Chapter 2

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JADE was silent as her mind processed the words. Port Capsum was the most important part of Littoriana, the city on the opposite side of the Ellävuor mountain that sat at the center of Tsuchengko. An attack on the port only showed just how powerful the Gongjensu had become.

"Hosun—" She couldn't find anything to say. While there had been minor attacks, they hadn't been in such major areas, and there hadn't been civilian deaths yet. She knew Hosun was blaming himself for it, "It's not your fault."

"How can it not be, Jaden? I am the General. I'm responsible for their deaths," Hosun said, closing his eyes tightly, like it pained him to speak the words out loud.

"You couldn't possibly keep track of what was happening all the way in Littoriana," Jade said, "But it's simply not possible for one man to do so much. And the Littoriana Captain and Chiefs were responsible as well. It's their duty to guard the city."

Hosun let out a breath, still not opening his eyes, "It doesn't matter. I have to leave tomorrow morning for Littoriana. I must question the Captain and Chiefs. I still don't know how this could have happened."

Jade let her hand drift to Hosun's cheek and lightly rest upon it. Her fingers were directly on top of his long, white scar, the remnant of a harsh battle. "Don't worry. No matter what, everything will be alright. Have faith."

Hosun finally opened his eyes, the dark, liquidy orbs staring right into her brighter ones. "I suppose so."

They were silent for a moment, until Jade asked, "How long will you be gone?"

"Two days, most likely," Hosun said.

"Can I come with you?" Jade asked, her eyes widening with hope. She wasn't encouraged by the flat look on Hosun's face, though.

"Absolutely not."

"Please? I won't get in your way, I just thought it would be nice if I could visit Riana. It's been so long since I've seen her, you know?" She asked, widening her eyes even more.

He was silent for a long while, and she waited with bated breath. Finally, Hosun exhaled. "You wish to visit Lady Maverin?" Jade nodded excitedly, a smile curving her lips upwards. She could see Hosun weakening. "I don't want to put you in danger. There has just been an attack there."

"I'll be in Riana's house, we'll be very safe. I won't accompany you to the port. There's no danger," she said. Hosun didn't respond. "Please, Hosun?"

The man huffed, seeming almost like a child in that moment, "Oh—very well."

But a pleased look settled over his face on seeing Jade burst into a happy grin and throw her arms around his neck, half sitting up to do so, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

"Alright," He grunted as she laid back down, but she caught the small smile on his face. On an impulse, she leaned forward and pecked his lips. The gesture caused a wave of surprise to sweep over his face. She didn't often do things like this.

He chuckled, and kissed her again, more deeply this time. He gently let her go and put an arm around her smaller body, letting her nuzzle herself into him. Their breaths evened out as sleep claimed them both, shutting them out from the events of the outside world.

***

Jade was practically beaming with happiness. For once, she had been able to spend some time after breakfast with Hosun as well. They had spent some quiet, comfortable moments, out in the garden before their carriage had arrived.

They were being driven to the Clemen river, the river between Aquana and Marina, where a boat would take them to where it ran from the Ellävuor mountain. They would ride across the length of Marina, a full day's journey, and cross the Frimen river to reach Littoriana.

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