The Blood King

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Chapter 19

It’s torture, really. Sitting here in the dark, having my memories come back to me one by miserable one. I can remember my childhood. Friends that I watched die in the center of my home world. Family that was killed in front of me, in the worst of ways. And thinking back to Grans death, I can’t help but wonder if fate had a hand in the way she died.

I remember clearly the Dragonborn coming from the skies, and burning our way of life with their breath of fire. I can remember seeing my people burn. I can remember it all. Clearly. But what tortures me the most is the death of my mother and brother. Because I know the man that took their lives. The same man that I thought of as my only friend.

Even now he is the only one that has told me any semblance of the truth about my past and how it ties in with Cassian. I can only wonder why?

I keep my head down, but I can hear footsteps. More than one person. I also hear the familiar cling of metal. It must be the guards. I keep my head down as the sound cease when they finally are in front of me.

“Cassian wishes for you to join him.” I recognize the voice as Ulric. The guard that replaced Caius on our travels. I take note that there are men on either side of him.I let out a bitter laugh looking up.

“And if I refuse?” I say. Immediately the guards on either side of him pulls their swords out from its sheath. He holds his hand up stopping them. I narrow my gaze.

“I don’t want to be the one to force you if you refuse, Neytiri” He says. I finally look up, mustering all the hate I can. I spit at his feet.

“I refuse.”


More chains. As if my degradation wasn’t enough, they added them around my throat. But I guess I can’t blame them seeing as I headbutted one guard and bit another.

After the fight of my life, Ulric and the guards forced me into a room where the servants washed me and dressed me in clothes that are inappropriate to roam the castle. They also fixed up my hair. All the while my hands were chained rendering me helpless.

And now here I am, atop the king’s bed, forced to my knees with chains holding me steadily in place. I flinch as the doors to the far side of the room are pushed open, and in comes the center of all my nightmares. Cassian.

My breath catches in my throat. I didn’t realize how much I missed his face while I was down there hating myself and him. I hate the conflicting feeling that I have as I watch him cross the room. Then I remember all the horrible things he has done, and all of my hatred comes back to the surface.

He finally glances my way, and his gaze sends a cold shiver down my spine. His face is solid and emotionless, until a smile cracks his lips. A condescending smile.

“Don’t look at me like that. You’re making my heart ache.” He says jokingly. He continues crossing the room, and looks away from me. He makes his way to the candles on the walls, and lights them with only his hands. He still doesn’t speak. He only watches me. Cold and calculating. Nothing like the King he was when I first arrived.

He takes a seat next to the bed, and tilts his gaze at me. My muscles react the moment I lay eyes on him. I lunge at him, but the chains are just long enough to stop me from reaching him. He doesn’t even flinch. He just watches me with disinterest and irritation.

He watches me struggle, until all of my energy runs out, and I fall to my knees, trying to catch my breath.

“Don’t bother trying to fight with me, you won’t have your normal strength back for at least another week. And besides. Those are Rodrog steel.” He says lightly pulling on the chains. My heart is filled with so many emotions right now. He took everything from me. And I don’t mean just my virtue. He took my home, my family, my people, my freedom, and after the took my virtue for my power to control, he threw me in the dungeons.

“How can you live with yourself.” I hiss. He scoffs at me and sits back in his seat. He motions to the room around us.

“Just like this.” He says. I feel anger from his careless attitude. But I also feel sadness. I try and look for the kind and patient king he was when I first arrived. The one that told jokes and found amusement in everything. But I see him nowhere in sight. My hate is slowly dying down, being replaced with something else entirely.

Sorrow.

“But... you murdered innocent people.” I say. His gaze narrows and his eyes seem to light up.

“They were not innocent.” He says.

“Some of them were!” I shout.

“You made a whole race, extinct!” I shout. He crosses his arms over his chest.

“Almost.” He corrects me. I look away from him, because even though I hate everything about him, the small part of me that remembers him from my childhood as well as my time here before everything went to shit feels saddened by the fact that he doesn’t care. Or seem to have an ounce of regret.

“So... it was all a lie?” I ask.

“Not all of it. I did begin to like you.” He says.

“You made Caius bait me...” I say. I finally look at him. He narrows his gaze.

“Caius had to be taught a lesson.” He says.

“He forgot where his allegiance truly lies, and I had to remind him.”

I narrow my gaze at him.

“So, you take away his free will, and force him to do something he doesn’t want to do?” I ask. He laughs.

“Well, the last few times I left him his free will around you, he’s gone completely against what I ordered.”

“So that’s it then. They do as you say, or get punished for it?” I ask. He stands from his chair, glaring at me.

“Yes. Because that is the way of the blood king.” His voice is calm yet firm. I don’t have a response. So, I sit quietly.

“What do you want from me...” I say after a moment. He pauses, and looks back to me with a mischievous smile on his face.

“The Ikniri. Always so clever.”

“It’s not what I want. It’s what you want.” He says. I stay silent, not following.

“You want your freedom, correct?” He says. I slowly nod my head.

“Pledge me your loyalty, and you will have just that.” He says. I narrow my gaze at him.

“Didn’t you already take my loyalty with your lies.” I say. He raises a brow at me, then sits back laughing softly.

“No. With that, I can control your will against me. And that’s-” He trails off as if he’s said too much.

“I just need a blood oath from you, Neytiri. Nothing more.” He says.

“Why, so you can take my free will when I disagree?” I ask.

“I’m not the enemy here.” He says.

“You are in my eyes.” I interrupt.

“The same can be said for me.” He snaps back. He lets out a deep sigh.

“Your people already paid for the wrong that they did to mine. I chose not to let you suffer that same fate.” He’s speaking to me as if he did something good and I’m the one that didn’t understand.

“If Caius hadn’t let me live, you would have never given me that chance.” I snap. His face is serious. And I see irritation flash across his features.

“While that may be true, I’m the one that chose to let you live when you wandered into my camp, Neytiri don’t forget that.” He says.

“Why treat me like a part of your people if you were just going to enslave me all these years later.” I growl. After he doesn’t respond, I look up at him, and he’s staring off into the distance. He looks troubled. Finally, his gaze falls to mine.

“I told you, I began to like you.” He says. The room falls silent, and I stare at him as if he’s just sprouted another head. He laughs.

“Why do you think you’re still here. Why do you think I’m giving you a choice?” He says.

“Why didn’t I kill you the first signs of your power manifesting itself?”

“You’d rather take them away from me.” I say bitterly. He shakes his head.

“I didn’t take them away, Neytiri. I only made them dormant. Something that takes a lot of control and power to master. If you were any other creature, giving your body to me would have been the end of it, but it isn’t. You’re one of the Ancients, as am I. our powers are evenly matched. Even if you have no recollection of how to control yours.” He says. I think back to what Caius said about me being one of the ancients. I still have no idea what that could possibly mean, but I doubt Cassian would tell me.

“And... if I refuse...” I say keeping my head down. I hear a light shuffle, and feel his fingers under my chin, lightly lifting my gaze to meet his. Instead of the usual gaze, I am swallowed up by a pit of darkness. I feel a dip in the pit of my stomach, and I feel as though I am falling. I can see nothing, but those black and red irises in front of me, and I open my mouth letting the scream tear its way from my throat. I’ve never felt a fear like this. Not even when I first looked at Cassian.

I can feel heat scorching at my flesh, and my eyes are burning. And just as quick as it started, am I back in the room with Cassian, atop the bed, looking into his eyes. I’m shaking. That’s how scared I am. He stares at me, and a soft smile finds its way to his lips.

“Don’t refuse, Neytiri.”



Caius

My flesh is still crawling from that ear-splitting scream that ripped its way from his chambers. That was an hour ago. Now, all I can hear are the soft moans from the other side of the door. He’s punishing me. For speaking out against him. For showing her mercy, and visiting her in the dungeons behind his back.

I fear for Neytiri. Because Cassian is aware of my protectiveness over her, he will now be going out of his way to torture her in front of me. Ulric was right. I squeeze my fist around the hilt of my sword when I hear her moans grow louder, until they quiet down to nothing.

He thinks because she has his mark, that he will be able to control her to his will. But he’s playing with fire. If she realizes the extent of her power, she will be unstoppable. And he will be right in her path.

No. We will be.

The door opens, and out comes Cassian. He’s only in his pants. His gaze falls on me, and I see the irritation still in his gaze at me.

“You’re relieved of your post.” He says. “Get someone else to take over your shift.” He turns away from me, pausing in the doorway.

“Take the Ikniri back to the dungeons.” He says. My muscles tense. He’s testing me. To see if I will say anything about her treatment. But I don’t. I nod my head, following behind him into his chambers.

I look to the bed, and feel my heart ache for her. She’s laying on her side with tears falling down her face. The clothing she wore when she entered is in ribbons on the floor. I almost open my mouth to ask for some kind of covering for her, but I keep it shut. I can feel his gaze burning into my skull. He’s making a statement.

I reach for her, scooping up her naked body, and making my way out of his chambers. He still doesn’t speak. I feel a sense of deep sorrow. I can’t help but wonder if maybe I should end her life. End her suffering.

“Caius.” I pause in the doorway.

“Yes, my king?” I say. It takes everything in me to keep my voice steady.

“Have her taken to her chambers.” He says. I nod my head.

“Yes, my king.” I say.

Her body is so light against mine. I can sense the ice coursing through her veins. Her skin is cool to the touch. And when I look down into her eyes, I see nothing. As if she’s given up.

I pause once I know we’re a good distance from Cassian, and set her down. I pull my clothing from around my shoulders and wrap it around her.

“Neytiri.” I say, looking into her eyes. I lightly tap her cheek until her gaze lightens and she is staring at me.

“Caius?” She says softly. I give her a soft smile, and tears slowly form in the corners of her eyes before spilling over. Tears that are heavy.

“Don’t lose faith, Neytiri. Don’t give him what he wants.” I say. She shakes her head.

“I... I don’t have a choice... I don’t have any fight left in me... I’m here alone, Caius...” She sobs.

“Shhhh.” I say while pushing her hair out of her face. Her scent has changed, and she reeks of him now. But underneath that, I can still smell her. I reach underneath her legs, picking her up and continuing the walk to her room.

Her sobs are enough to weaken my once hardened heart. I can’t help but wonder how Cassian let himself go so far down this path, that the tears of her don’t affect him. I then make a decision that has been crossing my mind over the past few weeks. A decision that goes against everything I believe in.

“You’re not alone, Neytiri. You have me. ” I say. She looks up at me, and it solidifies my decision even more.

“I’m going to get you out of here.” I say. I hear her soft gasp, but keep my eyes straight. By doing so I will break my oath to not only my king, but my people. I will go against everything I was raised to believe in. But once I break my oath, I will take another one. One to someone that has not yet been corrupted. Someone that I believe in, and have believed in since the day I let her live. To the woman that I am now holding in my arms. The last Ikniri.

“By my honor, I will get you out of here. I swear it.”

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