Fade to White
As Jerek surveyed the smokey tendrils rising from the blackened burning rubble, his steel gray horse skittered and snorted, shying away from the smoldering fires. Satisfied, he dug his heels into the horse's flanks and galloped to another area of the former town. Although the streets were abandoned, the white walls of the houses here still stood untouched by the flames of his army, creating an eerie and unnerving silence. A breeze gently brushed by, carrying the sound of a baby crying. Setting his jaw, Jerek tightened his grip on the reigns, pulling his horse around in pursuit of the noise. Crouched in the narrow space between two of the buildings, a teenage girl desperately put her fingers over the baby's mouth in an attempt to hush it, as a couple of small frightened children huddled against her.
His feet hit the ground heavily when he dismounted, and stepping closer to the group Jerek pulled out his sword from the sheath. Looking up with liquid blue eyes that were filled to the brim with fear, the teenage girl moved her mouth in silent pleas while the baby continued to scream uninhibited in her arms; the children were clinging to her and trying to hide behind the fabric of her dress.
"Please . . . " she whispered, salty tears coursing down her cheeks. "Please . . . " she repeated as Jerek slowly raised his sword. "Don't hurt us!" She shrieked when Jerek swung his weapon toward the huddling group, the sudden movement and noise causing the children to scream and the baby to wail louder.
Slowly the teenager opened her eyes, one at a time, and looked terrified at the bright shining blade held less than an inch away from her neck. "Will you do as I say?" Jerek asked in an icy voice.
"Please, just let us go," the girl sobbed. "I'll do whatever you ask, just let us go!"
"The children can go, but you're coming with me." The girl protested but Jerek ignored her, putting his sword back into the sheath, then waiting patiently as the girl limply handed the baby to the oldest child, embraced each of them in turn, then sobbing stepped forward. Jerek hauled her by the arm and lifted her up onto the horse, mounting behind her. Kicking the horse's flanks and yanking on the reigns, Jerek clattered off in the direction of his army as the girl strained to see behind him, watching as the children disappeared from view.
"Are you going to . . . use me?" the girl asked in a timid voice after a moment.
It took a second for Jerek to realize what the girl meant. "Oh heck no!" he burst out, almost seeming to gag. "I want nothing to do with women in any way!" After a pause he added, "I don't use men either."
"Then what do you want me for?"
"I'm giving you as a gift to the Commander and King. Now shut up."
"Jerek!" Nosaj exclaimed as he stood up from his gaudy golden throne, with purple velvet jacket and slacks draping over his arms and legs, and a baggy white shirt open in the front to reveal his yellowish chest covered in black coarse hair. "I see you have returned safely."
"I brought you back something from the raid," Jerek said, moving into the center of the large empty throne room, yanking the teenage girl in front of him as he walked. She tried to shrink back away from Nosaj, but Jerek pushed her forward again.
Grinning, Nosaj advanced and put his hand under the girl's chin, fondling her face with his thumb. "How was squashing the terrorists?"
"All right," Jerek answered, sounding bored. "I killed everyone, just like you asked."
"Excellent!" Nosaj muttered gleefully, pulling his fingers through the girl's hair and raising the strands to his nose to sniff as he slowly moved around her.
"That girl was the only survivor, I found her after the initial attack was over."
"You are soft Jerek, you should have killed her." Nosaj chuckled. "But I'm glad you didn't. Next time, however, I want you to try to live up to my title. I don't want to hand it down to someone who is unworthy."
"Don't worry about it," Jerek grumbled. "I won't do anything like this ever again."
"I wonder how good is she at kissing?" Nosaj suddenly asked. Quivering, the teenage girl backed away but Nosaj grabbed her and clamped his lips onto hers, forcing his tongue into her mouth.
With a disgusted look on his face, Jerek turned to go but stopped with his hand resting on the large mahogany door.
"Commander," He said, his voice echoing against the wood. "I'll escort the girl to the harem now."
"Mmm yes," Nosaj answered, breaking away from the girl who had tears running down her face, and he licked his lips. "Get this girl freshened up for tonight."
Jerek pushed his way out of the room, barely checking to see if the girl was behind him. Stepping out into the wide dim corridor, he turned to walk deeper into the castle. Following after him were the girl's muffled sobs, bouncing off the walls and ceiling to fill the area with their sound. After a minute, Jerek became irritated and in an accusing tone spoke, "You chose this, you know."
"I know." The girl choked, then began weeping louder.
"My suggestion to you," Jerek said as he stopped to throw open the large double doors of the harem room, "is to get very drunk." Placing his hands on the back of the girl's shoulders, he pushed her into the room and walked away, leaving the girl standing alone framed by the doorway and staring into a large cushioned room filled with women.
Jerek winced as he heard the overly-enthusiastic voice bounding down the corridor, wishing that he could be left alone at that moment.
"Returning from gallivanting with the women, I see." A man a little younger than Jerek came prancing down the hall with a large teasing grin on his face, his tight black pants squeaking and clinging to his legs as he walked. Over his torso he wore a form-fitting black tank top with a large scooping neckline that was supposed to emphasize curves the man didn't possess.
"Ramo," Jerek greeted him frostily, focusing on the man's face. His black hair covering half of his face and his dark brown eyes lined with makeup were sadly the most normal aspects of Ramo. "You know I hate women." Rolling his eyes, Jerek continued down the hall.
"Yes, I know." Ramo smirked and giggled.
"I'm not like you either," Jerek spat out, sounding more venomous than he had intended.
Ramo's expression slipped a little before he pasted it back on. "Did you just come back from the raid? If you'd like, I can accompany you as you give your report to the Commander."
"I already gave it," Jerek said before turning around and walking away, ignoring Ramo as he called after him.
Closing the door, Jerek entered his bedroom chamber and paced around. The room was empty, except for the bed in the corner covered by a simple clean white sheet, and a wardrobe pushed against the wall. Jerek walked to the window near his bed and looked out into the bright afternoon sun at the forest that surrounded the back of Nosaj's castle, a restless feeling swelling up inside him. Looking at the trees, an idea half formed in his mind and he took hold of it. Leaving the window, Jerek walked out of the room and let the door slam shut behind him with a bang.