The doors to the throne room slam open, and I march forwards, proudly dragging Kane along with me. He curses me under his breath, but he is my prisoner, and there is nothing he can do but struggle uselessly. I march straight up to the foot of the throne, and throw Kane to the ground.
“Kneel,” I order him.
He does not, pushing himself up into a sitting position. So despite his exhaustion with the world, he still has some defiance in him.
The Queen leans forwards, studying the two of us with interest. “You would disobey a servant of the Queen, inventor?”
“I will not kneel.”
I drop to one knee behind me, and place a knife against his throat. “Kneel, Kane.”
This time he obeys, shifting forwards onto his knees. I keep the knife there, then look up at the Queen.
“Your majesty. As you have ordered, I have brought Kane the inventor to you.”
She raises her eyebrows. “Natalia, my most talented Devia. Well done. You have done what none of your predecessors could. For that, you are to be commemorated.”
“Thank you, your majesty,” I bow my head respectfully. I can feel many eyes on me. However, for each pair of eyes on me, there are two more on Kane. We have all heard of the inventor. I imagine all of us are curious about him. Especially after he has been the cause of the death of many of our finest Devias.
The Queen smirks down at Kane. “Welcome, Kane, to my halls. You will now follow all orders that I give you. I am your queen and master, and you will do as I say, or face the punishment. The same goes for the orders of my Devias. Comply with my wishes, and you will be rewarded richly. Refuse to obey, and you will be punished.”
“How?” Kane whispers. “You cannot kill me. I am too valuable. You cannot cut off my hands, because I cannot do my work without them. You cannot blind me, for then I will not be able to see my work, and it will be ruined. You cannot deafen me, for then I will be unable to hear your commands. You cannot cut out my tongue, because then I will be unable to explain how to work my creations. Tell me truly, Queen, what can you do to punish me that will not permanently damage me.”
“Ah, Kane,” the Queen laughs. “I will forgive your arrogance for your logic. But listen, and listen closely. There are many things I can do to you that will not be permanent or fatal. Do not test my patience. Do you understand?”
He grits his teeth, but nods, slow and soft.
“Good,” the Queen smirks. “Now, Natalia, take him to the dungeons. A short stay there ought to teach him a little respect before we see just how much he can do.”
I bow my head. “Yes, your majesty.” I rise, pulling Kane to his feet. I take the knife away from his throat, and leave the throne room, pulling him with me.
It isn’t long before I hear footsteps. I turn, to see Iya approaching us. She steps past me, and studies Kane. “This is him, then? The legendary Kane himself?”
I nod. Kane grits his teeth, but stays silent. He hates this- I can tell- but I feel no pity for him.
Iya suddenly delivers a sharp blow to his cheek, snapping his head back, and throwing him to the ground. “That’s for Samantha,” she hisses.
More Devias file from the hallways around us. Each of them have dark expressions.
The first- Ella- approaches Kane, and kicks him sharply. “For Kira.”
Maria steps forwards as Ella backs away. She kicks Kane as well. He does nothing to stop her. “For Mya.”
More Devias step forwards. Each of them kicks him sharply, speaking a name of one of the dead Devias. When all 13 of them have been named, Kane is curled in on himself on the ground, waiting further beating. A moment passes. Then Tallin- Tallima- steps forwards.
“For Julia, you little monster,” she hisses. Her kick is twice as hard as any other, and Kane lets out a soft cry.
There is a soft intake of breath from around us. Julia is the girl that she was forced to kill. But only I know. Or at least, that is what I think.
She steps away, and nods to me. “We’re done.”
I smile at her. “Good.” I reach down, and pull Kane to his feet.
Kane says nothing, but I can see the pain in his eyes- both physical and emotional. I roll my eyes, and spin him to face me.
“Listen to me, murderer. This is no more than you deserve. Those girls were our friends and family. Their deaths are your fault. Each of us deserve our revenge.”
“Haven’t you done enough?” he whispers. “Betraying me, lying to me, forcing me into slavery- is that not enough for you?! Must you add this as well?”
“Yes,” I reply quietly. “Yes. We must.”
His head drops, and the guilt is obvious on his face. I take pleasure in this. It’s about time he realizes that those girls had people who loved them. And they were dead because Kane thought only about himself.
Neither of us speaks again until we reach the dungeon. I thrust one of the doors open, and shove him inside. He spares one moment for words then.
“Natalia. Please. Don’t do this.”
“Be quiet,” I snarl. I pull the strange square key out of my pocket, and unlock the metal cuffs, the way I saw him do it. Then I pull him over to the wall, where I manacle his hands above his head. Then I step back, pleased with my handiwork. His head is dropped, blond hair falling over his face. Submissive. Good.
“Goodbye, Kane,” I practically purr. “Remember what I told you. You’re nothing but a game piece. And from now on, you and I are not equals. You’re the slave, and I’m the master. Now, I’m going to collect my reward for bringing you in. Honestly, I should thank you for making it so easy.”
“I’ve learned my lesson,” he says, his voice nothing more than a light breeze. “I will never trust an agent of the Queen. Ever. Again.”
“Too late for that now,” I laugh. “You should have learned sooner.”
I turn and sweep out of the dungeon, leaving him alone.