~`~`~`~`~` ( Author Notes) `~`~`~`~`~
After a 3 year unintended hiatus, here is Chapter 10 of Bound. So sorry for the long absence but I won't waste the words on why I was gone. If you want a more detailed explanation check my profile. All that matters is that I'm back and actively writing again. Thanks for keeping the interest alive, enjoy!
Thanks for all the Reviews!
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WARNING: There will be violence and mild forms of torture, don't like violence then don't read or skip that section.
Note: Story is in Harley's POV unless stated otherwise in chapters.
"Blah blah" – Normal speech
"Blah blah" – Thought of character
(Blah blah) – Author comments
Hilmesh leads me and Dagnor into the grand hall in silence until he pauses in the center. Turning to look at me with indifference in his eyes, he speaks. "You are to wait here while I and the other human report to Lord Slaiden these sudden events. The guard will be watching, so do not try to wander off. I will retrieve you when Lord Slaiden wishes it."
I glance over at a fairly large demon a ways away dressed in armor and nod in understanding. Satisfied with my silent answer, Hilmesh walks to the lift with a stoic Dagnor in tow, no doubt nervous about what is about to be said. As they start to rise on the lift, I feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach start to take form. The weight of the situation finally starts to dawn on me. "The look on Hilmesh's face doesn't look good. If this truly is as serious as he says I'm not sure what to expect from Slaiden. How mad will he be? I don't know much of their politics but surely they could understand the premise of self-defense right? Right?...Psh, who am I kidding? They are demons. Self-defense doesn't exist here. All they see is some other leader's people were killed on Slaiden's land. Slaiden may overlook this because I got involved but what about this Lady Pernia? For all I know, she might want to kill me or at least torture me…..shit, this sucks…Ugh, get a grip girl. You did this for Janner, he needed help…."
As I ponder to myself about the red-headed demon boy, I catch sight of two demon children flying behind an adult across the hall. I follow them with my eyes as they fly out of the hall towards the main entrance. They each have toothy grins but even from a distance I can see confidence in their movements. Even at a young age, they appear to be ready to prove themselves as the demons they truly are. It causes a shiver to run down my spine as I remember the interactions I've had with Janner so far.
My brows knit together in as my thoughts become even more troubled. "Did I really help a child in danger when he's already killed other humans?...I don't regret my choice to help him, but Dagnor is right, I can't let myself get too comfortable around him. One day he will be just like his parents. Feinara may say she has respect for me, but she is still a demon just like Slaiden….They see my ways as odd while I see their's the same way. My heart tells me I did right but my brain is telling me to wake up. These last few days have distracted me from reality. I'm not in Kansas anymore, Toto. I'm in the world of demons…and now…I think I'm truly scared of what's coming….."
I take a shaky breath. My thoughts feel like a massive tidal wave crashing against me. As I recover from the cold, frigid blow of reality, Hilmesh suddenly flies through one of the corridor openings in my direction. The hard look on his face is enough to intensify the feeling in my stomach. I find myself swallowing a deep gulp in my throat as he lands in front of me. I meet his golden eyes.
"Follow me, girl." The demon says sharply turns toward the tile lifts.
I just follow him silently, not sure if I should ask what is happening or just keep my mouth shut. I consider asking at least where he is taking me as we rise up toward the higher levels when Hilmesh answers.
"I am taking you to the court room where my lord and his other advisors are waiting. They have been briefed about what took place with you and my son. You previously stated the claim of responsibility therefore any consequences of these actions will be placed on you, pardoning my son despite his foolish decision to interact with Lady Pernia's demons," Hilmesh says as we step on to the third floor.
"Court room? Advisors? I'm going to be put on trial?" I gasp out, eyes widening in surprise.
Hilmesh shakes his head slightly as he keeps his eyes forward as we turn a corner. "No, not a trial, a sentencing of punishment. A trial would mean any words you have in defense would actually be considered in deciding an appropriate outcome between the Master and his advisors. The facts of the altercation have been laid out with the result of four dead demons by my own claw." At that last sentence, Himlesh looks back at me in the corner of his eye. His voice then takes a lower tone. "The only reason my mate and I are being overlooked despite being the ones to kill those lowly demons is because we indirectly protected our Lord's property."
I flinch at that last part, an intentional dig at my current unfortunate status. I look at the floor, already having lost track of where we were in this labyrinth of a castle. I stumble to find words but my demonic escort continues as he runs a clawed hand though his grey-blue hair.
"Know this, human. I do not feel one ounce of pity for what is about to happen to you nor gratitude for being spared the wrath of my Lord's claws. I would honorably give up my life if he wished it. You are being punished based on political principles, a completely different matter than a master simply disciplining an unruly slave."
''Ouch, he is all about bringing me down a few notches," I think with pursed lips, not appreciating his digs. Not one to stay silent for long, I speak up with a challenging tone. "As much as I want to keep refuting that slave-slash-property label, the more pressing issue I'm having is why anyone needs to be punished at all. Those other demons struck first by picking on Janner. Why does anyone need to own up to protecting themselves or others? You already got retaliation. Very nicely done, might I add." I comment, ending on an ever so slight sarcastic note.
"True" Hilmesh replies as we stop at a large double door, "but as I was saying, politics changes the dynamic even if it was brought on by the stupidity of foreign demons. Normally it is acceptable to claim an eye for an eye but when faced with a choice, even demons will choose alliance over excessive violence when it may be beneficial in the future, Harley Collins."
My eyes slightly narrow quizzically after that last statement, but before I can ask more, Hilmesh turns to face the double doors. As if on cue, it opens before us to reveal a large room walled with large stone columns and a raised ceiling, reminding me of the Great Hall of Hogwarts. Staring up into the rafters, I notice several rows of raised benches wrapping around the adjacent three walls. I frown at that, not liking how the raised height gives the person on trial the feeling of being watched by other demons as if they were cackling crows eyeing a lowly insect. Thankful that they are empty, I turn my attention to the opposite end of the room where I find Slaiden sitting high behind a tall granite podium. There are two male demons on either side of him at a slightly lower level. I recognize them as the group I met when I first arrived here. I recognize the one on Slaiden's right as Kes.
I feel a soft nudge on my shoulder as Hilmesh whispers for me to stand in the center of the room which is marked by a mosaic orb of light held in a dragon's claw. I step onto it with my head held high, meeting Slaiden's piercing stare.
"Harley Collins," Slaiden speaks in a stern voice. "Are you aware of why this formal sentencing is taking place?"
"Yes bu-" I start only to be cut off by raised clawed hand.
"A simply 'Yes' or 'No' will suffice when answering further questions," The demon lord replies as his golden eyes meet mine. While his face is void of any emotion, his cat like eyes flicker slightly as my face forms a slight scowl.
"You are claiming responsibility for the event that occurred, willing to take any punishment given in the stead of the three demons involved in the death of four demons belonging to the lands of Lady Pernia. Is this correct?" Slaiden inquires, but it is a question we all obviously know the answer to.
"Yes," I reply with glaring eyes.
"You understand that this punishment is necessary to satisfy all parties involved, even those unable to be present, so that no more violence is to occur between two ruling lands which may upset the current political understanding between the two," he states further, mirroring what Hilmesh spoke of just a moment ago.
"Yes" I confirm, feeling my nervousness grow as he draws closer to the point.
"The punishment about to be given is based on these following aspects. You, a human, involved yourself unnecessarily in a dispute between demons. There were five demons at conflict, one belonging to these lands and four belonging to Lady Pernia's lands, residing to the southwest. The demon Hilmesh, holding the station of thrice advisor, and his mate came to the aid of their kin, in turn aiding you, holding the status as property of these land's lord, myself, Lord Slaiden. Your status pardons you from death by any hand but my own as well as pardoning the other demons involved. Therefore," Slaiden continues, his calculating eyes never leaving mine, "to show consideration of the lives lost by Lady Pernia, whilst enforcing that any personal property of mine is to not be touched by another, you will be subjected to public physical punishment performed in the presence of my four advisors with the exception of Hilmesh who will be receiving minor punishment for attacking without my official orders."
"P-p-public pu-punishment?" I stutter out, the shock evident in my voice.
"Yes, to show the lesson was given out fairly, it will be performed by yours truly," Slaiden confirms with a slight smirk appearing on his lips, shifting from his pervious formal speech pattern.
"Oh my god, on my god, I don't like the sound of this one bit. Am I going to be whipped or something?" I think as images of Dagnor's back come to mind. I take a small step back as I struggle to keep Slaiden's gaze. My brave façade is quickly slipping.
Appreciating the fear radiating off of me, Slaiden's smirk widens as he rises. Suddenly he leaps up over his podium to stand about a foot in front of me. "Shall I share the details of what your punishment will entail?"
I swallow hard, unable to form an audible answer. It takes all my willpower to not attempt an escape.
Slaiden gives a small, dark laugh as he begins to circle me. An unwelcomed sense of familiarity runs through me as he does. "You see, my dear." His rich voice reaches my ears as he leaves my sight. "It was a bit of a challenge deciding on what would be a most fitting form of pain for you, one to leave a lasting impression. This will to intervene of yours will not be tolerated in my world. It was welcomed in the human one when it concerned myself, but I cannot allow you to be involved in matters that you have little understanding of. Especially if it puts you in danger when away from me. That is…unless you would prefer to always be at my side, every moment of the day. To that, I have no objections."
A fanged smirk greets me at that last part, his eyes ablaze in amusement as he teases me. I narrow my eyes at him, racking my brain for a good retort. Slaiden speaks again though, preferring to answer for me. "No, I do not believe we are there yet, pet." He continues to circle me, eyeing me up and down with his predatory eyes. "All in due time of course. You still need to learn your place here and what I have in mind has been tailored for you specifically."
Stopping in front of me, the tall dark haired demon stares down at my small frame. "While that fighting spirit of yours is ever so enticing, I cannot have my prize fighting back as I try to teach your lesson. And while lovely devices such as whips and chains are appropriate when reprimanding lesser beings, you Harley, need a more personal form of beating that resonates perfectly with that fighting nature. Which is why I decided that my own fists will be my weapon of choice and your arms will be restrained, immobilizing your body as every strike comes. Unable to fight back, you will be forced to face the reality of how much you truly are at my mercy...Hilmesh. You are to wait outside to be dealt with after. Send two guards in to assist me."
My fight or flight instincts kick in as those words sink in. Even though I willingly claimed responsibility earlier, the thought of succumbing to Slaiden's torture again is enough to instill fear in me. My brain is screaming for me to run or fight but I known neither is an option. I know he wants a reaction out of me so I don't give him one. I choke down the fear, expressing cold confidence instead.
"Do your worst," I spit out, "I don't regret getting involved in that fight or any of the others. It was the right thing to do and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Every single one."
Slaiden closes the distance between us, grasping my chin in a tight hold. He lowers his head to my left year and whispers: "Good to know that I would always come out the victor then, little girl."
My eyes narrow at his taunt, giving a low inhuman growl out in annoyance. A whisper of the word 'asshole' is barely audible under my breath but I know he heard me crystal clear.
Suddenly I'm thrown slightly backward, nearly stumbling over my own feet. My body connects with a solid mass behind me as Slaiden straightens. Make that two solid masses. My arms are grabbed by two pairs of large, clawed hands and my feet start to leave the ground as I am forced slightly upward. I am now staring level with the hollow of Slaiden's throat by two unknown demons. They force my upper torso straight by extending my arms straight at a slightly upward angle. Unable to bend my elbows, the uncomfortable position has my captured arms supporting my whole body weight. Suspended a foot off the ground, I try to lift my legs up as high as possible. I attempt to kick out but I can't get the leverage or momentum to extend my legs all the way. I keep trying, the arching of a certain demon's eyebrow in amusement is all the motivation I need. As all eyes in the room watch me struggle, my attempts begin to weaken. My breathing grows heavier with each try. Finally, I feel my muscles give out from exhaustion. As my legs fall one last time, realization hits me like a ton of bricks.
"That jerk! He's letting me tire myself out so I can't fight back! Damn him! Damn you, Slaiden, you fucking demon! Errr, he pisses me off so much!" my mind screams as I glare furiously at the demon in question.
"Finished?" he asks sarcastically. "Always fighting even though you know it is futile. Do you not ever tire of it?"
Slaiden steps closer to me, a fang poking through his devilish smirk. His piercing golden eyes trap my chocolate ones in a heated gaze. "No, I suppose you do not." He says in a quieter tone as his face inches closer. He stops just before our noses touch. "After all, how else would you expel all that fury? There are only so many outlets to put that passion towards. Although, I can think of a few other more productive methods."
My cheeks slightly heat up at what he's alluding to. It only fuels my anger more. I try one last time to kick at him, but I instantly freeze at the sight of his claws curling into a fist at his side.
"But I do believe the phrase is 'pain before pleasure', correct?" A quick fist meets my gut as that last word rolls off of Slaiden's venomous tongue.
I gasp when the wind is knocked out of me. I take in short, gasping breathes to recover from the shock. I don't even get the chance to lift my head as Slaiden delivers another punch. It hits my solar plexus. I groan at the pain between hoarse breaths. I blink my eyes a few times in an attempt to gain my bearings. I catch movement in the corner of my eye and instinctively shut them to brace my face for impact.
Only it never comes.
Instead, my chin is yanked up once more to gaze into Slaiden's sharp, slit pupils. "No worries, my dear. I would hate to damage that pretty face of yours." he says in a bitter, sarcastic tone. He reinforces this statement by punching me on the left side of my ribs.
I groan once more in pain, doing my best to fight off tears. I want to appear strong. As another groan escapes my lips I tell myself that I can get through this just like I did before. While Slaiden is controlling the amount of force used, I have no doubt that my ribs are bruised. I cough a few times as I try to find my voice.
"H-how *cough* g-gentlemanly of you," I force out.
I'm met with chilling laughter from my demonic attacker. It's a quiet sound, but it seems to bounce around the immense room as if there were ten of Slaiden. It's unnerving to hear. As it penetrates my ears, I realize no one else is uttering a single sound. They are all just watching intently. I lift my head ever so slightly to look at the demons behind Slaiden. They are still sitting in the same place as before. While nothing is said, I can see by their eyes that they are entertained and satisfied by my beating taking place before them. It makes me wonder about the magnitude of control Slaiden has on the other demons here. I'm relieved for their silence because the sound of Slaiden's laughter is enough to humiliate me in this horrendous situation. It eats at my will power enough that I can't continue to take this as if it doesn't bother me.
"Aahhh….err, y-yeah. Laugh it u-up. Bet you enjoy this excuse to beat me, don't you demon boy," I spit out venomously.
"Excuse? Harley, I do not need an excuse…..to beat you." Slaiden growls back, pausing to land a punch at my right kidney. "If I wish to beat you until you are an inch from death, then it shall be done. Anger me enough, and we will see if it needs to come to that. Disrespect is another issue that as you are already well aware, I have no patience for." He then punches me in the gut once more before continuing. "Although, I am taking pleasure in this situation, do not confuse this solely as an action of my own will and desire. This is a public punishment for you to learn to choose your battles more carefully in this world. While you humans seem to continuously fail at this, you need to understand that your actions can have dire consequences when involved with demons. After all, that is what got you here in the first place, little girl. Or is another foolish human by the name of Jeff to blame?"
I try to lunge at the smirking demon lord when I hear those words. Those are still fresh wounds on my heart, and it infuriates me how he continues to twist everything I say and do to put me down. Of course I can barely move so my attempt looks more like a friendly breeze than a raging storm to be reckoned with.
Unhindered, Slaiden hits me in the solar plexus with more force than before. "Did I strike a nerve? I was under the impression that we are to learn from our pasts to improve upon our future. Is that not the ideal human thing to do? But then again, there is a difference between ideal and actuality. Care to prove me wrong? Then commit this lesson to memory."
Slaiden punches my stomach again, followed by another and another. I can't keep myself from crying out in pain as he throws a barrage of punches. He leaves no room for me to talk even if I could muster up some words. I'm wheezing in pain as he finally steps back from what feels like ages of torture. It takes all my might to raise my head back up and look him in the eye. My vision is slightly blurred but I do my best to focus on him. We stare at each other for a few moments. The only sound in the vast room is my own labored breathing.
Slaiden breaks eye contact by examining my form as I'm held helplessly in the air. A clear sense of satisfaction is present in his glowing eyes. It disgusts me. I cough a few times which brings his attention back to my face. I roughly clear my throat to say one last thing on my mind.
"W-we both… *cough*…know I'm too proud and stubborn to learn the way you want me to. You will never break me," I state in a harsh whisper.
Slaiden arches a fine eyebrow at this, intrigued by my statement. "I believe the goal of this punishment has been met. You are all dismissed," he says in a commanding tone directed at the others. The advisors rise and suddenly I find myself falling to the ground.
I yelp in pain as I fall on my bruised side. I instinctively curl into a ball, clutching my middle in pain as I hear shuffling feet pass by me. After a minute, my eyes slowly open as I realize I'm now alone with the demon I hate the most. I catch movement in front of me and turn my head for a better angle. I glare as Slaiden crouches down, balancing on the balls of his feet. He reaches out to move some hair out of my face which makes me shiver.
"There now, all over. Feel grateful. As humiliating as this was for you to be rendered helpless, it does not compare to what I could do to you for a more personal approach. If I was punishing you for my own purposes, amusement even, it would be in a form that I am certain would shake your very core," he says is a low, cold voice.
The hungry look in his eyes is enough to know what he is thinking of. It brings back horrible memories of me in the dark woods, covered in dirt as Slaiden felt the need to teach me another, similar lesson. It was painful and we both know it never took. But that was then, when I was in my own world. This is not the same and it frightens me to know that right now I can't escape him if he wants to revisit that cold night. He has no reason to leave me alone now. Like he said, I am at his mercy, but I just can't let him win. Even though it looks like he already has, to me, it's not over yet. I may be beaten, but I'm not broken yet. It takes all the remaining energy I have left just to raise my torso to support myself on my forearm. Shoving away the painful memories, I voice this once more in a barely audible whisper. "I won't submit. You won't break me."
Yet again, Slaiden surprises me with the unexpected reaction of chilling laughter. He grips my chin roughly with clawed hands and pulls me closer so my face is mere inches from his. His hot breath fans my faces as he speaks. "That is where you are wrong, my dear. There is a difference between breaking you and forcing you to submit to me. To break you would tear you down until you are a lifeless shell of your former self. Unfeeling and unresponsive as you do as you're told. Some may like their humans that way but what would be the fun of having you if all you are is a doll? If that is what I wanted, I would have killed you long ago out of boredom. Whereas submission, that is a whole other matter entirely. To submit is to give yourself entirely to my will. You see, I have plans for you, Harley, and they can only be fully realized when you finally submit. Think it over while you can. My patience will only last so long before I feel the need to speed things along. Understand?"
My eyes are wide when Slaiden dips lower for a fierce kiss. I'm still in shock at this words that I don't even respond but it's over just as quickly as it came. He flashes a fang at me as he pulls away. Slaiden then hoists me up into his arms and starts moving towards the podium. I flinch as his firm grip locks me to his chest. I feel it rumble as he speaks. "You may rest now. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow. I expect you to be ready for departure no later than dawn."
I just nod as Slaiden walks around the podium where I notice a smaller door against the wall. It must be a shortcut to his room. I stay silent as he opens it. I don't wish to speak with him anymore. Especially if we are heading to his bedroom. He walks through a narrow passage that is dimly lit by small torches. The lack of light makes my eyes feel heavy. I close them as my aching body starts to relax. I can't fight the urge to sleep much longer. As I feel myself losing consciousness, Slaiden's words echo in my head which places a troubled frown on my lips.
"I have plans for you, Harley…."
~`~`~`~`~` ( Author Notes ) `~`~`~`~`~
I really went all out in this chapter. I felt I had to take it to the next level. A good return, don't you think? Next chapter will kick of the next major plot point and a lot more demons will be introduced. Look for the next chapter mid April or earlier.
Please Review! :)