CHAPTER 29 - Of Swords and Daggers

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Author's note: WARNING FOR VIOLENCE IN THIS CHAPTER!

(Good luck, I suppose. To you and me both.)

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"My father gave me the sundial too."

He froze. His face reflected every single thing that was on his mind. I noticed his hands in the space between his knees turning a large silvery ring of his right hand with his left, his eyes clouded with thoughts. And he slowly turned his head to me.

He finally got it.

Lord Ralph might never have expected something like this to be brought to light, when he had come to Prince Nova, asking merely for the little spy who had a glowing sundial.

We did not speak; we did not move. The burden of the revelation hung loose in the air between us.

I took a quick glance at his face, his eyes danced with theories and thoughts, and body rigid as an old withered tree.

His eyes met mine again, and I lowered my gaze.

"He never returned because he had you." He whispered; his fists clenched.

Guilt overpowered me, followed by fear. He was going to hate me. Already did.

"So, how is he?" his pretentious stoic tone was not lost on me.

"I saw him last when I was just seven."

"Is he..."

Without thinking even for a heartbeat, I said, "Yes." Dead.

He put his head in his hands. "Are you sure?" He asked cautiously. Hopefully.

I did not react.

Finally, someone was feeling what I felt on a daily basis.

"He eloped with an Earth Elemental, didn't he?"

"Yes."

"I want to meet her, the woman, y-your mother," he said urgently, suddenly turning in his seat. The edge in his voice, a little too obvious.

I did not look at him as I said, "She is dead too. Both are dead to me."

His gaze did not waver from me, from my coldness. His unasked questions radiated off him. I knew he had connected the dots.

"You are a Luesha." He whisper-screamed.

"Yes," I agreed without looking at him, without thinking of the consequence.

A profanity escaped the Summer Defensor's lips and I clenched my fists on my lap, staring at a flower-vase right in my line of vision.

"Both Fire and Earth." He said to himself, his surprise bounced off me and I shivered. For a long moment, we stayed still.

"So, you are a spy for the Spring Realm?" he asked.

"No. I am a Corresponder. Liberan." I found myself, for some reason, unable to lie to him. Without having to look at Lord Ralph, I knew his face must have contorted with doubts.

"But Nova confirmed..." He trailed off.

I took a long shuddering breath and turned my face to look at him. Words were unnecessary.

"The Throne bless me, does Nova know about you?" He whispered, leaning in a little. His flaming eyes shone and forehead furrowed.

I blinked my eyes, trying to hold in the tears. I needed help. Anybody's. It was getting difficult to hold the fort down on my own. And I had finally told someone, confided into someone - confided to a stranger, but it only weighed me down some more. I clutched the string of my satchel tighter.

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