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Chapter 2 It Can't Be

  • I hesitated a little before slowly walking forward towards the front of the hall where the other women stood when it was their turn. I felt my legs shaking and I kept my head and gaze down towards the floor.
  • “Umm…My name is Rin Kamiya. I’m…from the Town of Amber Leaves…” I said in a soft and shaky voice before bowing low to keep my face hidden. Please, just let me go home already!
  • “Speak louder, I couldn’t hear you,” to my surprise, the Crown Prince spoke for the first time since the introductions began.
  • The atmosphere in the entire hall changed at the sound of his voice as everyone paid attention to the fact that the Crown Prince seemed to be finally showing his interest in what was going on. The Emperor couldn’t contain a slight chuckle as he watched his son asking this young women to repeat herself. Afterall, it was true that she wasn’t loud and clear, but it was enough to be heard at this distance.
  • Oh, no...will I get executed for making a stupid blunder like this? I can’t even introduce myself properly. I need to do better or else…I might not be able to make it home…
  • Slowly but firmly, I lifted my face up to look at the two men who held my fate in their hands. I need to be brave; I need to survive this, and I am going to make it home!
  • “My deepest and sincerest apologies. My name is Rin Kamiya from the Town of Amber Leaves…as for my special talent…” I introduced myself in a firm and clear voice full of resolve before trailing off.
  • My eyes widened in shock and recognition when I looked up at the Crown Prince’s face. Why was this man here?! Furthermore, this man is the Crown Prince of the Flame Dragon Empire?! The Empire that attacked and destroyed my village in a matter of days.
  • It can’t be! He used me?! This man tricked and used me to conquer my town! He’s a…monster!
  • “Dear girl…please start your performance…girl!” I heard a man hissing at me but my mind was too preoccupied with other more important thoughts to pay him any attention.
  • Oblivious to the countless stares piecing through me, I couldn’t respond or focus on what was going on as my body shook with rage. This man…how dare he use me…
  • …Two months before…
  • “Thank you for purchasing my herbs and medicine as always, Auntie and Uncle,” I said while feeling truly thankful.
  • “No worries. Your herbs and medicine are the best. You should feel proud regardless of what the other town folks say…” Uncle Gobei replied as he smiled warmly at me. Uncle Gobei is like a father figure to me ever since my father passed away.
  • I bowed a little to them before quietly leaving their shop. It was starting to get dark as the sun had already set, I should hurry home. I only came into town once a week to sell some herbs and medicine to the local clinic and pharmacy. Every time I visited the center of town, I had to come when it was dark so that few people were still out and they had less chance to recognize my face beneath my shawl. Apart from a few kind people like Auntie and Uncle, all other town folks detested me believing that I brought bad luck to the village when I was born.
  • When I was born my mother passed away from childbirth and on the same day the town was infected by a mysterious disease that killed many people including the only daughter of the Village Head. She was still a young child at that time. Not knowing who to blame for the cause of this tragedy, the Village Head and the town people started to put their blame on me, the child that was born on the same day as the epidemic. Shunned by the whole village, my father raised me alone far away in the outskirt of town far away from the main town. We were poor but we had a happy life. My father taught me about herbs and medicine until he passed away a few years ago.
  • I really miss my father, I thought to myself as I wrapped my clothes around myself a little tighter. Winter was here and it started to get very cold and windy after sunset. I need to quickly make my way home before it gets any colder than this. Walking through one of the secret passages that I use to get to and from the heart of the village to the outskirts where my house was located, I quickened my pace as I thought about which herbs I could collect during winter time like now.
  • What is that? Something is piled on the ground. Was this here before when I walked this path on the way to the village earlier? I don’t think so…
  • Walking closer to the mysterious pile on the ground, I could roughly make out that it was actually a person. Wait…a person! Laying out here in the middle of the snow?!
  • No way! I need to help this person as soon as possible. It will get freezing cold at night, no one should be sleeping in the middle of the snowy road. I crouched down next to the seemingly unconscious body as I peered into the person’s face. I could make out the pale and exhausted face to be that of a man, a beautiful one at that. How long had he been laying here like this in the middle of the snowy path? I scanned his body quickly with my eyes and my hands as I slowly patted him to check for injuries.
  • Unfortunately, this man had some injuries on his arm. Although, they didn’t seem serious, it needed to be treated. He must have been in the cold for quite some time judging form how pale and cold his body is. What should I do? It’s getting darker and colder. What choice do I have? The reason why this is one of my secret paths is because no one ever comes here. I have no other choice, saving this man’s life comes first. The medical ethic in me could never leave a sick man here to die from the cold.
  • --To be continued...