I pulled my knees up to my chin, trying to make myself as small as possible. I wished the wall behind me would open up and swallow me whole. I clenched my eyes and bit my lip as another scream resonated in the air, echoing within the stone walls. It didn’t matter that I heard these screams every day since I was born, the agonizing cries always had my skin pebbling and fear shaking me to my core. I wanted to cry for these girls; I wanted to cry for myself.
This was how it was every day. The King’s allies often came here to have their fun. And it often ended up with the woman crying and bleeding. Nobody considered us human; we were nothing but objects. I knew it was true, but I didn’t like it. I hated the men with a burning passion, which burned brighter and hotter with each passing day.
One day. One day I will be free of this.
This was a lie I often told myself to keep myself from breaking down like other women did after the men were finished with them. I knew I couldn’t run, couldn’t be free. And I didn’t want to be free. This was my home, and this was my life. Even though I wanted a better life where I wasn’t an object for men’s pleasures, I’d accepted the fact that this was my life and I was nothing but a common whore.
“H—Hil—Hildred?” My eyes snapped to a girl who had grown close to my heart over the years. Her pretty, blue eyes were glistening with unshed tears, her hair a mess of dark curls similar to my own, while fear radiated out of her.
“Ethel? What’s wrong?” I asked. Even though I was terrified myself, I would never show it to anyone. These women were broken—accepting their lives as they were. But I couldn’t appear weak in front of them. These women needed strength, someone to lean on, and I was that person for them. Because I refused to cry in front of them, I showed no fear.
Ethel sat down in front of me and took my hands in hers. “Hildred, I—I just heard that Lord Aboloft has formed alliance with a new Kingdom and the King is coming to meet him after sunset.”
My breath hitched as terror sprouted in my heart. Lord Aboloft formed alliances with the worst of Kings. He only formed a pact with those who were like him. Which meant that if the new King visited Quopia, he was bound to pay us a visit.
“Where did you hear this from?” I asked her.
“From one of the guards stationed outside; they were talking about how the new King was coming to visit Lord Aboloft’s newest slave,” she replied.
Why would a King come to visit a slave? If this man was someone we did not know of, it would mean that the alliance had to be recent. And recent alliances didn’t result in meeting of slaves. I may be a common whore but I knew how things worked in the Kingdom. No, this was not someone new, this was someone we knew.
“Do you know the name of the King?” I questioned. I knew a few Kings who had come here. One of them stole a slave and never took permission from Lord Aboloft about taking her.
Ethel shook her head. “N—Not really. I just heard half of his name.”
“What is it? Tell me right now.” If I knew who the King was, I could prepare myself according to that.
“Lord Ban, that’s all I heard. I didn’t want to be caught eavesdropping or they would’ve punished me,” Ethel explained, but I wasn’t listening to her. Shock and terror ripped through my soul making me lose all sense of reality.
“No,” I whispered, hoping her words weren’t true. I didn’t need the full name to know that Lord Bancroft of Sodora was coming here. He was not someone new; he often visited Quopia. The man who kept me in a constant state of fear whenever he was around was not someone I wanted to see. Lord Bancroft was terror. He was darkness.
The first time I saw Lord Bancroft was when I was fourteen years old. He had come to visit Lord Aboloft and made sure to come down here. I was talking to Ethel when the door opened and he marched in, looking powerful and regal. As soon as we saw him, we quickly knelt in front of him, no one daring to disrespect a King.
Once he gave us permission to go back to what we were doing before, that’s when I got my first glimpse of those dark green eyes and knew that he was no ordinary King. There was an uncanny darkness in those eyes that had my heart wanting to hide. That’s when I decided to avoid him at all costs. So I tried my best to make myself invisible by hiding in corners. But no matter how much I tried, he always seemed to find me. Every time I dared to glance in his direction I always found those dark green eyes fixed on me. And that scared me. Lord Bancroft frightened me.
However, he only stared at me. He never called me over to him or came to me. He just watched me while he had his fun with some other whore. I didn’t understand why he did that and I did not care. I was just happy that I did not had to endure the pain and horror Lord Bancroft inflicted on the whores he played with.
“Yes, he is coming to visit. What if he hurts me, Hildred? My wrist still hurts from what happened to me a fortnight ago,” Ethel asked, worry dripping from her words.
“Don’t worry, Ethel. He will not hurt you. There are other whores, he will use them.” I told her. I didn’t know whom Lord Bancroft would choose this time as he always picked a new whore to play with.
“He will hurt me. They all hurt me. The pain never ends. I think the only way to be free is death.” She sobbed.
“Do not be so pessimistic, Ethel,” I admonished. “Nothing will happen to you. The King won’t hurt you, I’ll make sure of it. And don’t talk about your death. We are bosom friends and I do not want to lose you. You are the reason I’m still alive.”
“Forgive me, Hildred. I did not mean to upset you,” she apologized.
I smiled softly. “Do not apologize. I just can’t imagine losing you. It would break me.”
“I know. I feel the same way. I won’t ever say anything like this ever again,” Ethel promised. Her words made me feel much better. As long as I had Ethel, I could endure any hardship life shot at me.
My eyes opened when I felt someone shaking me. What was going on? Why did somebody wake me up in the middle of the night?
“Hildred, wake up! Lord Bancroft is coming!” Ethel hissed in my ear. Her words had me standing up and running my fingers through my hair.
“When did he arrive? And why is he coming down here in the middle of the night?” I asked, cursing my dark locks when they refused to be tamed.
“I don’t know but he is a King and we do not have the right to deny him. Who do you think he is going to choose this time?” My friend asked as she straightened my dress.
“I don’t know. Right now, I just need to make sure I look desirable.” I told her while ignoring the pounding in my heart. Lord Bancroft was going to be here any minute and God knows what he would do today. I did not want him to look at me like he constantly did whenever he was here. Perhaps I could hide in the furthest corner.
“I don’t understand why we have to look beautiful when the Kings just leave us bloody and bruised. How could anyone look desirable in bruises?” Ethel asked, her fear morphing into frustration.
“That is not for us to decide. These are the rules and we have no choice but to follow them. Breaking of the rules can and will result in death, you know that,” I replied just as a sharp command came from behind the doors that kept us locked in.
“Lord Bancroft is here! Kneel and present yourself to his Highness!”
“Oh no! He’s here!” Ethel cried before rushing towards the entrance with the rest of the females in order to welcome the King. I took a deep breath before following after her and immediately knelt down, lowering my head, with my eyes downcast.
The opening of the heavy doors had me biting my lip. And after a few seconds, I heard the dreadful sound of approaching footsteps. The power echoing from his footstep told me that it was none other than Lord Bancroft himself who has entered.
“You may stand and go back to your respective places.” Lord Bancroft’s voice echoed inside the harem, which had each and every woman scurrying back to her place.
I didn’t stay behind to linger. God knows if I did I would end up being the object of Lord Bancroft’s entertainment. Getting up to my feet, I turned and dashed away from where Lord Bancroft stood. I had a feeling that perhaps Lord Bancroft enjoyed watching all the women running away, knowing that he could do with them as he pleased.
A sigh of relief escaped me when I reached my bed. I decided to go back to sleep because my eyes refused to stay open. A yawn escaped me which only solidified my decision. Lord Bancroft never came to me, so I didn’t have to worry about sleeping and denying him anything.
Just as I laid down and closed my eyes, I felt a shadow falling over me. Thinking it was probably Ethel wanting to spend the night with me, I opened my eyes only to see Lord Bancroft standing over me. All my senses shuttered as I eyed the King of Sodora standing above me. Why was he here? He never came to me so why now? What changed?
“M—My L—Lord.” Sleep deserted me, terror taking its place as I got out of bed and knelt in front of him. I didn’t want him to know he terrified me, but I couldn’t help the trembling in my body.
“Tell me your name, girl,” he ordered, his voice sending shivers down my back.
Why did he want to know my name? Nobody ever asked me for my name before; they only cared about their needs and desires. Why was this King interested in knowing my name?
“Did you not hear me? I said, tell me your name.” I flinched at the harshness of his tone. Lord Bancroft did not like being ignored, I could see that now.
“Hi—Hil—Hildred, my Lord,” I answered, not paying attention to my mind which was telling me to run far, far away.
“Very well; you can speak and hear.” The mockery in his tone had my cheeks heating up. “Now stand up, Hildred.” This time, I didn’t wait before following his command. I quickly stood up, but kept my head lowered. If I dared to look him in the eyes I was sure he would slap me.
“Good. I’m glad to see you can follow orders.” I did not reply to him, even though I wanted to say something equally insulting.
I jumped and cursed myself when Lord Bancroft grabbed my wrist in a tight hold. Common whores weren’t allowed to make any sound or movement without the King’s orders, and I’d done just that.
“You’re scared. That’s good—very good, indeed,” he said, wicked intentions saturating his words.
A yelp escaped me when Lord Bancroft gave me a sudden push which had me falling down on my bed. Before I could straighten myself up, Lord Bancroft climbed on top of me, grabbing my hands and placing them over my head.
Fear gripped me, choking me with a deadly grip as Lord Bancroft brought his face close to mine. What was he doing? Why was he doing this? All these years he’d never touched me and now he was going to hurt me.
He chuckled darkly before running a finger down my face. I wanted to look him in the eyes and see what he was thinking. The eyes were the windows to the soul, they were the best way to tell what someone was thinking. But I was a mere whore; I had no right to look at someone who was superior to me.
“So many years. Do you remember how many years it has been since the day I first saw you?” He asked, his lips brushing the corner of my lips, causing me to shudder in response. “Do you?”
“N—No, my L—Lord,” I answered, even though I knew exactly how many years it had been.
“Well, I shall enlighten you then. It has been exactly nine years since the day I first saw you. In my opinion, nine years is a long time. And I will make up for all those years I kept myself away from you,” he stated.
What did he mean by keeping himself away from me? No King ever did what he was talking about. If a King wanted someone, he took her, with or without her permission. So what did he mean by that?
“Your gray eyes tell me you are puzzled, is that correct?”
My eyes flew to his without my permission and I swallowed hard as fear settled in my stomach. I quickly looked away hoping he wouldn’t punish me for my mistake.
“H—How do you kn—know, my Lord?” I asked, my eyes once again downcast.
“I can see your eyes even if I’m not directly looking at them. And do not be afraid, my delicate flower, for I will not punish you for looking me in the eyes. I want you to look at me right now.” His command left me wondering about his intentions. But I still obeyed—because that was what I was required to do—and locked my eyes with his. “Good girl. Such an obedient girl you are. It pleases me greatly.”
His words should’ve settled the worry blooming in my mind, but they resulted in my worry morphing into distress. Lord Bancroft was confusing me. I didn’t know what he wanted from me. However, his next words answered my question.
“Now, I want you to listen to me very carefully, because I do not like to repeat myself.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“You are mine. You have been since the moment I laid my eyes on you. And even though I didn’t say anything to you for nine years, things will change now. I will not come here for any other woman but you. You will be the only woman who will fulfill my needs and provide me with the pleasure I seek. And if you dare disobey me in any way, then I will punish you in the worst of ways. Do you understand?”
I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe what he was saying to me. It all felt like a huge, terrifying lie. I wanted it to be a lie. But this was King Bancroft who was speaking to me. None of this was a lie. This was not a dream.
For nine years I’d been free of the man who terrified me.
Now, all of a sudden…
I was his.