I make my way back into the palace and notice only now, both Dark Gems and imprisoned girls are waking up. I walk down halls to see everyone heading for the Dining Hall, coming out of bedrooms looking dishevelled.
Some girls had already been claimed.
When Dark Gems walk past me, they ignore me. They couldn’t care less about showing a fake princess any interest, but I also knew they were keeping to their hierarchy.
I was Traegr and Sabir’s interest – so they weren’t going to get involved.
The girls, however, who don’t have their memories back, walk around timidly. Always looking over their shoulder.
I haven’t spotted any girls from the group that had escaped and I have no idea where they could be.
I don’t have time to worry about them now, first I was interested in doing some harmless and accidental research.
I casually walk my way to a set of small stairs, hardly occupied, on the opposite side of the Palace.
The small stairs would lead down to an underground vault of Gems and other secret, hidden things.
However, as I turn down the last corridor to reach those very stairs, I find a wall in its place. They had moved the entrance somewhere else.
Narrowing my eyes at the new bare wall of sandstone, I decide perhaps I would have a more direct approach.
Celeste and I had cleaning duties to fulfil so perhaps I’d extent those cleaning duties to the Royal King’s Office. It wasn’t exactly what I needed but perhaps documents had moved their way into a more common room after 1000 years of no Seraphine Rebellion Squadron.
I head back to the other side of the Palace and the huge staircase leading to the Royal Bedrooms of the most powerful Dark Gems. If I was correct, Celeste would be up there cleaning. Hopefully she wouldn’t interrupt my researching.
Traegr and Sabir would be busy doing whatever they considered important. Which was probably going for a swim in the morning. They loved their luxury, all the Dark Gems did all day was play games, exercise, eat, sleep, have sex and the number one most important thing – they ruled.
Not just the Palace, but the whole planet.
On routine departures they’d travel to all parts of Kiyr to make sure things were running smoothly.
They didn’t do that often, however there was a reason the Golden Palace was located where it was in the forest. It was the most densely compacted area known to hold various Gem stones.
It was like a holy ground for Gems, all linages could find energising Gem stones to connect with here.
The Dark Gems had to stay here the majority of the time to protect the area and have control over it.
Males considered threats would occasionally challenge the King for power. Death was usually the result. Hence Scouting for Royal breeds didn’t just happen for females, it also happened for males too. It would reduce random threats trying to take control of the Golden Palace.
Ironically I could admit that the boys they found were often more harshly treated than the girls. This was because any boys connected to powerful Gem stone linages were often rapidly beat down into lower ranks inside the Golden Palace. Especially Obsidian. They needed to be watched and controlled. Just like the female line, Obsidian males were also highly volatile in magic consumption, usage and temper. Seraphine Obsidian gave all Obsidian linages a corrupt name.
By the time I’ve made it to the outside of Traegr’s office, the door is closed. It is located literally next to his bedroom so he can keep a close eye on it.
There was a small chance he could be inside but I remember I needed to bluff accidental exploration.
I open the door boldly without hesitation and waltz in.
It’s empty and I grin.
“Oh, my!” I look around spreading my hands, “This isn’t Sabir or Traegr’s bedroom! I must have gone in the wrong door, hmmm, I ‘wonder’ what this room is!” I smirk at my ‘shock’ of wandering into an office.
The place wasn’t too different. A large window overlooked the courtyard, a pillar that contained a fire place was off centre to the right of the room, where couches were spread around the unlit fire. Portraits of Ametrine Gems hung on the walls, including other strong Gem stones. Obsidian was included, as well as Madeira Citrine.
I walk around the empty room, so happy that it’s actually free of occupation. I had free reign to explore now.
I walk to the desk by the window, it had many draws down both sides.
I quickly search through all of them, finding lots of papers in the right top draw on the recent revival of the Scouting Stadium and letters to Traegr from other Dark Gems who patrolled the planet. I laugh when I find a bunch of letters that female Gems had written, asking to be considered for role as princess to replace the lost Royal breeds.
Too bad we were back.
I find one document that is striking, however its date suggests it’s recent. Whatever I was looking for would be from 1000 years ago. None the less I pick up the document with a red warning label ‘Urgent’.
I read it from start to finish.
Year, 10400, 200th Sun
Urgent search required
We regret to inform you the young suspect Hybrid-Human-Gem (HHG) has gone missing. The boy was showing abilities of harnessing elements, without contact from female bodies, just before he went missing.
We believe he has escaped testing on his own, with no help.
Important details: Name, Pharis. Age, 16. Origin, Earth. Last known location, volcanic mountain range of Citrine. Most probably headed towards the Golden Palace Protected Area. His weakness is apparent open bodily magic systems that other male Gems can access, Royal or Regular. Has no training in combat, but capacity of magic is unknown. The mother is unknown. Gem connection is unknown.
If he cannot be detained within the next week or if he resists capture, we advice extermination.
His uncontrolled existence is a threat to future stabilised association with CU.
Keep a look out,
Magic & Gene Professor, J.R Lapis Lazuli.
(Signed) Jared Richards Lapis Lazuli
My eyes scan over the page, reading the language I could now fully interpret with my full memory back in check.
“Pharis...” I whisper the name, curious about the importance of this letter, “Born on Earth, hmmm...”
I scan over the document one more time and then slide it carefully back towards the bottom of the pile, shutting the draw. I let out a sigh as I look up and I abruptly freeze.
Hraken, the last of all Dark Gems I expected to catch me doing the wrong thing, is in the door way, watching on.
I see his bent nose, but glorious dark brown hair which hang in rivlets.
“Hi?” I smile guiltily and reach a nervous hand to my own hair, blushing as I remember just who Hraken is.
He was the best warrior in the whole Golden Palace. His nose was bent and imperfect because of how many times it had been broken. He battled so damn much. Or at least, he use to. He was the Dark Gem who battled in the Scouting Stadium and was the only man to have won in a fight against Seraphine. He was also the only Dark Gem to have been known to sleep with Seraphine afterwards.
God knows, he was probably legendary because of it.
The only man who touched Seraphine.
Until, of course, she was killed ‘accidentally’. I suddenly frown at the thought.
“You want to tell me what you’re doing in here, Sapphire?” Hraken asks me. I can’t help but feel flattered as I remember he is the only Dark Gem to not use derogatory terms when referring to the female Gems, Royal or otherwise.
“She is not Royal”, Traegr tells Hraken like it’s a joke, as they all sit around the King’s couches while I kneel on the floor with Celeste, as the most important Dark Gems hold their weekly meeting. “Not Royal?” Hraken asks, suddenly curious. He glances at me next to Celeste and it is the first time since being in the Palace that I remember feeling safe. Because suddenly he looked at me with kindness and empathy. “None of you have to worry about her fighting abilities,” Traegr answers, as he introduces me as Princess to the other Dark Gems, “The best she can do is a few cute tricks, she can dance too. Why don’t you get up and show us a little twirl, little princess?” As Traegr asks the question I can’t help but look up, not at the King, not at Sabir, but at Hraken. His gaze hadn’t left mine. “I’m too sore to dance,” I mutter, flicking a glare towards the King and Sabir, “So no thank you.” Hraken just raises an eyebrow, while Traegr chuckles with the other men.
“Sapphire?” Hraken asks me again, and I quickly come back to the present.
“Sorry, I just, dazed out, um...” I walk around the desk before he approaches me.
If I had learnt one technique from living here, it was to always make the first move when possible. Approach a Dark Gem before they start approaching you. If they start stalking towards you first, they might consider it a hunt of some kind. I didn’t want to become apart of Hraken’s punishment too.
I was amiable to his seemingly gentle nature, but I was also wary that he was still a Dark Gem.
Just because he always appeared calm, didn’t change the fact that he was the most ferocious warrior that resided here.
Anyone that can beat Seraphine, deserved some sort of respect.
“What were you looking for?” He asks as I try to walk past his huge bare torso, scarred all over. However, I can’t get passed as he sticks out an arm rippling with muscle and veins, blocking the doorway, “Well?” his golden eyes read mine carefully while I just shrug.
“I walked into the wrong room,” I explain.
“That sounds about right,” he answers, hardly believing a word that comes out of my mouth. He looks on disapprovingly, thinking to himself before standing up straight and stepping back to let me through.
“I can go?” I ask, hopeful as I leap past the legendary, feared, but cool and calm warrior.
I don’t get far when he grabs my arm and looks at me, incredulous.
“You think I’ll just let you go on your merry way? Very funny. You have work to do,” Hraken reminds me, pulling me towards Traegr’s room, “You should be cleaning with Celeste.”
He drags me over to Traegr’s door, opens it and ushers me inside. I’m thankful he doesn’t shove me, and I look up at him and find myself smiling.
“Thank you for escorting me a couple of metres, god knows I probably would have wandered off to another room without your helpful guidance,” as I smile I get a small smirk off him, his golden eyes lit with... I think humour, but you could never really know with him. He shuts the door a moment later and I turn around to face Celeste.
At least he didn’t lose his mind when I let a few smartass comments pass, unlike someone I knew...
Celeste is lounging on her back, on Traegr’s bed, being lazy.
Without looking up, she says, “I’m sorry I was angry at you Sapphire. I can’t be bothered cleaning, I’ve been napping this whole time,” she rolls over and rests her cheek on her hand, letting out a long sigh, “Sorry again.”
“Don’t apologize,” I shrug, I had already forgiven her.
“Who was with you?” she asks, curious.
“Hraken,” I walk further in as I explain, “If I help you make that bed, will you promise to listen to what I found out?” I whisper it as I approach.
She eventually sits up, looking apprehensive for a bit, but only because she is glaring at the door I just came through.
“What did you do to get information?” she asks.
I roll my eyes, she always distrusted me around Hraken. She knew he was nonchalant with most girls and only took an interest, rarely, in anyone or anything
“No, he just found me where I shouldn’t be,” I explain with a wink, “he was quite nice about it too.”
“Tell me then,” she says, “But hurry, we’re behind in our schedule now.”
“You seriously want to fall right back into line? We should just go on strike, and search for the other girls –”
“Not so fast, Sapphire,” Celeste points to the door and reminds me, “If Hraken found you sneaking around, he is clearly keeping an eye on things, so let’s not get carried away.”
“Why do you always have to be so serious?” I ask, sitting on the end of the bed and staring at the door that Hraken was possibly still guarding. I doubted it though, he probably had better things to do.
“Because, Sapphire,” Celeste sits up and comes closer, running her hands through my hair, she starts to braid it, “Don’t forget who the enemy is. Don’t forget we’re still in danger. Traegr is your betrothed. Sabir is your punisher. Hraken...”
“What about him?” I snap, annoyed, “He minds his own business, doesn’t call us names, doesn’t talk to us condescendingly...”
“He’ll be the one that breaks you,” Celeste says quietly, “he knows how to get under your skin, the way Sabir can’t.”
“He hasn’t been under my skin,” I joke, “Under me, over me, or anywhere near me.”
“Sabir might not mind sharing you with Traegr, because they are close. But keep your distance with Hraken, all the males respect him but that doesn’t mean they aren’t threatened by him. None of them will appreciate him taking one of their slaves for a fun night away in his arms.”
“What makes you think I would willingly sleep with him?” I ask and she just laughs.
“All the girls want to, and you know it,” she gets to the middle of my braid and finally brings me back down to business, “Now tell me what you found out.”
“We need to keep an eye out for a boy in the forest,” I whisper.
“I found some information about a boy, born between a female Gem and a human male. They are calling him a hybrid and he’s escaped a testing laboratory of some kind. He is on the run, headed towards here. They want to kill him because he is a danger of... Hmmm, I didn’t understand the last part of the letter I read. Something about CU? I don’t know what it stands for. It said something like ‘His uncontrolled existence is a threat to future stabilised association with CU’. But that’s besides the point. They’re going to kill him if he resists capture – and he obviously doesn’t want to be captured again.”
“So what are we going to do?” She asks.
“We’re going to save him, and recruit him –”
“Yes. Into the Seraphine Rebellion Squadron. If we can find him!” I turn around once Celeste is done with my hair and I look at her, hopeful.
“We’re seriously going to recruit a boy, that we might not even find, into an all-girls rebellion?” Celeste asks, crossing her arms over her chest and narrowing her eyes as she considers the suggestion.
“Only if we find him,” I remind her, then I reach out my hand towards her, “I’ll help you speed clean if you help me find this boy? Deal?”
She stares at my hand suspiciously for a bit then eventually sighs and grabs it, sealing the deal.
“First things first, Sapphire, how are we going to survive being questioned tonight?” Celeste asks nervously all of a sudden.
“Don’t worry. I have a plan. By the time we go to Traegr and Sabir – we’ll be the ones in control. Just trust me. It’ll all work out.”
“Sure it will,” Celeste responds dryly.
“Oh shut it, you’re sounding just like Hraken!” I jump off the bed to start helping her clean and she follows.
As we begin, I think about tonight and my plan to get through the punishment.
The basic plan I had thought of to turn things around should work.
At least I hoped it would.
Because the plan was very simple.
We were going to enter the room docile so they thought we had given in, and then we were going to fight!