Chapter 12 - A Slave's Place
March 26, 1645
Escrow Lands, East of Ivaris
I was on the bed in the room provided to us when I was able to control my body again. It felt as if some heavy chains were suddenly taken off me and I was granted control to my limbs once more. Confusion weighed heavy on me. I wanted to know what happened but I don’t have a single idea of how I was possessed by whoever or whatever Selene is.
I felt the lingering traces of magic disappear and then it was as if a stronger magic replaced it. I don’t know why or how but my body tells me that magic is heavy on the air and that it is slowly seeping into me and manipulating my emotions and overpowering reason.
“What do you mean you don’t know what happened?” I asked the King of Ivaris.
“Are you shouting at me?” his voice held a bit of a warning and he gave me an icy glare.
“Forgive me, your grace. I forgot my place.” I said and scrambled off the bed and sat near the hearth. I stretched out my hands and to warm them. I heard a long sigh and then the King began to speak again. “I really don’t know what happened. Let’s speak no more of this.”
When I opened my mouth to issue a protest, he held up his hand. “Speak no more of this night. I forbid it.” He said and I bowed my head in obedience. I waited for his temper to cool down a bit before I spoke again. “Please... Your highness. I felt as if something took hold of my body and I wasn’t able to move yet my limbs moved! But not of my own will...” The table rattle loudly as the King banged his fist on it.
“Haven’t I said that we will speak no more of this night?” he said menacingly as he walked towards me. “Please...” I pleaded again. He bent and hauled me upright and I stared in those grey eyes which were like steel.
“You forget yourself, slave!” he hissed and I winced at his words. A mirage of emotions flashed across his eyes and the set of his jaw told me that he knew what I was talking about but he refused to talk about it. He set me down and paced the room for a long while. He seemed to be deep in thought but he never spoke a word about it. Whatever magic was in the air, it increased and I felt myself getting angrier.
The king paced some more. Could it be that he’s thinking about what happened tonight too?
Then I remembered the revelations at the ball...
“Your highness... Can you please tell me what happened to my kingdom, Amaranth?” I asked tentatively.
“Why do you want to know?” he said in an irritated tone. I know that this is the worst night to push for answers but I needed to know what happened to my kingdom.
“It’s my kingdom... My home...” I replied.
Something flashed in his eyes and then his fingers were under my chin and forcing me to look at him. “Ivaris is your home now! It is your kingdom! Your loyalty is to me and no other!” he spat.
“Please... I just need to know...” I pleaded.
“I know nothing about Amaranth! I already told you that I was betrothed to its princess! Why would I ruin a kingdom that would’ve fallen to my hands?” the king spat and then he gripped my arm.
“But I saw your soldiers... They bore your flag and the Ivaris coat of arms was embedded in their armor.” I whispered.
The grip on my arms tightened. “You dare question my word?” he shouted and I flinched from the pain in my arms. “I saw it with my own eyes! Why would you lie about this? Why can’t you just tell me the truth?”
“I’m warning you, Adrienne...” he threatened.
“What happened to the king and queen of Amaranth? Are you holding them captive somewhere? Are they still alive?”
“I know nothing about them! And I do not care what happens to them for they are not my concern! I care only about the Princess’ welfare for she is to be my wife!” He replied. Terror gripped my heart at the thought of what may have happened to the King and Queen of Amaranth under the brutal hands of the King of Ivaris.
“Just tell me the truth!!! I beg you! I know for a fact that the princess knows nothing about a betrothal to you! You could’ve lied about that as well!” I retorted.
“What do you know about the princess?” he asked.
“She knows nothing about her betrothal to you and that like me, she believes it’s Ivaris that invaded Amaranth!” I replied, no longer caring on the effect of my words.
“Where is she?!?” he bellowed. Instead of flinching, I met his gaze head on.
“I do not know. But if you ever find her, she’ll not marry someone like you!!!”
His eyes flashed again and this time I found myself trapped between him and the concrete wall. “Because it seems that you’ve clearly forgotten, I’ll remind you...” he whispered threateningly.
“I am the King of Ivaris and you are my slave which I’ve bought for two hundred gold coins! I am the master and you are a slave. I see my error in dressing you with the finest silk and showering you with diamonds and emeralds for now you think yourself my equal!” he shouted and each sentence was punctuated with a tug at my bodice.
The fabric ripped bit by bit until my gown hung in tatters down my frame. My hands rose instinctively to cover my nakedness but his hand clamped down on my wrists and pinned them above my head. “There. Now that looks more like the slave I bought.” He spat and then his hands cupped my breasts and his thumb swept across my nipple. Pleasure rippled through me but I held myself in check.
“I’ll not submit to you ever again.” I said with resolve.
One eyebrow raised and then a smirk teased his lips.
“I gave you everything a woman could ever want...” Rip. “...You hold a position which many would die for. I even thought of making you queen....” Another rip “...From a slave, to a queen of the greatest empire, you could have been! Yet you continue to spurn me at every turn! You forget your place and you disobey my orders!” he shouted and tugged on my skirt.
Then he tugged on my headdress which caused the pins to yank painfully at my hair. Again he tugged and the headdress broke, scattering pearls and diamonds on the floor. “Why, Adrienne? Why can’t you just let your past go and be content with the life of my mistress in Ivaris?” he asked.
“Amaranth will always be my home. In Amaranth, I have someone who loves me truly and I am not his mistress but his intended bride. We would’ve been happily married now had you not destroyed my kingdom!” my control and patience deserted me and this was the first time I have talked about my beloved kingdom. All the anger I’ve repressed came flowing out of me.
It was as if there was something in the air that fuelled my anger. Maybe there’s something about this place that changes people.
“Don’t succumb to Argyll’s power...” Selene’s voice whispered inside my head.
Who’s Argyll? And what power are you talking about?
“Emotions... He can amplify emotions...” Selene answered.
The king’s grey eyes turned darker at my words and whoever Argyll is, the king has definitely succumbed to his power. I think it was what caused the words to spill from my lips and my emotions to be all over the place... Nevertheless, every word that I spoke was nothing bu the truth.
“So there’s someone waiting for you in Amaranth, is there?” the king spat.
“Stop this now, your highness.” I replied and tried to twist away from his grip but he wouldn’t budge. I felt the strength of his body and the fury emanating from him.
“You belong only to me!” he shouted and then yanked at the emerald necklace on my neck. The clasp broke and the necklace spilled into his hands.
“I give you these and you tell me that you belong to another man? You’re mine! Mine alone!” he shouted and threw the emeralds onto the fireplace. Then he withdrew his dagger from his belt and with a swift movement, he tore my dress and it dropped to the floor in a pool of silk.
“Maybe this will remind you of your purpose and who you truly belong to.” The king dragged me towards the bed and then lifted me and dumped me unceremoniously there. I tried to crawl away but he held my ankle as he removed his clothes.
“Stop it!” I shouted but he was deep in the throes of heightened emotions that gripped him. Right now, it was both lust and anger.
He stood on the edge of the bed and then dragged me towards him. I was sprawled down on all fours and the sheets were in disarray as I tried to hold on to anything while the King pulled me towards him. He was so strong and I ended up near the edge of the bed.
“No! Please no... Not like this!” I pleaded one more time. Tears poured down my cheeks but I refused to sob or let a sound spill from my lips. I turned my head on the bed and buried my face in the soft sheets as I allowed the tears to flow.
“Look at me.”
With tears in my eyes and my entire body trembling, I looked at him with all the hate and defiance I could muster. I knew what he was going to do. He was too powerful and I wouldn’t be able to stop him.
But from this day forward, I will hate him with every fiber of my being. I will find a way to escape or die trying.
For death is a much better fate than this.
I couldn't find the words to say those things because of the fear in me but I hoped my eyes conveyed what my lips could not.
Suddenly, the King reeled as though he was slapped. He took a step back and walked towards one of the chests that we’ve brought with us. He lifted it as though it weighed no more than a feather.
He opened the chest and dumped the contents on me. I felt the weight of several necklaces, bracelets, earrings and the roughness of precious gems and stones as they slid down my skin. “For your services, slave.” The king said and walked out. The door rattled on its hinges as he slammed it shut behind him.
There was nothing I could do but to curl up and cry. I was a slave... Nothing more...
The King could do whatever he wanted to me and the realization that I was powerless to stop it made my stomach crawl. He could have done more to me tonight and I was glad that for some reason he stopped. I’ve endured a lot but I cannot endure that.
My mind and my will to live might’ve broken and I would’ve never been the same again.
I was a king’s slave yet still the same level as a common man’s slave or a whore. I just have another label for I am a king’s whore. And when common men paid their whores with coins, a king paid this whore with diamonds and rubies and emeralds the size of grapes.
I cried and cried until sleep finally found me. And I lay there on top of the bed with riches that could feed an entire kingdom right beside me.
-King Seth Liam Ivaris XV-
I exited the room, still simmering with anger, and banged the door shut behind me. I heard someone whistling and heard footsteps. I waited near the door to see who it was.
The King of Virlinn stepped from the shadows and for a moment there, I saw his eyes were gold. I blinked and when I looked at him again, his eyes were the indigo color they always were. Hmm... Must be a trick of the light.
He grinned when he saw me and he stopped bouncing the dark stone he held in his hand. “I trust you had a pleasurable evening, Seth?” he said with a wink and continued to walk towards his room.
I decided to go for a ride to clear my head. I descended the castle and went towards the stable. I saddled my horse and then mounted him and spurred him towards the forest. The moment I was away from the castle, it felt as if I was doused with a bucket of cold water.
All the anger inside me was suddenly gone and I was left feeling hollow.
“Shit... What have I done?” I whispered to the night as I recalled the events after we fled the ballroom.
I tried to put reason into my actions but when I thought about the conversation that led me to so much anger, it didn’t have the same effect now than it did moments ago.
I hurt Adrienne and then humiliated her...
I told her tonight that I considered making her my queen and then treated her like dirt. She’ll never forgive me for this. I placed my head in my hands and then roared. I’ve let her down... I’ve let my anger get a hold of me again... But I’ve never felt this angry... Not in a long time... Not since my parents died...
And what provoked me towards this level of anger? Just some words from a woman... Somehow I think there’s something more to this. Maybe it was because of the way I was possessed in the ballroom. Maybe something happened to trigger this much anger in me...
My thoughts were still haunted with the pained look in Adrienne’s face and no matter what I did, I simply couldn’t find my peace. I wanted to return to her side and soothe her but it is much too soon and I doubt she’d forgive me easily.
I looked up towards the sky and felt myself float and drift towards another place.
The stars were not visible tonight for the dark clouds blocked it from view. It would be raining soon and it would be a heavy downpour.
“Aiken!” Selene shouted breathlessly as she ran towards me. Her eyes were filled with fear. My entire body tensed and I ran towards her and met her halfway.
“What happened?!” I shouted as I took her in my arms. I inspected every inch of her and saw that her head was bleeding from a deep gash. I quickly tore the hem of my tunic and used it to wipe the blood away. I led her to the nearby stream and wet the strip of cloth and wiped her face again.
“Thank you.” She said with a sweet smile.
“Tell me what happened.” I told her. My fists were clenched in my lap and I wanted to go and kill someone for hurting my precious Selene.
“Someone saw me dancing with the smoked herbs and branded me a witch. I ran but they threw their stones...” her voice trailed off on a sob. I gathered her closer and kissed her forehead.
“Where are they? I’ll kill every last one of them for hurting you.” I declared and stood up and retrieved my sword. Her hand shot out and yanked my sword away from me. “No... Let them be. They know nothing...” she said.
“But they hurt you.” I told her as I wiped a tear from her face using my thumb.
“Only you can hurt me, Aiken... If you leave me, I’d wither away. If your love for me fades, I’ll not last one day.” She said and my entire body softened. I hugged her once more and inhaled her lavender scent.
“I’ll not leave you Selene. My love for you will never fade... And I promise I won’t hurt you...” I vowed.
March 27, 1645 (The Next Day)
Escrow Lands, East of Ivaris
I woke up and the room smelled like roses... I turned around the bed and shoved the jewelleries away from me and inspected the large bouquet of roses that stood beside my bed.
“Forgive me.” The note placed on the blooms read. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement, an order.
One that I shall not obey. I spotted the empty chest on the table and then proceeded to pick up the jewelleries on the bed and placed them there. I also picked up the pearls and diamonds on the floor and stuffed it inside the chest. Then I folded my gowns neatly and placed them on top of the bed. I selected the plainest looking gown and decided that I’d wear that for today’s ride home to Ivaris. I folded the fur-lined cloak that the king gave me and stuffed it inside the chest along with my expensive gowns. Those, along with the jewellery will be returned to the king and I’ll not touch them ever again.
The door opened and the maids and guards entered. The maids looked at me from head-to-toe. “You’ll be travelling like that, milady?” one of them asked. “Yes.” I replied and fastened a much simpler cloak around my shoulders.
“Nay lass... Where be the beautiful cloak the king gave ye?” the older maid asked. I shook my head. “I’ll not be wearing that.”
“But it’s going to be cold when we travel!” the first maid protested. “I’ll be fine.” I replied and we went out the door as the guards picked up the chests and hauled them downstairs. Our mounts were already saddled and waiting.
The king stood beside his handsome black stallion and he looked at me as I approached. “You received the flowers?” he asked.
I did an exaggerated curtsy for him and kept my eyes down as I responded. “Yes, your highness.” I replied and waited for him to address me again. When he said nothing, I placed my feet on the stirrups and lifted myself on the horse assigned to me, chosen by the king himself before we left Ivaris.
“Why are you wearing those rags?” the king hissed at me. “Where’s your new cloak?”
I shrugged. “These are more comfortable for the journey, your grace.” I replied with exaggeration.
He sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “Fine. Tell that to yourself when you freeze during the journey.” He sighed and walked away murmuring something about being stubborn.
I kept my spine straight and avoided looking at him as he mounted his own horse.
“May I have a word before you go?” a voice said and I looked down and found the King of Virlinn grinning at me. I felt even more defiant today so I grinned at him too and took the hand he offered as he helped me down my horse.
He placed my hand on his arm as he led me towards one of the trees in the courtyard where we can talk privately. He let go of my arm and leaned across the tree. “I hate to see you leave.” He said after a few moments of silence. I didn’t know how to reply to that but then I saw his teasing grin.
“I’d be heartbroken to leave too, James.” I jumped in to his teasing and even batted my lashes. He threw back his head and laughed. I could feel the King of Ivaris’ gaze towards us and I could even envision the scowl on his face.
“Words that could make a king fall to his knees.” He said and this time it was I who laughed.
“I hate to see you leave but I must... Alas, you do not belong to me but to another. But if you were mine, I’d marry you right now. Someone like you deserves an entire kingdom and much more.” James said. I laughed at his words thinking that he was teasing again.
“Such flowery words.” I replied and patted his hand.
“I have a feeling we will meet again. I hope it will be soon...” he said.
He lifted my hand and then kissed the back of my palm. Then he reached over and dropped something heavy on the pocket of my coat.
“Something to remember me by.” He said. My hand immediately went towards the pocket of my coat to check what he gave me but he stopped me.
“Open it when I’m not here anymore.” He said and then dropped a kiss on my cheek. “Thank you...” I told him and he took my hand and escorted me back to my horse. This time, he held my waist and lifted me up to help me mount.
“She could mount her horse without help.” The King of Ivaris said. “It still is my honor to help her.” Answered the King of Virlinn and then he blew me a kiss and went back towards the castle.
“Didn’t I tell you not to--?” the King of Ivaris said but I flicked the reins on my horse and he galloped away so I did not hear the rest of the sentence.
For three days, we took the journey back to Ivaris. We stopped to rest only for a short while and we camped for the night only when there was no more light to help us see. I was really freezing and I barely sat on my saddle but I never complained. The King asked everyone to see to my comfort but I declined everything he offered. If it came from him, I declined it.
One night, I remembered the thing that the King of Virlinn gave me. I reached into my pocket and brought out a small parcel wrapped in blue silk. I opened the silk and a brooch fell down my palm. I turned it over and it was shaped into a heart. The heart was filled with small diamonds on the outer part and then rubies. My breath caught as I stared into it. It was beautiful and so very simple unlike the gifts that the King of Ivaris gave me.
A slip of paper fell out the silk wrapping and I picked it up.
“Rubies to match the fire of your soul. ’Til we meet again, fair maiden.”
I couldn’t help but smile at the words and I pinned the brooch on the inside of my cloak. I pinned it there to keep it safe and at the same time so that nobody would see it. It was really a thoughtful gift and I haven’t received one in a very long time.
My energy was replenished and I travelled back towards Ravenswood Castle with a smile upon my lips. We travelled slower this time for our journey was burdened with heavy rain. When we came to Escrow, we only travelled for three days but going back to Ivaris, we travelled five days.
I was so exhausted when we finally arrived that I nearly fell off my horse. Suddenly, a familiar feeling slid down my spine... This was what I usually felt when I would see a vision of the future. I closed my eyes and let the vision come to me.
The smell of the sea and the cold breeze drifted over me. I saw a large ship with white sails. The ship was large and the mast had a design of a serpent on it. Several longboats were tied towards one side while the anchor dangled on another side. The words “The Sea Serpent” were written in bold letters on the ship’s left side.
Men were scattered around the deck. Some were cleaning, some were checking the ropes while some were hauling cargo.
“How much farther?” I heard a familiar voice ask.
“Another week’s travel captain and we’ll be making port at Ivaris.” Replied a burly looking man with scars on his arm and a tattoo of an anchor.
“Make haste. My betrothed has been away from me long enough.” The familiar voice replied.
“Aye, aye captain.” The man with the tattoo said. He exited the small room and emerged into the deck where he shouted at the man.
“Unfurl those sails! Hard to starboard and we’ll ride be ridin’ with the wind. Move you scallywags!” he shouted and the men on deck hurried off towards their tasks. Another set of white sails were unfurled and the tattooed man turned the wheel of the ship. The sails caught the wind and the ship lurched forward.
“She’s the fastest ship in all of the land, captain.” The tattooed man said.
“Good. I’ve waited long enough to find her.” Replied the familiar voice. My heart beat faster inside my chest as I heard the man’s footsteps echo on the deck. He stepped forward and the sunlight touched his wavy, brown hair.
His green eyes were filled with anticipation. He walked towards the upper deck and his strong hands clutched the wooden balustrade as he scanned the horizon. My chest swelled even further and I wanted to go towards him and wrap my arms around him.
“Hang in there, my princess... I’m coming for you...” Duncan promised.
So as I've mentioned before, I've not edited this book from the original story I wrote back in 2012. But this chapter, I did edit a bit.
Re-readers, I'm sure you know what originally happened here. I changed it because I did not want it to be so dark. Also, it's a big taboo topic that got a lot of hate on the comments.