The Cold King(10)

By: Amber Jaeger

“Won’t you sit?” the king asked as he unfolded a silk napkin over his lap.

Calia cautiously inched over to the table and perched on the edge of the free seat. She did not touch her napkin, just stared at the king.

He gave a little sigh. “I see we are going to have to work on your manners. This will never do at any dinner I host.”

Calia said nothing, just watched him remove the cover from his tray. The smell of roast meat and vegetables filled the room and Calia’s mouth filled with saliva. But she didn’t move to lift the cover from her own tray.

“I can see you are hungry,” the king said. “Why won’t you eat?”

Calia could only shrug. She knew she was being horribly rude, although she considered locking someone in a dungeon much ruder than poor table manners.

The king shrugged back, mocking her. “No matter. You will eat eventually. I saw you ate your lunch.”

With a little sigh Calia pulled her own napkin onto her lap and took the cover from her tray. The same delicious meal had been prepared for her as well and the shock must have shown on her face.

“Did you expect a heel of bread?” he asked before taking a bite.

“I suppose I did,” she said quietly.

He smiled at her response. “I treat my servants very well.”

Anger swelled in her. “Really? Do they all have to sleep in cold dungeons as well?”

“At first they did. Now they all have fine rooms.”

She fought between shoving the food into her mouth and asking more questions. Curiosity won out, as it usually did with her. “Why?”

He toyed with a carrot before answering. “It eases the transition.”

Calia barely resisted rolling her eyes. “Well, if I fail to be at ease in this cold cell, you’ll have to forgive me.”

He did not rise to her baiting. “Your old life is over, you must accept that. The sooner you do, the easier it will be to begin your new life here. I require utmost loyalty and obedience and I cannot get that from servants who still yearn for their old home or life or family.”

Calia began eating to give herself time to think. She assumed some of the chosen people would have tried to run but the penalty was death, so it could not have been many. And as unhappy as she was, she did not wish for death. “So you lock them up for a few days to make sure they don’t run?” she asked around a full mouth of hot vegetables.

The king sighed and shook his head a little. “That is part of it. It gives the new servants a safe harbor to sort out their new lot in life without the danger of giving into panic and running.”

“How very kind of you,” she said with a purposely full mouth. She knew she was being disgusting but it was worth it to get a dig back at her captor.

“What will you miss most?” the king asked suddenly, interrupting her thoughts.

“My freedom,” she said without hesitation.

He cocked his head to the side. “Not your parents? Your family? What about friends?”

“I did not have any friends. My father is dead. My mother used me as her chore girl and then threw me away as soon as my younger sister was deemed eligible for the job.” She did not mean for such bitterness to ooze from her words but it did.

“I see,” he said quietly. “And you said you had no prospects for marriage?”

“Correct,” she bit out.

The king nodded and leaned back in his chair, his dinner finished. “In time you will come to find all of my servants have been cast out in some way and have come to be very happy here. I know you find this process cruel but it’s best to break all of the bonds from your old life before moving forward.”

“Like I told you, I do not have any.”

“I wasn’t finished,” he said, and Calia could hear a cold anger in his voice. She shivered and snapped her mouth shut. “That’s the first reason for this. The second is that must learn to depend on me for everything. Everything you will have, I will give to you. If you do not have something, it’s because I chose to withhold it. I demand perfect loyalty and obedience and I get it from the servants that come to rely on me entirely.”

Calia’s stomach twisted with fear. The man was clearly sick. He wanted to break her down and build her up into something that would worship him. ‘No,’ she vowed to herself. She would serve him as required but he would never have anything more from her than that.

The king was still speaking and she struggled to process his words. “You will be generously rewarded for your service and in time, I believe you will be happy. As my personal servant, I will rely on you most heavily so it’s important we build the correct relationship from the start.”

Hot Read

Last Updated


Top Books