As a common whore back in Quopia, I was prohibited from leaving the harem, which always had me wondering how the other rooms in the Kingdom looked like. But now as I sat on a high backed chair in the dining hall of the Kingdom of Sodora, I couldn’t help but feel as if my wish had come true.
“I hope you find the food to your liking, Milady. If not, then I shall beg for your forgiveness and prepare whatever it is that you prefer to eat,” the servant girl said, her eyes downcast. Why did she address me with such a title when I was just like her?
“The food is perfectly alright. Thank you so much for preparing all this.” I smiled at her before eyeing the assortment of foods laid out in front of me. It looked as if the cooks prepared breakfast for at least fifty people and not just King Bancroft and I. There were eggs, fruits, bread and meat; I was wondering who would eat all of this and what would happen with all the leftovers.
“The pleasure is ours, Milady.” The girl bowed. I didn’t know why but I did not like it when she treated me as if I were a Queen. What would she do if I told her not to address me as Milady?
“My name is Hildred. You can address me by my name.” I did not want these servants to think that I was better than them or of a higher status. No matter what Lord Bancroft did to me, I could not forget the fact that I was a woman with no status whatsoever, and this realization would keep me from being too proud and help me in wreaking vengeance on Lord Bancroft.
The girl looked at me with horror on her delicate face. “Oh no, I cannot do that. I shall never address you by your name, Milady; I do not have such privilege.”
I frowned at her response. Could she not tell that I was just like her? I could not get used to being treated like this, I needed to talk to Lord Bancroft. But he still hadn’t entered the dining hall, so I had no choice but to smile at the girl and give her permission to leave.
Once the servant girl was gone, I placed a few berries along with a piece of bread on my plate and begun eating. How could I make these people realize that I was not the Queen? Though, it pleased me to see that they respected me so much, I did not want them to think that I had any sort of power over them.
I gazed out of the tall window to see the clear, blue sky which promised good things for the day. The castle of Sodora was beautiful and it only made me curious to see what the rest of the Kingdom looked like. Were the people just as kind and respectful as the servants in this castle or were they different?
“And what is going on in that beautiful mind of yours?” King Bancroft’s voice startled me, shredding my thoughts into nothing.
I looked up to see him walking towards the head of the table and sitting down. He smiled, his green eyes twinkling with happiness. Why was he so happy all of a sudden? Not that I opposed his calm demeanor, as it made him look more beautiful and approachable, but I could not help but wonder.
“Nothing important, my Lord.” I gave him a soft smile, hoping he believed me. Was it wise to broach the subject of my status right now?
“Are you sure about that, my beautiful rose? Because if it was nothing important, then you should’ve eaten something.” I looked down at my plate to see my fruits and bread untouched. I bit my lip and thought about changing the subject.
“It really is nothing important, my Lord. Sodora is a new place, so I was just thinking about that.” It was the partial truth but it was better than the lie I knew Lord Bancroft would catch in an instant if he sensed it.
“Do you like your new home?” He asked. My heart jumped with surprise when a male servant appeared out of thin air and begun putting food in Lord Bancroft’s plate. Where did he come from?
“It is fairly new to me, my Lord. But I am sure I will like it. Sodora is just as beautiful as you said it would be.” I glanced out of the window once again. How would the people of Sodora react when they would find out that their King was no longer alive? Would the peace of this beautiful Kingdom be destroyed because of me?
“The people are eager to meet you. I have addressed the Kingdom and soon we shall have a grand ball where everybody will be invited, regardless of status,” he declared.
I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Have you ever hosted a grand ball before?”
He surprised me by shaking his head. “Sodora never had an occasion which required a grand celebration until today. Your presence is the reason for this ball.”
I couldn’t help the strange tingling all over my body. How could he say such things to me? He was the King; how could another human—who was much lower in status than him—could be the reason for his and Kingdom’s happiness?
“My Lord, surely you do not mean that.” Where was the cruel man who was threatening to punish me for fleeing to Pran? Had he forgotten about it? Or was he biding his time until I did something else which incurred his wrath and then he would punish me?
“Do not speak or assume of what you do not know, my fiery nymph. Finish your meal and then we shall go out to the gardens; we have much to discuss,” he said, his eyes darkening with unknown emotions.
“What is it that needs to be discussed, my Lord?” I asked as I tore a piece of bread and ate it.
“Many things. I need to give you a tour of the palace first and show you all the places which are prohibited to you,” he answered.
“Prohibited? Why so, my Lord?” What was in those rooms that I did not have the permission to enter? Did I dare go against his orders and see what was inside those rooms?
“There are horrors in this place which you are not aware of. And I do not wish for you to see such things. The dungeons are where you are never supposed to venture into, no matter the circumstances,” he said as he begun eating his breakfast.
Knowing that I was not allowed to go down to the dungeons came as a wave of relief. I could not believe it for a few seconds. He was not going to punish me in the dungeons; he finally decided to have mercy on me.
“What are the other places that are prohibited for me?” I questioned. Mayhap it was wise to heed his warnings and not see the horrors which he spoke of.
“You shall know as soon as you finish eating.” He paused, his eyes on me. “I must say, you look absolutely stunning in this dress.”
His words shouldn’t have affected me the way they did. The dress I was wearing was powder blue with short sleeves. It flared out at the bottom with lace sewn strategically in various places. I wondered who it was that made such a stunning dress. And I couldn’t believe that I was the one wearing such a dress, as I always thought that I would spend my life sewing dresses for other women and not have the luxury to wear one myself.
“Thank you, my Lord. It pleases me to know that you like this dress. One of the servant girls had me wear it. You must thank them for their choice in picking out this dress.” If I ever saw those maids again I would thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Lord Bancroft’s kindness and trust were crucial for me to earn. Not only would it result in him opening his heart to me, it would make it easier for me to seek revenge. I knew his kindness was just a façade, and the smallest mistakes could make him angry, so I had to be careful and keep an eye on him. And when the opportunity would present itself, that was when I would strike. But for now, I had to behave in a meek and docile manner, so he would not consider me to be a threat.
“That is a good suggestion, rose. I shall reward the maids for their choice in selecting this dress for you today, and I shall reward the seamstress who made this dress as well. I will order her to make hundreds more for you,” he stated.
My eyes widened. “Hundreds? No, my Lord. You must not do this. What can I do with hundreds of dresses; it’s too much.”
“You shall wear a new dress every day. And the old one shall be given to the needy,” he said before standing up and coming to stand in front of me. “You are no longer an inhabitant of that harem, my fiery nymph, you shall no longer have only one dress to wear. You must adjust to your new life here as soon as possible; it is what is best for you.”
“Forgive me, my Lord but that is not what I meant. I am merely saying that too many dresses will be nothing but a waste. Why can we not give the dresses to the needy instead?” It was not possible for me to forget my origins and live life like a Queen. I had to remember who I really was, otherwise I would forget my thirst for retribution.
King Bancroft cupped the side of my face before leaning down and planting a tender kiss on my lips which had my heart waltzing and pleasure spreading throughout my being.
“The purity of your heart and intentions beguiles me, and I cannot help but thank my mother for telling me about you,” he whispered, his words warming me up.
“My Lord, please.” If he continued speaking like this, then he would turn my heart against me and I could not afford to do that. If he stole my heart, he would win, and I would never let him win; not until I had my revenge.
He chuckled, those beautiful eyes crinkling at the corners. If my circumstances were different, I would be considering myself to be the luckiest woman in the world, with this powerful King by my side. But as it was, he was cruel and I was his victim; I could not have such fantasies about a man who nearly killed me.
“If you do not wish to eat anymore, mayhap we can go and explore the palace now. There is one particular place that you must avoid at all costs,” he suggested.
I was only too happy to agree. This castle was new to me, which meant that I was curious to explore every nook and cranny until I knew this palace like the back of my hand. The more I knew, the more I could use to my advantage.
“Of course, my Lord. We should go explore if that is what you wish.” I smiled and stood up, waiting for him to take me away.
“I must say your eagerness pleases me. I am glad to know that you wish to know more about your new home.” Lord Bancroft took my arm and begun to lead me out of the dining hall.
If only you knew what I plan to do to you.
But he would never know until it was too late. Until I had the knife lodged firmly in his chest. He would never find out.
“Why wouldn’t I be? This is my new home and I wish to explore it. I must say, my Lord, this palace is beautiful. It’s like everything is where it should be. I cannot think of a single thing that needs to be changed,” I remarked as we continued down the narrow pathway.
“I am pleased to hear it, my fiery nymph. However, should you wish to change something, all you have to do is say so. The servants here have been told to follow your orders and if somebody fails to do so, then you must tell me and that person shall be punished in the worst of ways,” he said, taking a left and ascending the stairs.
My heart shuddered. “I am sure that will not happen. The servants over here are kind and respectful. I am sure I will not be dissatisfied with anyone.” And even if I was I would never tell him. I would not carry the burden of a person’s death on my shoulders; I had too much to do as it was.
“Let’s hope it stays that way. The servants here are under strict orders,” he finished, before entering a corridor which had my body going cold. What was this place? Why was I suddenly feeling so cold?
“My Lord? Where is it that you are taking me?” I couldn’t help but ask, a strange fear crawling up my back, alerting me to impending danger.
“I told you I am taking you to a place which you need to avoid at all costs.” Was it just me or had his tone of voice had taken on a sinister change? No, it must be the corridor; it was having an effect on his voice.
Lord Bancroft stopped in front of a door, the only door in the corridor. He grabbed the knob and gave it a twist before pushing the door open.
“Get in. You must see this place,” he commanded.
I did as he said and entered the dark room. The temperature in the room felt like I would freeze to death. What was this place? Why was there so much darkness and fear here?
“My Lord? What is this room? I—I feel cold,” I asked, wrapping my arms around myself to stop myself from shivering.
“Don’t you understand by now, my dear rose?” He said, closing the door behind him.
“Understand what, my Lord?”
“This is the room where I shall punish you.”