CHAPTER 44 - Of a Summer Palace

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"Are you really sure?" I asked once again, remembering how kind King Orlon had been to me, and in return I had given him the nastiest of surprise.

Doran let out a huge sigh, before climbing the steps to the foyer of his palace, "For the love of the Throne, Eleni, yes. I am sure."

"No need to be mad," I scowled at him.

"I am not. Yet." He said, and turned fully towards me, his eyes suddenly soft with concern, "Also, um, don't let anything bother you, alright?"

"Like what?"

"Hopefully nothing." He averted his eyes from me, "Let's go."

I walked behind him, a gigantic dread crippling my insides, as I entered the Grand Palace of the Sagittarius House.

Jaw-dropping artistic interior of the gorgeous golden palace, made me suck in a full breath. The walls sparkled with the soft whisper of early morning's sunshine. It wasn't bright outside but inside the palace, it seemed like a Sun glowed of its own.

My vision roved around and suddenly halted as it met a scared pair of eyes. A uniformed servant had stopped in her track, as though having seen a ghost. I looked around and found many other women and men, dressed in uniforms, rooted mid-movement.

"Y-Your Highness," one of the lady-servant blabbered at the prince, her eyes affixed on me. Following suit, almost everyone bowed low, their eyes aghast, body flustered.

Were they astonished or...perhaps scared?

"Bar all the entrances and exits. Do not let anyone in and out of the palace, unless I say so. And not a word outside." Doran spoke fast, and removed his coat, throwing it over a settee. His thin black tunic came into view, and I forgot to blink, unable to tear my gaze off his toned back. "Gather the guards in the backyard, I want to have a word."

"And prepare a room upstairs for the Lady," he added, not looking at anyone in particular, and extended a hand for me.

As he turned around, I peered down his chest and hardened abdomen.

"Eleni?" he called, his silvery voice, snapping me out of my trance.

I nodded, forcing myself to not look at him in such a creepy manner and put my hand in his open palm. Even the smallest gesture seemed to make me perspire. What was wrong with me?

He walked me through the main hall, and I craned my neck to look back up at the golden chandelier. It had hundreds of glowing oval-shaped glass balls, which burnt with tiny flames of orange fire. The Sun of the Summer Palace.

"Move!" Doran commanded in a gruff voice and the frozen servants started walking away, fumbling back into their previous actions.

They were scared, not astonished. They recognized me - The infamous Luesha!

But a loud scrunchy noise boomed in the palace –

"So, now we are bringing girls at home?"

I did not turn around, my eyes widening as I recognized the voice. But Doran did, his face already wearing an annoyed expression. The glow of the sunshiny chandelier radiated his darkening eyes. Oh, he was mad, alright.

Doran clutched my shoulders and gently turned me around. The King's eyes widened as they fell on me and I scurried closer to Doran.

"But...How?" He looked at me and then at Doran, "No one breaks out of the dungeons."

"The ones who don't belong there, surely do," Doran said, voice fiery, melting my snow.

"She did attack a dragon, though. Eh, but it was Nova's so I'm sure she had a reason," the King said, his hands clasping behind and he climbed down the stairs slowly. Guilt gnawed at me at the mention of Zephyr and I made a mental note to ask Serena about his well-being.

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