Ah...I finally updated. Special thanks to Katsurou Shimizu for the extra push ;)
Everyone else? Please don't kill me . I know I'm a bad procrastinator...
It is surprising; the amount of books one can copy in just a few years. I scan the stack of new books and blank paper in front of me. The library never seems to run out of history documents, war techniques, and poetry for me to scribble out again and again.
They must be afraid of me planning attacks or treachery of that sort if I had idle time to think. How foolish. Do they not know that despite my lost identity, I can still read? Perhaps I should be grateful, for without those books I would have lost my mind a long time ago.
I reach for the highest one, a red amongst a hundred shades of black and dark brown. It is as small as my hand with my fingers fanned out. I skim through the cream colored pages filled with tiny scribbled out handwriting. The writing was written by a different hand, not of the usual scribe's clear-cut block letters.
All of a sudden, I flip to a page stained with a large ugly gash of scarlet. Of course it occurred to me for a second that they were just a berry stains a miniscule little accident on the new scribe's part. Oh but who am I fooling. Of course. Of course it's blood. I've seen enough of it to recognize it.
The last sentence on the page was not finished, and all the pages after are blank. I flip back to the first page and squint to decipher the words. They do not make sense. No matter how I look at it, it has to be coded.
A sudden loud noise from the courtyard below startles me and I stuff the small notebook into my boot. The gate to the palace had opened, and two long lines people march in slowly. There is yelling, crying, and dragging of chains echoing painfully around the castle walls. One line seems to contain only children.
Captain Edwin's words from last night strike me.
You arrived with a whole lot of children.
Surely, I arrived at King Draven's court in exactly this fashion. They are newly bought slaves, so it seems. I read in a history record once that the King took up the slave trade about seven years ago, when his father, the previous king died of sickness. Only less than half of the twelve countries still insist on not taking part in the selling, and enslaving their own people.
Their fear; swells up like a storm, not knowing where their future lies. The soldiers line them up side by side, and start to separate them by categories. Closing my eyes, I try to concentrate on that similar day four years ago. Why Can't I remember?
My memories are clouded by a fog too thick and solid to penetrate.
The loud screech of my cell door being opened brings me back. I look up to see two palace guards standing at the entrance, their expressions cold like stone.
"His majesty the King requested an audience with you."
I frown, what does he want with me? Did I not already do what he asked of me?
I stand, allowing them to remove my chains and lead me to King Draven's main court. I run my fingers lightly across the stone walls as I watch the sunlight brightly shining above me, making the white limestone and cold décor of the palace walls gleam stunningly bright. The courtyard is still flourishing despite the coming of winter, and little animals stride about confidently in and out unnoticed. It's almost comical, how beautiful my prison looks.
The guards escort me into the throne room and stopping on either side of me, they kneel respectively to the King, "We have brought her as you requested your majesty." they report simultaneously.
I briefly wonder why they even need to inform him. The King can see perfectly well, and I'm clearly visible. I make no move to bow.
The king beckons me forward, a gesture that sends a tremor through my body. King Draven observes me for a moment, taking a sip from his delicate gold wine goblet. Then ever so slowly, he smiles a smile that doesn't reach his eyes but full of murderous intent. Such a smile is to be acknowledged and feared, such a smile I've seen before.
"Your first few kills last night were a disappointment." he finally says, "Are you so readily bored, my little beast?"
And they wonder why King Draven has so many enemies.
I look up into his deep grey eyes and mirror his cold smile, "I am not your little beast."
His smile fades just slightly at my words, but then it just comes right back more smug than ever. "And I thought you were finally becoming obedient," he laughs.
I watch as he calmly takes another sip, then swirls his drink hypnotically. "I have an offer for you, my pet." He says, eyes lingering on his cup.
When I don't respond, he gets up from his throne and walks forward.
"An offer, dear," he repeats himself. "I am giving you a generous offer for you to live like royalty for a while."
I stare at him emotionlessly, not knowing where this is going.
"King Azardad has invited his allies for a feast two days from now," he continues, "And you shall come along with me."
I watch him skeptically. How is he planning to sneak the Lilith into the Sagittarius palace? It's like boldly proclaiming an assassination attempt.
"You won't go as the Lilth -" He says as if he read my thoughts. The man pauses and switches his attention to the taller guard, "Pray tell. What are your thoughts?"
The guard nervously clears his throat, "Uh…he shall go as a fabricated prince?"
The guard drops his gaze.
"Since you have not proved to be intellectually beneficial, why don't you go and fetch me Prince Lyle instead." He says, sending him away with a small wave. The soldier retreats quietly.
The King swiftly pulls out a sword and points the tip at the base of my neck. The muscles in my body tense up but I don't move. "Not a prince," he slices the blade downwards, cutting the strings that ties my cloak together and let it fall to the ground. Then he brings the tip to my face and promptly slices my mask, leaving a small cut trickling blood down my cheek. My dark hair tumbles down loosely over my shoulders.
The guard's dumbfounded gaze is irritatingly palpable beside me.
The king reaches over and wipes away the thin stream of blood slowly with his thumb and I shiver. What shameless mockery. I resist the urge reach out and break it off his hand.
"Who am I killing?" I keep my voice steady.
"Oho, such impatience." He laughs teasingly, "But wouldn't you rather be surprised? It would be much more exciting."
He narrows his eyes and watches me disapprovingly, like one would watch a disobedient child. Instead of holding his gaze, I turn my gaze to the far wall, as if my name would somehow be etched into the stone telling me who I'm really supposed to be.
There is nothing there, but I keep looking.
I turn to see him smirk. The King of Capricorn points his silver blade at the guard beside me and plunges.
A strangled scream leaps out of me as the man slumps to the ground, eyes still wide open.
King Draven looks unperturbed as he bends down and gathers my cloak in his hands. He spreads the dark fabric carefully over the dead man's body, as if paying his respects.
My eyes flash up to the king's and fury envelopes me. I feel it; I feel an urge ringing in my fingertips. I could do it, I can kill this corrupted king right here and now.
But what then? A small voice whispers in my head. I would not be able to escape this castle undiscovered, and I would be no more alive than he.
The double doors creaks open, and Prince Lyle emerges from the sunshine.
"Good morning." He greets with a shallow bow and an lazy smile. His golden hair catches the light, showing no resemblance to the King besides the obvious air of arrogance.
My fingers clenches into a trembling fist. The prince's calm eyes rest on me; and he has no idea that I was one breath away from killing his father, one breath away from causing at least two deaths and many more.
Never have I seen anyone so relaxed around King Draven, especially with a dead body sprawling on the ground. What is wrong with him? Secretly, I send my admiration to this fool's courage.
"Son," the King reflects the same easy smile back to him as if he were born with it. "As I had discussed with you earlier, this is Uncle Rowland's daughter." He puts a heavy hand on my shoulder and I stiffen.
Prince Lyle's eyes glint mischievously as he scans over my unruly appearance, "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
I cannot say I feel the same way, so I don't.
His fair green eyes settle on the dark figure lying on the floor, "Is that the Lilith?"
"No worries, he is merely unconscious," King Draven lies, his eyes gleaming.
"She is unschooled as a lady and doesn't know how to conduct herself properly," the King says, "Your uncle Rowland has sent her to us in hopes that we can make her a presentable princess." I marvel at how easy he is able to lie.
I meet the Lyle's eyes steadily, and there we stayed until he suddenly breaks into an amused smile, "Would you like me to be your escort then?"
"You say that as though I have a choice." I say brusquely.
"It is generous of you to offer," King Draven grins knowingly, discarding my words completely.
"Come then, my lady." Prince Lyle offers his arm to me, "I will show you to your room." After realizing I have no intention of taking it, he let it fall to his side again. I step away from the king and towards Prince Lyle, wondering just how far he is willing to let me go without chains to bind me.
"I hear you are well acquainted with my Captain and his family," King Draven's rough voice stops me, and I turn into his cold and calculating eyes. "His youngest, Malcolm, is such a sweet child – isn't he?"
He pauses and smiles, "I hope he will grow up to be a fine young man."
A shiver runs down my back like millions of tiny fingers trailing lightly down my skin. And this is where King Draven is clever; he knows exactly what happens in his court and the words to use to make that his advantage. I have never even met Malcolm, and yet, he knows even better than I how much this would disturb me.
I almost laugh at my own foolishness. King Draven has found a way to bind me, even without chains.
"He will." I say.
His smile becomes ever so smug, "Have a pleasant stay, dear."
I want to kill this man. Though, the thought of wanting to kill someone feels like a deep betrayal. This bloodlust, this hatred; I am disgusted at myself, yet I cannot control it.
I force myself to relax my fist and turn to the still clueless prince. "Please lead the way, cousin."
A flock of crows scatter into the sky as we push open the doors leading out into the courtyard, as if foreboding the atrocity I will later commit. Their dark bodies flash in the sunlight, revealing oily black feathers. They say that crows are the harbingers of misfortune and death. I can't help wondering if they had come for the guard, or if they had come for me.
I frown, "What?"
"You are wearing trousers, my lady." Prince Lyle laughs, as if it were the most ridiculous sight he had ever seen.
"What of it?"
He raises an eyebrow, "Scandalous."
"Why is it that you can wear trousers then?" I snap at him.
"Because I am a man, and you are a woman," He says frankly, like a child.
"I do not see how that is a relevant argument."
"Women are meant to be beautiful, and beauty gives people strength!" the prince exclaims dramatically. I observe the grand doors and brilliant colors as he goes into detail on the art of womanhood. He drones on about the graceful manner in which women are to walk, and how the delicate nature of a timid smile can capture a man's very soul.
"The gentleness of a lady harmonizes perfectly with a man's iron will," he says, his voice echoes down the corridor.
I think of my training sessions; fighting seven or eight fully armored men and walking away without a scratch. Perfect harmony, indeed.
"I suppose I am not a lady then," I mutter.
"Nonsense!" Prince Lyle brightens, "I shall order you some dresses and make you especially beautiful for dinner tonight."
I cringe inwardly at his eagerness, as if beauty and gentleness can ever be achieved by me, as if wearing a dress will solve all of my problems. He doesn't know - he cannot possibly know that his father is setting me up to commit murder.
The young man's stature, though still arrogant, is a quite a bit more relaxed than his older brother Liam. Here are tiny bronze hoops in his ear, and two thin rings on his hand. The neck of his shirt is open, as if he would rather bother with the appearance of a boisterous cousin than his own.
He catches me watching him. "Do you find me handsome, my lady?" the prince smirks.
"As handsome as you are humble, my lord."
He laughs at this, as if surprised that such words can ever come from my mouth.
"I must say, you are quite fascinating," he grins at me, "It is certainly a shame to have to tame this wild doe into a gentle deer."
"Do you find me easily tamable?" I ask incredulously.
Lyle's eyes gleam devilishly in the shadows, "Do not doubt my abilities, princess."
I scowl, letting him know exactly what I think of him and his abilities.
The gallant arches and elegant hollows of the castle loom above us, warping the sunlight into scattered pieces of light and shadow. They flash elegantly; a simple diversion from the plethora of blood covered lies and corruption within these walls.
A different servant girl walks by every few minutes, and Prince Lyle's eyes follow shortly. They share something between them; a coy smile, a glance, an exchange of silence that I do not understand.
It seems as though every person in this castle has a secret agenda. And I'm no different, I smile to myself.
We stop at large double doors guarded by two stiff soldiers. "This is the bedchamber my father has provided for you," Lyle nods towards the door.
"And the guards?" I ask.
"For your own protection, my lady." He replies, though I know it is not true.
"My room is right next door if you need the company," he says with a wink, his voice fills with laughter. "I shall be back to help you tidy up in a few." He retreats to his own bedchamber, leaving me in front of mine.
I stand there for a moment, staring at the dark wooden doors for quite some time. King Draven is playing a dangerous game, using me as his pawn. But I shall play his game, and soon, his pawn shall rise up and become the opponent.
I push open the double doors. The chamber is red; the walls, the window, the luxurious bed in the center of room. Sunlight is flooding in, making everything as bright as blood.
Slowly, I smile.