༺ XXVIII ༻

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꧁༺࿅ིཽ• -- •❈• -- •࿅ིཽ༻꧂

⊹⊱ Mingxia ⊰⊹

     "Where have you put it?" Cerai asked, his back to me.

"What do you mean?" I replied, genuinely confused as to what he was referring to.

"I know you have the image. Return it at once and I will make sure your death is not slow and painful."

The image? Realization washed over me once I understood. He wanted the drawing of the woman that was in one of Khaisitha's history books. When Liwei and I returned to Wuzhen, I hadn't been able to put it away where he would not find it and ask questions about it. So, it came of little surprise to find that it was still securely hidden in one of my sleeves. My hand rested on it, not ready to hand it over to him just yet. "Who is it?"

"You are as curious as ever, Mingxia. It seems your mate has not educated on the history of Naestrirea very well. The woman in the picture was my mate."

"Was? What happened to her?"

"She died." His voice sounded strangely optimistic, like her death hadn't affected him in any way. It was incredibly unsettling.

"How are you still here if she died? I was under the impression that when one mate dies, the other one shortly follows. The sorrow of the loss of a mate is too great to bear to continue to live."

"I have not accepted her death."

"She has passed on to the next life, yet you still hold onto her in your heart. Do you think she would want you to do that?"

"Enough. Stop biding time for your mate. He won't find you here, not as long as the connection between you two has been muted. You can scream as loud as you want, he will not be able to hear you." His left eye began to glow an eerie gold color, an ancient symbol of XX was engraved in his cornea. "Where is it?"

I shifted uncomfortably in the chair, the amount of power that emanated from Cerai was large and suffocating. It felt like something crawled inside of me and forced the words out of my mouth. "I have it here." My hands mechanically pulled out the drawing and held it out to him.

Relief filled his eyes despite the Tarot's dark influence. He wandered to the middle of the room; a strange symbol was drawn along the ground in white chalk to form a star. In each corner, there was an item and I immediately took notice of being in one of the corners. There was a twinkle of pride in him as he flashed his usual smile. "The Tarot is quite amazing."

"What was that?"

"Major Arcana 20: Judgment. It's a wonderful way to determine if someone is lying. It also operates as a wonderful truth serum."

I bristled at the confession, knowing that I had been caught immediately. That unforeseeable force that made me respond with such obedience; it was the Tarot. Its grip on my control was slimy and slippery than ever. "Why do you need the picture?"

"Did I not make myself clear? Or perhaps you were not paying attention, young Mingxia. My mate may have died but I have not accepted her death."

My stomach churned, my mind piecing his intentions together. He had planned to bring her back to life. "You can't! She passed into the next life. Bringing her back would only subject her to more torment than she deserves!"

"Silence!" His voice boomed. "How would you know what my mate deserves and doesn't deserve? We were mates long before the Fang household became the Royal House."

A Celestial Requiem (Book 1, The Secrets of Tarot series) ✔Where stories live. Discover now