Chapter 43

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THE day of the attack had finally come.

Arlo had rushed, but had made sure to organize everything. The Gongjensu had shown no suspicion—now that they knew where they were, spies were going every day.

Not Lily, of course.

No, she was bedridden in the infirmary, with only visits from her friends to tell her about everything.

Arianna visited her daily, for hours on end, before she was called away on duty. She couldn't fight, but she was organizing a huge part of it.

Only the most trusted soldiers knew—certainly not people like Madela Yath.

It was the day—or rather, evening—of the attack. No one had visited her all day—they'd been too busy. Elize had kept her posted, though.

She could see, through the window, people rushing here and there. The non-fighters didn't know. Arlo was trying to make everything seem as normal as possible.

They would march out soon. Lily would remain on her bed.

"You have a visitor." Elize's voice tore her eyes from the window, and Lily turned to see her and another woman standing beside her.

"Vena."

She hadn't been to see Lily even once, not that Lily could blame her.

Vena pursed her lips and stepped forward. Her once-open, vibrant eyes were hard now. Guarded.

She glanced down at Lily's stomach once before her gaze flickered back to Lily's eyes. "How are you?"

The question was unfeeling—as if Vena just knew she had to see it.

"I'm fine. Vena—"

"Which one killed him?"

Lily blinked. "Vena, what?"

"Which one kill him?"

Lily swallowed. "The Qarinian," she said, "Invida Monarcei. She's a good fighter, one of the leaders, will definitely be protected. She has white hair, white skin, and blue eyes."

Vena gave her a sharp nod. "And which one stabbed you?"

Lily felt her heart ache at the question. "The Tsuchengkan. Looks like me, but with brown eyes. They're both Princesses."

Vena nodded again. She didn't say anything else before turning and stalking out, Lily watching her go.

Elize glanced between both of them worriedly. She hurried to Lily. "Let's get some food into you, yes?"

Lily nodded, her eyes fixed on the door Vena had gone through. She accepted the hot broth Elize handed her. While she ate, it quieted outside, and she knew that the soldiers were leaving.

"Would you like to do something?" Elize asked. "We have books, cards—"

"I do want to do something," Lily said, cutting her off.

Elize glanced at her, lips pursed. Lily could see the worry in her eyes.

"I want to cut my hair."

***

Lily stared in the mirror, ignoring the raven locks on the floor.

Her hair was now short, not even reaching her shoulders—just long enough to be tied up and out of her way. It framed her face nicely. Lily had never seen herself with such short hair, and for a moment, she was shocked. But she didn't look bad.

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