Book One: Chapter Three

CHAPTER 3

AWAKE

Darkness.

That was all she saw. Even if the sun or moon shone through the window. It was so dark that it was cold even when the sun shone on her skin. It was completely quiet though she was in a crowded room and she was in pain. Vaguely she could hear Davina calling, “young mistress! Young Mistress!” but she would suddenly loose consciousness.

Only yesterday morning, she could play freely in the forest, feel the rays of the sun and see the stars at night. She felt the warmth of her family and the feeling of a full belly after eating a meal cooked by Davina or her mother. It was a week ago that she could proudly call herself Astrid deSarto , daughter of Hakalai Vicenzo deSarto and Neferu deSarto. She could roam the capital and play with the noble children and even when she was seen playing with the common children no one would judge or question her –though Davina felt it necessary to remind Astrid of her position as the daughter of a noble.

In any case Astrid appreciated Davina more as a sister than anything else and hated that her sister had to be treated as a lesser being by others when she was not at home. Throughout her peaceful life, Astrid could talk unrestrained, about her fathers beliefs about the equality of all beings in their world.

Her life as Astrid deSarto ended during the twentieth hour of Azuredie, the eighth of the month of Mist, when soldiers from the capital went to her home in the middle of the night arresting her father.

Her father Hakalai Vincenzo deSarto was found guilty of treason. According to evidence collected he had been corresponding with the nearby desert kingdom to destroy the Capitol and replace the royal family with dessert royalty. There was no trial, nor judge, or jury. No one knew where the supposed evidence came from. The Royal guards visited his house and immediately took Hakalai into custody.

The following day Neferu deSarto, Astrids mother had been taken in for questioning. Soldiers from the palace rudely entered their cottage and seized her. Davina was not in the house at the time. She had gone foraging for calming herbs.

When the guards seized Neferu, a switch flipped in Astrid mind. She became distraught and with tears in her eyes held onto her mother with all her might. She did not wish to separate from her mother. Unfortunately for Astrid her actions pushed her towards a sad fate. Had she not cried. Had she not held on tightly to her mother, had she simply sat at home and waited, things may not have turned out the way they had.

However, as Astrid held her mother’s leg tightly, she cried out, “Why are you doing this?!?” no one answered her. She screamed again at the top of her lungs. “I thought my father was the only one being accused. Why are you taking my mother?!?” The guards happened to think the same thing when they were told to take in the girls mother but they had to follow their orders which came directly from King Reagan, but they weren’t going to explain that to the daughter of a traitor.

One particularly cruel and brutish soldier grabbed Astrid and flung her across the room. “that’s not a question you can afford to ask now.” Her head slammed into the wall. “If your father’s guilty, you’re ALL guilty.” The soldiers were all men with families. Had Astrid not screamed so loudly, had she not looked at the soldiers in condemnation they may have left her alone. However, at this point they couldn’t leave her alone and they would rather let inmates in the prison take the blame for the girls injury, over having to account for what happened. The little girl was top quality concubine material. Nobles had likely eyed her and her mother for a long time.

Because the soldier had injured Astrid all of them knew they had no choice but to take her otherwise they would be blamed. The last thought she had just before a soldier picked her up and flung her over his shoulder was thank goodness you’re not here Davina… I’m so glad you’re… okay.
***
She drifted in and out of consciousness and though her whole body was bruised and battered she was most distressed because she could not see. Off and on she would hear “Young Mistress. Are you okay?” as a few days passed she heard a desperate voice calling her “Astrid! It is your sister Davina! Wake up PLEASE! Next time we get sweets I wont share with you at all!”

Astrid opened her eyes and sat up fully conscious after a few moments she realized that the voice she had heard was Davina’s voice.

No! Astrid sobbed.

“Davina why? Why did you come? Our family couldn’t even officially free you!”

Davina held Astrid tightly. “while I was in the forest I could hear you calling out to me, saying you were glad I was not home.”

“If you heard, why did you come here?”
“Well you yourself gave me not only a first name but also to give me your family name. Does that not show your trust in my free will?”

“Isn’t it natural to protect my family?”

Davina took a long sigh. “what should I do now? Should I call a prison guard now and ask him to let me out? If you will become a slave I may as well stay with you as a slave.”

“But…”

“what now? You think you can tell the guards to just let me free? Go ahead if you think you can.”

“you!…”

Astrid was at a loss for words.

“exactly. Just listen to me and lets not argue like normal.”

Astrid slowly drifted to sleep on Davina’s lap and Davina finally closed her eyes and slept after days of worrying over Astrid. Unfortunately this brief respite would be their last together.