A/N: This is copy/pasted from a Word Doc, and it had comments, so that is what the sudden [AT1] is for (they are my initials].
I knelt at a throne, at the one man who could save me.
My mind flashed with mental laughter, for I knew this thought confirmed it was a dream-no one could save me from slavery unless I did it myself! Not even if I got down on my knees and begged! The dream continued: He gazed at me with pity. "Rise."
I obeyed, daring a glance at his beautiful face: Blue eyes and trimmed, blonde hair, a gold ring atop his head, muscles clear as they stuck out over his olive skin.
"My king," I begged in a scared and worried whimper-I was worried if he'd accept my request and scared on how he'd react. "Please, I beg of you. I have been suffering from your orders, your soldiers, even you. I cannot escape slavery! It-"
The King of Jarma cut me off with intense laughter, shaking his head. I boiled with anger, but my deeper emotions shook with terror. "You want me?"
More rounds of insults. "You actually think?"
"Yes!" I growled, and too late did I realise that attitude wasn't the best thing to do in front of the most powerful and rich person in the kingdom. His eyes flared, and as he rose with stinging, terrifying calmness and slowness from the raised, marble throne, my sovereign changed until I saw the King of Demons: Hisca. Clothed in a robe a flowing blood, with long, black, talon-like nails that gripped a thick chain designed for whipping the damned, I stared with intense dread at his black eyes, the scarlet of his irises the only colour in that nightmarish, dark, terrifying gaze. I backed away as he advanced on me, my legs shaking, only the fear of Hisca unfreezing me from every other fear. And then the god offered me something: The decapitated heads of my family, fresh blood washing out of their noses, eyes, ears and necks. I screamed, horror gripping me as I raised a hand to my gaping mouth.
A ripping scream shocked me out of the quickly fading dream as I desperately tried to forget all the horrible things I'd just imagined. My eyes sharpened with the echoing scream both in my mind and ears, the painful ringing like fingernails on a blackboard. Dawn, I thought, eying the soft glow of light colours: peaches, oranges and faint traces of lilac. But I saw all of that-freedom-through iron bars. "'Freedom is a dream,'" I snorted at my yearning, my desperation to be rid of my chains, this cage and everything that had happened with it. For once, dawn made the world look beautiful and inviting. It made me think hope still existed. Yet that was haze, a vision. Something that the most outrageous dreams are made of. Suddenly, sleep crept up on me and pounced; it's claws sinking in deep, injecting me with dreams. Everything went black.
Once more, I heard them through the deep waters: "Should we wake her?"
"No. If we do, Commander will find some excuse to inflict pain."
A snort. "He'd do it anyway."
"Marius is sadistic-I'll grant you that-but he follows the rules. One of the king's oldest laws is that you can't inflict punishment without a crime."
A hearty laugh made me jump in my sleep. I could image the owner of the voice shaking his head. "Look at us! We follow along with Marius' cruelty! The poor girl has had so many injuries that I consider it a miracle that she's still alive!"
I heard a faint snarl as I drifted in the black, lulling currents. "I don't. Marius-though his my superior-will not touch Angia. She's suffered enough."
My superior? Is this Maneus? Over the months, Maneus has become my sort-of ally, often persuading his commander to feed me more regularly or execute kinder punishments. I suddenly wanted to wake, to see and let the colours of the harsh world blind me and stun me…but my mind was sluggish and reluctant, apparently knowing better. A sharp tone made me wince. "See where that opinion gets you."
"Yes. I'll see. We both will."
I snarled mentally, and pressed on. Waking up and getting my own mind! to wake was like walking through quicksand or thick mud. Slow and tiring, yet not impossible-something that had hope, the thing that was so very precious to me. Yes, hope was the only reason that a dagger hadn't punctured my heart. Hope was the only reason that I still believed, and even then, I had my doubts. The world-my world-had spun around six times and flipped over twice that! Three and a half months ago, I had lived with a family-a brother, father and mother-in a village, in Simeona. Now-as I'd heard the soldiers calling it-I lived in Jarma, as an outcast, treated as what I was viewed-a slave. A slave who had no one except doubts, dreams and every other fantasy I'd kept clinging and holding on to. Maybe hope had caused me to have doubts-as if saying that I believed also made me be sceptical. As if-I broke through and my eyes flickered open, cutting off my thoughts to be replayed with light. The bright light left a streak across my sight, a blotchy stroke of white. I blinked, trying to fix and remove this disruption to my vision. And then a low, loud growl, like rolling drums, deep and intimidating, rumbled in my ears. Fear crept nervously in me, anxious to know the cause for such a noise, to solve the unknown. And I heard an irritated voice: "Damned storm! This will add other day to this stupid journey!"
"Anxious to get home?" The tone was amused, yet I could detect that the owner too felt that yearning.
"If I could, I would get on a horse and gallop all the way to Jamarnia!"
"Really? What would you do when you got there?"
The splotch faded and I saw dark, threatening skies, huge expanses of grey stretching across the heavens. I rolled over onto my stomach to gaze at where the voices came from: One was defiantly Maneus, with his cat-like features and dark, brooding eyes. The other babbled to him, making hand gestures to accompany his voice. I frowned, having faint recognition. And then it hit: The man who was with Victor-I shuddered with loathe at the very thought of his name, disgusted I had let it enter my thoughts. The man who's sliced my back and held me helpless, as I was humiliated the day my world changed, the day Bellony had given me the cold shoulder and decided to keep it that way. I threw curses at her, imagining that I was spitting on my now non-existent statue of her at my non-existent home. As it was obvious-and I'd reluctantly accept it one day, though I prayed it would never happen-my home was a cage and slavery. The man next to Maneus had hair of the colour I would see at a rare beach or riverbank: An icky, mustard yellow, the shade of wet sand. And like the beach, his eyes were ocean blue, the irises as vast and circular as the powerful waters that surrounded this earth. He smiled cheekily. "I'd spend some time with my wife."
Maneus smirked, raising a raven brow. "Time indeed…" But it seemed the hidden topic was too good to express with just an understated smile and he broke into a grin, the officer's chest heaving with laughter, booming as much as the loud thunder.
"There's nothing wrong with it!"
The laughing increased. "There's nothing wrong with sex?" he scoffed.
I jolted. Sex…I gasped with horror. Though I was verging on the innocent age of sixteen, the topic of reproduction was something that was very tabooed. And I wasn't going to change that view until I probably-I cut off the thought, repulsed.
"My wife's amazing!" The man boasted.
Repugnance made me speak up. "You disgusting things!" I snarled, slamming my balled fist on the iron floor-it rattled at the sudden impact. Both soldiers looked at me in both surprise and pity. "Look what you've done now!" Maneus sarcastically exclaimed, gaping in mock shock as he leaned back with a hand held to his chest.
The blonde soldier faked a shocked expression, both hurt and indignant. "How dare you, Maneus, friend, accuse me! I have done nothing! But it is you! Maneus-how sorry friend I am to say this-are blind in your accusations and instead you are responsible for this dreadful crime!"
"Waking up Her Majesty?" Maneus gasped, making me shake with anger as they mocked me. "Then if it is I, I'd better run before she has the time to punish me!"
"Yes! But only if Her Ladyship can saw iron bars with her bare hands!" Both men burst out laughing as anger exploded in me. I screamed to relieve myself of the fury, jumping up astonishingly quickly, glaring at them through the cage's walls. "Shut up, you bastards. You're all pigs and get used to it, because I'm gonna make sure that you remember that every damned day!"
"The Queen has spoken!" The man shouted, grinning.
My humiliation boiled into anger. I slammed a hand on the iron, every voice urging me on. Kick their tiny, good-for-nothing arses!
Yes! The devil-on-my-shoulder agreed with Aggressive. Give everything back to them! Give them a taste of their own stupid, bastardy medicine!
"Shut up, you disgusting, good-for-nothing, repulsive swine!" I screamed darkly at them. "Because," I snarled, building up a threat, "One day I'll be free and I'll remember all of your snide comments, mocking and abusing, and on that day, you better pray to ever single one of your ridiculous gods when I dish out my wrath. And I karping will."
Both soldiers snickered, covering their mouths in a mock-attempt to muffle the enraging, insulting noise. But, I growled, I will remember that too.
"Ooo, big threat. Can you feel the burn?"
Maneus faked a whimper, jumping as his hand flew to his muscly bicep. "Ouch!" he nodded. "Sure can Jeremy! Really stings…"
I screamed curses as they laughed. Both men backed up, raising their palms in surrender. "Whoa. Count to ten Angia! We were just playing around…" Jeremy told me in a cool tone.
Maneus raised his brows. "And I never would've thought a fifteen-year-old knew that many swear words."
Rage still roared through me, and even then it was still a struggle evening my breathing.
"Look, we're on your side." The raven-haired officer assured me.
Jeremy tightened his lips into a thin line. "Mostly."
Well, isn't that nice! I groaned, enjoying my outburst of sarcasm and flirting with the idea that I should say it physically. "Just get your ugly faces out of my sight," I sighed with the sharpest tone I could muster. I jumped at a sudden crack of thunder, my eyes widening in awe as two lightning strikes flashed and raced across the overcast sky.
Jeremy tutted. "Say all you want, slave, but we stay put. Wouldn't want another nineteen lashes from Marius, would you?"
My heart swirled in fear at the name, and I shirked back away from the bars and the man who'd dare threat me with the prospect of a flogging. Maneus raised a brow in approval…or was it exasperation?
"Don't do that to her!" He exclaimed.
"Is the exhibition interesting?"
Speak of the devil, I muttered, hastily rushing back as Marius peered over his soldier, another roll of thunder tumbling into my ears. The commander grinned at my response to his sudden presence. "Lovely sleep?"
"Like you care!" I snapped, using my hatred to veil my deep, shaking fear.
Marius clapped his officer's shoulder, grinning. "Come on Angia. Don't be scared. I'll only rape you if you really want it…"
A round of snide comments bulleted out of my tongue and through my lips, my captor raising a surprised brow at the intended insults. "You're right, Maneus. It shouldn't be possible for a girl to know such vulgar slang! Masochistic? Haemophilic?" He turned to Jeremy. "Should I even know those words?"
"Probably not, but I would suggest really teaching the word 'ravish' to her. What is it again?"
Maneus winked at me, one side of his lips being tugged up. "Forcing little girls to have intercourse with sexy, powerful older men. And doing it several times."
I screamed. "Foul, effing-disgusting pigs! You're all demons and devils! Rapists and ruiners! You reek of things so repulsive, so horrible, that…"
All men laughed mockingly, each cackle a sting of insult.
Of course they would treat and think of me as a joke. I am nothing but a dancing monkey to them, something that will give them a few angels at the end of the day and satisfy whatever needs they may have.
"What? Tell us! Express your highly valued opinion!" Jeremy exclaimed, my body shaking with loathe and fury.
My voice was a compressed whisper, calm and quiet like the eye of a storm. "You men have no word that is appropriate enough-horrible enough-to describe you. No word that can describe murderers, thieves, rapists, liars, captors, torturers, floggers, insulters, tormentors, bullies and devil's brood in one word. None."
"Better put that on the resume," Maneus snickered, followed by the grins of all three men.
I sighed, dropping to the floor, knowing that engaging in this would only encourage Marius to inflict pain. The evidence of flogging-scars-was all over me like stripes on a tiger. Many often cut across healed skin, reopening the wound and causing an insane pain. "Go and bother your own. In fact, send me to your bastard, retarded, imbecilic, disgusting, life-ruiner of a king so that I can insult him. That would be fun and funny."
I was smug knowing that I had succeeding in annoying Marius' through his patriotic love for his sovereign.
Marius sneered, stepping forward to the cage. I took special interest in the thick, twisted and tied leather whip, stained with my blood, slapping on his thigh. "You better watch what you say, girl. The king doesn't take kindly to…" he paused, raising a suggestive brow. "Your kind."
I sucked in a breath of mock shock. "So I'm a type of species now? Who knew?"
"Cut that attitude or we'll have to take you to the specialist!" The commander growled, his large hand gripping the handle of the whip tightly. Yes, I had met 'the specialist' many times. It was such a wretched thing, that fearful whip Marius had dubbed as 'the specialist'. He'd called it so, probably because it fulfilled its role as a whip so brilliantly: causing me intense pain and Marius intense pleasure. It's talons had sunk deep into my flesh, ripping through skin and muscle, and I was helpless-a slave to the whip as much as I was a slave to Jarma. That was what this horrible, tormenting place, this empire of terror, was called. And ruled by a man worse by tenfold. Otherwise I wouldn't be in this cage, living in fear and submission, taking in every punishment and commandment that Marius dished out. I had no rights, nothing that would protest or forbid what he did. I didn't even know what that princess meant when she said 'special treatment'.
Maybe she meant that slaves have to eat fish pie every weekend, A voice suggested hopefully, but I knew it was a shot at being comical, a sad attempt at arousing amusement and lightening the situation.
'Even humour lives when hope dies', I mused, quoting, once again, my father. A father who was probably dead. The prospect of that possibility brought a strong wash of sadness to my heart.
"Looks like she's got nothing to say!" Jeremy's voice woke me from my thoughts, as I refocused back on my surroundings. He turned accusingly to Marius. "How could you be so mean?"
"It's Commander Marius," Maneus pointed out, "What do you expect?"
The commander stole one more sadistic glance at me before turning to his soldiers. "I expect you all to be preparing to continue our journey to Gaedon!" he shouted, raising his voice as thunder cracked across the sky like a branch snapping off a tree.
And he walked away, humming a funeral hymn quietly to himself. I glared at the soldiers as they playfully hit and punched each other. "So much for being on my side!"
Maneus shoved Jeremy away; snickering as the soldier fell to the ground, another crack of thunder quickly following a long, white flash of lighting. He turned to me. "Angia, if you want to survive this you've gotta be smart. Marius wants to be rid of you, and it makes sense. We all want to return home, see our families, perhaps return to the palace-live our lives and see our loves-and you're the only reason where're still here. The plan was to sell you to a Castorian and be on our way. Right now, you're only still here and alive for two reasons: One, Marius wants a few angels and two, the commander-characteristically embracing his sadistic personality-never passes up a potential human punching-bag. But you'd better be sold at the next auction or you'll be living a fate worse than death. I can guarantee it."
Liar! I wanted to scream, but inside, I knew what the officer said was true. All the voices cooed their comforts, their imaginary hands stroking my imaginary mental me gingerly.
"Oh, look at this!"
My eyes shot over to the voice, the owner arousing as much repulsion as Marius: Victor. In my mind, everyone hissed and snarled with outrage, hatred and distaste. The soldier regarded me with a look of I just found a dead rat. Poor, disgusting bastard. his expression both piteous and sour. "How is the swine? Ready for the slaughter house, I hope?"
I was well aware of the makeshift weapon-a dagger made from a long iron nail attached to a stick-pressing against my thigh that I had hidden for weeks. Though the idea to have it was in the case that I was being raped or assaulted beyond anything humane, I found it extremely difficult to keep it secret and concealed. Victor continued his sneering and insults as I prayed to Bellony for relief.
"The sow has nothing to say! Come one, whore, I'm sure there is something! Tell us!"
Bellony! What have I done to displease you? You have been silent ever since this hell started! Is it not anything but a small ask to provide relief from this? Please. I have nothing except thin threads of hope, and broken hope at that. My heart ached as I prayed silently, rage ripping through my veins as I heard the derogatory word. Please! I will offer you everything if you provide salvation from this!
And my eyes poured out, as I sobbed and sniffled, like an old lady mourning at the loss of her child. I too, was mourning, at the loss of everything-loss never lost its sting. However sore it made your heart, however much you cried, or bawled, or relived the moment in your mind until it became tiresome, loss never wore away-it was always there, on the sidelines.
"Knock it off, Victor."
"I'm sorry officer, but it seems that I have a higher authority than you."
Maneus' expression was fury, but it was true-last month, Marius had granted Victor a position of lieutenant commander, a rank higher than Maneus. Victor dismissed him with a smug, snobbish wave of his hand. Jeremy saw a fight boiling up and grabbed his friend's wrist, pulling the officer away.
"Of course, sir. We will leave."
Victor regarded me with crazed hunger, stepping forward; the sudden flash and crack of lighting and thunder wasn't the only reason why I felt like hiding.
"If you touch her I-"
Victor laughed, conceited enough to not even regard his lesser, his eyes fixed right on me. I scrambled away, into a corner, but his eyes wouldn't leave me. "You'll do what? I can easily convince Commander for you to join that whore. We'll finally force you to rape her-last time you didn't have the guts."
Maneus' eyes flared, his jaw clenching as he tried to control, what I could obviously see, was the hurt of insult and enragement.
Though I was trembling in fear of what sadistic thoughts or treatments the lieutenant had in mind, I was indignant, and stood up, clinging to the shadows that hung on the one iron sheet that made up the front-facing wall. I met his desiring sight. "You have no right to say that!"
Victor sneered, his pupils contracting, the effect sending a shock down my spine. "In fact, I can. Of course, you can't, slave-you have nothing but your whoring."
This time it was Jeremy who expressed anger, through a hiss, but Victor calmly cut him off. "Enough. Come closer than twenty meters of this cage for the while I am here and there will be severe punishments."
Both men hesitated, but decided to follow orders and trudged away reluctantly, Maneus looking behind at me for assurance that I was still fine-or perhaps as a last 'perfect' memory of me before my body was ravished with the whip and punishments. Victor walked to the door of my prison and opened the heavy lock with a large, gold key. I stared longingly at it-so far, that key was the most valuable and off-limits thing I was aware off. If I could get my hands on it…
A sinister laugh woke me from thoughts, terror engulfing my mind and emotions, Victor stepping in and rushing towards me, grabbing my wrists and pinning them high above my head. In the other hand, he teased me with the metal object that represented freedom and escape from the hells of slavery. "Oh no. Poor Angia wants the key."
He threw it threw through one of the bars, the key clattering on the dirt before the lieutenant slapped me firmly across the cheek. I cried out in pain, the slap stinging angrily on my cheek.
Victor smirked contemptuously. "That's right, little girl. Who's gonna save you now? I can do what I like with you. You are an instrument of pleasure for the commander and I. You know that, don't you slut?"
I felt like my veins were going to explode from disgust, fury so venomous and hot that it made me tremble as its claws ensnared my emotions. Before I could control myself, I raised a hand and flung revenge back at Victor, his cheek red from the strike. The lieutenant touched his cheek cautiously, as if he was checking to see that I had really raised a hand to his authority. He growled, Victor's hands clamping down on my wrists and slamming them against the wall.
I sneered, acting surprised, but inside, I was screaming and sobbing in fear, begging for relief, my emotions personified as a tiny child trying to escape the terror of loneliness and the dark.
"Is that all you've got?" I mocked, the voices pleading me to shut my mouth, knowing that offending and falling into the trap of expressing my never-ending anger would result in more pain and punishment. But I did not care-if Victor thought it was fine to bully me, I would repay the favour.
And 'two wrongs don't make a right', I scoffed and sobbed, meeting the enraged eyes of Victor fearlessly. Is a lie. At least for me. I will show that I will not be treated like this! And by the gods, I will prove it!
"So you want more?" Victor taunted, standing and pulling me effortlessly away, lifting me high over the iron floor with ease-Marius was very good at concealing my thinness, atrocities and malnutrition to buyers. I hung, squirming and groaning as the joints of my arms ached, staring in pain and dread at my assaulter's fiendishly pleased grin. "Well there you go, swine! Do you want more?"
But there was a hidden, more wanted answer to an unspoken question: Will you beg and sob for my own amusement and degrade your pride and dignity?
"No!" I screamed.
Victor laughed, letting me fall to the hard floor. I crashed against the iron, thunder cackling across the sky at the same time. Victor kicked and spat down on me, right in the eyes, before jumping out and locking the door. He made sure that I heard his disgusted voice: "Pathetic! I can see why we conquered this kingdom so easily!"
I sobbed, wailing to try and block out Victor's wretched voice and his humiliating, injuring words. My bones too were crying for relief. Once again, sleep was the savoir from pain.