Chapter 9: Fight until your Last Breath
Tears. All I could do was shed tears. The dark space was scary. Where were they? I can’t get out. Please find me.
Just focus on the light. I kept telling myself, but the dark scary thoughts of not being able to see scared me.
“Princess? Princess!” A young boy called out his voice echoing down the long corridor.
Tears of joy came splashing out at the sound of his voice in the distance.
“I’m here!” I yelled in hopes he would hear me.
“Artemis!” “Princess!” Two boys yelled out together in unison.
“Man, she is always so good at this game.” One of them said.
“That or she could have got hurt.”
“I’m right here!” I shouted louder than before banging on the door that led down to the cellar.
Remembering the dark empty space behind me made my skin crawl in fear. “Please!! Help!!”
The latch got stuck when I went to hide behind it. I’m so useless!
“Tristan! Hurry up and open the door!” He yelled on other side.
The door swung open and I immediately jumped towards the light free from the darkness. My arms wrapped around whoever I could find first scared for my life.
“Artemis, are you okay?” He asks.
My tear filled eyes looked up at him happy to see his beautiful calming eyes stricken with concern.
“Call me Princess, please.” I sniffled into his chest as he patted my head with a laugh.
Tristan let out a loud scoff. “I don’t have time for this.”
“Princess. My Princess,” He coos holding my head closer with a soothing stroke. He then pulled back giving me a smile. “Don’t cry, I will protect you.”
I nodded my head trying to stop crying, but the tears came like a waterfall.
“One day, you will be my Queen.” He whispers lowly.
Yet, Tristan heard pretending to throw up at his sweet words.
Laughter from all of us filled the air.
“A dream...” I murmured as my consciousness came to.
A pain throbbed in my left eye as they opened to see a light as bright as the sun. My wrists ached while my body felt numb and heavy as I sat slump on the ground. Lifting my head, my vision regained sight to see men and woman sitting in a semi circle. Including the one man that took me away.
He smirked down at me like he acquired a rare gem among thieves. Breaking my glare at him my eyes followed the excruciating pain to find that my arms were chained up.
“I see you have me on display...” I trailed off bringing my eyes back up to Cloud. “Well get on with your performance,” My hoarse voice spat sarcastically.
Low murmurs began in an audience of people whom I did not care to look at. My gaze was settled on the two women and the four men resting in the elegant white thrones made of marble. The view of them could pass for what the gods would look like in heaven.
They all wore fine white silks trimmed with gold. The two women wearing long gowns, while the men had tunics on. They were all oddly unique in their own way. One woman was very refined, beautiful, and graceful, but had an edgy glint in her strange colored eyes.
The other woman was petite with a look of innocence and serenity. The men on the other hand were definitely full of themselves. Head strong, dominant, and cocky. Just like the one who brought me here.
If Cloud was among them, then these must be the Peacekeepers that Clyde mentioned.
In the direct middle of them was one throne, accompanied by no one. Was one of them missing? Not that it matters.
“Artemis Grenefeld, first and only child born of Monnon,” A man started speaking among the Peacekeepers lined in front of me. He stood from his throne gracefully walking to stand ahead of me. “Under our jurisdictions as keepers of the peace, we are under the impression that you have gone against our decree by attempting to flee with the Prince’s of Aridor? Is this true?” His questions echoed in the large white room.
Prince’s of Aridor?
Silence remained in me, allowing the news to sink in completely. My brain stutters for a moment, every part me just pauses. Like the wind being knocked out of me, I struggle to inhale or exhale. It felt impossible to breathe, to be able to speak with this overwhelming feeling of shock. The large room suddenly felt smaller as if the walls were closing in on me.
“Did you or did you not partake in this crime?” The dark haired man becomes stern as he slowly walks up to me.
He kneels to look at me with his blazing orange eyes. I nearly gasp at the sight of the inhuman aspect. My reaction makes his pink lips form a smirk, proud that he had received some type of response. He rests his fists on both his cheeks assessing me or perhaps waiting for an answer.
“Ignatius, I do not believe she is aware of the status of Clyde and Tristan.” Another man intervenes stepping from his throne to stand next to the one named Ignatius. His bright blonde hair reached down to his shoulders. He was tall in stature, especially as he approached closer. “It seems she is clueless of who they are.” He says as he stares down at me with his sparkling dark brown eyes.
“I apologize, let me introduce myself, I am Loki,” He starts by bowing gracefully, “This is Iggy, who can be very rude at times,” he says pushing Ignatius out of his way to look at me.
He leans forward close to my ear to speak, “You do realize you can always lie my dear,” He chuckles darkly before he continues, “Just tell them, Prince Clyde kidnapped you.”
An overwhelming feeling to speak out and tell them that Clyde kidnapped me was evident. It was right there, at the tip of my tongue like it was ready to blurt out at any moment. The thought of Clyde hiding something that huge from me bothered me more to the point it almost made sense to turn on him.
It’s not like he lied to me though, he just kept his secret from me. But lying would be easier... it would be a way to set me free...
Whispers echoed in my mind jumbling around trying to convince me to lie in front of the Peacekeepers. The voices were right though, it is simple to just lie. Just imagine it as the truth and I could even start believing it really happened that way.
“Enough Loki! I have had it with your deceit!” Cloud growled behind the two men snapping me out of a trance.
“None of you are fun,” Loki grumbles walking away in defeat as my heart pounded against my chest.
Did he just almost force me to lie? How?
My mind went blank, not processing or understanding what had just happened. A choked up sob ached in my throat from me holding back tears. A part of me wanted to fight, but I truthfully wanted to give up. It has been almost three days since Ayden came for me and I already have been through so much.
I was unaware of Clyde’s motives, but I do not wish to see them hurt on my accord. If it can be done, I want them safe, not me.
“Please, proceed.” Cloud gestures to Ignatius to continue what he started.
Ignatius clears his throat and opens his mouth to speak, but not before I cut him off with what stunned all of them.
“I am guilty.” My words hung in the air while everyone sat in silence. Not even the small audience of people had said a word. I lifted my head looking up to the Peacekeepers who looked down on me.
“I. Am.Guilty.” I repeated myself, saying each word clearly. A complete, uncomfortable, silence left everyone to ponder. It was so quiet, I could hear my heart thumping against my chest.
The silent void was shattered like glass when a deep laughter penetrated the room. All eyes were on Ignatius as his chuckle became louder. His hand clenched his stomach as it turned into boisterous laughter. He gasped for air as tears fall down his cheeks showing how carefree he was.
“This is highly uninteresting,” The woman with edgy eyes complains.
“Forgive- Pffftt!” Ignatius attempts to stop laughing but continues breathlessly. He lets it all out when finally he wipes his tears away and takes in a long deep breath.
A slight upturning on the corners of his mouth appear, a completely voluntary and controlled smirk. He steps in front of me like before to squat at my level. “Not once in my life have I ever heard a single human being plead they were guilty to me.”
He slightly chuckles again, his shoulders shaking out of control. “Please, explain as to why you say you are guilty.”
It took me a moment before I found my voice to speak again, “I hid on a ship dressed as a boy to escape my betrothal to Prince Ayden Aridor.” I lied.
“Preposterous!” The edgy woman jumped from her throne in an outburst of anger. “Clyde is handsome indeed, however Ayden knows a woman in an out! Just the thought of him sends me into pure ecstasy.” She wraps her arms around herself giving a moan of pure bliss. “If only, if only I could have him for myself!” She practically sings at the idea.
“Poise, my love, I can show you what pure ecstasy is like.” A man with light green eyes and dark blonde hair winks at her.
“Poise, Eco, keep your affairs to yourself!” Cloud snapped at the two Peacekeepers.
“What shall we do with her?” The one named Loki asks as he lazily throws his leg over the other looking rather impatient.
“Lyra, is she telling the truth?” Ignatius asks the small petite girl who has stayed silent this entire time. Her icy blue eyes look over to Loki meeting his devious eyes. A sweet smile, much like a child’s, is seen on her face.
“Artemis Grenefeld, you are hereby guilty for abandoning the Prince of Aridor and going against our laws of uniting kingdoms together. You will be sentenced to a public execution by feeding the hungry wolves.” Lyra declares as my heart sinks into my stomach. The look of her innocence was nothing but a facade.
Everything suddenly appeared to be in slow motion as the guards moved towards me. The noises around me were loud ringing in my ears. Inaudible orders were being barked by Ignatius as Cloud’s curious eyes stare straight into me. My blood ran cold when the guards yanked me by the chains causing me to shriek out in pain.
They dragged me across the cold floor as I grab the end of the chains yanking and pulling. I kicked and wailed out in pain while the shackles dug into my wrists. Blood dripped down my forearms leaving a trail of red smears behind.
I pleaded guilty, but I’ll fight. Fight until my last breath!
I resisted against them by pulling the chains back towards me making the guard stumble backwards. They had enough of me fighting as they reached down to grab me by the shoulders and stand me on my feet.
They led me through the double doors out of the large room taking me down stairs to a dark corridor. The sounds of screaming and metal clanging erupted in my ears. A pungent smell of rotting flesh hit my senses as we reach the bottom.
Lanterns were lit along the walls revealing the blood stained floors and metal bars that held criminals. The sound of movement awoke the prisoners as we passed by them. Their hands shot outwards through the thin bars as they all scream for mercy.
Their pleads were ignored by the guards as they continued to drag me through the eerie dungeons. Tears drench down my cheeks as adrenaline floods my system. It pumps and beats like it’s trying to break free. It feels as though my muscles are weak as my body trembles.
My focus is lost with the circling anxiety of panic agitating me with suffering. My skin crawls, my bones ache, and I think my heart will explode any moment now. I could not tell how quickly it all went by.
Before I knew it my arms are raised again attached to a pillar. The floor beneath me shook and the sound of a wheel turning screeched loudly. The floor I was on was rising away from the guards who quickly disappeared from my sight. What surrounded me was nothing but packed dirt walls and darkness. My arms fell from the tightness of the chains giving me room to move my arms.
To fight? It had to be.
Then a light shined brightly above me, blinding my swollen eyes. I lifted my hand to cover the brightness and winced out from the stinging in my wrist. I could feel the warmth of the sun soaking into my pores. Until my body was completely exposed to the chillness in the air. The cold breeze washed over me like a wave.
My eyes wandered around taking the magnificent but terrifying sight around me. Right in the middle I stood awaiting my death in a coliseum that had people flooding in to take a seat. All I was to them was entertainment, just another criminal sentenced to death.
The building was large, fitting thousands of people if not more. My eyes finally landed on the Peacekeepers who were taking their seats as well. They watched me with anticipation as I gathered up the slack of the chains trailing at my feet as I shuffled forward.
To me it almost felt like this was meant to happen. Otherwise, how could they get this many people within mere minutes? It was impossible. Whether I pleaded guilty or not, I most likely would have ended up here.
My eyes scanned the area, taking in my surroundings looking for anything I could use as a weapon. One word kept replaying in my head.
Survive. Survive. Survive!
It was like an instinct that unexpectedly kicked in just as the gates from the other side began opening slowly. The loud growls of feral beasts echoed behind the gate. The noses of the wolves were pressing underneath impatiently trying to get out. From what I could see there were three of them poking their heads out.
The jaws snapped angrily like they’ve been starved for weeks. The crowds go wild with deafening chants and thunderous clapping.
The palms of my hands grip the chains harder around both my wrists as I look to see how much slack I have to move. It seemed like enough, but I cautiously take a couple steps back with the stone pillar directly behind me.
The gray wolves are free, ready to unleash a lethal attack on their prey. Their long sharp claws dig deeply in the loose dirt running towards me with a speed faster than a human.
The chains scrape along the wooden panels as I lift them up with the nearing wolves. The first wolf lunges for me, teeth baring and claws prominent. I pull my right hand back to swing the thick metal chain out as hard as I could knocking the wolf to the side.
Stunned by own actions adrenaline pushed through me pumping and beating faster than before. The second wolf dives for my legs, but I swiftly turn my body using all my force in one leg to kick it in the ribs.
The wolf cries out in pain while the other wolf I knocked to the side sinks it’s canines in my thigh. I screamed loudly bellowing out in agony as the wolf released and bit down harder tasting my warm blood in its mouth. It’s growl deepens as I claw at its face to let go.
The third and final wolf clamps his jaws into my shoulder bringing my down to my knees. A high pitched cry of pain was let out as I gasp to catch my breath. Tears are once again streaming down my face while I whimper at the pain.
“Stop.” I weakly cry out.
The wolves instantly halted, but didn’t let go of me. I mustered up the last of my strength and screamed at the top of my lungs.
Next time I’ll dream sweeter🌹
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