Chapter 5 : Unexpected Visitors.



A rat scurried over to the crumbs on the plate. Maria tensed, making sure not to move a muscle, so as not to chase the rat away. 



She waited until it had grabbed a piece of the food before she moved, then the rat ran away. 



Today was her fifth day in this cell. Her fifth day away from the palace, her fifth day away from Ariti and her fifth day away from her mother. 



She was in this dungeon left with nothing to do, but stare at the window, watching as the sun faded away, giving way to night and then morning again. It was a cycle that never ended and the longer she sat in the cell, the longer she believed that she was going to continue watching the sunrise and fall every single day of her life. 



At least until she died. 



She couldn't believe that she was actually going to die. She just simply couldn't believe it. She couldn't accept it. 



Maria Hatzi did not just go from being the most powerful sorceress in this world to being a common man's capture. And then to think that he had plans of ending her life? 



Impossible. There had to be a way around this. 



But what way could there possibly be? She thought as she stared at a spot on the wall of her cell. 



She didn't have her powers anymore. She couldn't even feel them swirling in her body, which terrified her, although she was never going to admit it out loud. 



That first day when she woke up in the cell, she had been able to feel them. She had even gone as far as summoning them even though they hadn't quite made it out of her body. 



Now, she felt nothing. Zilch. 



She had absolutely no way to defend herself against this man who obviously wanted to harm her. If he walked in right now with a sword in hand, preparing to kill her, she would be unable to do anything but lie her head on the floor, waiting for his sword to make contact. 



Irritated, she touched the collar on her neck, hating it with every fibre of her being. 



This little piece of metal was the only thing stopping her from getting the hell out of this place. Who knew something so small could have such a huge amount of power inside it? 



Idly, she realized that the same could be said about her. 



People had always been so quick to dismiss her because of her height and size—until they witnessed a glimpse of what she could actually do and then they respected her. It was one thing she had always struggled with while growing up. People deeming her worthless at first glance. She hated it. 



It was also one of the reasons she had started wearing a glamour. 



One among many. 



Having a reputation as the most feared sorceress in her world, was flattering and a huge boost to one's ego. But it also meant that she was often made a target and that her life was always in danger both outside the palace worlds and inside. 



No one could be trusted. 



One day, she wove a glamour over herself. The tall redhead wasn't exactly beautiful, but she was striking enough and fit the image of someone who was feared and didn't take shit from anyone. 



That was how she had started wearing the glamour everywhere she went and even in front of Ariti. Without it now, she felt naked. 



And it was all because of that infuriating man and this bloody collar.



How had he even come across something as powerful as the collar anyway? Things like this couldn't only be made by people with magic. People like her. And her realm was one of sorceresses and sorcerers. 



So who had crafted something like this for him? 



The person had to have incomprehensible power. Powerful as she was, she couldn't make something like this. And she was without a doubt, the most powerful in her world.



So, how? 



She wiped sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand. She hadn't had a bath since she came in here and she felt a lot like the pigs she usually saw on the palace grounds. 



The fact that she hadn't had a bath wasn't due to lack of trying though. She had asked the man who usually delivered her food and water, Edgar, to arrange a bath for her, but he had simply walked away like he had not heard her. 



Two days later, she had stopped so low to beg him and even then, she hadn't gotten a single reaction from him.



She might as well have been talking to a wall. 



Maria couldn't even look at herself. She was hungry, tired and thirsty and she was dirty as hell. Her nails were dirty from scratching at her itchy skin and seeing the dirt under her nails, had almost been too much for her. 



She couldn't believe that the dirt was actually from her skin. 



She had forsaken her cloak completely, pouring the last bit of water from the bottle Edgar had given to her for drinking, on it and started using it to dab at her body, cooling it when it got too hot. 



But sometimes, it was so hot and the wasn't wasn't enough. She just wanted to have a complete bath. Was that too much to ask? 



Now, she regretted taking those baths that the palace maids usually prepared for her, for granted. 



She would never ever do that again. Water was precious, now she knew. 



She made to reach for her cloak when she heard the sound of the door opening. Immediately, and against her will, her heart started jack-hammering against her chest. 



She knew who it was. 



It couldn't be Edgar. He had already brought her meal for her today and he never came down here twice in one day. 



It had to be the man who had captured her. 



Shit. She knew that she should probably turn around in order not to anger him, but she stayed exactly where she was, staring at the wall. 



The last time he was here, he had asked her to turn around and answer his questions. When she did, he had been shocked by her appearance, telling her to take her cloak off which she did because she hadn't had a choice. 



At first, she thought it was lust she had seen in his eyes, or perhaps appreciation, but then his face twisted into that disdainful expression she hated so much and she had known that she had been sorely mistaking. 



It wasn't lust she had seen in his eyes. It was disgust. 



He was disgusted with her true form and she hated how much it had hurt her. Even though she would love to pretend that it had not. 



Of course, he was exactly like the others. She hadn't expected him to be any different, had she? 



Yes. Yes, she had. Because for once in her miserable life, she had found a man that was actually capable of stirring things inside her that she hadn't thought was possible, and he thought her unappealing. 



Could anything possibly hurt worse? 



But it was all for the best, she told herself. They were enemies. He obviously had captured her because he wanted something from her and she was here against her will. 



If it came down to the point that she had to choose between her escape and his life, she would choose her escape. Something as dismissive as a little fickle of lust wasn't going to stop her from saving her life. 



Light speared into the room as the door opened, making ugly sounds that she was somehow grateful for, given that she had been in the dark for such a long time without anyone to talk to. Without the sound of people talking. 



Boots scuffed against the floor. Not two. More. Someone was with him. 



Her blood turned to ice. Had he brought someone with him this time to to torture her? Perhaps an expert at the task? 



Gods. She was so weak and hungry. Would she survive it? 



"Turn the fuck around, Princess."



She hated how the nickname grated in her ears. Princess. She hated it because she knew he was mocking her. 



Sighing, she turned around on the cot. She didn't bother to stand—she wasn't sure that she could. She was too weak. It was taking a toll on her to merely keep her eyes open. 



She couldn't stop herself from noticing how particularly good he looked today. He was wearing a black T-shirt that molded to his body, defining all his pecs, and black jeans that hung low on his hips. His muscled legs filled out the jeans nicely. 



The only thing keeping her from acting like a blubbering fool, was the knowledge that she was his enemy. She didn't want to label him an enemy just yet simply because she wasn't sure if she had actually done anything to warrant the actions he was taking—namely, locking her up in his cell. 



Why couldn't he just be immune to his looks the way he seemed to be with hers? For crying out loud the man couldn't look at her without showing the hatred he felt for her. 



His lush green eyes—the first thing she had noticed about him when he broke into the palace—swept over her seated form once, then twice. 



Heat followed the line of his gaze, licking across the path on her skin that he followed and leaving fire in their wake. 



She barely stopped herself from shivering. 



"Weren't expecting visitors, were you, Princess?"



And the grin he gave her was nothing short of evil.

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