The King. He’s the King. A million questions are running through my mind at the moment, but I don’t have the time to address any of them as he moves around the cart towards Dimitri. I forget all of the fear I felt and jerk against my chains.
“Get away from him!” I scream. He completely ignores me though. The King looks at the guard that’s holding Dimitri.
“What. Is. This?” He repeats. I can hear the irritation laced in his tone. The guard recovers quickly yanking on Dimitri’s chains.
“A valuable slave, sir. He has strong muscle build and stamina. A perfect addition to the war unit.” The guard says. The King’s eyes fall to Dimitri, and he reaches out touching his chin. He shifts Dimitri’s head side to side as he inspects him. Dimitri jerks his head away from his grasp.
“I see. Send him to the swordsmith. I’m sure he could use the extra hands.” Is all he says. They hoist Dimitri up but the King isn’t done yet.
“What about this one?” He asks looking at me. The guard looks at me as well with indifference.
“That one is going to the auctions until someone takes her.” He says. I feel my stomach drop at the guards words. The auctions are where the worst of the worst go to purchase their unwilling slaves. No one that goes to the auctions lives past a year. No one.
Dimitri begins struggling at the revelation, desperation in his eyes as he tries to break free. The King looks between us slowly realizing the situation. A small smile forms on his lips and he makes his way towards me. Dimitri’s struggles grow more frantic as he watches the King.
He slowly wraps his fingers around the chains, and with a swift movement jerks them towards him. I cry out in shock stumbling forward on the cart and collapsing in front of him. His dark eyes roam over me, taking me in slowly.
“I’ll take this one.” He says, “I shall give her to Marzia as an engagement gift.”
“No!” Dimitri screams earning the King’s attention.
“Silence him. Before I cut out his tongue.” He growls. The guard roughly yanks Dimitri back, using his hand to hit a point on Dimitri’s neck. His eyes dull before he goes limp in the guards hold. I feel a rough yank on my chains before I’m being dragged out of the cart by the King himself and pulled towards the palace.
“Dimitri!” I scream. I pull against my chains trying to get to Dimitri. One last look. One last touch. Anything. I feel a rough pull that’s enough to cause me to stumble towards the King.
“My patience is thin today human. Don’t cause any more trouble unless you want to see your lover gutted in the middle of my Kingdom.” He growls. Tears fall down my face as he pulls me away from the man that was supposed to be my husband. My future. My life.
I reach up, jerking against the chains. The King stops his walk, looking at me with a blank expression. I can tell though, he’s livid. I raise my chin in defiance and stand my ground.
“You will have to kill me before I ever willingly become a slave.” I growl. He doesn’t move. Doesn’t blink. I don’t even know if he’s breathing. He comes towards me and I have to crane my neck to keep eye contact with him.
After he glares into the depths of my soul, a small smile finally appears as he looks over my shoulder.
“The slaves that belong to the swordsmith have it easier than most. We need them to stay strong and healthy. They have to be able to create weapons and armor. So we feed them, clothe them, try not to beat them too much.”
He roughly grips my chin, his eyes widening and his smile disappearing completely from his face.
“But with one word from me, your lover will never make it to a life of much less suffering than what you have in store. Is that what you want?” He asks. My breathing catches in my throat as I take in his threat. I slowly shake my head as tears continue to fall down my face. I try and keep my bravest face on before I respond.
“He... he’s not my lover... I don’t know him... I don’t care what happens to him...” I try and bluff but he sees right through me. His smile widens as pure amusement appears on his face.
“Oh? Do you think I do not remember your face? Do you think I did not see you hobble into his arms? Do you think I did not see you escape with him?” He leans in closer to me and it takes everything in me to keep myself breathing.
“Do you think I can’t hear your heartbeat...” He murmurs. I squeeze my eyes shut, dropping my head in defeat.
“Your majesty!” The King is still searching my face as footsteps approach us before he stands to his full height, turning to face the intruder. Judging from the expensive gown and jewelry she adorns, I assume it’s the future Queen. She’s beautiful. Her hair is light brown and pulled up into an intricate style. Her eyes are that haunting blue. Her gaze shifts to me and I see the frown appear on her lips.
“You go for a walk and come back with a slave?” She asks. The King roughly pulls on my chains causing me to stumble forward.
“I am short of slaves at the moment.” He says. She nods her head, a soft smile playing at her lips as if remembering something.
“Ah yes... I was told you lost seven only this week,” She says as concern laces her voice. I look at the King in confusion. He’s lying to her. He told the guard he was gifting me to her but here she is and he is now telling her I am his. I look around her at her servants. They’re dressed in fine silks, the colors coinciding with hers. My eyes drift to the two women at the back and I know for sure they are slaves. Not only are they dressed in dull dresses, their eyes are sunken, faces bruised, and spirit’s crushed.
I take note that the future Queen has a look of fear in her eyes as she addresses the King. Something that makes me wonder just what kind of relationship they have. It makes me think of what the healer was saying about the King. About his reputation. The kind of person he is. It makes me wonder how many people truly fear him other than humans.
“Will you be joining me for dinner?” He asks. She shakes her head, and I can see her slightly shaking from his invitation.
“No... I only came with my father... he had an important meeting here today.” She says shakily. He chuckles softly moving past her without sparing her a glance.
He doesn’t pause as he makes his way through the halls, leaving his fiancee behind.
After I’m washed and dressed, I’m brought to a room for inspection. The head of the slaves is an older man. It’s strange seeing a beast this old. His hair is only beginning to gray around the edges which is the only indication of his age. He has barely a wrinkle. His dark eyes roam over all of us. There’s a total of eight of us that are new. The rest were already dismissed to go about their usual duties. I could see from the dull look in their eyes none of them know what day will be their last. It makes me shudder to think about.
I still don’t know why the King has yet to kill me. Why bring me in as a slave if he’s going to end up losing his temper and killing me anyway?
“You are all here, because your life has no other purpose behind it. Your purpose now until you die is to serve. You are slaves. Nothing more. So do what you are told or you will face death much quicker than you would like.” He growls. A girl next to me begins sobbing from his pep talk.
“There are rules within the palace that you are to follow at all times. If you are seen straying from these rules, you will be put to death. We do not tolerate disobedience here so I suggest you all listen. You are not to look your superiors in the eyes. You are not to speak to anyone within the palace walls. You are nothing more than furniture. Living, breathing furniture here to serve. You are never to be in the halls at night unless you have been given specific instructions to be. And we will know whether or not you have permission. Do not test this. You will die,” The man looks around at all of us before opening up a journal.
He walks within the lines and begins separating us into groups. Once the groups have been separated he goes individually to each, saying something to them. I look around at the people that have been put into my group. Three other girls that look older than me are staring lifeless at the ground.
I can’t help but wonder where in the world they came from. How recently was their village destroyed? It’s depressing to see how many of us a day are brought in to become slaves. It’s even more depressing to think of how many were given death instead.
I think back to my father. He sacrificed himself for us to get away and we failed him. I lower my eyes to the ground letting my tears fall. There’s been no time to mourn and I know once he comes around to give us our assigned tasks I will no longer be able to think about what the fate of Dimitri and my father are.
I hear footsteps and keep my eyes trained down.
“You three are being assigned to the King’s division. You will report to the Kitchen immediately for work. Broomhilda will show you the way,” The man says before walking away without another glance.
As it turns out were are nothing more than furniture. There are secret corridors that have been placed within the castle for the slaves to move about without being seen. We are a hindrance to the eyes of the beasts.
The kitchen is busy once we arrive. The servants are busy preparing dinner while the slaves are cleaning, washing, and sorting. I step into the Kitchen with the other two women lightly pulling at the dress I’m wearing. It’s a dark blue dress that has long sleeves and comes to my knees. We’ve also been equipped with golden collars around our throats. All of which have been locked and sealed.
The blonde next to me is still crying about the fate she’s been given and I can see why. As I look around I take note that some of the slaves have hideous bruises and scars on their bodies. If this is what is in store for our future, I would have been better off dead.
“Are you the new slaves then?” We all look up to see a female beast coming towards us. She’s a servant, her dark eyes roaming over the three of us. She’s a tall woman with sharp cheekbones and an even sharper blade in her hands as she looks at us.
She clicks her tongue in disappointment.
“They send worse and worse shape slaves each time,” She says aloud. She looks at the crying blonde in irritation.
“Stop that now. You won’t be here for much longer. Slaves don’t last the week in the King’s division. He’ll end up killing you for something and the next set will replace you.” She growls. She plasters on a sarcastic smile.
“Rejoice. Your fate will only be as long as the week,” She adds. I feel my heart beating as the urge to cry comes over me but I fight it. I don’t want to give them any reason to go in search of Dimitri. The blonde next to me however continues crying even harder. The woman that just gave us a talk frowns and in an instant makes her way through us. She uses the blade in her hands to stab the girl in her heart.
I cry out in shock as does the other girl that came in with me and we stare in horror as she collapses, gurgles, and bleeds out on the polished kitchen floor. I look around in shock, tears brimming my eyes at the horror I just witnessed. No one else seems shocked in the least as they continue about their tasks.
The door to the far wall opens and in comes more servants.
“I need the King’s dinner!” She shouts. The woman looks at the girl next to me.
“Clean this up,” She snaps. She looks at me. “Come with me.”
I have to force the scream threatening to leave my lips down as I follow the woman. My eyes are wide and my fingers are shaking as the realization of this hell sets in. We are considered the lowest of the low here. We are lower than the servants and they can take our lives any second they very well please.
I feel myself going numb as there are plates handed to me and I am quickly pushed out of the kitchen. I feel a rough snag on the collar of my dress as another servant asserts their authority.
“Slaves at the back,” She hisses shoving me roughly to the back of the group with the others. I bite my cheek to keep myself from speaking and drop my gaze following the group to wherever it is the King is.
We end up going to the King’s quarters. The doors are made of solid gold with a tree engraved on it as well. There’s a knock and a long pause before the doors finally open to reveal the King. He’s naked, all except for the now open robe hanging off of his shoulder. He has an indifferent look on his face as three women exit the chamber with panicked expressions. They are all beasts as well, their unfastened dresses and wild hair a sign of what just went on.
I immediately drop my gaze remembering the rules as we make our way into the King’s quarters. The servants quickly set up the food at the table, roughly yanking the plates out of my hand. It takes them a while to set everything up but they finally bow before exiting. I wait until all the servants are at the doors before I slowly begin walking with them, making sure to stay at the back.
I’m at the door when I feel a rough yank on the collar of my dress.
“Not you,” I shiver as the King’s voice washes over me. He pulls me into the room and I stumble backwards from the force of him pulling on the collar. I watch in horror as the last servant pulls the doors closed locking me in the room with the King of the Beasts.