I never knew Lord Bancroft could be so human. However, I also knew that it was not real. I had seen the way he treated people and he was nothing but cruel. So his kindness just made me suspicious of him and made me wonder when he would punish me next.
These past few days he had given me things I could only imagine in my dreams. He had me watch the sunset which was the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. I never knew the sky could change so many colors at the same time. The next day he took me out to the river where we sat with our feet in the cold water and talked about Sodora. Every time he mentioned Sodora and how the people were already expecting me, it made my heart sink with fear and worry. I knew it wouldn’t be long until he took me away from here. Until he took me away from my home.
Lord Bancroft also took me to the forests of Quopia and that was the place I felt the safest in. With thousands of thick trees surrounding us, my heart had never felt so at peace. I wished I could stay there in the forest forever; I did not wish to leave. The desire for safety and silence was overwhelming which had me wondering if Lord Aboloft would allow me to stay in the forest if I requested him.
I missed the forest and longed to return to it. I no longer cared about staying at the harem. Lord Bancroft had given me a taste of heaven and I wanted more. Perhaps I could take Ethel with me and we could live in a small cottage, hidden away from the rest of the world.
“And just what is your beautiful mind dwelling over?” Ethel asked with a smile as she sat down, her eyes sparkling with happiness.
I smiled before confiding in her. “Lord Bancroft took me to the forest yesterday and I long to go back there. I wish to live there, Ethel. It was the most beautiful and the most peaceful place I have ever been. Do you think Lord Aboloft would let me live there if I requested him? I know I am just a common whore but do you think he will listen?”
“The forest? I have never been to the forest. Tell me what it’s like,” she said.
I was only too happy to oblige. “Well, the forests seem like they will never end. There are so many trees, Ethel, you cannot imagine. They span on for miles and miles and they are so big and thick that there is hardly any sunlight. And it is so peaceful. I saw a few flowers which I had never seen before. I sat down with Lord Bancroft for a few hours under a tree and the desire to return home died as we sat under the tree and talked.”
“Oh, it all sounds wonderful!” She exclaimed.
“It is. It is. And even though there was silence around me, I had never felt a place to be so magical. The forest is truly magical, Ethel. I must take you there someday,” I stated.
“I wish to go there now that I know how magical it is. Oh, Hildred, I envy you; Lord Bancroft takes you out to such majestic places, I wished somebody took me out as well.” She sighed. “He is being so kind to you. I told you that he will take care of you.”
“No, Ethel, you are wrong.” I paused, trying to think of the best way to convey my thoughts. “Lord Bancroft may be blessing me with kindness but he is not kind. He is a cruel man, and I know it won’t be long until he torments me again.”
“Hildred, why must you be so negative? Lord Bancroft has given you things you only ever dreamed about. I know he has been mighty cruel to you but he is being kind to you now. And he will take you to Sodora soon where he will treat you well, I am sure of it. Can you not forgive him?” Ethel asked with a frown.
As soon as I thought about her question the thought of killing Lord Bancroft once again slithered in my mind like a poisonous snake. I could never forgive him for what he’d done. Ethel would not understand; she was not the one who was being tortured at the hands of the King. No one could imagine the pain I had to go through when Lord Bancroft injured me. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t forgive him until my hands were bathed in his blood. I longed to see him suffer like I did.
I shook my head. “No, Ethel. I cannot forgive him. Not yet.” And if I can’t make him suffer, I doubt I ever will, I thought.
“Hildred, forgiving Lord Bancroft is essential for your happiness. You will feel better once you forgive him—much lighter. He is a King, you must understand that he has the power and the right to do whatever he desires. We are nothing but common whores—“ I cut her off.
“We may be whores who have no rights but we are still human. I know the men do not consider us to be humans but we are; we feel pain when it is inflicted on us and we get angry when justice is not served. Lord Bancroft may have the right to do whatever he desires but he should not forget that he we are humans and not animals,” I argued, my anger sparking at her words.
“Hildred, please, you must not forget your place,” Ethel pleaded. Now that the thought of harming King Bancroft surrounded my mind like a dark fog, I realized that I no longer cared about his power. As a King, no one would go against him, which meant I had to make him realize what he did was wrong. And that was exactly what I would do.
“Ethel, I do not wish to argue with you about Lord Bancroft. He is my concern and I will see what to do about him.” I told her, effectively ending the conversation.
Ethel sighed, clearly not pleased with my decision. “If that is what you wish then I shall not force you. But, pray, please think about what I said. I promise you forgiving him will make you happy. He is being kind to you; if he is trying to redeem himself then you should not hold a grudge.”
I did not blame her for not understanding my predicament. She was not the one who was forced to stay in bed because her body was too broken to move. She was not the one who cried tears of anguish and helplessness all because a King claimed her as his. No one would understand. They would never understand that a King’s power over you was not something which made you happy. It only meant that you no longer possessed the rights you once believed you had.
“I have already thought about everything, Ethel. I will forgive King Bancroft, in due time, but I just cannot do it now,” I said, eyeing the closed doors of the harem, wondering if he would visit me now or in the evening.
“Alright, but the sooner you do it the sooner you can move towards happiness. I am sure King Bancroft will treat you right once he takes you to Sodora,” she stated.
I will only be happy when he will beg me for mercy.
“I do not wish to go to Sodora. I do not wish to leave you and Quopia. Not when I have just started to see the beauty that it holds.” I told her, eyeing the other common whores around me. Three of them were resting in their beds, probably exhausted from last night’s endeavors. A few of them were sitting in the corner talking about something in hushed murmurs. While others were sewing and doing needlework. I had a few things that I hadn’t finished sewing due to Lord Bancroft’s arrival in my life. I hoped I could finish them before going to Sodora.
“Oh, Hildred, I feel the same way. I do wish for you to leave. You are my sister and I cannot bear to part with you. I wish you did not have to go. Promise me you will write to me, Hildred. Your absence will be most agonizing,” Ethel replied, tears pooling in her eyes. I never wished to have my dearest friend crying because of me but the circumstances left us no choice.
“I promise you I will write to you. I do not fear for Lord Bancroft’s wrath upon me if he forbids me to write to you, I will write to you every day and tell you everything that happens to me in Sodora. Do not fret, dear friend, for I will not forget you,” I promised.
“I will hold your promise to my heart. I shall wait for your letters with bated breath and a heavy heart. No one can replace you, Hildred, for I love you more than anyone else,” Ethel said.
“If anyone replaced me it shall be the most painful thing my heart will have to endure.”
Just as I finished speaking, the doors of the harem opened and Lord Bancroft entered. My heart stopped for a few seconds before starting once again. He was wearing red robes today, the color causing his green eyes to appear rather magical. What would he do to me today? Would he take me to yet another beautiful place or would I be tortured at the hands of the monster I knew resided deep inside him.
“Lord Bancroft is here; I shall see you once he is gone. Take care of yourself, Hildred.” Ethel got up and scurried out of my bed as soon as Lord Bancroft came to stand in front of me. I lowered my gaze, looking at my feet, waiting for his command. Could I hurt him by earning his trust and then breaking it? No, breaking his trust was not enough, I was thirsty for his blood.
“Good morning, my rose flower,” King Bancroft greeted. Since the day at the gardens, he alternated between calling me his fiery nymph and his rose flower or rose at times.
“Good morning to you, my Lord,” I replied, making sure to stay still even though my hands and feet were itching to move.
“Look at me,” he commanded. I had no choice but to do as he ordered and so I raised my head to look at him. He was smiling and his green eyes were soft, which had my heart sighing in relief. He would not injure me today; he appeared happy. “What will you like to do today?”
“Whatever it is your heart desires, my Lord,” I answered.
“My heart desires you, my fiery nymph, however, I refuse to claim your body with mine just yet. I shall do that once we arrive in Sodora.” He paused. “For today I was thinking to take you out to the market and buy you some nice clothes. I can have servants bring them to you but I want you to buy what your heart desires.”
“You are very king, my Lord, but you do not need to buy me clothes as I have plenty of my own.” I told him. This was something new; I never expected Lord Bancroft to buy me clothes.
“You are mine now and I would like you to wear new and beautiful clothes. The clothes you have right now do not suit you; they are not the right size. So we shall go to the market and buy some new ones for you. And once we go to Sodora, you will have a new dress to wear every day,” he stated.
A new dress every day? How could I have a new dress to wear every day? That would be a lot of clothes and what would happen to the dress once I wore it? Would it be thrown out or would it be given to someone else? I would not wish to part with the dress if it was beautiful.
“My Lord, you do not need to do this. I have enough clothes. Having new clothes to wear every day would be wasteful,” I said.
“That is not your concern, my rose. Your life will be changing soon and you must learn to forget your old life and embrace your new one. The sooner you do that the easier it will be for you to live in Sodora with me,” he stated.
“My Lord, it will not be easy to forget everything…”
“But you must forget. You will no longer be a common whore,” he said.
“Then what will I be, my Lord?” I questioned.
He took a step closer to me and cupped my face. He tilted it up and planted a soft kiss on my lips. “You will be mine. You will be by my side. You will be what I need you to be.”
His cryptic response puzzled me. What did he mean by this? What did he need me to be? And I was already his since he claimed me in front of the whole harem. Why couldn’t he ever give me a clear answer?
“You do not need to buy me clothes, my Lord. Like you said, in Sodora I will have plenty of new dresses, so no need to buy them now,” I said.
“It would please me to have you wear new dresses while we are here. It’s only a few days but still,” he responded, stroking my hair.
My heart sank upon hearing his words. Few days? He would be taking me away in a few days? No, it was too soon. I was not ready to leave yet. I didn’t even know how I was going to hurt him right now. I couldn’t let him take me away just yet. I had to do something; I needed to buy some time for myself. What could I do to make him stay a little longer?
“Did you say a few days, my Lord? Can you tell me after how many days we shall depart?” I questioned with fear building in my heart. His answer, however, crushed my soul with despair.
“In three days.”