Chapter 19

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Thebes was modest compared to Athens. Gaiana was only used to a bustling city. Travelers from Anatolia to Sicily would stop by Athens along their travels, exchanging wares and produce to buy off and sell to other regions. Thebes seemed empty compared to that.

There wasn't a bustling marketplace full of people. Their buildings were smaller compared to what she'd grown up with. Even their capital temple of Cadmea, the shrine to the greek hero Cadmus, was miniature compared to the citadel of Athens she'd come to love.

They passed by a few half empty buildings and littered streets. Guards drank ale while on duty, and some women ran away from the sight of Nazar and Gaiana. "I miss Athens," Gaiana murmured. Her hands were tied. Figuratively, not literally.

Upon passing through the gates, Nazar made it clear that he could torment her if he choose to. With that crystal in his hand and her tattoo sealing her fate, her only option was to cooperate in order to avoid his abuse.

"I promise you'll learn to like it here," Skah said walking behind her. His scarf shifted as the wind pushed some of his hair back.

Gaiana would've thought him handsome if he wasn't fucking kidnapping her. "I hate your scarf," Gaiana said in the pettiest tone she could muster.

Skah's eyes furrowed, genuinely offended. "I like this scarf."

"Purple. Its hideous, and so is your birthmark."

Skah winced from that. She didn't actually mean it, but she wanted more than anything to irritate them in some way. "Ouch," he said. "I'm used to hearing that, but you say it so much worse."

"All of you can rot in your graves."

Vigi murmured, "we're not going to hurt you. We'll promise to keep you safe..."

Gaiana scowled in his direction. Nazar raised a hand up at the both of them, "they're right you know. You're Atlantean, so I have much to study with you. Typically I kill deviants I see, but you're far too valuable to dispose of. I might get other scholars to study you as well, but I'm still debating on that. I could use the help but I'd much rather keep you to myself."

"How flattering," Gaiana said in the flattest tone. "I'll pray you don't hurt yourself as you study me."

Nazar only chuckled, "I guarantee you'll live a luxurious life under my estate. So long as you follow my rules and do as I say, you'll find that your new life with us can be far better than what you will find elsewhere."

"All for the lowly price of freedom?"

"Freedom is far overrated," Nazar waved a hand, "freedom in exchange for being taken care of? I'd say that's a far trade off."

"I disagree."

"Yes, well, your opinion doesn't matter here, now does it?"

It was still midday. Reaching the estate made Gaiana's eyes widen. Nazar's home wasn't just large, it was enormous. She could've mistaken him for Archon of the city. The building stretched across and around the hill. Like a fortified castle, it had two floor levels and a long tower watching over its center. The courtyard was spaciously cleanl. Gaiana was curious as to how he could've attained such large estate.

"This is a castle," Gaian said with her mouth scrunched. She was envious. An estate like this was what she, Sophus, and Archos had often dreams of. Now she was being dragged into it as a prisoner.

"I used to think that too," Vigi said with a quiet smile. "It's hard to get used to."

Workers picked veggies at the garden edge. Tomato vines, olive branches, beehive pots, and grape vines decorated the exterior of the building. It was tended to and picked by women, all of whom were much older than Gaiana.

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