I was cold, so cold. I had spent too much time among the shadows, I tried to move, but the shadows stopped me, I haven’t noticed there were so many and so close to me.
For a long time I had searched for an escape from the hell my life has become, I had tried so hard not to feel, not to be there, until one day I just left my body behind and escaped. At first I didn’t know how or why it happened, I just knew that once my body had reached its limit and my mind couldn’t take it anymore it just slipped away. At first I was a spectator of the awful, humiliating things my body was subjected to, but it was better just to see than it was to feel it, but as I observed I was sucked back into the nightmare of my body’s torture. Then I discovered that I could run away, get away from my body, but as I drifted away I found the darkness. In the darkness, I had to hide from a different kind of monster; the shadows. The shadows were no better or worse than the monsters of flesh and blood, both kinds of monsters were after my energy, my integrity, my sanity, both made me feel trapped and vulnerable, and no matter how hard I tried both of them eventually caught up with me. When I could no longer hide, when the darkness became unbearable, I returned to my body.
I woke up physically and mentally drained, I vaguely remembered what had happened and once again I wondered if there was a way to escape my body without falling into the darkness, but I brushed the thought away, just thinking about it made my head hurt. With time I had become an expert in not thinking, thinking always led to pain, searing pain, so I tried to keep my mind blank and the pain away. I looked around me and tried to get my bearings in the dark, it took me a couple of minutes. I was on the floor, naked, that’s why I was still cold after leaving the darkness. I tried to put the pieces back together and remember how I had ended up there and where to find my clothes. As I remembered where I was and the night before I left the place. Agmong had lent me to one of his friends, and I knew from previous visits that I had to get the hell out of there, if the lieutenant woke up I would have to endure his attention again. Agmong haven’t ordered me to stay there until morning, so I left in a hurry.
I left the room and then the building where the rooms for officers were, taking care of not drawing attention as I walked past the doors. It was still dark, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before sunrise. I had to get back to my squad, so I rushed to the bathrooms to take a quick shower before going back to the barracks. I left the warm water wash the blood away and ease the pain in my body. I made an inventory of new wounds; some bruises were already showing in arms and legs, I couldn’t see, but the soreness in my neck told me that I would have a bruise in the shape of the lieutenant’s hand around my neck. The bite marks were the worst, not so much because of the pain, but because Agmong didn’t like it when I had another man’s mark on me, and somehow it was always my fault. I didn’t want Agmong to be mad at me, I still had the mark from the last time he was mad at me; a fern-like burn, left on my chest after a vicious electric shock. The mark was already fading and I knew that arriving with someone else’s marks on my body would be a good excuse for him to mark me some more.
I tried not to think about punishments, I wasn’t a good idea to worry about it, I had to take advantage of the moment of solitude. I left myself relax as I felt the warm water washing away my worries. I didn’t want to go, the warm water was soothing, but I had to leave before someone else arrived. As usual, I wasn’t lucky, just as I was gathering my clothes Agmong appeared.
“Sklave, what are you doing here?” he walked to me and took the towel I was using to cover myself off me. “I thought you were still with Orlom” his hands started exploring my abused body, stopping over the bite marks. “How was your night?” He asked. “Did you think about me? Did you miss me?”
I had learned that there was no correct answer to his questions. If I told him that I had missed him it was an open invitation for him to rape me right there, but if I told him that I didn’t then he would get mad and beat me as punishment. No, it was an impossible question to answer, so I didn’t say a thing. Sometimes, if I was lucky he just got bored and left me alone.
“No words?” he hit me hard and I fell to the floor. “You have to answer me when I talk to you Sklave!” He started kicking me, but it wasn’t as bad as usual. “Do you prefer him? You think he’s better than me?” It was always the same, he ordered me to spend the night pleasing his friends and then acted like I was betraying him, I couldn’t understand him.
It wasn’t long before he got bored and left me alone. The damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I could feel no broken bones. As soon as I heard him turning the shower on I got up and left the place before he could ask me to join him or decided to hit me some more. I waited outside the door for the rest of the group to leave for breakfast and then I joined them. I had to start the day, I had to stay as far as I could from Agmong and obey. Not thinking and obeying, it was my way of life.
The day started and I let myself get into my routine. The routine was a good thing, I didn’t have to think about it, I just had to do what I was told and keep my head down. First training. I focused on defense, on not letting them hurt me so bad. That day was a good one, it didn’t include shooting practice, I hated shooting practice. I remembered that once, a lifetime ago, I had liked it, I was good at it, but now it terrified me. If my aim was bad Agmong used it as an excuse for punishing me, but if I was good at it he used me as a living target. But I didn’t have to worry about that, not yet. After training it was lunch, it was also a time to avoid Agmong, for being invisible, keep my head down. After that it was patrolling.
The sector was divided in subsectors, each one had a control post patrolling the limits of the territory, we were in the inner part of the sector, in its core, where the general and the high commanders governed. The outer posts were supposed to keep the sector safe and warn us about any threat, but even if there were other patrolling the limits of the territory we had to patrol and make sure no enemy could reach the main city in the sector. I used to think that it would be easier to patrol if we hid behind walls, but it was a line of thinking that always left me writhing in pain.
Few times an enemy had reached our group. The last time it had happened, it was a scouting advance team that had managed to get pass the first patrols, but we had discovered them and fought them. One of our group had died during the battle. I envied him, I wished it was me the one who died, not him. Death was a form of freedom. I had tried to take my life once, but Agmong had discovered me and punished, he told me he owned me and only he could decide when I died, in his anger he had used more electricity than usual and printed the first fern like mark on my skin. The medic that had attended me after that told me that the mark was the result of the electricity making my veins burst open. But maybe if we encountered the enemy again, I would be lucky, maybe they would kill me. But the day was quiet as usual and we returned in time for supper. I tried to get my hands on some alcoholic beverages during supper but I couldn’t. It was so much easier at night if I could lose myself in alcohol, but as usual, I didn’t have luck on my side, so I had to go into the barracks with nothing to help me.
And then it was night. The nights were the worst part of the day, I didn’t like it, I feared it. I went straight to my bed. I could hear the rest of the group in the common area, laughing. But I kept my distance, hoping no one would notice my absence.
Not long after the party started, I heard the first screams. The younger victims of the group had been spotted and were now part of the entertainment. I hoped it would stay that way, maybe if they distracted them long enough, they would have no use for me. It was so rare to have a night just for me and I needed one. I felt bad for them for a second, because they had the bad fortune of ending up in that hell, but it didn’t last long, it was me or them and I didn’t want it to be me in their place. I saw Agmong dragging a little girl into his room. She was fighting him back. There was a time, in another life maybe, when I would have done the same. But it was pointless, it wasn’t possible to resist Agmong. Through the wall the screams and the sound of whipping reached my ears. I knew what was going on the other side, most nights it was me chained to Agmong’s wall or hanging from the ceiling as Agmong whipped me and laugh at me as I screamed and begged him to stop.
From the other side of the barracks I heard the screams of the young man fading. Were they done with him? Most probably he had passed out. But it wasn’t a good thing for me, if they ran out of entertainment, then maybe they would come for me. The noises from the party started to fade out, the steps and the voices approaching told me that the main act was over. I heard muffled screams and begging that no one would listen to as the top dogs chose their victims for the night. I didn’t move, I hoped once again that they would forget about me, but it my fear was so great as the steps came closer that I left my body and fell into the darkness.
I survived another night so I had to face another day. As a wake up call someone sneaked into my bed and taking just a second to push my legs apart thrust himself inside me. Don’t think, don’t feel, endure… I tried not to pay attention to what was happening to my body. I tried to pretend it was nothing but I couldn’t help the silent tears rolling down my face. I waited for him to finish and then gathered my things so I could go and take a quick shower. I hated to go into the baths when most people were there, there was always someone just waiting for an opportunity to abuse me. It was always the same. No to think, endure, survive.
The day was going the exact same way as always, until someone spotted a group advancing to us. We approached them and found out that they were from the Palace, the hearth of the Empire. As soon as we found who they were, we informed Agmong. He arrived and welcomed the group, he and the group’s captain spent the journey back to the camp talking.
As we escorted them to our city I stayed near the visitor’s convoy, close enough to see our sergeant and the captain. I could feel the captain’s eyes on me, but the sensation wasn’t just because of the way he was looking at me, he was a telepath and he was reading my mind, I could feel him digging. As soon as I saw him the pain in my head started, being near him only made it worse and left me even more vulnerable to his invasion of my mind. I knew he was looking into my most private thoughts and fears, but I couldn’t stop him, I didn’t have the strength or the knowledge to. I tried to hide my fear from him, but every time I stole a glance at him I could see his mocking smile. Agmong noticed the captain’s interest and he seemed torn between anger and interest.
Agmong himself guided the captain to the building where the offices of the high officers were. Something important was about to happen, but I had no idea, or interest of what it was. We went back to patrolling until it was dark and we changed shift. I tried to forget the captain and the way he had invaded my mind, he made me sick in more than one way, the pain in my head hadn’t been so awful in a long time.
When we returned I noticed a lot of movement in the city. I knew it had to do with the arrival of the Palace’s group, but I didn’t dwell on it, I wanted the pain to go away, I needed a clear mind.
As I walked back to the barracks after supper I ran into Agmong.
“Sklave, just the girl I was looking for. Follow me.” He turned and started walking and I followed him.
He took me to the bathrooms and into the shower area, he took his clothes off, I didn’t do a thing, waiting for him to tell me what to do. Without a word he undressed me and guided me to one of the showers where he started washing me. Agmong and water were a bad combination so I did my best not to do anything that could anger him.
“Captain Rimsin is interested in you,” he told me “so you will entertain him tonight” I was doing my best not to pay attention to what his hands were doing. “There is an important battle and I want to be part of it, it could be my opportunity to move to a higher rank, and you will help me. Rimsin said that if you pleased him, he would make sure that our squad was selected to go with him to battle,” he yanked my hair and pulled my head back until I felt as if my neck was going to break. “I don’t care what he wants from you, you will give it to him, you won’t ruin this for me. Do you understand Sklave?”
“I do, I won’t disappoint you.” The last thing I wanted was to go anywhere near that captain, but I was too afraid of Agmong, I couldn’t disobey him.
He didn’t let me put clothes on, he wrapped me in a robe and guided me across the city to where the Palace’s group was staying. Rimsin’s people were looking at me with curiosity, I tried to keep my head down, avoiding eye contact. We reached Rimsin’s room and Agmong guided me inside it.
“Captain, I brought you what you asked for,” he said as he removed the robe and left me standing naked in front of them.
“Perfect” Rimsin walked to me and I resisted the impulse to hide from him, Agmong wouldn’t appreciate it if I did, so I stared at the floor. “You said that she would do anything I asked from her, correct?”
“That’s right,” confirmed Agmong, “I trained her personally to be an obedient soldier, she will follow any order, no matter what you ask.”
“Perfect. You can go now sergeant” I heard Agmong exiting the room and locking the door close. Rimsin stopped in front of me, all I could see were his feet. “Look at me,” he ordered and I raised my head to comply, as our eyes locked I felt the searing pain in my head building again. “You had no idea how much I will enjoy this” he said just before slapping me, hard.
I fell to the floor and just stayed there, unsure of what he wanted from me. He kicked me knocking the air out of me and then he grabbed my hair and pulled me back up.
“You have no idea how long I wanted to do this,” he wasn’t making any sense and the pain in my head was reaching new levels. “This time I’m on top, I’m the captain and you are nothing, this time no one is here to save you. Now you are the one vulnerable, you are scared, under my power, as it should always have been,” he hit me again and I fell on my knees. He started to undress. “I wish I was the one to teach you your place, to strip from you your confidence and sense of superiority” I hadn’t moved, I was on my knees, my head down, I could only see Rimsin’s feet as he moved around me. “I will have to settle with this,” he once again grabbed me by my hair and dragged me through the room until we were standing in front of a full size mirror. “What should we do with you?” I could see him standing behind me in the mirror and what I could see on his face scared me. His hands moved on my body until he was first cupping my breasts and then twisting them painfully. I tried to suppress a whimper, but I couldn’t.
“Don’t hold back,” he said, “feel free to scream as much as you want, it will be music to my ears,” he twisted again and I couldn’t help but cry out. He let go and I fell to the floor. “Today I will make your worst nightmares come true.” After those words he walked away, leaving me there, frightened. Many possibilities crossed my mind, what had he planned for me? Why was he being so cruel to me?
I had lowered my eyes to the floor and didn’t see Rimsin coming back, but I was able to hear the whip just before I felt it across my back. I was afraid, I didn’t know how long I could take it, he was vicious in his attack, the lashes raining on me mercilessly. I tried to escape the pain, but when I tried to leave my body something blocked me.
“No, I won’t let you escape this so easily” Rimsin told me, “I want you to be conscious every minute of this, I want you to suffer every second.”
Just when I thought that things could not get any worse, I found out that there were monsters even worse than Agmong.
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