Chapter 8

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JADE and Hosun had been given the night to spend with each other. In the morning, the King called on them.

Their denial was gone, replaced with a dull resignation and a heartache that should have been felt by all the people around them. But it only affected Jade and Hosun.

They climbed the steps to the Imperial Palace slowly, carefully, as though they could delay Jade's exile.

But of course, they couldn't. Not even Hosun, one of the most powerful men in the kingdom. No one could go against the Laws.

They were shown straight into the throne room. Jade had seen it once before, when she had been invited with Hosun to congratulate them on their wedding. It was grand, made of pure marble with gold chandeliers hanging from the arched ceiling. And of course, the soldiers that lined the walls, looking stiff and unseeing.

Two people were waiting for them. King Könei Sovranus and Queen Rositi Sovranus.

The king was tall, though not so tall as Hosun, and muscled, indicating his years of training. He had that regal air that most monarchs had, that wonderfully emotionless face and poised figure.

The queen was much smaller, petite and delicate. Her lavish gown and ornaments seemed utterly at home on her, as though she had been born into the role. Indeed, she had been a noble's daughter before marrying the king. Her features spoke sympathy, and sadness, and Jade knew that the queen understood.

Jade and Hosun made their customary curtsy and deep bow.

No one spoke for several moments.

Then King Könei cleared his throat, "General. Lady Bo'ehr. I have heard what has happened."

"Please, Your Highness, can't anything be done?" Hosun asked, his voice near to pleading.

The king sighed, and Jade felt a momentary flash of pity for him. The lines on his face seemed meant for a much older man.

"I am afraid not. I cannot be seen showing favoritism, even to my General. The Laws are the Laws, and even I am bound by them."

Hosun's jaw tensed, and Jade felt dread rising in her heart.

"Then, Your Highness, you shall have to exile me as well."

Jade whirled to Hosun, her eyes wide and panicked. What was he saying? She took in a breath, ready to tell him what was right—

"General, I cannot," the king's voice, smooth despite the tension, flowed through the room.

"I refuse to leave my wife," Hosun said, voice hard as stone.

"Hosun!" All eyes shot to her, and Jade pressed her lips together, "You cannot abandon your post as General, not when the kingdom needs you."

He had told her, time and time again, that he had been raised to put the kingdom first, its needs before his one. He had sworn to that, and Jade was in no way going to let him break his oath for her.

He opened his mouth, but Jade's eyes were determined, "You swore to put Tsuchengko first when you accepted the role of General. And as much as I want you to come with me, I knew, when I married you, that you would hold to that oath. Are you going to break it now?"


And then Hosun's sigh broke through.


"Hosun, please," she would die before letting him forget his duty to his kingdom. As his wife, it was her job to make sure he performed his duty, and she was going to do it.

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