Generation 7, Chapter 5
"John," Queen Azula turned toward her son. "Who is that girl?" she asked, though she already knew the answer.
Prince John looked down into the courtyard where his step-brother, Adam, was showing a couple commoners around. His lip curled in disgust, Adam never seemed to appreciate his position as prince. "She's some villager. Su something I believe." John finally replied. "That older fellow there is her uncle."
"Adam and I came across her in the orchard awhile back." he continued.
"The Royal Ochards?" the Queen asked.
"Mhmm, she was picking apples. I suggested we turn her over to the guards but Adam..." John rolled his eyes. "You know how he is, he let her go..." The Queen nodded, her eyes narrowed in thought.
Uncle and I relived the day on the whole way back to the cottage. Though the cottage seemed terribly small after our recent excursion, I was still thankful to have such a home to live in.
We were still laughing outside the front door when we heard the heavy footsteps and turned to see two royal guards approaching. Curious, we watched them approach - assuming they would continue on to their destination.
I never dreamed the cottage WAS their destination!
"Suki Taffity, you are under arrest for theft!" One of them was reading from a scroll - listing my so called offenses - while the other came forward and grabbed me by the arm.
"No! There is some mistake! My name...that's not my name!" I shouted, his grip tightened on my arm and he started dragging me away. Uncle was also shouting my innocence but neither guard paid our protests any heed.
I tried to wrest my arm out of his firm grip but the guard was far stronger than me and continued to pull me away in spite of my struggles. "Uncle!" I shouted back to him, he was gasping for breath and reaching out for me.
"Please! Please you must let me go to him!" I pleaded with the guard but he was relentless, even as Uncle Isaac collapsed on the ground. The other guard had a small, malicious smile on his face as he watched.
The cell I was thrown into was small and smelled of rot and decay. I wondered how many prisoners had been held and died here as I laid on the small mat that first night. I cried myself to sleep, wondering why I was here and what had become of Uncle Isaac. Had he died? Was he still laying in a slump, forgotten, in front of the cottage? I prayed he was okay...
For days I was left in the cell with only one stoic guard as company. He never spoke or even looked at me except to give me a bowl of gruel and some water. "What is my crime? Why am I here?" I pleaded with him in those moments but he never answered me.
And then she came.
She seemed somewhat familiar but I couldn't place her. She was adorned in jewels and wearing a fur-lined gown that hugged her frame perfectly. From her manner and demeanor - and more so from the deference paid to her by the guard - I assumed she must be the Queen.
The first time she came to my cell, I was asleep and she woke me by kicking at my legs until I stirred. "Don't you know your place by now?" she asked when I didn't move much. "You bow before your queen!" she snapped and I scrambled off the mat and into an awkward bow.
She didn't say anything else that time except to strip Amelia's soiled dressed from my frame, "It's too good for you - even if it is little better than rags." she said. I wedged myself into the corner of the cell, covering my naked body as much as I could with my arms and legs.
After she disappeared, the guard that brought my evening meal also had a flimsy dress. In truth, it looked more like a burlap sack with holes cut out for the head and arms. The guard didn't try to hide his hungry leer as he watched me crawl toward the dress. He yanked it back at the last moment, holding it high up so that I would have no choice but to stand up and reveal myself to him. The other guard - my only possible savior from this humiliation - did nothing to check his companion. I took a steady breath and stood up, glaring at the guard as I did so. I snatched the dress from him and quickly covered myself.
He laughed as he walked away.
The Queen returned again and again. Sometimes she would just stand outside my cell for a few minutes and other times she'd enter. When she came in, she would ask me so many confusing questions about who I was and where I'd come from. I told her everything I knew - such that it was - and still she was not happy with my responses.
"I thought you might be here but after twenty years...." she was saying things that made no sense to me. "I suppose I arrived before you did...I had hoped you'd never show up. Surely not now..."
"Your Majesty - I do not know what you're talking of!" I said quickly. "I never meant to displease you..." I added, though I couldn't imagine what I'd done.
"Oh never mind..." the Queen said. She flung her hand out and I felt the sting on my cheek before I realized what had actually happened. I crumbled on the floor, terrified to look up at her lest I do something - anything - to make her slap me again. I stayed there until I heard the metal cell door clang behind her and the lock grind as the guard sealed me in once more. I only hoped she didn't come back...
It was weeks before I had another visitor. The Queen had stopped coming down to my cell, I hoped that meant she was satisfied that I knew nothing more than I'd already told her.
My next visitor didn't look much pleasanter than the Queen actually as he walked in front of my cell - eying me curiously. I tried to read the expression on his face without actually looking him directly in the eyes but I couldn't fathom why Prince John would come down here to see me.
With one nod to the guard, I heard the tell-tale grind and click of the lock. The door swung open and the Prince stepped inside the room. As expected, I bowed as best I could in the cramped quarters. "You've been here some weeks now I think." he said after a silence.
"Y-y-yes your highness." I stammered.
"Mmhmm." he stepped closer to me, causing me to step back closer to the wall. "I might be able to help..." he said, his voice was appropriately sympathetic sounding but there was a gleam in his eyes I couldn't trust. "If you are truly repentant for what you've done."
"I am sorry your Highness." I said, pressing myself into the cold stone wall. I wish I could dissolve and disappear into the wall.
"Are you now?" he asked, a wicked grin on his face. He pushed himself still closer to me. He had one hand pressed against the stone wall, bracing himself as he leaned over me. The other hand reached up and cupped my breast, his thumb shifting the rough burlap over my skin.
I tried to pull away from him but he was faster and pulled me close to him, mashing his lips against mine. When he pulled back, a triumphant grin on his face, I spat in his face and scrambled back and onto the small mat.
There was no where for me to hide or go, so after the momentary shock wore off, he charged at me, throwing me into the wall. I stumbled as my head smashed into the solid stone but held my ground until he came at me again with a quick punch in the face.
I fell like a sack of potatoes and blinked away the tears. I tried to push myself back up but couldn't find the strength. I tasted copper in my mouth and spat at the ground several times until there was a small pool of my own blood and saliva on the stone floor of the cell.
I only had a moment to consider this before I felt his strong arms on me again. He was pawing at my dress, tearing at the fabric until it barely hung to my tiny frame. He flipped me over onto the mat and I could barely make out his arrogant, sweaty face through the dirt and tears in my eyes. "Please...please don't..." I said weakly. I couldn't fight him off anymore and I knew if he wanted to take me, he could.
I thought he smiled but the world began to swim at that point and I felt his leg between mine, roughly shoving them apart. He was pinning my arms down with all his weight and the world grew dark.
My eyes felt like they were crusted shut but I could hear shouting and a scuffle very nearby. My whole body hurt but I slowly turned my head toward the noises.
"How dare you!" Adam shouted. John shouted something back about divine rights. My head felt like it had been ground in by a mallet but I couldn't help but hope that Adam beat him the way he'd beat me...
After a lot of angry words, I saw Adam lunge at John and the two princes brawled like a pair of commoners in a pub. The guard watched, both amazed and amused by the sight.
I tried to stand up during this exchanged but I could barely move my legs to gain any sort of footing. Finally, with a great deal of effort, I got to my feet only to have them give out on me and I started to fall back toward the floor.
My head smashed into the ground with another sound crunch and I had only a moment to wonder how much damage one body could take before the darkness swam around me once more and threatened to take me away. I turned one last hopeful gaze toward the fight, if he could but hear my thoughts in this moment...
I was barely aware of his arms around my limp body as he scooped me up off the cold stone. His body was warm and soft in comparison as he cradled me like a baby.
"There now sleeping beauty." he whispered as he laid me on the soft bed. He stroked my hair softly and let out a small gasp. I must look quite a fright. He stood and I know I whimpered as he left my side - terrified to be without a protector. Within a moment I heard the trickle of water and then felt a damp cloth being pressed against my face.
As he carefully wiped away the dirt and grime from my face, I sought out his arm with my hand but the tiniest movement sent spasms of pain through the whole of my body.
"Shh, have no worries this night." he said after he'd finished tending to my more obvious wounds.
Suki was VERY brave and every time someone was mean to her, she'd slap the crap out of them :P
Whee! I can fly!
These two are like two peas in a pod :P