CHAPTER 50 - Of a Deal

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Author's note: Phew! We got Nova out... finally.

*PTSD Trigger warning for this chapter* If PTSD is a new term for you, I am glad to be the one to make you aware of it. So, google it after this chapter, for more clarity or just drop by in my DM or comments. Our protagonist was not a born hero. She has abandonment issues *points to the Chief.* The way she tackles the racism, the same way people around her will tackle her trust issues. I don't know why I felt the need to explain this. But well, yeah.

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The palace never ended! It recoiled around itself, twisted in uncountable passages, opened into several unused, yet gorgeous rooms, went up and down through staircases that all looked the same, and spiraled my already unhinged self into eternal dizziness.

I just wanted to go to the library!

And here I was, looking at what seemed to be a dusty old storage room.

Asking the house-helpers, was out of question, for they looked at me as though I'd leap out of my skin and bite them in the throat and suck out their life source.

Going to the balcony, with a view of the Winter gala's festivity, was a completely barred option as well, and I realized how much I missed the sunshine's warmth and the evening's chill, just being in the palace for two days. It was coming to an end. And I had only visited the greenhouses once!

Three days from now and the sky would light up like a bride, marrying the man of her dreams.

Three days and the Winter Realm's shooting stars would bless the earth.

Three days and the Conquest would end.

Three days and the next Conqueror would be crowned.

Three days and the Throne of the Four Realms would arrive!

Amelia had wanted to see it, I reminisced, and I knew I had never been so right about not giving into her tantrums. She wasn't here - a relief - but hopefully she'd be safe with Uncle Barak - he adored her like a daughter anyways.

I closed the door of the storage room and walked on, not knowing where the beautiful marble floors of the palace guided me. A friendly presence approaching me, my instincts announced, yet some part of my mind still reeled with wayward thoughts.

"Eleni, dear, are you quite done with all the exploring?"

I turned around with a tired shrug, my voice almost a whine, "I am lost, Your Highness. Why is your palace so big?"

Lord Orlon laughed through his chest. He was tall, and his broad figure should have intimidated me. But it didn't - in just two days, he felt like Uncle Barak with a crown, just with a warrior-build. I apologized to the Throne for having judged him so harshly and I realized all the royals had two different personalities, eerily like the Gemini twins.

His brown eyes crinkled, and he extended his arm. "What are you looking for, Milady?"

Shy, I gulped, but linked my arm with his, "Library, of course."

"Of course, of course." I heard the smile in his voice as we walked side by side.

Once we rounded a corner, I was finally able to take in the beauty, without worrying about bumping into a scared house-help or opening the door to a servant chamber or landing myself onto some restricted floor. Three enormous arched windows passed us, the middle one's pane open, and I let myself inhale the coastal smell of Winter Realm's evening breeze.

Without stopping to think, I raised a hand. A seed buried deep under the palace's soil said hello to me and I snapped my fingers. An emerald-hued shoot sprung out of the wall's edge and pirouetted until it coiled itself around the open pane. An ivy!

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