0 0. P R E L U D E
CALYPSO'S LUNGS BURNED, her legs ached, her bare feet slapping against the rocky terrain of the village's worn roads. Her hair fluttered in the wind like Greek fire, struggling to catch up with her.
She glanced back, her view partially obscured, heaps of tangled curls floating in her vision.
Dirt and grime smeared her skin, making her skin crawl, her wrists chaffed still burning from the mark of chains. Her arms pumped desperate to cover more ground.
Not looking back, she pushed herself further, imagining the all too familiar sting of the whip.
"Halt! Halt, in the name of the King!"
The King. That just made her run harder, though it felt as if her lungs were emptied of air. There was nowhere to hide, and the path only got rockier by second. She started to stumble, her footing started faltering, and soon she was eating the dust, her skin grinding against the rocks of Cyper.
Brown black hair scatters on the path, a curly waterfall over the rocks run with her blood. With a groan, she blinked sluggishly.
The scenery blurred in front of her, her ears filled with roaring waters.
She felt herself being lifted, felt her body being moved. Time rippled as she lost consciousness, her body going limp.
When she came to, she shivered, amber eyes darting about.
The guard outside the cell sneered.
"Did you think you'd escape, slave?"
She didn't respond, but he guard continued to taut her.
"Perhaps you should've stayed where you were. You're in the Palace of Bones now. No prisoner leaves alive."
Calypso had heard tales of the legendary Palace of Bones. She'd heard of King Zaid who slew his family to gain power. Who vanquished his enemies ruthlessly and slaughtered those who opposed him.
And she was is his dungeon.
"Huh," the guard chuckled evilly, "yeah, I'll be dragging your corpse by tommorow. Today's inspection."
Refusing to show fear, Calypso sat against the stone wall, reveling in the frigid air that swamped her, pebbling goosebumps on her brown skin.
King Zaid would be coming that night, and more than likely, he would kill her.
• • •
HEELED BOOTS CLICKED emphatically against the stone steps waking Calypso from her fitful sleep.
It seemed the air heated at the incoming presence, a simmering in the atmosphere.
Silently, Calypso watched the guard smirk at her as a shrouded figure approached the guard.
It leaned into the guard, and left.
Her cell opened, and she was yanked up by her arms and led up the stairs into the main part of the Palace.
The Palace of Bones should've rightly been called the Palace of Glass. It was pristine, crystals seemingly shooting from the floor, smooth and translucent itself.
Every sound was amplified against the hallow shards of ice. Even her bare feet made a patter.
She was handed off to a older maid, who s lied kindly at her.
"Come, let me draw you a bath."
With a mocking sneer, the guard left her with a push.
"Good luck, slave."
• • •
THE OLD MAID,led her to a large room, larger than the one her old master slept in. The bed was clad in satin sheets blood red, with a mesh canopy surrounding it ethereally.
Warm rose water filled the claw tub, and, graciously, she sank down into it, not minding the maid's eyes.
Sighing in utter contentment, peace encompassing her, water rippling like waves of the sea, effortlessly stripping dirt off her body.
Slipping deeper into the warm silk depths, Calypso let the old maid wash her hair, ever so gently swirling out the knots in her hair, separating curls gracefully.
The silence that swamped the room was a peaceful one, the lull in the concerto before the music swells and the score ends.
"The King requires your presence in the audience room,"
The Asian woman smiled softly, "I will take you there."
"Thank you. What's your name?"
The maid balked, as if her name were an obscure value, that human would ever seek to uncover.
"Yema," she whispered, almost as t she'd forgotten it, "My name is Yema."
"Nice to meet you, Yema. I'm Calypso."
• • •
SATIN SLID DOWN Calypso's now clean body, bathing her in golden splendor. The dress was sleek and fitting to her body, contrasting her dark brown skin perfectly making her glow.
"You look beautiful!" Yema gushed, eyeing her in pride.
"All thanks to you, Yema."
"Ah, no. It's all you, darling."
Smiling at the small woman, Calypso hugged her, feeling odd.
She hadn't hugged anyone since she was young.
"Thank you so much."
"Just stay alive, darling."
Foreboding filled her like water in a cup, overflowing with the chilling substance of fear.
• • •