The King

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Chapter 22

Cyrus

I yank Marzia by her arm into the nearest room, looking around at the servants that are frantically following us.

"Leave us. Or you will die this night I can promise you that," I hiss. I turn away from the door, slamming it before approaching Marzia. She's looking at me with a smug expression, her eyes not holding enough fear for me.

I strike her across the face.

"You miserable bitch," I hiss. I don't give her the time to react before I have her around the throat and smashed into the nearest wall. She cries out in shock, her eyes meeting mine. They're wide.

"What the fuck did you hope to accomplish by challenging me in front of the entire Kingdom!" I shout. She flinches, but finds her voice anyway.

"Did I hit a nerve, your Majesty? Or are you just angry you had to do away with your favorite slave?" she hisses. She says it to provoke me, but it does nothing but anger me further. I let out a bitter laugh.

"Is that what this is about? Favoring a slave?" I ask. Her eyes grow defiant.

"You favor her more than you should, Cyrus. You humiliated me in front of her! Word has gotten around how you rarely punish her, and how she is still alive after all this time! You've never kept a slave alive for so long!" she shouts. My gaze narrows.

"I have humiliated you in front of slaves, servants, and nobles alike. Yet you never tried something so foolish with any of them," I growl. Then I recall her words. I can't help the laugh that escapes me.

"Word has gotten around, huh?" I ask. Her face noticeably pales at my sudden shift in mood, and she knows exactly why. I let go of her stepping back.

"Where did you hear this, Marzia?" I ask. Silence greets me and I turn to look at her, my anger showing. She knows now that she has fucked up immensely

"Answer me," I growl. She immediately drops to her knees bowing.

"I'm sorry, your Majesty. I did not mean to offend. I heard from no one, I swear. I just made an incorrect assumption," she whimpers.

Her apology does nothing to sate my anger. I begin walking towards her, kneeling to where she is on the floor. I place my hand under her chin to lift her gaze to mine.

"Each and every one of your servants will die. Tonight. Each and every slave in your household will die. Tonight. Your Father will be demoted. Tonight. And Marzia, if you ever cross me again no matter the reason, you will die as well. I am doing fine ruling this country without a woman jealous of a slave by my side. I have no qualms about killing you for your stupidity."



Anna
I shift, my body in immense pain. My eyes slowly open as an unfamiliar room comes into view. It's a beautiful room that I don't recognize.
"You're awake." I look to my left, my heart sputtering in my chest at the Beast leaning against the wall. It's Felix. He's dressed in simple clothing, his dark hair pushed away from his face as he smiles at me. A smile that does little to hide his intimidation even though he holds no weapons.
"The King asked that I take care of you while he's dealing with pressing matters in the palace. It was quite the task, sneaking you out of the cart of dead slaves. But you cannot be in the castle while the King purges it. Or else, you would have been killed as well."
I have to fight the reactions that threaten to come from me, but I don't want to give him the satisfaction. I don't want to give him the satisfaction of anything. He hurts Dimitri in ways that are unforgivable. He seems to pick up on my dislike towards him and his smile widens as he pushes off the wall.
"I've done all I can for your back to keep you from dying, but Cyrus will have to fix it back to normal. I'm afraid he excels in the art of healing where I am just mediocre. In the meantime, I will have breakfast brought to you." I take note that he has a smirk on his lips as he leaves the room, closing the door behind him.
I slowly try and sit up, but am unable to due to the pain in my back. The events that caused it come rushing back to me in a wave. I have to bite back the wave of nasuea that the memory of him whipping my back to ribbons. The blood, the flesh, the pain...
The door opens and my eyes widen as Dimitri steps in. He looks much better than he did the last time I saw him other than the haunted look in his eyes. I fear that will never go away.
"Dimitri?" I flinch from the pain of sitting up, but do so nonetheless. He's carrying a tray of food that he places on the nightstand refusing to look at me the whole way.
"Dimitri?" I try again. He doesn't respond as he makes his way to the door. Tears well into my eyes as he walks away from me. Felix has done it. He has broken him.
Just as he steps to the door, the beast of my nightmares decides to step into the room. I feel my blood run cold at the sight of him. His hair is pulled up and away from his face, his dark eyes focused on Dimitri in irritation as he steps out of the room, only pausing to bow to the King.
He steps past Dimitri closing the door as he enters the room. He doesn't speak as he steps around me, pulling a chair close to the bed.
"How much does it hurt?" he asks. I narrow my gaze at him. He almost sounds genuinely concerned. But I'm not foolish enough to fall for his false sincerity.
"A lot," I whisper. His frown deepens as he reaches for me. I immediately flinch away from him.
"Anna, let me see. I'm only trying to fix it," he says as if he's speaking to a child.
"Why? Why are you trying to fix this, your Majesty... this is what you caused," I whisper. He notices my shift in mood and smiles.
"I have caused a lot of pain for you, Annalise. But do I not fix it every time? This time is no different." I don't protest as he reaches for the bandages wrapped around my body. I hiss in pain as he pulls them from the blood crusted wounds. He traces his fingers over the deep gashes. He lets out a disappointed sigh.
"This will leave scarring," he murmurs to himself more than me. I feel him place his palm against my back, the familiar warmth coating the wounds until I can feel them tingling.
"I couldn't let up as much as I wanted to because of the audience. I cannot show a slave favor by any means," he says. I stare at my hands in confusion. I don't know what it is that's come over the King today. He's never sincere, but today he sounds regretful.
"You are the King, are you not?" I ask testing my theory. He chuckles softly. He doesn't seem angry or irritated in the least. He's strangely calm.
"Being the King does not mean I can change rules that build the society I rule that would only lead to corruption and disorder. The people's needs come before my own. And the people need to know I have only their interest at heart," he says.
"Your people started this war. Your people took their King before his time was up. And your people kidnapped their prince to exert their power."
His palm leaves my back and just like he said, there's no more pain. He healed it. I feel him running his palm over my now scarred flesh.
"You and I are similar now," he murmurs. I turn in the bed looking at him. The scars that cross over his face and neck disappear into his clothing. I've seen him enough times naked to know how far and wide those scars go. He tilts his head slightly, taking in my features.
"One thing I've come to admire about you is your beauty. I'm sorry I had to permanently place something on your back. That was never something I wanted to do. Not unless it was my seal."
His gaze swallows me whole as he speaks. The rest of the room falls away and I feel like I'm suffocating under his glare. I don't know where this mood he has came from, but it's unnerving.
I drop my eyes, not knowing how or if I even should respond. He was in this same mood the day of the ball when he let me wear the dress. Before he told me of his plan for me.
"You saved me from death... why?" I ask. I look up at him and his features hold nothing to give away how he is feeling. He leans into me placing his hand on my cheek.
"I told you I want you, Annalise. And I am not done with you yet," he says. I shake my head.
"But you could easily use another slave your maje-"
"Hear my words Annalise. I will never touch another slave that isn't you. You have piqued me to break the rules of my people I will admit that. But I will never do it again."
My heart starts to beat faster against my chest and I try my best to keep it down.
"Speak Annalise. You look as though you have something to say."
I try and move from the bed.
"I will speak with the overseer of this estate to figure out my duties," I say. Cyrus chuckles shaking his head.
"You are at Felix's estate now, Annalise and he keeps a strict and selective staff that isn't you. Your only job now is to heal. Once we feel you are better you will begin your mission."
My eyes widen.
"My mission?" I ask. He nods his head.
"We already discussed this, Annalise. I will stay here in the coming weeks to assist with your recuperation and then you will bring my father or I will infiltrate the camp myself and kill every single hunter there. Man, woman, or child. It's your decision on whether you want that blood on your hands."
He stands walking to the door.
"Rest, Annalise. I already miss the feeling of being inside of you."

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