Originally posted on Renee Writes:
|Designed by Kathryn Jenkins at Magical Designs|
My heart pounded in my chest. It was the first time I would be presented to the Galvadi people as the delohi-saqu, and worse, I was completely naked. I spent the morning being instructed by Melan on how to play the role of the new emperor’s personal servant, which was a nice way of saying pleasure slave. Personal servants were considered subhuman animals. Animals did not require clothing. Makari absolutely hated the idea of me being nude in public, but Melan finally convinced him that it was necessary.
A chain was attached to the recinder like a leash and Makari led me out onto the dais. I was flanked by Melan and Galin. Galin’s hand tightened around the back of my neck as Makari stepped up to the podium, and he guided me to the ground in the submissive position used by the Galvadi people when they are being punished. For a slave, it was a position used for waiting as well, and slaves waited a lot. For once, I was somewhat thankful. I didn’t think I’d be able to handle watching thousands of people staring at me. At least this way I could pretend no one else was there.
It was eerily quiet. Not a whisper or rustle interrupted the silence. The crowd had seemed so subdued, and before I was put into position I could see the underlying tension in their expressions. It wasn’t often they were all called to the square like this. Makari said it usually meant there was going to be a public execution, which had always been quite gruesome. He told me how he had stood on the dais with his father when he was three and was forced to watch a woman being whipped until she bled to death. When he tried to hide his eyes, his father told him to watch or he’d be next. Needless to say, the people must have been terrified about what was going to happen.
“For those who do not recognize me, I am Makari, son of Emperor Drevin. I am pleased to announce that we have finally captured the delohi-saqu,” he said, nudging me with his boot.
I expected cheers, but instead I only heard quiet whispers, and even that was difficult to make out above the occasional gusts of wind. I shivered as the breeze chilled my exposed skin.
“Though this should be a joyous day for the Galvadi people, I regret to inform you that tragedy has struck our great nation. Jharak, Emperor Drevin’s trusted adviser, accused him of being a shadow stalker and murdered him.”
This time gasps and distressed whispers erupted throughout the crowd. Makari must have held up his hand for silence because a hush abruptly fell over the masses of people once again.
“If it weren’t for the bravery and quick thinking of the Dansig Trooper, Melan, Jharak might have gotten away with his treachery. But rest assured, he has been brought to justice for his heinous crime. Since my father died before naming an heir, it stands to reason that I, as our former emperor’s only son, should take his place as the leader of the Galvadi people. As you may know, my mother was a shadow stalker, and so I have inherited her abilities. So that you can be assured I am ruling fairly and without abusing the evil powers possessed by the shadow stalkers, I pledge to wear this recinder until my reign ends.”
I listened for a reaction, but there was nothing. It was killing me not knowing how the people were taking this news. This was the moment our whole plan would either come together or fall apart before our eyes. Of course, we had an escape planned if it became necessary, but if that happened, someone else would simply take over where Drevin left off, and he might be worse than Drevin. We’d be starting from square one. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I slowly and subtly turned my head, but before I could catch a glimpse of the crowd, two hands gripped the sides of my head and forced me back into position.
“Don’t break position again, or I’ll be forced to punish you in front of these people. It’s the last thing I want to do, but I will if it becomes necessary,” Melan whispered into my ear. The whip coiled at his hip pressed into my skin as if to reinforce his words.
I groaned. He was right. It was a stupid thing to do.
“It seems our prisoner here needs extra cleansing today,” Makari said, loud enough for the crowd to hear him.
“Yes, sire,” Melan agreed.