A King's Mercy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
An idea I'd thrown around for a while.

The King saves a slave girl from his commander's wrath. But is there more to the story?

Submitted: July 04, 2013

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Submitted: July 04, 2013

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Author's Note: 

The currency is Jarma is gems, crowns and angels (from lowest value to highest, left to right). An angel is equivalent to about 100 dollars (AU), crowns are around 50 and gems are anything less (so anything from >50). If you have any questions then ask, ask, ask!! (That includes: 'Can you write more?' (Thanks CSR Daniels)) Thanks. Milly.

And now...presenting...

 A King's Mercy

In the distance, I saw a cage. Large, the iron strips crossing over each other to allow small square holes, it was still on the dirt road. I heard screams, ripping at my eardrums, pained and begging. Two figures were present inside. Gently, I guided Nightmare towards the scene. “My king?” Tyan protested.

I raised my hand in silence, nudging my black mare onwards — she raced off, trained in such a way. In moments we had honed on the situation, and I saw something most horrific: My own commander, surrounded by soldiers under his authority, flogging a young girl. Her cries drilled into my ears, making them ring. Anger reared inside, my eyes noticing the shackles.

Even though slavery was legal, this was utterly inhumane.

I kicked Nightmare, some soldiers recognising me and kneeling respectively. Through the bars, the girl’s bare back was striped with long slashes, weeping red, her torso lurching with every ripping strike, Marius’s muscles rippling as he brought down another blow, followed by the reply of the girl’s high-pitched scream.

“Marius,” I snarled, glaring at the sandy-haired commander.

“Why can’t you just be quiet for once, you idiots!” he snapped, oblivious to my presence, the insult sparking an engulfing fire of exasperation and rage in me. I clenched my fingers tightly on the leather reigns, all deathly quiet except for the snap of a whip and the girl’s cries, gentle sobs included in the pain. “Marius, stop at once!” My growl obviously aggravated my commander, and he let his arm drop, glaring at me, opening his mouth for a snide comment — but he wasn’t quick enough before his expression fell down to gaping shock.

I felt Tyan next to me, taking in the scene. I dismounted swiftly, proceeding into the iron prison. The commander blinked, but after I displayed my darkening irises, he quickly knelt, staring at the floor. “Majesty, please forgive me for my rudeness.”

I paid no attention to Marius, striding past him to the girl. Slave girl. She turned her head, and whimpered, her eyes widening in fear and begging.

Begging me not to harm her.

Her soft, delicate features took me aback — but only for a nanosecond. Her gentle, terrified olive eyes, button nose, full, cherry lips and bundles of mocha hair, split at the center of her skull, all set in a characteristically feminine pointed face with soft curves, seemed the only thing the whip had spared. Tears streaked down her face, and my heart filled with mercy — I could have easily abandoned her to my commander again. I snapped my fingers behind me, at Marius. “Get a cloth and a bucket of cool water.”

He decided wisely against hesitation — my patience was dangerously shallow. I slowly approached her, softening my irises to a lush green — but the colour was mostly caused by my feelings of sympathy and pity for her. Her lips trembled, gasping as she sobbed uncontrollably. I leaned over the slave, untying the ropes that held her arms bound to the cage walls. She collapsed to the iron floor, at my feet. I was so used to people down there, begging and mewling pathetically, something that slightly disgusted me.

But she, she was forced down there, too weak and abused to have the strength to stand. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Marius place a bucket close, a cloth drifting in suspension in the liquid. I knelt down, grasping the dripping piece of fabric. Closer, her atrocities were astounding — and absolutely infuriating: her fair back was covered with long scars, criss-crossing over endless times. The legal limit was twenty — but that was for a fully-grown man. And only twenty lashes. But this slave girl had received well over sixty, easily enough to kill a human.

I shot a stunning, lethal, black glare at the commander.

Wringing out most of the water back into the bucket, I then scrunched-up the cloth and gently pressed it to a fresh slash. The girl gasped in pain, whimpering as I continued down. “Tyan.”

“Yes, My Lord?” He replied, listening intently as I re-soaked, re-wringed and re-scrunched the cloth, applying it back to her abused back.

“Get me the bottle full of healing oil.”

While my captain retrieved what I had requested, I turned my attention back to the girl. “Why-why do yo-you he-help me?” she sobbed. “I am just no-nothing.”

I was angered by her words. My people are not just nothing!

She gasped again as I started on the third lash. I looked back down at her, and caught the girl staring, mesmerised. I sighed inwardly, unsurprised. Most women stared once they glimpsed my evident beauty and all the features and aspects that were desired on the masculine. She looked down, embarrassed and blushing. The effect it brought to her face made the tips of my lips curve, a ghost of a smile. Tyan quietly placed the glass bottle next the bucket and left, probably bowing. “Her name is—”

“I’m sure she can speak herself,” I cut in, snarling.

I redirected the question to her, imposing it in my eyes. “Angia,” she breathed, afraid. “Marius,” Angia said the name with such detest that I knew her experience with him has been torturous, “called you majesty. Are you a king?” Her eyes widened and she shot up, against a yelp and wince of pain, shuffling back into the corner, her mouth open, a look of horror on her face. “Are you the king?”

I pressed my lips together. “I will not harm you.”

She burst into tears. “That is a lie! You’ve already-you’ve already do-done it!”

Then and there, I wondered if I was sane the day I accepted Marius into my ranks. I reached out my arm, softening my gaze even more. She pushed harder into the corner, squirming away from my reach. “No! Don’t touch me!” She sobbed, chest heaving, and I noticed her bareness. “Where is this girl’s shirt?”

There was an uncomfortable silence. I glared at each of my soldiers, one finally rising: Maneus. His wife, I remembered with ease, was both a talented musician and cook. “My king — ” Angia, the slave girl, hissed at his up speaking “ — the girl does not own one.” 

I raised an eyebrow, disbelieving. Sighing, I unhooked my dark green silken cape and draped it over her, knowing of their shock — it was an honour for a knight or soldier to cover one with their cape, and they were astounded, angered and perhaps jealous that I — their king — would do such a thing to a slave — two statuses on either end of the spectrum. She shuffled the collar up so that it hid her breasts, tears still streaming. Angia looked down at an angle, mouthing, Thank you.

And was that Your Majesty at the end?

“You will need to turn around so that I can rub the healing oil into your wounds,” I told her, Angia wincing as if remembering the slashes made them sting again.

She shook her head, whimpering like a frightened puppy.

I knew her fear, adding more persuasion: “It will sooth the injuries.” After a moment’s hesitation, she finally relented to my wishes, exposing her tortured back. After a few more dabs to clean up the strikes, I poured a small pool of the clear oil —which also contained disinfectant — into a cupped hand and rubbed them together, before gently massaging it into any other newly scabbed and scarred injuries, avoiding the fresh cuts. She winced, flinching and crying out. Never in my life had I been so kind, compassionate and generous to a complete stranger, not even to my niece Amaria.

Angia — Angel, I mused, the name rolling off my mental tongue approvingly — moaned quietly, a response to my professional hands. Again, this brought a ghost of a smile to my pale sculpted lips. Satisfied, I then poured a small amount onto the cloth, letting it soak in, mix with the water—the oil was actually more like aloe vera than anything else. Gently, and carefully, I pressed the oil-infused, cool cloth into her cuts. She gasped, tears flowing, before the slave girl relaxed, the oil already working it’s magic. Turning back to the bottle, Tyan had used initiative: three bandages. Taking one, I leaned back down to Angia ear, fighting a foreign urge to display a specific affection to the so named.

So this is why I care for her, I thought. Attraction. The idea of me being attracted to such a girl was absurd, laughable, and yet, here I was.  

“I’m going to wrap your back with some bandages, but you’ll need to sit up,” my lips whispered.

She nodded, and I slowly snaked my arm underneath her stomach to help her to sitting — but even there, I felt the bumps of healed skin. Rage burned once more, the scars representing abominable mistreatment. Suddenly, something like electricity charged between us, as I stared into her eyes, Angia’s gaze over her shoulder. She blushed, but broke the moment by glancing down in shame and embarrassment. Finally, with careful hands, I wrapped the cloth around her stomach and torso, using the second roll of cotton to support and cover her breasts. Angia smiled up at me, more than grateful. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”

I then turned the case of Marius.

He waited obediently outside of the wheeled cage, eyes cast down, knowing of my angered gaze settling on him. I jumped off, my booted feet hitting the gravel. “On your knees.”

He sank, my words injecting fear and submission into him — as was intended.

Mmm…a public humiliation would do nicely, I mused, smirking sardonically inwardly, giving Marius a scowl frozen enough to set the world into another ice age. “Tell me, Commander, the Army’s main principle in discipline and punishment.”

In a monotone, he answered, “‘No punishment without a crime.’”

“Then tell me, what was this young girl’s crime?”

“She had been stealing and slandering your name, Majesty.”

I looked back to the girl’s body, seeing her malnutrition and could guess what and why.  I released an exasperated sigh. “Firstly, Commander,” I snarled, getting the satisfaction of his wince, “Get over your patriotic love and secondly, if you fed and cared for her like you should, perhaps she wouldn’t see the need to steal!”

“Apologies, My Lord.”

I pinched the bridge of my nose, my lids squeezing shut, displaying clear my irritation and short-fuse patience. “How. Many. Times,” I muttered darkly, “Will I have to pardon you?”

Silence as Marius chose his next words carefully and with excessive consideration. “From what?”

My eyes flickered open, a black inferno cremating him alive, searing Marius hot. “From doing something drastic—like ordering your execution.”

He sucked in a nervous breath, but one of my clear laws about slavery was that all slaves were to be treated with respect and care, and only punished for anything that broke the law or as discipline — of course Marius would try to bend the latter. “You have broken many laws, Marius, most of which conclude the punishment for breaking them as death or the Boiler Room. My tolerance for your mistakes is rapidly diminishing.” I turned to Angia, her expression quickly dropping a smirk as she noticed my line of sight. My hand was offered to her, now finished with Marius. “Come.”

Surprise splashed in the slave’s facial features. She rose shakily, still holding my cape close, and stumbled towards the entrance. Soldiers snickered, lucky of my feelings towards the girl, the only thing making me lenient. Gingerly, she lowered herself down onto the edge and slipped off, her feet touching the ground. Angia sighed, liquid brimming at her eyes’ waterline. She stared at the ground, and I understood: Her yearning, her deepest desire for freedom had finally been granted. The girl’s delicate hand was placed in mine, a gesture some might call too intimate and forward — presumptuous—but it was, in its most desperate form, an acceptance:

Of her release and freedom, of my offered manumission.

I realised that, if I wished, I could take this girl away with two different intentions: Give in to my eventual lechery or find somewhere safe for her.

Or perhaps…

Angia stepped forward, wincing as her foot met a sharp rock. “Where are you taking me?”

To my palace. Perhaps my bed. I evil-eyed the last suggestion, rejecting the lustful idea. I turned back to Marius, his expression a puzzled frown. “The punishment for your crime is a flogging and a week in the Boiler Room. Maybe then you’ll know of empathy.”

He looked down, ashamed. I raised my eyebrow, knowing of Angia’s cloaked smirk. “Is there something you’d like to say, Commander?”

He looked uncomfortable. “No, My Lord.”

“Good.” My reply was terse and curt, impatient. I clicked my fingers, summoning Nightmare. She trotted forward, her slick, black coat shining and glossing in the sunlight. I pulled the slave girl into my arms, boosting her up onto Nightmare, before swinging up myself. Many soldiers stared—even had the audacity to glare—as they realised that I was freeing this girl, and taking her away. My mare shifted her weight, unused to the extra load. “Return to Jamarnia—it seems that I may have to pull you all in line,” I commanded firmly, seeing the obedience in their eyes, looking to my commander, “And as for you, Marius, you will receive your punishment immediately when you return to the capital.” I shot a cold glare at him, daring him defiance. “Do not disappoint me.”

Angia struggled to keep her balance on Nightmare, and seeing no other choice, I wrapped an arm around her torso, holding her to my breast-plated chest.

How was it that in only a few minutes I was treating this pretty girl with such intimacy?

“Come, Captain.”

I snapped the reins, Nightmare bulleting, bound for my palace.

~

The ambassador’s insisting and beseeching was somewhat irritating. He had come from many of the outer villages and towns with warnings of famine, discontentedness, revolt and—unsurprisingly—more rebels. I raised the gemmed chalice to my lips, staring intently down at the small man, his unruly dress somewhat revolting me—but it was forgiven.

For now.

Ahh, the tabooed king’s wine, I mused, my tongue revelling in the liquid’s divine taste, leaning back into my marble throne.

“My great king,” the ambassador began, his voice wobbling, a smirk playing on my lips from both his nervousness and the flattery—a hope to gain my favour, “I beg of you: The Outskirts are suffering. Why do you not support your people?”

I waited for him to continue, but my tolerance and patience was usually an ‘on-off’ situation. Today, it seemed the ambassador got lucky.  

Seeing my expectance, he continued, “Some villages are scheming of revolution, and your attacks—the burning of our crops, the plundering of where we live—makes them ever more determined. Our children are dying! My own wife was raped, then taken slave!” He pleaded with me, but I knew he was either playing martyr or my soldiers had seriously disobeyed orders.

But, like naughty children, defiance had to be handled correctly, and discipline enforced. I would reward the rebelling people when they obeyed humbly, and punish them when they did otherwise. Call it tyranny, perhaps even authoritarian, but until my people learned to yield to my commands, I would continue to give them strict grace.

“Why are you here?”

He cast his eyes down, ashamed. If only all of my people were as submissive and obedient as this man, I thought. “Please, look on us favourably, My Lord. We can hardly survive. Shouldn’t a king care for his people? All of them?”

And now he questions me, my thoughts mused, raising an eyebrow. “I give my good favour to those who I deem fit and deserve it.”

“And we are not deserving?” His tone was sorrow and mourning.

Taking another slow sip, barely a teaspoon’s equivalent, I set the gold chalice on the marble armrest. Inside, I detected my soft heart sneaking through, carrying with it sympathy and pity. I slammed a stonewall of diamond in it’s path. “Ambassador, I strongly suggest that upon your return, you tell your people of my words: I will stop the attacks when they stop revolting. Then I will see if you deserve my good grace.”

He nodded once, pleading into my eyes. “Could you at least show them that you care—at all? A small gift, something to make them see your concern.”

No, doing that would only confuse my point. And concern? I cared much for my people, my subjects who so loyally served me to the best of their abilities. My steel, cold eyes bored into his. “I cannot.”

The ambassador cast his smoky eyes down, but I knew desperation when I saw it. He dropped to his knees, head inclined. “Please,” he implored, “My Lord, anything. Come to the villages and towns; show your love for your people. They feel as if their screams and begs are falling on deaf, ignorant ears—we are desperate, sire.”

I shut my eyes, resting the flats of my loosely clenched fingers on my sculpted, pale lips, thinking…considering.

Then unexpectedly, a small, nervous voice: “Your-Your Ma-Majesty,” Angia squeaked, totally interrupting my line of thought.

I opened my eyes, to see her hiding behind a marble—should that be the theme for my Throne Room?—column, her head peering around, fearful and nervous of my reaction to her intruding. “Not now, servant.”

Her lips wobbled, facing a dilemma. “But it is urgent,” she insisted.

Not you too, Angia.

I rose, waving my hand, dismissing the man. “I will consider your proposal. And if your desperation is as drastic as your describe, then take fifty angels.”

His jaw gave into gravity, shocked. The ambassador grinned widely, overjoyed. “Oh, thank you Majesty!”

I gave him a stern look. “For your village and those surrounding.”

Yes, I thought, even a parent feeds their punished, naughty children.

He nodded, rising, and bowed, backing away and out. I turned my attention to my servant. “Angia, in the future, please do not disturb me.”

She nodded. “Of course, Master, but your niece, one called Maximus and Tyan wish to speak with you.”

I raised an amused brow. They do now? I hooked my finger at her, and she shuffled towards me, inclining her head respectfully. Using that same finger, I pushed her chin up on the flat side of my strong, slim digit. My servant met my gaze, her eyes slowly panning upwards. Angia’s intent staring should’ve ensnared repugnance and anger in me at her insolence — but instead I was flattered by her attraction to me, her cheeks tinting a gentle rose, her full, supple lips — something I’d be pleasured to perhaps kiss — curving to form a slight smile, delighted by my attention. “Are your cuts healing properly?”

Angia nodded. “Of course, my King. Thank you.”

“Good.” Suddenly, her body language changed — a deep wanting, something troublesome on her mind. “Is there something on your mind, Angia?”

Wrapping her lips behind her teeth, she bit down on them, anxious. “Yes, My Lord. I—my necklace…” she sighed solemnly.

Necklace? I raised mental brows.

My thumb ghosted over her chin — yes, it seemed I was flirting. “My necklace — we left it behind. It was my mother’s last gift to me, before…” Angia took in a shaky breath.  “Before your soldiers killed her.”

Oh. 

My mind flashed back to all the conquerings - by far, Simeona had been both the easiest overpower and hardest to subdue. Their previous ruler had taken no precautions in defending his reasonably large kingdom, yet rebellion was instantaneous after his head rolled from the chopping block.

"Tell me."

Her eyes filled with the prospect, the memory obviously upsetting; haunting. She shoot her head slowly, aware and afraid of my reaction. "Please, Master. Do not make me."

The stonewall I had previously placed smashed, kindness for my lovely servant sweeping in, rebuking any thought of forcing my will upon her - and I undoubtedly could, if I really wished.

My hand dropped, turning once more authoritative, my gaze steely. "Where?"

Her relief was obvious that I had abandoned the subject - for now - yet it took Angia a few seconds to understand.

"I do not know," she mumbled nervously, adding, "But is it for me to know?"

The corners of my lips slightly tipped up, her thoughtful tone provoking the comical idea of my servant being wise.

But in Jarma, apparently, all things were possible. 

"Very well." The dismissal was clear, my developed fighting instinct informing me of her hurried curtsy. 

I set off, down the dark corridor. Another met with me. 

Cavalier - it seemed the codename was an inside joke; many of my spies teased him about his love for the dog. He leaned in, his breath on my ear. "The East Wing, Majesty."

I knew exactly where - another council meeting, of course, where I would have to discuss tedious, precarious and frustrating, yet pressing, matters. Recently, the topic had been of the rebellion, but being a somewhat miser, I despised the wastage of my weath on unnecessary causes.  

I nodded, turning into another corridor, more entryways on both sides. "Anything more?"

He seemed to consider my question, carefully. "Yes, my King." A hesitant pause - how come everyone was wary of my mecurial reactions? "Your servant girl is bathing...in your bathroom."

I froze. WHAT?

Cavalier pressed his lips together. "Apologies to be bringer of upsetting news."

"Tell my niece that I will be late," I scowled, angered by my servant's insolence - this time, no affection could save her. She dare do such a thing? I growled, changing my course towards my Quarters.

She would be punished - especially since her bathing naked would taunt my lust for her. 

~

Caught in flagrante?, I scolded, folding my arms across my palladium breastplate.

There Angia was, her back to me, nearly all but submerged, skin bare in all it's attractive glory, candlelight flicking off her glistened body beautifully - watching her bathe like this felt like voyerism or peeping Tom. 

Desire pooled in me, but I brushed it away. I refused to abuse my power for my own, selfish advantage. 

She was murmuring something quietly - a moment later and I realised it to be a lullaby. Angia's hand guided one of my scented soaps across her arms, before down the naked torso, down her -

I cut off the thought. 

My jaw set with once more anger, the mood swing sudden. "Get up," I snarled. 

Angia became instantly rigid with fear, recognizing my hard, calm tone, the soap plopping into the warm bathwater. Her head turned slowly, terrifyed - proving she knew that this was disobedience. Olive eyes met my midnight green, eyes wide. Her lip trembled. "M-M-M-Ma-Master."

My gaze dared to drift lower, before I forced it back up.

"For-forgive me..."

Anger bubbled quietly as I thought of a way to deal with this - so difficult to do correctly, the choices so narrow; but that was such the nature of punishement. "Do not make me repeat myself, slave," I told her, my eyes boring into Angia's.

She winced at the word - though released from the cage, her rights and freedom were limited. My servant carefully stepped out of the in-ground tub, water dripping off her somewhat voluptuous figure, her long, liquid-darkened brunette hair sticking to her back. Eyes to the floor, I watched her, waiting for any change in her body language. 

"Were you aware how insolent this is?"

"Yes..." she whimpered quietly.

My eyes narrowed, more Master-caused terror trembling across her skin. "And you could not wait three more hours until your own assigned bathing time?"

"It seemed not."

More anger at her smart-aleck answer. 

"I mean to say," she stuttered hastily, recoiling instantly when her eyes levelled mine, seeing the disbelief and outrage, "I needed it. I was cleaning and the bath looked so tantilizing...I couldn't really stop. Please don't be angry with me Master."

"Even so, you will be punished."

"I understand...sire."

"Firstly, since you are so clean, you are to prepare my own dinner, and because of your disrespect, you will sleep in the stables until I decide otherwise."

Surprise then indignance flashed across her features. I turned to leave, closing the subject. 

It would be interesting to see how she would make my meal. 

~

It was, in a way, amusing to think of what my pretty servant would prepare for me:

Revenge or submission. 

I sighed, running a hand through my dark-as-fear black hair, feeling the strands make way for my invading fingers. Just like all those who'd yielded to me eventually. 

I leaned back against the plush, expensive chair, studying my palatial - literally - study, floor-to-ceiling bookshelvesrising high, lining the way between the huge oaken doors and my opulent rosewood desk, a large, patterned, decorative rug underneath my feet.  

But I knew the quiet tranquility wouldn't last. 'Duty calls', they say. 

I scoffed, the corners of my mouth tiping with the next thought. More like the other way around. As if on cue, the doors opened, and I dropped my expectant gaze on the door, tired of petitions.

Their footsteps were ghostly quiet; a quick glance up proved my suspicions.My spy smoothly glided over the wood, reaching me in seconds. His breath tickled my ear. 

"Master, you servant, Angia, has prepared your dinner - she wishes to know of your location."

I nodded, satisfied. "Guide her to my private dining area. Ensure her attire is...appropriate."

Jaxon grinned. "One finally caught your eye, sire?"

I sighed. "Perhaps. Be sure that my indignant servant doesn't do anything stupid."

He chuckled lowly. "As you wish, Master." Jaxon backed out, the doors closing shut.

Sighing at the tiring documents piled on my desk, I set down the quill, soon following him out. 

~

My private dining area was serene, set under the stars (but covered, when needed, of course) and surrounded by flowers and trimmed hedge, Slate Cliffs in the distance. I could see a branch of the Turmoil River at its base - in early spring, a waterfall would begin to tumble down.

Once more, I was blessed with the taste of my own wine - sweet grape, with hints of apple, pear and the tang of lime. A gentle breeze brought the scent of jasmine to my nose


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