4 Prisoners Of War

The last thing Ray'ven remembered was the sight of her Uncle lying lifeless in a pool of blood and Strel being held by another pirate with blonde hair. Then there had been a pinch and everything went dark. Her dreams had been haunted by the sight of both of her family members' deaths. Charlotte's screams had turned into accusations, blaming her for her death.

Slowly she stirred, wincing as she regained awareness. She lay on something cold and hard, a floor most likely, and there was a familiar and constant sway indicating that they were aboard a ship. Blue-green eyes blinked open, and she found herself staring at Strel's tear-stained face through a set of bars.

Quickly Ray'ven sat up, swaying slightly from the sudden vertigo and crawled over to the barred cell wall where Strel resided in another right next to her own.

"Strel!" Ray'ven cried in relief, pulling the girl into a hug as best she could with the bars in the way. Pulling back, her eyes scanned her cousin for any injuries. Other than a few scrapes and bruises she seemed to be fine. "Are you okay? Did they hurt you? Oh Strel, I'm so sorry."

Their hug was awkward because of the space between their cells but Strelitzia settled for grabbing onto Ray'ven's hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. Her cousin looked disheveled but otherwise well. "I'm fine, I'm okay. I'm not hurt.." At least not physically, she thought to herself.

Her eyebrows knit in worry as she stared down at her cousin, "Did you see mother? Did she make it out?" Strelitzia needed to hear that at least someone had escaped the attack. She wasn't sure she could handle knowing that everything she held dear was gone now.

Ray'ven looked away, pained at the hopeful expression in Strel's eyes. Now she would have to dash away any hope that she felt by telling her that her mother was dead. Her eyes met the expectant green ones hauntedly and she shook her head, unable to voice the words. "S-she was-he, he killed her. I'm so sorry. It all happened so fast and I c-couldn't do anything."

Images of Charlotte's headless body flashed before her face and she clenched her eyes closed trying to get rid of the horrific images. Bile rose in her throat and she took a deep breath pushing it down as she slumped against the bars of the cell, releasing Strel's hands. "This is all my fault, if I hadn't been there maybe they wouldn't have attacked, maybe…" She trailed off. "Father was right."

Strelitzia swallowed hard against the lump in her throat. Why had she even thought there would be a chance? Had she not seen her own father murdered by one of them?

There was no reason to think any of them would be spared from the same fate. She looked away from her cousin to curl in on herself, knees tucked beneath her chin. "It's not your fault. There was nothing any of us could have done...these men just take what they want with no care of the consequence." Her words were bitter and angry. If there were any tears left, they didn't come. "I think they would have come whether you were there or not, they're after something."

The fact that Strel did not blame her brought her little comfort. Ray'ven let out a weary sigh feeling as though all of her energy were drained despite having just woken. "I do not know, but that monster who took us is known as Razmyr Krestov. It is a name father often spoke of in anger. My guess is that he is doing this to prove himself a true rival. Kidnapping both the King's daughter and niece, something most would die attempting to do." She said bitterly.

"Father will know something is wrong, I was meant to send him a letter once we arrived at the Magiano estate." Ray'ven sighed, eyes roaming over the com-lit area, but unable to make out many details. "Based on the smells and the constant sway, there is no doubt that we are on the water and depending on how much time has passed, probably far from Mallowmoor by now." Ray'ven analyzed.

The room that they were in held three other cells, some holding old tattered cots and there were hints of what was once maybe blood staining the threadbare sheets. There were no windows and their only source of light came from the two lit wall lanterns that hung on either side of the single iron door which was across the room opposite where they were.

"I pray that you're right. I hope he sends someone before it's too late." Strelitzia pulled at the tattered hem of her skirt. "At least we have each other. Not exactly the reunion I imagined but I'm happy I'm not alone."

Ray'ven gave her a small smile, but her sea-green eyes burned with determination. "Father will come, I can practically hear his teeth grinding from here, but until then, I won't allow them to harm you." She swore. "We are in this together, cousin."

 ***

"Daughter," The King of D'treroh's voice echoed through the darkened corridors of the castle where beams of moonlight filtered through the small crack in the window and encased the outline of Ray'ven's bound form from head to toe.

She'd been restrained and blindfolded for at least an hour now without food or water, without light and clothing. The wintery air probably felt like nails raking up her bare back and arms, but Ja'ule knew her blood was thick with his own and could endure any twisted fate cast upon her. "There will come a time when one of my enemies may come and take you from your bed while you sleep. They can snatch you from the gardens, the study halls, during a trip out to the city, but you must always be ready. When you are my daughter death is always upon you. Around every corner. And you may become death to escape,"

The floor creaked as he lowered into a squat and brushed strands of dark tresses from her sweaty cheeks and behind her reddened ears. His heart had ached from the sight of his daughter on her knees. She had cried when his men had dragged her from the bed, kicking and screaming, calling his name only for the incoming silence. She had to believe it was real or she wouldn't take the situation at hand seriously.

They slapped her around, punched her, dug the tips of their blades beneath her nails, and beat her until she was now a bloody pulp before him. They called him twisted, but he called it love. And still--his gaze shifted towards the guard at her right--this pain would be far worse if she'd been abducted by his enemies.

"Again," He whispered and the guard drew the wet whip back, beads of water flinging from leather, then lashed her across the back. "Who are you, who is your father?" Ja'ule asked. No one. The answer should be no one, he thought.

Ray'ven's body tensed and she withheld a cry of pain as the whip was slashed across her flesh once more. She bit her already split lip hard, drawing blood before she spoke through clenched teeth. "No one." Her voice shook slightly, but she stood firm. This was an important lesson for her to learn. Father only ever did what he thought was best for her and if this training was something he felt that she needed, then she would not disappoint him.

"You have to appear as though you were a princess shielded all her life from the dangers of this world. I know you're strong and beneath your skin lay iron and steel, but you're playing a role, daughter. A role they won't expect you to be playing." Ja'ule's teeth clenched. He pushed his guard and coiled his fingers around the placement on the handle of the whip and lashed her across the back again.

He hoped this would be the last time she'd have to endure pain with his own hands. When his enemies take her, they'll think of her as a damsel when she was a weapon and his beloved daughter. No one would hurt her. He would protect her by giving her not only his backup but his strength when he couldn't be there to shield her on his own.

Ray'ven nodded her head in understanding. The next lash was different, stronger than the last and she knew it was her father's doing. She allowed a shrill scream to escape her lips, followed by a sob. "Please, please stop. I-I will tell you whatever you want. Please!" She begged, fear radiating off her form as she curled in on herself as best as the bindings would allow her to. She whimpered in pain, tears soaking through the blindfold.

Ja'ule smirked and yanked the blindfold from her face. "This is why your father is proud, he was blessed with a daughter like you. I would kill to protect you." He said before his guard closed the window and the room fell into utter darkness.

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