I watch her as we row quietly in the night, the sound of the water lapping against the dingy being the only noise to fill the dead silence. Her face is covered, save for her eyes; and even in the black of the night, I can see them staring straight into mine. Her hands lye perfectly in her lap, also covered by the black fabric that shields her. Despite her current state of captivity, she sits tall and proud, unwavering in the face of her worst nightmare.
As her piercing eyes stare into me, I only feel regret, remorse, and helplessness. I know there is nothing I can do. She masks her pain with anger, continuously staring in order to force me to look at her, knowing she feels as though I am abandoning her. But even in my power, there is nothing I can do. Because love sacrifices.
We land on the shore. I quickly jump out of the dingy and offer her my hand. She stands, gracefully. I know she doesn't want to, I know she will feel weak, but she grabs my hand anyway and hops out of the boat. Her grip stays strong, even after she's safe on land. She doesn't look at me though. Instead, she slightly turns around, stealing one last glance of the ship that brought her to this forsaken land, saying goodbye to her only way off of it. I feel a small squeeze as she looks at the very ship named after her.
She quickly lets go of my hand, knowing if she hung on any longer she would give us away to the attendant assigned to row us here. As soon as we make our way from the dock, we are met by a group of guards who order she and I into our designated, extravagant carriage.
Her slim body never wavers. Her chin never falls. Her shoulders never cower. And my heart never stops longing for her. Without a word, she compliantly makes her way into the cell of a coach. I follow behind, sitting in the seat across from her. The attendant from our country stays outside to wait for when I return. Alone.
In the small space of the carriage, her face is close to mine. I reach my hand to her face, gently caressing it in the cloak of darkness in the night. I mouth the words, "I love you," although I don't know if she saw them. However, in the tear that glistens as it slides down the side of her velvet face, I feel as if she did.
The bumpy ride ceases and we come to a halt. Her eyes widen in fear as we hear the guard coming to open the door. My heart drops in my stomach, hating every passing second, and the ones to come. I see her close them, only for a moment. When she opens them again, all fear is gone and replaced with solitude and determination.
We are surrounded by twelve guards that form a perfect square around us as we walk. I glance to her momentarily, searching for any sign of her uneasiness. She never quavers. She remains as stoic, as tall, and as beautiful as any creation has the ability to be.
We come to a stop outside the tall french doors that lead into what I assume to be the king's chambers. We align ourselves, preparing to enter. In one last second before the doors open, she glances at me. I try to hide my own emotion and pain as well as she does. Only I know I can't.
The doors open and we are met with the scent of a thousand flowers and perfumes. A man greets us at the door and proclaims our arrival.
"Your majesty," he begins, "I give you, Princess Zafirah, Princess of Achaemenid."
She bows lightly, her eyes staring into the floor.
The king rises from his seat in the room and makes his way over to Zafirah. He walks in a circle around her, studying her body, clad in black. He gestures one for one of the maids. She runs over and takes the black cloak off of the princess, revealing her beaded, colorful outfit. The tight, revealing ensemble left little to imagine as poor Zafirah stood in the midst of men, being sized like a fresh kill after the hunt. I feel my rage spark as he analyzes her, determining whether or not she will make for suitable entertainment for him. It takes all of my strength to not slip a sword out of the guards hands and put an end to all of them, finally freeing Zafirah from her binds.
"She will do," the king declares. "The payment is fair. Gentlemen," he strokes the side of Zafirah's face with his hand, looking at her as her piercing eyes shoot daggers into his arrogant smile, "go now, and prepare the feast to welcome my newest wife."
"Sit," he commands her. My beautiful princess walks to where he gestured and sits down, on the extravagant pillow.
The king looks to me, meeting my malicious glare.
"Go now, we don't need you anymore. And tell you king he has bequeathed the proper gift," he waves me and the other guards out of the room.
Zafirah looks to me, her full expression of sadness, fear, betrayal, and pain no longer hidden. Her dark brown eyes plead for me to save her. They beg for me to resist and fight for her. But it's a fight I know will only end in me getting killed and her having to watch. It will only cause the two of us death or slavery for her. Slavery that results in far worse than her being a forced wife of the king. I can die, but only for her freedom, not a lost cause that will only result in her harm. Fighting would only reveal our love and force her to be beaten and tortured for the rest of her days, something that I can't die knowing. I would rather leave her in the hands of certain safety and sadness than public humiliation and torture. I can't. And I hope she reads why in my eyes.
In my last few moments, I take her image in, desperate to hold on to it for the rest of my life. I gaze upon her captivating dark eyes, shimmering olive skin, perfect red lips, or long black hair, memorizing every curve, every edge, every trait, every centimeter of her.
I quickly bow to the king, and leave the room before I am made to look at her any longer. My heart is filled with anger and sadness as I take one last look at the room where she will be held. Forced to give her pure, perfect, beautiful, untouched self to an arrogant king all for the sake of an alliance with her country. All for the sake of saving mens lives and preventing a war, she will be a mere toy used for only pleasurable company. She is only seventeen.
The king has no idea what he holds in her. He doesn't love her. He doesn't know her. He only knows what he sees, not what I know. There is no portion of his soul, kingdom, or country that could love anything to the capacity that I love her.
As I am lead out of the castle, I pray for the day I see her again, be it in this life, or another. But one day, one day I will avenge her sacrifice. One day, I will lay eyes on her again.
I must come back for her. I will come back for her. I will break her free. And we will be together always. Me, and my Princess Zafirah.