IT had been days, and finally, it was time for Lily to leave.
She'd packed whatever things she had—it wasn't much, really. Her daggers were around her waist, the weight reminding her of past days.
Iressa was beside her, her face tight and sad. She'd told Lily hundreds of times that she wasn't doing this for her—but Lily couldn't help but feel guilty.
She fiddled with her jade bracelet—Hosun's bracelet—that was now clasped around her wrist, right next to a soft, simple band Arianna had made for her. It felt right, to have both of them now.
They were at the dock, the wind sharp and cold, but the seas calm. She'd already left the Copsan settlement—probably for good.
Ada, Arianna, Adrian and Arlo were standing there with red-rimmed eyes and sorrowful faces, but not a one cried. Lily didn't either. She couldn't find it in herself to do that.
"Goodbye," Ada whispered, as she embraced Lily once, tightly, her sweet sent drifting over to Lily one last time. She moved on to Iressa, and Arianna walked up to her.
Arianna's face was full of too much despair for a girl so young, but her eyes were strong as she hugged Lily, her arms firm. "I love you, sister."
"I love you," Lily whispered back, holding Arianna for a moment more before they both pulled away.
Arlo's face was somber. "I'm sorry," he said, pulling Lily in. His embrace was warm and comforting. Lily was glad Arianna would have him with her.
"It's alright," she said, giving him a small, strained smile.
Adrian stepped up in front of her then and took her hands in his own. "Whatever you do now, Lily, make us proud. And your husband. Don't let this defeat you."
Lily stared into his hard eyes and nodded. "I won't," she murmured, the words soothing her nerves. She pulled him in, and breathed in his familiar, fresh smell. This was, most likely, the last time she would see him.
Adrian let go of her. He managed a small smile. "Be brave, Lily." He squeezed her hands. "We'll always love you."
"I'll always love you," Lily said, letting her eyes drift over this small group. This was her family—and she couldn't help but miss Vena, but she understood. She'd always love Vena as well.
"It's time to leave," Iressa said quietly, coming up beside her, her eyes hooded.
"You can still stay," Lily said gently.
Iressa shook her head. "I've made my decision." She tilted her head towards the dock, where a pristine ship bobbed on the gentle waters. "Our boat is waiting."
Lily nodded, swallowing hard. She wanted to stay so badly—but for herself, and, more importantly, for this settlement, she'd have to leave.
She glanced back, at the familiar faces, memorizing them. She'd never forget these people. They'd imprinted themselves upon her heart, and would never leave.
With a last glance and a forced smile at all of them, she turned and began walking towards the ship. She let Iressa climb up first, and stepped on the platform behind her.
A horse nickered behind them, and there was a surge of voices—
She glanced back, eyebrows furrowing, to see and horse galloping into the area, a familiar rider seated on its back.
Vena slipped off the horse before it had even stopped and ran forward. Lily ran to meet her, her footsteps slipping on the slick soil, and before she knew it, they had collided.
Vena's arms wrapped around her tightly, her breaths shaky, but it was her.
Lily felt Iressa crash into them from behind, and for a moment, the three of them just stood there.
Finally, they pulled away, and Lily met Vena's eyes.
They weren't as bright as they used to be—but just as sharp. Vena pursed her lips, her face stony and pale.
"You came," Iressa breathed.
Lily felt tears sting her eyes now, at this, at Vena riding out to come see them.
Vena gave them a small shrug. "I couldn't let you leave without a goodbye."
Neither of them asked how she was doing. Vena didn't ask about them.
Lily gripped her hand and squeezed it hard. "I'm glad you came."
Vena gave her a hard nod. "As am I."
Lily didn't think she'd ever see Vena's eyes sparkling with joy again, or her wide smile. But this—this was fine. This was Vena. Lily couldn't begin to tell her how much it had meant, that she'd come.
"Qarini," Vena murmured, her lips twisting. "It's far."
"We'll come back. When all this is over," Iressa said.
Judging by the look on Vena's face, she didn't believe her. Lily knew she wouldn't.
"Please be happy," she whispered. Vena's eyes flitted to her. "For our sake."
Vena chewed the inside of her cheek. "When you come back, I will."
Lily let out a hushed, watery laugh and sniffed. "I don't know if I will. But I'll never forget you."
"Nor will I," Vena promised.
Lily nodded and pulled her in for another hug, closing her eyes briefly. She pulled away and watched as Vena and Iressa exchanged their own set of goodbyes and hugged.
"This is it," Vena said finally, her eyes darting between the two of them.
"This is it," Lily echoed.
Vena gave her a nod. "Make it worth it."
She didn't have to say anything else. Lily understood. She gave Vena a nod and turned, climbing up onto the deck.
The sailors were silent, avoiding their eyes, a heavy silence over the entire ship. From below, they started rowing, and Lily locked eyes with her family, her friends, as they began drifting away.
Adrian. Arianna. Ada. Arlo.
This was it. She was leaving Arrian, going to Qarini—her, Lily, Jade-Lily, the same girl who'd never thought she'd leave Tsuchengko, the same girl who thought she'd be with Hosun all her life.
She had loved, and she had lost, and she had loved, and she had lost again. But she had friends. She would find friends. Maybe a new family. And these people—they'd always be in her heart, no matter the loss. No matter the pain.
It would be worth it.
That took a lot out of me. And this is it, you know. I hope it was worth it.
I'll leave you this: Don't forget to:
And thanks for reading! :)
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The General's WifeFantasy
Jade-Lily Bo'ehr is the wife of the General of the army of Tsuchengko. Everyone is in danger due to a growing rebel army, the Gongjensu, that threaten not only them, but all the other kingdoms. When Jade breaks a law for the safety of her husband a...