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CYRA HAYES

Have you ever hated someone, yet you'd do everything for them? Whatever it takes to have them look at you with pride, anything to have them say those words that cause your heart to beat a little faster and have you warmed up with validation.

  That's why I'm here, that's why I'm doing all these reckless things. For her. And for me. Maybe if she saw what I'm worth, what I'm willing to do for her, she would finally be proud of me. And maybe if I can help my brother get the ancient ring of Baltros, I can prove to myself that I'm more than just a princess.

  I knew this was not a wise decision. I'm too inexperienced. My father had thought me some things but not enough. Not what to do when I encounter a frostblood with bad intentions.

  I look at my hands, letting the hot sensation swirl through my fingers, leaving my hands red and warm. The beautiful orange heat dances on my palm exactly the way I want it to. It gives me some sort of calmness, yet it aches me. To see such a beautiful fire swirl around so freely yet in control. Luckily, I'll always have my fire to protect me.

When the fire dies down, it leaves a bright mark on my skin, leaving me cold and in pain. What would happen when even the fire can't protect me?

  I look away from my hand when I hear a familiar voice, Sean. I hide around the corner and watch him carefully, soon noticing his best friend, Dylan, and his friend, Malcolm.

  Once they're inside the tavern, I look through the window, spotting my brother sitting around the table with Dylan, and on the other side of the table are two men I have not learned the names of.

  The two men look cold. Pale skin, thin fabric covering just the necessary parts of their bodies, hair an icy tone of blond. They don't try to hide the fact they're frostbloods. Bold move, especially when sitting in front of the heir of the fire blood kingdom.

  The tavern's inside looked cozy. It's well lit with candles and there are a handful of other men and women sitting around tables. Most women accompany the men, sitting on their laps and listening to their stories with amazement. Even though we all know the stories are just a work of the man's imagination.

  I spotted several frostbloods, it's easy to pick them out of the crowd, honestly. They don't care about hiding their abilities, or who they are. And although I think it's a stupid choice to act this arrogant, who's to blame them? They're powerful and should be feared. But not by me or any of the firebloods in this room.

  The candles lighting up the room together produce enough fire to burn down this city when handled by a skilled fireblood. What will they do against that kind of power with their short sleeves?

  It does calm me down a bit. I have no reason to be afraid when there are plenty of ways to defend myself would my physical defense threatens to shatter.

  My brother has a calm conversation with them, almost as if they're friends. But I can see that they are anything but calm. The way my brother balls his hands up to fists or tenses his jaw tells me he's not pleased to see them.

  I wonder how powerful the two men are. They are absolutely not favored by the fire prince, but they don't seem to worry that much.

  Almost as if they're not here to see my brother in the first place.

  One of them looks around, me following his gaze. What are they doing here? They don't even bother looking at Sean.

  "I see you're doing something you shouldn't, again," a voice interrupts my thoughts, and I spin around in a snappy move.

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