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“Extermination would be far simpler,” the Arkhani prince murmured, his opinion lost under the swish of the door that closed behind the ship’s commander.
“What do you mean?” I blurted, forgetting my place even though the dangling chains on my wrists should have reminded me. In Arkhana, even the storytellers were slaves.
The prince’s black eyes bored into mine for a moment before I dropped my gaze. He took a step closer and I trembled. Had my insolence finally pushed him too far?
“Training Srinja wildlings is costly.” Luckily, his voice held tolerant amusement. “They are hopelessly backward.”
“There is always hope, my lord,” I murmured unable to quell my compassion for victims of Arkhani aggression.
Though he’d never been cruel, I cringed as long dark fingers brushed my chin. Timidly, I met his curious stare. “True bards never look reality in the eye, do they?” Something primal swam in his angular smile making my heart skip. “But you have won, my songbird. I shall let them.”
“Or starve. As they choose.” He glanced down at my fettered wrists, then said. “You know this has nothing to do with you.”
Surprise softened his voice. “How could it? You do not work and…” His thumb caressed my cheek. “I would never let you starve.” The yearning that smoldered in his eyes was unmistakable and far more terrifying than any whip.
For a slave to love their master was expected, but a master’s love could be deadly.
Word count: 248 Illustration via iStockphoto.