Celeste in the Palace

I suggest you read Girl, Nobody first.
Celeste has been a slave all her life but when Quinlan, the High King of the Unseelie fey takes her from her former master and grants her a place in his harem Celeste isn't sure if she should be grateful or spiteful. Back stabbing and scheming is common in the harem, for the men and women here want nothing more than a minute of the High King's time. But eventually Celeste learns that the High King has more ulterior motives for wanting Celeste as his concubine. Will Celeste survive life in the palace?

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1. The Carriage

After witnessing such a brutal murder, Celeste was surprised to find that she felt no remorse. Her former master had deserved his fate. She may have felt no remorse, but anger surged deep within her as she was directed towards the horse drawn carriage by the Quinlan, the fey king. He was a tall male with mauve eyes so dark they were almost black, shoulder length brown hair, and a perpetual smirk that Celeste wanted to slap off.

“You could have saved my mother,” Celeste said as the fey entered after her.

The inside of the carriage consisted of beautiful black plush seats embroidered with gold.

“Had I done so then I would have risked revealing my identity,” Quinlan said. “I could have caused an international incident.”

When the carriage started moving, Celeste was happy to leave the home of the Lully’s. “Are you so certain that no one will hunt you down for murdering my former master?”

“They can look, but they will never be able to prove I killed him. I was in full glamour, and my magick is untraceable. I thought you should know I collected your mother’s remains. I’ll have an urn made for you so you can keep them in your room.”

“Thank you,” Celeste mumbled.  She hadn’t wanted to say it but she knew it was best to stay on the good side of her new master.

“I shall endeavour to win your trust,” Quinlan said.  Celeste almost snorted. Why would he need to something like that? “It will take us a few hours to get to my palace. We will stop in Cythera for some food.”

At the mention of food Celeste’s stomach growled.

Quinlan chuckled. “Don’t worry, I’ll have you fed soon enough. Do you like spicy food?”

“I don’t mind spicy food.”

Quinlan raised a brow. “That’s not a proper answer. I asked if you like spicy food. It’s alright if you don’t.”

“I like flavour, but only mild spice please,” Celeste said.

“That’s better. I’m not going to hurt you for speaking the truth. I think you’ve been through far enough.”

“Am I not going to be your slave?”

“Yes, but you may speak freely when it’s just the two of us unless I say otherwise.”

Celeste wasn’t sure if she should thank him for being so liberal, but she was still angry at him so she didn’t comment on it.

“What happens when we arrive at your palace?”

“You will become an initiate. I’m certain with your talents you will make the rank of concubine.”

“I thought you said I was too underdeveloped for your standards?”

“I’m sure you’ll fill out eventually. Besides, I can’t very well just make you a lowly servant. The others would destroy you if they realised I had an interest in you, and you would be completely powerless to protect yourself. No, you will have to aim higher. Perhaps you might even be a courtesan.”

So the fey king did want to use her body.

“What is the difference between a courtesan and a concubine?” Celeste asked.

“I have hundreds of concubines,” Quinlan said. “But only 32 courtesans. 16 are male, and 16 are female. Each have their own ranking system.” Why do they both have ranking systems?”

“Because I like to keep them on their toes. They get lazy otherwise. The main difference you need to know is that concubines have an expiry date. Once they hit thirty I sell them off, and they do hard labour at places like plantations. Courtesans on the other hand are given the gift of everlasting youth and they have the chance to earn their freedom.”

Celeste’s brows went high. Freedom was exactly what she yearned for. She had never allowed herself to even hope for such a thing, but now the chance was right there in front of her.

“How do I become a courtesan?”

“You have to go through intensive training,” Quinlan said. “You have to defeat nearly all of your opponents. There are only two positions open this time. Be ruthless. You’re not at court to make friends.”

“Do you sleep with the courtesans?”

“I do at times. They are more entertaining than the concubines, but I find that sometimes my attention gets to their heads and their work suffers, and then I have to make them suffer.”

“What is the longest time someone has spent as a courtesan before becoming demoted?”

“I’m not sure for certain. I’ll have to think back to a few decades ago…” Quinlan lifted one of his brows as he tried to recall the information he needed.

Quinlan snapped his fingers. “Ten years! A woman named Marcella managed to last ten years. She won her freedom in three years, which I believe is a record she still keeps, and she continued to work as a courtesan because the pay was better than anything she would get as a freed human. She now works as an overseer.”

“Do you have any advice to give me?” Celeste asked.

“Choose your allies carefully. Comport yourself with dignity and grace, and obey the overseers. If you can get on good terms with a fey named Emer then you’re halfway there. If not then it isn’t the end of the world, but Emer might make initiating as a courtesan hell for you.”

“Can’t you just tell her to be nice to me?”

Quinlan guffawed. “Emer is twice my age and takes shit from no one. Now excuse me. I have to get some reading done.”

Celeste opened her mouth to protest. There was still so much she still didn’t know. How was she supposed to win one of two spots? How was she supposed to choose her allies?

But Quinlan took out a stack of papers from a storage unit beneath his seat and started his reading. Celeste didn’t want to be presumptuous. At the end of the day she was still just another slave.

 

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