“So let’s begin with a simple question; why did you flee?” Lord Bancroft asked as he stood in front of me, his green eyes boring into me. Good God, how could I answer him? Any sort of reply would result in being thrown in the dungeon. I knew I couldn’t get out of this.
“My Lord, I told you before, I could not endure any more torture. A life of pain is not something I envisioned for myself. So I decided to flee, in order to get my freedom,” I answered, not having the courage to look at him. It was strange how I was telling him not to inflict any more pain on me a few days ago and now I was back to being the scared, docile woman I thought I left in Pran. What was wrong with me? I could not let Lord Bancroft treat me in such a way. I had to make him understand that. But no matter what I thought, I could not find the courage which I had been clinging to with all my might earlier.
“And you thought that fleeing would be able to keep you away from me?” He questioned and I could detect a hint of fury in his words.
I bit my lip, knowing there was no correct answer to his questions. Mayhap I should just tell him to punish me already and not waste his time asking questions which would not result in a satisfying answer.
“Yes. For a moment I did believe that if I fled you will not be able to harm me in any way.” I told him, not bothering to lie to him because I knew it would only serve to get me in trouble.
“I hope you know just how foolish you were to believe that,” he remarked. He was standing so close to me, his body towering over mine, making him appear to be as powerful as the whole world claimed him to be. Why was he asking me all these questions? I already knew fleeing was not a smart thing to do.
“Desiring freedom is not foolish, my Lord.” The words left my lips before I even realized. I dared to look at Lord Bancroft from the corner of my eyes.
A gasp escaped me when Lord Bancroft grabbed a hold of my neck and pushed me back until I felt the wall behind me. His grip was not too tight, just enough to give me a warning to choose my words wisely.
“Let me give you a warning, rose; I suggest to be very careful about what you say to me because I am not in the most forgiving of moods,” he said before bringing his face closer to mine. “Freedom is something you should not dream about, as you have been claimed by a King.”
“Freedom may not be in the cards for me, my Lord but that does not mean I will accept a life of torment and servitude either,” I snarled. I really needed to heed Lord Bancroft’s warning as I did not wish to spend my life living in a dungeon.
“My beautiful rose.” Lord Bancroft caressed the side of my face with his finger. “Serving is exactly what you have to do. You will serve me…in every way possible.” His voice dropped down to a seductive whisper, heating up my blood. No, I would not let him affect me in such a manner, not until he promised not to torment me anymore.
“Forcing someone to serve you, that’s beneath you, my Lord.” I made sure to look him in the eyes as I said this, so he would understand that I would never serve him willingly.
“Fleeing Quopia has you spreading your wings far and wide,” he remarked. “Do not force me to clip them, my fiery nymph, because once I do that they will not be allowed to grow again.”
“So you mean to destroy me? A mighty King such as you should not waste time destroying someone.” I did not know what to say to him that would make him not hurt me. Why could he not just throw me in the dungeon and go back to ruling Sodora?
Do you really wish to spend your life in a dungeon?
No, I did not wish to be caged by a cruel King but it was better than having him torture me until I could do nothing but beg for death to come for me. At least in the dungeon I would not have to worry about anybody disturbing me. I would just live out my days until I died.
“When that someone belongs to me, molding that person to how I want her to be is something I would accomplish no matter what,” he stated, giving me a harsh kiss that had my heart stopping for a few seconds.
“You should not waste your time. Your efforts are futile. You can never change my heart. I wish for freedom and that is something that will not go away,” I said, ignoring his hand around my neck which he could squeeze if he so wished.
“Do not challenge me, my fragile rose, for you will not like losing. Because I have a tendency to destroy my opponents and make them regret going against me in the first place,” he responded, a storm brewing in his eyes.
Instead of looking away, I locked my eyes with his. “And what if your opponent destroys you? Will you regret going against them?”
“No one can defeat me. No one ever has.”
“Yet,” I finished, letting him know that I was his opponent and I would defeat him.
Lord Bancroft paused, searching my eyes for God knows what. “Do you dare to challenge me, little nymph?”
“If it is the only way I shall achieve my freedom, then yes; I am challenging you,” I answered.
“That will be the worst mistake of your life. You do not want to cross me, rose; it is unwise,” he cautioned.
“Your words may not be true, my Lord. So I will do what I believe is right.” I told him. I expected him to tighten his grip around my neck but he did no such thing.
“Do not make me do something we will both regret, little nymph.” The warning made me wonder why in the world did he not just kill me? I was standing in front of him and instead of kneeling at his feet, begging for mercy I was challenging him as if I were just as powerful as him. Had I lost my mind? Was this courage or a mistake?
“When you can do things to make me do things which I regret then why should I not make you experience the same?” I questioned, not sure whether to hold on to my bravery or to let it go.
His eyes narrowed into slits. “How can you blame me for something I have no part in?”
My eyebrows nearly touched my head upon hearing his question. How could he pretend that he did not force me to do things I would never do in my life?
“You made me flee Quopia,” I said.
At this Lord Bancroft burst out laughing, leaving me puzzled. “How can you blame me for that? I wanted you to stay in Quopia where I could keep an eye on you. But no, you fled while the whole Kingdom was fighting for its survival. So why do you make this mistake of blaming me for your actions which require the worst of punishments?”
“I fled Quopia because of you. Because you hurt me. You tormented my body and soul. You made me wish for death.” Tears burned my eyes and a few dared to escape but I did not stop talking. “I couldn’t endure the pain and the constant fear of when you will come and what you shall do to me. So, I fled, because I wished to live and not die by your hands. I was forced to abandon my dearest friend, Ethel all because of you.”
Lord Bancroft did not say anything for a little while. I took that time to think about how Ethel was doing back in Quopia and if she was fretting over me like she always did. I could not forget about the nightmare that I had about Ethel and how she blamed me for destroying her.
“You thought I would kill you?” I did not respond, just looked him in the eyes, knowing that my silence was all the answer he needed. “Do you even have an inkling of just how wrong you are?”
How could I be wrong about this? He used a knife on me. He shed my blood all because he wished to do so. He did not consider me to be human when he sliced my body with his knife. I knew his intentions were to kill me, although I did not understand why he had not killed me already.
“Your actions are the reason behind my conclusion,” I justified.
“Mayhap you should have seen what was not visible to you on the surface, my dear rose. Alas, you choose to be blind. However, I will make you see.” He paused, letting his words sink in. What did he wish for me to see and why? “Now that you are in Sodora, you will know things that I had no choice but to hide from you because the time was not right.”
“Your words puzzle me, my Lord. I’m afraid I do not understand what is it that you speak of,” I said. Would he ever remove his hand from my neck?
“You will know everything in due time. For now, I need to make you understand that you cannot escape, for I will find you, even if I have to kill every single man in this world,” he stated.
“Then you should also know that I will not cower or bow down to your power. I have tasted freedom, my Lord and I wish for more. You may not allow me to escape but know this, that I shall never forgive you for what you did to me in Quopia.” I told him, though I was not sure if it was the right thing to do or not.
“Going against a King. Freedom has changed you.” I thought I was dreaming when I saw a flicker of pride in Lord Bancroft’s eyes. But no, he wished to break me until I was nothing but a slave to him and his desires; he would never be proud of my courage and bravery.
“Freedom tends to change a slave,” I agreed. Mayhap he would accept this new change and allow me to live my life as I wished.
Expecting mercy from a King? Surely you speak nonsense.
I may be thinking about something that would never become a reality but it gave me hope. If I could just focus on thinking about living my life as I did at Pran, then mayhap I could succeed in becoming what I always wanted to be.
“But power tends to do the same,” he argued.
“Freedom is power, my Lord.” I was surprised when he kissed me, as if he was a man walking in the desert for days and I was his oasis.
“Yes, my beautiful rose, it is.” He should be punishing me. Why was he being so kind? I thought the King who took me out to the gardens and gave me coins was left in Quopia when I fled. I never expected kindness after being captured by him.
A sudden knock had Lord Bancroft’s eyes turning away from me. He released his hold on my neck and walked towards the door.
“Enter.” It was only a single word but it contained the power of ten Kingdoms. Would I ever be able to understand how he could appear so powerful to the people but when he was with me he was different?
The door of the bed chambers opened to reveal the servant maids who we met when we entered the castle. My blood boiled when I saw the two women as they bowed deeply and smiled at King Bancroft. Why were they smiling? They were servants, they should not be behaving in such a manner.
“My Lord, a letter has been sent to Lord Aboloft informing him of your arrival to Sodora along with the invitation of your celebrations. And we have brought refreshments just like you ordered.” The woman on the left smiled before placing a gold tray on the nearby table, containing fruits and wine.
“I am pleased to hear it,” Lord Bancroft replied, smiling at the maids. The beautiful smile on his face was something I never expected to see. Why did he bestow such a beautiful smile on them when all he did was cause me pain? If he had no intention of killing me then why not treat me with love and kindness?
A strange fury, the likes of which I’d never felt before in my life, begun swirling in my soul. The desire for vengeance bloomed and ensnared my heart like poison ivy, taking control, changing me in ways fleeing to Pran never did. How could he be kind to his servants yet inflict such cruelty on me?
No matter what I did, I could never forget the day when he used a knife on me and left me bleeding. It was the worst kind of agony I had to endure. But I wanted revenge. I was thirsty for vengeance because I wished to inflict the same kind of agony on Lord Bancroft. That was the only way I would be truly free, because that was when my soul would be set free; when my hands would be bathed in Lord Bancroft’s blood.
“We are pleased to serve you, my Lord.” Both the women bowed deeply. “Is there anything else you wish for us to do?”
“For now, there is nothing. However, do keep in mind that I do not wish to be disturbed until tomorrow So tell everyone not to knock on this door until and unless there is an urgent matter which requires my immediate attention,” he replied.
“Yes, my Lord.” The maids walked out of the bed chambers, leaving me with Lord Bancroft once more.
I felt my cloak for the knife which I had purchased from the market in Quopia The cold that seeped in my bones upon touching the hilt of the knife strengthened the tendrils of vengeance encasing my heart, leaving me to do nothing but think about sinking the knife in his flesh.
When Lord Bancroft looked at me, I couldn’t help but give him a soft smile. Because I knew…
That my vengeance would come soon.