Chapter Three - The Mercy of The Enemy
Amber did not know how many days she had been locked up in this cell, at the mercy of the brutal Scandians.
She heard people screaming from the other cells, her own people who were tortured by the Scandian king.
A rat popped out of a small hole in the wall and quickly left the cell. Amber wished she could get out of this dark cell so easily.
The floor beneath her was heavy, sticky and disgusting.
Amber's delicate dress was stained with blood, her own blood, which was already clotted.
She was covered with a coat to protect herself from Astrada's fierce cold.
Her golden hair was tangled and messy. She was exhausted and weak and her whole body ached.
Her hands were cuffed in front of her in metallic, cold handcuffs.
Footsteps sounded and then she saw a Scandian guard with green uniforms and an indifferent expression.
Next to him, the prison guard stood and unlocked her prison cell.
"Careful, she is dangerous," he said and took his leave.
The Scandian guard opened the bars and approached her.
He grabbed her wrist roughly, getting her on her feet and pulling her to follow him.
"Where are you taking me?" She asked but there was no response.
They walked into the palace.
Amber's eyes, which already adjusted to the darkness in the cell, were struggling to adjust to the light at the palace.
It took a few minutes before she could entirely open them.
Amber studied the palace as they walked. It was the Astradian Palace, her family's house and the place she grew up in.
There were not many Astradians in it at the moment, just a few who surrendered and were used now as the Earth king's servants.
Green uniformed Scandians guards peered at her and at her guard as they passed by them.
They entered the throne hall and the guard remained standing behind her to keep her from trying to escape.
She raised her head towards her uncle's throne.
On the throne sat king John, the Earth King, and his son prince Kase stood next to him.
She glared at them with anger for stealing her uncle's throne.
Footsteps sounded behind her and she noticed Ranus Saiko, the head commander of the Scandian army, walking towards the throne with an annoyed look on his face.
He reached his destination and kneeled down before his king.
"Your highness," he said.
"General Saiko," the king said, and ordered him to stand up. "By the anger I see on your face, I realize that you did not succeed in your mission."
Amber knew he was talking about her sister.
"I almost caught her, your majesty, but then I was attacked by the Fire prince".
Amber raised her eyebrow. Why would the prince of Arkadia prince help her sister? What was his motive and how did Lyla get to Arkadia? Or how did the Fire prince get to Lyla?
"And where were the rest of your people?".
"She killed one of them and the rest were badly injured," Ranus responded and lowered his head.
"So you let one girl defeat you and hurt your soldiers?" The king snorted and rage-filled Ranus' green eyes.
He realized that the King was underestimating him.
A huge mistake by the king to upset his most powerful Earth elementor, his mightiest warrior.
From experience, Amber knew it was not a good idea to upset Ranus Saiko.
"She is not just any girl and you know it. She was trained by powerful masters and the elders of Astrada," Ranus said and disrespect snuck to his voice but the king ignored it.
"She was also trained by you, and yet, she managed to defeat you," the king teased him again.
Ranus' jaws and fists were clenched and he tried to keep restraint.
"She did not beat me, the Arkadian prince just surprised us," Ranus said. "I will not let her slip away again".
"You better," the king said. "Dismissed".
Ranus turned and walked towards Amber.
"Lady Amber," he said and she looked at him with hostility and hatred.
Amber tried to shake off the guard's grip in order to kick Ranus but the guard restrained her.
"I see that you have your sister's fighting spirit," Ranus said.
"Go to hell," she said.
"And the same sharp tongue as hers," he added in response and then turned to the guard. "Try not to hurt her. I do not want to deal with her sister's anger when she sees what you did to her".
The guard nodded in agreement and Ranus walked to the front of the throne hall and stood there while he was glancing forward.
She followed his gaze and saw that two guards entered the throne hall while one of them was holding a female figure.
The figure raised her head and Amber saw the face of her mother, Lady Margrett.
"Mother!" She called out to her and Margrett turned to look at her.
Amber tried to shake off the guard's grip to run to her mother but failed again.
The Scandian King nodded at the guard and he loosened his grip.
Amber ran to her mother and embraced her close to her.
"Oh, Amber," Margrett said with worry as she studied her injured daughter.
"I will kill you for what you did to her!" Her mother threatened the Scandians in the room.
"I missed you so much," Amber said with relief. "Are you okay?".
"Lyla?" Her mother asked when she noticed that her older daughter was missing.
"She managed to escape," Amber replied and let herself smile.
"Thank god," Margrett sighed with relief. "That definitely sounds like Lyla".
She smiled slightly.
"But... Mom," Amber started saying, and concern snuck into her voice as she pulled out her big sister's Amethyst pendant from her coat pocket.
"She did not take it with her."
Her mother looked at the pendant and the worry was evident in her face.
"If you do not mind, Lady Amber," Ranus came out of nowhere and snatched the pendant from her hand.
"I will give it to Lady Lyla myself when I catch her".
"Bring it back now! You snake!" She turned to him with anger.
"A snake?" He asked in amusement. "Your sister did not think of me that way. She was in love with me".
"And now she hates you!" Her mother said and Amber could swear she saw guilt on Ranus' face. "...and you will never catch her".
"We will see about that," he said while putting the pendant in his pocket.
"Your highness!" Ranus turned to his king. "Why wouldn't we go on with this meeting? I have much more important matters to attend to let's get this over with. Why did you call us here?".
The Earth king got up from the throne and walked down the few stairs which were in front of it.
"I am in Astrada for almost a month. But I have not yet established my rule here. The subjects are still loyal to the previous rule, and even though I killed the king and queen, the people still have faith in those who remained from the royal family".
The king turned to look at lady Margrett and Amber.
So it is true, he really did kill her aunt and uncle.
But he never mentioned anything about the prince, her cousin. She had to know if Kol was alive and safe.
"It is time to eliminate the Astradian rule, for good," the king pulled out his sword.
His son stood beside him and he handed him his sword.
"Finish it off".
King John looked toward her mother and his son froze.
"Father," the prince said and trembled, his eyes widened in fear at his father.
"Do it!" The King yelled at him.
With no other choice, the young prince took the sword from his father's hand and moved toward Amber and her mother with shaking legs.
Ranus grabbed Amber's wrists and pulled her back. She went wild and tried to break free.
"No!" She yelled at the prince. "Do not do it! Please!".
"Do not look, Amber," Ranus whispered to her and tried to restrain her.
"Do not kill her!" She ignored Ranus and started crying. "I beg you".
Her mother looked at her with a loving gaze.
"I love you so much, tell that to Lyla too," she said. "Stay strong!".
She turned to the Scandian prince and there was no fear in her face.
"now!" The king urged his son.
The prince stuck the sword in her mother's heart and Margrett collapsed to the floor.
Her mother's murderer turned back and a satisfied smile appeared on his father's face.
He handed his blood-filled sword to his father, refusing to look at the woman he just murdered.
"You will pay for it, murderers!" Amber shouted.
Her knees collapsed beneath her and she sobbed as her eyes were filled with tears.
"Damn it, Amber, I told you not to look," Ranus said angrily as he was helping her up and ushering her out of the throne room.
"I am sorry you had to watch it."
The sincerity in his voice surprised her. Why would he even care?
She gave one last look at the body of her mother. The throne hall carpet was stained with her blood.
She engraved the face of the Earth King and his son in her head.
It is not over yet, she thought. I will revenge you for everything.