"Are you perhaps a witch?"
One of the maids asked Neera, who was washing alone and away from the rest, and she shook her head. They had been casting her suspicious looks since they started washing and finally one of them had asked.
The girl looked at Neera strangely as she turned back to the other girls to gossip.
Neera could overhear the girls talking about her white hair and the color of her eyes, her silvery blue eyes. Only the immortals had those captivating eyes and looks, and for a moment she wished she was one. Then maybe her life would not be so hard.
Beauty was a blessing to others, but to her, it was a curse, because she was a human born with the beauty of immortals. Everyone hated her. They blamed her for what happened to them; they blamed her for what the immortals did to them. Even though they knew she was human, it gave them great joy to see someone they could unleash their anger on, so they didn't care.
It was a world ruled by immortals. There were also witches and other creatures she hadn't seen but only heard of, but humans were the weakest because they had no powers. Centuries ago, they revolted and tried to fight against the demons, but they lost brutally, which made the demons take over their lands and rule over them.
To maintain peace, families gave up their children as slaves to serve the immortals. Most times the families gave up children who they hated the most or their own slaves.
Neera knew her parents hated her, but she didn't know that they hated her so much as to give her up as a slave to serve the most vicious king. The king of the North. Rumors had it that he was ruthless. The evilest of all immortals. He was the devil's son who had cast his father to the underworld and taken his throne. Who could be more cruel?
Neera could remember the look of disgust in her parents' eyes as the soldiers dragged her away. She had cried and screamed, but they did not do a thing. She was already living like a slave with them, working till her hands bled and knees chapped. She did everything for them and her two sisters, but it was still not enough. They wanted her gone.
It has been three days since they arrived. The soldiers had given them clothes and a place to lay their head.
Neera came back from her thoughts when she heard a familiar voice call her name. It was Penelope, a friend she made during the journey here, the only person who spoke to her. Penelope was a slave in her former home, and they did not treat her so well, so she was happy she got to leave.
Neera turned to look at Penelope, who was running like she was being chased by a deer. "What is wrong?"
"The housekeeper wants to see us now. Hurry, she looks scary, you don't want to get on her nasty side."
''Alright, I will be there soon. '' Neera said and quickly hung the clothes she had washed.
The other girls had gathered by the time she came. Penelope waved at her and she quickly rushed to join her. A tall lady was standing in front of them. She glared at Neera when she saw her run quickly to join the rest of the girls. Neera bit her lower lip as she cussed underneath her breath; the last thing she wanted was the housekeeper disliking her. It would make her life terrible here.
"I'll assign you to your various duties today. I see you all have been slacking." Neera lowered her head when she saw the woman's eyes on her.
She had seen the other girls leave, but she didn't know why, and they didn't care to tell her. Seems the hatred humans had for her didn't end in her kingdom. They also hated her here.
The girls looked anxious, and some sighed in relief after the housekeeper assigned them their duties. Neera frowned curiously as she asked Penelope in a whisper.
''Why is everyone looking so worried?"
"You've not heard?" Penelope asked her, shock in her eyes.
"No one wants to serve the king. Rumors say he is an original demon, the son of the devil!"
"Yes? Everyone already knows!"
"The original demons drink human blood!" Penelope said as fear flashed through her eyes. Neera's lips dropped open as her eyes widened.
She did not know of that. "Human blood?"
"I hear all the kings of the eight kingdoms are original demons. They drink human blood. I'm surprised you don't know about it."
Neera gulped as sweat broke out on her back.
"Penelope, the Royal kitchen." Penelope sighed in relief when she heard her name;
"Neera, The King's Court."
Everyone turned to look at her as shock flashed through their eyes. She was the only one assigned to the king's court. Although they did not like her, they pitied her now. No one wanted to be anywhere close to an original demon. Neera lowered her head. She was not very surprised; she was never one to be lucky.
"What are you going to do, Neera?"
Penelope asked as they gathered their clothes., getting ready to go to the castle. She was concerned about her, couldn't it be anywhere else, why was it the King's court?!
Neera smiled, "stop with the pity look, will you? I'm not dead yet. And it is not like it would make any difference if I am. My life is worthless anyway."
"Neera, don't say such words!" Penelope berated.
Neera laughed, "but they are true Penelope, I have no one to mourn me and everyone hates me already. I'm sure everyone will be relieved if I'm dead."
"What about me? I don't want you dead, Neera, so don't say such things; you're going to survive. The King's court is huge, and you are new and without skills. Surely, you will work nowhere close to the king, so do not worry."
"Thank you for your kind words, Penelope."
"Neera!" a lady called as she walked into the hall where they were, interrupting their discussion.
"They've come for you," Penelope said and Neera stood up, taking her bag;
"Take care," she said to Penelope as she hugged her briefly before walking forward.
"I'm Neera," Neera said, stepping in front of the lady.
The lady had that surreal beauty of immortals, but she was not as beautiful as the others she had seen. Compared to other demons, she was just average.
When the woman saw her, shock flashed through her eyes. She tipped Neera's jaw to look at her closely.
"What is your name?"
"Neera. Neera Lancelot."
The woman shook her head. There was so much resemblance. Too much to ignore! The only difference was the eyes. Delilah has green eyes.
Neera grew uncomfortable with the woman's stare and she took a few steps backward.
"Come with me." The lady said and walked forward.
Neera followed the lady. Neera had never seen the castle. She didn't even know what it looked like. She admired her surroundings as she followed the lady.
Lady Beatrice walked quickly, making sure no-one saw them. The demons knew themselves, and she knew a demon when she saw one. Neera was no demon, but how could someone look exactly like the dead queen? What would she do?
Neera's eyes widened as they approached an enormous gate. There were two giants sitting in front of the gate. Neera trembled as they approached them. She heard of the giants at the gate, but she has never seen them, and now she was, she nearly collapsed.
When the giants saw Lady Beatrice, they stood and opened the gates for her. Their steps were like little earthquakes on the ground. Neera followed Lady Beatrice closely, too scared to look at them for a second time.
The Castle stood out. A magnificent edifice. It was beautiful and surreal. She had seen nothing so glorious. Well, if she was going to stay here, then it would not be bad at all. All she had to do was avoid the king. As Penelope had said, maids that served the king directly were skilled and learned. She was neither, so she was safe.
The Castle was vast. There were many demons walking around. Neera had not seen that number of demons in her entire life. Mostly because her family was wretched and lived in the suburbs, where demons rarely visited. Humans feared them in her kingdom, but it seemed like a normal thing here. Everyone interacted with each other. The inside of the castle was as beautiful. Neera has not seen something so magnificent in her entire life. Everywhere radiated with pure gold and rare stones.
She couldn't look around properly as Lady Beatrice walked too fast, taking her down to a basement where nobody was, as though they were running from something.
"Wait here and don't come out." She said to Neera as she opened a door to a room.
Neera nodded and entered inside, and Lady Beatrice closed the door after her.
Neera looked around, wondering where she was. The room was dusty. It seemed like it had not been used for a long while. Neera wondered why the woman would bring her here.
Beatrice ran as fast as her legs could carry. She needed to find Freya immediately.
Thankfully, she saw her talking to some lower demons in the garden. Interrupting their discussion; she spoke urgently;
"Freya, you won't believe what I just saw."