Divided We Fall

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


This one's kind of long...

Chapter 24 (v.1) - Chapter Twenty Four

Submitted: October 06, 2019

Reads: 12

Comments: 2

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Submitted: October 06, 2019

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Erik collapsed onto his rug. Every muscle in his body ached from hauling four hundred buckets of food. 

“Come on, bro. Get up. You have to eat.” 

Erik rolled over to see Joshua waving a chunk of bread in his face. Erik ripped it from his grasp and shoved it in his mouth. 

Joshua chuckled. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” 

“Why?” Erik spoke through the bread. 

“That’s all your food for the night. And you just ate it in one bite. Don’t worry, bro. You’ll get used to it. I’ll teach you the ropes.” 

Erik swallowed, but the bread stuck in his throat. “I’m going to the bathroom,” he said, and walked out of the little space. “Oh, and are we the only two stables workers there are?”

Joshua shook his head. “We do the left stables. The two that do the right live on the other side of the building, for some reason.”

Erik shook his head and kept walking. Once in the bathroom, he splashed water on his face. The coldest it would go. (Which wasn’t hard, because for the slaves, all they offer is cold). 

And when he lifted his head up, he jumped at the person he saw in the mirror. He whipped around to see Anica. She smiled a little, slyly. “Come on.” 

“Why?”

“Shut up and follow me.” 

Erik just stood there for a moment before he followed. 

Anica’s long, slender legs moved like wildfire. “You are really slow,” she murmured. 

She led him down a hallway and into a small little closet-type room. “We’re here.”

Erik looked around. He didn’t see a guillotine, so he figured it was okay. “Why are we here?”

“Sit down and I’ll explain.” 

Erik sat. 

“You’re here because you have been chosen to give me information about what it’s like to be an Anarian. I’ve always wanted to know your perspective, but obviously no one here would tell me, or want me to know, so I had to choose one of you slaves. And I like you, Erik. And yes, I know your name. So. Tell me.”

Erik’s eyes narrowed. Something felt off. “Are you using me to get information to hurt more people? Did you really think I was stupid enough to fall for that? I’m not telling you anything.” He started to stand up. 

“No! Wait. That’s not what I want. Now sit down now or I can do some damage.” She held out a sword. “And don’t you dare speak of this or I’ll be killed. But before that I’ll get revenge. ‘Kay?”

Erik hesitated, then looked at the blade and nodded. 

“Good. Now tell me about the raids. I have to go on one with my group next month. We’re doing Ukrani.” 

Erik swallowed. “You want to know about a raid.” 

Anica nodded and leaned closer. 

“Okay.” He took a deep breath. “Well, there’s the smell of vomit and blood, so heavy and thick it gives you a headache and makes you dizzy. The screaming only makes it worse. There’s screaMs everywhere, and you don’t know from whom.”

“Stop.” 

“You’re running, but you don’t know where to, because they seem like they’re anywhere and everywhere. You slip in the blood and vomit on the street, desperate to get away.”

“Stop it.”
“You have two choices: hide, which can be safe, unless they find you, then you have no escape. Or run. But they’re everywhere on the street, so it’s not much safer. 

“You want to close your eyes, to get rid of the images of children screaming and blood flying and people looking up at you with pleading eyes, and you want to help them but you can’t, and their faces haunt you even though you know there’s nothing you could have done. You--”

“Stop talking!” Her voice was not very loud, as they had to be quiet, but still very poignant. 

Erik looked at her. She was shaking. 

“Is that really what it’s like? Do they really kill little children?”

Erik nodded. 

Anica looked down, tears welling in her eyes. “I can’t kill little children.” her voice broke. “But I have to.” She looked up at him. “There has to be a different way to get rid of you than killing children.”

“Maybe you could go back to your own country and leave us alone.”

Anica looked up at Erik. “Do you want to know why we need your country? Do you? It’s because we had no space left. Cities were overcrowded, every spot in the country filled up. Our own children were hungry and homeless. So we took advantage of your weak country. We made it ours, and we’re trying to get rid of you so we can have more space for our own people. Don’t you see, Erik? We’re not the bad guys. We’ve never been the bad guys. Your monarchy was, all those years ago, for not helping us. We were allies, in the war over Rhaegil. You know that. But then, when we needed help, you wouldn’t give us any. You refused our offers. Then your rebels overthrew your nasty queen, and we took the chance. Our chance, that we were meant for.”

She was sliding closer, placing her hands in Erik’s lap. “This is our new world, Erik. It’s what we were meant for. It’s what you were meant for. All those wars, they had a reason. This is our’s. You don’t have to be a slave, Erik. You can fight for us. For yourself.” 

All Erik could see were her eyes, deep and chocolatey. They were sparkling, mesmerizing. He could feel himself start to soften, give into her pull. Her words sounded right, her eyes were tempting. 

So he stood up. “I’m sorry, Anica, but I am an Anarian. And I need to go back to work.” He walked out of the little room and back to the stables’ door. 

Joshua looked up at him. “That took a while.” 

“Shut up and keep--” Erik looked at the odd figure of wood in his hands. “Keep doing whatever the hell that is.” 

He flopped on his rug, which was basically flopping on straight concrete. He rolled over to stare at the cracked ceiling. He tried to make sense of what just happened. Her eyes--they stuck with him. He couldn’t get them out of his head. When he closed his eyes, there they were. 

“For your information, I’m carving a block of wood.” 

“Into what? It looks like a deformed log.” 

Joshua only grinned, seeming to sense his co-worker was just a little moody. 

“A person.” 

Erik looked back at the log and tried to make out a person. “I don’t see it. And where did you get that anyway?”

“When ever they re-do a wall or something, I grab as much wood as I can. They don’t seem to mind.” 

“Well, I’m sure you’d know if they did,” Erik muttered. 

Joshua stood up. “Be back in a minute, bro. And try to relax. I mean yeah, this sucks, but you can find a bright side in any situation. At least you’re with your sister.” 

Erik watched him go, then sat up. He could feel something under his rug. He lifted it to see an envelope. Inside the envelope was a note. 

 

Hi, Erik. Sorry about what happened. I want to see you again, though. Meet me tonight at one? I’ll be waiting. Also, yes, I have been stalking you, and no, it was not hard to get this here so fast.

 

Erik stared at the note in disbelief. He picked up the still-heavy envelope. Inside was a little square of something wrapped in paper. He opened a corner. Chocolate. 

He’d felt like he was starving ever since he ate the bread, and it looked like heaven. But then he heard Joshua’s footsteps and slipped it back under his rug. 

“Hey, Josh, there a clock anywhere?”

Joshua laughed. “I knew you’d ask that. Actually, there is inside the bathrooms. You must not have seen it. Why’d ya’ ask?”

Erik just shrugged. “In case I want to count the seconds until I die here or something.”

Josh shook his head. “Such a downer. You’ll get used to it, Erik. I know it sucks. But you will.” 

“You really don’t mind this, do you?” Erik’s voice was a little sharper than he intended, but he didn’t mind. 

Joshua turned to look at him. “Of course I mind it. You think I like living like this? I just don’t see the point in risking it all to get away when life here is survivable. It’s somewhat safe, you get fed. It isn’t the worst place I could be.”

“So you would just stay here for the rest of your life? Don’t you want to find love and get married? Have children? Make a life for yourself? So what if you’re risking your life? What good is it if you have to spend it here working like livestock and living off two pieces of bread a day anyway? How is it worth it? There is nothing here that is better than death!”

Joshua walked back to Erik and slammed him against the concrete. “Do you want to know why I stay here? Do you?” His voice was low and cold. “It’s because I know what happens when they catch you. I was forced to watch them do it to my brother until he died. Can you blame me if I’d rather live like this than go through that? You know nothing, Erik. You think your life has been hard? You are a spoiled rich boy compared to some of the kids here. You have your sister. You get fed. What the hell is wrong with that?” Joshua let go and Erik struggled to stay standing. 

Joshua turned around and walked away. Erik watched him go, and when he was out of sight, he let himself crumble to the floor.

“Erik?”

Erik rolled over to see Lola. She kneeled next to him. “Are you okay?”

He sat up and pulled her close. “I’m fine.”

“Are you sure? We’ve been apart for a long time, Erik. Things happen. Things that you still haven’t told me about.”

Erik looked at her big, dark, almond shaped eyes. She had their mother’s eyes. “You look like mother,” he whispered. 

Lola reached out and pushed his curls out of his eyes. “And you need a haircut.”

Erik grinned. There was the old Lola, the girl who hated mushy, emotional conversations and always changed the subject. “You’re right. I do,” he replied, smoothing her own hair. “You could use a hairbrush, too.” 

“We both could use a hairbrush. You’ll never find a wife with a head like that.”

“I already got a girlfriend,” he said. “So it must not be that bad.”

Lola’s already big eyes widened so that they looked almost un-human. “You have a girlfriend? And you didn’t tell me? Erik, that’s one of the things you tell me as soon as possible, instead of wasting time on all the sappy stuff.”

Erik lay back down on the concrete again, Lola beside him. “I found her outside of Vyseren. Name’s Emilia Kentsworth.”

“The murderer?”

“Some call her that.”

“Erik, she killed two people.”

“To survive.”

Lola thought. “Are you sure she’s not messing with your mind to make you her next victim?”

Erik gave her a playful swat. “Yes, I’m sure. How stupid do you think I am? It’s not like I fall for murderers all the time. She’d have to be pretty innocent like Emilia for me to ever, you know, love her.” 

Lola giggled. “I don’t know. As far as I know, you’ve never been in love before. Besides Sarah.”

Sarah is history. Keep her that way.”

Lola laughed again. “So, where is Emy?”

“Ona’s house, I hope.”

“Oh. So, tell me about the other one. The queen.”

“Oh. Well, she’s a badass with a sword almost as tall as she is.”

“And?”

“And that’s pretty much all she lets you know.”

“Mmm. Interesting. I wonder how she’ll die.”

Erik turned to her. “What?”

“The odds of her army taking over the Leoken one are slim, Erik. And even if she did, she’ll still die some way, and it’ll be in the history books.”

Erik studied his sister. Old Lola never would have never thought of death.

Lola caught him staring and smiled. “Your death will be in history books, too. And mine, and Emy’s. We are all history waiting to happen, Erik.”

She sat up. “I’ll see you more tomorrow, hopefully.” Erik listened to her faint footsteps as she walked away. What had happened to his sister? He shook his head and rolled over, sorting his thoughts. 

He could hear the echo of heavy footsteps against the concrete. They were louder than Joshua’s, which is why he rolled over to see who it was. 

A boy not much older than him stopped by the Stables door. Erik’s eyes drifted up from his massive chunky, black, steel tipped boots, to his clothes that you knew were expensive just from looking at him, to his halo of curls and the thin gold ring around his head. The crown. 

“So you’re the knew one. I would have come earlier, had I not had things to do with my fiance.” Riker smiled at the expression on Erik’s face. “So, Erik. Nice to meet you. I see Anica found a nice place for you. Stables. Now, I would have made the mistake of putting you in Kitchen.” Riker shook his head. “That girl, she knows what she’s doing.” Riker stepped inside, and Erik scrambled to his feet. He tried to keep his heart from pounding, but he couldn’t. He cursed himself, silently, for being intimidated by a boy not much older than him. 

“Where’s the other one? Joe, or whatever his name is?”

“Joshua,” Erik said, struggling to keep his voice firm. “And I’m not sure.”

“Mmm. Interesting. So, Erik. I’m sure your sister is glad to have you back. At least now we don’t have to listen to her crying every night anymore. I nearly got rid of her because she wouldn’t shut up. After a bit of discipline, though, she got better.”

Erik swallowed and clenched his fists. “You changed her.” His voice was a low growl. “What did you do to my sister?”

Riker was silent, a little smirk on his lips. 

“I asked you, what did you do to my sister?” Erik stepped forward so that he was inches from the young king. They were about the same height, Erik realized. Riker didn’t say a word. Erik huffed and gritted his teeth. He grabbed Riker by the collar and jerked him closer. “Tell me now or I will kill you.” Erik slammed Riker to the wall and looked into his deep, alluring eyes. 

Riker seemed unalarmed. “I’ve killed slaves for doing less than this, you know.”

“So I’ve been told.”

“And that means nothing to you?”

“Answer my question and I don’t care what the hell you do to me.”

Riker smiled. “You want to know what I did to sweet little Lola?”

He asked it in such a way Erik instantly felt sick. His grip loosened for a moment, and he swallowed, looking down. 

“It’s your fault, Erik. She’s your sister. It was your job to keep her safe. What would your mother say, if she were still alive? If she could see what you’ve let happen to her daughter?”

A surge of anger poured through his body, and Erik tightened his grip, slamming him harder. He looked back into Riker’s eyes. “Tell me.”

Riker leaned close to Erik’s ear and whispered all the things he had done to Lola. With each one, Erik felt sicker and sicker, angrier and angrier. 

When Riker was finished, Erik was no longer holding on anymore. He was kneeling by Riker, staring at the ground, trembling. He struggled to breathe. 

Riker sat to meet his gaze. “There, Erik. I answered your question. Now, what did you say? You don’t care what I do with you?”

Erik met his gaze and nodded. 

Riker pulled out his sword. “I could set up a whole executioning ceremony, but, according to Anica, you’re one of my best. I can’t kill you. But I can injure you all I want.”

Erik stood. “Then do it. I’m waiting.”

Riker cut his face, once on each side. He picked up his hand and cut nearly to the bone in between each finger, and repeated the same with the other hand. Erik kept quiet, for the most part, but his breath was heavy, he shook, and tears of pain poured down his face, mixing with the blood. Riker finished the last cut with a slash worse than the rest. Erik made a strangled cry of pain. 

“There. All done. Well, Erik, this has been fun. I hope we get to do this again sometime.” Riker walked out of the room, the echo of his steps the only noise. Erik looked down at his hands, dripping with blood. He went to the bathroom to wash it off, but every drop of blood washed off was quickly replaced. He finally wrapped a rag around both hands to help stop the bleeding, and he sat near the toilet. All the things Riker had whispered came back now, circling in his brain. He threw up, his head foggy with Riker’s words and nothing else. 

Joshua stepped in and glanced down at Erik. They locked eyes and Joshua’s widened, as if he knew what had happened. “So he finally came to meet you. I knew he wouldn’t wait long.” Joshua sat by Erik and looked at his hands. “Usually he doesn’t injure, though, unless you tick him off. So what’d you do?”

“I asked him what he did to Lola.”

“And?”

“And I slammed his against a wall.”

Joshua nodded. “That would make sense. You know, Erik, there’s something I’ve been thinking for a while and I think it’s time to say it. You seem kind of stupid.”

Erik grinned the slightest amount. “I am. Really, really stupid.”

Joshua smiled a little. “I keep waiting for you to learn, but it seems like no matter what happens to you, you just keep being stupid.”

“I know.” Erik looked at his hands. “He told me what he did to her.”

Joshua sighed. “So that’s why you threw up. Well, I can’t blame you for asking.” He shook his head. “I know you think you’re alone in this. You’re the only one who’s suffered what you have. But you’re not. Everyone here has suffered just as bad, if not worse, than you have.” Joshua stood up. “Not that it makes it any easier to deal with.” He looked down at Erik. “You okay? I mean, locked in a slave dungeon okay?”

Erik nodded. “I will be. I just need to finish hacking my guts out.”

Joshua grinned. “Yeah, that always helps.” He left the room. 

Erik threw up one more time and wiped his mouth. He told himself it would be okay. Raquelle would escape and they would kill Riker and his army and he and Lola and Emilia and Raquelle would all be safe again. He told himself this, over and over and over. And he hoped he wasn’t lying.

 


© Copyright 2019 Rachel Stone. All rights reserved.

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