When Lord Bancroft slammed the door of his chambers shut, it felt like he’d shut my heart in a coffin and was getting ready to bury it. I looked at him with teary eyes and waited for the monster to appear. I knew it in my heart that tonight would not be a silent one, the peace and quiet would be shattered because of my screams.
“You know, rose, begging and pleading with Aboloft would get you nowhere. I would’ve taken you away with or without his permission. So really, all that you did out there was futile and it did nothing but make me extremely angry,” King Bancroft said, slowly walking over to me. His steps were slow and measured, as if he was waiting for me to run so he could catch me.
“My Lord…I…” I didn’t understand why I was even making an effort to speak because I had absolutely nothing to say.
“Yes? Is there something you wish to say to me?” He asked as he continued to eliminate the distance between us.
“I—I’m fright—frightened.” I finally said as I backed up against the wall. My heart hammered in the confines of my bosom as I waited for him to do something.
“Frightened? You should be terrified, my fiery nymph because the only way I can think of to release my fury is to punish you.” He stopped right in front of me until nothing but our garments separated us. He placed his hand on my bosom, right above my heart and smiled. “Your heart gives evidence of your terror.”
“My Lord, have mercy upon me. I am nothing but a common wh—“
“Do not finish that sentence if you want me to spare your bones.” His threat stopped me faster than anything.
“Forgive me, my Lord, but please, I beg you, please have mercy. For once, look at my position; for I am powerless against you and…” Would he take pity on me for once in my miserable life?
Lord Bancroft did not speak for a few seconds and as silence settled upon us it became difficult for me to breathe. I wished to push Lord Bancroft away and run out of here; this place felt like a prison and it was my own home. Soon, I would be forced to leave this home and would go to Sodora. I wondered what kind of people I would meet there. Would they be kind? Would they accept me?
As I was busy thinking about my new home, Lord Bancroft grabbed both of my wrists with his hands so tightly it took everything in me not to cry out. He placed them over my head and leaned in closer until his lips brushed mine in the darkest of kisses.
“Yes, you are powerless against me, and that is how you will always be. That is a promise,” he said before kissing me as if he desired to imprint this belief on my soul. The kiss was fierce and meant to instill power over me, forcing me into submission. I couldn’t fight him even if I wished to but I knew what he was trying to do and fighting him would’ve only fueled his ire.
Lord Bancroft kissed me as if he intended for me to bleed. He bit my lip hard enough to draw blood and his hands only tightened around mine, causing pain like no other as I feared for my bones. Would he break my bones because his grip was relentless?
It was after a few minutes that he broke away from me and removed one of his hand from my wrists. I gasped for air as I tried to look him in the eyes. This beautiful man was dark and fierce. Could you really run from the dark? It chased after you like a shadow, a shadow which did not accept defeat. There was no way you could win against such power, and Lord Bancroft was the epitome of power.
He looked down at me, his hand still around my wrists as he contemplated God knows what. I tried to see if he was still angry but the darkness in the chamber prevented me from seeing the emotions swirling in his eyes.
“Tonight I shall be merciful,” he announced.
My heart sunk into a puddle as his words settled in my mind, comfortably. Did he say what I believed he said? He would be merciful? He would not injure me like he was previously intending to? Oh thank the Lord who saved me from Bancroft’s wrath.
“My Lord…thank…thank you,” I said, tears of relief pricking my eyes but I did not care. King Bancroft had pushed down the monster that was threatening to come out and showered me with kindness once again.
However, my relief and gratitude were short lived.
“No, do not thank me, my fiery nymph, for I will unleash my wrath upon you once we reach Sodora. Everything that I intend to do to you will be done upon our arrival there. So relish in your freedom for now, you have so little of it left,” he said, using his free hand to caress my face.
After hearing his declaration of my punishment a strange peace wrapped around my heart. If he intended to do everything in Sodora then there was a chance that he would not do anything. My escape from his hold was as inevitable as his claim and declarations over me. The knife hidden underneath my clothes stroked me, forcing me to remember that I was no longer powerless. I was now in the possession of a weapon.
“Even if you punish me later, my Lord, I am grateful for your mercy tonight. I swear upon my life that I did not give myself freely to that man, but when it seemed like you did not believe me, I had no choice but to plead with Lord Aboloft to save me from you, for I feared your wrath, my Lord. I hope you can forgive me.” I told him.
“Forgiveness does not come easy, however, there is something about that man’s words that do not ring true. Therefore, I have decided to investigate this matter further before coming to a conclusion and deciding what to do with you.” He released my wrists and took a small step back, giving me space. I rubbed my wrists, ignoring the needles pricking me as my body got used to freedom once again.
“Thank you, my Lord. I am grateful to your decision. Indeed, you are powerful and wise,” I replied, lowering my eyes.
“It is best if you get some sleep. Aboloft has invited me to breakfast in the morning and you shall accompany me,” Lord Bancroft stated, walking towards his bed.
My eyes widened. How could he expect me to have breakfast in the presence of a King? No, surely he must be jesting, I could not eat with anyone higher in status than me, and a King was of the highest status.
“My Lord, surely you do not mean what I think you do,” I said as I followed him.
“And what makes you think I will jest with you, rose? I mean what I say, you and I will have breakfast with Lord Aboloft, Lady Sabina, Lord Eldon and Lord Mavon,” he responded before discarding his robes.
Lord Eldon? Lord Mavon? Who were they? I’d never heard their names before. Where had they come from and what were they doing here? Were they as vicious and cruel as Lord Bancroft? Or were they kind and gentle like the Kings in my fantasies?
“But that’s—Surely you must know that it is not possible for me to—“ he cut me off.
“Silence your tongue, rose, for I do not wish to discuss this matter with you any further. You have your orders and you will follow them. Now, come to bed and blow the candles out. It has been a long day and I would like to get some rest,” he stated, effectively ending the discussion.
Not having any other choice but to do as he ordered, I blew out the candles and hesitantly slid inside the blankets with Lord Bancroft. My heart raced like it always did in the presence of Lord Bancroft and wondered how it was possible for me to sleep when he made me feel such intense emotions.
I bit my lip as Lord Bancroft wrapped a strong arm around my waist and pulled my body against his. He kissed the top of my head and inhaled my scent as if he had been starving for me. Could anyone ever starve for a person?
“How was your trip to the market? Did you buy anything?” His question made me remember the brooch I bought just for him but for some reason I was afraid to give it to him. Perhaps I would give it to him some other time. I did not believe that he would like my gift.
“No, my Lord, nothing,” I lied and closed my eyes to the rest of the world.
I thought I was going to die as I stood with Lord Bancroft and King Eldon and King Mavon outside the grand dining hall. The two Kings were looking at me as if I was the dirt under their feet. I tried not to raise my head and look them in the eyes but that did not mean I couldn’t feel their abhorrence and anger rolling off them.
Without a word, Lord Bancroft pushed open the door of the dining hall and entered, and since his hand was wrapped around my wrist I had no choice but to follow him.
“Good morning,” King Mavon greeted Lord Aboloft and Lady Sabina as he sat down on a chair.
“Good morning,” King Aboloft and Lady Sabina greeted, however, no one heard Lady Sabina, but I did.
King Eldon sat beside King Mavon while Lord Bancroft and I sat across from them. I did not know how I would be able to eat with such important people around me, as I was nothing but a common whore.
“So, what is the agenda for today?” King Eldon asked as we all started eating.
“My troops will be arriving today. I will give them further instructions on how to proceed in five days’ time,” King Mavon replied. My heart nearly jumped out of my mouth when he said, “Good morning, Hildred.”
I bit my lip to stop it from trembling with fear and dared to raise my head to look at Lord Mavon. “Good morning, Lord Mavon.”
“She looks scared out of her mind, Bancroft, what did you do to her?” King Eldon smirked as I glanced at him.
“Hildred is not accustomed to eating with us,” Lord Bancroft explained.
“Is that a bruise I see on her wrist.” I tried to pull my wrist under the dining table but realized it was useless. Lord Aboloft already saw what he needed to see.
“Yes, it is.” Lord Bancroft took my wrist in his hand and rubbed the bruise which he gave me last night after holding my wrists tightly above my head.
“At least there are no cuts on her body, unlike someone,” King Mavon remarked, glancing at Lady Sabina before looking away.
“Oh there will be cuts on her body, you can be sure of that, Mavon, just not right now. I’ll deal with her once I return to Sodora.” Fear hit me with the force of a tidal wave and I was sure Lord Bancroft would kill me.
“How is Lorelle? Does she miss you while you’re away?” Lord Mavon asked King Eldon.
“Lorelle is sleeping and will continue to do so until I return,” King Eldon answered, his eyes glittering with wicked intent.
“Elaborate,” Lord Aboloft ordered.
“My servants give her a strong dose of a sleeping potion as soon as the sun rises which makes her sleep throughout the day. They mix the potion in her food, so she falls asleep right after eating,” King Eldon responded.
“Why?” Lord Aboloft enquired.
“So that she will be in my bed when I return.” My blood froze at hearing about Lorelle. God help her and give her the strength to survive this evil King.
“I see,” Lord Aboloft said before looking at Lady Sabina, who sat there not eating anything. “Bina, you still haven’t touched your food.” I could tell Lord Aboloft did not approve.
“I told you Aboloft, I am not hungry,” Lady Sabina replied. I refrained from gasping out loud at her addressing Lord Aboloft by his name.
“Is it just me or does she look pale?” King Bancroft said. “Oh and I do not understand one thing. According to the people of Wilsden, Sabina is dead, yes? They burned her alive eight years ago; so how come they knew Sabina was going to be the queen of Quopia? I mean, the Sabina they saw previously was working at the fruit stand was not Sabina but a woman who looked exactly like her, am I right?”
I could not believe the horrors Lady Sabina went through. I glanced at the woman who’d saved my lips, looking no less than a Queen, and to think she’d suffered so much. She was even stronger than I’d initially thought.
“You are right, Bancroft,” Lord Aboloft said. “But they know it’s Sabina because of her hair. She is the only woman in all of Quopia who has red hair. When the people of Wilsden saw that at that time when I announced her as Queen, they knew it was the same woman they thought they had killed.”
In my opinion Lady Sabina had beautiful hair. And I was really fond of the color. It was red. It was unique. I wished to have red hair just like Lady Sabina.
“I see.” Lord Bancroft along with Lord Eldon and Lord Mavon fell silent and continued eating their food. I tried to eat the piece of cake on my plate but I could only manage to nibble as the Kings surrounded me. Lord Bancroft still hadn’t released my hand and I had a feeling he had no intention to do it. I was glad for Lady Sabina’s presence, without her here God knows what these Kings would’ve done to me.
“Call for a healer, now! I want her present in my private chambers within fifteen minutes,” Lord Aboloft ordered, suddenly. The maid bowed before scurrying out of the dining hall.
“Aboloft, I told you I don’t need a healer,” Lady Sabina said.
“You are not eating and you look pale; I will not rest until a healer looks at you.” He stood up, causing my heart to speed up. Would he take Lady Sabina away? “Let’s go.” He walked out of the dining hall and Lady Sabina followed after him with a sigh.
It was only when they were gone that I dared to glance at King Eldon who was looking at me with the intention of killing me.
“So Hildred, let’s get to know you.”