5. Camp

5. Camp

A Chapter by Lynaelee

Kern wastes little time guiding me back to his camp, rattling about himself and the monsters he's slain. I don't get to say much, but I don't mind. Buck was not a good conversationalist; I wonder if this is how he feels when I keep talking. "My camp is just around the corner. Why don't you make your way up there. I'll get you some fresh water. Most of the dishes I have are down that path, the camp is on that one. Flat ground. If you can make it through a cave by yourself, you can manage this," Kern insists. I nod and make my way slowly and painfully up the path. When I turn the corner, I find Kern's camp; only he's not alone. I gasp and try to turn away. This many men cannot be a good thing. Kern has come up behind me and wraps me in his arms, making sure not to spill the pot of water he's carrying. "Relax, princess. We'll take real good care of you," he whispers in my ear, pulling me tighter to him and rubbing my back. 

"I'm not your princess," I retort, trying to push away.

"No. You're a baker from the swampland, right?" My eyes widen in fright as I look at him.

"You don't know me," I murmur.

"You're right. I don't. All I do know, is we need you. I have been on the hunt for your eyes for a long time. A warlock gave me the prophesy of how I can live forever 62 years ago. While I may have an extended lifespan already, 250 years is short in comparison to eternal life. I could only search during certain times, but I've been anticipating your arrival for years. Had I known I was looking for a radiant being like yourself, I would have made sure your arrival was a little more fitting. However you are a most welcome and pleasant surprise. I admire your valiant efforts to try to stay away, but let's face it, princess. You're destined to be with us," he snarls as he pushes me towards a log just on the edge of camp. "Men, guard her with your life. If you are not willing to give up your life to ensure she stays here then you are of no use to me. You made it easy, princess. I don't see you running on that foot any time soon; you had a difficult time walking the path. I don't mind. For now, you'll serve me by giving my men something nice to look at." I shudder as two me approach me and stroke my hair and grab my shoulders. Kern points to some meat that is hanging from the trees. Somebody runs and gets it for him. Once it is in his hand, it starts to smoke. He meets my eye and smiles. "I promised you a meal. How do you like your meat?" I remain silent and he walks over to me so he could crouch in front of me, setting his pot beside me. "Secure her," he orders. The two men playing with my hair sit on either side of me and hold my arms down. Kern reaches out, sticks the smoking hot meat in one of their laps, and touches me. I scream in agony as a seering pain shoots through my chest. "You are a rarity indeed. I look forward to feasting on your heart in a few nights. It's a shame you were cursed with the sign of the snake. You could have made someone a lovely bride," he murmurs as he removes his hand and strokes my cheek. His hand is no longer burning me, but I don't want him touching me so I flinch away. "You're marked, my dear. Your heart is mine. Soon, you'll be begging me to take it away from you. I promise, when the time comes, I'll make it painless."

"You're Lord Demin, aren't you?" I cry. He grins.

"So you've heard of me. Who told you?"

"Nobody. I overheard it," I state.

"Ah yes, but from whom?" He questions. I shudder and say nothing. "Tell me, princess, where did you hear my name?"

"At the base of the mountain. I was coming down after picking some blueberries for some muffins to be served to my new customers. After I heard that, I dropped my basket and ran back up the mountain again, only to be chased by the same men I served earlier that day. I wasn't going to let them turn me over to you. I also overheard you have an army of hellhounds," I whisper. "Why not end it now? You want me dead. Why me? I did nothing to you."

"That may be true, but your sacrifice has been foretold for centuries. I'm in my last decade. Like I said, 62 years ago I needed answers. This has been a long time in coming. I look forward to our time together. Your sacrifice will not be in vain. So thank you," he replies as he stands up and the men release me. I rub my chest and look up at him.

"A sacrifice? That's what I am to you? That's murder," I lash out. We have gained a crowd, and all the men laugh.

"Only if there's someone that'll miss you and seek justice. However, my dear, you have no one," Kern states maliciously.

"For someone who lives for about 250 years, you look pretty young and spry. You don't need me," I counter. Again the men snicker.

"But I do. It's not up for debate. Eat that rabbit, princess. Fetch her water as often as she needs it. I'll go set up a private tent for you. So you can take care of your womanly needs alone; like I said, I wasn't expecting you - a woman. When the sun is between those trees, you will join me for another meal or you will become the meal," Kern warns as he picks up the water again. I nod and let another tear slip down my cheek.

"Ooh! Such a pretty thing shouldn't be crying," one of the men beside me insists as he licks my cheek, caresses my jaw, and then traces the collar of my dress with his hand. His hot, heavy breath sticks to my neck, but I can't move away.

"She may be our prisoner but you will treat her like royalty," Kern demands, wrapping his hand around the man's. He starts to scream, but neither man removes their hand from my chest. I shudder, shake, and continue to cry silently. "Your only job is to ensure her safety and keep her alive. Do you understand?"

"Yes, my lord," the man submits and withdraws his touch. It is now shriveled and burned. I look back at Kern in terror.

"Spread the word, we have our princess. Everyone is to treat her with respect and keep their hands off her unless she tries to run. This water is now tepid, so unfortunately it can't be drank. Get her fresh water," he orders the other man as he starts to dump out the hot water.

"Wait!" I cry out. He turns his attention back towards me as he stops pouring the water. "Make it hotter. If I am to have a meal with you later, it's only fair that I bring something worthy of your status, unless you don't mind me making a fire to cook something for you. Er, um. I mean for us."

"No fires, princess. It's not necessary when we have a gaint cat trying to find our weak points and I have the same ability to cook food with heat, just with a touch of my hands. Fire will only let the cats know our position, if they have the courage to approach it. We did really good making sure our access points are not so easily accessible to the wildlife. You stumbled in showed me a weak point. I won't let that happen again, especially since you are so precious to us. I refuse to let those cats get close to you. I can't imagine why they're hunting you still. Seems like an awfully long pursuit," Kern replies, sitting the pot next to me and making it steam and bubble, but not boil yet.

"Who is to say that the cats you've seen are the same ones that I saw at the base of the mountain? Fire helped in the cave to let me see where I was but it can also be used defensively if those cats come into camp," I counter as I meet his icy gaze again. He purses his lips and his square jaw looks even more sharp.

"Fire can also be used offensively if you're trying to escape," he accuses.

"I won't try to escape. I'm tired of running. I just like the warmth and light a fire provides," I reply softly. 

"No fires," he repeats, glaring at me. I nod and duck my head. "That's Miguel. He will round up anything you need without a complaint or he'll loose his other hand too."

"Yes, my lord," Miguel states through gritted teeth. Kern grabs my jaw and forces me to look at him as he stands up.

"I told you, we'll keep those pesky cats away. I won't lose you, princess. I need you. Alive. You're safe for the time being and don't have to run any more. I'll see you in a few hours," he murmurs, then leans over and kisses my forehead. "Now teach these men how to show proper respect."

"As you wish, Lord Kern," I reply as I duck my head. The pot beside me still boils even though he hasn't been touching it for a bit. He silently walks away and I wipe a tear away. I look up at Miguel and scoot away slightly.

"Princess," he snarls. "Welcome to hell."

"I'm not there yet," I retort. He smirks and looks at his hand.

"Might as well be. I was beginning to wonder if we would ever find you; part of me hoped we wouldn't, but the bigger part wanted you here too. Your life just took on a whole new meaning. What do you need to make his royal prick something to eat?"

"There was barley stalks down by the lake. Is there any wild grain here?"

"Wouldn't know. We only eat meat that he gives us. Wanna look around? I'll have to touch you," he warns. I nod.

"Why do you hate me?" I inquire as he helps me stand. His eyes grow soft and he looks down.

"I don't hate you. I feel bad for you, but you can save me. I haven't tasted how sweet and soft a woman can be in a while, so I apologize for that. I'm married. Well I hope I am still; we were promised that life would be the same for us when the ritual is complete. My wife was my whole world, but she was dying and I didn't want to lose her. So I made a deal with Lord Demin. In exchange for her health, I had to join his army. So I did. As you know, Kern Demin is a nearly eternal lord and has hellhounds at his command. He possesses great abilities -which makes him almost impossible to challenge- and he always gets his way. What you may not know is all of us humans in this camp, will turn into hellhounds at the end of the blood moon. Not only will your blood allow me to remain human and possibly return to my wife, but you'll release the hellhounds too. They will become human again and they will have a deep thirst for blood. The only thing I care about is getting back to my family and with you, I can. My debt will be paid and I can go home. Hopefully, I'll have enough of a head start before the ultimate blood bath begins," he explains. I gasp and feel myself getting lightheaded. I reached for the closest thing to brace on. I stumble forward and collapse on the ground. "Are you trying to get me killed? Don't you know if you end up hurt more or missing, I die? I wouldn't wish your fate on anyone, but do you wish to see people suffer? Because you will. There will be no choice. Stop being so clumsy and just behave," Miguel demands as he makes me stand up again.

"No. I'm. No. Sorry. I just got lightheaded," I admit as I look down. It's not much, but I spot some millet grain. I gladly pluck it. "So my death will free all of you, yet endanger the world?"

"Basically," Miguel admits.

"Would those people suffer?"

"I didn't think of that. Mainly, I've been selfishly thinking. We all have; being free sounds better than condemning the world," he confesses as he takes the plants away from me and looks up. I follow his gaze spot another bee hive, just within reach and look back at his hand; the honey could help if we wrapped it up.

"How do you know?"

"It was foretold." I look down with barely a nod and find a lingonberry bush. I grin. "Those are tart aren't they?" Miguel asks. I nod and point to the plant in his hand.

"They pair really good with the millet. Wild rice is better, and carrots and sage, but I'll make do," I reply as I start harvesting the berries. "I could use some of the honey from that hive up there too, but it'd be better on your hand. It's what I used in my bakery if I was out of lard or butter and I burned my hand. It takes the sting away." 

"What if I said I could get you those first three ingredients too?" He inquires as he tucks my millet plant carefully into his pocket then reaches up and grabs the hive. I move over to help and make sure we don't take too much of the hive away. He sets the remaining bit of the hive back on the branch and gives me his burned hand.

"Well they'd add more flavor," I confirm as I pour the honey onto his hand. He then pulls out a handkerchief and carefully wraps his hand. I help him tie it then he helps me back to the log. I look at the pot and gasp, "it's still boiling!" Miguel chuckles and holds up the rabbit meat as he helps me sit down.

"And this is still hot. It's one of Lord Demin's gifts. No one has been granted permission to ever call him Kern, except you. However, things remain hot until their purpose is served, then they immediately cool down again. So when you're ready to serve your food, the pan will be cool enough to hold. The food will remain hot though. It's a strange but helpful gift," Miguel states. I nod and begin adding my ingredients into the pot as the second guy comes back and gives me a large glass of water. I move to say thanks, but Miguel speaks up first. "Sage. The tall black grass by the water. Carrots. And a spoon. Gather those items," he orders with a shove. The man takes off again and Miguel looks at me. "How'd you get to be so lucky to call him by his first name, princess?"

"It's Clara or Miss Hatten please; I've never been somebody's princess and I don't want to start now. As for Kern, that's how he introduced himself. I guess if he introduced himself as a lord or used his last name, I might have tried to flee. Nothing good can come from a lord in a remote area, and any name that sounds like demons are usually a bad omen," I reply, still husking my food and dropping into the hot water.

"Clara?" I nod. "What was your mother's name?"


"She won't be looking for you?"

"No. Spanish flu took her and my twin brother -Bastian- out nine years ago. I never met my father and as far as I'm aware, I don't have any aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents. Kern was right; I'm all alone. I don't even have a pet. Guess that's good news," I explain softly as it sinks in; I'm going to die, and no one will know. 

"How old are you, princess?" Miguel whispers as the second man comes back. I sigh and look up at him. He has tears in his eyes but I don't hear the strain in his voice. "It's who you are to us; calling you anything else would be rude. I can't disrepect Lord Demin like that." I nod in defeat.

"I'm 22, Miguel."

"Ah. Well I hope you enjoy your stay with us, princess. You really are more than we ever could have hoped for and more than any of us were ever told. Norbert, don't let her speak to anyone else. She can ask for water, a place to relieve herself, and a place to hunker down if she desires. However, no casual talk. Keep her safe. And remember, she's royalty. Do not ask for her name, and, princess, don't give it out again," Miguel says quickly before running away. My eyes follow him in confusion before I take the items away from Norbert with a smile. 

"Thank you for your help," I murmur as I finish preparing my meal in silence. I don't know what else I'm supposed to say to a wannabe demon dog; I don't know what else I'm allowed to say. Maybe they didn't know what they were signing up for but at the same time, practically selling your soul to get what you want is pretty dark too. I sigh as my heart becomes heavier. Do I save them and release hell on earth? Or do I try and fight to live? I know I don't want to die, but my hands feel tied. "This burden is too much," I think as another tear slips out. I don't bother wiping it away. Just as the sun dips behind the trees, Kern comes back with a large smile and my meal is almost complete. I look at Norbert and gesture to the rabbit still laying on the log. "Will you please thinly slice that for me? I wasn't given a knife and doubt you would trust me with one." He nods and does what I ask.

"Very wise, princess. Can't have you harming yourself before I demand your presence for good. Every drop of blood is precious to me and risking your fingers to a cut would break my heart. Your food looks incredible and smells delicious," Kern praises as he slides beside me and reaches his arms around my waist. I pant and halt all production as his arms tighten and he pulls me closer to him. "Keep working, my dear." I nod, take the sliced meat from Norbert, and arrange it in a circular form on top of my porridge and rice. "Norbert, fetch me three volunteers to taste this food."

"I wouldn't poison you, my lord!" I cry out as I face him and Norbert runs off. Kern leans in and rubs his nose against mine and I shiver against my will. "That would mean poisoning myself. You told me I was to share a meal with you!" I stammer.

"And we will eat it, princess. This is just a precaution," he swears as he finally pulls back. I glare and reach into the pot and pull back a handful of food. "Princess, princess, princess," Kern chides. "Where are your manners?" I look at him and shove part of the food into my mouth. The rabbit is too big, so it doesn't enter, along with a good portion of my mix. It doesn't bother me though because eating meat was never something I was fond of; it takes too long to cook and I can't just rest it on my tongue to let it dissolve like my breads do.

"The food is safe," I insist after I swallow. I hold his gaze and he tightens his arm around me and grabs my wrist. I wince as he applies some pressure, but thankfully, it's not burning.

"Never said it wasn't. Was just following protocol," he murmurs as he brings my hand up to his mouth and eats the remaining bit off my hand. "It is tasty and you are truly perfect, my dear," he sneers as three men step up. I gasp when I notice Arthur is one of them. He meets my eyes and seems to falter in his steps. He is pale and sickly looking but I can see the sheen of sweat on his face. I gasp when I notice the blood on his shoulder has a shimmery effect. "No time for questions, my dear. Step up, gentlemen. Our princess has made you a meal," Kern demands as he lifts his hand towards them. The three men step up and Kern shoves my hand back into the pot. "Offer them a bite, princess," he orders harshly. I nod and cup my hands together as I scoop out some food, offering it to each of the men to eat. Arthur steps up first and eats a good chink out of my hands; the other men follow suit. Kern places his hand on their stomach then the side of their head as they eat. Then he taps the ground with his foot as he brings the pan over to my lap. I rest my hands beside me and watch with wide eyes. Manners do not exist any more. All three men reach in and grab two more handfuls each; I notice all the rabbit has disappeared. "Here's the show part of the meal. They now have an insatiable hunger and will only be able to focus on the food. Nothing else will matter. This is my gift to you. Enjoy. I know I will," Kern whispers as he reaches in and grabs his own handful. "Eat your fill, princess. It will disappear quickly and stay close to me." I nod and slowly put my hand back in the pan, but I would rather let the hungry men eat than try to take food away from them. I'm disgusted and suddenly not so hungry any more. Kern presses on my elbow and I obediently bring some food to my mouth.

© 2017 Lynaelee

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Added on August 2, 2017
Last Updated on November 19, 2017



Sometimes I feel like I need an outlet to express myself. I have never been good with verbal communication, but I have always found an out in writing. I hurt. I bleed. I make mistakes. I cry. Yes,.. more..

If only If only

A Book by Lynaelee

1. *Prologue* 1. *Prologue*

A Chapter by Lynaelee