|1| The Curse
I gritted my teeth
“Should we use something else? She isn’t screaming.” a voice said as I try to ignore it and concentrate on the fucking whip on my back.
“Enough! Use the other whip, the one with the spikes.” another voice said, bored.
Gulping hard, I try to prepare my mind for what’s coming. The nauseous feeling building inside me, making it hard even to breathe. I silently look to the wall in front of me. I couldn’t cry right in front of them, not again.
“Let’s see if you scream this time,” the voice said behind me.
I kept my head lowered. My chocolate brown hair surrounded my face. The blood that dripped earlier from my forehead now stuck dried on my face with my hair.
Hearing the metal spikes make a scratching sound on the concrete floor, I bite my dried lip hard. I try to take a deep breath as the first slash hits my back. I groan, feeling the spikes pierce my skin.
Hold it in, I mutter internally. I wasn’t planning on showing how weak I was. I never had and will never show my weakness.
I was feeling it coming back again.
My lip hurt from too much biting. The metallic taste makes my stomach turn worse. How long were they planning to keep me like this?
Feeling the burning sensation spread across my back. My vision turns blurry. I was cursing under my breath. Just to try and stay awake. The blood loss makes it hard for me to keep my eyes open.
“Enough,” the male’s voice said as I sigh in relief. “Lock her in her room. No food, just water.”
The chains that had my body hanging were finally unlocked. I fell on my knees. Feeling the floor wet, I looked around blood. My hands covered in blood shook. My eyes started burning as tears fought to roll down. I couldn’t; not here.
A yanking in my hair has me screaming. I tried to reach for the person pulling me, but I couldn’t. Why was I so weak?
As keys jumble and a door open, the man throws me inside. Face palming the cold concrete floor, I groan. I tried lifting my pained body, but a sudden pain in my ribs has me gasping for air.
“Bitch,” the man growled as he kicked me again on my ribcage. Coughing for some air. I crawl away. Breathing hard, I let my body hit the ground.
The man just scoffed and slammed the door. Finally, in my silence, I let the tears fall. Sobs of pain, sadness, madness make me wonder why.
Have you ever wondered why life is sometimes unfair? Why do some things happen? Why does a girl like me that the only thing she did was being born deserve this kind of pain?
Being born is the only sin I have. Being cursed since the moment I was born is my cross to bear till the day I die. I have a family, or they call themselves my family, but they just pretend to be.
I’m just the unlucky one. A girl who was cursed because of a mistake my so-called father made. Was it my fault? No. Now I have to deal with his mistakes.
After calming down, I slowly get up. My ripped dress barely hangs from my skinny body. Taking it off, I walk into my bathroom. Wincing at every step I give, I finally reach for the lights. Turning them on, I close my eyes. The blinding yellow light makes my eyes hurt. With a frail body, I amble until I finally stand before my cracked mirror. Gasping, I avert my eyes. I looked horrible.
“This is nothing,” I mumble as I lift my gaze and stare at myself. Bruises, blood, and scars cover my body. Most of them on my chest, legs, and back. A couple of bruises were visible on my arms, and a single scar lingers on my face right near my neck.
Yes, my neck, a scar my sister did because she tried to kill me.
Reaching for the faucet, I poured some water on my shaky hands. Taking a deep breath, I spray it on my back. A small yelp left my lips as I felt the cold water sting on my skin. Staring at myself in the mirror, I nod. I needed a bath so that I could wash my wounds. Then tend to them.
Giving small steps, I reach the shower. With a creaking sound, I turn the faucet. Coldwater fell on my skin, making me cry harder. The pain was unbearable, but I had to hang on. It wasn’t the first time. Covering my mouth, I sob in silence.
“Why me?” I said between sobs.
Flinching, I inhale. I was only missing the enormous bruise on my back. Concentrated on my wounds, I hear a sudden knock on the bedroom door. I tense up, thinking that maybe it was someone from my family. Were they coming back to punish me?
“C-Come in,” I stutter nervously. Gripping the bedsheets, I prepare myself. Who was it?
Someone opens the door; it was someone with black hair.
“Mayah?” I whispered unsurely.
“Hey,” the girl in the maid suit said, opening the door and stepping in quietly.
“Why are you here?” I asked her, worried that she could get punished like last time. “Go back!”
“No, my lady, I won’t,” Mayah said with a warm smile that made my chest hurt.
“But you might get punished, please,” I begged her.
Maya was a maid who worked in the palace. In other words, my home. I was a princess, one that everyone loathed. The city people didn’t know the truth. They didn’t see how the youngest princess got tortured. And Mayah was the only servant who helped me. She was older than me and cared for me. She was the only one who showed me, love.
“Come here, allow me,” Mayah said, grabbing the small emergency box where I kept some medicine.
Her gasp made me realize that these bruises were worse than the last ones. Sighing, I let her cover up my wounds. A few minutes later, Mayah finished.
“All cover-up,” Mayah said as she closed the box, “Rest, I will bring you something to eat.”
Giving her a small thank you and a warm smile, Mayah leaves.
I looked around my room. Grey walls and drapes that hang from the ceiling decorated my gray bedroom. Even though I was a princess, I barely had furniture. The only thing I had was a white wooden closet, a vanity table, my poster bed, and a night table. My room was chilly, dark, and lonely.
My evil father, King Azar of the Pallatine Empire, made a huge mistake. He betrayed a witch.
In the Pallatine Empire, witches, warlocks, seekers, and other creatures live. And we were the only empire in ever betraying a witch. What my father, King Azar, didn’t know was that the witch he betrayed would get revenge, and so she did. She killed two of his sons, a queen, and she cursed me, who was barely a baby. Leaving him with an older daughter and a cursed baby.
I always wonder why? I was barely a baby. Because of that, my mother killed herself.
Now because of that, every time my father, the king, got angry, he would take it out on me. Not only him but everyone.
Here in the palace, I was called the cursed one. No one approached me, and no one talked to me. I had no friends, no one. Lonely nights and bloody tears were what I did since I started growing; those were my companions.
Despite that, I smiled. Because all this time, I had never shown my weakness, my tears to them. Every punishment, every torture, every poisonous word, I never showed it in front of them. Because I was determined to get out of this place no matter what. I had only two more years left to live, and no matter what, I would at least accomplish my freedom that I was sure of.
The following day, I woke up to my same routine. I opened the windows, take a bath, change into my ragged clothes and read books. My father didn’t allow me to go out of this room. It was my cage. I was locked away from the rest of the world. The only time I could go out was when it required the whole royal family to be present.
Watching outside the window, I look up at the sky. Blue skies and the shining sun shone down through the window. Birds chirped as the wind slowly blew—a perfect spring. Smiling sadly, I look past the castle’s walls. I always wonder what was behind that. Was it beautiful? Were there amazing and beautiful fields of roses? The food, the people, how were they?
Looking back at the book in my hands, I smile. All I could ever dream of was fantasizing. The only places I could go were through the stories I read. Sighing, I look back outside.
My bedroom was on the east wing of the castle. It was a place few visited.
Leaning my head on the window frame, I sighed. My wounds still hurt. It was less than yesterday, but every little movement made me cringe.
As I think about my miserable life, a soft knock made me look at the door.
“Who is it?” I called.
With a sudden burst, the bedroom door opened, and in walked the head maid. I closed my book and sat up scared.
Eyeing me from head to toe, she scoffed. I lowered my head, gripping the book in my hands.
“Your presence is required,” the head maid exclaimed. I was looking up, surprised. I see several other maids walking in with clothes and shoes.
“NOW!” the head maid yelled, making me cringe. Nodding quickly, I stood up as I set the book down on the vanity table.
Grasping my arm, the maids undress me. I wince at every touch and turn. My wounds throbbed as they started cleaning my body and helped me get dressed. I was curious to know why I was requested, but it was best to keep my mouth shut.
“Turn around,” the head maid said. I turned slowly, but she pushed me so I could turn over. Biting my lip, I prepare myself mentally. Squeezing me into a corset, I inhale and keep my gaze to the mirror right in front of me. My back wounds throbbed as she kept tightening the corset. A single tear slid down my face. Gulping the pain down, I kept my head high.
Once she was done, and all the maids had given me the last touches. I stare at myself in the mirror. I was wearing a long ruffled blue dress that made my eyes look bluer. The corset accentuated my thin body, giving me a tiny waist, a more voluptuous breast, and thicker thighs. The maids made a high ponytail, and they kept my makeup simple. My freckles were still visible even though they added powder. They were putting on some simple golden earrings. Once they finished, the head maid asks everyone to leave the room.
Nervously I toyed with my hands.
“The king gave the order for you to be present. It’s just you and no one else. We will explain to you why he called for you, are we clear?” the head maid asked as she sternly looked down at me.
“Yes Ma’am,” I said with my head lowered.
“Good, let’s go,” the head maid said as she opened the door, and I walked out.
I was following behind the head maid, keeping my head lowered. Everyone that saw us looked at me with wonder. Everyone knew about me, but few have seen me.
“Yes, she’s the cursed one.”
“Oh, the first time I see her.”
“She is just a cursed woman.”
“Look at her so ugly.”
“The king hates her.”
“Why hasn’t he killed her?”
All the curious voices whispered as they looked at me. I felt like a rat trapped. Smirking, I try to think that everything they are saying is funny. I couldn’t let their words wound me. I was no weak girl.
I was just an innocent mixed in all this. All because of my father.
Stopping, I lift my head. Two tall guards stand with their heads high. Neither of them looked at me. Standing straight, I gulp all the pain I was feeling.
“Remember your etiquette if you don’t want to get punished,” the head maid whispered in my ear.
I nodded obediently as the doors to the throne room opened. Voices and laughter greeted the hallway I stood. Stepping in, I grabbed the dress and started walking to the center of the room. White and golden walls with golden gargoyles decorated the enormous throne room. A red carpet laid in the middle of the floor. Chandeliers lit up the place as their light reflected on the white marble floor that remained uncovered. Noticing me, everyone hushes. All eyes looked at me like I was some prey.
At least twelve men sat on wooden chairs with golden designs. Each with a cup of wine and food on their sides. The old fools looked at me. Some with disgust, others with a smirk that could devour me, and others with hate, like my father, who sat on his golden throne.
“Glory be to the king of the Pallatine Empire,” I said, bowing my head in respect.
“You may raise your head,” my father, King Azar, said. Doing as he asks, I look at him. His brown eyes and chocolate hair, just like mine, looked at me with disgust. Why did he hate me so much?
“So this is your other daughter?” a man’s voice said as I glanced sideways.
“I heard she was ugly, but she’s a beauty,” another one voice out.
“Shame she has those scars,” the first man said again.
I kept my eyes to the front. With no emotions, I look at my father. His eyes never left mine. He was boring a hole in me.
“Enough,” my father said as he leaned his head on his fisted hand, which I knew was holding his anger. “Princess, you have been summoned because we have news for you.”
I slightly frown. What news was he speaking off?
“We have a small urgent deal to make, and you are the chosen one,” my father said as he frowned at me. I was so confused that I looked down at the floor.
Making a mistake, I opened my mouth and asked, “What deal are you speaking of?”
Realizing a bit late that I had spoken without permission. I bowed my head. Fear started creeping as I knew that after I did this, I would get punished.
“The deal to marry you!” my father retorted. His face twitched in anger. Looking through my lashes, I see him gripping the armrest. “You are to be married off.”
No one said a word. I waited for my father to continue. My fingers were piercing my skin as I repeated his phrase in my head. Was he marrying me? Was I getting married?
“Just tell her already,” a man’s voice said, annoyed. I looked at the person who spoke. Realizing who it was, I averted my eyes again.
“Fucker,” I mutter under my breath.
I didn’t realize it earlier, but my uncle was seated on the front. He was my late mother’s brother. He hated me because he blamed me for my mother’s death.
“Princess of the Pallatine Empire, you are to be married to the king of the Etuicia Empire. King Maximus Joric Perica.
I snapped my head up.
“W-What?” I mumble in disbelief. Was I to be wedded to the king of the Etuicia Empire? But that was an enemy empire, our enemy.
“From tomorrow on, you no longer belong to this empire. You are to be prepared to be taken to the Etuicia Empire,” my father said, “everyone leaves.”
Shocked, I stayed on the spot. I tried forming words, but nothing could come out of my opened mouth. Bringing my hand to my trembling mouth. I see a shadow stand right before me. Surprised, I look up. My father, King Azar, looked down at me. His tall and enormous body made me feel smaller than I was.
Slapping me across my face. I fall on my knees.
“Who gave you permission to speak?” my father said as he glared at me. I held my burning cheek. A metallic taste on my mouth made me aware that I was injured. “You’re quite the lucky bitch. If it weren’t because you are to be taken tomorrow to the Etuicia Empire, I would have slapped you until I left you unconscious.”
Tears brimmed in my eyes.
“Thank god you are finally disappearing. Be sure to take every little shit with you. Well, what am I saying? Do you even have anything?” my father hissed as he spits on my face. I cringed.
Cleaning his spit with my hand, I look up at him. For the first time, I saw his eyes go wide.
“I’m happy I’m fucking leaving you, useless crap!” I spat furiously.
“What did you call me?” my father said as he yanked my hair, making me scream. “Say it!”
Getting the courage, I spit him back on the face. He groaned angrily and then kicked me on the stomach. Gasping, I hold my stomach.
“You’re the useless shit that should never have been born. Just leave.” my father said, letting go of my hair. Scrambling up, I let my tears fall. Turning away from him, I stride out of the room.
I ran up to my bedroom. It felt so far away that it was suffocating. Sobbing loudly, I ran up and locked myself. Sliding down the door, I cry aloud. I was letting all the build-up pain out.
Angrily, I let my hair loose. Bothered by everything, I undress. My wounds were numb by the corset. As I look at my back, I see blood dripping on the floor. Getting the emergency box with the medicine, I open it. Trembling hands try to cover the bleeding wounds. But my tears made it more challenging. Drying my face with the back of my hand, I angrily slam the mirror, breaking it on the way.
As the anger leaves my body, I finally calm down.
“Princess?” Mayah’s sweet voice called from the other side of the door.
“Leave!” I retorted; I was in no mood to see her.
I was waiting for her to disobey me. I stay in the bathroom. My hands gripped the faucet.
“This is your freedom,” I mumble, looking at my face on the glass shards. “This is your chance.”
The next day, early morning, the head maid came over with other servants. Helping me change into a green dress, I grab the few things I had and walk out. I took a last glance at the room that served as my cage for the previous eighteen years. I whispered goodbye.
A brown carriage with the empire’s insignia awaited me. There were two white horses and two coachmen. Helping me put my small luggage in, I step into the carriage and look back. No one came out to see me go. Smiling sadly, I close the window curtain. As the coachmen give out an order, I feel the carriage moving. Horses whine as they move forward.
With a sigh, I lean my head on the fluffy pillow. “At least he gave me a nice carriage,” I mumble sadly.
Bored, I open the window curtain. The day was gloomy, just like my heart. With a sigh, I rest my chin on my hand.
“You’re finally free,” I said to myself, “Free from his torture.”
I’m Amari, princess of the Pallatine Empire. The girl with a curse. One that was bestowed to me since I was born. A curse that would take my life away once I turn twenty. And one I would take to my grave. After all, I had carried this cross on me—my Cross to Bear.