The Princess

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I received a message delivered to the palace this afternoon. It was a scroll, carried by one of my husband's courier all the way from the battlefield. My hands shook as my fingers barely able to get a steady grip on the parchment, hurrying to unroll it.

My eyes swept through the letter immediately, unable to help myself. I was too eager to read what my husband had to say.

Jian wrote about the war and his progress, he told me he made it to elder brother's encampment safely and he now joined with lord Chua Chansin and eldest brother's forces as they swept the remaining strongholds of the Sui kingdom.

Almost every defense of the Sui kingdom had now fallen to the rebellion, he said. And those who haven't will soon fall under. Jian sounded just like elder brother Jungjie in his letter. So confident, and so sure of himself.

Jian wrote about the elder brother, how he saw himself in him when he was younger, and how impressed he was with him. He also mentioned eldest brother Yuanji briefly, but not as much as he boasted about Jungjie. But among all, Jian mainly wrote in his letter about how he missed me and how he yearned to be with me.

To my dearest wife,

I'm happy to tell you this war has little life left in it and it's nearing its end. It's not that much longer until I can come home, and see you again. We gained stronghold of most of the Sui lands and captured warlords still at large. In the next few weeks or so, I will be meeting your brother outside the Sui palace's wall and we will take control of the throne.

Your brother will be a suiting emperor of the central kingdom. He deserves the throne and he worked hard to win this war. I will be happy to see Jungjie crowned as the next emperor and the Yi and Changi clans raised to take power on the central kingdom.

There's not a day when I don't think of you. Each day without you is like another day spent in hell if you don't already consider this place hell. I miss everything about you, your sweet lips, your electric eyes, your beautiful face, your body that I couldn't wait to ravage in bed again. And most of all, I miss your voice, the way you speak to me and calm me down when I'm not myself. I love you, He Lian. I miss you very much and I could not wait to see you again.

Your loving husband,

Jian.

I tucked the letter to my chest, missing my husband more than ever, and made my way from the hallway to Jian's office. I found solace being in my husband's workroom, where I can breathe his scent that still clung on the furniture.

The palace lacked the usual clang of metals rattling in the hallway worn by the palace's guardsmen.

The halls were typically manned with dozens of guardsmen but since Jian sent most men to fight the war, there's rarely any sound of groans, metals or even servants chattering in the hallway.

It had been quiet and dead lately, so quiet. It is as if the house that was so full of life and chatter only months ago had lost its life and grew dark, darker than it was before, grieving as it waits for its children to come home.

Shadows shifted as I walked along this long hallway, hearing my footsteps echo in the room. I've never paid attention to how loud it was before, but now I can hear everything. I can see everything, the shadows moved as though they have a life of their own, watching me, shifting with my movements.

I just now realized what Jian meant before when he used to snatch me away from the walls, how worried he would get.

The walls have eyes. Spirits lurk in the shadows as they watched you, He Lian. Be careful where you go.

Jian always spoke as though he had a lot to lose, and he's so scared that he won't find me walking around in the palace anymore...

I made it to the hallway where Jian's office was located. I walked alone as I no longer have guardsmen protecting and watching me all the time, I chose to dispose of the guardsmen Jian had placed guarding me. The palace should be the safest place for me, I thought. No one's going to get inside unless they go through dozens of guards guarding each entrance to the palace.

I'm safe, safest as I could be.....

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