Captive Ch. 07byLadySneak©
Tara turned around and came back stopping right in front of me. She told me to sit the pitcher in my hand down on the table and take the tray to Lord Elrik promptly. i didn't hesitate to comply with Tara's instructions. i had been looking for a reason to go Him, and she had just given me a reason that He could not see as a ruse just to see Him.
Sir Kern was just leaving His chambers when i approached with the tray. He knocked on the door and announced that food was here for Him and departed quickly. Lord Elrik was surprised to see me holding His tray of food. He sternly instructed me to just set the tray on the table and leave.
"Lord Elrik, may i please be permitted to serve You this meal properly?"
"No, zara, I know that you are probably needed back at the dinning hall. I would prefer that you not be sent with My tray again. It's nothing you have done. I just don't think it's a good idea. Please go now."
my body was trembling both with rage and sadness as He said those words to me. i tried not to let Him see that and left as He instructed me to do. i managed to hold it together until i was safely out of ear range before sinking down to the floor to cry. i didn't understand what i had done to make Him reject me like this.
Was i not obedient enough? Was i too willful? Was i not pleasing enough to suit His needs? Was i not human enough for Him?
i was just brushing my tears aside when Sir Kern found me slumped in the floor. i suspect the way that my cat person cries had unnerved one of the other staff members. i didn't want this getting back to Lord Elrik. i did not want a reason to be told that i couldn't even be a part of His Household.
Sir Kern kneeled down next to me and as soon as he touched my shoulder i began to cry once more. i couldn't help myself. i was simply that upset and torn up inside. i felt myself being pulled into Sir Kern's arms to cry. He stroked my back and told me to let it all out.
i am sure that time anyone could hear my crying, but i was beyond caring at that point. i felt so rejected by the Man who once professed to want me as His slave. This was a man who had spoken words of love to me when held in His embrace. How does one go from that one moment to feeling nothing the next?
Lord Elrik poked His head around the corner and saw me in Sir Kern's arms crying. Sir Kern waved Him to come over to us but He just turned on His heels and walked the other way. i could hear a sigh from Sir Kern but didn't see what had caused it. When my tears had subsided again, Sir Kern helped me to my feet and sent me to my room to make myself presentable again for work.
After i made myself presentable, i went back to work in the dinning hall serving as i had been shown how. Tara looked at me a bit with concern and pulled me aside in the kitchen. She told me that i couldn't let anyone here know that i was upset. She told me that i needed to act indifferent to Lord Elrik for now.
i told Tara that i understood and assured her that i would focus on my new duties here. Tara gave me a huge hug and told me that i wasn't alone as i had her friendship. That meant quite a bit to me as it had been a long time since i had a friend. Most people at Lord Ulrich's Household had been too afraid of me to ever offer friendship to me.
i resigned myself to the fact that Lord Elrik no longer wanted me as His slave. i would probably never know His reasons for releasing me like He did. i couldn't spend my days asking all the if questions that floated around inside my head. Sure it was revelations that my heart wasn't agreeing to yet, but my brain knew that it was pretty clear.
Sir Kern looked for a chance to get Lord Elrik alone all day to talk to Him about what had happened earlier in the day. Finally right before dinner, he got his chance to corner Him. He wanted to speak his mind where zara was concerned because he knew the girl was truly hurting and was confused. There had to be a logical reason or explanation.
"M'Lord, I do not presume to understand things right now. I do not know what You hope to gain from setting zara free. I'm not questioning You out right but rather Your judgment in this instance. I do know that there is a young woman who is hurting right now. I do know that she is very confused by this."
"Sir Kern if that is the case then it would be best that you not even bring this topic up again with Me. I have my reasons and I'm not going to share them with you or anyone else right now and that includes zara. I'm not in the habit of explaining Myself and I'm not going to start now. You will see to it that zara is not assigned to bring Me My tray or serve Me in the hall. I think that would be for the best. I don't wish to complicate matters further or give the girl false hopes of returning to what she once was. zara is not my slave and I will not keep her as one."
"M'Lord, please at least explain to her why You don't with to keep her as a slave. Can't You see that not knowing is hurting her? Do You not even care what this is doing to her? Men risked their lives to abduct her from Lord Ulrich and she went from being Your prisoner, to Your slave, and now You have just up and set her free without so much as reason. she is so very confused and quite frankly so am I."
"Sir Kern, if you honor your position in My house you will never again question Me on this matter. This matter is not open for discussion. As I had explained before, zara was taken as payment for a debt. What I choose to do with the spoils is My business. This conversation is over and perhaps you should make yourself scarce for a few days from My sight. I don't wish to have this talk again. Do not press Me on this matter again."
"Very well M'Lord. As You wish. Your orders will be relayed to the kitchens."
With that said Sir Kerns turned to leave without asking for permission to do so. He was angry that his long time friend and Lord was being like this. He didn't like what had transpired the last few days. What he saw was pain and misunderstanding that wasn't just on zara's part either. His Lord was being so stubborn right now.
Lord Elrik sunk down into His chair as soon as Sir Kern was gone. He let out a huge sigh and held His head in His hands. He wanted to be angry at Sir Kern but knew deep down knew that His long time friend was right. zara did deserve an explanation as to why He had released her, but He wasn't prepared to give her one just yet. He knew that He was hurting her and quite possibly breaking her kitty heart.
Lord Elrik had his reply from His messenger and knew that He couldn't allow things to go on as they were. Lord Elrik wasn't about to tell His people that He was negotiating the return of zara to her people just yet. zara's Father wasn't just an ambassador but was one of the Cat People's Princes. He was the youngest son but still of the royal bloodline. That was something He had not told any one including Sir Kern.
He was being very careful with His negotiations with the Cat People as He did not want them to think that He was treating her as Lord Ulrich had done. He wanted zara to be happy and well adjusted to living a normal life in a Household. He was not sure that she would be happy living with her own people, but He owed it to her to make contact with them. He wanted to give her some life skills that she would not learn if she was bound to Him as a slave like Lord Ulrich had done to her.
He held His head in His hands for a while trying to clear His thoughts of zara. He was finding that quite difficult to do. He had to try and forget that He did care for her and was falling in love with her. A part of Him knew that He had truly had begun to love her.
Lord Elrik was a nobleman and doubted that zara's people would approve of Him for a potential mate for her. He had to forget the moments that T/they had shared T/together. What other choice did He have presently? There was not a choice as far as He could tell. To keep her as His slave would have only bonded her to Him more, and that would have made what ever future impossible between them if her people demanded her return home.
In another part of the Lord Elrik's Household, Sir Kern was talking with Tara and some of the other kitchen staff well out of reach of zara's hearing. He didn't want zara to know about Lord Elrik's orders from any one but him. It pained him to be carrying out these orders but he also valued his position. Tara said that she would find a way to see that zara would not be put in a position where she might have to go against those orders. Sir Kern was thankful that Tara was so understanding and thoughtful.
Sir Kern told Tara to have zara serve him that evening in his chambers as he was not going to be dining in the hall with everyone else that night. He told Tara that he wished to discuss some things with zara since he was going away for a few days. He didn't need another run with Lord Elrik. He wanted that to come from him and not some member of the staff.
"Sir Kern, I am glad that zara has someone looking out for her besides me. It pains me to see her so sad. she really tries to hide it up it shows at unexpected moments. Others notice but will not comment on it as not to make her feel any worse. Please if you can bring some joy back to her life do so."
"I promise you, Tara, that I will do what I can. That is all I can promise anyone. I honestly think that there really is only one thing that will make her happy and He is being stubborn."
"I think that is all that anyone can do. I'll have her bring your tray after the first group is served here in the hall. That is always the largest bunch we get and when we need the most hands available. Lord Elrik usually joins the hall with the second wave when He does not ask for a tray brought to His chambers."
"That sounds good to me Tara. Thank you for helping me with this."
Things got back to normal in the kitchen shortly after Sir Kern left. Tara informed zara discretely that i was going to be serving Sir Kern later in his chambers and that he wished to talk to me. i had a clue as to what it was about. i did notice that i was starting to count down the minutes until that conversation.
i noticed that Lord Elrik decided to join everyone in the dinning hall for dinner that night shortly before the second waves of diners. There were plenty of other tables in need of being taken care of so i could realistically avoid looking in His direction as much as possible. Tara tapped me on the shoulder when it was time to Sir Kern his tray. i had to admit to myself that i was a bit nervous about what this conversation might be about.
i made my way to Sir Kern's room without running into many of the Household staff. i was sure that those that i did pass by wondered who the tray was for. Most of the staff knew that Lord Elrik had taken dinner with in the hall and not His room that night. They had noticed the absence of Sir Kern but that was not uncommon if he was on a mission.
i soon found myself outside of Sir Kern's room and was knocking on his door. Sir Kern ushered me into the room and bid me sit with him and eat with him. i noticed then that the tray was prepared for two people. Tara seemed to think of everything. Sir Kern made idle chit chat for a while as we sat before the fire and ate. i was tense and nervous and i was sure that Sir Kern was picking up on that.
"zara, I asked you to have this conversation in private because I have a feeling that this is going to hurt you tremendously. I, myself, am rather upset with Lord Elrik and his recent behavior. I do not know why He released you and He refuses to even talk to me about it. I suspect it has a good deal to do with what He revealed to us the other day. Is there any reason you can think of that He would believe that it could not continue?"
"i have thought of little else to be honest Sir Kern. i do not know who my Father was but i suspect that he must have been of some importance to have been among the group of ambassadors. Perhaps it is that. i personally could care less about who my parents were or weren't. They were not the people that raised me. i am a slave...was a slave. i don't know how to be anything else Sir Kern. i am thankful for my position in this Household as it is giving me a chance to get to know the wonderful people of this House. Deep inside it does not feel right though."
"zara, I suspect that your Father may be the reason Lord Elrik has done such a turn about on you. I don't currently have proof of it but I don't know what else could be the reason. He seemed so happy with you. We didn't travel in the dead of night to capture you without there being some strong reason why. I promise you that I intend to find out. I hate seeing you hurting like this if there really isn't a need for it."
"Thank you for your kindness Sir Kern. i don't know how i could ever repay you. i do know that i am most great full for your honesty. i know there is more that you need to tell me. I'm not blind or without some understanding. i know that Lord Elrik doesn't wish me to serve Him besides in the capacity i find myself in now. The look upon your face tells me that this is true."
"zara, Lord Elrik has requested, no demanded, that you not bring Him his tray in the morning and that you do not serve Him in the hall."
"i suspected so much Sir Kern. Thank you for telling me."
i stared into the fire then. i was feeling a bit lost and now had confirmation that my former Master no longer wished for me to serve Him in any capacity. Sure i worked in His Household, but i was just like any of the others at this point in His mind. i was certain that i would cry and sure enough i did as soon as Sir Kern touched my shoulder. He pulled me into his arms and let me cry. This was becoming a habit...me crying in his arms.
i don't know how long i cried in his arms. i let everything that was bothering me come out in those tears until i became exhausted. i allowed myself to start to drift off to sleep in His arm. i did not intend though to fall asleep in his chambers for the entire night.
i awoke that next morning with my head upon his chest and a blanket tucked around me. i was a little startled to be the there as i could tell that i was on his bed as i opened my eyes and stretched. Sir Kern was all ready awake when i stirred and placed a hand on my shoulder to calm me.
"zara, it is all right. Neither of us have done any wrong this past night. I covered you with a blanket when you began to shiver. you fell asleep in my arms and i picked you up and set you on the bed beside me. I have taken no advantage of you as you and I both still wear our clothing. I didn't think that you needed to be alone last night."
"Thank you Sir Kern. i do not know how to repay your kindness towards me."
"It is what friends do for one another zara."
"i am happy to call you friend then if this is the kind of thing that friends do for one another. i have never really had a friend before. i had a few playmates when i was young child but after that fateful day they all turned their backs upon me. Living in Lord Ulrich's Household had been very lonely. i rarely saw anyone but Lord Ulrich and even He was a cold man."
"I can only imagine and I am sorry you have had to experience that loneliness. I have never had to go through that."
"Can i ask a favor of you, Sir Kern?"
"Yes, but on one condition."
"What would that be?"
"Drop the Sir when we are speaking. No need for formalities between friends. When not around staff and others why not speak as friends do?"
"Very well then Kern. Would you be able to send a message to my mother...the one who raised me without anyone finding out? i would like to have the book that i was given a few years ago. If she is still there she would have it in safe keeping for me."
"I will see what I can do to make that happen. I know that I would have to be careful in doing so. I wouldn't want it getting back to the Lord Elrik or to Lord Ulrich. I think I know a way though. I will let you know if I am able to get that book for you. I do know that I need to make myself scarce around the Household for a few days until things calm down."
"Thank you, Kern, for considering this. It would mean a lot to me."
i stretched a bit and slid off the bed to look outside the window. i checked to see where the sun was in the sky and soon realized that i needed to get cracking if i was to be at work during the morning meal at all. i saw that the tray had all ready been picked up and was sitting upon the table near the door. i collected the tray to take with me to the kitchens.
"i need to be going Kern so that i will not be missed at the morning meal."
"Let me check in the hallway. I would hate for you to run into someone and they not understand you being here this early in the morning. I had sent no word for a tray this morning."
Sir Kern ducked out into the hall and walked the hall for just a bit to check for any passer bys. He didn't see anyone in that hall and soon i was on my way to my chambers to freshen up a bit. i didn't see Lord Elrik arrive at Sir Kern's chambers shortly after i left but He had seen me leave. i was saved from the scowl on His face and the anger that would soon rain down upon Sir Kern.
And so ends Chapter Seven....