Chapter 5

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HOSUN was gone when she woke up. A maid helped her with her bath, and now fully awake, Jade was able to take in the magnificence of the whole house, clearly made to impress foreign dignitaries and the likes.

Their room itself was grand, golden tapestries on the walls, silk sheets, and small silver ornaments here and there. There were quite a few gorgeous paintings in the rest of the house, evidently done by someone very talented.

She had breakfast on her own, and then went into the back garden to explore. There were flowers, neatly arranged in sharp lines, all leading to a large fountain in the middle. And each line of flowers was different—from roses to lilies, but they were all either red or white, arranged in an alternating pattern.

Jade walked between a line of red roses and white to the center of the garden. The fountain was made of light stone, water forming a large pool at its base.

She sat on the edge of the fountain and put her hand into the stream of water running down. The drops were fresh and cool, flowing through her fingers and joining at the bottom.

Water could be pristine and calm, or it could be violent and thunderous. It depended on the external conditions. People generally were like that. Hosun especially. She had never seen him in combat, but she'd heard stories of Tsuchengko's fearless General. But with her, he was only her husband.

Did the leaders of the Gongjensu also have a softer side? How could they, when they had killed innocent men. Men who hadn't ever hurt them. Jade knew that soon she would have to face their sisters, mothers, fathers, brothers, and their widowed wives.

What scared her was that Jade could be in their position at any time.

She would soon see possible future versions of herself, except that their situation was even more pitiable as, while Jade knew she might lose Hosun, these women had been given no warning. It had just been announced to them that their husband was dead.

She stayed there for some time until the first few raindrops fell. She waited, letting the rain shower her—she did enjoy being outside in the rain, but not so long that she would get a cold.

She hurried inside, where a new gown was given to her. She asked for some books to pass the time and curled up on an armchair to read.

Before she knew it, it was time for lunch. Just as she was halfway through the meal, Hosun strode in, his eyes dark. Immediately, Jade knew that he hadn't had any good news.

He sat down at the table with a jolt, his shoulders slumping. "Not a single lead," he said, in a voice low enough for the servants not to hear, but Jade knew. She drew in a breath, feeling his frustration.

"It'll be okay," she promised. What else could she say? She could only offer him comfort and hope. It was always this way. She was his pillar, and she had to be strong for him.

Hosun only gave a sharp nod and began eating. Jade finished, but waited beside him, wanting to know if they would be leaving soon.

Hosun's dark mood lasted for as long as he was eating. When he finished, it was replaced by a more sorrowful, subdued one, and Jade knew that the time had come.

"We're leaving now, aren't we?" She asked. Hosun nodded, sharing a glance with her, and they walked outside into the ready carriage. They would be going to the Littoriana Captain's house, where the families would be presented with their compensation. Jade could imagine how pathetic that money would seem if she lost Hosun.

"What are going to say to them?" She asked softly.

A sigh blew out of Hosun's mouth, and his eyes met hers., "Something about how we are so sorry for their loss and many other words that won't do a thing to help them."

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