004 Nyl Flees Feast

He escorted me into the hall and we were forced to part. A servant guided me to my seat at the end of the table farthest from the King. Those near me were obscure military officers and relations of relations of the royal families.

Despite ignorance of my new master’s name, I almost longed for him to think of me as more than just a sister. In the hour that I had been with him, he had almost made it impossible to not love him. But I knew the foolishness of those feelings. I would not let his flattery and feigned respect fool me. I had to protect my daughter. I knew what men were like. None could be trusted; ever!

I ate in silence as the many courses were served and tried my best to avoid contact with the other guests. My hood concealed my face to prevent recognition; very few people bore the curse of eyes. As I expected, few of the delicacies were edible; deer blood and raw meat did not appetize me.

Even with all my care, I still managed to spill the goblet of the man to my left. Before he could strike, I absorbed his anger into myself and tried to restrain my new-found rage. My defense had worked and the man returned to eating. Violent shuddering overtook me as I recognized the man. He killed me on twelve different occasions. Death shouldn’t have bothered me after it stole me so many times, but it did bother me. The worst thing about my enemy was that I carried the guilt of my own deaths as if I were the murderer.

I wept quietly and dared not stir for the remainder of the feast lest I anger him. Rage filled me along with a longing to slay my enemy and be free from some of my guilt, but I knew it would only bring on new guilt. I killed one of my clients once, in defense of my life, however my mistress ensured through several torturous deaths that I would never do it again.

My new master received much attention and many honors that night, while I sat in obscurity. Even though I tried to rejoice for him, jealousy poisoned my heart. Many people had stolen the glory I deserved, or at least I thought they had, I had long since lost the ability to differentiate my memories from the memories of those who used me.

One last Man began His thrumming, amplified like a stone-shudder throughout the hall. I recognized His voice. I had never absorbed all of anyone’s guilt, except His and my mistress's, all the tens of thousands of years of His guilt.

I could not endure His presence any longer. I fled the hall. As I left the main entrance of the hall and sped into a tunnel, I tripped. I clutched my broken wrist. The festivities in the hall muffled my screams. I lifted myself off the ground. Blood gushed freely onto my dress, staining the silk of the fabric. Bone protruded from the injury.

I removed the cord that held my hair in place and tightened it around my wrist to stop the bleeding. To make my pain bearable, I converted it from the sharp pain centralized in my wrist to a dull ache across my entire body. I didn’t know how to treat myself, but no one would help me, so I pressed the bone back into my flesh and bound the injury tightly. I knew I did the wrong thing, but I couldn’t risk the anger of my new master. Clumsy slaves became dead slaves.

After a long cry, I wiped the blood from my face and reentered the hall to find my master despite my fears. The drunkenness of the feasters, sent chaotic feelings of joy throughout the hall and made me stagger as if I were drunk myself.

“Ah, Nyl, I found you.”

He failed to notice the fresh wound on my wrist, because of all my other bloodied bandages. I knew I would lose the duel on the next morning. I feared what would become of me and my child if my master won. He was surely lying when he offered to free me.