“I thought they were superior in intelligence?” I joke as Celeste and I sit on the floor with a bowl of foreign fruit each. It was like banana but it was really filling and tasted like mango. We quietly munch away in the dark, crossing out legs, sitting opposite each other. The kitchen separated the girl’s dining hall from the Other’s dining den. We could hear all the ruckus as we stuffed our faces.
“They are superior in arrogance,” Celeste corrects me, “They wouldn’t dare to think one of us would be brave enough to defy Traegr’s orders. As if any of us girls would even try to waltz into the kitchen and steal some food.”
“I love how despite their arrogance, they fail to recognize resistance,” I grin and pass Celeste half of my extra exotic banana when she finishes hers.
“They never expect it,” she says, “Until, of course, it’s too late and we’ve left their entire planet to get away from them,” she manages to smile and we both giggle quietly at how ridiculous it sounded... despite the fact we had achieved it in the past.
“Let’s get more food, I’m still hungry,” I scramble to my feet when we’ve finished our first main course for the night.
I’m half way to my feet when I pause as a dead silence fills the dining den, followed by a roar from Traegr.
“They, what?” his voice booms over everyone, silencing any music or laughter remaining.
Celeste and I look at each other, our eyes widening.
“They’ve gone into the forest!” There is a reply from one of the men and suddenly there is a burst of chatter amongst everyone.
“Everyone, up!” Traegr, “Find them and bring them back!”
“Oh shit,” I whisper as Celeste jumps to her feet and we chuck our bowls in the sink, wiping our hands on our slave clothes. Mine were getting so dirty.
“Let’s wait a bit and then leave,” Celeste suggests, “We’ll wait until they’ve all left the dining –”
The door to the kitchen from the dining den is thrown open and men start rushing through. Celeste and I freeze and watch them run through to the other side to the girl’s dining hall – a quicker way out into the forest.
Hraken runs through the door, just happens to glance to the side and instantly spots us hiding in the shadows of the kitchen. He pauses as he makes out who we are and he rolls his eyes before he approaches us.
“Do you two know where the other girls are?” He asks, reaching out and grabbing an arm of mine and an arm of Celeste.
Celeste and I both shake our heads and I see Hraken’s eyes narrow onto my cheek. I quickly reach up a hand and wipe the remaining food off my face and smile innocently.
“Traegr and Sabir will want to know you two are safe,” he growls, turning and pulling us with him, he drags us into the dining den where Traegr and Sabir remain alone, discussing intensely what to do about the girls that escaped, “Your slaves are here,” Hraken interrupts, lightly shoving both me and Celeste towards them. Celeste and I quickly stand together side by side, not able to hide the guilt on our faces.
Traegr and Sabir turn to face us, I see Sabir inspecting me with curiosity but also relief that I wasn’t one of the girls that escaped. Traegr has his arms crossed over his chest and looks at Celeste and I with disapproval, his eyes calculating before glancing up at Hraken.
“Where were these brats hiding?” he growls out, a new anger present in his tone. I knew Traegr was an authoritative leader but I had never seen him lose it.
The news of the escaped girls must have hit a raw nerve with him.
“The kitchen –” Hraken starts to explain but I quickly raise my chin and interrupt.
“He technically didn’t catch us in the act so he can’t prove anything!” I blurt out, confident I can win this argument.
“They were stealing food,” Hraken says dryly.
“Oh no, she used other words,” Traegr drawls out with a slight smirk and narrowed eyes, “In the act, girls?”
It takes me awhile to figure out what the hell he is talking about but when I do Celeste and I look at each other at the same time and blush deeply.
“Girls?” Sabir asks with a raised eyebrow, openly smirking in his amusement.
“Ah, yeah,” I say, “Sure,” I try to play along with it, if a little sarcastically, because clearly it made them happy, sort of. It’d be better they believed Celeste and I had been engaging in some sort of act then us eating food when that was forbidden.
“You deal with them, I’m going to help search for the remaining girls before they all get lost in the forest,” Hraken turns on his heel to walk off.
“They’d never get lost in that forest... ” I can’t help but mutter under my breath, thinking of Celeste’s words.
A tense silence overcomes us three and I glance up at a fascinated yet irritated Traegr and surprised Sabir.
“What?” I ask, annoyed by their stares. I look at Celeste and she is also eyeing me with worry.
“You just spoke in their language,” Celeste says.
“I’m Star Cursed, it’s in my genes, I guess – I mean, that’s pretty cool... those words just c-came to me,” I quickly add in, shocked but also trying to explain away how the hell I just did that. I’m surprised at myself but don’t have time to dwell on it. I was fully aware how close I was to giving the game away to the two people that we didn’t want to recognize we were the girls that ‘betrayed’ them.
“Isn’t that intriguing,” Traegr turns to Sabir and they both look at each other with a knowing look.
“We need to get those girls back before they do something stupid,” Sabir says quietly and seriously.
“Agreed, we’ll alert the others to a possible cause to be suspicious these girls aren’t exactly telling us the truth,” Traegr directs the last word to both me and Celeste. I try to feign confusion while Celeste simply looks at her feet – trying not to tremble.
“Do you have anything to say?” Sabir asks both of us.
“No, but can we please go back to our rooms now like the rest of the –”
" – other girls,” Sabir cuts me off and hisses at Traegr, “They may also try to escape, someone needs to guard the hall to make sure none of them also leave.”
“Go, Sabir, now,” Traegr nods at him, then turns to face both of us, “You two are coming with me.”
“What did we do?” Celeste finds her voice and looks up at him suddenly, hurt shining in her silver eyes.
“Too many things,” he growls out dangerously while Sabir walks forward to leave but approaches me first, laying a hand on my exposed hip through the midriff top and leaning in to my ear.
“...shame,” he whispers, “You’re already losing the game, Sapphire...” he pulls back and the look in his eyes spells out all sorts of threats for later. He leaves me with a feeling of dread as he stalks off. I’m jerked back to the real threat at hand when Traegr suddenly grabs my arm just as he grab’s Celeste’s.
“Don’t hurt us, please,” Celeste begs.
“I suggest you shut your pretty little mouth, Celeste, before I force you to put those lips to something far more useful,” he growls, his tone dropping an octave. He drags us with him effortlessly out of the dining den and towards the stairs leading to the exotic royal bedrooms.
“What do you want from us?” I ask him, trying desperately to appear brave.
“It’s simple,” he replies, “I want answers.”
“We don’t have any,” I snarl at him when he grips my arm too hard when I try and tug away, hurting me.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart, I’ll get them out of both of you,” he says this far too confidently.
Celeste and I both fall silent as we are dragged up the stairs.
We meet each other’s eyes briefly and we share a terrified look.
We both knew.
Sabir was right.
Whatever the hell this ‘game’ was? We were close to losing it.
I was terrified of what would happen if it came to that.