Songbird 22

I must have been out of it for hours, just laying there blissfully unaware. My position on the floor did not help soothe my injuries, the thin carpet hardly being an ideal bed to recuperate on. Pain and disorientation were twin sensations that greeted me as I slowly started to drift awake. I made a sound so unlike me. It wasn’t a whimper, but neither was it the sound of a strong and healthy Drule male.

“Sabbath!” A voice called out to me, sounding stricken with tears. I groaned again, wanting nothing more than to slip back to sleep’s embrace. But the voice wouldn’t let me, calling out to me again and again. It must have said more than my name, but it took so much effort just to concentrate on the sound of the voice. I was beyond understanding the meaning behind the words.

“Sabbath please…..” More insistent was the voice, touch being added to it’s arsenal. I could feel the hesitation in that touch, shaky and unsure. It settled in my hair, quivering in the only place that was safe to touch on me. My whole body ached, a fiery pain coursing it’s way through much of me. Even breathing was painful, my chest tight with discomfort. I wanted nothing more than to sink back into the comfort sleep offered.

“Open your eyes…” The voice pleaded with me. I was content to ignore it, and the way the hand was petting nervously over my braided hair, it was lulling me back to sleep. “Please…I…” The voice broke on a sob, then whimpered. I frowned, trying to understand why the pain in that voice might affect me so. I cracked open an eye, and discovered I wasn’t capable of more than squinting for my eye had swollen shut.

Alarmed, I opened both eyes. The light of the room hurt them, leaving me squinting even more. But with that first peek, I saw enough to realize where I was. I groaned out loud, almost protesting and saw a pale face streaked with tears. Romelle hadn’t realized I had opened my eyes, weeping softly. Was it my condition that affected her so? Or was it her own miserable state that moved her to tears?

It might have been both, Romelle frightened and in pain, and fearing she was losing the one friend she had on planet Doom. Not that my friendship had done much for her. If anything it had hurt her, brought the prince’s wrath down on us both. I groaned again, remembering how angry and sick with jealousy Lotor had been. Memories flooded me, making me relieve the pain of his punches all over again.

The pain was nothing when I remembered what he had done to Romelle, the screaming and sounds I had heard. I looked at her more fully now, trying to see how badly she had been hurt. Her own face bore a large bruise on it’s right cheek. He had struck her there, probably in an attempt to get her under control. Her hair was in disarray, the first time I had ever seen so much as a tangle in it.

I couldn’t see much of her body. Romelle had wrapped a bed sheet around her, the tattered remains of her lavender dress peeking out from underneath it. But the sight of blood on the sheet stopped me cold. It was more than just the blood of virginity lost. She had splatters all over the sheet, Lotor having bled her with his claws. I started to shake, with fury and fear, wondering if there was no end to his brutality.

Romelle felt my shaking. It drew a gasp from her, the girl peering at me, seeing me for the first time, “Sabbath!”

“Romelle…” My voice was hoarse, as though from the screaming my soul had done. “Where….?” My gaze slid away from hers, almost frantic as I tried to look around the room without moving my head.

“He’s gone.” She quickly assured me. “He’s gone…”

But I didn’t know for how long Lotor would stay away. Nor did I know how much time had passed. I’d later find out he had finished with Romelle, then stormed away, pausing only long enough to give a drunken, malicious kick to my side. Romelle herself would lay in the bed for hours, too frightened and sore to move. Frankly I was surprised she’d recover enough to gather her wits about her, or that she’d care enough about a man, a Drule, to come check on my condition.

“Gone…” I repeated with a rasp. I wasn’t relieved to hear it, fearing he would come back at any moment. Would he be worse sober? I did not know then. But I knew enough to know real fear, experiencing it for the both of us.

“Oh no! Don’t try to sit up!” Romelle exclaimed when I attempted to move. The pain was horrible, especially in my chest area. Lotor had been especially vicious there, focusing his punches so that at the very least he bruised my ribs. I was thinking something had to be broken, and was hoping I’d get off with only a broken rib or two. But the pain was such I couldn’t hope to accurately diagnose what was wrong with me.

“NGh…” With Romelle’s hands trying to push me back down, I rolled onto my back. I saw the blood on the carpet and on my clothes, having bled heavily from the injuries to my face. If I concentrated, there was the metallic taste of blood on my tongue, no doubt from my lip that had split.

The room spun around dizzily when I tried to sit up, I actually swayed in place, Romelle’s hands trying to support me. She was so careful in how she tried to touch me, as though Romelle feared I would break even further. Her gentle care moved me, reaching past the pain and disorientation, to gain a tighter grip on my heart. I pushed past the throbbing of my head, trying to focus on her face. My hand started to raise, I wanted to touch the cheek that had not bruised. But like with porcelain, I was scared she might shatter at my touch.

We were both broken, inside and out, shaking with fear and the relief that we had somehow survived the ordeal. Though it might be too soon to decide that. Especially with a tormentor as violent and unpredictable as prince Lotor is.

“Did…are…” I would have shook my head then, but the slightest movement had nausea rising up within me. So many questions came with that feeling, ones I was sure I knew the answer to. How could I ask if she was all right? It was as plain as the nose on my face that she wasn’t, that he had hurt her. Nor would Romelle try to reassure me and insist she was fine when she wasn’t. Instead she would catch at my hand, bringing it to her uninjured side, and pressing her cheek to it. Her tears seemed to flow faster at that shared touch, the last thing I wanted was for her to cry!

“I’m sorry.” I rasped out in apology.

“You have nothing to be sorry for.” Romelle said, but that was a lie. I knew then I should have helped her to escape, I should have tried harder to save her. Anything to avoid this crime being committed on her. “Oh no don’t!” She begged, when my eyes started to close. She thought I was going back to sleep, and it frightened her the thought of being abandoned again. “Please don’t leave me…”

“I won’t…” It might have been a false promise, I was in so much pain. But also, I knew that if Lotor came back, he might finish me off. Or at the very least, have me dragged from Romelle’s side.

“Thank you. Oh thank you!” Romelle said, clinging to the hand she held to her face. I was uncomfortable with her thanks, feeling I had done nothing to earn it.

“Don’t thank me…” I rasped, frustrated I couldn’t manage more than a gruff whisper. She gave me a quizzical, tear streaked look. “Didn’t do anything….”

“You did everything you could have last night.” Romelle quickly protested. “You tried to stop him…”

“Failed in that.” I pointed out, and she seemed to cry harder. She couldn’t deny it either, her pain and injuries proof of the free reign Lotor had had with her body. I felt awful that I had quickened her tears, and yet my mind didn’t want to work to think up a solution with how to stop them. I was clumsy and slow in my way of thinking, and close to retching.

Eyes lowered, she would pull away from me. I tried to turn to follow her, and almost gagged on bile. She was limping noticeably, walking with the pain of one who had been savaged by a monster. And yet, save for a few whimpers, she bravely went to get the pitcher of water. She would return to my side, slowly lowering herself to her knees. Water would be dabbed on a napkin, Romelle bringing it to my face.

Her touch was so gentle, and still it hurt. I hissed and flinched, and her face crumpled. She dropped the napkin, both her hands flying to cover her face. Her shoulders shook with the violence her sobs, Romelle breaking down. It was too much for her. this strong, courageous girl having suffered one too many upsets in the last few hours. I don’t think she was crying for me, not really. Maybe not even for herself, Romelle too shell shocked and frightened to make much sense of the brutalities that had happened to us both.

Her tears made ME want to cry, and I found myself struggling towards her. I moved to envelope her in my arms, and she tensed to scream. It was too soon, too quick for her to be held by a man. It rose unwanted memories in her, Romelle panicking and striking out with her hand. She slapped me across my bruised cheek, and I almost went down from the blow.

“Sabbath!” She exclaimed, horrified when she realized what she had done. “Oh! I’m so sorry!” She immediately touched me. It seemed Romelle was okay with touching as long as it was she who initiated it.

I grunted in reply, fighting the urge to be sicker than I already was. Stars seemed to have exploded before my vision from her blow, I was sure she had only succeeded in aggravating my condition. “It’s fine…” I lied, shrugging off her touch. I moved, gripping the nearest object which was shelves mounted to the wall. With their help, I was able to pull my unsteady self upright. Romelle rose with me, her arms extend forward as though she would try to catch me.

“You shouldn’t be moving!” She exclaimed.

“No, I shouldn’t.” She looked surprised by my agreement. “But you need a doctor. We BOTH need a doctor.” She couldn’t even deny the truth of it, for we were both in bad shape.

“Don’t leave me..” She begged instead. My heart, already hers, throbbed at the pleading note in her voice. She was scared to be alone, but Romelle had to know that in my condition, if Lotor chose to come back, there’d be no way I could protect her. I wouldn’t be able to do more than die on his sword, so injured was I.

“I won’t be gone long…” I said instead. “I promise…”

She didn’t look like she believed me, Romelle lowering her gaze to the floor. I held back a sigh, and gingerly took a step away from her. Her hand touched my back, stilling me. “The prince…”

I couldn’t make any promises where Lotor was concerned. “Yes?” I turned to look at her, and she was turning red from embarrassment.

“He…” She exhaled a shaky breath, it was visibly costing her to say this. “He didn’t use any protection.” I wasn’t surprised, though I felt pity to hear that. I didn’t think he had purposefully set out to try and impregnate Romelle before they were married, but with Lotor one could never be sure. “Please….I’m not on any pills. I…I don’t want to give birth to that monster’s child…!”

I realized what Romelle was asking me, my gaze shocked. But I was prepared to do what needed to be done, even if it would be the act of a traitor. “Romelle…are you sure?” A quick nod, the girl unable to meet my eyes. She was shamed but certain of her choice. “Then I will have the doctor prepare the potion.”

Relief colored her eyes. Had she thought I would refuse her? “Thank you.” Romelle whispered, following me as I walked to the room’s door. I fumbled through my pockets, looking for the card key that would unlock the door. The doors in the castle had a self locking mechanism, it activated each time the door swung shut. Those of high enough rank had card keys that would grant access to most rooms in the castle. I was fortunate enough to be one of those, though I didn’t know for how much longer I would enjoy such a privilege.

“I will be back as soon as I can.” I told her, before stepping out into the hall. Lotor hadn’t bothered to replace the guard I had paid off, as though he didn’t care what happened next. I thought it was a sign of how careless his drink had made him.

“Hurry.” Romelle whispered, as the door swung shut. I would try, I really would. But my pain made my movements slow. I was practically limping myself, trying not to hunch over, and avoiding people and objects so as not to jostle myself any further. I didn’t know what time it was, but by the fact that it was mostly servants and slaves I saw, I knew it had to be early morning on Doom.

The doctor however, was already up, tending to his duties inside the medical facility that took up one wing of the castle. I didn’t wait for the nurses to track him down, seeking him out, and presenting him with the pitiable sight of me. His eyes widened, he immediately wanted to exam me. But I shrugged him off. “There’s someone who needs you more.” I told him.

The doctor, an elderly Drule whose bald head had nothing to do with aging, and everything to do with what type of Drule he was, nodded. He was accepting of what I said. He might even look a bit astonished, silver eyes curious as he gathered his things into a black case. “If he’s worse off than you, I have no doubt about that.”

“It’s not a he, it’s a she.” I corrected, watching him packing his bag. “She’s been…brutalized. The victim of a rape.”

Rape is an odd thing on Doom. It’s not a crime to rape a slave, in fact it’s generally expected it will happen if the slave is beautiful or handsome. Hell, if the slave is pretty enough to attract a Drule’s attention, it will happen. And yet, it’s against our laws for a noble to be victimized in that manner. The doctor knew this well, and the fact that I had said it was a rape concerned him.

“Will she submit to a rape kit?”

I gave him a bleak look. “There’s no need. It was the prince who did it.” The doctor hissed in surprise, then nodded, understanding. Lotor, as the crown prince of Doom, would be exempt from all charges, even if it was a noble who had been the victim of his crimes. He pretty much had free reign to do as he liked, and only his father could truly exact punishment on him. I doubted Zarkon would care about Romelle’s plight, but the doctor had sworn an oath to help everyone, regardless of race or status.

“You’ll have to make a potion.” I lowered my voice. We were alone in a room, but I wanted no one to hear. It wasn’t a light thing I suggested, to abort a potential heir of the crown. “She doesn’t want to end up pregnant from this rape.”

The doctor’s eyes widened, he was shaking his head no. “I can’t go that far.”

“You can and you will.” I advanced on him as aggressively as I could. He merely looked at me with pity for I was a pathetic sight. I couldn’t even stand straight, how could I ever hope to intimidate him. “You will make this potion for her, or the Gods help me, you will be assisting in the abortion should the prince’s seed prove fertile in her womb.”

I turned pleading when he still remained steadfast in his refusal. “She’s liable to do anything to keep a baby from being born of this rape. She’ll hurt herself, and she’ll damn well hurt the baby too. Do you want that on your shoulders?!”

“No.” admitted the doctor at last. “But if the prince finds out…”

“He’ll never hear it from me, or from the princess.” I told him. It moved him to pack the potion into his bag, putting the contents into an unmarked vial. I was relieved then, but I couldn’t relax. Not until I delivered the doctor to Romelle’s apartment. It would take us some time to reach it, the delays all the fault of the pained state of my body. More than once we had to stop for me to recover, the doctor eyeing my with concern. But I refused to let him examine me first, nor did I want to leave Romelle alone for longer than necessary.

Romelle would be lurching to her feet when we entered her apartment. She looked like a nervous bird poised for flight, and her unease seemed to increase at the sight of the doctor. It might have been better for her if the doctor had been female, but this Drule was the only one on staff at the moment.

“This is the princess Romelle.” I said by way of introduction. The Doctor nodded, and bowed to her. She gave a quick nod back, seeming to clutch at the sheet wrapped around her. “Romelle, this is Doctor Shabatoba.”

Neither one of them could claim it was a pleasure, not under these circumstances. Shabatoba didn’t mince words, gesturing for Romelle to precede him into the bedroom. She hesitated, and I realized why, the princess not wanting to return to the scene of the crime committed against her.

“What is it?” Shabatoba wanted to know. “What’s the matter.”

“The…assualt….it took place in this apartment.” I explained, and Shabatoba’s eyes lightened with understanding.

“Then if it’s all right with you princess, we’ll conduct the examination on the couch.” Romelle nodded, though her unease hadn’t lessened. I wasn’t sure for certain, was it the doctor upsetting her, or the fact that I was present? Would she want me to leave? The doctor certainly expected me to, giving me a gentle nudge towards the door.

“I’ll be right outside.” I began to say, and Romelle quickly protested.

“No don’t!”

“Romelle?” I looked questioningly at her, and she flushed.

“Please stay.” She whispered, and I glanced to the doctor as though he could tell me what to do.

“If she has no problem with you being here, than neither do I.” He began to open his bag, pulling out his instruments and the potion.

“All right then.” I said, and Romelle seemed to wilt with relief. She sat when the doctor told her to, but insisted on holding my hand. I turned my head to the side when the doctor began to unravel the bed sheet, trying to respect Romelle’s privacy in this moment. But I still saw out the corner of my eye how torn up her dress was, Lotor having used his claws to shred the bodice. The skirt had all but been ripped free of her dress, and there was blood on her thighs. She hadn’t attempted to clean herself, perhaps too sick with worry over my state to be concerned with herself. It would be one way Romelle was able to cope with what happened, focusing on a more current problem, than the crime she had suffered through.

Doctor Shabatoba was examining her carefully, keeping his face blank of expression. I focused on looking elsewhre, but I’d never forget the amount of bruising on Romelle’s thighs, and the deep cuts in her hips where Lotor’s claws had dug in for a better grip. Later, when the doctor was done examining her lower half, I would see all the claw marks in Romelle’s back, Lotor having shown no care at all to the girl as he scratched her up. Her arms had bruises from his fingers, and the doctor seemed to think he might have sprained her wrist by crushing it in his powerful grip.

Romelle would be given pills for the pain, though they could only help numb her body’s discomfort. Shabatoba could do nothing for the pain of her experience, her memories, could do nothing to stop it if she chose to relive the experience in her mind. He would also give her the potion, being careful to clearly paint out what it would do to her. She didn’t hesitate, drinking it down in three gulps. Romelle didn’t even complain about it’s taste, quickly wrapping herself up in the blanket once more.

Romelle didn’t want to be alone, but when the doctor made a case of how severe my injuries were, she reluctantly conceded to let me go. I was proud of her for not becoming hysterical, the princess not so much as crying as she followed us to the door. I was loathe to leave her, practically being dragged out the room by the doctor. He would sigh and shake his head once out in the hall, regret in his eyes.

“The prince was pretty brutal with her.”

“You have no idea.” Said I.

“She’s lucky she didn’t bleed more.” Shabatoba added. “He seemed to show no care or concern for her. She’s fortunate there wasn’t any tearing.” I felt ill to hear how much worse it could have been, nearly vomiting out in the hall. Shabatoba would take that as a sign to stop talking about Romelle’s situation, the Drule taking my arm and helping me back to the castle’s medical facilities. There I would go through an intense examination, the x-rays showing I did indeed have a broken rib, two of them in fact. I was lucky the one hadn’t punctured my lung, and I was wound up in bandages around my chest and torso area. I was bruised all over, and someone showed me a mirror, revealing how mangled my face was.

But the injuries would heal given time. And in the long run, they were nothing compared to the injuries done to Romelle, her very soul damaged by Lotors’ cruelty. He had hurt her, and shattered her innocence. And yet he hadn’t come close to breaking her. Romelle was just that strong, a survivor through and through, and no matter how often Lotor would come to revisit such crimes against her, she would continue to preserver.

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