-1 Killing Prologue
Japan, 1102 A.D.
I watched the demon closely as I sat there curled up. I was in such pain, so much pain that I couldn't stand it. It was unbearable, and I had never known such a pain. This felt so much more than the small twinges of pain my handmaidens had foretold to me with my marriage coming the next day.
I sat there crying softly, waiting to see what he would do next. I had given myself to him, knowing that he would kill me and destroy my village just like he had destroyed so many others.
He dressed himself and he looked...almost dissatisfied, irritated even.
He glanced at me. "What is your name, girl?" He asked.
I was almost startled. I couldn't imagine why he would care. "I am Saya," I said softly.
He paused a moment. "Call me 'Katana'," he told me.
"Katana..." I whispered.
He gave a tight nod. "It is Lord Katana to you," he said. Then his tongue began to steam, and I startled and moved slugishly to my feet as I watched him shout out, and a winged creature came from the distance.
What was I to do, now that he had used me so? And I wasn't even sure I wanted to marry the young war lord the next day, so...
Where did that leave me?
"Lord Katana!" I cried out as they flew away, and I fell to my knees.
I watched as they faded into the night sky, and then I turned my attention to my battered body.
I slumped forward, my hand covering my abdomen as I felt a burn in the pit of my belly. I had conceived, I just knew it.
His seed had burned, and it was only natural that I would feel it root itself into place in my womb.
I sobbed as I thought of it. Takeshi would be so angry...
As the sun began to rise, I heard my hand maidens shouting my name, searching for me.
When they found me, along with the guards, they were all startled to find me in my used state.
They carried me to my chambers, my hand maidens dressing me in a new kimono and burning the old one out in the courtyard.
"What are we to do?" I heard my father shout outside. "She has quite obviously lost her virtue, what are we to make of this? We were depending on the alliance that her marriage to Lord Takeshi would secure! Blast that girl!"
"My lord, she was taken by force. If you saw her, you would see that she was certainly not a willing participant. Surely, we can ask her what happened and try to make her a hero?"
He huffed. I heard the footsteps on the wood outside of my chambers, and he slid the door open.
His eyes widened when he saw me. "Saya," he whispered, coming to kneel before me. "Is it true?"
I gave a small, tight nod. "It is, father," my voice was hoarse.
"Who was it? I will slaughter the man who would dare to lay a hand on my daughter!"
I hesitated. "He was no man," I said.
He startled. "It was the demon that we have heard so much about?" He asked.
"Why would he take you?" He asked.
"He said that he liked that I was above the 'average humans'. I offered him riches in exchange for our lives, but...but he said that he was the prince of his people, and that he was much wealthier than we are. He then took me, and told me that if I didn't fight him, he would spare us."
"Then..." A hand maiden stood up. "Then you truly are a hero, and we are all in your debt!" She cried, flinging herself to bow low to the ground in front of me.
"But what are we to do about Lord Takeshi?" My father asked. "Surely he is not a fool and will clearly be able to tell you have lost your purity," my father spat. "Surely he will be most displeased."
"We will have to postpone the wedding," I said. "Tell him that I have injured myself during a horseback ride, that I need time to recover. Give him a month."
My father hesitated, before giving a nod. "I will inform him." He patted my head lightly before he stood and made his way out of my chambers...
Before I started crying all over again.
It was a month later that Lord Takeshi returned. He had been displeased when my father had told him I had been injured, but he had taken his leave and went back to his home. Now, he had returned and, ready or not, it was time to marry him.
My maidens dressed me in the finest white wedding kimono, and put my hair into an elaborate hairstyle before they escorted me out to the courtyard.
Everyone was watching, and as I looked upon my fiance, I couldn't help but think of the dark, gray skinned demon with the sad, stricken blood-red gaze.
Takeshi was a good looking man, absolutely. He stood tall, his stance proud and his brown eyes were hard but kind.
After the ceremony, he took me to the carriage that was already packed with all of my things and we rode off to his territories.
It was a long ride, and we didn't really speak to one another.
We finally reached his castle, and he escorted me to our chambers. "You are welcome to explore as you wish," he told me. He looked at me. "Are you still hurting from your injuries a few weeks ago?"
I nodded. "Not badly, my lord, but a little bit."
He gave a tight nod. "I will give you a few days to settle in and grow accustomed to me before we consummate our marriage. I want you to be comfortable."
I smiled, giving a nod. "Thank you, my lord."
He gave me another tight nod, before he was out of the room and three women came in.
"We are your new handmaidens, miss, if it pleases you."
I smiled at them. "It is nice to meet you."
"So," one said as she came over to help me undress. "Are the rumors true?" She asked.
"Rumors?" I asked.
Another girl nodded. "That you lay with a demon!" She whispered.
I startled. How had the information gotten out here? I had thought that it had been kept strictly confidential!
"It must be!" The third girl said softly. "Look at her face," she sneered.
"No," I said. "I am just surprised that such a disgusting rumor would be floating around about me."
"I don't know if its just a rumor," the first girl said. "One of your former hand maidens confirmed the tale, saying that you were a hero because the demon raped you in exchange for the safety of your village."
Fear ran its way up my spine.
Another girl brought a brush up to my long hair, brushing out the tangles. The other sat with a nail file, filing my nails.
"Does everyone here know about the rumor?" I asked darkly.
"Oh yes," the youngest said. "Lord Takeshi said that he was sure that was why your father had insisted that you have time to recover, and that you didn't really have a random horse riding accident!"
"The only horse you were riding was a murdering, rampaging demon," the oldest said.
Tears filled my eyes at their cruelty. "Why would Takeshi marry me if he believed that?"
"Well," the middle girl asked. "When your father dies, Lord Takeshi will take your inheritence and your lands for his own, and your army will help to solidify our own. It is an alliance that both sides needed in order to further one another."
Anger rushed through me, and my cheeks flushed. I was just a golden dragon to make some war lord richer and more powerful, it seemed.
But, such was the life of a princess in feudal Japan.
"Leave me," I told them.
"I am Lady Saya to you," I glared at them. "And you do not speak to me that way again or I will see to it that Lord Takeshi knows how thoroughly displeased you have made me."
They bowed, leaving me alone.
Tears ran down my face as I felt the flutters in my belly. I disrobed, and looked at myself in the mirror in the corner. I knew that my belly was growing, already bigger than I had once been as the baby grew inside of me.
I would push for intimacy with Takeshi right away. If he didn't believe this child was his, then we could both face horrid consequences.
That night, when Takeshi came into the chambers we shared...
I went to him, and I bowed low before I started to disrobe him.
"This isn't necessary," he told me. His eyes were hard, calculative.
"You are my honored husband," I said softly. "I must perform my duties for you."
"I know the truth, Saya."
I startled, my eyes meeting his. "The truth...?" I asked.
"I know that you were raped in order to exchange your safety and the safety of your village. I have very reliable sources inside of your old manor, and I have heard from a physician who confirmed how badly injured you were in the process. I know, also, that you are obviously with child from that demon because your abdomen is starting to take shape."
Tears filled my eyes. "What....what are you going to do?" I asked.
"I will not lay with you until you have had the child," he told me, taking my arms in his hands and backing me off to the side so that he could go to sit at his desk, getting out his brush and going to work on reports.
"And....and the child?" I asked.
"I will spare the child," he told me. "You are, afterall, the hero of your village. And your child is not at fault. Your child can be utilized for the good of my city if they can prove themselves."
Angry relief rushed through me. He would spare my child, but my child would only be a tool for him and his city. But that was the best that I could hope for my child, conceived from a demon.