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“Love that is not madness is not love.”
― Pedro Calderon de la Barca
Sorayi Ouvien -
“You’ll get what’s coming to you, girl,” the guard had threatened me before delivering a swift kick to my lower back. They caught me trying to escape again. I don’t know why I do it anymore. Maybe it is out of sheer boredom. I was hoping this time; they’ll kill me.
Anything would be better than these dark, moldy cells - the beatings, the starvation, the sickness and finally, mercifully for some - the death. As my final seconds ticked by, I didn’t feel the chains around my ankles anymore or smell the sweet stench of body fluids and rot.
My name is Sorayi of the noble family of Ouvien. Some had told me that my name meant “precious one,” but I’ve never known that feeling. I’m nineteen years old, and I have no memories of my parents. They were both killed in the Infernal War, eighteen years ago.
“To the pits, you go, little git,” he told me, “being eaten by demons is too good for a worthless troublemaker like you.”
I had to smile at that. So he remembered. I was first thrown into these dungeons a month ago for trying to cut the brakes on Marquees Leonel Nicolet’s private car. The punishment for such a crime is death - a painful death for me, and perhaps for my entire family.
What sheer luck it was that I had no living family!
They kept me alive at the last minute because Captain Samrin, the leader of the Duke’s guards decided I had a pretty face and it would be a waste of a perfectly good virgin to send me to my death without allowing me to be violated by their thirsty Marquees at least once. A month later, I doubted I was much to look at anymore. My legs were covered in rat bites, and my hair was covered in feces and urine. I couldn’t remember the last time I had anything to eat. If not for a loose tile through which rainwater leaked into the cell, and it had been unusually rainy lately, I would have been long dead.
“Do you know what they say about those who die in the demon pits?” The other guard asked me. I couldn’t see his face in the darkness, but I was sure it was hideous. “Their souls are trapped forever, trapped between life and death - awaiting the Reaper.”
“I’ll take the devil himself over the Sarastri King,” I muttered under my breath. “Or are they one and same?”
“Shut up, little turd,” the guard snapped and jammed the butt of his rifle into my left cheekbone. I gasped as the pain exploded across my face. Warm, sloppy blood ran down my face and neck. I was barely conscious for the rest of walk out of the prison cells.
“You better keep your damned mouth shut or do I need to cut out your tongue?” the other guard, the one with a more humane attitude whispered to me. What was that I heard in his voice? Fear? “Prince Orion Balan is in the audience today.”