Chapter 15

Abiya’s Freedom

Abiya halted in front of the mirror in the bath chamber and stared in disbelief. Who is that retched creature? She raised her hand to her once beautiful, brown hair, now stringy with grease. Her hand traced the smudges on her face. Both hands passed over her dirty, soft pink dress that hung loosely from her too thin frame. The lace around the neck was torn. There was no lace on her right sleeve.

“What has happened to me?” she asked.

“You have not bathed, or eaten properly, in weeks,” Tamerad said.

“What? Why? Has no one been taking care of me?” Abiya asked.

“You have been beguiled,” Tamerad said.

“Beguiled? What do you mean?”

Tamerad’s reflection stood in the mirror next to hers.

Abiya asked, “How long have I been like this?”

Tamerad’s eyes met hers. “I have heard that you have not left your room since your wedding day, five months ago.”

Abiya sucked in a quick breath of surprise. She still had trouble remembering that day. It was so long ago; not weeks or months, it seemed like years. Her new handmaiden, where had she come from? Hadn’t there been another? Yamie. Where was she? Why had she abandoned Abiya?

“Beguiled. Who would do such a thing to me?”

“As to who would do this to you …?” Tamerad shrugged.

Abiya whirled around. “You know. I can tell by the expression on your face.”

Tamerad innocently raised her hands. “I am new here. I may be wrong.”

“Tell me,” Abiya demanded.

Looking around as if someone might hear and punish her, the handmaiden said softly, “Who wishes to keep you captive?”

Abiya shook her head. She could think of no one.

“I believe someone placed a spell on the jewel you carried with you,” Tamerad said.

Abiya’s heart faltered. “No! Topaz would not do this to me.”

“Perhaps I was mistaken, my lady.” Tamerad hung her head in submission.

Before the handmaiden had finished speaking, the voice said, “It is the king who wishes to hold you captive.”

Abiya spoke, her voice hate-filled. “My husband, the king. He has done this to me.” She moved to leave the bath chamber and return to her room. “I will throw the stone in his face.”

“No! Please don’t, my lady!” Tamerad looked alarmed, as if she’d spoken too quickly. She immediately regained her composure.

“And why not?” Abiya demanded.

“You must subtly trick him into taking it back. Trick him in such a way that he comes under its spell.”

“Enslave him?” Abiya asked confused. Yes, the voice in her head said. Trick him. Enslave him.

Tamerad smiled maliciously. “He is a man who tried to enslave you.” Her voice changed from the softness of innocence to that of hard knife-like contempt. “You must enslave him instead.”

“Yes.” Abiya welcomed the thought. Her reflection in the mirror was so thin. “How long since I have eaten?”

“I think far too long. If not for the power of the jewel, you might have died from lack of food.”

Once, she had been beautiful and full of fun. Now everyone in the castle must think her demented. It was all his fault. It was time to pay him back. “Yes. Let the jewel enslave him,” Abiya said.

“I will see that it is removed from your room, my lady. You will never be enslaved by it or by him again.”

But it never enslaved her. Topaz comforted her. If she gave it to the king, she’d have to give it up. Could she do that? It had never harmed her. It would never harm her. There must be another way. “No. Topaz is mine!”

Published in: on July 9, 2011 at 6:04 am  Leave a Comment  

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