The day is beautiful. There's light snow falling around Felix's estate blanketing the area beautifully. I find myself wishing Annalise were here to enjoy the snow. In the palace, she could never do such a thing. But keeping her at Felix's estate gives her much more freedom and leniency.
Felix gestures for his servant to begin setting up the serving tray and she silently begins her duty. It's silent at the estate without our favored humans around. And it's torture waiting to see if they will fail the mission or not.
"If you are worried about the half-breed touching her, he will not. He wouldn't dare do such a thing. I have beaten that desire out of him," Felix says next to me gauging my silence. I laugh softly, shaking my head.
"I believe you. It's her I am skeptical about. Her face when she left... it was strange." I never speak my mind to anyone but Felix. We've been friends our entire lives and he's the only person that can be honest with me, treating me as an equal.
"Strange? How so?" he asks. The servant bows slightly before leaving us and I reach for the warm cup, bringing it to my lips.
"She seemed... vengeful."
Felix chuckles next to me.
"After you took her away from her fiance, took her virginity, beat her within an inch of her life, and forced her into the enemy camp, I would think she would be vengeful Cyrus."
I have to bite my tongue. He's right though.
"Why do you care so much? If she can't fulfill her mission, her usefulness has run out." I look at Felix in irritation. He's constantly pushing me. He loves to see people squirm. It almost makes me feel bad for the half breed. Almost.
"And what of you? Do you plan on welcoming him back into your bed?" I ask. Felix chuckles looking out over the estate.
"Yes. Dimitri is always welcome to my estate. And my bed. So long as I know where his loyalty lies. And right now, it is to me and the beast empire."
I shake my head at his confidence.
"How are you so sure he is loyal to you?" I ask. Felix leans back in his seat before looking at me. His dark eyes have lost all amusement.
"Because I own him, Cyrus. I own his mind. I own his body. I own every part of him. You see, men are much harder to break than women. They have these ideas in their heads. These years of strength and endurance have made them into hard, strong beings. But once you break them... there is no fixing them back. Dimitri is broken. Beyond broken, if there is a term. And he will never be able to function unless I am giving him purpose. That is how I know I have his loyalty."
I look at him. Really look. He's always reveled in violence and battle. Even when we were children, he would torture the other kids, doing everything in his power to make them afraid of him and respect him at the same time.
"You are one sadistic fuck, Felix." Felix shrugs leaning back in his chair.
"Maybe. But I embrace that. Unlike you, my King, who tries to tame it for the sake of your people. You and I both know you are worse than me. That is why you're so adamant about getting your father back. You need someone to control you."
I don't respond to his prodding, but he is right. My Father is a different beast than I am. His way of ruling was firm but understanding. He believed in a world that led humanity. Not enslaved them. I believe in a world where humanity is annihilated. His leniency with humanity is what got me captured in the first place and these scars placed on me.
He treated them as lesser beings regardless of living alongside each other. And lesser beings always feel entitled to power.
"What are you going to do if your Father isn't alive, Cyrus?" Felix's words pull me out of my thoughts and I look at him.
"If he isn't alive, we will proceed with the slaughter. I have no room for any of them in my Kingdom. But I know he is alive. They wouldn't kill him. He was my predecessor. He holds power that rivals my own. And the necklace Annalise brought into my Kingdom had his essence in it. They're using him to make weapons."
"So you sent her in to aid in the possible destruction of her people?"
I shake my head.
"I sent her in to protect him. If I showed up with my army, they would kill him to get a rise out of me. She can slip in, confirm he is alive, and get out. And if he isn't, she will still tell me. She is the only human I trust enough to get the job done." Felix chuckles flipping my question on me.
"Trust? And why would you trust her, your majesty?"
"Because I know her, Felix. I have spent every day since she stepped into my Kingdom training her to be obedient. To know my likes and my dislikes. To follow me without hesitation."
I can feel Felix looking at me and I hate it.
"You're indulging in humans now? Whatever happened to them being vermin? Every last one of them?" he asks quoting my own words. I let out an irritated sigh.
"She is the only exception. I do not indulge in anyone but her. She is the lowest I will ever go. And I will never glance in that direction again."
Felix looks over my shoulder gesturing for one of the servants to come to us. As she approaches, he pulls her down on his lap and begins placing kisses on her throat. His eyes meet mine and he smiles wickedly.
"You must learn not to put too much indulgence in lower beings, Cyrus. They easily disappoint."
The trip to the Hunter's camp has been hell. Ever since Dimitri's outburst, he refuses to speak to me. Not even a glance. He keeps ahead of me on the trail and only speaks to me when telling me the plan to stop for the night.
I don't fault him though. Dimitri was a proud man once. And Felix has twisted him enough to turn him into a man that fears everything. Especially betrayal. The man that Dimitri was is gone forever just like he said. It makes me wonder what type of person I have become as a result of Cyrus's reign.
I only spoke of running away out of pity for Dimitri. I wasn't thinking when the words left my lips. I just wanted him to no longer feel pain at the hands of Felix. But now that I can think, could I really have run?
"Don't run, Annalise."
Cyrus's words are burned into my brain. Dimitri fears what Cyrus would do if I ran away. It's something I hadn't thought about. Just thinking of being caught by him after running gives me a chill I do not wish to acknowledge. I am just as much a prisoner as Dimitri. I hate to admit it to myself, but the idea of running has me terrified. I fear that Cyrus has broken me as much as Felix has broken Dimitri.
We have both been manipulated into their obedient puppets.
I look up when Dimitri slows his horse coming to a stop next to me. His bright blue eyes are set and determined as he gestures to the area around us.
"The camp should be just over this- Ah!"
Dimitri's body is ripped off of his horse, colliding with the ground. I cry out in shock and fear, my horse rising up from being startled as well. I jump down from my horse running to where Dimitri is groaning in pain.
"Dimitri!" I scream. There's an arrow sticking out of his shoulder. I reach him placing my hand on his chest to still him when I feel a blade touching my back.
"Do not move unless you want your head removed from your shoulders."
My hands are shaking as the hunters drag us blindfolded through their camp.
"Dimitri?" I call out for him but get nothing in response. A hard shove causes me to stumble forward, losing my balance and I fall to the ground. I'm immediately yanked up by my arm and pushed again.
"Keep it moving," someone hisses behind me. I have to bite the inside of my cheek. The need to use Cyrus's seal and escape is all but clawing at me, but I fight it. My survival instinct is kicking in as our fellow humans treat us like prisoners.
We finally reach our destination and my blindfold is pulled off. I immediately blink, trying to figure out the situation. I see humans. Five of them. But what I don't see is Dimitri.
"Where is he? Where's Dimitri?" I shout in a panic. A woman clad in armor steps forward pointing her blade at my chin.
"You do not speak here unless you are given permission, girl," she hisses. I narrow my gaze at the woman. She is clad in dirt as well, and I take note that the glowing necklace around her throat looks similar to the one my father gave me.
"Elisa." The man in the center of the room speaks her name with authority and she steps down, digging the tip of her blade into the dirt as she stares at me. The man that spoke looks at me as if he's trying to figure me out. He has brown eyes that hold a strange kindness in them.
"Dimitri. That is the name of the man you were traveling with?" he asks. I slowly nod my head. The man sits back in his seat, motioning to the guards. I hear them running away before the man with brown eyes looks back at me as if he's studying me. Being under the constant gaze of Cyrus makes it easy to look this man in the eyes. Their gazes don't compare.
He laughs lightly before the doors are opened. I turn around to see Dimtri being dragged in. They drop him roughly on the ground, causing him to groan in pain.
"Dimitri!" I try and move to him but my path is blocked by a blade. I look back to the man in charge.
"Why are you doing this?" I ask. My voice is shaking but I don't care. The man stands from his seat, making his way towards me.
"What is your name?" he asks. I look between him and Dimitri. Dimitri has a strange expression on his face. He finally looks at me and slowly nods his head.
"Annalise," I say. The man doesn't show any indication that he is aware of my identity. He stops walking, standing over me before kneeling so that he is eye level with me.
"Annalise, my name is Liam. I am the commanding officer here at the Hunter's main base." His eyes roam over my face as if he's trying to figure me out without me speaking. He finally moves back standing to his full height.
"I apologize for the... surprising greeting, but we are a little concerned about your traveling partner." Liam's eyes roam over to Dimitri, and I see disgust in them.
"Tell me why is it you are traveling with a half breed?"
Liam pulls his blade from its resting place, making his way towards Dimitri. My heart leaps in my chest and I immediately try and move towards them, but a guard easily holds me down.
I look at Dimitri with panic, but he's watching me with a strangely calm expression. The guards surrounding Dimitri force him to lean forward on his knees so that his neck is perfectly visible for Liam to cut off his head.
I let out a scream.
"No! Stop! Please!" I scream. Dimitri narrows his gaze at me slightly shaking his head but I don't care.
"Here in the hunter's base, the half breeds are no better than the full bloods. We do not even let them out of their cages. So do tell me why you are so attached to this one?"
I feel the heat growing on my side the more panicked I become and I suddenly realize what it is that's doing this. The seal. Cyrus's strength. I feel my whole body growing warm as I call on his strength. I don't care if it will ruin the plan. I don't care if I have to kill any of these people. They will not take him from me.
"She's my fiancee." Dimitri's voice pulls me out of my thoughts and everyone looks at him. Liam takes the hilt of his sword, smashing it into Dimitri's face.
"You don't speak here, half breed," Liam emphasizes his disgust by spitting.
"Stop, please... he is my fiancee. He grew up with me in my village... It was recently destroyed by a beast and we had nowhere else to go... we thought this place was a good idea," I whisper. The lie pours easily off my tongue, but I use the desperate look that Dimitri's eyes hold for strength.
"I'm sorry, we didn't know- I didn't know. We will leave and be on our wa-"
The doors are opened and in comes another hunter. His eyes are filled with shock as he looks over us. Liam is the first to speak into the silence.
"Why have you interrupted our interrogation?" he snaps. The guard quickly recovers himself looking out over the room.
"The King, sir... he has arrived."