Dragon's Slave - Book cover

Dragon's Slave

C. Swallow

Chapter 2

10 years later


“Grab these.” Layla shoves two knapsacks at Darshan and I.

My blind friend catches it with ease while I grab mine with tight hands, not 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 is to travel down to the closest town to grab supplies for the Requiem Horde.

I wasn’t allowed to leave the territory of the Requiem mountains, but due to sheer cunning I convinced Layla to let me go at least just once into the town.

Of course, I knew that Layla—a young blue fledgling dragon who is in charge of the younger slaves—is also secretly my friend.

In the Requiem Horde, Hael is against having close bonds with mortals. He discourages it and loves to proclaim and enforce that we are only slaves and we have nothing else of value, least of all in 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, uncontrollably–because I’m planning my grand escape plan 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 to the leafy green forest beyond.

“Stick close with Axel. Make sure you do exactly as he says, and don’t wander off. Haven is a big city and it is not safe for you to go off alone.”

Sometimes I’m scared Layla could read my thoughts, but I know she can’t.

“Maddie is a good girl. You have nothing to worry about,” Darshan sticks up for me as he tells this to both Axel and Layla.

However, of course, he can’t keep the complete sarcasm out of his tone. I just roll my eyes, and I know he can feel it even if he can’t see it.

“Safe travels.” Layla nods to the group and turns on her human heel, gracefully stalking her way back into the mountains, her blue hair shimmering with the last rays of sunlight before she is engulfed by the darkness of the caves.

I then 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 to both Darshan and I.

“You are both sixteen 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 and their power, but human strangers can be just as dangerous. Stay close.”

“Why is the city called Haven if it is not safe?” I ask curiously, breathing in the air of the forest.

I try not to giggle with delight when my boots sink into the grassy fields. It had been far too long.

Of course, there were times I would sneak out into the forest for a couple of minutes–but I was always too scared I would be caught, so I could never enjoy the forest like it was meant to be enjoyed.

“It is just a name, Maddie.” Darshan walks quickly ahead of me and Axel. “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 is gasping and I just laugh, because I know him too well.

“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 back up, turning to ‘look’ at me with a grin on his dirty face, and leaves and twigs in his hair.

“This is awesome!” he yells out, pumping his fist into the air before turning around and prancing off into the forest once again, nearing the front of the group, where the leader grabs his arm and pushes him back.

“You’re following, not leading.” The bulky slave is harsh but not too harsh as he tells Darshan to get back into place.

“How long have you been enslaved?” Axel asks me curiously. It isn’t like we knew each other.

There are at least five thousand slaves in the whole mountain complex. And at least two hundred Dragons. Only this small lucky group of a hundred slaves are allowed to go into Haven for supplies and food for the other slaves.

“Ten years,” I reply. “Hael kidnapped me when I was six. Ever since, I’ve been taught to clean and all I’ve wanted to do is join this gathering group. You’re so lucky, as most days you’re able to get out into the city. A taste of freedom!”

“Be careful with where your thoughts are headed, girl,” Axel is instantly disapproving, whispering the next part.

“We do not talk about it, but if one slave in our group dares to escape, we are all punished severely…and the slave who escapes has a punishment handed out personally by Hael. Do you understand what I’m saying, Madeline?”

I do not reply. All I do is stare out into the forest, my hopes sinking as I look at Darshan and all the other slaves.

How could we escape, only to have all these innocent people punished?

“...unless we all tried to escape together...” I whisper to myself, thinking aloud. Axel grabs my arm and stops me, glaring at me with wide eyes.

“Do not say such foolish things. You should be honoured that you are the chosen slave of the Requiem Horde. Your life is a good one.”

I stare at Axel, wide eyed, jerking my arm away from him. I walk quickly ahead towards Darshan, humming to myself to stop the tears falling down my face.

If only he knew…I had been basically royalty, and then I was reduced to being a worthless, nameless girl with no importance.

I know the Requiem Horde doesn’t treat us too badly, but...

I know I could have life so much better.

And I want so, so badly to see my big brother again: Mason.

“I can feel your pain, Maddie,” Darshan says as I fall in line beside him, walking with 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 was 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 quietly 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. Getting out of that place, as beautiful as its architecture is…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 on to the last part because 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 threaten, right before 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 mention, looking over my shoulder anxiously, knowing Axel will soon realise we are straying.

“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. Then we quickly join back into the main group of slaves.

“I was just trying to be helpful,” Darshan shrugs, but I’ve clearly annoyed him. He doesn’t like it when I’m harsh, but I’m angry.

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 I.

“I don’t know you.” I narrow my eyes at him, because I don’t recognise him at all.

“Oh, I guess you wouldn’t know me…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 had overheard me singing.

“You’ve spied on me?” I ask, glaring at him.

“I’ve told you people can hear you sing, Maddie.” Darshan is irritated and walks off to do his own thing, leaving me with this spying male slave.

“My name is Darren,” he introduces himself, smirking. I nearly stop in my tracks.

“Darren?” I ask, again, “As in…?”

“Yes, I am the Princess Dragon’s personal slave.” He raises his eyebrows at me provocatively. “So you have heard of me, at least?”

“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?” I narrow my eyes at him and he reaches out a hand and grabs a strand of my wavy dark auburn hair.

“So naïve…so petite…you poor thing. You know you shouldn’t be here on this leg to Haven.”

I decide I don’t like Darren, he is far too cocky and arrogant. He sees my glare and he just grins wider.

“Everyone has heard you sing, dear Madeline…you don’t think I was just spying on you, do you? Adara has heard you sing, the other dragons, Hael–”

"He hasn’t heard me sing,” I snap, cutting him off, “Also, I don’t want to talk to you any longer, I –”

“I’m just trying to educate you, little girl. You don’t know, do you?” Darren looks far too smug, he knows something I don’t.

“I don’t know what?” I’m curious.

“Hmmm…let me put it this way. Last time I checked, Hael banished his last 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, as you would know, he is keen on having three personal slaves at once. Do you know how many he has now?”

I’m going red in the face, anger flooding through me at the sudden realisation of what he is trying to imply.

“He doesn’t have any personal slaves anymore, dear Madeline, and the only females he has ever taken personally back to his Horde…always end up with the same fate.”

“Shut up. Why are you telling me this? You think because he kidnapped me when I was six years old, that he still thinks about me? I’ve had minimal encounters with him–”

“You’ve had plenty of encounters with him,” Darren quickly juts in, patting my head, emphasizing that I’m smaller 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 enquire about your progress as a slave.

“Do you think he does that to each and every slave in the whole mountain? Do you think he has the time or the patience?” Darren pauses, taking in my dumbfounded silence with too much glee.

“And did you know…” he whispers the next part. “I know it’s your birthday today. Eighteen is the tipping point, the age where –”

“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 finally hits home.

I mean, he couldn’t be right. In fact, he was most likely wrong.

But was it too much of a coincidence that Hael banished his last remaining slave last night?

And it was my eighteenth birthday today?

I shake my head to myself. No, no, no.

I don’t want to believe Darren, that Hael was making room for me as his personal slave.

It couldn’t be true. Layla would have told me.

There were thousands of women for Hael to choose from.


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.

Next chapter

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