Chapter 3

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"What is it, Cinder?" Sebastian asked her as he came up behind her. She swallowed and closed her eyes, not wanting to answer him as she looked at the burning bodies. Sebastian sighed and thought, Your eyes are betraying some of your feelings, I just can't figure out which emotion it is. What is it Cinder? Are you still enraged at what evil lay here? She finally opened her eyes and whispered back in his mind, I'm terrified. He looked around them to try to see what she saw, what she was scared of. It's inside me, Sebastian. I'm terrified of what burns inside me now. Her eyes, glowing blue, met his. Dominique's life flame touched my core, Sebastian. I'm carrying some of his darkness around inside of me. Don't deny that you and Adrian have both seen it here today. You're both looking at me like I'm the monster now. Sebastian sighed heavily and answered her, We'll get through this, Cinder, together as we have always done; just don't shut me out. You're not a monster. For now, let's get you home, so you can actually get some rest. There is a lot to do to follow this up and you haven't slept for days. He saw her fear at the mention of sleep and an understanding, caring look came over his face, as he thought, I'll be right there with you, Cinder.  She nodded and looked down. 

A few soldiers brought their horses up to them. Cinder gave Sebastian a nod of acceptance and mounted her massive black Prowess, Obsidian. Sebastian gave her a reassuring nod, thinking, Go on. I'll be right behind you, after Adrian and I square things away here. I love you, Cinder. She heaved a sigh and gave him a nod, answering him, Alright. I love you too, Sebastian. The last of the wagons carrying prisoners began pulling out and Cinder kicked her horse forward to join them. She rode next to the wagon in silence, still thinking about the darkness that was threatening to take her over. Slowly her focus turned to the prisoners and wounded, that were being transported in the wagons; they needed to get them back to the kingdom safely and she needed to focus right now. She would have to think more on the darkness later; for now she had a job to do.

From below in the wagon, as it bumped along the road, the assassin observed the female warrior ridding next to the front of the wagon. She was all in black, except for the dried blood, a deep red, all over her person. She had apparently killed many, he could tell, simply by judging her appearance and the quantity of blood spatter patterns. She was soaked with it. She rode with a relaxed confidence on her massive horse, that appeared to be a purebred Prowess. Her black hair, pulled back at the nape of her neck, brought memories of the beautiful witch who had saved his life, to his mind. He hadn't seen the witch in so many days, he believed her to be dead. There had been times before, when she had been gone for long periods of time, but this felt different. He had heard things while lying in the prison; rumors of a great magical fight between the witch and the vampire, of his death, and things that sounded like she had also died. He was deeply grieved at the thought of her death, despite all of his training, that had taught him not to care for others.

He closed his eyes and rested for a few moments, just letting the cool forest breeze touch his skin and the sunshine that warmed his face. He couldn't remember the last time that he had been outside, after failing his mandate to assassinate the vampire sorcerer. He was supposed to be dead. He was supposed to no longer exist. But she had come. She had saved him. She had made him feel. Her beautiful black hair floating around her as she worked, her tear-filled violet eyes and her gentle touch, that made him feel something; had stirred something to life deep within him. The assassin opened his eyes and looked at the female warrior again, as she rode. He could tell exactly where each blade on her person was from behind and he could also determine, that if she adjusted her short sword just slightly to the right, and wore it that way, she would be able to draw it quicker. A rider came up to her and spoke, "Your Highness, the King and his Second have left the Keep and request that you meet them in the war room, directly after you have settled the wounded in the hospital." "Thank you, Captain." The assassin closed his eyes, thinking of the witch again; even the warrior's voice reminded him of her.

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