I run back to the slave quarters and I find it half empty – Celeste no where in sight. The slave quarters were just twenty-five beds running along one wall of a sparsely furnished ‘mini-hall’. Another twenty-five beds running along the opposite wall. It makes my heart ache for the girls as I realise starvation has tempted almost more than half to try their hand at getting some food.
“If you are looking for everyone else – you can guess where they are,” one girl mutters from her bed, her hands behind her head as she leans against the limestone wall, she eyes me through one open eye, “We’re not being tempted – even if we faint from exhaustion working tomorrow.”
“That’s what we all should be doing,” I nod at her, my cheeks filling with blood at the realisation Celeste most likely would be with Traegr – because she wasn’t here. I slowly turn on my heel as I consider what to do to go find her and get her alone.
“Where are you going, Sapphire?” The girl asks me, sounding frustrated, “You are the reason we can’t eat – and now you are also going to give into temptation? Those men might look irresistible but they are all dickheads if you hadn’t noticed!”
“I’m going to find my friend, Celeste,” I snap back, eager to leave, “I wouldn’t get so comfortable...?”
“Kaelyn,” she snaps back.
"Kaelyn – listen to me,” I try to compose myself and I point towards the rest of the palace, “Those dickhead males are going to be choosing all of us as personal slaves later tonight. We are all getting assigned masters.”
“What?” she leans forward and the rest of the girls slowly walk forward, eager to find out more, “Are you serious?”
“I think they are trying to recreate some sort of life they had with the women of their past,” I explain.
“What if we are their women?” Kaelyn suggests.
“We’re human –” I try to insist, but she cuts me off, shaking her head. Her dark brown hair is as wild as her attitude as she jumps to her feet. I recognize her as one of the troublemakers back on the spaceship who wasn’t afraid to cause trouble for the Others.
“Human?” she cuts me off, “I’m pretty sure I’m not human anymore since coming here. Haven’t you felt the changes in how you feel and see things here on this planet? We all have,” The girls around her nod in agreement and I just gape, glad but shocked that more girls were experiencing what I was, “If you are a princess why don’t you lead us into some equality?”
“I don’t – I don’t know how,” I stutter, feeling more like Kaelyn was making an attack on me rather than anything else.
“Well maybe I have to come up with a plan of my own then,” Kaelyn looks to the other girls with raised brows and they all nod in agreement, “I’m not waiting around here to be a pet to one of these arrogant twats. Was there anything in the forest that was dangerous when you went exploring, Sapphire?”
“No, but you can’t just leave –” I start to argue but Kaelyn is having none of it.
“Yes. We can,” she stalks past me, “You ready to find some freedom?” she calls out to the other remaining girls.
“They will notice you are gone as soon as they come for all of us later,” I hiss after them, from the doorway as they make their way into the forest just outside the slave quarters. They weren’t stopping.
“We’ll be gone before they can find us – princess,” Kaelyn turns to face me, shrugging at me with a cocky smirk on her face, “Enjoy your life of eternal servitude. If you want to join the dark side – we’ll be in the trees.”
Kaelyn seems to wink at me in the moonlight and before I even know it the girls are gone.
I’m not tempted to follow because I wasn’t as selfish as them. I knew their escape would bode dangerously for the rest of us. As anger slowly surges through me, I stalk my way from the slave quarters back towards the Other’s dining den.
I had not entered into it directly before but I knew where it was located and that is where Celeste would be. My first priority was finding her.
I stop by one of the fountains in the courtyard on my way there and I take a moment to run my hand through the natural spring water of Kiyr. If my eyes could change colour – I obviously wasn’t human. I could sometimes spontaneously read a foreign language and understand the foreign words that flowed from Sabir’s mouth. Not to mention I had been compelled by some unknown force to enter the forest.
Clearly I was something more than what I thought I once was.
So why were my memories non-existent? I wanted to remember.
I take my hand out of the water of the fountain and I instantly feel unsafe as I lose contact with the liquid. Curious, I run my hand through it once more and that same feeling of calm, no – equilibrium flows through me.
For a second time I take my hand out of the water and I shake off the droplets, wiping them on my soft slave short-shorts, still dirty from the forest. I’d explore my fascination with water on this planet later.
I enter the Golden Palace, creeping my way slowly to a rowdy, loud dining den and the doors that led to it were open already. All the noise was coming from inside so I edge my head around the doorframe to take a peek.
What I see is girls sitting on the laps of the Others, while a game of some sorts is being played around a wide circular wooden table. There are also men standing around watching while every girl seems to be taken already. Whether it’s a hand on her back, a hand on a thigh, or a hand up a girl’s top – without a doubt they were already being chosen.
I stay where I am, watching as the guys yell out words as I hear dice being rolled. Perhaps they were playing some sort of gambling game. I don’t spot Celeste there either and I start to worry – until there is a slight shuffle behind me and I spin around to witness her down the hall – her finger on her lips.
My eyes light up at the sight of her, she was being as sneaky as me it seemed.
She beckons me over and I jog quietly to her, she keeps her finger on her lips, stressing that I be quiet as she grabs my hand and pulls me with her back to the girl’s dining hall. When we’ve entered it, it’s deserted, dark and there isn’t a soul in sight.
“I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” she hisses at me, “I was trying to find you and Sabir, I was worried he’d hurt you or worse.”
“He didn’t,” I turn from her and sit on the edge of one of the long tables as she stays standing, looking worried as I tell her everything I’ve found out. The message about Seraphine, the fact that we were all going to be claimed tonight and that Kaelyn and just under half the girls had made a run for it.
Her face pales as she considers everything I’ve said and I see a tear escape the corner of her eye. She reaches up her hand and wipes it away, sucking in a breath she tries not to completely break down.
“I’m so sorry Sapphire,” she whispers, looking to the ground, “We’re in so much danger.”
“Why are you crying, what’s wrong, what aren’t you telling me?” I ask, terrified as a sick feeling fills my stomach. Something was wrong here, something –
“I lied to you,” she looks over her shoulder she still seems paranoid that someone will overhear so she quietens her voice to a mere decibel and she takes another step closer to me so I can hear, “I lied to you about everything,” there is so much pain in her eyes as she says this, “You can’t remember because you asked me to help erase your memories when we left. You told me to erase everyone’s memories. I did and the spell is wearing off now that we are home, but I only erased half my memory, I remember... things. We are in so much trouble Sapphire.”
“What the hell?” I whisper back, knowing now I’m going to get some answers.
“I was honestly so worried Sabir might hurt you. We are who they’ve been searching for,” she looks over her shoulder one more time, terrified someone is listening in, before looking back at me and barely holding back her tears, “I-It is impossible that they won’t recognise our connection to Kiyr eventually – that’s not really a problem. They believe we are forged from destiny and the curse of the stars. But we never died,” she hurries her tone until I can barley keep up, “We escaped. Their cruelty and the way they used us got so out of hand we had to leave. If they find out we are the same girls that betrayed them 1000 years ago – we’re dead – or if not dead we will have an eternity suffering.”
“News flash, I don’t remember a thing, also why were they so cruel to us in the first place? Don’t you think you are being a little bit melodramatic?”
“Maybe,” Celeste hiccups in the cutest way as she abruptly smiles and laughs through her choked up throat, “But – my point is I remember our origins and we belong in the forest,” she grabs both my hands to comfort herself more than me. I was still feeling a little numb from all this information, “These men – they are our soul’s other half but if we do not tread carefully they can be as bad as demons. Don’t mention the word Seraphine to them – ever.”
“Why?” I ask.
“Seraphine was the leader of the resistance against them,” she whispers, “This is all I know. All I remember. When you asked me to erase all our memories it was for protection if they ever found us in the future. I disagreed with what you wanted to do so I pretended to go along with it. So I only erased half of my memory, however, I can’t remember why I chose some memories and discarded others.”
“Are you a witch or something?” I ask, trying not to grin. Because that would be pretty cool.
“I don’t remember that much,” she smiles, “All I remember is that you belong in the water and I belong with the earth of Kiyr. As for Seraphine – besides her leading the resistance my only memory besides that is she was known to have a passion and a fire so strong, it rivalled even the powers of these men.”
“Thank you for telling me all this,” I admit, jumping off the table I grab her into a hug – because she still seemed shaken and terrified, “You have no idea how much I hated questioning everything, I was so confused but you’ve made this situation just a little bit more bearable because I understand a bit more now. Would you like to raid the kitchens with me and steal some food?”
Celeste looks a bit shocked as I pull back and wiggle my eyebrows at her – trying to lighten the mood. After all – after hearing such intense information which was a little overwhelming to say the least... humour would have to help us through.
“Sure,” she laughs again, pulling her long perfect blond hair behind her, she starts winding it up in a bun on the top of her head, “You haven’t changed a bit – you always had that way about you. To get through the darkness these men alluded. You were always cheeky.”
“I might be cheeky but I’m also hungry,” I jump off the table and start walking backwards, facing her.
Celeste follows – I can tell she still felt overwhelmed herself with admitting those memories to me.
But I don’t fret too much now.
If anything I was more intrigued than anything. Fear certainly existed but I was curious about Seraphine and her resistance.
I wanted to find out more about her.
I frown as I realise I’m thinking too far ahead.
First Celeste and I had to steal some food from the unmanned kitchens. Then we had to deal with the men claiming us as personal slaves. If history was to repeat it self than I had no doubt, from that ceramic painting in the pool that Traegr would be after Celeste – and Sabir would be after me.
The question still remained however; what the hell these ‘fun’ ceremonies would involve.
I had a feeling whatever happened in the past would play a huge role in what happened tonight.