Kara was brought before the emperor by two of the elite Red Garrison guards. Two of the six that had survived Aden’s vengeance. The only two who had refused to touch her during her…punishment. Two of the remain four stood at attention just inside the door to the throne room, bruised and battered but functional. The remaining two were still in the infirmary, one paralyzed with a broken back, the other on life support in critical condition, one arm ripped from his body along with a vital piece of male anatomy. It was still unsure if he would survive the next few hours.
The two who held Kara between them gently lay her on the floor before the Emperor then quickly backed away. While they hadn’t been involved in the rape, they had heard the message from the young sorcerer loud and clear. Anyone who touched the emperor’s witch with intent to harm would answer to him. Where they were loyal to their emperor and feared his wrath if they did not obey his orders, at the moment Lord Sahen’s rage was far more crucial to avoid. What he had done to the other nineteen guards…. One of the remaining shuddered at the thought of the carnage, of the screams. No, they would not touch the witch unless absolutely necessary and then with great care.
As per Caius’s orders, the healer had attempted to only heal those wounds that would have left her unable to perform her duties. But with Kara fighting her every step of the way, it meant Kara was still in a great deal of pain and barely alive. Even now the healer stood to one side, ready to render aid if Kara’s heart started to fail. The gods only knew what the emperor, or Lord Sahen, would do to her if the girl died.
“I see you have learned your place once again,” Caius cooed, bringing everyone’s attention to him.
Kara could hear the pleasure in Caius’s voice at her suffering, but she could not muster the emotion to react. Part of her wanted to yell at him, tell him that she did not lie on the cold metal floor out of obedience, but because she had no will to live. That she could feel her life force slipping away, bit by bit, and she did not fight it. Part of her, a part that was foreign, new, mourned his callousness. His glee in her pain. This was not the male she knew and loved. This was the demon who had dug his claws in deep and was not about to let go of his prize. Those thoughts puzzled Kara. Where did they come from? She knew of no demon, and she sure as hell did not love the bastard that sat on his throne sneering down at her. Feared, loathed yes, but never loved. The moment she thought that last she knew it was not true, just not why it was not true.
“You look so fetching abasing yourself to your betters, my dear. Don’t you think so Lord Sahen?”
Kara felt rather then saw Aden walk to stand next to her. Felt his alarm at the dimness of the light that was her soul. However, they both knew better than to act on that alarm. Not with the mood their master was in.
“My lord,” Aden greeted bowing, keeping his eyes downcast. He could not guarantee that his eyes were a safe neutral. Showing his rage at his master’s cruelty would do neither of them any good. He also had to be careful to keep his eyes adverted from Kara. If he saw the condition she was in, the thin control he held on his rage would break, and heaven help what stupid thing he would do. Like try and kill Caius. That did not stop Aden from feeling her slipping away from him, from them all, and she did nothing to fight it. Why didn’t the emperor feel it too? If she was so important to his plans, why didn’t he help her?
“Doesn’t she look the vision, Lord Sahen? Lying there on the floor before her master. Where she belongs!” The emperor’s voice had gone from sweet to hard, punctuating the last few words.
Then and only then did Aden dare to look at her.
Kara’s hair fanned around her head on the floor, her dress barely covering her, leaving her legs and part of her ass along with the fading welts and bruises exposed for everyone to see. He felt her fear, knowing one wrong move with the mood their master was in would mean another more excruciating round of some sort of agony. Right on the heels of that emotion was the feeling that she did not care for she would not be in this world long. NO! Aden screamed.
I am sorry, my love, Kara breathed, a single tear sliding down her cheek, hovering for a moment before falling to the cold floor.
Clenching his fists and jaw, Aden struggled to keep his place. One wrong move and the emperor may finish what he had inadvertently started. How to draw his attention to the immediate danger of Kara’s dwindling life force without directing his anger at her for daring to thwart all his careful planning.
“Yes, she does, but I wonder how much the healer has helped her,” Aden answered his eyes finding and narrowing on said healer. There, a safe target for his rage. The healer wisely paled and dropped to her knees, her forehead touching the floor.
“How do you mean?” Caius asked.
“Master,” the healer beseeched. “I tried to heal her, but she refused my help. When I forced it on her, she blocked my magic.” The trembling in her body from her terror showed in her voice. “It is as if she wants to die.”
The following silence was deafening.
“We shall see,” Caius response ominously filled the room. Then he smiled a smile that did not alleviate the tension in the room. “Lord Sahen. Come take your place at my side where you belong.”
Hesitating for only a moment, Aden reluctantly did as he master bid. Swallowing, he started for the dais, leaving Kara on the floor behind him. It went against every part of him to leave her vulnerable and exposed, but they were playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse, and at present the cat had the upper hand. Before Aden reached his place beside the emperor, his back still to the door, there was a pull on his soul. A pull that felt as if a vital part of his being was being torn away from him. Staggering, Aden reaching out and grabbed the nearest guard for support. Gasping for air, his hand on his chest, excruciating pain radiated from deep within his body threatening to consume him. There could be only one explanation. Tanis had walked into the room and the prophecy was coming to life.
Dear Gods! If the pain is this bad now, what will it be like when she is completely ripped from me? Aden did not want an answer to that question, but as the pain began to intensify he knew there was no avoiding the inevitable.
“Ah,” the emperor smiled seemingly ignoring the agony his apprentice was in. “Our guest has arrived. Now we will see history repeat itself.” Caius smiled slyly as Aden gathered enough strength to stumble to his position at his master’s right and turn to face the doors. Caius could sense Aden’s pain that was filling every cell in his body. So much emotion, so much agony he cannot control nor hide. This indeed will be interesting to watch. And he would enjoy every minute of it.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes