It can easily be the busiest quarter in the city, with the main bazaar and the biggest auction house in the entire kingdom. Shoppers are walking, flying, some in chains, on the streets occupied by innumerable establishments.
When a royal entourage comes flying towards the auction house, everyone in the quarters halt to give them a curious glance and continues whatever they were doing a moment before, except the ones who look perfectly human and in chains—they bow down on the ground. Even though they look beaten down with fresh scars on their bodies, their burning anger is visible, through their white knuckles and their eyes, targeting not only the ones who are holding their chains but the ones surrounded by many royal guards, who are heading towards the tallest building in this quarter.
A tall black cylindrical tower is a stark contrast with the clear sky and the other buildings. The entourage lands on the rooftop.
Down the carpet stairs, this floor is for their most important customers, says the welcoming party. Elysia notices sneaking glances towards them, some openly staring at her. She should be used to these types of attention but she is not; she suddenly feels like her leather shirt and pants are too tight.
As she is together with Kannax, some might be wondering who she is. There are too many princes and princesses and she rarely goes out openly; the king’s rule states that every prince or princess must bring the guards along if he or she ever steps foot beyond the palace grounds.
The auctioneer who is standing on the stage has a set of features different from other staff Elysia has seen so far: he looks refined, at least outwardly, and perfectly at home on the stage.
The staff leads them towards the front row, bowing all along the way.
“I can perfectly walk on my own,” Elysia grits out in a whisper to Kannax whose hand is now on the small of her back between her wings, his sharp long nails almost piercing her shirt.
The auction starts. Everyone looks cheerful except the ones who are being bid and sold like mindless things. Every one of them is either beautiful or talented. Men and women, they are all barely clothed and all humans.
Elysia has already had the urge to turn around and leave Kannax and all the guards here as soon as the auction started. As if it is not enough, Kannax keeps pestering her about why she is not buying anyone.
“You have only one slave, little sister. What is that thing called? Cattie?”
She wants to answer that she is not her slave, but she decides against it.
“Her name is Clara.”
As if he didn’t hear that, he continues, “The auction is ending. I wonder what you’ve come here for in the first place.” His fingers are now in her hair, playing with them.
“Get your hand off of my hair, Kannax,” she snaps.
“Now, now, don’t be like this, dear. I’m your brother, remember?” he reprimands like an adult to a child.
It is tiresome and frustrating. Lately, Kannax has been behaving weirdly. Has he found out about her? Is she in trouble?
Besides, she has taken no meal today yet; it is already midday. The potion she is taking is not doing any good to health, doing quite the contrary in fact. Even though she is starving and exhausted, she still has to hold herself together.
Luckily, a new royal guard comes over to Kannax. He whispers something to the prince’s ears. She thinks she has seen this male together with Kannax more than a few times; might be more than a mere guard.
"I am leaving first, Elysia. I have a business to attend to," he says, causing her a great deal of relief.
"It's fine." Too fine actually.
As soon as she can no longer see his shadow, she decides to leave. She could finally go back to her chambers and have some lunch. She is feeling almost lightheaded when she hears, “Last but not least, lords and ladies, I believe this last item will surprise you…"
It doesn’t matter. She is not interested. She is about to stand up from her seat when she notices another four shadows on the stage. They are now coming into the light, making her gasp. The audience has now become noisier than ever with heated discussions; most of them have emptied their pouches.
Three out of the four are mercenaries. Somehow they look more vicious than others who are in the hall, not because of their huge wings and horns, but because of something in their expressions. They look cruel and yet, the one who intimidates her is neither of them but the one who is heavily chained. He has manacles on his wrists, ankles, and an iron collar on his neck. One mercenary was holding the chain that is connected to the collar. He is half-naked like other people who have been auctioned, only wearing a pair of tight, long black pants.
Unlike her race and most of the audience, he has neither wings nor horns, and yet, he can’t be an ordinary human. He has perfectly symmetrical features that humans don’t have. Maybe it is in her head, but she thinks his skin has some type of glow. She supposes her hunger is messing with her mind.
Golden eyes and midnight hair—he could be a few years older than her. She hasn’t known that humans have golden eyes. Maybe he is an elf, though she’s never met one before and he doesn’t have those pointy ears. He looks neither ashamed nor scared like humans usually are when they are being auctioned like an object. Strangely, he doesn’t even look angry.
Typically, the auctioneer is probably going to say anything to get the highest price. "It is not completely human. It is half-elf half-human. But rest assured it doesn’t have any magical power that can harm my lords and ladies. We've already tested it.”
"It is also very obedient. And, you can beat it, cut it, as you please, and it won’t have a scar.”
"Prove it." That's come from the crowd.
Surely, they will not do what she thinks they are going to do, aren’t they?
The auctioneer waves his hand to the mercenaries; one of them flexes his fingers and his fingernails lengthen like claws. Elysia gasps.
With the claw on his index finger, the mercenary cuts him on his cheek. He cut his face slowly, to prolong the pain and is seemingly pleased to do this. If he is in pain, his expression is not showing any sign of it. He seems almost angry though. Maybe she is wrong.
Now his jaw has a deep long cut, bleeding. To her utter surprise and embarrassment, she has the sudden urge to taste his blood. Surely, this can’t be happening. She is not a monster who will want to feed on innocent and unwilling people, not to mention she has never even had the desire for blood. Even drinking animal blood is more a duty than a desire to her.
Desperately struggling to collect herself and control the baser instinct, she notices his intense eyes on her. He must be watching her embarrassing reactions in contempt. As if being poured down by a bucket of cold water, she realizes her claws and canines are out and wills herself to retract them. He looks away.
The strange thing is there is no longer the cut on his face now. There is not even a scar. The only thing that is still there was the blood that had already gushed out.
Her race also has the healing ability, but it is not nearly as fast as this. Elven blood probably has the faster healing ability. The audience is clapping, awed by the performance. They must be now considering to outbid one another.
"Since our honored guests are satisfied, we are now opening the floor price. 1000 Arjents," announces the auctioneer. "Who wants to pay 1000 Arjents?"
Over ten patrons are outbidding one another and the price has gone up to 5000 in no time. All the bidders are females, she notices.
She thinks she is going to bid in a slave auction for the first time in her life. She is probably going to regret this later.
“5500,” she announces.
Suddenly lots of eyes are on her, including his. What is so interesting about this? She is like everyone else, isn’t she?
After a while, most of the attention is back on the stage again. Yet, he is still looking at her. She thinks he is angry with her.
"7000 arjents," bids a female about her age. She is the youngest among the other bidders. She wonders while this female is glaring at her.
The price is going up and up and reaches more than 30,000. Sensing the auctioneer's greed, Elysia is getting nervous. Even though she is a princess, a few of the bidders could be slave collectors who would pay an unimaginable sum for certain slaves.
"40000,” she bids, wishing no one is going to outbid her.
"Is there anyone who wants to pay higher than forty thousand?" asks the auctioneer. The crowd is murmuring and a few of her competitors, including that young female are giving her bitter glances.
"Forty thousand going once!"
" Forty thousand going twice!”
"Sold to the princess Elysia!"
She is a little surprised for the auctioneer to know who she is. She finds that many in the audience are as well along with her.
“Who is princess Elysia? I’ve never heard of her,” someone remarks from a few rows behind her.
“Keep your voice down,” another one shushes the first one.
Two days ago… Pain. That was the first thing that came into his mind of total blankness.What was happening to him? That was the first question that he asked himself. He could feel the earth underneath his back in immense pain. He tried to open his eyes. Blurry and unfocused, he was blinded by the brightness just as he grasped the vagueness of trees and the sky beyond them. The next time when he opened his eyes, he found himself in another place, iron bars in front of him. He couldn’t move an inch except for his head. His hands and legs were spread eagle, manacled, and chained to the hard surface behind him. He could not tell how much time had passed but could be an hour when the iron door opened and someone came in. The creature standing before him instantly disgusted him, and he didn't know why. The one standing before him had black horns and bat wings. Demon, the word came into him out of nowhere. "What are you?" ask
Five years ago…The setting sun was no longer able to light up Mayhem City’s darkest corners, which filled with things, and lives, or the lack of life that no one deemed useful. A scrawny figure was walking slowly on a narrow lane. Barefooted, the dress too worn out and torn around the edges, the girl looked 15 at most.In her hands were two apples. She was embracing them with her trembling hands as if some stolen treasure. Around the corner of the lane were two shadows, one of them had curvy horns and huge wings. At first glance, they were embracing each other but at the closer look, the winged shape was gripping too tight the other one who was struggling in vain.At the sudden sight of it, the girl threw herself against the nearest wall, making herself even smaller than she already was. The struggling one made one last movement before he stilled completely. At last, the hunter took off into the air, dropping his prey to the ground
One hour ago… He saw the sunlight for the first time since he has gotten conscious chained to the wall. The demons pulled him at his hardest by the chains; although it would not make any difference to him, they never stop trying. He was aware of that everyone was staring at him as if some kind of exotic creature. There was something different about him, other than just his apparent features. A bustling place, a cobbled street with stalls and shops everywhere in his line of sight, with demons busy coming and going and also humans; the difference was most of the humans were in chains like him. Some were being either whipped or beaten. What a disgusting place this was. The voice coming from his right interrupted his trail of thoughts. “Don’t be so happy yet,” taunts the demon, “We will be waiting for you, pretty boy, when she doesn’t want you anymore.” The other two demons howl as if this was some kind of
She hands him the keys before going back to her seat. “I think you might need some shirt,” she mumbles out more to say something than anything else. “Do I?” is his response, removing the rest of the manacles and chains. “I don’t think you have told me your name,” Elysia inquires, now with a good distance between them. He lounges back on his chair, still shirtless. He really needs a shirt, she can’t help thinking. “What is yours?” Elysia is caught off guard by his question. “What?” “Your name, sweetheart,” he answers reprimandingly, “You should say your name first. It’s the courtesy, isn’t it?” Her temper rises, “Don’t call me sweetheart!” Who is he to reprimand her and to call her sweetheart, no matter how attractive he is? This guy doesn’t understand the situation he is in. She was thinking to secretly free him, if possible—it is a great risk to do so, probably dangerous, becaus
The castle stands tall, proud and foreboding, like a mountain, at the center of the complex of gardens, surrounded by rectangular towers and smaller buildings in a different part of the palace grounds, similar to the king is being bowed down by his subjects. “I have one question, my son,” says the king from his throne on the dais, fixing his sitting posture. The cavernous room is empty except for three, the king, his son, and his newest consort already exiting the room, her glittering sheer gown sweeping and reflecting on the smooth inky floor in her wake. “Anything, sir,” responds Kannax standing at the foot of the dais. “I heard about a rebel movement that was happening under my nose. Why didn’t you report that to me?” The king drops his hands on the arms of the throne, which looks to be cut out of one huge stone, raw and bland like other decorations in the room and the room itself. With a controlled voice, the prince replies slowly, “Rebel movement
On a normal day, if she happens to wake up early in the morning, she goes to the dining room to have a human breakfast and then walks in the garden before she has the normal breakfast. But today is different. In her white nightgown and her messy hair spreading over her shoulders, she heads to the open window that looks over the garden. The cool morning breeze brushes her thin cloth, chilling her; she hugs herself with her black wings.Knockings come from the closed door of her parlor.“May I come in, your highness?” asks Clara from the other side of the door.“Come in.” There must be someone nearby, given how she is addressing.Clara enters the room with a tray, pushing the door open. On the tray are a steaming crystal cup, a dish of sweet pastries, other items including a blood bottle, and an extra item, which is a folded paper. The announcement.“Why is this only for me? Have you had your breakfast?
“I thought I’d take all of this with me to the grave. I intended to never tell you, Elysia, but it seems I can’t avoid this.”Within the few seconds’ break of her mother talking, the chamber is so quiet that the breathing sounds are so loud to Elysia’s ears.“He was from the Ikcendas.” The consort looks away.“From the East?”“As our kingdom and the East had a friendly relationship during those years, our two kingdoms exchanged diplomatic gifts and messages regularly. Children only know humans with magical abilities live in the East, but it is not strictly true. There are ordinary humans, humans with magical powers, and lastly the ones more than humans: they are the royal family and some highest nobles.”“Aside from being an ambassador, he was a distant relative of the royal family. Your father and I, it was love at first sight, but still, we kept our distance during his visits for more than a hundred years. We did nothing more than having friendly
There was no way she was visible; she had even passed guards in the past. How did this happen? If she became visible here, she would be in trouble; her people can’t use magic. Whoever interrupted her is now holding her down on her back, her hands in the tight grip of his—she thinks it is a man as she can see from the corner of her eyes. Her stomach on the grass, Elysia struggles hard, trying to break free. Every attempt of hers, however, is useless.“Princess?” he sounds amazed. It’s him! Her spell must have stopped working. She struggles harder. “Get off of me!!!”He loosens his grip, but he bends down and whispers, “No.” His warm breath tickles her ear.“What do you mean “No”?” While she is furious, she still notices his body heat which is almost enveloping her.“So you have a little secret. I don’t think this is usual for you people to have this type of trick.”“Let me go! Do you want everyone to see us in this state?!” Elysia