”Why? ”

Kharis barely uttered those words before vomiting a pool of black blood.

”I did everything you asked of me, I obeyed every one of your orders so why? ”

Kharis felt her heart shatter, she had chosen to stand by his side despite all her doubts, despite all the atrocities he ordered her to commit even when she was unwilling. She had chosen to trust him and this was the end result.

She had always known deep down that he viewed her as nothing more that a useful tool but she had chosen not to care. She had ignored all the obvious signs that presented themselves before her and followed him blindly. He was the only one who reached out when it felt like the world had rejected her. He raised her, trained her and now he betrayed her. She was always content with just standing by his side, that was all she ever needed and she wanted to believe that helping him achieve his goals was enough but she was wrong.

”Now that the war is over, you are nothing but a liability, a variable in an equation where such things shouldn exist ”

Hearing his emotionless voice caused her to tremble. She had finally realised that she had only imagined the warmth in his voice, she willingly placed herself under the illusion that he cared for her but she could now see everything for what it really was. He was disposing the tool since he had no more use for it, she had deceived herself to think otherwise but she was still just a weapon he had designed to fit into his plans.

”A thriving Empire has no need for a blood soaked soldier who knows nothing about the world outside of battlefields ”

He looked at her with cold eyes. His blue eyes didn hold an ounce of pity or regret, just coldness that made her feel a chill down to her bones.

”You are nothing but a threat that needs to be controlled ”

She said nothing or rather she couldn say anything, the pain she felt could never be put into words.

”Don worry, you won die as I still have use for you alive ”

He squatted down and held her chin, forcing her to meet his eyes.

”You will just be too powerless to ever threaten my throne ”

The throne was always more important to him. She had been naive and too blinded by her own delusions to see the truth. She felt the tears that she failed to hold back streak down her cheeks. She was back to being alone, back to having no one she could trust.

She could feel her consciousness slipping as her vision grew blurry, it was already too late for regrets. The last thing she saw were his cold eyes before falling into darkness. Grisha Andrius had used her to get the throne he desired and abandoned her.

”Wake up little bird ”

She heard a familiar playful voice invade her consciousness while it wandered in the endless darkness.

”Time to wake up birdie ”

Kharis slowly opened her eyes, she could feel a warm hand caressing her cheek. Her blurred vision eventually cleared up to meet the silver eyes of a man seemingly in his twenties.

”Zarel ”

she was still a bit confused

”In the flesh birdie ”

His long black hair gently swayed behind him and his silver eyes had a hint of playfulness in them, it was really the one she had been waiting for.

She didn spare a single moment to be shocked or surprised before she jumped up and hugged him while her knees still remained on the bed.

”Is it really you? ”

He hugged her, gently patting her hair.

”Seems like you really missed me this time birdie ”

”You were gone for more than a year ”

She buried her head in his chest and tightened her arms that wrapped around his body.

”Are you trying to break my ribs here birdie ”

She continued her initial actions without giving him a reply, her arms felt a bit sore but she didn care.

”You know that the barrier is a hassle to get through ”

”As if that could ever be difficult for you ”

she immediately retorted.

”I really had something important to do this time ”

”Yeah right ”

She scoffed, not believing any of his words.

”Im being serious this time, let me go and Ill tell you about it ”

He sighed and tried to wriggle out of her hold.

”You better have a good explanation ”

She reluctantly let him go and sat on the bed. A moment later, he did the same.

”So what was so important that you disappeared for so long without telling me ”

She questioned, arching one of her brows.

”I was being serious when I said it was important ”

”So what is it then ”

”The location of the ancient library of Thalios ”

Silence reigned between them for a few seconds but it didn take long for the fragile quiet to be broken.

”What do you need the location of the library of Thalios for? ”

Kharis was the first one to speak.

”For knowledge ”

”Oh really ”

”Of course ”

Zarel nervously replied.

”You expect me to believe that a three thousand year old dragon with knowledge even beyond this continent needs to locate a lost library for knowledge ”

”Yes ”

”Since when were you such a devoted seeker of knowledge ”

”I picked up the habit just recently ”

”Do you really expect me to believe that ”

”Not really but it was worth a shot and for the record, that library is probably older than me ”

”It probably has a ton of things that I don know too ”

He added

”Obviously I already knew that just like I know that you aren exactly the type to go on a sudden quest for knowledge ”

”Don people change all the time ”

”Tell me the truth Zarel ”

”What if we find clues about the first temple ”

Zarel hesitantly spoke while cautiously paying attention to any change in her expression.

”Zarel… ”

Kharis tried to speak but Zarel quickly interrupted her before she could complete what she was about to say.

”We haven been able to find any clues so far, this could be our only chance ”

”Zarel… ”

Kharis tried to speak again but her words were also interrupted for the second time.

”Best case scenario, we could find a more reliable way to heal you rather than depend on some old stories ”

Kharis didn attempt to speak this time and just listened while he continued talking.

”And and… ”

”What if it works ”

His voice grew more emotional as he spoke.

”Even if we don find a better way, we could still try looking for the temple ”

He finally stopped his ramblings after that. His shoulders were slumped and his eyes had almost lost all of its playful spark. His expression depicted utter defeat and sadness.

”Zarel, you have done so much for me already and I don think Ill ever be able to thank you enough for that ”

”Even if the curse hidden within that poison didn kill me, I would have still ended up dead if you had decided to ignore an unconscious stranger in the middle of a forest filled with beasts ”

”Everything was only temporary, I couldn help you and I failed to save you ”

”Don sound so defeated Zarel ”

Kharis suddenly smiled and her eyes seemed to stare into distant memories.

”Meeting you was enough for me, I have no regrets ”

”It isn nearly enough ”

Zarel said with a bit of determination in his voice.

”I came here today to tell you to come with me ”

Kharis only sighed and walked towards the window. She could hardly make out the forest surrounding the castle in the dark but she continued to stare at it regardless.

”If we let the effects of that curse remain in your body, you might die ”

His voice cracked a little as he said those words.

”Is death all that bad ”

Kharis didn even look at him, she kept on staring into the darkness, desperately trying to convince herself that she truly believed the words coming out of her lips.

”I will never let that happen ”

Zarel spoke with renewed determination in his eyes.

”Come with me birdie ”

”Lets leave this place and go to black forest together ”

”We can find a way to heal you, Im sure of it ”

”Im certain about the location of the library ”

”We can start from there, all you have to do is come with me ”

There was only silence between them for a while. None of them were willing to break it just yet. Kharis was conflicted but deep down she already made her choice.

”Okay ”

Her voice was merely a whisper but he heard her. The joy bloomed in his heart before he could realise it.

”Does that mean that you will follow me ”

He could barely hold back the relief he felt after hearing those words. He hoped with every bit of his heart and soul that she meant what he thought she did.

Kharis tore her gaze away from the forest and turned around with a smile hanging on her lips.

”Yes, lets go to black forest together ”

She chose to hold on to what little hope she had left and take a leap of faith even if their path was filled with uncertainty.

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