"Release her at once!" A voice boomed as another guard entered the room. He wore a uniform of deep blues unlike the gray uniforms the others wore. A royal insignia decorated his chest. He stormed toward The Gray, his movements reminding Jill of a stalking, enraged monster, ready to destroy any in his path.
Layla ran to the guard as The Gray released her.
"She needs punishment, not protection, Veekla!" The Gray hissed.
"She is my brother's child and I am bound by duty and honor to protect her, especially from you," Veelka sneered. "I will decide what is best for her."
"Then you are a fool. Once I am King, the first blood I will spill will be yours." The Gray turned and faced Jill. She saw anger rising in his eyes like a toxic cloud of insanity and knew he would take it out on her. The other guards released her and stood back, also sensing his mood. In one swift motion he struck her across the face sending her to the floor before he kicked her over with his foot.
"Stop it!" Layla cried. She turned her pleading eyes to her uncle. Veelka was already moving. He hauled The Gray away from his victim and pushed him toward the door. The Gray gave a mock bow before he and the other guards left.
Veelka checked Jill's wounds before he wrapped her in the wool blanket. He picked her up and carried her from the room with Layla following behind. They weaved their way through the corridors of the complex until they reached a crossway.
"Layliana, go to your rooms and stay there until I visit you"
Jill felt her consciousness waning. "Mr. Veelka, Sir?" Jill asked as she watched her friend leaving.
"Don't let him hurt her," she said as her eyes closed and sleep finally came.
"I will protect her, and you," he said.
Jill slowing woke from a long sleep. She almost felt ordinary. She moved slightly and realized two things; she had no pain and someone still held her in their arms. A familiar hand swept across her brow and rocked her gently. She opened her eyes and smiled. The ones staring back at her, red and puffy from crying, held a mixture of joy and sorrow. She saw in them a story of the pain and hope they shared.