I peek quickly around the corner and pull my sash over my caramel covered hair, another indicator that I’m different from everyone else. I take a sharp turn to the right still hugging the wall and suddenly I feel a yank on my arm.
“Take your hands off me!” I scream wrenching my arm free from a young man. Then my face suddenly contorts into a repenting face.
“How long are you going to do this for Yasari? And what is this?” He looks troubled and takes the pouch from my hand. “Why have you been stealing again? There’s more than enough at the palace.” His voice is quiet so others don’t here him.
“Because Kalim!” I snatch my pouch back “I’m the palace dog.” I start to walk away.
“I’m not letting you go Yasari! You’re coming back with me! Tell me what happened to your face!” Kalim pulls me back to face him and holds my wrist tight. Kalim is six feet at least and well muscled. He should be since he is one of the many eunuchs in the palace. He has the Sandian black hair and caramel eyes. Right now his face looks forlorn and tired. He’s probably been covering for my disappearance since I left two days ago. He doesn’t mind that I’m an Alfen, maybe because his social status is almost as low as mine.
“Please, don’t make this harder than it has to be. You already seem to have gone through a lot.” His eyes silently plead with me. Kalim also doesn’t treat women like the older generation. I don’t know why. It almost bothers me.
“I’m not going back Kalim.” I pull defiantly. He rubs the back of his neck.
“Fine Yasari. I’ll fix your wounds later if you do anything stupid.” He wrenches my arm forward and tosses me over his shoulder hitting me right in my ribs where the man kicked me. The pain surges into my chest and I can’t help but throw up what is left in my stomach getting it on then backs of his calves and sandals. I feel Kalim’s neck muscles tense up and hear him mutter unintelligible profanities through gritted teeth.
“Sorry…” I let that be the conversation closer. He doesn’t answer. As I’m swaying back and forth on Kalim’s back I see the same scenery. The sand colored buildings with different red and orange adornments come and go as Kalim carries me for what seem like ages. Sandah, the huge region of the deserts, has several providences, cultures, and sub cultures. Most outsiders travel here to this colony because Srutah is the capital of Sandah and is the only stationary colony in Sandah. The rest are usually huge tent caravans that migrate throughout the years with no schedule or location on a map. The Sandian way and cultures is vastly different from the other four regions. Sandian people find beauty in being the same color as the sand in which we live in. That is why people find my caramel hair and skin to be so beautiful until they see my Alfen eyes. If only they knew that what they dye their hair to become and want so desperately is also part of my Alfen character.
I think I fall asleep because wake up as Kalim gently puts me down on a few large pillows that form a couch. I wince from the aching in my ribs. As I lay there I look up to the large ceilings draped with rows and rows of orange, yellow, and red dyed fabrics with tassels. I let out a suppressed sigh of disgust.
“I don’t know why you hate it here so much.” Kalim says bringing a bowl of salve and a damp rag.
“Well that’s a tough one.” I say dryly without moving.
“You’re royalty.” Kalim says dabbing my lip with the cloth.
“More like a dog in a royal palace.” I say bitterly. My father is the prince of Sandah who grew too fond of a Rellan servant woman. The Rellan are from a large island. They’re slender, usually have green eyes like the sea they are so fond of, and have blonde or caramel colored hair. Supposedly I look a lot like my mother. The prince’s father didn’t know what to do with the child that grew daily within my mother’s womb. The illegitimate Alfen child. The catastrophe. So by royal integrity my mother and I were saved from death because of my father’s position. However, once I was weaned my mother was sold out of Srutah. I was told she passed soon after. Although I suppose dying is better than being rapped, abused, and worked to death. Sadly, it looks like I’ll never get out of here. Sandian custom is that the women of the house do not leave it until they are married off to a suitable suitor. Which with me being accursed and all is nearly possible. I bite down on my lip hard out of frustration and suddenly feel quick swat to my head.
“Stop, you’ll cut open your lip again.” Kalim says dabbing the salve on my scabbed over lip. I give Kalim an ugly look and he pushes my head with two fingers and I let myself fall.
“I’ll bring you some food. Only the Spirits know when you last ate.” Kalim says over his shoulder. The food never comes though because I fall asleep and I guess Kalim didn’t want to wake me. Kalim is in all honesty my handler but he treats me like we’re family.