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Author's note: Please comment. I'm thinking about continuing and would love to know what you think.
He came for us in the height of our crime. Most would believe that the height of the crime would be in the middle of the act, caught just as you do it, but actually its just when you think you have successfully completed it and no one caught you. Just when you start to relax and the adrenaline is leaving, just when your stomach begins to untangle from its mess of knots that anxiety had created. Thats when he came for us.
He came with men, eyes similar to his, and ordered them to arrest us. To arrest Lucus and I. He was a police officer, kind of. He's self appointed job was to “rid the community of unruly criminals” and force them to pay for their crimes with service. And to most people in our communities, this sounded amazing and fair, but most of them had never even met him. His name was Cridal. He had dark, black hair, tanned and scarred skin, with deep, threatening dark eyes. And a sly, dangerous smile, that instantly brought fear to anyone near. And he came for us.
The night had began to change to early morning by the time he had taken us. Lucus tried not to show fear, but I didn't care. I didn't care who would see me afraid or what they would think, I cried. The men pushed us and shoved us and hit us into the iron cells, hands strapped tight behind our backs, mouths tightly gagged. It was hard to breathe through my nose when I was sobbing so hard. They shoved us right into all the other people crammed into the cell and laughed as we tripped over them and fell and people kicked us away from them. Dirty, bruised, and bleeding already didn't seem quite as fair as the idea of being punished for crimes as it had before.
Our clothes were soaked from the rain being thrown down from the sky so hard it was like rocks falling down on us and it made my hair stick to my neck and shoulders and face. And now that I was laying on the filthy concrete floor I was becoming a human mud ball. The men laughed and stared at me, making dirty comments and daring each to pull me out and take me to some place private, and that Cridal wouldn't even notice. I pushed myself as far away from them as I could, getting as close as I could to Lucus and crying even harder. My heart pounding in my chest, my stomach twisting and contorting until I was groaning in pain. I felt like Lucus would somehow keep me safe, even though I knew he couldn't help me if they came in after me. I pushed my face into his chest and he rubbed his cheek on the top of my head, trying to do the equivalent of a hug.
We had been in this place for 3 days, 3 days with nothing to eat and nothing to drink; filthy, afraid, and crying, before Cridal came back into the room. Our hands were free, since day 2 when everyone got restroom trips, and gags removed, and Lucus and I sat in a back corner clinging to each other. I was asleep, or the closest thing to it for being in my situation, when Lucus woke me.
“Maya.” Lucus whispered giving me a gentle shake, “Maya, its him! Its Cridal!”
“Huh?” I rubbed my tired, swollen eyes. There he was, standing outside the iron bars, glaring in at each and everyone of us. Then his eyes stopped on me. I shivered and tried to shrink away from his gaze. His dark eyes, suddenly filled with hatred wouldn't move away from me.
“What is your name?” Violence bit into every word and I whimpered, tears filling my eyes again. “Answer me.”
“Maya.” I nearly squeaked it out. He looked over me and his eyes slowly changed, changed from hate to power to dangerous and a smile stretched across his face.
“Come here.” his eyes narrowed, Lucus squeezed me tight as if to hold me and protect me. I looked from Cridal to Lucus back to Cridal, wishing for a way, for something to happen so I didn't have to go. Then there was more force in Cridal's voice, “He can't save you. Now get up and come here.”
I began to cry, first silent tears, then sobs, heavy fearful sobs, making my head ache more and more with every breath. I pushed with all my might off the floor and could barely stand, my knees and legs were so weak from not eating that it made it almost impossible to walk. But I did. I stumbled over to the bars, still trying to keep my distance and feeling like I would succeed until he opened it cell door and motioned me to come forward. I stepped out and froze, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move, I couldn't tell if it was my heart beating so hard it hurt or if it was my stomach twisting into a ball again. He closed to door behind me.
“Don't be afraid!! The King will save us!!” A voice behind me cried out.
“There is no King!” Cridal snapped, glaring at the offender, then he turned back to me. “Hhhmmm... bring me a wash rag and some water,” he commanded another girl standing against the wall behind him. She bowed her head and quickly disappeared. Cridal looked from my head to my toes then back up to my head and that smile crept back across his face. He brought his hand up to his chin, as if inspecting something he was wanting to purchase, and began to walk around me, slowly appraising everything. Once he was standing in front of me again, he reached out and touched a strand of my hair, toyed with it a moment then let it fall. His smile scared me more and more each second that ticked by. Then the girl returned with the rag and water. Cridal grabbed the rag and soaked it in the bowl of water, slowly wrung it out so that no water dripped. He reached up and wiped the side of my face, then my forehead and my cheeks and my nose and eyes. “There, now you look better. Hhhmmm... I might want to keep you all for myself, Maya.”
I flinched and tears streamed down my face. He stepped closer and touched my arm and let his fingers trace my waist. I whimpered and bit down on my lip, turning my face away from him. Then something happened. It felt like my feet had been kicked out from under me and I fell to my knees. My back was stiff and my head bowed, I had to force my head up to look around.
Everyone was bowing. Just like me, in the same direction and silence was over the room. Then I saw him. He wore a robe of pure white and had brown hair that shined and glistened. He had golden eyes, golden eyes that acted like a clear wall, holding back something beautiful in his soul, some beautiful secret that he wanted everyone to know. He looked down at me and smiled. I cried. Not out of fear or pain, but because I had never seen a smile so beautiful. His white teeth were perfect, his lightly tanned skin was perfect, his height and weight and posture was perfect, he was perfect. Then he looked to Cridal.
“Cridal, I have come for them.”
“Your majesty.” Cridal said it through clenched teeth, clearly in pain and angry. “Have you the silver to pay for the slaves you want?”
“Their price has been paid.” The man said sternly.
“Oh, yes, of course, Prince.” Cridal nearly growled. “Maybe you should let them choose on if to go with you or not? Perhaps they could love the life I can give them more than the life you could. I beg you let them choose, sweet and gracious Prince.”
“Only because my Father would permit you such a chance.” And with that we were all led outside. This building we were in was on a mountain top and we were brought out to look over the land as far as the eye could see.
“Now,” Cridal smiled, trying to give a sweet smile and entirely failing, “Now, I can give you anything you see here. Everything you see here. I can turn you to kings and wealthy men and you would never have to work or go hungry. This man will make you obey specific laws and limits and travel a long hard journey to his palace where you shall be a servant.”
The Prince stood behind the crowd and I looked over my shoulder at him. He smiled again and there was a complete happiness in his eyes. A complete joy and love and strength. I had never seen such a smile, such an uplifting smile, it filled me with peace until I felt as if I would explode. Cridal asked two people before he asked me and they both said they wanted to listen and obey him and be given land and wealth.
“And you, Maya?” Cridal stepped closer to me, close enough that he had to look down at me, his dark eyes were inviting, for once, and it made him almost look innocent and like he loved, like he loved me. “Do you want to go on a long journey, not sure if what your looking for even exists? And then be a servant?”
“I...” Then I realized what was happening. That I was starting to fall for his trick, that I wanted what the Prince had. That it didn't even matter if he was really a prince or not, if I was a servant or not, I wanted to know what secrets he held and I wanted the happiness that he had. “I will follow him anywhere he goes. Prince or not. Short journey or everlasting journey. Your wealth and land does not interest me.” A strength filled me instantly, my heart was no longer heavy and burdened.
“Fine!” Cridal snapped at me and glared from me to the Prince and back to me, I smiled as rich and as full as I could and he flinched away from me.
“Come, Maya.” The Prince called from the back of the crowd and I went to stand near him. Next was Lucus.
“What do you choose?” Cridal asked him, suddenly with a strength and majesty about him as if he was also royalty. He leaned in close to Lucus as if he could cut him a deal, as if he would treat him better than he would treat anyone else, “I can give you anything you want, anything you want, a woman, a mansion, all the land you can see, a thousand slaves, anything Lucus, anything.” How did Cridal know his name? Lucus looked around at the people closest to him then back to Cridal then back at me. His gaze turned to a glare and my heart dropped. His eyes changed, from the beautiful brown that I loved to a dark dark color that could have been mistaken for a deep purple. I started to cry.
“I will follow you, Master.” Lucus stepped behind Cridal and faced toward us. I couldn't take my eyes off him, and he couldn't stop glaring at me. Why is he doing this? What did I do?
You did nothing, child. It was the Prince's voice but his mouth hadn't moved. How...? Why...? Huh? I stared up at him, and the corner of his mouth pulled back in a smile. I had to smile too, I couldn't help it, and all confusion was gone.
In the end there was about 15 off us who had decided to go with the Prince and about 20 who had decided to stay with Cridal.
“Cridal, I will take mine and leave.” The Prince said, it sounded as though there was pain in his voice but I couldn't understand how he could be in pain when the happiness in his eyes fills him so full. I looked over at Lucus one last time before we turned to leave with the Prince, and he glared once more and mouthed I hate you.
I walked with tears and there was others who had tears too, others that looked in pain. I couldn't stop replaying it in my mind. The terrible moment when he said he hated me.
They hated me first. The Prince's voice again. Then he turned to us, “Let us rest here a while.” And we did. The Prince sat on a rock so he could watch over us as we sat together on the ground. Everyone was crying and we stayed until everyone stopped. The Prince leaned back and reached behind the rock, when he brought his hand back it held a thick brown bag. “Take one and pass the bag to the next and we will eat.”
It was a bag of bread, big fluffy delicious bread, so much bread the bag should not have held it all. Wait, where did it come from? Did he leave it here before coming to get us? The corner of his mouth pulled back in a smile again. We all smiled too.
“Blessed is my Father,” He said, “For he provides all things.”
Then we ate. We ate until we were full, until it seemed as if we couldn't walk and we felt strong again, then he held out a tall cup and passed it around. We each drank as much as we could and it was still full when the last person drank, we gave it back to the Prince and he drank too. Then he stood, his white robe still sparkling white as snow, not one grain of sand or one speck of dust on it.
“Now,” He smiled and his eyes showed something, showed the mists of the oceans that we could not see in his spirit, and none of us could move, a power and beauty shined through him and we all sat in amazement. Tears filling and welling over in our eyes as we saw what was glowing on him so strongly. Love. A true undying unconditional overwhelming love. And a glory, a glory he had to contain within him. If at the sight of the glory's mist, we couldn't stand, couldn't walk, couldn't think straight, what would it be to touch the mist? Or to see a drop? Or a puddle? Surely the ocean within him would completely overwhelm and kill our poor bodies. The Prince finished saying, “Follow me to my Father's Kingdom, for I am the only one who knows the way.”