My knees sting. And my face feels as if it is about to burst.
“Get up you worthless, idiotic oaf.” Now Clarisse is shouting, but it only registers as a faint ringing.
I slowly get to my feet. Biting back a snide retort, I grit my teeth again, ignoring the pain that shoots through my jaw. Survive this and you will not suffer the noose unless you are found out to be a runaway. Snap now and you will be sent to the noose with no chance to live. I play this on repeat in my head knowing in my heart that I cannot crack.
“Does it taste like a sugar-free cupcake?” She shouts, causing my head to ring even more.
Well seeing as it hit my face I did not really get to taste it, now did I?
“Does it?” Mangum Damarion’s deep cold voice rings in for the first time.
I can feel him slowly creeping closer like a dangerous and powerful dark lion. His money-bred arrogance and inhuman power is painted across his face in wide bloody slashes. He does not dare getting close enough to touch me, for even a jealous hyena can take down an ignoble lion.
He throws his cupcake and it hits me just below the collarbone with enough force to push me back a bit. The pastel frosting flies up hitting my neck and chin, but also outward hitting him, and an already frosting-splattered Magnus Madame Clarisse. I clench my teeth harder, knowing it will be hell for whatever servi is tasked with getting the purple color out of the expensive fabric, and even worse to get it out of the priceless rugs and tapestries in the private dining room. I send a silent apology like a prayer to that servi.
Magnus Madame Clarisse’s eyes show with livid blood-lust. “Is. That. Sugar. Free?” She asks quietly, a stark change to the headache inducing shriek from a few moments ago.
She raises her hand to strike me again and I cannot help but cower, my body telling me my head cannot take more abuse.
“No – they are not.” I whisper, my throat rasping. I clumsily try to push my dark hair out of my eyes.
“They are not.” I repeat, knowing that I have cracked and with that realization I stop trying to stay standing, I let myself fall to my knees. I take a rattling breath, knowing that I failed myself.
“You. Brainless. Disgusting. Impudent. Daft. Worthless. Servi.” Her voice gains momentum and crescendos, “Can. You. Not. Follow. Simple. Orders?”
I can feel it. The lion is staring from his throne and his eyes. It feels like I am in the roman coliseum, thumbs are pointing down, but there is a small glimmer of possible guilt and shame in what he is doing in his eyes. But before that glimmer of guilt can take over, his eyes are back to guiling the hyena: impress me, hyena, and you will be a lion; and then there is the hyena, all too ready to comply. The white rabbit has been stained red and the hyena is ready to rip its heart out to give, still beating faintly, to the lion.
I feel the pointy stiletto drive itself into my side before my brain registers that she even moved to kick me. Her stiletto breaks through my uniform and my skin, sending searing pain between my ribs. I topple from my kneeling position to curl up in a fetal position looking at the fine threads, red threads, of the ungodly expensive Persian rugs.