I jolt awake as the doors slam open and the sounds of screaming slaves assaults my ears.
"Shut up all of you!" The Overseer shouts at us in irritation. I immediately jump out of my bed, trying to reach for my clothes when I'm roughly yanked away by a guard.
"What's happening?" I ask. I get no response as I'm dragged roughly through the filthy chamber that is the slaves quarters. I look around to see other slaves as well being dragged along. Even the men.
None of us have the time or luxury to pull our clothes on. I'm clad in the filthy nightgown that was given to me upon arrival. It belonged to several slaves before me. Slaves whose deaths still stain the dingy material.
We're dragged out of the slaves quarters in chains. Each chain interconnected so that we're all attached to one another in a straight line. There are ten of us total. The rest were left to return to sleep I assume. I can't help but wonder why we've been awakened and dragged through the palace this late at night.
I shiver violently as the chill of the secret passageways nips at my skin. Since this passage is used for slaves to move in and out of unseen, there are no torches or fireplaces to keep it warm. And the chill of autumn is growing colder by the day. Meaning winter is coming very soon.
I look ahead at the front of the line to see the guard pushing open the secret door, leading us into the warmly lit hall. I almost breathe a sigh of relief from the warmth enveloping me. Almost.
We continue to walk up the palace halls until I begin to hear noises. It's the sound of people. I can hear light conversation and music. And the closer we get to the archway cascading light, the more I can smell food and wine. My stomach constricts in pain at the scent.
The guard roughly pulls us along and I feel actual fear for what awaits. The King is entertaining, and he's ordered his slaves be present, not even fully dressed. I can say with confidence we are all about to die.
We round the corner and my eyes widen as I take in the sight before me. The room is grand. In each corner there are beasts both men and women standing on their own platforms, dressed explicitly as they touch themselves sensually, their dark eyes filled with lust as they gaze at the nobles in attendance.
The nobles are seated in the center of the room. There are four men and six women. And at the center of them is the King. He's talking to a stern looking man that is seated next to him. He says something that makes the King laugh. My eyes widen as a genuine smile appears on his lips. One that isn't filled with malice.
His hair is free of its usual restraints, his shirt open as a woman rubs her hands over his body intimately. I take note that the man next to him is stunning as well. His hair isn't as long as the King's but it's curly and falls slightly in his eyes. He has a look of indifference on his face as he gazes over the room of people. His eyes hold a darkness that I don't want to understand.
My eyes widen and my heart stops when I see Dimitri behind him. He doesn't look as awful as the palace slaves. In fact, his build is more lean. Physically he looks healthy. But looking at his eyes I can only see a haunted expression. One that means whatever he has gone through, he will never be able to recover from.
Tears spring into my vision and my body is moving before my mind is. I open my mouth whispering his name, my fingers itching to touch him. To know that he's ok.
"Ah!" I cry out in pain as a guard slaps me across the face. Hard. I collapse onto the ground, blood spilling from my lips as the world spins around me.
I'm jerked up roughly by my chains and I immediately try and focus my vision.
"Guard." The entire room falls silent as the King's voice carries across the room with ease. The guard drops me, turning to bow to the King.
"Your majesty." I hear the sounds of footsteps as the King comes across the room.
"Do not ruin the entertainment before we've had a chance," the King growls. The guard remains hunched over as the King passes him.
"My apologies, your majesty."
"Entertainment? Cyrus, you call this entertainment?" A new voice enters the room. It's the man that the King was speaking to earlier. The man Dimitri was standing behind. Not only has he spoken to the King on a familiar level, but he's finally given me a name. The name of the King. Cyrus.
Cyrus smiles, looking over all of us and I immediately remember to drop my gaze.
"Yes. I find them very entertaining," Cyrus muses. I hear a girl scream followed by the jangle of the chains as he yanks her out of the lineup.
"I find that if you beat them long enough, they make for very entertaining subjects."
My body shakes as fear sets in from his words.
"Strip her. And tie her up." He says before moving on to the rest of us. I may not have been here long, but you don't have to be to learn the tendencies of the King. No one survives his beatings. No one.
He whips you long and hard enough to strip the meat from your flesh. Only then will he let you bleed out and feed your body to the birds. And that's if your lucky. He has been known to break bones with the strength of his whip. The strength of the beasts are unimaginable. Combine that with the concentrated point of a whip, and you can shatter someone's bones instantly.
The King continues to pick slaves out of the lineup. Some men, and some women. All of them whimpering as the reality of what's about to happen sets in. I keep my gaze focused on the ground, but that doesn't stop me from shaking the closer he gets.
His feet stop in front of me, and I can't help the tears that pour down my face. He places his hand under my chin, lifting my gaze to meet his. I feel like the pit of my stomach is going to fall out. His dark, soulless gaze pours into my soul and makes me want to die on the spot.
He scoffs lightly, pointing to the man next to me.
He turns away from us as the guard unlocks the man next to me.
"The rest of you are to serve." He calls over his shoulder. I look up to see if Dimitri has noticed me yet, and the ache only grows when I see that he has. He has a look of horror etched onto his face as his gaze roams over my battered and broken body.
My sniffles only grow as he looks at me. Or whats left at this point. I feel pathetic and small.