CHAPTER 53

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The gates of the castle of Moore greet Saya this evening. Nabir, Laila, Julius and Peter are behind her looking nervous. She has come for answers.

***

Saya had entered her 8th month of pregnancy 3 weeks ago, her belly larger than ever. She was still in Sheath, awaiting for Xerxes to come for her but he never did. The war had ended a week ago, according to Stephan, with a lot of help coming from the mysterious death of a lot of people from the resistance (the curse of the Southern Witch) but Saya had heard nothing from him. 

King Stephan had been sending letters informing them of their victory and how they were rebuilding the parts of Moore that were destroyed. Saya helped Laila reply to the letters and she also sent letters of her own to Xerxes but he never replied. Instead, Stephan would reply in his letter stating that Xerxes was busy and had sent his regards through him. She knew it was a lie, everyone knew. 

The Xerxes that took care of her would come to get her as soon as the war was over; he promised. Saya couldn't help but worry at what must have gone wrong. Laila and Nabir tried their best to comfort her but even they were troubled by what was going on. It is so unlike King Xerxes to behave that way. Whatever happened at Moore, it is obvious King Stephan does not want Saya knowing about it.

But the princess had endured enough, she couldn't stop thinking about worst case scenarios. She had told her friends that she was going back to Moore but they convinced her to stay put for a few days. At the end, she decided she was going with or without them. They decided they would go with her because they too wanted answers!

The journey to Moore felt like an eternity but at last, they had arrived. Saya rode through the streets, some parts of it thriving while the others still rebuilding.

"Princess!" she heard people call as they were relieved to see her. She waved at them smiling, glad that everything seemed okay. If Xerxes was dead, they would have been in mourning. However, she could not shake off this vibe she got from the kingdom. She got to the castle gates standing there but the guards did not let her through.

***

"What is the meaning of this? Let the princess enter!" Peter yells, but the guards bow their heads.

"Apologies lieutenant but we received orders from King Xerxes himself to not allow the princess back into the castle"

Saya's heart drops when she hears this, "Why? What happened to the king?" Saya says eagerly, but scared.

"Let them through!" they hear a voice from behind the gates. King Stephan stands there looking at them with a worried expression.

The guards nod opening the gates, Saya entering immediately walking up to Stephan and bowing.

"Princess, you were told to stay in Sheath till everything was okay."

"King Stephan there is something you're not telling me, and it has me worried. Where is Xerxes?"

"He's in the castle, but....I am afraid you won't like what you're going to see," Stephan says to her, still concerned.

Is Xerxes injured? Badly injured? Hurt? What is going on? She just needs to see him.

Stephan walks with Saya back to the castle walls, her friends following behind. They enter the castle walking to the throne room only to see Xerxes sitting on his throne perfectly fine.

Relief washes over her face as she sees him, but Xerxes hardly stays in the throne room, something seems off. She takes a few steps forward, but Xerxes just stares at her, no, he glares at her. Saya stops in her tracks looking at him confused, what is going on?

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