Hello~ So I decided to post a story I wrote a few months ago. It was supposed to be secret...but then I decided that was gonna be no fun -_-...My dream is to publish this as a book one day~ Thank you for supporting me! :) Please Review! Critiques are greatly greatly appreciated!
When I wake up, the room is still dark. Beneath the aroma of the dusty books around me and a royal feast coming from the kitchen, the smell fear and anxiety is pungent. Chains rustle as I lift myself up from the icy concrete floor and look out the barred window above my head. Little figures bustle out and about hastily on the neat cobblestone courtyards as if trying to escape the chill of early autumn.
How tiny the royal court seems from up here, like little spiders caught in their own web. I wonder why they are trying so hard to seem relaxed, as if anyone is actually fooled by that. But of course they would be afraid. Today, the King comes home.
A couple of small sparrows swoop up and down lazily, almost mockingly. The King probably has reason to put his slaves in tall towers. A daily reminder of what is so close, yet so far away.
"Lilith, y-your morning meal," a voice says shakily. A shaft opens slowly on the door and white light floods through. The servant is pale as he slides a plate into the opening, his eyes slant down; scared that he might catch a glimpse of me. The shaft closes almost immediately and the light disappears like a flash. Every morning, the servant slave who brings it looks as if today might be his last day. It's not like he makes the disgusting food I have to eat, so what reason do I have to hurt him?
Fear does bizarre things to living beings. Sometimes it is just a slight prick that barely slides past your skin, not worth the second thought. But other times, it is like the thick rope the King uses for execution. It wraps around your heart, pulling this way and that way until you forget where is up and where is down. Fear squeezes out the most important essences of what makes us human. It makes us turn against the people we love; it makes us turn against ourselves.
Once, a court official was charged with treason because he slept with one of the King's mistresses. He was sentenced to die in my hands. I never got the chance to see him because the very next day, he hung himself.
Fear, I realized, was selfish.
I sniff the bowl of cold broth the servant brought me. A single dark rose petal floats amidst the white paste, letting out a sickening aroma. What a cruel joke. The king was coming home indeed. If I calculated correct, today's the Royals Festival. Twelve royal families from the twelve kingdoms are to be invited, food is to be eaten, and a few prisoners are to be killed. What a bother this festival is, a whole day to have to endure King Draven's lies for yet another year. Especially, since I know they are only lies. To them I am the Lilith; patron of darkness, King Draven's captive slave.
I settle back against the wall, letting the bit of sunlight warm me before the dawn comes. I close my eyes connecting with the tangible darkness so when I face the King, I will be ready.
I do not remember the last time I dreamt. Even in my sleep I am trapped, falling forever in unfathomable darkness. It tries to swallow me, get inside of me, and it grows and grows every single day, trying so hard, to take the warmth of my heart. It tries to rob me of the guilt I feel, tries to make me a monster like everyone claims me to be. Maybe fate has given up on me for all the people I have killed, not even allowing me to escape into a nightmare.
But if "Fate" was a person, he would already be dead, and I would already be free.
I open my eyes to see the crown prince of Capricorn, Prince Liam, standing in the open doorway. "It is time." He says flatly, tossing a black cloak in my direction. Cool air stroked my ankle where chains used to be. I nod, pull on the cloak, and follow him out the door. It is customary for the first born prince to escort the Lilith; because rumor has it that only persons with royal Capricorn blood can conquer me in a battle. Our steps echo down the stairways and through the dark corridor. The night is surprisingly calm.
Laughter stirs in the night as the King's prized musicians play a cheery little tune and acrobats showcase their stunts before the royal throne. The room is bright with gold and people robed with riches and jewels flutter about everywhere. My senses are tuned in on full alert, the product of years of lessons and training. The sharp and soft edges of the room, the smooth ground beneath my bare feet, and the smell of expensive wine wafts closely with rose water, all come tumbling into me all at once. It is rather exciting, compared with the bleak grey walls and silence I am used to.
Prince Liam walks into the room with his proud stance and alluring features, the very picture of noble birth. Loud conversations turn into quiet chatter between swooning and squealing as distant princesses imagine him as their possible match. I can almost feel their eyes lock on him, and their hearts skipping a beat.
As I appear, a masked, cloaked figure slipping in behind him, a hush sweeps across the giant room. The music ceases, the acrobats slink away, and nobody dared to say another word. I could hear a pin drop somewhere far outside the castle gates just now.
The flood of people pushes back, forming a pathway right to the grinning face of King Draven himself. It was many months since he came back to his kingdom, but he was still the same as I first saw him, gray eyes still unreadable, and his gaze still unbreakable. Reptilian scars run down the side of his face, a permanent mark concealing his past. The King nods to his son then comes face to face with me. All of a sudden, the grand room with tall ceilings and wide spaces seems to close in on me.
"It is a pleasure to see you again, little Lilith." He breathes. The familiar sickly sweet scent of rose water on him, mixed with wine, reminds me of something rotten. I keep my gaze fixed down like slaves were supposed to. The Capricorn seal is embedded in his robe with grand gold embroidery, the eye of the sacred mountain goat gleams with a drop of grey garnet.
Somehow – something will not let me submit to reticence under his gaze. I stop breathing, and meet his eyes steadily. "My Lord," I say with the merest hint of bitterness. It is frustrating, to only be capable of saying such words to the man that stole my life. His mouth forms a lopsided smirk and with a grand sweep of his hand, the main event of the night began.
I have heard the story a million times now. How I, the legendary thief, the brutal murderer, the monster, the devil's spawn, became a captive slave to the king of Capricorn. I slaughtered a whole village full of people when I was only nine years old. When I was eleven, I murdered Scorpion's King and his new born prince. This is the story everyone knows. This is the story told on dark nights in every home, a chilly tale parents use to scare their children. I am everyone's worst nightmare.
Those stories are not true, although I do not remember what is. Lilith is not even my real name. All I know is that I am a slave. I am an isolated slave, one that the King picked out himself. Memories flood back to those early days with the sickly smell of sickening rose water all around me and lies and more lies were fed into my head day after day. The truth hid itself, and I started living a lie that I could not prove wrong.
For years, I would try and remember my past. Even a mere image of my mother's face would satisfy, yet nothing.
That is what scares me when I wake up in the dark each morning, the thought that I may be losing myself completely.
I follow Prince Liam across the room eyes staring straight to the grand doors on the other side. The room is still quiet, and I do not even need to look to know their gaze, full of terror, is on me. I wonder what would happen if I turn and look straight into the eyes of a foreign king. How amusing would that be? It would surely wipe that smirk off King Draven's face. Instead I just quietly tread along, unable to act, feeling undeserving fear bind me once again.
The arena looks as it always is, with towering rows surrounding sandy ground. The sky is open above me, not yet completely dark. I tip back my head, inhaling slowly the open air, watching the left over light still lingering softly upon the dominating night sky.
Just last night, four soldiers made it into King Draven's ranks by lasting more than three minutes in this arena with me without falling down. Twenty six men failed, and were sent home. I remember Captain Edwin shaking his head joking, "Can you not go easy on them just a tad bit, Lilith? We are running out of soldiers." The arena is so familiar to me by now, it seems like it is a stage I was made to fit into. But If I could jump over the castle walls and into the open sky to find out where the moon goes when the sun comes out, there would be no hesitation.
"Get ready." Prince Liam says. His green eyes flicker for a second with something I could not decipher. Then he leaves to take his place.
The stands start filling up, their golden gowns and silver attire catching light from the flaming torches around the arena. Of the five thrones meant for King Draven, his Queen Cyrilla and his three sons, only four are filled.
The King has a wine goblet in his hand like any other day with a face like Janus, cryptic yet unwavering. His Queen sits beside him, spine straight and stiff as an iron bar. Then there is Prince Liam and his brother Prince Lyle looking as a prince should. The fifth chair is empty as a grave, just like every year.
Small talk amongst the servants allude that the youngest prince probably wasn't talented enough to gain his father's attention. Not smart enough to govern a kingdom, not skilled enough to fight, and not charming enough to gain favor among royal allies. I envy him.
The drums begin to beat and the first prisoner is brought out. I examine him. He is covered in filth, but he is still a rather large man with a glare of a temperamental black bear. He is easily twice my size, and he knows it too. If any prisoner happens to kill me, then by a decree of the king, the person is set free. And that is exactly what he is planning to do.
I stand unmoving at the center of the arena, watching the man come closer and closer, determination burning bright in his eyes. Perhaps he has a wife, kids, family. Perhaps he made a mistake and wants a new start. It feels as if a giant hand is slowly squeezing my heart.
When my eyes come almost eye to eye with his stomach, he snickers. An autumn breeze flutters the edges of my cloak.
"I'm gonna kill you." The man stares down at me, so sure, so certain about his future freedom. I take in a breath of air. Everything around me is so clear. I can see every twitch and tension in his body, every shadow that the torches draw out. It is not hard to predict his every movement. His shadow covers me, and he lunges. I step aside so all he catches in his arms is air. Ah, perhaps…He looks up and our eyes meet just as I took his head in my hands. With one swift movement, one snap, the fire vanishes from his eyes.
I hate these moments the most. More than the whippings I get, the beatings, the insults, and the emptiness. It is a deed that cannot be undone. But I of all people should know freedom does not come easy.
The crowd is silent, not yet processing what they just witnessed. Did he die already? I could hear them start murmuring. The disapproval is showing clearly on the King's face. He is like a wild dog, thirsting to bathe and feed himself with others' blood. But I am not like he, and never shall be if I can help it.
Through the crowd, I spot the Queen of Scorpio watching me with eyes slightly narrowed. Her mind is most likely dwelling on the moment when she found her husband and son lying cold on the floor, and finding out that I was the one who killed them. But I do not recall doing so. I do not understand why she would believe such a story. A girl of just eleven years has no reason to strike dead a compassionate king.
As three more prisoners lie cold on the ground with the first one, the crowd stares in disbelief. I have not moved from my position at the center of the circle since we began. All died with a broken neck. Most of them were murderers, or former well trained soldiers that committed major crimes. The King is desperate to put on an exciting show every year, to plant little seeds of reverence and fear in the hearts of those he secretly fear himself. But no, I am tired of being afraid. I do not want one drop of blood tonight.
The next prisoner is a rather peculiar figure. I cannot see his face or any distinct characteristic due to the hood and mask he is wearing, similar to mine. The guards were just about to shout out at him before he disappears, right before my eyes. I duck as a boot barely misses the top of my head. I almost fail to react quickly enough. Turning to face him, I jam my fist into his jaw. Before my other fist could make contact, he blocked with his hand, twists, and pins my arm to my back.
I am surprised. I am impressed. Not even the King's royal soldiers can react so fast, and pin me so tight. I crush my heel onto his foot and elbow him right in the gut as he loosens his grip for just one second. That second is enough for me to free my arm. I flip backwards, distancing us.
A second passes by in silence, and I realize his breath isn't even quickening. The masked man's movements are controlled and precise as he comes barreling forward, ducks and kicks his left leg in a sweeping motion. But not fast enough. I drop down also and stop it abruptly in my hands. I wait a moment until this sinks in for him, and then I push off his leg with my arms. My whole body straightens in the air before making an arch with my back and landing right on top of him, pinning him to the dusty earth.
Suddenly, he reaches up and pulls down my mask.
Thank you for reading~ I really appreciate it!(: