First Things First

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There's a bird chirping.

I hear it.


The door flies open, the same time my eyes do. I instantly sit up, my fingertips flying up to the skin of my throat. I grope my neck— breathing uncontrollably. The feeling of death still lingers on it.

But there are no marks.

And I look up at the woman who'd woken me up.

"Oh, dear."

"Did you have a nightmare?" She says, gathering her dress and hurrying to my side. "You slept late again, didn't you? How many times will I have to tell you to get you to listen to me?"

I can't believe this.


She's in front of me.

Nan is alive.

"My," She shakes her head, suddenly gripping my face between her hands. The feeling of her soft, wrinkled fingertips is too real against my cheeks that I stand completely still.

"You're scaring me, dear. What is up with you?"

I throw my arms around her. And she makes a surprised noise, as I pull her tightly against my chest. My heart is beating so heavily inside of my body that I can barely swallow.


She's real. The scent of her is the scent that I remember— rosemary and warm, honey broth. Her warmth pulses under my chilled fingers.

I pull away, staring into her warm, stunned eyes.

But she had died years ago, from a hidden sickness inside her heart. The palace doctors had discovered it much too late.

"Alright, Silin." She titters, smoothing down my rumpled, dark hair. She's convinced that I had the worst nightmare. "Everything's fine, dear. Sometimes our heads get the better of u—"

But no. She's wrong.

A slow smile spreads on my lips.


"Hm?" She pauses in the middle of waving out the candle burning on the nightstand besides my bed. Her expression is innocent— unknowing.

But I know.

God had given me a second chance. He'd heard my screams, and had brought me back from hell.

So I could drag down Han along with me.

"What's today's date?"


The winter of 1586.

I had gone back five years in time.

I was still Princess Silin, of the Royal Asura Family. Still Princess, and a supposedly naive, nineteen-year old girl. A girl who knew nothing but a fairy-tale romance and blue, sunny skies.

My dress crumples underneath my fist as I walk.

In less than two months, my father would arrange my marriage with Han, who was heir to the second-most powerful Clan in South Korea. He would arrange me with him whether I liked it or not.

I had to become more powerful.

I didn't know the exact steps to take Han down in the most devastating way possible, but that much was clear. I couldn't become the powerless puppet of a Queen.

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