"Don't ever fucking make me worry for you like that again," he growls in my ear as he slides from me and lets my feet touch the floor.
"I won't, I promise," I whimper, meaning it.
There is one man left. Pharaoh. Standing in the middle of the balcony, his hands on his hips, the eagle amber of his eyes focused on me so fiercely I wish I could sink through the ground. I am naked, cum-sodden, sore, spanked, and I know none of that matters to him right now.
"I'm sorry," I whimper, falling to my knees. It won't save me, I know that. "Take me. Hurt me. Use me. Just... forgive me."
He draws in a deep breath. Pharaoh—no, Oren. That's his name. I know him perhaps the least of all of them. He takes the dimmest view of my behavior. He is the most demanding. He holds himself apart in many ways, and I crave his approval, though I know I do not have it.
"Forgiveness is given when lessons are learned," he says. "You haven't learned a thing."
"I have, I promise!"
"You would promise anything to avoid more punishment."
"That's not true. You can do anything you want to me."
"I know that," he snaps.
I swallow. "Or maybe... you don't want to do anything to me anymore."
"You have not earned the right to pity yourself, girl," he growls.
I look around at the others—Silver, Alexios, Mattias—for help, but even the king himself has decided to leave me to Oren's wrath.
"What can I do to make it up to you?"
He gives me a hard look. "Get up."
I get to my feet.
"Put your clothes back on."
I get dressed, feeling even worse than I did when I was undressed. It is odd how the act of being stripped and spanked and fucked can feel so much more comforting than being told to get dressed.
"Come with me."
He turns on his heel and walks away without looking back to see if I am following.
"Better go after him, girl," Mattias prompts me when I shoot a lost look at him.
I scurry after Oren, following him out of the building and through the streets. It's like he doesn't know if I'm there or not and he doesn't care. I know he's angry at me for leaving the camp. I know he's angry that I came to what could have been a war zone. I know I deserve punishment.
Suddenly I know where we are going.
He doesn't turn his head. He doesn't even act as though he can hear me. He walks toward that concrete wall. The place I first saw the horrors. I don't want to see them again. I know if I look again, it will not be the faces of strangers I will see...
He is impatient. He doesn't understand why I am so terrified. Or perhaps he does. Perhaps my punishment is to see what should never be seen, to have more horror written in my mind...
There is a gate now. Perhaps there always was and I just didn't see it. Oren waits next to it, his tall frame taut with impatience.
"I can't go in there," I try to explain.
He grabs me by the back of my shirt and drags me through the gate. The scream I have on my lips dies when I see what is behind the gate.
The field of horrors is gone. It is grass, and where bodies once lay contorted on the ground, there are neat markers.