CHAPTER 30

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Xerxes had stormed the kingdom of Laine, heading straight for the castle with his men. Earlier that morning, one of his messengers had brought information from their spy in the resistance. It turned out they had planned to attack  Laine that night. From the information he got, they had no idea Saya was going to be there. He gathered his men who are ever ready and set out to Laine immediately.  He raced there, without taking a break, on his horse, White, that had been with him since the very beginning, a horse that had never failed. Xerxes blood was boiling, if anything happened to Saya, the resistance will regret ever conceiving the idea of attacking Laine.

It took the whole day for them to get there, so it was dark when they arrived. As Xerxes and his men marched unto Laine, fire had greeted them at the gates. The king's heart was racing, yes he had entrusted her to Peter, but this was his woman and child at stake! As they joined the battle, the sound of their horn blew announcing that King Xerxes and his men had arrived. They could tell by the look on the enemies faces and immediate retreat, that they were not expecting Xerxes to arrive, at least not now! It was a bloodbath, Xerxes men definitely having the upper hand.

The king fights his way into the castle with his men trapping the enemies that are in there together with their commander. Xerxes looks around glaring at them. Julius had bound their commander who is currently on his knees.

"Where is she?" he asks, glaring at him, but the man laughs. "I never saw her, one of my men must have caught her, probably fucked her too! I heard she's a -"

An arrow goes through his leg and he yells in pain. "Get them out of my sight and find her!" Xerxes commands in a harsh voice.  "My Lord!" a man calls from the stairs, everyone directs their attention to Peter who is holding an unconscious Saya in his arms.

Xerxes heart drops at the sight before him. He immediately runs up the stairs and takes Saya from him. Her body is bruised all over, she definitely felt a lot of pain, thank the gods she's not dead. He quietly walks out of the castle, and everyone can tell he's very upset. The battle is already over, with civilians looking for their loved ones and crying, while Xerxes' men are helping around, others imprisoning the enemies that were caught. He heads out of the gates towards the tents some of his men had set up during the battle. He walks into his, laying her on a sheet that's on the floor. The men that carry their other supplies for this journey have not arrived. Peter walks into the tent after the king, kneeling down behind him. "Punish me My Lord, I left her to clear a path for an escape, a move I should never have even conceived of."

"They touched her," he says, opening the cloak, seeing her torn clothes.

"Yes...My Lord," Peter says. He cannot imagine the kind of trauma she has faced.

"...Did...they rape her?" the king asks, trying to control his anger, veins all over his clenched fists.

"No, no My Lord, I got back before he could...insert. But My Lord-"

"Get the physician," Xerxes says as he's examining the dried up blood on her thighs and legs.

"He's already on his way over."

"Then leave," he commands. Peter gets up and bows, leaving his tent. The fear in Saya's eyes, as he tried to help her before she passed out, keep replaying in his head. He shouldn't have left her there, every man in that castle will suffer for hurting his friend, Saya.

He walks back to the other men. "Brother!" Peter looks up and sees Julius standing a few feet away. He jogs up to him but Peter says nothing, still walking on.

"It's not your fault the princess is hurt"

"Yes, it is. All my years of training, I should have known better than to leave a pregnant woman hiding where the enemy lurked Julius. Any sane man from our camp will know that."

"But she's not dead. It could have been worse"

"She bled, she might have-"

"The gods forbid. You shall speak or think of no such thing." Peter stops, heaving a sigh.

"How many casualties?"

"Hundreds, the princess is the last of the royal family."

"What?!"

"The king, queen, and her sisters together with their whole families were all slaughtered like animals."

Peter's fists clench in anger. This is not something she will recover from easily.

"It seems the people of Laine will have no other choice but to join the kingdom of Moore." Julius says gently tapping his brother's shoulder. Peter looks at the scene before him. Bodies of men, women and children. You can still hear people crying out to the gods.

"They will all be safe in Moore"

"That is what the princess wanted to avoid! The fear of the people of Laine becoming the people of Moore is what made her go to our king in the first place!"

"Then what do you expect to happen? Leave them here to recover and govern themselves?"

Peter says nothing. He has to admit that his brother is right, even though it will hurt the princess. He cannot imagine what will happen when she awakes.

Xerxes sits on the floor holding Saya's hand against his chest. He had a bad feeling about her journey from the day she mentioned it, he just couldn't bring himself to tell her 'no', now the results are glaring at him. He should have refused no matter how long or hard she begged him. No, he should have gone with her, to protect her, he didn't do either and he doesn't know what to expect when she wakes up. "I'm sorry," Xerxes whispers, kissing her hand.

He turns around on hearing faint footsteps and sees the physician with a bag and a bowl of water.

"My Lord," he greets. Xerxes stands up allowing the man to take his place. The physician immediately touches her forehead,

"She's not burning up so that is a good start," he says. "There is blood between her thighs..." the king tells him.

The physician looks at the King immediately and nods. He takes Saya's hand by the palm and places his index and middle finger on her veins. Xerxes watches him carefully, his heart pounding hard, loud and fast.

"My Lord," the physician calls, he turns around to see the king looking at him, waiting for his words.

"The baby is fine, I will call this a miracle," he smiles. Xerxes exhales, closing his eyes in relief.

"The baby is a fighter. Although I cannot determine what caused her bleeding, some women do experience blood during their pregnancy. She needs a lot of rest, considering what happened this night. Let me clean her and I'll be-"

"I'll do it. Just leave the ointment I need for her here," Xerxes says walking forward.
"As you wish, My Lord." The physician opens his bag and brings out a few things, placing them on the floor and explaining every step. He then bows and takes his leave. One of his men comes in placing two buckets of water in the tent before leaving.

Xerxes kneels down by Saya and gently cleans her up.

He gently places his hand on her belly, he can't express how grateful he is to this child. His mother has been through so much but the child refuses to leave her. After Saya is cleaned, he treats her injuries and puts a sheet over her, he then uses a sack filled with grass to prop her head, so she's comfortable. He lays down beside her, and gently kisses her cheek and shoulder, his hand over her waist...secured.

This mistake will never repeat itself...never


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