada pointed to the chessboard. "Why are so many pieces missing?"
He picked up the red king, rubbing its crown with his thumb. "Because someone like me doesn't get to fight with horses and castles and Guardians. For me, it's all about the endgame. How much can I annoy the other king before I die?"
Nerada looked at him, then the chessboard. "You mean, how much can you annoy Father?"
The gray eyes twinkled. "Just so." He set the red king back down on the board. "Care for a game before you get settled?"