Chapter 5 | The Courtyard

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Now that we're shrouded in the light of the city, I can see her hair isn't actually black like I initially thought. I think it's just an ashy blonde. At the roots, it's a greyish tone. Stemming out from the messy part in her hair, the rest of the strands are pale and speckled with the dark sands of the black desert. 

Her skin is covered in soot making it appear greyish. Her irises are so light blue they almost look white reminding me of someone I loathe.

She reeks of death and is need of a bath badly. It's a miracle I found her alive and alone. She can't be older than me. I don't even know how she got in here without getting herself killed! I knew she had stolen a horse. I'm not surprised it brought her back here. The court horses are trained to return to our city with or without their riders.

I still can't believe I'm staring face to face with a real live Krexbin. She looks so pathetic and almost otherworldly. The moment she opens her mouth she will be ridiculed...and targeted. I'm sure people have already spotted her. The Krexbin were thought to be extinct. To the naive, she probably looks like a dirty slave.

I nudge her back behind a marble statue. "You can't stand out here in the open! You need to hide," I warn her.

She needs to get out of the line of sight of Urdmin and my father's guards watching the slaves work below us on the streets. She was just a few feet from stepping into my father's temple. If I hadn't came a second sooner, she would have made it inside and been found out immediately by the palace guards.

It's very hard for me to look into her pale eyes. They remind me so much of my father's. Luckily, she can't look into mine. As a Krexbin, she wouldn't be able to even if she wanted to. I push and prod her around the temple while she openly gazes around the sacred building. Little does she know she's looking in awe over the work of thousands of beaten and whipped slaves who have died over its creation.

Funny how she doesn't seem so afraid of me now. I wonder if she can see any better at all in here? This must be the first time she's seen a modern civilization. She's probably still in shock.

"My name is Greta," she tells me.

So, the Krexbin speaks.

I was expecting her voice to sound much softer, but it's raspy and huskier than I imagined. I lean in hearing her mumble something else, but her voice is too quiet.

Greta digs her feet into the ground when we end up many yards beyond the temple near the courtyard. The Krexbin grips my arms and I wince feeling her jagged, unkept nails dig into my bicep as she looks up with freight. My mother's statue stares down at us and the Krexbin sits down on the ledge with a black toothy smile as she scoops up a handful of water. A second ago she looked petrified by mother's statue, and now, she looks content peering down into the murky water in her cupped hands.

Before I can blink, she's downed the liquid and dipping her hands for another scoop. The water is brown and covered in grime, but she doesn't know any better. Still, it's kind of disgusting to watch her drink it. The slaves don't clean out the fountain much anymore now that they're working on the city streets.

"Don't drink that," I mumble uneasily.

She already looks malnutritioned. Drinking that water won't do her any good. It makes me feel guilty for thinking her best suited to live with our slaves. I can't keep her in the palace though. Urdmin would throw a fit and my mother would probably kill her in her sleep.

Where else is there for her stay? More importantly, why do I even feel responsible for her? She's an adult and a Krexbin at that. She survived out in the desert long enough on her own. She should be fine living here now in our city without my help.

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