Love and Loyalty

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SILIN



What is this I feel.

Helpless? Worthless. Those two words cannot even begin to describe how I feel, slumped against the cold, hard wall of a cave and hearing the shower of heavy rain flood the Forests.

My dress is ripped. I'd torn the fabric up to my calves after the hem had caught on a thorn, while I was running. I'd left it there, for either Taehyung or the assassins to discover.

Whichever came first.

Rumi Lia.

It's her. I already know it's her that had ordered this. I shouldn't have underestimated Han's snake— why hadn't I expected this?

Because of me, all my guards had been killed. Taehyung was missing, most likely dead. There had been more than seven assassins, and he wasn't familiar with this type of terrain.

The rain pours.

It chills the fury from a burning red to an icy white.

If I ever made it back alive.

I would ruin her. I would make her beg on her knees and feel twice the things I am feeling now. I'll strip her of everything she has and leave her keeling in the dust.

I swear it.

A soft, weak breath leaves my lips. And the rain continues to pour, as I pull my knees to my chest and wrap my arms around them. The cave is cramped— barely enough to shade me from the rain.

It's damn cold. Mud and dust is caked between my toes, covering my left foot. I'd lost one of my boots while running. My hair is wild around my face.

I'd underestimated this. All of this.

And now I was paying the price. Where was I? Alone and completely vulnerable, curled up like a lost child in a cave hundreds of miles away from Asura. My guards had paid for my ignorance with their lives.

Taehyung.

I'd left a child, who hadn't even reached the age of eighteen, to defend for himself against Lia's top assassins. Had left him to his own death.

I was a cowar—

"Mistress."

My eyes jerk open. And I lift my head to see the young Tarakan in front of me, his gloved hand wrapped tightly around his upper arm. Blood streaks down his sleeve, dripping in red rivulets from the tips of his fingers. His bloodstained sword is clutched limply between those fingers.

He's soaked down to the bone.

The sword slips. It lands with a metallic thud, and he crumples to his knees in front of me. His head hangs forward, and I hear his low voice.

"Mistress, I found you."

I breathe.

And I barely catch him, my hands wrapping around his shoulders as he sways forward. His lips are colored a deep red, and the cold wetness of him bleeds into my skin as I quickly lean him against the wall. I gently pry his fingers from his arm.

He gasps. "Don't look, my Princess. It isn't—"

"Hush."

The fingers come away. And I use his knife, to cut away the sleeve of his shirt. The skin there is ravaged with a deep cut, spilling dark blood. I angle the knife, cutting more of the bottom of my dress.

He squeezes his eyes shut. Cold sweat runs down the side of his pale skin.

"Mistress, please. It's fine."

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