The Southern Kingdom of Wang

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The strange man unsheathed his sword and stuck it in between the metal hinges of the cage. I watched him as he did this backing away to give him some space. He looked like he knew what he was doing, and this is not his first attempt performing something like this.

There was a snapping sound. The thin metal bars split with a thunderous crack. He broke the hinges with one great blow of his sword and kicked the door wide open.

I rushed to get out while he gave me a helping hand, he was cautious and courteous handling me. His wide hand held mine delicately and I finally had the sense of familiarity, recognizing who he is.

I remember him, he's a close friend of prince Wang Jian and I remember staring up at him dreamily while he swayed and lead me to the tune of the upbeat melody when I was young. He took me for a dance at Ying Yue's wedding, I was only ten at the time, while he's already a mature young man.

He was supposed to be a prodigy, the most talented martial artist in this time, earning the spot of the head of security responsibility for the prince's safety. I remembered his name now.

"Don't let that woman get away, Lord Chua, Chanshin!" I said, darting my gaze over to her, while she quietly tip toed away, trying to escape undetected. "She kidnapped me and enslaved me illegally! She even stole my horse and tried selling me!"

Lord Chua whipped around, catching her in the midst of her flee. There where men coming around from the far end of the market, the loud rattling of their armors all the way from the corner was enough to let me know they are guardsmen, they're armed, and there's a few of them.

They halted just as they spotted Lord Chua standing with me.

"My lord." Murmured one of the men with a slight tilt of his head.

"Cease that woman!" Shouted Lord Chua Chanshin commandingly, pointing to the woman who flinched and took off running on her feet before, Lord Chua could even finish his order.

The guards were quick to apprehend her, yanking her as she fought to free herself.

I smiled as I felt the sweet satisfaction, watching her get arrested and it's even more satisfying telling her so..."I told you, you were going to regret this! Take her to prison a feed her to the lions!"

The guards ushered her away.

"Lady, He Lian." Lord Chua Chanshin groaned as he cleared his throat, distracting me. "Pardon my curiosity, but please, do tell me what are you doing here? And what happened? Why are you in a cage, getting ready to be sold as a slave?"

He had a look of bewilderment in him as though he'd been lost at my sudden unannounced appearance and the circumstances that came with me.

I whipped my attention to him, calming down from my excitement. "Yes! That! It's a very long story and I'm afraid I must see my sister right away. I came in emergent circumstances."

He stared at me, his expression unreadable but I could tell enough that he's searching for a proper word to break some sort of news.

I returned his blank stare, becoming suspicious the longer he stood in utter silence.

"What is it?" I asked.

"Yes, yes. I must take you to the palace at once, so you may speak to the crown prince. I'm afraid I'm not the proper person to discuss your business." He stepped aside and gestured me to follow. I did so quickly and without hesitation. Eager and happy to finally be escorted to where I needed to be.

My head inclined to the floor in a low bow, I knelt before the crown prince, my brother in law, the husband of my sister while lord Chua Chanshin knelt by my side

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My head inclined to the floor in a low bow, I knelt before the crown prince, my brother in law, the husband of my sister while lord Chua Chanshin knelt by my side.

Prince Wang Jian sat on the small throne beside his father's, eyes cold as shards of ice as he gave me his audience. He watched me with regard, knowing who I am. Though without granting the familiarity or proper manners of greeting a family.

I imagined a less formal meeting since I'm practically his kin, but I was taken to him as though I was a regular political guest at the palace and not as the sister of his wife.

I paid no mind by his cold welcome. Perhaps, this is how they did it down south and I shall feel no offense to it.

My eyes glided around the elegant throne room in search for my sister. I would have imagined Ying Yue would want to see me as soon as she heard my arrival, but she's nowhere to be found.

Her absence placed a bad taste in my mouth. I don't understand why Ying Yue is nowhere to be found. I don't know what's going on. I suspected there's a story to tell, not just from my side, but theirs as well.

"Your Highness." I began, my voice shook and trembled from anxiety. It had been a very eventful week and I had yet to be fed, cleaned, and rested properly. I'm exhausted, and I dread this nauseating feeling that something isn't adding up. "I came seeking for my sister."

"Ying Yue is not here." Murmured the prince. His voice was soft as a whisper and I waited for him to say more but didn't. He left me wondering more with his short response.

I groaned, the stiffness in my throat apparent. The tension in the room is high and I don't like being put in these stressful situations where I must deal with powerful people and their domineering personalities. "Where is my sister, your highness?"

"She's not here. She's away and she's not coming back."

I felt my scowl came and I twitched as I tried to remain calm. "With all due respect, brother in law. You must tell me more than that. I have the right to know what happened to my sister and why she's not here. She is my blood and you can't withhold information about her whereabouts or well-being from her own kin. I came with an emergent need, I need to speak to her about what happened to our family if you don't mind."

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