Working Title – Jen’s Story: Introduction

Sarah leaned forward as our squad commander debriefed us. She was completely focused on every word that came from his mouth.

“This is not supposed to be a fight,” he said, pacing the floor. “This is merely a retrieval. However, y’all are to keep your tazers on you. Y’all know what them muteys are like.” He glared at us darkly.

The thrill of fear that visited me before each mission ran up my spine. I glanced at Sarah, who was sitting beside me, out of the corner of my eye, knowing that she would look invigorated.

To my surprise, she had a peculiar look on her face. It almost looked like she was hesitant about the mission, but how could this one be any different from the rest? We’d done this so many times, it was routine.

“Time to go,” our commanding officer said, heading to the door. We watched him go for several moments, but the instant the door latched our squad snapped into action. Everyone except Sarah, that is.

“You alright?” I asked her, concerned.

“Yeah,” she said. “I’m fine. You don’t happen to have any paper, do you?”

“I think I do,” I said, leaning over and pulling my duffel bag closer. Quickly I retrieved my notepad from it and offered it to her.
“You need a pen, too?”

“Yeah, please.”

“Squadron six, please meet at the front garage in five minutes,” a dispatcher squealed through the sound system. “Squadron six, front garage in five.”

“That’s us,” I said, pulling my uniform out of my duffel. “You coming?”

“Go on ahead,” she said, forcing a smile as she glanced up from her writing. “I’ll catch up.”

“Okay,” I said, tugging it on over top of my shorts and tank top. My fingers slid over my dog tags as I left the room.

I wonder what she’s writing, I thought as I made my way to the armory to pick up my tazer.

Our five minutes were nearly up when Sarah came rushing in, buttoning her jacket quickly. Her jet black hair was slipping free from the ponytail she normally wore it in, and disheveled was the word that came to mind.

“Cutting it close, Castello,” our officer snapped at her as she jammed her hat on.

“Sorry, sir,” she said, coming to attention.

“Don’t let it happen again,” he said, turning and walking away. With a sigh she relaxed, smoothing her uniform out.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked. She never was late for anything, and she was always the neatest in her uniform.

“I’m fine,” she said. “Let’s go.”

The ride to was quiet on the way, and it wasn’t until the van was parked that the squad was broken down.

“Castello, Jenkins, you’re with me,” the officer snapped. “We’ll go in on retrieval. Miller, Johnston and Jones, you’ll just sit tight and wait as backup. We clear?”

“Yes, sir,” we chorused back. Sarah smiled weakly at me as she shoved my notebook into my hand. I blinked, certain that I’d misread her emotions.

“Thanks for letting me use it,” she said, crawling out of the van. The smile was replaced with a hardened look, and her eyes glinted with anticipation.

“No problem,” I said, watching as she got into formation. That trio made their way up the steps of the building and disappeared to within.

We had been sitting in the van for probably two minutes when a shriek came from within the building, followed by four rapid shots. My heart jumped into my chest, and I leaned forward.

“That was Sarah,” I whispered.

“Remember your orders, Miller,” Mike Johnston told me.

“That had to be Sarah,” I said. Without being aware of what I was doing I slid out of my seat and crawled out of the van.

“Miller!” Mike called, shocked that I was actually disobeying a command.

“Jones, see if you can connect with anyone from their group,” I ordered. My legs moved without conscious effort, and before I knew it, I was in the building. I could hear Mike yelling at me from the van, but I had a mission of my own. I had to find Sarah.

“Miller, I got hold of Jenkins,” Jones voice buzzed through the headset as I began looking into the rooms on the ground floor. His voice came through as I pushed open the last door, stopping dead at what I saw. “The target got away. Castello’s lost a lot of blood. They say she was shot. Reinforcements and EMTs are on their way now.”

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New Story Idea- TO BE NAMED STILL- Introduction

For years I have struggled to believe in a loving god of any kind. If God cared about us, why would he let there be so much pain in the world? It can’t be good to hurt as badly as I have. And I, of all people, should know exactly what hurt is.

You see, I was born with a genetic flaw. I have an excess gene, one that normal people don’t have. This gene has caused instability to my genetic makeup, giving me what you might call a “super power.” What is this power? I can take or give hurt simply by touching someone.

I’m like a sponge. If you touch my skin, I will absorb your hurts, any and all of the pain you feel. I take it away from you and you feel it no more. The worst part is that I can’t stop it, though I have tried.

The reverse is also true. When I am angry, or full of other emotions, it will all pour out of me, onto whoever I touch. I can hurt you deeply without a weapons. I can destroy you, crush you completely, without even trying to.

You probably can’t imagine what it feels like to carry all of this brokenness inside. That’s why I’m writing this for you. That, and if I don’t get these feelings out of me somehow, I’m going to go crazy in a bad way. This is my record, my last bond to sanity.

Kala’s Tale- Chapter 3

Once we were in the hall Risec turned to face Nia.

“You’ll take her where she needs to be,” she said calmly and authoritatively. Nia nodded, looking resigned. “Start with getting her her uniforms, then you need to begin teaching her the back ways to get places. Daly Rasimet assigned her to dormitory E; section etregan, so you’ll be sharing a room.”

“Yes, Aunty Risa,” Nia said, turning to face me. “What’s your name?” she asked curiously.

“Kala Del Kasharllem,” I said, feeling overwhelmed.

“I’m Nia, though I’m sure you heard that,” she said conversationally. “Nia Del Irtas.”

“Nia,” Risec said warningly. “Get to work.”

“Yes, Aunty Risa,” Nia said cheerfully.”Come on, Kala.” With that she began to trot down the hall quickly.

“So, have you lived here your whole life?” I asked uncertainly. I was worried about what would happen to me and to my family. On one hand I knew that Tristi would be safe for a few years as Daly Rasimet’s living doll, but when she became a young woman things would become difficult.

If I could learn all there was to know about the palace, then maybe I could get away and get help, or start a rebellion or something. I had a few years while Tristi was young, but my mama was going to be in constant danger. Even at home we had heard rumors of what had happened to those who refused to serve the Rammulan rulers.

On the other hand, who knew what Daly Rasimet would tell Tristi. For all practical purposes Tristi would be living as her daughter, and every Kashumite parent lived in terror of the stories of how the dalse dolls would become Rammulan in attitude, hating and turning on their own families. IF Daly Rasimet wanted to, she could poison Tristi’s mind. Nia’s answer jerked me out of these thoughts abruptly.

“No, I was born in Ladro Leipsupil’s house,” she said, eyeing me. “Don’t worry too much, Kala. It’s not as terrible as everyone says.”

“But my mother is in prison and my sister just became Daly Rasimet’s living doll,” I said coldly.

“None of Daly Rasimet’s dolls have died or had anything terrible happen to them,” Nia said calmly. “She’s fair, and won’t try to make her dolls forget or hate their families.”

“Lovely,” I said, still worried about Mama, even though I was relieved to hear that nothing bad would happen to Tristi. “Who is this ladro, and how did you wind up here?” I knew that I needed to change the subject before I hurt someone.

“Ladro Leipsupil is Ersig Culrefi’s brother,” she said. “I was part of the peace gift when the ersig threatened to take Ladro Leipsupil’s land.” I wrinkled my nose, trying to understand this. While I was familiar with some of the Rammulan titles, I wasn’t sure what “ersig” meant.

“Ersig Culrefi?” I asked, hesitantly.

“The king,” she translated.

“Oh,” I said, feeling stupid. She glanced at me and smiled.

“Not everyone here can speak fluent Rammulan,” she said, obviously trying to make me feel better. “I only know it because the wodrega didn’t and wouldn’t speak the common tongue.”

“I see,” I said, confused by Nia. She seemed to be content with being a slave, but how could anyone accept it? I watched her, falling behind a couple of steps as she pulled a door open.

“Sojau, you osiv,” she whispered, her body tenseing up. Quickly she shut the door and turned around, looking terrified and horrified. When she looked at me I saw the fear drain from her face as she forced a smile.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“We’ll take a different route,” she said quietly, retracing our steps.

“Who’s Sojau?” I asked, struggliing to keep up.

“My brother,” she said, her jaw tight.

“And what’s an osiv?”

“A fool or a simpleton,” she said abruptly.

“So what was your brother doing?” I asked, unsure of whether I should even ask that. “That made you call him a fool?”

“You’ll find out soon enough,” she said, her face wrinkled with worry.

“Why can’t- won’t- you tell me?” I asked, mildly frustrated.

“Fine,” she snapped. “You’ll hear it soon enough, anyway. My brother and Nirpsec Masatna are having an affair.”

“What?” I gasped, stunned. What sort of place was I in, where the slaves would have affairs with those who forced them into their slavery?

“He’s not the only one,” Nia continued. “For many years Ladro Ulsic has enjoyed taking on girls about our age as mistresses, and even the ersig takes on a lover from time to time, when his uknee fights with him. However, my brother is flat out stupid, having an affair with the Nirpsec.”

“Oh?” I asked, trying to follow this. “Why?”

“It’s an unspoken law that you don’t have an affair with the royal ladies if you’re a slave,” Nia said darkly. “He risks death if her father finds out.”

“How is it that everyone knows about it, or seems to, except for the king?” I asked.

“I never said that everyone knows,” Nia said, pushing open another door and leading me into a corridor. “But almost all of the slaves and servants know, and a few of those close to the nirpsec know.” I rubbed my forehead, trying to make sense of everything as she opened the door into a rom, and stepped in.

Several women were sitting in there talking, all of them in palace uniform. As I followed Nia into the room, they fell silent, eying me suspiciously.

“Who’s this?” a middle aged woman asked, standing up.

“This is Kala Del Kasharllem,” Nia said. “Can you measure her, Taneela?”

“Absolutely,” the woman said, picking up a measuring tape. “Step behind the screen and take off all but your shift.” Blushing, I did as she said, ashamed of the dirt from travel that coated my skin. Mama had insisted that we’d bathed more than most people, and this was the dirtiest I had been for years.

It seemed that Taneela was also aware of the dirt, while she measured my height, waist and hips. Then she straightened up and handed me the tape.

“You’ll have to measure your chest,” she said, stepping away. I nodded and turned away, doing as she’d said.

“Thirty icnise,” I said quietly, not wanting to announce my size to everyone.

“Nia, can you take her to the bath?” one of the women, probably Taneela, asked as I began to redress.

“Yes,” Nia said, smiling at me as I stepped back into the main part of the room. “Come along, Kala. When will her uniforms be ready?”

“We’ll have some altered to her size by morning,” a woman who looked to be part Rammulan said. “Now run along.”

“Next order of business,” Nia said seriously, leading me out of the room and through another maze of corridors, hallways and steps. “To get you cleaned.”

“I know,” I said blushing slightly. “I heard those women talking.” Nia nodded.

“They’re nice people,” she said, leading me into a room with several curtained off areas. “But they don’t know how to hold their tongues when it’s not appropriate. Now tell me, have you ever taken a Rammulan style bath?”

“A what?” I was confused again. Nothing in this palace made any sense to me, and I was getting very homesick.

“It’s one of the few good things from their culture,” she said, walking over to one of the curtains and pulling it open. “Admittedly, we don’t have bath attendants like the nobility, but it’s still extremely relaxing. Put a robe on and come with me.” Motioning to the robes hanging in the curtained sections, she added, “we’ll have your clothes washed and returned to you tomorrow.”

“But won’t I be without clothes until this evening?” I asked, feeling like she was missing this blaringly obvious point.

“If you take a proper bath, then I wouldn’t worry about that too much,” she said. “Now in you go.”

Kala’s Tale; Chapter 2

Time passed slowly on the rest of the ride to the capitol, and it lost all meaning to me completely. Later I learned that the journey had only taken a week, but it could have been an eternity in the monotonous and uniform days.

I rode behind Cadem the whole time, and when the mocrednam wasn’t around, he began to talk to me. I learned that he was married, but that it wasn’t a happy marriage, merely one of convenience. His wife was a scold, and I was surprised to hear that she was only a few years older than I.

He told me that he had a son and a daughter, and he missed them lots. I listened, kind of surprised by the humanity in this Rammulan soldier. He explained that he hadn’t chosen that profession, but that his parents had put him in military school when he couldn’t stay out of trouble at the grammar school that was mandatory for all Rammulan boys in the merchant class and higher.

“So your parents are merchants?” I had asked, surprised. He laughed, slightly amused.

“They sold things, yes, and they did have a store, but they were only merchants in profesion only,” he explained. “In all honesty, they would have been more at home behind the bar of a tavern than the counter of the store. It’s just a blessing from the gods that they weren’t arrested, with their side deals in the shadows.”

“I see,” was all I said as I bit my lip, curious, but not wanting to know more than I should. He glanced over his shoulder at me with a awry smile on his face.

“You don’t,” he said quietly. “You can’t.”

“Cadem, there is to be no talking with the prisoner,” the mocrednam’s voice came from behind, startling me. “You know that.”

“I’m sorry, mocrednam,” he said humbly as she spurred her horse, falling into pace with his horse.

“Don’t forget the rules,” she said, not looking at him. “I’ll be merciful this time, and not punish you like I should. But consider this a warning. Next time I will not be so lenient.”

“Yes, mocrednam,” he said, and she kicked her horse again, galloping to the side of the rider ahead of Cadem.

“What’s the punishment?” I asked in a whisper.

“Whipping,” he answered, also in a whisper. For the rest of the day we rode in silence, and the next day we entered the city. We kept riding, through the streets, to the palace in the center of the capitol.

Mama, Tristi and I were taken into a room in the palace- a dark, gloomy and empty room, where our rope bonds were exchanged for metal ones. As our shackles were being locked on, Cadem slipped a note to me.

I wrapped my fingers around it tightly, and smiled tensely at him. He started to move on, then paused for a second.

“May the Gentle Queen protect you,” he whispered. I nodded, acknowledging his well meaning intentions, even though I didn’t believe in his dieties.

As soon as mama and Tristi were bound, we were moved to a new room, a richly decorated room, in which the lighting was decidedly better. Glancing around I saw a desk against the wall, but the majority of the room waas filled with well upholstered chairs and couches.

A rustle of cloth and the floral scent of a strong perfume announced the arrival of the owner of the room. A plump Rammulan woman with a relatively light complexion for the tanned people stood before us, clad in laces and ruffles, her hair done up in a lot of loops and curls.

“What have we here?” her high voice was soft, much like the lines on her face. The mocrednam bowed, low, to the woman.

“The descendants of the Kashum,” she said, her voice respectful but the look on her face one of distaste.

“Well, I’ll be,” the noblewoman drawled. “I never thought you would be the one to do it.” I glanced at the mocrednam, who’s face was twitching badly.

“But I have, ni Daly,” the mocrednam said coldly. “With no support from you, Daly Rasimet.” The noblewoman smiled slightly at the mocrednam.

“Idana, you are dismissed,” she said with a fixed smile. “I think my guards can handle these women.”

“Yes, ni daly,” mocrednam Idana sneered,bowing again and leaving the room.

“Now,” Daly Rasimet said, seating herself on a rich red couch. “Let me tell you how things will be for you. You and your family are the slaves in this palace, and the other places of residence for my darling cousin’s court. Unless you have special skills or refuse to serve, you older two will become the lowest of the slaves. The child will be my living doll, naturally.”

“You have no right to take my child from me,” Mama snapped. The woman laughed.

“You have no rights at all,” Daly Rasimet said. “I take it you will not be serving?”

“You would be correct,” mama said haugtilly, standing tall and looking more like royalty than this woman could ever look in all her rich clothes and intricate hair styles.

“Guards,” Daly Rasimet called shrilly. I heard the sound of several people entering, but I fought the urge to look around.

“Yes, ni daly?” a man’s voice came from behind me.

“Amwet, darling, I need you to take this… woman to the dungeon,” she said, her voice sweet.”And you, Rolfens, can take this little girl to the baths.”

“Yes, ni daly,” this time a woman’s voice accompanied the man’s voice.

“As for you, Arlah, you will wait here,” Daly Rasimet kept talking, ignoring Amwet and Rolfens once they began to fulfill her orders. “Until this girl has answered my questions, you need to stay right here.”

“Of course, ni daly,” Arlah said, moving to stand beside me while grabbing my upper arm and pushing me to my knees. “Show some respect to Daly Rasimet. She’s your better.” I opened my mouth to make a rude comment, but Daly Rasimet cut me off.

“Arlah, there’s no need for that,” she said. “I’m sure that she’ll be willing to co-operate, won’t you, honey?”

“I-” I hesitated, weighing the costs. “I suppose I will.”

“Good, good,” she said smiling. “Then you understand your possition here.” I looked at her as she paused.

“Yes, ni Daly,” I said. With that she promptly began to question me, thoroughly. Finally she began to tire, and ended the questioning session with, “so can you do anything of use?”

“I can sew,” I said tiredly. Arlah hit me hard on the top of my head, making me bite my lip hard, drawing blood. “Ni Daly,” I added grudgingly as i tried to blink the stars out of my vision.

“Can you?” Daly Rasimet said, sitting up. “Well, how fortunate. The Graceful Queen must be with me today.” Quickly she rose to her feet and pulled a cord hanging beside the desk. “Are there any other talents you have, dear?”

“No, ni Daly,” I said, keeping my head bowed.

“I don’t suppose it matters, though,” Rasimet murmured. “How well do you sew?”

“Fairly well,” I said glancing at Arlah, who was scowling at me. Apparently she didn’t like this turn of events, the blood-thirsty cow.

“You’d better not be lying,” Rasimet said, fretfully. “Our darling Nirpsec’s ladies-in-waiting are in need of new dresses and we can’t afford to take anyone out of the kitchens to replace Paetidor. The silly girlo, carelessly dying in childbirth, right before the Niwret ball.” I bit my tongue, trying to keep a flood of acidic comments in.

Just then, thankfully, an older woman in the palace uniform entered, with a girl about my age following her. These two women bowed to Rasimet, who turned her attention to them.

“Risec, this girl claims that she knows how to sew,” Rasimet said, pulling a scroll out of her desk drawer. Deftly she scribbled something on it, and I glanced at the girl, who was staring at me.

Her eyes were a startling shade of emerald green, framed with long and thick lashes. Reddish brown hair escaped from the bun she had it pinned into, and her skin was pale from a life spent inside the palace.

Arlah took the chance to hit me again, and I refocused my attention onto the floor, tasting blood. ‘I hope that not all Rammulans are like she is,’ I thought, fighting the urge to reach up and touch the sore spot. I was sure that I had a bruise there at the very least.

“You will train her, and test her skills,” Daly Rasimet said, handing the scroll to Risec. “Arlah, release the girl. Risec and, oh bother, I don’t know your name-” she stared at the other girl expectantly.

“Nia, ni Daly,” the girl said meekly.

“Risec and Nia will take you to get your uniform and explain the palace rules to you,” Rasimet said quickly to me as Arlah unlocked the handcuffs. “Dismissed.”

 

Kala’s Tale- Chapter 1

~300 years later~
Much has changed since my ancestors ruled the land once known as Kashum. After Queen Sarinda died at the hands of the Rammulan prince his people invaded our land, burned our cities, and killed many of our people. All of Sarinda’s children were forced into slavery, but one escaped.
Sarinda’s youngest daughter, Ani, fled from the harsh burden of captivity and a horrendous life of service to the Rammu royal family. Once free, she was found and saved by a farmer’s family, who took her in and, once she was of marriagable age, she married their son.
Her children, then children’s children lived as farmers, gaining a respectable reputation. Time passed and the hunt for Sarinda’s descendants slowed, halting occasionally when the Rammu arrested someone, then tortured them to death. The blood of many innocents was shed freely by the Rammu.
It wasn’t just those people that the Rammu took from their everyday lives and killed. Those who commited crimes of treason or were indebted to a Rammulan man were forced into the same punishment as my ancestors- slavery to the death. People longed for the return of the Kashum royal family, and none longed for it more than I.
My family had abolished slavery five hundred years ago, only to have it undone two hudred years later. Many loathed these changed, and stories of the heir to the Kashum throne returning to take control, saving the oppressed spread in whispers and in the shadows. These stories inspired me, Kala Del Kasharllam, and I dreamed of being the hero of my people.
Such stories are viewed as being dangerous by the oppressors and the number of arrests grew. It was no surprise that they were scared- there had been rebellions in the past, and last time the people had laid seige to the castle for a year, starving most of the nobles to death.
I’ve never been afraid of the Rammu. No one had ever touched my family before, so why would we be taken in for questioning? That was my mistake.
My family lived in a small cabin, with two rooms and a loft, divided in half by a sheet. IT was cramped at times, but always comfortable, and it exhuded the love and warmth in the cold, dark times.
Father, rough looking with his dark beard and salt and pepper hair, was always there for my sister and I when we needed him, slipping us little trinkets or candies from his merchandise when he could afford it. He was a trader, you see, a fair and honest man. Above all, he loved people, especially his wife, my mother.
Being of royal blood, my mother possessed a kind of grandeur and majesty, even when she was covered in dirt and sweat, sleaves rolled up and her hands on her hips as she surveyed the mess. She loved life, and could find the beauty in everything. She was wise, though not as educated as she had wanted to be.
My sister, Tristiana, was sweet but spoiled. She was cute and had a way of twisting everyone around her finger, and those traits would spare her from hard taskes later.
Everything was as it should be the evening they came for us. My father had returned home from a trip the previous day, and we had spent the afternoon unloading cart. Mama and Tristi had worked in the garden all day, weeding and picking the ripe things.
Supper had been eatten, and everything had been tidied up and put away. Mama had been telling Tristi the family stories, and Father was playing checkers with me. It was a perfect evening, and the world seemed to be at peace.
“What happened next?” Tristi begged everytime mama paused for a breath.
“Why, darling, I’m getting to the best part,” mama replied. Normally father would listen to the stories quietly, but that night was different.
“Do you think it’s wise to tell the girls these stories?” he asked. “Several arrests were made the other day.”
“No one’s found us in three hundred years,” mama said, holding her head high. By now father had learned to not give her a direct order, but when they had first been married he had tried. It was one of his favorite stories to tell, and he told it with a lot of gusto.
“If you think that’s wise,” was all my father had said. Mama continued her narrative.
“Queen Sarinda was brave and strong, but above all, she loved her God and her family. Even when she knew that she would die at the evil Rammulan prince’s hands, she refused to turn over the key. The prince killed her, then had her body searched for the key to the keep, but it wasn’t found.
“Would you believe it? Queen Sarinda had buried the key in her cell’s privy, digigng to make the hole larger with her hands. Remember, Tristi, Queen Sarinda had never needed to dig, like you and I do in our garden.”
Mama paused for another breath and before she could resume her story the door burst open. A short Rammulan woman stood in the door, with a knife drawn.
“Have you told your daughters about how nobly they were defeated?” she asked, her tone mocking. “How they bled when they rebelled?”
“Who are you,” Mama asked, standing and gently pushing Tristi behind her.
“Who I am is not important,” the woman said, stepping a little further into the house. “What is important is that your house is surrounded by soldiers loyal to the Rammulan throne, ready to burn down this building if you do not surrender and come willingly.”
“Go where with you?” Father asked, also rising and moving forward. “And on what charges?”

“Where is on trial in the capital,” she said coldly. “On the charge of being or with-holding information from the great Empire of Rammu about the traitorous family of Kashum.”
“You have no proof of that,” my fahter said defensively.
“But I do. Your beautiful wife here has been telling treasonous stories,” the woman said, switching her grip on the knife so she could throw it easily. “I think that proof will be no problem.” Suddenly she threw her knife, and father gasped.
The handle of her knife was sticking out of his chest, and he weakly reached up to grab it. Mama screamed and lunged at the woman, weaponless with the exception of her fingernails. The woman threw up her arms defensively, but it was too late. Four trails of blood appeared on her face, and she grabbed at mama’s hair, which was tied back in a loose braid.
“Erstnemecrofni!” the woman screamed hysterically in Rammulan. Several soldiers entered, and pulled mama off of the woman.
Tristi began screaming hysterically, and I moved to confort her. Father had changed drastically in a mere matter of minutes, from a cozy and comfortable night at home to a nightmare, the work of the Rammu.
I held Tristi, trying to silence her hysterics. That was when the woman turned her attention to us. As she moved across the floor I gripped Tristi more tightly.
“Now,” the woman said, kneeling in front of us. “Are you going to come nicely, or will I have to haul you out like your homre?” Tristi whimpered, and I impulsively spat in the woman’s eye. “You little brat! Children of the Tormentor!” Screaming curses and profanities involving the Rammulan dieties, she jerked me to my feet and dragged me out, with Tristi clinging to my hand.
“Mocrednam, is there a problem?” a man’s voice cut through the chilly night air.
“Tie these brats up,” she ordered, shoving me into the chest of yet another soldier.
“What about the man?” the first man asked. The mocrednam snorted, and mounted her horse.
“He’s dead. ‘Tis no loss to us, though. He wasn’t of the royal blood of Kashum,” she said briskly. “Are the brats bound?”
“Yes, mocrednam,” another soldier, who was binding my hands, said.
“Cadem, Natsyel,” she said, sharply. “The brats will ride with you.”
“Yes, mocrednam,” they said, and one of them lifted me up onto his horse behind him.
“Now, let’s go,” she said.
This was the beginning of everything. Things would change drastically, but I didn’t know that at the time. All I knew was that I would be punished for merely existing, and I was scared of the future.
There’s a saying that things have to get worse before they can get any better. Little did I know that it was about to be proven true yet again.

Kala’s Tale- Introduction

“Hand over the key, or will I have to remove it from your dead body?” the Rammulan prince asked, his machete at Queen Sarinda’s slender neck, drawing blood- scarlet against her pale skin. “It’s your choice, and the only difference is your life.”

“Why in the world would I give you the key to my people’s symbol of hope and the stronghold of the Kashum royalty?” she asked, her voice calm despite the intensity of the atmoshpere. “I have told you once and I’ll say it agina; I will not give in to you barbaric pigs!” He pressed the machette into her neck with a little more force.

“I had really hoped that I would be able to spare your life,” he murmured in her ear. “You would have made a wonderful bride for me.”

“I’d rather die than marry my husband’s murderer,” she snapped, anger dancing dangerously in her eyes.

“And you will,” he assured her, his voice an elegant hiss. “But first I think I’ll have some fun with you.” Fear mingled with the anger in her eyes, and she fought the ropes that held her tightly in place. “What’s this? The brave, wonderful and couragous Queen Sarinda is afraid?”

“Fear is not a shameful thing,” she said, giving up on the ropes and forcing her muscles to loosen. “Your dishonorable behavior is.”

“I hold your life in my hands, and yet you’re still willing to fight back? You’re a fool, woman.”

“If you held my life in your hands, then why am I not dead yet?” she asked. The prince exhaled slowly, his breath escaping through his teeth in a hiss.

“Enough,” he snapped. “You wish to die? Then so be it.” He jerked the machette back, and Queen Sarinda was no more.