Chapter 17: For Display
“Impress me and I will feed you till your strength is fully restored.”
That was my ticket to freedom.
However, the question that lingered in my mind was...How the hell was I supposed to “impress” him?
I wondered...If I could make it through the night and allow everyone to believe that he had absolute control over me, would he be impressed?
Pretending to be the little obedient thing he wanted was becoming easier as the days went by, and I did it so confidently. My reasons were simple...if he truly believed that he had me, then he’d more than likely trust me enough to feed me to regain at least half of my strength.
That was all I needed.
When I shifted my gaze to eye him, I could tell that he was expecting me to screw up. The way he watched me...it was as if he was waiting for someone or something to make me snap. And, being surrounded by one too many arrogant purebloods, there’s no doubt in my mind that at least one of them would go as far as attempting to do so.
The sound of a throat being cleared pulled me out of my thoughts, noticing that everyone’s attention was directed to Erebus and I as I stood alongside him on the podium of his throne. Almost instantly, the atmosphere became silent and everyone awaited for their king to speak. I had bowed my head at the audience, keeping my gaze on the floor to avoid any misconception. I knew that here, looking at another in the eye while keeping your head up meant you proposed a challenge. Unlike here, back home, not looking at another in the eye was simply disrespectful.
These worlds are so contradicting...
“Welcome. Thank you all for coming together on an occasion such as this. I understand many of us have our differences...but it is of my concern that we place these differences aside. Now, I will not bore you with the concept of creating peace amongst each other. Instead, I will acknowledge the problem at hand.”
What problem..? That you’re an ass?
“Witches have been under our control for nearly a millennium. We have had multiple covens that attempted to rebel, nonetheless, these...covens were taken care of. Now, I have a problem with the idea of witches getting creative with their little magic tricks. Recently, a hex was placed within the barriers of my territory and the ones responsible were not captured. As of now and until those responsible step forward, all beings bearing the gift of magic and actively practice sorcery are to be killed on sight,” he paused, and a sly smirk played on his lips as the sinister chuckles that broke out from across the room that made my skin crawl.
Great way to start a war, genius...
I knew that as long as vampires remained the dominant species between the Supernaturals, they were allowed to set as many boundaries as they please. However, I didn’t quite understand why it was that Erebus had such a problem with witches. Their power didn’t come close to a vampire’s abilities.
In fact, in an attempt to kill a vampire, the witches’ life would be a price for that vampire’s death—not because another took its life, but because the amount of power that is required to take down a vampire will kill a witch, alone.
Of course, there is always a loophole, and I had a feeling when Erebus spoke of “witches” he not only referred to those only eligible for light magic, but those that had tapped into necromancy.
If necromancers is what he is worried about...he shouldn’t be. Even Seekers have laws against the use of dark magic, and those rules apply to the beings in this world as well.
When the room’s silence returned, Erebus spoke again. I had anticipated his next announcement, so the feeling of his hold tightening on my waist didn’t faze me in the slightest, and I willingly gave under him as he pulled me into him.
“Not too long ago, I found this extraordinary creature wandering my grounds,” the arrogance in his voice was so thick that it could be cut with a knife. He added, “I decided to spare her, and she now serves as my beautiful slave.”
With that, I knew it was my cue to look up and I slowly lifted my head, my eyes falling on the crowd before us. A set of gasps mixed with different emotions broke from the audience as I carefully eyed each of them. Despite the ball being intended for Purebloods and Emperors, It came of no surprise to me that the majority were Nobles.
Luckily, after briefly scanning the room, I found that there was no one I recognized and I hoped no one recognized me.
The possibility was...unlikely. I had never made an appearance as the ‘Immortal Twin’s’ daughter in this world.
I hadn’t realized that my breath had caught in my lungs until I felt the hold Erebus had on my waist tighten even more so as a soft gasp emitted from the edge of my throat.
“As you can see,” he began, “she is no ordinary Pureblood, but one that attains the gift of a Traveler and one that bears the gift of Tolerance.” At this, the room fell to absolute silence and the Noblemen lowered on one bended knee while the Noble-women bowed their heads in respect.
The hard knot on the edge of my throat made it hard for me to gulp and I immediately dropped my sight to the ballroom’s floor. I could hear my blood rushing in my veins, pounding in my ears as a slight tingling sensation broke on my fingertips and toes.
“Men, please rise. Enjoy the rest of the night. I would like a word with the Emperors before returning to your respective homes. Thank you.”
Just as before he spoke, the music played softly, and many danced while others simply spoke to one another. Still, some continued to stare at me as if I had been put on display to be done so.
I wasn’t sure if I should be offended or proud of this. They obviously watched in awe, but whether it was because they had never seen anyone like me or because they wondered how Erebus managed to keep me under ‘control’ was the real question.
With Erebus’ grip still on my waist, I walked slowly and steadily beside him as he led me to the far end of the ballroom where a group of eight individuals stood.
Alongside each of them, were—what I could only assume to be—their slaves or date. Of course, some of them wore a collar, and aside from the obvious accessory, they were human.
In the couple of times I snuck into the library between chores’ break, the books I cracked open explained the system in a very simple way.
There are nine Emperors, including Erebus, all of which own large amounts of territory. To my understanding, Erebus’ territory is one of the smallest, but his empire has the most skillful fighters. His associates are considered some of the most dangerous assassins, and beside the fact that he is King, no one dares attempt to take what belongs to him.
Anyone would be stupid to...because that would call for a challenge that no ordinary pureblood could stand a chance at winning.
When we came to a halt before the strong men and women, their full attention was on me as mine was on them. To my left stood the blue-eyed blond male who I instantly recognized as Adonis, leader of the Brazilian Empire.
Beside him stood the black-haired male, Seth, who according to the books, is the only Emperor that is at peace with the rest. Of course, considering that Australia is isolated from the rest of the continents, that fact was not surprising.
Standing alongside Seth, the blonde woman, Tatianna: leader of the Russian Empire, had her arm wrapped around Seth’s as she leaned into him. A mark was imprinted on the crook of her neck, one of which was identical to the one on Seth’s.
Giving Tatianna her back, the pale skinned woman, Rhea: Chinese emperor, stood beside her. Her red dress hugged her perfectly and matched the collar on the human male standing beside her. She held onto her pet very closely, almost as if she were afraid to let go. To my left, the gray-eyed male, Santos: Mexican Emperor, held onto his pet in a very similar way Rhea did.
The obvious possessive demeanor was enough to say...those two were quite attached to their ‘toys’.
Not having caught my attention by anything other than the typical smug look on their faces, I hadn’t pay much attention to the other two male standing with champagne glasses in their hands.
However, when my gaze landed on the male standing straight across from Erebus, a string of chills shot up my spine. Unlike the others, there was no look of superiority in his face, but instead, he looked at me with a very curious and sly look on his face. I had instantly recognized him as Enos, the American-Western Emperor.
I knew my history when it came to him...
His brother was the Pureblood Vampire King; that is until he challenged the pureblood born with royalty, the Prince that now stands by my side as both King and Prince, Erebus.
I noticed that beside this...Enos persona, a blonde woman who clung onto his arm while his wrapped around her waist glowered at me. The look of disgust on her face made me feel as if I had taken something that belonged to her and she desperately wanted back.
Jealousy...that’s what it was.
“Well, well. Look at what we have here...” Adonis’ voice trailed off, his strong accent gave his voice a powerful push that made it quite easy to understand why it was that he stood as Emperor.
He naturally had it in him.
Roman, one of the two who I hadn’t bothered to acknowledge, chuckled, “Trespassing King’s territory? Brilliant.” The sarcasm in his voice made me want to strangle him. I had to fight to bite back every little smart remark at the tip of my tongue for the sake of pleasing Erebus.
“Now, now,” Tatianna defended, “no need to be rude, Roman. Maybe she didn’t know.”
When my gaze fell on her, she kindly asked, “What is your name, lovely?”
I had parted my lips to speak, the words being at the tip of my tongue. Fortunately yet unfortunately, I remembered the rules and—as humiliating as it was—I had every intention to obey.
My sight reverted to meet my Master’s, catching his gaze with a look on my face that clearly asked for his permission to speak. Genuinely, he nodded and I reset my sight on the nice woman standing before me.
“Hope. My name is Hope Smith.”
A scoff emitted from Rhea, and she rolled her eyes as she spat, “Pitiful.”
“Hardly,” Enos was quick to interject, my attention slowly shifting to him. He added in a husky voice, “It is a beautiful name.”
“Esperanza...” Santos agreed, “Indeed a lovely name.”
In receiving these complement, Erebus’ grip tightened even more so, nearly bruising my hip. I could feel the possessiveness he held over me, and in a way, it made me feel...safe.
Safe from what? He’s the one abusing you, dumbass.
I inward scolded myself, holding back from physically slapping myself over my own stupidity.
Nothing this man does could ever make what he has done to me okay.
Suddenly, a familiar strength radiated throughout the room, and my body betrayed me. I nearly shuddered where I stood as my head hesitantly turned to allow my sight to fall on the main entrance of the ballroom.
There he stood alongside her.
Hunter and Celic...
My heart dropped to my stomach and my blood ran cold.
I wasn’t the only one that had directed my attention to them, but so did everyone in the room, including Erebus.
You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me...
The panic overdrive that shot through my body made the tingling in my hands and toes seem childsplay. I didn’t have anything up my sleeve, but I knew that there was no way I could be seen with Erebus by Celic like this.
She’d lose it...
“Umm...Master?” I nearly stumbled over my own words.
“What is it, slave?”
In this situation, that word flew by me without any effect; every-other emotion had overpowered by fear, shock, and anxiety.
“May I please be excused?”
He hadn’t bothered on looking at me until then, and he turned very slowly to eye me. He had arched an eyebrow, briefly scanning me with a look of uncertainty. Whether he noticed my uneasiness or not is something that I will never know, but after giving me a long look he nodded away and stated, “Make it fast.”
That was all I needed before I turned to the Purebloods to respectfully excuse myself. I didn’t waste any time, moving as quick as I could in the tall heels on my feet to the nearest exit. Passed the set of double doors, the long hall that ran to the east wing of the mansion was silent and empty.
I paced myself back and forth, taking deep breaths as I moved to press my hands against my turning stomach.
No, no, no, no, no...
My eyelids fell shut and I focused on my alternate sight, calling on the one person that may have still been on my side and willing to help me: Rebekah. When I opened my eyes, they instantly landed on the blonde woman I was relieved to see. Her back was leaned against the wall as her arms were crossed in front of her, and she eyed me, waiting for me to speak.
“What do I do?” I asked in a breathy voice.
“Tell him the truth,” she replied blankly.
I scoffed, “Anything but that.”
“Make him angry,” she calmly suggested. “He’ll throw you in the cell.”
Of course she’s calm...no wonder she’s dead.
I felt that she was utterly useless and I forced my sight off, pushing her back into the darkness.
“I’ll do that when I want to remain his slave forever...” I muttered under my breath.
My hands came up to my head, running them through my hair. I had taken one more step before I felt the small cold hand grip my shoulder and my muscles tensed, my body stiffening.
My breath caught in my lungs, my knees shaking as I apprehensively turned around. I didn’t have to search at all, the icy-blue orbs instantly locking with my own in a moment of utter and intense tension.