I walk quietly through the moonlit garden, knowing I have to find Sabir before he starts searching for me. A sick feeling twists my gut and I decide I better just head straight to the dining hall with the rest of the 49 other girls. I didn’t feel safe at the thought of going straight to Sabir.
I decide just putting all my problems to the back of my mind was pointless, but it was the only thing I felt like doing as my stomach grumbled and my thoughts focus solely on food and Celeste.
Seraphine, fire is my fury. I wanted to tell Celeste about my message – hopefully she wasn’t too angry that I had disappeared all day.
I wonder if she had told anyone?
I enter the Golden Palace from the garden, the first thing I notice is how utterly quiet it is coming from the dining room where the slaves eat separately from the Others.
I unwittingly walk right up to the huge closed double wooden doors and push them open, walking quickly through... to find the whole dining room crowded – but dead silent.
Two steps in and I freeze.
The girls are all sitting silently at their tables, no food out. The Others are walking around inspecting all the girls’ faces while at the front of the room, arms crossed over their chests; Traegr, Hraken and Sabir along with a couple more highly ranked Others.
My arrival causes everyone’s eyes to swing toward me.
“Sapphire!” Traegr growls out accusingly, “Where have you been?”
“I...” I see Sabir’s narrowed eyes as he inspects me from across the room and I hesitate, “I don’t... really know.”
“You don’t know?” Traegr asks, “Foolish decision to be dishonest, I can see where you’ve been just looking at you. You have dirt on your hands, leaves in your hair. You left your duties and went into the forest – it is forbidden to leave the Golden Palace. You are a slave, not a free girl, Sapphire, I wonder when my words will have to turn into direct punishments? Perhaps now is a better time than any.”
I stay silent, what was I meant to say?
“Let this be a lesson to all of you,” Traegr now directs his commanding tone to everyone, “If you leave your duty – if you especially leave the boundary of this palace – no one gets to eat and right now none of you inferior slaves will eat tonight because of Sapphire’s actions. In fact, here’s another lesson to you humans. You don’t have one ounce of power here and if you think you do, think again. Now you have a choice – go to bed with an empty stomach or come begging, on your hands and knees into our dining den – and if you please us...” Traegr can’t help but slowly smile, masculine laughter flowing from too many of the amused Others, “... perhaps then we’ll give you something to satisfy your hunger.”
Female faces contort in disgust while others just roll their eyes and the majority look plain shocked.
Traegr has a word to Sabir and the men start moving out of the room, back to their quarters – while Sabir walks straight for me, his head cocked to the side curiously with a little smirk on his cruel lips.
I feel like running off as he comes closer and before I know it he has come and passed, only speaking these words, “This way, sweetheart.”
It was the most sarcastic sweetheart I’d ever heard, let me just say that.
I turn and follow him apprehensively, catching Celeste’s eye at a table near the end as I exit the dining hall. She looks relieved to see me but worried to see me go with Sabir.
I walk behind him. He is still in some formal attire like on the spaceship. I watch as I walk behind him as he moves his elbows to the side, his arms bent... like he is doing up a button... or undoing multiple instead. I’m so focused on his movements I don’t take much notice of the fact we start descending into an underground part of the palace until it’s too late.
I’ve watched him shift off his shirt as he’s walking, my eyes trained on his rippling muscles all over his back. Too many muscles... more than the average human male. Even the skin on his back is lightly tanned and even in colour all over.
On the surface... okay I admit I liked the way he was so much taller than me, how he literally dwarfed me, especially when he faced me.
I’m brought back to reality when a door we’ve just walked through, shuts on its own accord and I’m surrounded by darkness.
One moment I knew I was vaguely walking down a creepy corridor with him, the next moment I was trapped. I freak out and take a step back, only to hit the metal door with a thud.
“Scared?” he asks from somewhere deeper in the room, far too pleased with himself. I hear a match strike and a small flame lights up the room.
“I don’t understand anything about you,” I blurt out, watching him move the flame to a torch on the wall – which lights up instantly. He walks around, topless, his shirt on the table in the middle. I look at the rest of the room – which honestly looked like the dungeon version of a counsellor’s office. There was a chair to recline in... I try to ignore the restraints at the arm rests.
Ok, I don’t ignore them, my eyes can’t look away for a moment as I spot them.
This was fucked up.
My instincts knew it and I stay frozen by the door, refusing to come in any closer as Sabir lights up the last torch on the stone wall – turning to face me. He sees me shivering, and walks casually up to the stone table in the middle which he jumps on top of and clasps his hands together, his elbows on his knees.
“Let me guess,” he drawls out mockingly, “Hungry, scared... and guilty.”
My heart skips a bit, my eyes widening.
“Yes I went out into the forest –”
“You don’t think I noticed your eyes changed colour in the pool, Sapphire?” he cuts me off, his eyes narrowing.
I didn’t expect him to say this and my mouth just hangs open, speechless.
A tense silence ensues as he stares me down, his eyes literally feel like they are ripping out all my layers of defence around my mind as he stares through me. Yet I’m not sure exactly why his words disturb my sense of confidence so much.
“I – I’m so confused, I don’t understand what’s going on, why I feel like this, why I... I can... I can feel how dangerous you are Sabir... I’m not scared, I’m terrified of you.”
“Why are you terrified?” He asks, his tone going neutral, but I can still hear the edge of emotions he is trying to keep out of his tone, “Take a seat, sweetheart – I think it’s time we started talking.”
I hesitate. Looking at the chair I feel like I know it. Like I’ve been here before.
“Don’t restrain me, please,” I beg as I stand up and decide to go do as he says – if I at least calm him down a little bit maybe he would give me some answers.
I at least get him to smile at my words.
“Don’t worry...I don’t need to restrain you...” his eyes seem to say otherwise as I reach the chair and sit down on the very edge of it, not leaning back into it. Instead I also lean forward with my elbows on my knees, hands clasped to stop the tremble in my fingers.
“Okay...” I begin, deciding maybe I can make the conversation go the way I want it to go, “Yes, my eyes change colour – I didn’t know until recently. Yes, I went into the forest. Can you tell me why you Others, came to Earth and chose us... a select few of us girls – to come live with you. It’s like you are trying to recreate a life you’ll never get back,” I start off, thinking I’ll keep some things to myself. Like the Seraphine message.
I look expectantly at Sabir for a reply, but he just stares at me, like he is processing what I’ve just said and asked.
When he doesn’t reply I find my eyes wandering sneakily to his chest and I curse myself for thinking of something so utterly stupid and shallow and meaningless... thinking about his good looks, his attractiveness – when I was affectively trapped in a dungeon with him getting counselled.
“You’ve always liked playing games,” he eventually spits out, his eyes angry. I don’t understand why he thinks I’m trying to manipulate him – well maybe I was... a bit. But I was just trying to get some answers.
“You want to hurt me,” I snap back, “Why do you want to hurt me? I can see it in your eyes. I don’t know why you harbour so much anger towards me, I don’t even know who I am anymore!”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Sabir looks up to the ceiling, tyring to compose himself, he lets out a sharp breath before he looks down again, “I’m going to remind you.”
“Of a life I never had? What happened to that soldier I killed? I thought you were going to rehabilitate my rebelliousness, you know, try and mess with my head and try and make me feel guilty...” I feel my slave clothes move of their own accord against my skin, rubbing against my back and chest. I reach up and grab a hold of my midriff top, glaring at Sabir. I see his head cocked to the side, a relaxed smirk plastered across his face.
Did he just move my clothes with his mind?
“Mmmm yes, darling... I will rehabilitate you, exactly how I desire you to behave – you’ll behave that way in time. Before I even begin with that, however... You’re going to answer a few things for me,” Sabir gets off the table abruptly and grabs my ankle, squatting down next to my leg he lifts up my foot and stares at the dirt covering the sole of my foot, “Scratches from the forest – undoubtedly you went far to injure yourself so much.”
“I didn’t even notice,” I say, involuntarily leaning back. My instincts were telling me to stay physically far away from this alien man who wanted things from me I didn’t comprehend or understand for the moment.
“You like the forest?” Sabir asks, his other hand comes up and cleans off some of the dirt off my foot, brushing it away.
The way his firm hand gripped my ankle was a little distracting, I try to push away my rising hormones.
“I wanted to explore and got carried away with how beautiful it all was,” I admit, relaxing a tiny bit into the chair as he starts giving my foot a gentle massage.
“Did you spot anything of interest, sweetheart?” he asks me.
I instantly think of Seraphine.
“No,” I say too quickly. His eyes dart up to meet my own and I know he can see that I’m lying. But I do not change my answer.
A tense silence once again fills the air and Sabir eventually puts down my foot, thinking deeply to himself. Abruptly he then stands up, going to the door he grabs the handle and swings it open, turning to face me. He gestures for me to leave.
“Why...?” I begin, but he cuts me off.
“You lied to me and I lied to you. Perhaps you’ll tell me the truth once I admit something to you,” his eyes look full of pain and emotion as he holds my gaze, unblinking, “... I dowant to hurt you – in a way you use to love. I want to give you what’s built up over the last 1000 years... in response to your absence.”
“I love how you always give me vague answers,” I say, rolling my eyes as I get to my feet. Eager to jump for the tempting open door.
As I walk for it he puts out a long leg to stop me.
“Not until you tell me what you found in the forest,” he says.
“Just some words, on a tree, I couldn’t understand what they said,” there, a white-lie but a half-truth none the less. I look up at Sabir hopefully, knowing now he must keep to his word.
“Why would you lie about something so trivial, sweetheart?” He asks, slowly lowering his leg.
I shrug as I walk past him, saying, “Perhaps because I don’t trust you.”
“You never did.”
“Why?” I stop, now I’ve exited the room I turn to face him more confidently, “Were you always such an arrogant jerk?”
“Mmmm... no. I liked tying you up too much, Sapphire. That’s why you never trusted me,” he smirks my way, “I was going to say you should go get some food, you’ll need the energy for later... but Traegr forbid you and the other slaves from eating so too bad.”
“What’s later?” I frown, not sure why my heart is beating faster than usual and butterflies were filling my empty, growling stomach.
“You’re all going to get assigned a specific master, through a couple of fun initiation ceremonies,” Sabir walks forward towards me and I decide I better start walking out of here before he tried to get too close.
He liked tying me up in the past... he admitted to it! No wonder my instincts, genes, DNA, memories? – whatever you wanted to base it on – made me want to keep my distance from him.
“That sounds... great,” I say awkwardly as we walk side by side up a slight curve to the steps which brought us to the ground floor of the palace.
When we reach the top of the stairs I turn to face him awkwardly, not sure what to say to him.
“You... you know you left your shirt back there,” I point out.
“I hate wearing one – it’s not traditional,” he points out. Another interesting fact I had learned for the day.
“I wonder if Traegr can choose more than one personal slave at the... ceremonies?” I say cheekily, the sassy side of me bursting forth when I thought my sense of humour had left since accepting my solemn destiny to be a slave in a seemingly unknown world.
Sabir’s eyes light up with jealousy for a moment and he narrows them and glares at me.
“How many times must I remind you, you won’t win this game, Sapphire,” he growls.
“I don’t know what games you are referring to but... I like games and I like winning. So if I can figure out how to get on your nerves? I will.”
“You can speak out of line all you want to, princess, but you’ll be reaping the consequences later tonight if you push me too far,” Sabir leans forward and his hand grabs my ass, pulling me forward so suddenly I nearly trip into him. I quickly put my hands out on his hard chest and push away from him.
His hand gives me a cruel squeeze for a second before he lets me go.
“Whatever,” I snap, trying to ignore the fact my butterflies increase tenfold in my tummy as I take a couple of steps away from him.
Distance, I needed distance.
"Yes, master,” he corrects me.
I narrow my eyes at him and I can feel the vibe in the air grow a little more dangerous.
“Don’t forget you are disposable. I can be as cruel as I like to you, so if I was you – Sapphire – I’d be trying your damn hardest to please me.”
"Yes master,” I give in, deciding now was a good time to make a run for it back to Celeste. She was like my anchor – she’d keep me centred while we discussed what was going to happen later tonight.
“Even a sarcastic ‘Yes, master’ is still a ′Yes, master’, remember that,” Sabir walks off, mocking me under his breath – he swears in his own language a couple of times and I almost understand the words.
Either I was crazy, a genius or memories were actually starting to come back to me from a life I thought wasn’t my own.
As I stand there thinking about it, glancing down at the stairs that led to the chair with arm restraints... my cheeks flush and I feel very frustrated.
How dare he call me a whore. I may have a cheeky side – but I was no whore.
A new fresh feeling flows through me – determination.
I may be a slave, but at these ‘ceremonies’ tonight? No matter what was planned, he was going to see that I didn’t appreciate being insulted and degraded so damn much.
I was going to show him just how cheeky I could be and how much his words didn’t shake me up.
Even if they did...
I make a pact with myself here and now.
I will never admit it and I will always deny it.
I would never show him that he shook my core and rattled my confidence.
The only way I could do that was to somehow, someway, prove him wrong.
I was not his Princess Sapphire – and even if I was – I was not the exact same and I was not a girl who would fall in line so complacently.