A string of whispers runs through the elaborately tiled hallway.

"Did you hear? The Rakk took Evanka last night!"

"Salime is with child."

"Fatima's become a Favourite, can you believe it?"

On and on the gossip spreads, each rumour more outrageous than the last. Then the sound of a whip cracking silences the caged birds.

"Girls," the head eunuch, Abbas, calls. "Girls, you must silence yourselves!"

"I'm not a girl anymore!" someone calls, probably Evanka, she has a habit of speaking without thinking.

Abbas whips her lightly, a slight slash that makes her cry out.

"Silence now," he says. "The Mother is trying to sleep, would you wake her?"

All the girls hush at that.

The Mother is the lucky woman that the Rakk chooses to preside over the women of his harem.

She is like a queen among us, the flowers and favourites of a man who most of us believe to be mad.

Some of us he sits and looks at for hours, never touching, just observing. Some of them he talks to and takes an interest in. And some of us he just wants for our bodies, the pleasure we can give him.

And then there are the Favourites.

He chooses them ever so carefully. They are the ones he regularly visits. No one knows what he does with them, only that they are treated like the Rakka herself. Whenever a Favourite dies or gets too old, usually every fortnight, the Rakk chooses a new one. Every girl lives in anticipation or fear of becoming a Favourite.

I have never been noticed, one of the only. Evanka he uses for pleasure, as with Salime, and Fatima he's just interested in.

I am overlooked time after time.

I do not wish to be looked at, but everything in a caged bird's life depends on its master, and when all the other birds sing about him night and day it's impossible not to hope.

The Mother has taken to me, though. She thinks I'm funny, and she loves hearing me sing. She is who I spend days with now. I used to take care of the little birds, and now I take care of the eldest.

It's a boring life, if you could even call it life.

I usually sit and look out at the water, at all the free people, and wish I was one of them. I used to be. Most girls here are captured from villages, and I am no exception.

I sit and wait for the day to end, while other girls look so forward to the night beginning.

Why, though? It must hurt, why else would there be blood?

These are questions I will likely never know the answers to.

Though there is one thing I take an interest in, one thing that makes life bearable, and that's the door.

The door itself isn't much, but it's always locked. I hear voices behind it, sometimes.

All that I desire here is to know what is behind that door.

If it is a way out of the cage, I will do anything.

A/N: Please review!