TWELVE

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Chapter Twelve

My body is weak, worn out, my hands receiving the bitter numbing pain of the cold as my wrists are bound together by rope, walking behind the King as his men follow us in pursuit. We walk through the camp, already my tent taken down as news has reached the camp of my traitor status. Traitor but not human status. King Kyril informed his men that I was speaking nonsense, telling them that I joined the race to find Heka as an attempt to steal goods from the King and make a run for it into the mountains. The men bought the lie, believing their King as he could not tell them I was human. I was only a fraud in who I claimed I was, not what I said I could do. My legs weak from the hike and the events of my body being thrown across a hall just an our ago, as the King stops walking, he turns back to me, placing a hand on my shoulder as he guides me into his tent, leaving the rest of his men outside. As my throat runs dry, I try and hold my head high, knowing that I am about to stand up for myself and come up with a reason for why I am trying to find Heka aside from him being my father. With the tent isolating us from the rest of the camp, King Kyril lets go of my shoulders, taking a seat on his bed as he looks at me, running his hands through his hair. "How does a human like yourself end up in Iduna?"

I expected harsh words to be said, for my body to be flung about the room, for my eyes to water and for Kyril to shout at me. Rather than any of that, he asks me a simple question, his voice not raised at all, but calm. Like the calm before the storm. "I found a mirror the day I was sucked into this realm," I inform, taking in a deep breath as I need this to be believable. I am good with lies, all the way through elementary school I would tell people that my mother was always around for my ceremonies and holiday festivities, that she never missed one. I would create elaborate stories as for why no one saw her and they all believed me. "I found myself in that Temple and that same day of me waking up in there, I met a woman from the mountains. She told me of another human who had passed by before, of a man named Heka." He is buying it, the way he shakes his head. "I asked her how to find Heka and she said she knew a man that could get me into your palace records library to perhaps find the last sighting of him."

"And so you wanted to be added to the race to find Heka in hopes of finding him," the King pieces together, looking up to me with glowing golden eyes. "To find a way to return home?"

I nod, watching as the King rises to his feet, grabbing a glass as he fills it with a rick blue substance, taking a swing at the drink. "And that mirror was my last chance to return home because who knows where Heka is or if he even knows a way for me to see my family again," I add, my voice raised as I want to pounce onto the King, wrap my hands around his neck and squeeze tight. "In the mirror, right before you destroyed it, I saw my mother, drinking away her sorrows as she was left with no one but herself for company." Pathos. Just tons of pathos right now and he should find sympathy for me and give me some freedom to move around. "I do not give a damn about you wanting the kill Heka, but I want to find him just as badly as you do. You know that you need me to find him, that I am the only one who can read his language because I was born in his world. Your magic has no use in finding him, the only way you can find him is by another human. I happen to be that human."

King Kyril scoffs, shaking his head as he looks down to me, his shadow looming over me as he takes a swing at his drink again. "You see, dear little Candice, the last time we spoke like this you were persuading me to add you to the race while lying to me about your background. A silver tongue you have perhaps once more?"

I take in a deep breath, one to gain the confidence to say my words. "It doesn't matter anymore, any of my background or my motives, but you know that without me, you have no chance of finding Heka."

"So you can return home?" the King asks, his tone mocking me. "You are my mate, Candice, so that means I will be damned if you talk to Heka because I will never allow you to return home."

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