(1) That Which Delights Us
A token of good intentions, his father called it, called him.
Lucara Whitecliff, self proclaimed queen, was too great of an enemy to have so his father sought an alliance. The agreement was simple, you don't attack us, we don't attack you. Not that it would have mattered to Lucara, Queen of The Conquered. She could destroy anyone in a matter of days if not hours. Perhaps it was because the entire thing humored her so greatly that she accepted.
So now here he was, being traded off by his own family who didn't even bat an eye. They'd practically shoved him onto the steps of her throne before bowing slightly to the queen and leaving without a word.
With a flick of the Queen's slim fingers, he was hauled from the floor by several servants and taken to this dreary place and stripped naked.
Alakis gasped as a bucket of ice cold water was dumped over his naked body. He was roughly washed down and remained silent through it all. He shivered violently as a draft swept through the stone building that was a slave's bathhouse.
The servants snickered and smirked at him, delighted to see a Prince of Elgar now a quaking and wet mess in a dank and cold room. Alakis kept his eyes on the ground. The servants thinking that a once proud prince was now no better than a slave and whore to their Queen, did not know the truth about the young man kneeling in a puddle before them.
Alakis had never been as proud and revered as his brothers. As the seventh son of eight, the possibility of ascending the throne had never been a reality for him. Even if he had wanted it, he never could have fought his brothers for it. He was not nearly as broad and brawny as his brother who were blessed with warriors bodies. They were muscular and arrogant, handsome unlike his sickly complexion and wiry frame that never filled out. While they trained and lead his father's legions, he was confined to a small corner of the palace where he could not be seen. He was his father's shame and his family never let him forget it.
His mother had been too young to bare a child and there had been many complications during his birth. The young woman had died, and Alakis would have too, had the umbilical cord not been severed and unwound from his neck. His other brothers all had strong warrior like mothers who were as tough as any male.
One of the servants sent a sharp kick to his ribs. Alakis grunted, knowing a purplish spot was already beginning to form. His skin bruised easily making him look weaker. He was an easy target to others who wanted to vent their frustration. His brothers had used him but now there was nothing stopping even the other slaves and servants from beating on him as well.
A lose white cotton jerkin was thrown at him along with a pair of thin brown pants that were ripped in multiple places. Alakis put them on, keeping his eyes cast to the ground.
"Bring this filth to the bathing chambers. Let's see how long he lasts shoveling coal."
Alakis resisted the urge to cringe. Heating the water in the bathhouses was the worst job given to any slave. So many accidents happened, and sickness oftend occurred that would result in a life long cough.
His chin was grabbed tightly and thrust up. One of the servants examined him closely, Alakis made sure not to meet his eyes. "Hmm. I thought those Elgar princes were supposed to be handsome. Obviously this one is not fit to warm our Queen's bed." Alakis was pushed back roughly. "Hopefully the coal will cover his ugly face."
The servants laughed and prodded him forward. He was lead across the rocky ground, the rocks burying themselves in his feet. He grimaced but kept silent.
They came around back of the huge palace, the huge pillars seeming to go up forever. He was roughly shoved from behind causing him to sprawl out on the ground, the little rocks embedding themselves in his arms hands and legs.
"On your feet Slave Prince," the servant mocked him, pulling him up by his hair.
He was taken through many doors, the heat increasing the closer and closer they came to their destination.
When they arrived, Alakis's pale complexion drained to white. There were ten huge furnaces roaring with raging fires. There were so many shoveling coal, one after another without a break. They rotated to each furnace as commanded so they were never allotted a break.
"Emrys!" One of the servants greeted, needing to shout to be heard over the ruckus.
The one man who was doing nothing but watching turned and rose a brow in a silent question.
"We've got another one for you." Alakis was brought forward. "He's royalty so don't forget to treat him extra special."
The servants all shared a wicked grin and a rough slap was delivered to the back of the Prince's head. "Get going you've got coal to shovel there's no standing around."
Alakis hesitantly walked over to the group of slaves and picked up a shovel, following their movements.
And so began his new life, from the scorned Prince to the hated slave.