I just want to escape. I was practically royalty, and the Requiem Horde enslaved me. I’ve been stuck here for ten years, and now is my time to escape. Yet the Dragon Lord has chosen me to serve me, keeping me close, punishing me. Can I upgrade my status from slave to mate?
Join me on this medieval reinterpretation of the steamy Requiem City and watch me find freedom!
Age Rating 18+
BOOK 1: Book One
Sometimes, fate has a way of saying, “Toughen up.” That’s what my daddy used to say whenever he had to go away for work at different castles in different lands.
I always thought I was tough because I learned not to cry when daddy went away.
I always found a way to smile and be happy, like annoying my big brother Mason and going on adventures with him, whether we were at my daddy’s castle or my cousin’s much larger one.
However, I never conceived of a life where I would be kidnapped to become a slave. Let alone the slave of a dragon.
I thought dragons were little more than pets. Then again, I always thought I’d end up living the life of a princess, like my cousin, Summer.
I knew some dragons were bad. My other cousin, Ross, would tell me about how he would try to catch them. But I never thought I’d ever meet such a beast.
And yet, exactly seven days ago, I was kidnapped by a tall, very angry, emerald-green-headed dragon lord.
A creature even the twin dragon lords Dane and Goldy were fearful of, and they were my protectors! Well, they were…but not anymore.
The brothers had been my protectors ever since they’d discovered Summer was their mate. Yep, apparently, twin dragons share their life partner.
Anyway, all that’s beside the point.
Dane and Goldy might be scared of Hael, but I’m not. I faced the beast and kicked his human leg when he threatened my pet dragon, Alexa.
Probably shouldn’t have done that. Hael got so angry that he kidnapped me from my friends and my home, misted into his dragon form, and flew me back to his horde.
Now, I am all alone.
I asked Hael multiple times to take me back to my cousin, but all he did was laugh.
Everyone else is fearful of him, but I refuse to be so. Very persistently, every single day, I asked him to fly me back to Summer.
But my begging only annoyed him, and eventually, he cruelly shoved me at an old slave and told the woman to find me a room and train me to clean.
And now, I spend my days reduced to tears.
I’ve spent the last week learning how to be a slave, and I hate it. It is so boring. They say I am too young to do anything other than clean.
The only thing I can do to regain some control is to remember my daddy’s advice: Toughen up.
So, I sit down on my cold stone bed and its one simple blanket and I cross my legs and clasp my hands.
I stare at the mountain-cave wall of my bedroom that I’m locked in at night. I feel all alone and I miss everyone. I miss Mason the most.
At first, I pray, but soon find myself singing instead. I start off humming, but then the soft sounds transform into familiar words. It is a song my daddy taught me long ago.
I repeat the only part of the song I remember, but just the rhythm of the words helps to calm me down.
There are ears listening all around, I know, but I must sing my song. It is the only thing that is keeping me sane. This simple verse will become my mantra for as long as I need it to be.
“When I fall before you,
“The mist will fill my vision.”
“Your claws will not open me whole.”
“I will feel my bones warming,”
“My eyes sharpening,”
“My soul enlightened.”
“Then perhaps, you’ll help me grow.”
“Grab these.” Layla shoves two knapsacks at Darshan and me.
My blind friend takes one, while I grab the other, barely able to contain the grin on my face.
“These are your two new recruits for today, Axel. Keep a close eye on them.”
“Yes, Layla.” Axel walks up and ushers us to stand back with the rest of his large group of slaves, whose sole job it is to grab supplies from the nearest towns to take to the Requiem Horde.
I’ve never been allowed to leave the Requiem Mountains before, but once Layla, a young blue fledgling dragon, was put in charge of the younger slaves, I knew my time would come.
Layla has been a secret friend of mine for years now. It was only a matter of time before I convinced her to let me go on a supply run.
In the Requiem Horde, Hael is against the dragons forming close bonds with mortals. Rather, he loves to proclaim how we are only slaves and have nothing else of value to offer.
Least of all companionship.
For once, the thought of Hael doesn’t upset me nor make me so angry that I want to kill the bastard.
This time, the thought of him makes me grin, because I’m planning my grand escape, and he has no idea what I’m up to.
“Madeline”—Layla catches my eye as I stand with Darshan and the other slaves just outside of the caves, looking into the leafy green forest—“stick close with Axel and do exactly as he says.
“And don’t wander off. Haven is a big city; it is not safe for you to go off alone.”
Layla has a way of knowing when I’m lost in my daydreams. Sometimes, I’m scared she can read my thoughts, but I know she can’t. She’d never have agreed to this otherwise.
“Maddie is a good girl,” Darshan says, sticking up for me as usual. “You have nothing to worry about.”
I hate that he can’t keep the sarcasm out of his tone.
Layla nods at the group. “Safe travels.”
She turns on her human heel and stalks back into the mountain caves gracefully, her blue hair shimmering in the last rays of sunlight before she is engulfed by the darkness of the caves.
I turn to Axel, the middle-aged healer who is meant to keep a close eye on me.
“You will be delighted at the sights you see in the city,” Axel explains. He’s focused on Darshan and me, so I assume the other slaves have been to Haven before.
“You are both eighteen now, hence you are allowed to join our gathering group. However, do not underestimate the dangers of stray humans.
“You have lived most of your lives surrounded by dragons. As powerful as dragons are, humans can be just as dangerous. Stay close.”
“Why is the city called Haven if it is not safe?” I ask, breathing in the air of the forest. I try not to giggle with delight when my boots sink into the grassy fields. It has been far too long.
It’s not the only time since my capture I’ve been in the forest; there were times I would sneak out of the cave for a couple of minutes.
But I was always scared I would be caught, so I couldn’t enjoy it.
“It is just a name, Maddie,” Darshan says. “Silvertown had a nice name, too, until the Blackhearted slaughtered the entire population.”
I scoff. “The Blackhearted Dragon is just a legend to scare little children.”
“If you say so.” Darshan shrugs before walking ahead of me and Axel quickly. “The sounds of the forest… Oh, how I’ve missed this.”
“That boy is amazing,” Axel says under his breath. “He cannot see, yet he is so agile and careful but also quick.”
“Darshan!” I call out, because just as Axel states this, I see Darshan dodge one tree, then another, only to trip into a bush, face-planting into the dirt.
Axel gasps, and I just laugh. I know Darshan too well to think that hurt him.
“He gets way too excited about new things,” I whisper to Axel.
Someone close to Darshan tries to help him to his feet, but before they can, he is already standing and turns to “look” at me with a grin on his dirty face and leaves and twigs in his hair.
“This is awesome!” he yells, pumping his fist into the air before turning around and prancing off into the forest once again.
As he reaches the front of the group, the slave leader grabs his arm and pushes him back.
“You’re following, not leading.” The bulky slave sounds harsh as he tells Darshan to get back to his place in the march.
“How long have you been enslaved?” Axel asks me curiously.
It’s a fair question, if a bit taboo to ask. It isn’t like we know each other.
There are at least five thousand slaves in the whole mountain complex, and two hundred dragons at least.
Only this small, lucky group of a hundred slaves is allowed to go into Haven for supplies.
“Ten years,” I reply. “Hael kidnapped me when I was eight. I was trained as a cleaner but all I’ve ever wanted is to join this gathering group. You’re so lucky. You have a taste of freedom!”
“Be careful with where your thoughts are headed, girl,” Axel whispers with a frown. “If one slave tries to escape, we are all punished severely...and the perpetrator is punished by Hael himself.
“Do you understand what I’m saying, Madeline?”
I do not reply and just look ahead, into the forest, my hopes sinking as I glance at Darshan and the other slaves. How could we escape knowing all these innocent people will be punished?
“Unless we all escape together,” I whisper to myself, thinking aloud.
Axel grabs my arm, stopping me, and glares at me with wide eyes. “Do not say such foolish things. You should be honored that you are a slave of the Requiem Horde. Your life is a good one.”
I stare at Axel, wide-eyed, and jerk my arm away from him. I walk quickly ahead to catch up with Darshan, humming to myself to stop the tears from falling down my face.
If only he knew. I had been practically royalty before I was kidnapped, raised in a castle, only to be reduced to a worthless, nameless girl of no importance.
I know the Requiem Horde doesn’t treat us too badly, but I could have such a better life if only I could get away.
And I want, so, so badly, to see Mason, my big brother, again.
“I can feel your pain, Maddie,” Darshan says as I fall in step beside him.
“I’m strong, I don’t feel any pain,” I snap. I hate to show weakness, and I hate that my plan to escape is slowly falling by the wayside.
“Every time you hum, you are easing your pain. Like when you sing,” he says. “Don’t worry, Maddie—”
“We can’t do what we were planning to do,” I hiss at him, and he instantly goes quiet.
I’ve distracted him enough that he is about to walk into a tree, so I grab his arm and help him around it. “Careful.”
“I know, Maddie, I overheard what he said.
“But we can still have a good time. We’re finally out of that place. Even if it’s just for a short while, we’ve never been this lucky. Let’s relish in the temporary freedom while it lasts.”
Darshan’s words calm me down.
“That’s a good girl,” he adds with a smirk. He knows I hate it when he calls me that.
“I won’t pull you away from the next tree if you’re going to be a pain in the ass,” I say.
Just then, he grabs my elbow and pulls me to the side, away from the main group of slaves.
“You know, I’ve been thinking, there is another way to free you,” he whispers.
“Darshan, we can’t be this far away from the group.” I look over my shoulder anxiously. It won’t be long before Axel or someone else notices we have strayed from the group.
“You just have to fake your death,” he whispers.
“That’s the stupidest plan I’ve ever heard!” I instantly come back at him, shoving him for being so dumb.
We rejoin the main group of slaves as quickly as we can. I avoid making eye contact with the one or two that glare at us.
“I was just trying to be helpful,” Darshan says with a shrug.
I can tell I’ve annoyed him; he doesn’t like it when I’m harsh. But faking my own death? I couldn’t do that.
“I know you.”
I’m pulled out of my thoughts when an older boy next to me strays closer to Darshan and me.
“I don’t know you.” I narrow my eyes.
“Oh, I guess you wouldn’t. I don’t get out much. But I’ve seen you before and I’ve heard your voice. You like to sing.”
The older boy with dark hair and a nose piercing gives me a cocky smile. I don’t like that he’s handsome or that he has overheard me singing.
“You’ve spied on me?” I ask, glaring at him.
“I’ve told you, people can hear you sing, Maddie.” Darshan sounds irritated. He picks up the pace, leaving me with this strange slave.
“My name is Darren,” he says, smirking.
I nearly stop in my tracks. “Darren…? As in—?”
“Yes, I am the dragon princess’s personal slave.” He raises his eyebrows at me provocatively. “So, you have heard of me, then.”
“You’re a sex slave,” I state, and he puts a hand to his chest, faking being hurt.
“I don’t like to think of it like that, but Adara does have certain uses for me.” Darren seems far too happy admitting this.
“It’s disgusting, being used for sex. Why are you smiling?”
He reaches out and grabs a strand of my wavy dark auburn hair. “So naive… so petite… You poor thing. Call me what you like, but I know only one of us shouldn’t be here right now.”
I decide I don’t like Darren; he is far too cocky and arrogant. He sees my glare and just grins even wider.
“Everyone has heard you sing, dear Madeline. You don’t really think I was spying on you, do you? Adara has heard you sing. All the other dragons have. Even Hael—”
”He hasn’t heard me sing,” I snap. “And I don’t want to talk to you any longer.”
“I’m just trying to educate you, little girl. You don’t know, do you?” Darren looks far too smug; it’s clear he knows something I don’t.
“I don’t know what?”
“Hmmm, let me put it this way. Hael banished his personal slave, hmmm, last night? Oh, yes, it was. I remember how he so crudely told her to leave and never come back while we were all eating dinner.
“Usually, this is not newsworthy. All the females whom he brings back to the horde share this same fate. So much so, he usually has as many as three personal slaves at once.
“But do you know how many he has now?”
I can feel my face turning red as my anger floods through me at the sudden realization of what he is trying to imply.
“He doesn’t have any, dear Madeline. But there is one slave he is yet to take. One slave who is special.”
“Shut up. Why are you telling me this? Hael kidnapped me when I was eight years old. He shunned me then; I doubt he even remembers me. I’ve had minimal encounters with him.”
“You’ve had plenty of encounters with him,” Darren says quickly, patting my head to emphasize how much smaller I am than him.
“You were always so shy and nervous, you never noticed anyone else in the room every time he ordered you to the Common Royal Chamber to inquire about your progress as a slave.
“Do you think he does that to every slave he brings to the mountain? Do you think he has the time or the patience?” Darren pauses, taking in my dumbfounded silence with a look of glee.
“But I also happen to know,” he whispers, leaning into my ear, “that today is your birthday. Eighteen is the tipping point. He won’t wait any—”
“I’m not talking to you any longer,” I quickly interject before I run off to find Darshan again.
I can hear Darren’s laughter behind me.
My hands are trembling as the enormity of what Darren said starts to sink in.
I mean, he can’t be right. In fact, he is most likely wrong. But is it too much of a coincidence that Hael banished his last remaining slave last night?
And it is my eighteenth birthday today… Is Hael going to make me his personal slave?
I shake my head to myself. No, no, no.
I don’t want to believe Darren; it can’t be true. Besides, Layla would have told me.
Anyway, there are thousands of women for Hael to choose from.
Yet…no matter what I tell myself, I come back to the same feeling in my heart each time.
Darren is right.
I just don’t want to believe it.