Chapter 6

The Emperor looks through the opening in his tent at his newly conquered kingdom. He is aware of his General’s presence in the room but does not turn around until the man clears his throat, announcing his presence.

The Emperor leaves the makeshift window and sits himself on the pillows, before the meal spread out on the table. The General takes his seat only after the Emperor is seated, he unbuckles his sword from his waist and lays it by his side. The Emperor pours wine into two goblets, which the men drink from before eating in silence, observing a custom they had shared for more than two decades. The Emperor looks at the gray hair on his General’s head and wonders how many more years they have before death or war snatches either of them from this table.

“I heard you are married now.” The General’s gravelly voice brings him out of his reprieve.

Word does travel fast. The Emperor waves his hand, dismissing the statement.

“Jin…” The General calls out in a tone the Emperor remembers from his childhood, a tone that leaves no room for arguments.

“I wouldn’t call it a marriage, per say, there was nothing official about it.”

“I hear it is to the same woman who spit on you today.”

“Sometimes I wonder who the soldiers in this Empire are loyal to, you or me?”

The General is unimpressed by the Emperor’s tactics to change the subject.

“Yes.” He sighs, heavily.

The General sips wine from his goblet and waits for the Emperor to explain himself.

“I am bored. Of the war, of the unending battles we fight, I am tired of the monotony, I need a distraction.”

“And this woman is the distraction?”

“In a way. This is supposed to be punishment for her, entertainment for me.”

“I see.” A lot more is said in those two words than the Emperor appreciates.

After the meal, both men sit down to discuss battle plans over a game of chess. They are interrupted by Nia, the assigned handmaiden for Kiara.

“Everything is ready for you, My Lord.”

The General has a smug look on his face when he turns back to look at the Emperor. “Don’t let me keep you from your bride.” He mocks, getting up from the pillows and grabbing his weapon. “Enjoy your night with your ‘distraction’.”

Jin gets up from his seat and leaves his tent for Kiara’s, Nia following at a respectable distance behind him. “How is she?”


“Really? She didn’t put up a fight, throw stones?”

“No.” He hears Nia’s confused tone from behind.


He senses something else from Nia but doesn’t ask.

The lights in her tent are strategically placed in the room, giving it a golden glow. He finds her sitting on the bed with her hands meekly folded in her lap. She doesn’t turn to look at him even though she knows he is there.

He takes off his armour, dropping each piece to the ground with a clink, the carpet muffles the sounds but it is audible enough for her to hear, so that she knows exactly what is to come. He sees her flinch when his chainmail makes the loudest sound. He is in his white shirt sleeves, he walks to her and before he reaches her, she lays on the bed, straight as a ruler. Jin stops, she is quiet, far too meek for this experience to bring any pleasure for him.

He gets to the bed and straddles her, Kiara feels the muscles in his thighs tense up, feels the strength in them at her side. Jin takes off his shirtsleeves and realizes that she is ignoring him, he smiles at the childlike attitude, grabs her face and turns it towards him, ensuring that they make eye contact.

“Don’t look so glum, this would have happened tonight anyway. The only difference is, it is with another man, other than the one you intended.”

Kiara’s eyes blazes at the insult and the Emperor’s smile broadens. There it is, the fire he had been looking for, the one he had seen in her eyes at the square when she had slapped him.

He expects the kicking and screaming to start, what he does not expect is the sharp pain he feels in his side, he looks down and sees something jabbed into his stomach.

Kiara feels the blood coating her fingers. When he looks up at her, she shoves the jade pin further into his stomach, his gold eyes widen in surprise.

Kiara expects him to get off her, holding his side to stop the bleeding, she expects him to stagger out of the tent, looking for help.

What she does not expect is for his hands to wrap around her throat and squeeze. “I swear by the gods, I will kill you!” His eyes are like pools of molten magma.

Kiara kicks, in an attempt to throw him off, but his knees are well planted, pinning her down by her already aching sides. She scratches his hands in an attempt to loosen the grip around her throat, he only tightens it. Her legs can barely move, her hands stop scratching, her lungs beg for oxygen as her vision becomes blurry. The last thing she sees before she passes out are two furious golden eyes staring down at her.  

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