Seventeen

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The first of many burning licks started. I could hear screams and cries from the crowd that had gathered. The next one caught my side causing me to flinch. I gritted my teeth and the next one came right after. More cries from the crowd.

My father was making his speech on traitors and how I would be an example as to how they will be treated. I heard familiar voices crying out my name, but all I could see was a blur. Ten lashes was all I could bear. My lips were bleeding from biting on them to prevent myself from screaming. I couldn't hold back my shouts of pain anymore.

11...12...

I counted in my head waiting for the agony to be over.

13...14...

Celeste was crying. I could see her. David was holding her back, preventing her from running to me.

15...16...

My voice was raw from screaming in agony. Each lash ripped open my back tearing away my skin. The light breeze was not enough to cool my burning flesh.

17...18...

My vision blurred and I could not see the crowd anymore. My rationale was slowly fading as the pain grew more intense.

19...20...

I knew my eyes had changed but I felt nothing.

'Use the power within. Break free.' The voice was back but this time it was menacing. It was not comforting, but demanding.

21...22...

I felt my self slip in and out of consciousness.

'Get up and fight!'

The voice was stern and threatening. I could not ignore it. I tried the ropes binding my hands to the post in front of me. I could hardly pull on them. I pushed myself up with my legs to stand but I was immediately pushed back down by my father.

23...24...

'Accept your suffering. She and I are near. You will be okay.' The soothing voice was back. I trusted this one.

25...26...

I let my eyes fall shut and stopped resisting. My voice no longer worked.

27...28...

I was hugging the post and it took everything I had to stay upright.

29...30...

It had to be over.

31...32...

I was seeing bright dots.

33...34...

There was a loud uproar.

35...

***************

Dale and James had to hold me back. When he turned, I felt the pain ripple through my back. The more he was lashed the more I felt it.

Tears were streaming down my cheeks as I watched Luke being whipped. I tried to run to him, I tried commanding my warriors to help him, but the council ultimately ruled no. We could not intervene and it killed me. My heart broke at his cries of agony.  Why didn't he call me sooner?

His father was going beyond what he announced as his punishment. Thirty lashes were not enough. When he did not stop at forty I knew he was going to fifty even if it killed Luke.

It was hell watching him suffer. I was a mad woman. Punching and kicking at James and Dale trying to get to him. My connection as his Guardian was on high alert that he needed me. It would not rest. Not only that but I loved him. I could not stand to see him like this. I was crying like I've never cried before.

"Jessamine stop fighting us. There is nothing you can do unless you want your throat slit." Dale was trying to reason with me and I knew he was right, but it was so painful to watch. He was my everything and at that moment I knew. I could not bear to see him suffer like this.

I sunk to my knees giving in to reason. There was nothing I could do. It was too public. Dale knelt by me and pulled me to his chest.

"It will be all right," Dale cooed in my ear.

I did not respond as I watched Luke receive the last five lashes of his punishment. At this point I knew he had blacked out. He fell to the side but was held up by his hands tied to the large metal post in front of him.

The crowd was told to disperse by the mighty King himself.

"I hope this shows you that no one by any means is ever exempt from recieving the consequences of their crime. He will be left to suffer on this post. If no one helps him, he will die there as much as it pains me. I may be his father but traitors are traitors and they are to be treated as such."

The King was then escorted away by a group of soldiers. A few were reluctant to leave Luke there but they were disciplined to follow orders.

Many in the crowd quickly left while others rushed to the Prince's side. I got up immediately and pushed through the crowd that had gathered closer to him. I heard dozens of women and children crying. The people of this town adored Lucian and never thought their loving King would do such a thing. Frankly, neither did I. Now I knew, the man had no heart.

"Move!" I shouted at the few people blocking my way. "I'm his doctor!"

I wasn't completely lying, but I had to get to him. The crowd parted and my bloodied Lucian was before me. We worked quickly and it took all of my will power not to fall apart at the sight of him. He was a gorey mess and was losing a lot of blood. With James's help I was able to help him to his feet. A groan escaped his lips telling me he was alive. Dale cut the ropes binding him to the post and James draped him over his shoulder. Dale pulled me back when Luke shouted in pain. Moving him would be painful, but we had to get him out of here. I controlled myself and let James lead the way as he carried him.

~~~~~~~

We took him to Dale's home since it was the closest to the courtyard. He wasn't happy but knew it would be easier that way. James gently laid him on his stomach on Dale's dining table.

I immediately placed my hands on his back. Even though I was gentle he jerked and shouted in pain. I began the healing process doing my best not to hurt him. The cooling tendrils of my spirit found his and happily danced across his skin. His flesh began to knit back together. It was a slow process for his gashes were deep.

"Jessamine, stop," he spoke in a raspy voice after a minute or so.

His voice broke my concentration and he somehow blocked me from being able to help him. My head spun briefly as I opened my eyes.

"Luke," I gently stroked his face and the tears began again. "Please let me help you," I begged despite the warriors' presence

"No. You're weak as it is. You've done enough. I'll be okay," his voice came out slurred and laced with pain. His blue eyes fluttered open and he was looking at me with a small smile on his face.

"Lucian please...," I was practically begging.

"No," he whispered. "The Restorer has spoken to me. I will be fine." He smiled and closed his eyes again. "Treat my wounds as you would any man...." His voice trailed off but the small smile remained on his face.

"Listen to him Jesse," my grandmother's voice sounded behind me.

I turned with tears in my eyes and ran into her arms like a young girl would her mother. She hugged me tightly. "I love him grandmother," I sobbed.

"I know I see it in the way you look at him. He will be okay Jessamine."

The warriors left to stand outside by my grandmother's command and left us alone. She held me at arms length and brushed the tears off of my cheeks.

"Come now. Your stronger than this. Let's get to work."

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