Chapter 11

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JADE arrived in Arrian in the evening. Her stomach churned as the ship docked at one of Arrian's ports, the dim sun casting eerie red shadows in the sky.

"My Lady," Edric said, stepping up next to her. Jade had been up on deck for the last few hours of the journey and was still frozen there. Her feet didn't want to move.

Edric's voice made her start, and she sighed, "Well, this is goodbye then."

Edric gave a short, shallow bow, "Goodbye." He gave her a small, sad smile, apologies swimming in his eyes, though he couldn't do anything.

She offered him one in return, "Thank you for everything. And if you ever see my- Hosun. If you ever see Hosun, please give him this," she gave Edric a small parchment, which was her reply to Hosun's letter. Edric took it with a nod, his eyes falling to the shore.

She took in a deep breath, letting the fresh air flow through her and give her some strength. Her shoulders straightened, and she held her head high. Her fear wasn't going to show if she could help it.

With one last glance at Edric, she crossed the deck, her weak knees hidden by her long gown.

This was it.

The moment she stepped off this boat, she really would no longer have any communication with her family.

She really would be alone.

The sailors' heads were bowed as she walked past them, their hands clasped together behind their bodies. Almost like a funeral.

She walked down, hesitated before her foot touched Arrian sand. She turned and looked back at the looming structure, her eyes swimming over the mass of sailors and the ship.

Then her foot hit the ground.

She walked off the ship, looking around. The first thing she saw, even in the dim light, was the Arrian people milling around her. Their features—tanned skin, bright eyes—were so different from hers that Jade knew instinctively, she would stick out like the yellow sun on a stormy day.

There was only a bit of sand that receded into the dark mass of trees in front of her. Which city was she in? She wouldn't be able to tell, anyways.

Soft footsteps approached her, and she turned to see a man. He blended in well with the others- hazel skin, dark, brown hair. He had a slightly crooked nose, as though it had been broken once. Jade's attention was drawn to his bright, green eyes. They weren't exactly like hers, but the shades almost matched.

He was dressed, too, different from Tsuchengko men. He wore dark trousers and a lighter tunic on top, a simple brown cloak around his shoulders and reaching the ground. Something gold glinted in his left ear, nothing in his right.

His eyes crinkled as he gave Jade a polite smile, "Arlo Mascow, Head of Copsan." His accent was more casual, slower and strange.

He held out a hand, and Jade shook it carefully, feeling his rough, calloused palms.

"If I may, I'm very sorry about what happened," he said, his eyes turning soft. Jade swallowed and nodded. There was a short silence.

"You are Jade-Lily, correct?" He asked.

Jade cleared her throat. It would be best if her voice made an appearance, "Yes."

His head tilted to the side, "Lily is a beautiful name. Do you mind if I call you that instead?"

Jade blinked. She didn't know what to make of his request, but the word was out of her mouth before she even realized, "No."

He smiled—a real smile, this time, "Well, Lily, welcome to Arrian."

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