Chapter 34 | Taken

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After I finished helping make the morning with Adler, I returned to the hospice. Nothing could prepare me for who I found once again in the bedchamber of my sisters and I. Only now, the old advisor is very well healed and walking around on his own.

"You...," his voice shakes.

Urdmin points a crooked finger at me. None of my sisters do anything to intervene. I try to sidestep him, but he pulls my hair. I grunt in pain feeling him kick me in the ribs. The old dirty slate ground bruises my knees, but I'm already being pulled back up by my hair.

A moment later, the long dull sharp blade he holds in his other hand whizzes by my face. I hold my breath watching my sisters grab onto each other in the corner of the room.

The false god puts the blade back into its holder on his tunic. His other hand comes away with my chopped hair.

I spit on his face, earning a stinging slap that makes stars blur my vision.

I scream and whimper, feeling his whip wrap around my neck. Its sound echos around the chamber as blood dribbles down my collarbone.

"You are a whore. You shall not ruin this establishment. The empress has declared you a liability to our people. You will join others of your rank," Urdmin sneers while thrusting his enclosed wrist up. The whip's new tension sends me lurching toward him. "Where you will be broken of your womanhood and made a slave. Do not resist, hurry up!" 

My sisters glare at the advisor but make no move to help me. I don't know how they could. They are older than the false god and rather defenseless.

I'm made to follow him onto the bustling streets where most people don't spare me a second glance. This must be commonplace because everyone minds their own business and quickly moves from the false god's path to make room for him. The whip is looser now along my throat, but that is only because I am keeping up with him. 

We come to a stop outside the palace, but instead of taking the path leading to the arched entrance, Urdmin veers left and takes me down a rocky path not nearly as pretty as the palace's one. The path is sloped downhill and winds away from the huge marble columns toward a long, short building much less spectacular. There are no fancy statues or fountains here. The rock composing the large shelter is simple with no carvings or decoration.

It is much like a long box with tall, narrow windows that I see the blur of silver shapes moving around behind. The roof is flat, but it's the only building I've seen people standing on top of...

Two guards on hooved beasts block our way from entering the building. One of them hops off the beast, landing heavily on the ground. The metal outfit they are adorned in shines very brightly. It hurts my eyes. A sharp clink resounds as they lift the front of their helmet. 

The guard speaks to Urdmin while clamping new chained heavy bracelets on my wrists.

The whip's constriction leaves my neck, but the false god's hand quickly replaces it. "Keep walking, now!" he commands.

With a heavy heart, I obey him while watching the guard mount the beast.

The building inside is noisy. Stacks of dead plants of some sort lay along the black walls. In the middle, the large expanse of room is quite busy. Large marble rocks stand in its center, around it, slaves hammer and hit away at them at the command of over a hundred beast-riders who all carry whips.

"Now listen carefully, whore. This is a new temple being built for your great empress, Femke. You will eat and work in here. Sleep only on your breaks or you will be killed and replaced promptly. You get one three hour break and that's it. You are not to leave this compound for any reason or you will be shot with this," he threatens while picking up a thin metallic object with a triangular piece perched on top. He taps its pointed end with his finger, "There are skilled archers above this roof. They will shoot you without a second thought."

I scream when he wrestles me out of my clothes without warning. Someone grabs my arms behind me and wraps a constricting fabric around my chest and torso. Then they tug my arms through a paper-thin tunic and tie the front together with a piece of yarn to conceal the wrap around my chest. The tunic only reaches my knees like Enoch told me most men's do. 

Only the rich can afford longer and more durable cloth like Enoch's though. However, even on the streets women wore longer tunics, but I never thought much about that until now.

"I will make a better man than you!" I tell the false god.

"If I knew best, I'd say you are neither woman or man, but something else entirely. Whatever you are, it does not matter here. You are labor," he announces with a cruel smile before turning away.

A heavy curved blade is shoved into my arms.

I follow the tall stranger, who must be a slave as well for they are chained like me, to a big boulder. There is no instruction given to me or an explanation of what I am to expect. There is only learning by doing here. That being, hitting the rock-solid surface over and over again until a tiny crack forms.

The slaves around me are not weak or frail.

They are like the city guards with their big muscles and smelly body odor. They are not so silent as guards though and talk amongst themselves, but not to me of course. To the giants around me, I'm invisible.

There are no women here, but it would not surprise me if the empress declared it be so. I'm not sure about the guards, but I am too afraid to look behind me and stop working to see.

My hands already are blistering from holding the rough wooden handle of my hefty tool. It is hard to hold my head up when it droops forward in weariness from this grueling work.


A/N: How will Greta adapt to this new environment? What will Enoch make of her disappearance this time? Stay tuned...

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