Chapter 32

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LILY went to visit Arlo and Arianna the next day.

After their patrol, which usually was a silent, solemn affair due to the presence of Edra Karnem and how much the others were in awe of her, she changed quickly and headed to their large house.

She knocked on the door, waiting a few minutes until Arianna opened it.

"Lily!" Her face brightened immediately as she ushered her in. "It feels like it's been so long!"

"It has." Lily grinned. "It's been days." She eyed Arianna—the girl had changed, with her hair tied up a bit more elaborately, and her normally raggedy clothes changing into evidently more expensive dresses. She'd obviously adapted well to becoming the Head's wife.

"You're fine alone, though, aren't you?" Arianna asked, her eyes concerned. She led Lily to a red sofa, sitting beside her.

"I'm fine, Ari." Lily took Arianna's hand and squeezed it lightly. "How are you?"

Arianna smile gently. "It's wonderful. We haven't fought yet, luckily." They laughed. "But it's also been tense, because of the attack. Arlo's been so busy nowadays."

Lily cleared her throat. "Speaking of Arlo, I actually have to talk with him as well. Is he home?"

Arianna shook her head. "He's out right now, but he'll be back soon. Let me show you around the house."

Lily agreed and followed Arianna through the rooms. It was almost as large as her old house, but it seemed like Arlo liked to keep things simple, with less decorations. Arianna's tapestries hung all over the walls, though.

"It's beautiful," Lily said, looking around. She could already see Arianna's presence in the hair ties near the bed, or the damp dress drying on an armchair.

"It is," Arianna said, a blush darkening her already tanned cheeks.

"Well, I'm glad you're happy," Lily said, giving her a genuine smile.

Arianna sighed dreamily. "I'm so happy. Arlo—he's treating me so well. It's almost perfect."

Lily nodded. "It'll be perfect when we defeat the Gongjensu."

"Do you really think we will?" Arianna asked, somewhat hesitantly.

Lily gave her a curious look.

Arianna pressed her lips together. "It's just that—Arlo's always so worried, I fear things are getting worse. I know there aren't as many traitors from this settlement as from others, which is because of Arlo, but there have been attacks on other places."

Lily sighed. "The Gongjensu are getting stronger, but we'll be fine. We have soldiers too, and spies."

Arianna bit her lip. "We do. I'm just worried, you know?"

Lily did know. She knew more than Arianna what it was to be worried every time her husband went out to fight. She'd been married to Hosun for over a year, and had never gotten over the all-consuming panic that made her unable to focus on anything else when he was out on a mission.

Now, she might not even get to know if he'd been killed somewhere.

The thought sent a wave of pain rushing through her, and she sucked in a breath, pushing it aside. Of course she'd know. The death of Tsuchengko's general would spread everywhere.

"What's wrong?" Arianna asked, touching Lily's shoulder lightly.

Lily started, realizing she'd been lost in her own thoughts. "Nothing. I was just...thinking."

"I'm sorry," Arianna said. "I didn't want to remind you of—"

"My past?" Lily said, raising an eyebrow. She shook her head. "I will always remember that."

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