Isla Bonita: 1877
His dark piercing eyes bore into mine, causing my heart to tremble. His tall frame loomed over me. Already considering myself to be rather short, I felt like a child in front of him, my head just reaching his shoulders.
“You’re coming with me.” His voice was deep and mesmerizing; the words seemed to hum in his throat before they escaped his pursed lips. He had a strong accent with a slight lith to it. I gulped heavily, taking a step back and shaking my head.
He has the wrong person. He has the wrong person, my mind kept screaming in fear. I lifted my eyes upwards, daring a glance at him through my veil. The first thing that caught my attention were his eyes. I had never seen such deep silver eyes in my life. I had the strange feeling that he could see straight into my soul, and I didn’t like it at all. It was like he was invading my privacy, delving into my deepest thoughts.
“Save the princess!” Someone’s voice bellowed in the background, under all the ruckus of the fight.
He moved closer to me, pressing the tip of his sword against the top of my elegant white dress before ripping it in two with a yank. My eyes widened in pure shock
“Now that’s more like it, hate royal dresses, too much of a mess,” he said in a monotone. Fear thrummed through my veins as he once again moved closer to me.
“Who... What do you want from me?” my voice cracked. The strange man lowered his stance tilting his head to the side as his silver eyes turned darker. A smirk had blossomed across his sun-tanned face before he answered.
“What do I want from you? Nothing, my dear witch, but you just became my hostage and sure as hell, I will make your father pay.”
My heart stopped at his words.
Before I continue with anything, I need to go back, back to this morning, where everything, and I mean everything, changed for me. The story of how I, Crystal Bay the daughter of a farmer and a housewife, ended up meeting the strangest and most mysterious man I have ever met in my life and how he changed my world.
“Crystal, raise your arms a bit higher you’re giving your attacker too much power over you. You’re leaving your head open to a fatal blow. Keep your shoulders loose and your sword high, that will protect your face and draw more power to your blade when you slice down,” my brother Alex instructed me as he placed his hand under my arm lifting it a fraction higher. I nodded at him before cutting my stick through the air. I could feel his eyes following my movements, and I relaxed a little as I turned to face him.
“Thanks,” I replied, truly grateful for his guidance. I lowered my stick, finished with the day’s lesson. He simply shrugged at me and began walking slowly toward the well that sat next to our small cottage home.
“You’re very good at fighting, better than me,” he contemplated, as I kept pace next to him, nervously rubbing my hands together.
“Well, I have a great teacher,” I told him as my cheeks flamed red in embarrassment from his offhanded comment. Alex chuckled, pulling the rope firmly to raise the water bucket. I lifted my gaze and smiled genuinely at my older brother who I happened to admire greatly. He was very handsome with long brunette hair, dark chocolate eyes, a narrow nose, and thin lips. Very tall with broad shoulders and strong cheekbones that he had inherited from my mother. Compared to him, or anyone, I’m just a plain pitiful woman. All I know is how to harvest and to fight.
My brother had an outgoing personality while I shied away from people. While Alex courted women, I hid from men. All I wanted was to hide myself away and read all the books that God could provide.
“That’s right, you have an amazing teacher,” he agreed,
“What Mom and Dad don’t know won’t kill them,” he faux whispered, patting my head and causing me to slouch away.
“Oi, don’t pat my head. I hate anyone touching me,” I grunted as I rubbed the top of my skull. Alex rolled his eyes and donned a knowing smirk as he finished pulling.
“I know if you keep that up, no men will want you.”
“I don’t want to fall in love or marry. My love is in books and not some reality that will never happen.” I said as I watched him cup his hands inside the bucket to take a sip.
“That is why you will remain a spinster the rest of your life. Especially after what happened with him long ago,” he murmured the last words under his breath, but I could hear well enough.
Him? Who’s Him? I wonder but turned around to leave him be.
“Where are you going?” He yelled after me. I shrugged at him not having not yet decided upon a destination quite yet.
“Away from you. You don’t have to point out the obvious.” I hissed, deciding to head for our cottage. I sighed once more, looking up at the cloudy sky, before placing my hands on my hips.
It felt as if there was something missing in my life. Why didn’t I remember much about my past? I tried hard, to remember. I wondered if I had been in some sort of accident in the past that would account for my absence of memories. Since the age of eleven, I had forgotten much of my life. I only remembered most of my childhood. And, it felt like I was waiting, but waiting for what?
That bothered me daily, but I tried to accept it and go on normally with my life. Either way, my heart felt empty because of my lack of memories.
“Take out the sack of rice out the back.” my mother, a tall, lean, beautiful woman yelled from the kitchen, snapping me out of my thoughts. I sighed, shaking my head.
Maybe it is nothing.
“Yes, mother.” I blew my sweaty hair away from my forehead and headed to my right in the direction of the ajar door.
Our cottage was small. We had only three beds, one for my parents, one for me, and one for my brother. Each bed was in a separate room. The front room was large. Next to it there sat a small kitchen with a burner and a back door. Within the kitchen, there was a dining table and four brown wooden chairs.
The best thing about our cottage was the trees that surround it. No one really came to visit unless Mama or Papa invited friends over because it was in the woods and not easy to find.
As I approached the door, I picked up the large brown bag that was leaned against the wall, swinging it over my shoulder as I went.
“Papa brought a lot of rice this time around.” I moved toward the kitchen, my mother stopped her chopping and turned to look at me. Her light green eyes sparkled brightly as she smiled. My eyes were the one good feature I got from my mother.
I have dark green eyes, and for that reason I love them. I think it is the only appeal I have.
“He grew lots of crops this year,” she said as she turned, her dark curly hair bounced along. I rolled my eyes.
“Every day is the same. Papa goes to work while you stay behind and watch over us. You know I’m twenty-four, and Alex is twenty-six we aren’t children any longer.”
“In a mother’s eyes, you are never too old. I still see you both as children. Besides Alex is going to marry soon so I’ll just enjoy the last bits I have with him before his fiancée takes him away from me.” Something in her tone seemed sad. I frowned, lowering my head.
“Don’t worry mama. I will never leave you.” I dropped the sack of rice and moved to wrap my arms around her waist, placing my cheek on her warm back.
“Silly girl, you have to be wed someday. Remember, marry off with love, and let him respect you and treasure you, okay?”
“I know. I need to love him dearly then. I won’t marry at all. I will always be by your side.” A strange, eerie sensation passed through my heart.
As if on cue, a loud gunshot sounded, causing my mother and I to jump in fright.
“Please, your Highness,” a male voice pleaded at the front of the entrance. Without hesitation, we rushed out, and right before our eyes the king of our lands stood in front of our cottage next to his beautiful white horse.
“Mr. Bay, taxes are taxes, and yours were overdue long ago. I want the money I gave you paid off, and that’s an order,” The king said. I turned to face the old king. His hair was gray and curly, his eyes were a dark color, and his face wrinkled when he smiled. He was wearing the most expensive clothes I had ever seen. Dark black tight pants and a red jacket.
“I don’t have the money, give us a week, one more week,” my father begged falling to his knees to bow down in mercy. My eyes widened, and I moved closer to him.
“Papa, don’t do that, he’s a worthless king. He won’t...” I knew I had made a mistake as I heard a hiss coming from the king. My father lifted his aging face, his dark brown eyes pierced right through me, giving me a cold glance.
“Father,” I gulped, as I felt a tug on my hair, causing me to wince in pain.
“Insolent child, you dare speak to the king like that?” I turned to see an evil older man with dark skin and dark eyes.
“He is a terrible king. Most people of the land know that they are just too scared to speak up the truth.” I spat, but once again I had dangerously overstepped my boundaries. The next thing I knew my face had made contact with the ground. I found myself at eye level with the king’s feet. He bent his knees and grasped my chin to examine me. I tried to snatch my head away, but, it was no use, his grip tightened further.
“Ugly child, you have here, and I don’t mean her speech. I’ll teach her a lesson in respecting her elders. Mr. Bay, I shall take your daughter as payment and all your old debts are erased.” After making his decree he stood abruptly and mounted his horse, with a dark chuckle.
“Oh, pity one, your father just sold you to me,” he said.
I thought my heart had stopped beating.
Sold? What? My mind tried hard to process his words.
“Take her and lock her up with the rest of the slaves.” The king shouted.
“No, Jason do something!” my mother yelled at my father. I felt hands wrap around me and lift me up. The motion snapped me out of my spell and panic rose in my chest.
“Papa! Mama!” I yelled, looking back. My eyes were greeted with the sight of my father looking the other way, and my mother on her knees begging for him to stop them. A feeling erupted inside of me that I couldn’t even name.
“No, no, no, save me, save me,” I begged, as I tried to escape their grasp. But, the king’s men were too powerful for me to shake off, all logic had escaped my head. No use, I was sold, and my father hadn’t even lifted a finger to stop them.
I shed no tears as I rode in the small cart filled with other young girls. It broke my heart. I bit my lower lip, while I scraped the wooden floor with my fingernails. I could feel the cart bouncing rhythmically, causing our bodies to bounce up as well.
“I don’t want to go. I don’t want to be the king’s Concubine,” a young woman who looked to be in her late teens cried out beside me. An older woman moved next to her patting her back trying in vain to soothe her.
I felt numb; I don’t know how to process all that had happened. All I could feel was my heart thumping hard against the inside of my chest.
Did Papa sell me to that dirty king? Why? Those questions and hundreds more filled my head, but no answers would come. All I could keep seeing inside my mind was the vision of my Papa looking away from me as I was dragged away. My mother calling out to me. The memories repeating over and over again like a bad dream. Why couldn’t I just wake up?
I lifted my dead gaze to look at the other girls whose fate seemed to be linked with my own. Their dresses were covered with dirt. Their hair was messy and a foul stench hung in the air surrounding them. Was this what I was to become?
They must have been in that cart for days, compared to me. My heart broke for them.
The cart stopped abruptly, causing all of us to jerk forward, rather painfully. I actually hit my shoulder against the bars, eliciting a small whimper of pain from my lips.
“Eii,” I yelled, rubbing my elbow. This sudden pain caused me to awaken and I realize that soon I would be alone with the king. That this wasn’t a nightmare, but reality. The thought itself made me sick to my stomach.
God, please help me. I beg you. I don’t want to be his woman. Panic arose in my chest, the thought of that old man or any man touching me made my stomach churn.
“Welcome to your new homes, you filthy wenches,” one of the king’s guardsmen shouted as he opened the bars.
We were all chained together, so no one could escape even if they wanted to. I jumped down and moved forward to give space to the other girls. My eyes beheld an old gray castle. The surrounding field had the most beautiful green grass I had ever seen. Beyond the castle was an open ocean. Watching as the waves hit the shore I felt comforted, but I felt out-of-place at the same time.
“Welcome to hell. The king will treat each one with his total respect, starting with you,” the guardsman said as he grabbed my neck and pulled me back, causing me to wince in pain.
“After he cuts out that tongue of yours first,” he laughed cynically, as he let go of me. Without a word, I glanced out toward the ocean, then suddenly my vision went dim, my eyes blurred. I closed my eyes and shook my head trying to make out my surroundings.
I opened my eyes once again, not daring to move. I think, I saw a large ship, but it was hard to tell, since a large fog had appeared from covering the waters.
“Start moving wench.” I heard the guardsman say as he shoved me forward, not noticing the ship coming back in sight.