The Blood King

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Chapter 6

The sky is gray. The castle is dark. Rain pours from the sky like a river, drenching the gardens. I tense as a loud crack echoes throughout the castle. I’ve never heard of it before. Ismena says it’s called lightning, and the loud rumble that vibrates the walls are thunder.

Today, I am sitting in one of the main rooms, in front of the fire filled hearth that emits fire. Ismena left hours ago to tend to her duties. Apparently something big is coming that requires all of the staffs assistance.

I stare into the orange flames, and draw my knees to my chest. It’s scary being alone in this place. Truly alone. I know no one here, and yet they all watch me like a hawk, never letting me leave their site.

I haven’t spoken with or heard from Cassian in days. And I have no idea where he could possibly be, or where his wing resides. I know nothing of this castle. I look around the empty room, and stand deciding to go in search of something to do.

The only lights come from the candles on the walls, lighting up the entire hall as I make my way throuhgout the castle. I pass by various servants, all of which are too busy to stop and as me where it is i am heading. But I don’t miss the stares. You would think they would be used to seeing an ikniri by now. Or be aware of my presence in the castle.

I don’t pay attention to my surroundings, and end up in an unfamiliar part of the castle. I look around trying to find something that shows me a little of the king that lives here, but there are no paintings, statues, or anything. Only his banner that hangs on the walls with the symbol that has been etched into my flesh all these years.

Another loud crack resonates off the walls, echoing throughut the castle. I turn around, trying to backtrack just wanting to go back to my room and hide from the storm outside. I keep walking until I pass by a room, and I hear music coming from it. It’s an instrument I haven’t heard before. It sounds as if a lot of tones are being thrown together at once. Yet it creates such a beautiful melody.

I pause in front of the large double doors, pressing my ear against the wood. Sure enough, the sound is coming from within. The thunder rumbles in the sky, and I let out a soft gasp as fear coils my throat. A few seconds later the music stops.

The door is pulled open, and I fall forward into the room, hitting the marble floor. I cry out in shock from the impact.

“Eavsedropping will get you killed.” I tense and my skin grows chilled when I hear the voice. Cassian. I immediately look up, and see that he’s walking away from me. My eyes widen from his form. I can see him from behind. He’s tall, and broad. His body obviously muscular. It’s hard to tell from the thick fabric that adorns his skin. His hair is long. Longer than mine. And pitch black, but it’s pulled in a loose ponytail that falls past his waist.

I only have seconds to take in his appearance before he disappears into the dark shadow of the room. He takes a seat at a strangely shaped wooden instrument, and begins softly playing a melody. I look beyond him at the large glass windows and I can see the rain falling hard outside. I look back to his form which is silhouetted by the lack of lighting.

“Are you going to just stand there, or are you going to come inside?” His voice sails across the room with ease. Easily heard over the soft music emitting from his fingers. I slowly move forward, making my way to where he is. My mind is reeling in anticipation at finally being able to see the face behind the voice.

“That’s far enough.” I pause in my tracks looking down at my feet and seeing where i am. Not near close enough to see his face. Disappointment courses through me. Why won’t he let me see him? I could just move forward and look at him regardless of his wishes, but something deep inside is holding me back.

So I fiddle with my fingers in front of me, and look around the room.

“What is this place?” I ask.

“I believe the previous ruler used it as a ballroom.” He says.

“What’s a ballroom?” I ask. He laughs softly.

“A place where balls are held. Or fancy parties for the elites of society. Celebrations if you will.” He says as if he’s reciting it from a book. I turn away from him, looking around.

“It’s amazing.” I whisper. He laughs.

“You always were easily impressed.” He says. I turn to him, and his back is still to me.

“How do you know who I am.”

“I met you once. A long time ago.” He says.

“Where?” I ask. He shrugs.

“Beyond the trees.”

“Why don’t I remember?” I ask. He laughs, shaking his head.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself.” I can hear the warning in his tone. It's almost menacing.

I frown at his words. He is the one keeping me here, and speaking to me as if he knows me, so why can’t he just tell me who exactly he is?

“Why are you wandering the halls anyway? You’re far from your wing.” He says. He shifts the tune of the instrument, sounding more morbid. I narrow my gaze at his back, and slowly lower myself ot the floor, lying down on my back and staring at the ceiling. There’s beautiful art painted but I can barely make out what it is due to the darkness covering the room.

“Everyone is busy.. I was bored.. I’m always bored.” I say.

“Well, what did you do to fight your boredom before you came here?”

“You mean before I was forced here agianst my will? I would hunt. Train. Patrol. Listen to Gran’s silly stories.” I laugh, but my smile fades at the mention of her name. The aching in my heart deepens. Each day without her I grow more and more saddened.

“If you feel your time is more valued training, you may do so.” He says. I blink, staring at the ceiling.

“Why are you being so kind to me. Why didn’t you kill me along with the villagers?” I ask.

“What would I have to gain from killing you, the last ikniri?” He says. I shake my head.

“The old king would have done it. I’m the last Ikniri because of him.” I say. The music on the instrument suddenly comes to a halt, and silence overcomes the room.

“Close your eyes.” He says gently. I hesitate for a moment, but end up doing so. I hear the sound of fabric, the only indication I have that he is moving seeing as his footsteps are always so light.

I tense when i feel fingers tracing the inside of my arm, moving from my forearm to my palm, and he places his hand in mine. His skin is burning hot as he pulls me up to my feet. I hear the rustle of fabric, and feel the soft silk around my eyes as he steps around me, and ties it around my head. He then walks back around, and I can feel his presence in front of me.

He places his hands on either side of my face, capturing me between his palms. I hold my breath when I feel his forehead against mine.

“The old king, was a coward and a fool. His reign is no more, and I will never let any harm come to you ever again Neytiri. I swear it.” He says. His usually playful tone is gone, replaced with complete seriousness.

Lightning cracks like a whip, and the suddennes of it causes a squeal to escape my lips as my muscles tense.

“Ah. Is it boredom or fear that had you roaming the halls?” He says playfully.

“Come.” He murmurs. He steps around me, pulling on my hands and leading me out of the ballroom. I don’t know how long we walk in silence, but we end up somewhere where it’s warm. I hear him moving, and he’s back in front of me. He pushes my stray hair behind my shoulders.

“Try and stay out of trouble.” He says simply. He then walks away. I stand there for a moment, unsure of whether or not i should take off the blindfold, and end up doing so. I slowly reach up, afriad I’ll hear him tell me no, but when he doesn’t I pull it from around my eyes. I look around in shock. I’m back in my room.

Apparently Cassian told Caius to bring me to the training grounds, because finally I am out here and doing exactly what it is I want to. Training.

The rain is pouring down around me, but I don’t care. I pull back the sword that was given to me, and smash it into the thick wooden dummy they set out for me. There’s so much pent up frustration and anger inside of me that has yet to be realeased. So with each blow, I let out another scream. A shout of anger, releasing every kind of emotion I have swimming around inside of me.

I’ve been just existing these past few weeks. Not caring what I do or where i go, just follwoing orders, listening to what was told to me, not asking questions or trying to figure anything out, and now I realize why. I’ve been numb. Scared. Shocked. My whole life was torn away from me in a matter of seconds, and I was thrown into a new one without warning.

I’ve been coping, but now that I am used to it, now that I can finally have something to take everything out on, and release my frustrations without fear, I am feeling every little emotion. My cries slowly turn to agonized screams. The rain has caused my clothes to stick to me, but I sliced the ridiculous bottoms off this dress hours ago. My hair is sticking to me as well, and my fingers are beginnign to sting from the constant contact and cold temperature.

I scream louder, and the thunder booms loud above, drowning out my cries. I scream, and scream, and scream, with each blow chipping away more and more at the wooden practice pole in front of me.

Everything is gone. Everyone i love is gone off this Earth. Everyone. Gran is gone, my parents, my fmaily I never knew, taken from me. Why. Why? Why am I here? What is my purpose? I let out another scream, and swing with all my might, this time lodging the sword deep into the wood. My body is jarred, and I cant get the sword out, so I begin using my fists, beating at the post. I scream with each blow I make as I fall to my knees, kicking up mud around me. I can feel them sinking into the mud below, and I let the tears fall. I pull my arms in close to my stomach, trying to ease the heartache, but I can't. I open my mouth the same time the thunder rumbles, and let out a loud scream that is swallowed up by the storm.

I can’t hold myself up anymore, my fatigue finally setting in. I fall over in the mud, looking up at the rain filled sky. Just in time to see the lighting rip across the sky. The bright purple beam explodes, lighitng up the area, and seconds later the sound of a whip cracks across the sky, rumbling the ground around me.

I close my eyes, wanting nothing more than to just... disappear.

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