I gritted my teeth.
“Should we use something else? She isn’t screaming,” a voice said as I tried to ignore it and concentrate on the fucking whip on my back.
“Enough! Use the other whip, the one with the spikes,” another voice said, bored.
Gulping hard, I tried to prepare my mind for what was coming. The nauseous feeling building inside me made it hard even to breathe.
I silently looked at the wall in front of me. I couldn’t cry in front of them, not again.
“Let’s see if you scream this time,” the voice said behind me.
I kept my head lowered. My chocolate-brown hair surrounded my face. The blood that dripped earlier from my forehead was now dried on my face, my hair stuck to it.
Hearing the metal spikes make a scratching sound on the concrete floor, I bit my dried lip hard.
Hold it in, I muttered internally. I wasn’t planning on showing how weak I was. I never had and will never show my weakness.
I felt it coming back again.
My lip hurt from too much biting. The metallic taste made my stomach turn. How long were they planning to keep me like this?
Feeling the burning sensation spread across my back. My vision blurred. I cursed under my breath. Just try to stay awake. The blood loss made it hard for me to keep my eyes open.
“Enough,” the male’s voice said as I sighed in relief. “Lock her in her room. No food, just water.”
I fell on my knees when they unlocked the chains. The floor was wet with blood. My hands shook.
My eyes started burning as tears fought to roll down. I couldn’t, not here.
I screamed as I felt my hair being yanked. I tried to reach for the person pulling me, but I couldn’t. Why was I so weak?
As keys jumbled, a door opened, and the man threw me inside. Face hitting the cold concrete floor, I groaned. I tried lifting my pained body, but a sudden pain in my ribs had me gasping for air.
“Bitch,” the man growled as he kicked me again. Coughing for some air, I crawled away. Breathing hard, I let my body hit the ground.
The man just scoffed and slammed the door. Finally, in my silence, I let the tears fall. Sobs of pain, sadness, madness made me wonder why.
Have you ever wondered why life was sometimes unfair? Why did some things happen? Why did a girl like me, the only thing I did was be born, deserve this kind of pain?
Being born was the only sin I had. Being cursed since the moment I was born was my cross to bear till the day I died. I had a family, or they called themselves my family, but they just pretended to be.
I was just the unlucky one. A girl who was cursed because of a mistake my so-called father made. Was it my fault? No. But now I had to deal with his mistakes.
After calming down, I slowly got up. My ripped dress barely hung from my skinny body. Taking it off, I walked into my bathroom.
Wincing with every step, I finally reached for the lights. Turning them on, I closed my eyes. The blinding yellow light made my eyes hurt.
With a frail body, I ambled until I finally stood before my cracked mirror. Gasping, I averted my eyes. I looked horrible.
“This is nothing,” I mumbled as I lifted my gaze and stared at myself.
Bruises, blood, and scars covered my body. Most of them on my chest, legs, and back. A couple of bruises were visible on my arms, and a single scar lingered on my face right near my neck.
Yes, my neck, a scar my sister caused because she tried to kill me.
Reaching for the faucet, I poured some water on my shaky hands. Taking a deep breath, I sprayed it on my back. A small yelp left my lips as I felt the cold water sting my skin.
Staring at myself in the mirror, I nodded. I needed a bath so that I could wash my wounds. Then tend to them.
Taking small steps, I reached the shower. I turned on the faucet. Cold water fell on my skin, making me cry harder. The pain was unbearable, but I had to hang on. It wasn’t the first time.
Covering my mouth, I sobbed in silence.
“Why me?” I said between sobs.
Flinching, I inhaled. I was only missing the enormous bruise on my back. I concentrated on my wounds, and then I heard a sudden knock on the bedroom door.
I tensed up, thinking that maybe it was someone from my family. Were they coming back to punish me?
“C-come in,” I stuttered nervously. Gripping the bedsheets, I prepared myself. Who was it?
Someone opened the door; it was someone with black hair.
“Mayah?” I whispered unsurely.
“Hey,” the girl in the maid suit said, opening the door and stepping in quietly.
“Why are you here?” I asked her, worried that she would get punished like last time. “Go back!”
“No, my lady, I won’t,” Mayah said with a warm smile that made my chest hurt.
“But you might get punished, please,” I begged her.
Mayah was a maid who worked in the palace, my home. I was a princess, one that everyone loathed. The city people didn’t know the truth. They didn’t see how the youngest princess got tortured.
And Mayah was the only servant who helped me. She was older than me and cared for me. She was the only one who showed me love.
“Come here, allow me,” Mayah said, grabbing the small emergency box where I kept some medicine.
Her gasp made me realize that these bruises were worse than the last ones. Sighing, I let her cover up my wounds. A few minutes later, Mayah finished.
“All covered up,” Mayah said as she closed the box. “Rest, I will bring you something to eat.”
I gave her a small thank you and a warm smile, and Mayah left.
I looked around my room. Gray walls and drapes hung from the ceiling, decorating my gray bedroom. Even though I was a princess, I barely had furniture.
The only thing I had was a white wooden closet, a vanity table, my poster bed, and a night table. My room was chilly, dark, and lonely.
My evil father, King Azar of the Pallatine Empire, made a huge mistake. He betrayed a witch.
Witches, warlocks, seekers, and other creatures lived in the Pallatine Empire. And we were the only empire ever to betray a witch.
What my father, King Azar, didn’t know was that the witch he betrayed would get revenge, and so she did. She killed two of his sons, a queen, and she cursed me, who was barely a baby.
Leaving him with an older daughter and a cursed baby.
I always wondered why. I was barely a baby. Because of that, my mother killed herself.
Now because of that, every time my father, the king, got angry, he would take it out on me. Not only him but everyone.
Here in the palace, I was called the cursed one. No one approached me, and no one talked to me. I had no friends, no one. Lonely nights and bloody tears were what I had; they were my companions.
Despite that, I smiled. Because all this time, I had never shown my weakness or my tears to them. Every punishment, every torture, every poisonous word, I never showed weakness in front of them.
Because I was determined to get out of this place no matter what. I had only two more years left to live, and no matter what, I would at least accomplish the freedom that I was sure of.
The following day, I woke up to my same routine. I opened the windows, took a bath, changed into my ragged clothes, and read books.
My father didn’t allow me to go out of this room. It was my cage. I was locked away from the rest of the world. The only time I could go out was when it required the whole royal family to be present.
Looking out the window, I looked up at the blue skies. The shining sun shone down through the window. Birds chirped as the wind slowly blew—a perfect spring.
Then, smiling sadly, I looked past the castle’s walls. I always wondered what was behind those. Was it beautiful? Were there amazing and beautiful fields of roses? The food, the people, how were they?
Looking back at the book in my hands, I smiled. All I ever dreamed of was a fantasy. The only places I could go were through the stories I read. Sighing, I looked back outside.
My bedroom was on the east wing of the castle. It was a place few visited.
Leaning my head on the window frame, I sighed. My wounds still hurt. It was less than yesterday, but every little movement made me cringe.
As I thought about my miserable life, a soft knock made me look at the door.
“Who is it?” I called.
With a sudden burst, the bedroom door opened and in walked the head maid. I closed my book and sat up, scared.
Eyeing me from head to toe, she scoffed. I lowered my head, gripping the book in my hands.
“Your presence is required,” the head maid exclaimed. I looked up, surprised. I saw several other maids walking in with clothes and shoes.
“NOW!” the head maid yelled, making me cringe. Nodding quickly, I stood up as I set the book down on the vanity table.
Grasping my arm, the maids undressed me. I winced at every touch and turn. My wounds throbbed as they started cleaning my body and helped me get dressed.
I was curious to know why I was requested, but it was best to keep my mouth shut.
“Turn around,” the head maid said. I turned slowly, but she pushed me so I would turn around.
Biting my lip, I prepared myself mentally. Squeezing me into a corset, I inhaled and kept my gaze in the mirror right in front of me. My back wounds throbbed as she kept tightening the corset.
A single tear slid down my face. Gulping the pain down, I kept my head high.
Once she was done, and all the maids had given me the last touches, I stared at myself in the mirror.
I was wearing a long ruffled blue dress that made my eyes look bluer. The corset accentuated my thin body, giving me a tiny waist, a more voluptuous breast, and thicker thighs.
The maids gave me a high ponytail, and they kept my makeup simple. My freckles were still visible even though they added powder. They put on some simple golden earrings.
Once they finished, the head maid asked everyone to leave the room.
Nervously, I toyed with my hands.
“The king gave the order for you to be present. So it’s just you and no one else. We will explain to you why he called for you. Are we clear?” the head maid asked as she sternly looked down at me.
“Yes, ma’am,” I said with my head lowered.
“Good, let’s go,” the head maid said as she opened the door, and I walked out.
I followed behind the head maid, keeping my head lowered. Everyone that saw us looked at me with wonder. Everyone knew about me, but few had seen me.
“Yes, she’s the cursed one.”
“Oh, the first time I see her.”
“She is just a cursed woman.”
“Look at her, so ugly.”
“The king hates her.”
“Why hasn’t he killed her?”
All the curious voices whispered as they looked at me. I felt like a rat trapped.
Smirking, I tried to think that everything they were saying was funny. I couldn’t let their words wound me. I was no weak girl.
I was just an innocent mixed up in all of this. All because of my father.
Stopping, I lifted my head. Two tall guards stood with their heads high. Neither of them looked at me. Standing straight, I gulped all the pain I was feeling.
“Remember your etiquette if you don’t want to get punished,” the head maid whispered in my ear.
I nodded obediently as the doors to the throne room opened. Voices and laughter greeted the hallway where I stood. Stepping in, I grabbed the dress and started walking to the center of the room.
White and golden walls with golden gargoyles decorated the enormous throne room. A red carpet lay in the middle of the floor.
Chandeliers lit up the place as their light reflected on the white marble floor that remained uncovered.
Noticing me, everyone hushed. All eyes looked at me like I was some prey.
At least twelve men sat on wooden chairs with golden designs. Each man had a cup of wine and food at their sides.
The old fools looked at me. Some with disgust, others with a smirk that could devour me, and others with hate, like my father, who sat on his golden throne.
“Glory be to the king of the Pallatine Empire,” I said, bowing my head in respect.
“You may raise your head,” my father, King Azar, said. Doing as he asked, I looked at him. His brown eyes and chocolate hair, just like mine, looked at me with disgust. Why did he hate me so much?
“So this is your other daughter?” a man’s voice said as I glanced sideways.
“I heard she was ugly, but she’s a beauty,” another voice said.
“Shame she has those scars,” the first man said again.
I kept my eyes to the front. With no emotion, I looked at my father. His eyes never left mine. He was boring a hole in me.
“Enough,” my father said as he leaned his head on his fisted hand, which I knew was holding his anger. “Princess, you have been summoned because we have news for you.”
I frowned slightly. What news was he speaking of?
“We have a small urgent deal to make, and you are the chosen one,” my father said as he frowned at me. I was so confused that I looked down at the floor.
Making a mistake, I opened my mouth and asked, “What deal are you speaking of?”
Realizing a bit late that I had spoken without permission, I bowed my head. Fear started creeping as I knew that after I did this, I would get punished.
“The deal to marry you!” my father retorted. His face twitched in anger. Then, looking through my lashes, I saw him gripping the armrest. “You are to be married off.”
No one said a word. I waited for my father to continue. My fingers were piercing my skin as I repeated his phrase in my head. Was he marrying me? Was I getting married?
“Just tell her already,” a man’s voice said, annoyed. I looked at the person who spoke. Realizing who it was, I averted my eyes again.
“Fucker,” I muttered under my breath.
I didn’t realize it earlier, but my uncle was seated in the front. He was my late mother’s brother. He hated me because he blamed me for my mother’s death.
“Princess of the Pallatine Empire, you are to be married to the king of the Etuicia Empire. King Maximus Joric Perica.”
I snapped my head up.
“W-what?” I mumbled in disbelief. Was I to be wedded to the king of the Etuicia Empire? But that was an enemy empire, our enemy.
“From tomorrow on, you no longer belong to this empire. You are to be prepared to be taken to the Etuicia Empire,” my father said. “Everyone leaves.”
Shocked, I stayed on the spot. I tried forming words, but nothing would come out of my open mouth. Then, bringing my hand to my trembling mouth, I saw a shadow standing before me.
Surprised, I looked up. My father, King Azar, looked down at me. His tall and enormous body made me feel smaller than I was.
He slapped me, and I fell to my knees.
“Who gave you permission to speak?” my father said as he glared at me. I held my burning cheek. A metallic taste in my mouth made me aware that I was injured.
“You’re quite the lucky bitch. If it weren’t because you are to be taken tomorrow to the Etuicia Empire, I would have slapped you until I left you unconscious.”
My eyes brimmed with tears.
“Thank god you are finally disappearing. Be sure to take every little shit with you. Well, what am I saying? Do you even have anything?” my father hissed as he spat on my face. I cringed.
Cleaning his spit with my hand, I looked up at him. For the first time, I saw his eyes go wide.
“I’m happy I’m fucking leaving you, useless crap!” I spat furiously.
“What did you call me?” my father said as he yanked my hair, making me scream. “Say it!”
Getting the courage, I spat him back in the face. He groaned angrily and then kicked me. Gasping, I held my stomach.
“You’re the useless shit that should never have been born. Just leave,” my father said, letting go of my hair.
Scrambling up, I let my tears fall. Then, turning away from him, I strode out of the room.
I ran up to my bedroom. It felt so far away that it was suffocating. Sobbing loudly, I ran up and locked myself in. Sliding down the door, I cried aloud. I was letting all the built-up pain out.
Angrily, I let my hair loose. Bothered by everything, I undressed. My wounds were numb from the corset. As I looked at my back, I saw blood dripping onto the floor.
Getting the emergency box with the medicine, I opened it. Trembling hands tried to cover the bleeding wounds. But my tears made it more challenging.
Drying my face with the back of my hand, I angrily slammed the mirror, breaking it.
As the anger left my body, I finally calmed down.
“Princess?” Mayah’s sweet voice called from the other side of the door.
“Leave!” I retorted. I was in no mood to see her.
I waited for her to disobey me. I stayed in the bathroom. My hands gripped the faucet.
“This is your freedom,” I mumbled, looking at my face in the glass shards. “This is your chance.”
The next day, early morning, the head maid came over with other servants. They helped me change into a green dress, and then I grabbed the few things I had and walked out.
I took a last glance at the room that served as my cage for the previous eighteen years. I whispered goodbye.
A brown carriage with the empire’s insignia awaited me. There were two white horses and two coachmen who helped me put my small luggage into the carriage.
I stepped into the carriage and looked back. No one came out to see me go. Smiling sadly, I closed the window curtain.
As the coachman gave out an order, I felt the carriage moving. The horses whinnied as they moved forward.
With a sigh, I leaned my head on the fluffy pillow. “At least he gave me a nice carriage,” I mumbled sadly.
Bored, I opened the window curtain. The day was gloomy, just like my heart. With a sigh, I rested my chin on my hand.
“You’re finally free,” I said to myself, “free from his torture.”
I was Amari, princess of the Pallatine Empire. The girl with a curse. One that was bestowed upon me when I was born. A curse that would take my life away once I turned twenty. And one I would take to my grave. But, after all, I had carried this cross on me—my cross to bear.
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