Earlier that morning, a few guards took it upon themselves to taunt Davin. They called Kiaran his raven-haired whore and spat on the stone before him. They called her a harlot and other nasty things, laughing all the time. They began mocking his mother, his family. They made terrible jokes about his little brother having to clean up Davin's mess. They told him how the kingdom of Rishana fell because he was lacking manhood.
Losing his anger, he shot from his bed and attacked the crudest of the three. Davin had beaten him, bloodied him, battered his mouth, broke his nose, and shattered his eye socket.
Whipping around, he slammed several good hits on the second before the third guard slammed his hilt into the back of Davin’s head, knocking him out cold.
He had hardly come to and was already dragged into the throne room and being forced to his knees. He stared into the darkness of his vision before his hands slowly bled into view as they sat face up on his thighs.
He was once again in Sterjia’s black throne room.
His hair had grown a bit, hiding his eyes from the others in the room. The taste of blood was still fresh in his mouth. He ran his tongue over his mouth and ripped lower lip. His head throbbed from the blow of the guard’s hilt.
Sterjia’s fingers tapped on the arms of the throne. The scars along Davin’s back burned from his recent lashes and the serpent burned into his shoulder felt like it was sizzling again.
As always, he fought Sterjia’s requests and demands, though she often probed him with magic.
With each attempt, his skull seemed to reverberate a new kind of pain. His mind was strong enough to keep most of her attempts to harm him at bay. However, she was the strongest known mage and could easily hurt him. But she wanted him alive.
“Davin...” she hummed with a troubled tone. “King...Holloway...” A smile crept into her voice, “You’ve seen what I can do.”
He cringed at the sights which flashed through his mind only moments ago. Sights of soldiers pillaging and destroying his home’s cities, all in Davin's name. She was beginning a civil war, a war that would kill so many people.
“I no longer care if you are alive or dead. You prove to be more of a liability than a profit.” She stood. “You’ve killed one of my guards with your bare hands and hurt his partner. You think you are strong Davin?” she sneered the last question. His eyes slowly lifted to her. “We shall see.”
Reaching him, she ordered him to his feet. Farekhahn yanked him up, pain surging down his back and shoulder and his head spinning. He was weak--how could he fend her off again?
“You have kept your wit because of that woman. The woman who refuses you. You keep her in your thoughts as a distraction. It is your strength. No longer shall you have to resist the urge to be between her thighs or feel her lips. That urge will not be a burden any longer.” She placed her palm to his forehead. “No longer shall you think of better days, the calm of a family home. Your brother, your mother, your father. The love you have for them will dissipate.”
Davin’s blood ran hot, his eyes staring at her in fear. “The things I feel for her are far more than simple lusts of the body,” he said coolly. “And my family will always be everything to me.”
“Well,” she smirked confidently. “Take desires away and we shall see what we are left with.”
He fought with as many barriers as he could, hiding his memories in the deepest trenches of his mind. She tore down each thought, casting it aside. His blockades of family gatherings, his father’s teachings. She got through it all.
Desperately, he hid the last of his feelings and memories. Those of Kiaran. He tucked them deep beneath everything he had. He couldn’t lose her--not Kiaran.
Yet Sterjia was able to maneuver through him as if she held a map. Reaching a mental hand out, she picked at his intimate thoughts: Kiaran resting a hand on his forearm as he grieved over Alana. The way she would smile when he’d look to her. The way his heart raced at the sound of her voice...
The pain as Sterjia dissolved the memories burned in the base of his skull. Then, his desires to feel her near were broken.
He cried out, tears stinging his eyes. He tried to push Sterjia away mentally, but her cold fingers only gripped harder like the talons of a falcon. How could she do something so evil? His heart hurt just as badly as the rest of his body. Finally, he cracked and fell back to his knees, tears still falling down his face.
At that moment, he felt nothing. Not for her, nor his family.
How cruel...Though he no longer had that love he once had for Kiaran, his memory of it was still there. That, alone, left his heart to slowly sink in the numbing void. He stared at his empty, upturned hands.
Slowly, he seemed to forget even the reason for his tears. The pain was replaced with something lacking. An empty darkness. Nothingness.
And that seemed alright.
“Now,” Sterjia said with a cool, smooth voice, “You will do as I ask...Captain Holloway.”
Farekhahn’s eyes narrowed and his jaw set, though he said nothing. Davin forced himself to stand. “What do you want of me now?” he asked lowly. His eyes were stuck to her like a great hunting cat of the mountains.
“I want you to lead an attack. March an army to Pompari. There, you will kill those who oppose me. Remind them for whom they live,” she said, sitting on her black throne once more. Flicking her hand at them, she turned her head. “You may leave.”