I should run. It was imperative that I make my escape before Lord Bancroft dismounted from his horse. But why couldn’t I move? I needed to run as far away I could as fast I could. I knew if Lord Bancroft captured me then it would mean certain death.
However, my body refused to obey me. My gaze was imprisoned by the green shackles which were none other than Lord Bancroft’s eyes. How could he have such power over me? It had been a month since I’d been away from him, and yet my body and soul recognized him as if he were a part of me.
Why was I not running? Why was I still standing here and waiting for him to kill me? I did not run from Quopia only to die at the hands of the man who’d claimed me for his own. I was stronger than this. I had to run while he was still standing there. Mayhap I could lose him.
“Well, I say this is an interesting turn of events. We search for her for an entire month and she ends up coming back to you, Bancroft. Mayhap now you will teach her a lesson she shall never forget.” King Eldon’s voice shook me to the core. I was so busy looking at Lord Bancroft that I did not notice Lord Eldon and Lord Mavon mounting their horses on either side of him. What was Lord Eldon doing here? If he was here, then Lord Bancroft would show me no mercy.
It is wise not to expect mercy after running away from him.
My inner voice was right, however, I could not help but wish for the kindness which Lord Bancroft seldom showed me. Had I lost the man who’d taken me out to the woods and gave me coins to purchase whatever it was that my heart desired?
As I continued to gaze into his eyes, I knew the answer to my question. Yes, I had lost him forever. It would be a miracle for that man to come back and embrace me like he had done so in the past. For now, all I could do was wait for him to give me a swift, painless death. However, I knew Lord Bancroft would make me suffer before he pushed me in the arms of death.
My breath caught in my throat when Lord Bancroft dismounted from him horse. I lowered my gaze as I heard his footsteps getting closer and closer to me. Why did it feel like it was death himself that was coming towards me rather than the King of Sodora? And why was I still standing here? Why had I not run yet?
Maybe you do not wish to run.
No. This was not true. If I did not wish to run, then I should not have run at all. Maybe my body was rooted to its spot because I knew in my heart that running would be futile and would only serve to make Lord Bancroft angry.
I stopped breathing when he came to stand in front of me. He wore red robes with a golden trim and I wondered how long had he been traveling in search of me. Was running from Pran a wise decision? If I had stayed, then all three of the Kings would’ve come there and killed every person in the village. It was wise for me to leave while I could. The only thing was, that I was now trapped as Lord Bancroft would eliminate every factor of escape available to me.
A gasped escaped me when Lord Bancroft took my hand in his and covered it with his other. What was he doing? I thought he was going to strike me or worse, stab me until I was unconscious and drag me back to Sodora.
My shock mounted when he gave me a sharp tug, causing me to stumble closer to him. He immediately wrapped his arms around me, making me wonder what was going on in his mind. Why was he embracing me like a lost lover? He was supposed to punish me. I could see the fury in his eyes a while ago, so what was he doing?
But I could do nothing but let him hold me, confusion and fear waging a brutal war inside me. How would he punish me? What would he do? Would he throw me in the dungeons? When I was young, one of the elder maids used to tell me scary stories about the dungeons of Sodora and how being locked in one could result in a quick death. I did not wish to die in the dungeons; I would prefer Lord Bancroft killed me himself.
“Why rose?” His words hit my heart, wrapping it with dread as I thought about how to answer him. I did not know what to tell him. He would never understand the agony he put me through which forced me to flee.
“My L—Lord…” I could not say anything. I had no words to explain why I fled Quopia. He would shoot an arrow in my heart if I told him my reasons.
“You should not have done that.” The warning was evident in his words. He was going to punish me; all I could do was wait for it.
Why are you cowering? You are strong. You have to make him realize that he cannot treat you in this way.
But how could I do that? Lord Bancroft had all the power and he did whatever he desired. He would never give me the power to tell him what to do. A King never did that.
“I expect an answer from you, my nymph. Why did you flee, when you knew it was not a wise decision?” His question should have me trembling in his arms but my inner voice was right, I could not live like this. A life of fear was no life at all and I had to change that.
“I ha—had no ch—choice, my Lord,” I began speaking, forcing myself to remain calm and hold on to the little courage I had left.
“What is it that made you say this?” He questioned.
“Bancroft, do not waste your time listening to her. You have found her now take her back to Sodora and throw her in the dungeon for a few days, it will teach her never to flee again.” King Eldon’s words felt like nails piercing my heart. Why did he wish me ill? I did not do anything to him.
“Silence, Eldon. Hildred belongs to Bancroft, it is best if we leave them to sort this out amongst themselves,” King Mavon said, his voice soothing the pain in my heart that was brought on by King Eldon. I wished it were King Mavon who was holding me right now instead of Lord Bancroft as he was kind and gentle and would never cause me pain.
“I cannot believe you dared to silence me in front of her,” King Eldon remarked. Why was Lord Bancroft so silent?
“I am waiting for your answer, my dear rose. What made you say this?” He repeated, bringing me back to the present.
“I—I—“ Did I dare to tell him the truth? I had to tell him if he planned to keeping me alive and giving me a new home in Sodora. I had to do it. “I could not live wi—with the pain and torment you inflicted upon my body and soul, my Lord.” I was surprised how calm and steady my voice was, and so I held on to my strength with all my might and told him all that needed to be said. “I thought if you take me to Sodora you will lock me in a dungeon and leave me to suffer…”
“It is what you deserve, girl,” King Eldon stated, slapping me with his words.
“Let her speak, Eldon.” King Bancroft’s command was sharp, resonating in the air around us. How could he hold so much power that even the nature acknowledged him?
“I shall not tolerate such disrespect!” King Eldon protested.
“Then maybe you should pay Lorelle a visit. Because she will not dare to disobey you,” King Mavon said with a chuckle.
“Speak, Hildred. Tell me your reasons,” King Bancroft ordered me, paying no heed to his bickering comrades.
I took a deep breath. “I do wish to live a life pain and misery, my Lord. If you wish to kill me when you take me to Sodora, then I think it will be best if you kill me right now. It is better to die now then to suffer with the thoughts of my impending death.”
Silence captured me after I was finished speaking, waiting for Lord Bancroft to respond. I meant what I said, it was better to die now, because I no longer wished to suffer. I had tasted freedom and knew how wonderful it was and I wished Lord Bancroft could give me that.
When Lord Bancroft crushed his lips to mine, I couldn’t help the gasp from leaving me. I held on to his robes as he deepened the kiss, making me feel as if he was kissing my soul rather than my lips. The kiss held power but something else, too, something I could not understand but made me feel as if I was treasured by the Lord.
His lips glided over mine before he pushed his tongue inside, waltzing with mine, making me wonder if I was dreaming. Lord Bancroft would never kiss me so tenderly after capturing me. I had been gone for a month. He was furious; he would not be gentle with me. I had to be dreaming. This could not be real.
However, when he tightened his grip on my body to the point of pain, that’s when I realized that this was anything but a dream. The kiss took on an aggressive tone as if Lord Bancroft was finally showing me just how angry he was with me.
The kiss turned punishing and I couldn’t help but beg Lord Bancroft to release me by tightening my hold on his robes. Please, let me go, I begged as he kissed me like he was trying to suck my soul. Good God, was he going to kill me by not letting me breathe?
Not wanting to die so soon, I pushed Lord Bancroft away with all the strength I could muster. He stumbled back, shock and anger painted all over his face.
I gasped for air, fearing that he would attack me. But Lord Bancroft did not do anything at all, he just kept gazing at me as if he was expecting me to explain my actions.
“Forgive me, my Lord, but I could not breathe. I ha—had to push you away.” I told him. A month ago I would not have dared to tell him why I did not wish for him to kiss me; I wouldn’t have even pushed him away due the fear of his wrath. But I was a different person now. I was stronger, wiser, I knew what I desired and I was not afraid to tell the world. I did not know how I could’ve changed so much in a month but I had and now I would not let Lord Bancroft inflict any more pain upon my body.
Lord Bancroft’s eyes hardened as he understood what I said. I swallowed hard and waited for him to do what he did best. And when he strode over to me and grabbed my arm, I was ready for him.
He dragged me all the way to where his horse stood waiting for him. He picked me up and pushed me over his horse before climbing on after me. It was strange how he was silent throughout, making me wonder what he was thinking. Was he taking me back to Quopia or was he going back to Sodora?
“Give Aboloft my regards. I am leaving for Sodora right now.” His statement had me preparing for the future, knowing that I was about to enter a new world. What would Sodora be like? What kind of torture would I have to endure once I got there?
“Are you sure, Bancroft? Aboloft would be pleased to see her and will allow you to take her to Sodora with some peace of mind,” King Mavon suggested as Lord Bancroft settled on the horse behind me.
“No. I am waiting no longer. The people of Sodora are expecting her. We have been delayed for a month already, I shall not waste any more time,” he said before picking the reins of his horse. “Good bye fellows. I am eternally grateful for your assistance.”
Lord Bancroft turned his horse around and galloped away, leaving Lord Eldon and Lord Mavon behind. Would they go to Lord Aboloft and tell him that King Bancroft had finally captured me? Would Lord Aboloft be elated after hearing this news? I did not know why but I really wanted to talk to Lord Mavon before leaving.
We continued our journey in silence. Lord Bancroft may have been silent but his fury was loud enough to damage my ears. Well, he could be angry all he wanted, I would not be afraid of him anymore. If he was going to punish me then he would have to suffer in return. A month away from him made me realize that I had the right to a beautiful life just like everybody else. Now that I was no longer in Quopia I was no longer a common whore. I was Hildred—a strong woman and that’s exactly what Lord Bancroft would see.
“Fleeing Quopia was a mistake, my beautiful rose; I hope you realize that,” Lord Bancroft said all of a sudden. How long had we been traveling? I could see the sun beginning its decent, which told me that it had been about an hour since we mounted the horse.
“No, my Lord. Fleeing Quopia made me realize what I was missing in my life. My words may infuriate you, but you must know the truth. I am different now. I have changed. I no longer fear your wrath because I know your anger is not your power.” I needed to stop talking. It was true that I did not fear his wrath like I used to but I knew provoking him could result in death.
“I will just have to remedy that, my fiery nymph.” His words hardened my heart and I had a feeling another war was coming…
A war between Lord Bancroft and myself.