Heavy iron shackles clamped around my wrists and covered the length of my lower arms. A thick chain with shiny links stretched between Shiakashi, Zoraan, and I. Guards in overly gaudy armor escorted us through a forest path towards the palace. All our weapons had been taken, the guard who had gone toe to toe with me walked triumphantly at my side.
"You should feel proud to be bested by another young girl," I narrowed my eyes at the ground but said nothing as we continued. "I've never met another female Soul Song as gifted as you," he leaned near my ear and whispered "I like a woman who can fight rough." A cold shiver ran down my spine. The guard grinned maliciously and quickened his pace, hurrying to the front of all the soldiers. A familiar sight of tall spires glinting in the early morning sunlight. I remembered back to the last time I had been in the palace.
I had only been 19 at the time. Rain poured from the sky in torrents, coating me in water. I drew my hood farther over my face to keep out the rain, I moved closer to the walls and leapt. My hand gained hold on the sandstone allowing me to vault into the courtyard. On the inside of the walls, I crept between statues of men atop horses and bushes shaped like beasts of the forest. At the far end of the courtyard was a pool with crystal blue water. The rain let up and slowed to a soft mist, pattering run off echoing around me. A dark figure moved from the awning near the pool and stepped into the rays of moonlight.
At the time I knew him as Prince Koles, a man with a tyrannical father and sinful brother. My employer feared Zoraan would become like the rest of his family, nobility ruling with fear. Soul forming beside me I sprinted up a nearby pillar and perched atop it. Zoraan moved around the pool, whistling calmly as he gazed around. I leapt and pinned the prince to the ground, my balisong pressed to his throat. My soul howling a song loudly into my ears, blood would spill that night. Zoraan stared wide eyed, shocked at my sudden appearance.
"Death comes for all of us," I whispered pushing the blade tighter against his neck. "It is your turn Prince Koles. Otdyh v mire (Rest in Peace)!" I shifted the blades angle downward just as a shout filled the air. An arrow sped towards me, my soul deflecting with barely a moment to spare. I shot once last glance at Zoraan. He had a half smile across his lips, eyes content.
"Keep Moving," a guard shouted and jabbed my in the back. I stumbled, dragging me out of my memories. As I stood and looked I realized we were just outside the throne room. All of the guards parted at the doors; forcing Shikashi, Zoraan, and I through. The room was filled with an assortment of riches, from lush pillows and golden fixtures, to a large gem encrusted chair as the room's center piece.
"Brother!" a voice called out. A man stepped away from the throne and embraced Zoraan, much to his disgust. "It has been too long...and who do we have here?" Zoraan's brother grinned broadly as he walked over to me; I kept my eyes on the ground as he put a finger under my chin and lifted my gaze upward. He was the opposite of Zoraan; tall, skinny, with greasy hair and a rat-like face.
"Is she yours Zoraan?" he asked pulling back my hood, my black hair cascaded back to my shoulders. "Such pretty golden eyes too," he stroked a rough hand across my cheek. I growled aloud without realizing it. He cocked his head and traced a finger along my jaw line. "Quite a woman you have Zoraan."
"I belong to no one!" I snarled sharply tugging at my restraints. Shadis jumped back a bit and squared his shoulders. "So feisty too. Well maybe you'd like to spend a bit more time with a real man than my sorry excuse for kin?"
"Leave her alone," Shikashi warned.
"You’re pathetic!" Zoraan barked "How can you call yourself royalty when you act like a slob and treat Sveta like a throne room concubine?!" I knew that all of us could have torn the place apart, the only issue was the restraints, they stopped us from being able to harness our songs.
"Sveta, huh? Well brother, I have all the rights in the world to do whatever I please. You gave up your chance at riches and women. So this is me taking your share. Finder keepers! Take my brother and his friend away; I want to learn a bit more about this young woman and her Soul songs."The guard pushed the two away, Zoraan's shouts of hatred, rage, and revenge echoed throughout the building.
"I"M GOING TO KILL YOU!" He screamed as the door shut behind them. I looked to the shut door and back to the rat of a man before me. If only I was free and you'd see what true power is. My heart pounded at the thought of blood on my hands, memories of the previous night's hunt filling my mind. I have to hold out till I can free Shikashi and Zoraan. A wince crossed my face as I felt my fists clench. Don't fall into the darkness, I repeated over and over inside my head.