The Heart of Betrayal Page 21


War bounty. The patrols were being slaughtered. Small service providers of men were riding to their deaths through no concept that the game had adjusted. They weren’t chasing a couple of barbarians back behind boundaries any type of longer. They were being stalked by organized brigades. For what? Rings to give to servants? No, there was somepoint else to it. Somepoint crucial sufficient to send an assassin to kill me.

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“Did I say somepoint wrong, Miz?”

I looked back at Aster, still feeling dazed. She little bit her lip, intent on my answer.

A sudden voice startled us. “The door’s wide open. How lengthy does it take to drop off one pair of boots?”

Neither of us had heard Kaden approaching. He stood in the doormethod looking sternly at Aster.

“Not lengthy,” she gasped. “I just got here. Truly I did. I wasn’t prattling.” She squeezed previous him, worried as a mouse via a cat on her tail, and we heard the echo of her footsteps running dvery own the hall. Kaden smiled.

“You frightened her. Did you need to be so stern?” I asked.

His eyebrows climbed, and he looked dvery own at my hand. “I’m not the one holding a sword.”

He closed the door behind him and also walked across the room, establishing a flask and basket dvery own on one of the trunks. “I brought you some food so you don’t need to dine in the hall. Eat and gain dressed, and also we’ll go. The Komizar’s expecting us.”

“Get dressed? In what?”

He looked at the sack dress balled up on the floor.

“No,” I shelp. “I’ll wear the shirt I have actually on and a pair of your troindividuals.”

“I’ll talk to him, Lia, I promise, however for now simply carry out what I—”

“He said I had to earn luxuries choose clothes, yet he didn’t say exactly how. I’ll fight you for them.” I waved the sword in circles at the floor, taunting him.

He shook his head. “No, Lia. That isn’t a toy. You’d just end up getting hurt. Placed it away.” He spoke to me prefer I was Aster, a son who had actually no knowledge of aftermath. No, worse, like a royal that hadn’t a grasp of anything. His tone was exceptional and dismissive and even more Vendan than ever before. Heat bristled at my temples.

“I’ve swung a stick before,” I sassist. “What else is tbelow to know?” I pursed my lips and also looked at the sword via wide-eyed wonderment. “And this is the hilt, right?” I asked, touching the cross lumber. “I played with these with my brothers as soon as I was a kid.” I looked back at him, my jaw collection. “Afraid?”

He grinned. “I warned you.” He reached for the other sword leaning against the wall, and I lunged, whacking his shin.

“What are you doing?” he yelled, grimacing. He hopped on one leg while he clutched the injured one. “We haven’t started yet!”

“Yes, we have! You began this months ago!” I sassist and swung aobtain, hitting the exact same leg from the side. He seized the other sword and organized it out to safeguard himself, hobbling in evident pain. “You can’t just—”

“Let me define somepoint to you, Kaden!” I sassist, circling about him. He limped roughly, trying to store me in sight. “If this were a genuine sword, you’d currently be bleeding out. You’d be faint, if you could stand at all, bereason my second strike would certainly have actually reduced your calf muscles and tendons and opened necessary veins. All I’d have to execute is store you moving, and also your heart would execute the remainder, pumping your blood out until you broke down, which would be appropriate about now.”

He winced, holding his shin and at the very same time keeping his sword prepared to block other lunges. “Dammit, Lia!”

“You check out, Kaden, possibly I lied. Maybe I wasn’t just a kid when I supplied one of these last, and probably it wasn’t play. Maybe my brothers taught me to fight dirty, to get the benefit. Maybe they taught me to understand also my weaknesses and also toughness. I recognize I may not have actually the reach or the sheer power of someone choose you, however I can easily beat you in various other methods. And it seems I already have actually.”

“Not yet.” He lunged forward, advancing with fast strikes that I controlled to block until he backed me up versus the wall. He ordered my arm that hosted the sword and also pinned it, then leaned against me, short of breath. “And now I have actually the advantage.” He looked down at me, his breaths coming sreduced and deeper.

“No,” I said. “You’ve bled out by now. You’re already dead.”

His eyes grazed my challenge, my lips, his breath warm on my cheek. “Not quite,” he whispered.

“Do I wear your shirt and trousers or not?”

A hissing breath escaped beween his teeth. He released my arm and also hobbcaused the chair in the corner.

“I didn’t hit you that hard,” I said.

“No?” He sat dvery own and pulled up his pant leg. Just over his boot, an egg-sized knot was currently swelling. I knelt and also looked at it. It was nasty. I had struck harder than I believed.

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“Kaden, I’m—” I shook my head and looked up at him, searching for words to explain.

He sighed. “Your point is made.”

I still wasn’t sure that he taken why I was angered or why I attacked him. It wasn’t simply around garments. “Kaden, I’m trapped in a city with countless world that hate whatever around that I am. The Komizar demeaned me in front of your entire Council last night. The one point I can’t bear is that very same derision from you. Haven’t you learned anything around me yet? Yes, royals recognize how to do things beyond counting our twelve toes. You’re all I have actually right here. You’re my only ally.”