CHAPTER THREE: I C E T R I A N E

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Icetriane.

The word rang though my head like a bullet to my brain. Not only was this girl from Icetriane, she was their princess. I staggered, taking a step away from the table. No, this couldn't be happening. It had to be a trap.

Willa stared at me, eyes wide, "What's the matter?" Her whisper made the only noise in the silent room.

My eyes wandered to the floor, I found myself unable to speak. What if she could remember? What if she was a spy? What if she was sent here to sabotage the Underground? What if there were Ictriane troops marching here right now? What if—

"Nothing," Clover replied, her tone unwavering, "but you'll have to stay here for now, Willa, you cannot return to Icetriane."

"What's Icetriane?"

The three of us gazed at the girl in confusion. Although, we should have expected it if she really couldn't remember anything. I mean, she really could have been telling the truth, but I was naturally skeptical of anyone from Icetraine. Well, anyone for that matter.

Clover sighed, turning to Willa with an oddly calm look on her face, "Icetraine is the kingdom to the left, Frienan is the country to the right."

"They've been at war since 271 N.E." Quinn added, taking a look at Willa's arms for signs of damage.

Willa looked around, completely vexed, "What year is it now?" She asked softly.

"294." I replied without thinking. I didn't necessarily want to interact with this stranger, but it was an immediate response.

Quinn picked up the metal tag once again, "This says you were born on..." She squinted her eyes at the tiny, stamped numbers, "02.14.277. That would place you at about 17."

"Oh! Just like Cora!" The bubbly voice came from Blair, who popped her head into the lab.

"Geez," I sneered, "do you have to be so loud about it?"

"What's the matter, Cor?"

"Don't call me that." I growled back, crossing my arms.

She merely bobbed her head, her blonde buns bouncing joyfully. The only reason I didn't find Blair as annoying as Katya was because we didn't speak nearly as often. Still, Blair always found a way into the conversation.

"Who is this kid anyway?" She pushed her way into the room and stood in front of Willa.

Willa glanced at the new person in the lab fearfully. Quinn noticed her panic and turned to face Blair, "I'll need you to leave the room so I can finish my examination."

Blair let out a humph, "Sure, but Cora gets to stay?"

What is with you? "None of your business." I peered down at her through my short, turquoise hair.

Quinn was clearly done with all the babbling, "Okay then, all of you, out." She cast a quick glance towards Clover as I to check if that order was acceptable.

Clover nodded, beckoning me to follow her out of the room. I obliged, anything to get away from Blair. My nerves were particularly on edge today.

"You good?" Clover's voice was quiet again, a rarity from her.

Was I good? Not necessarily. Finding out that Willa was the princess of Icetraine set off a fire in my mind. I mean, she was obviously tormented, but the stigma of her kingdom stabbed me in the gut. There was too much risk associated with her, or at least, the thought of her.

"I'm fine."

Clover searched my gaze for a few moments before turning away. Ever since I came here, she had admired my persistence and strength. She took to training me and helping me move past my trauma. I knew Clover saw herself in me, and I always wanted to be more open with her. I couldn't, though. Something always stopped me, be it fear or instinct, I don't care. There's a wall guarding my heart, and it's there for a reason.

Clover paused, not looking back, "I'll have to announce this, you know."

I hesitated, wondering why. There were over 100 citizens here in the Underground, so telling all of them when a new person joined seemed unnecessary. Too much work when, in all reality, most of them wouldn't even meet. But... this was different. Willa was the *princess* from a country who wants most of us dead, and that's a huge threat to our survival.

I nodded, "That makes sense."

As I walked away, I couldn't help but fight with myself. Surely the announcement would make her feel like an outcast, even if it had to be done. What if people started avoiding her? Which, to be fair, I was already doing.

I took to whittling my bow again, mindlessly carving pattern after pattern.

What if she's a good person?

What if she's not? You know next-to-nothing about her.

She doesn't know anything about herself either. She can't be judged for a past she knows nothing about.

But if she was a danger to the Underground before, who's to say she won't be again?

*We don't know that she was a danger.

*But what if she was? Doesn't that take priority?*

Yes. Though I wouldn't want to be persecuted based on such ambiguity.

She's a new person. New people aren't good.

Don't remind me.

The last time—

I said don't remind me!

So what are you going to do?

That all depends on if she was against me in the past... or if she was like me.

"Cora!" Harper stopped in his tracks, "I was looking for you!" I looked up at him from my bow, he stared back, "Are you okay?"

I'm starting to get sick of people asking that.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

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Hello all! This chapter is shorter and kinda sucks ngl. But! I'm trying to get back into the swing of writing! The past few weeks have been really hectic for me and kinda demotivating. But I want to keep up with this story as well as Magic! So yeah!


I hope you have an awesome day/night!

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