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A note from AeroKaia

This chapter is a bit longer. I'm going to try and release longer chapters from here on out. Wish me luck!

I open my eyes to see flowers and greenery all around me. Disoriented, I take a moment to gather my thoughts. I must’ve fallen asleep in my mother’s garden again. The stone bench feels cold on my back through my laced top. A strange familiar feeling jabs at me and I sit up.

 

I feel someone watching me and begin scanning the atrium for anyone. It’s too dark to see clearly. I start to panic slightly, desperately looking around, shifting my eyes as fast as I can. I know someone is watching me. I can feel their eyes on me. I spot something, a glimpse. Finally. A shadow in the darkness stands still and I try to make out its form. Who is it? Think. Think. Think…Josiah? It has to be Josiah. He’s the only one with that kind of build. Please don’t be wrong.

 

“Josiah?” I say, with a deep uncertainty.

 

The shadowy figure steps forward out of the darkness and into the moonlight that’s shining through the top of the atrium. It’s him. Thank the Reaper.

 

“Princess.” He replies, with a concerned look on his face.

 

A sigh of relief. “What’s wrong? Why were you just standing there?” I give him a curious gaze.

 

“You…couldn’t see me, could you?” The concern on his face seems to grow.

 

I instinctively laugh. “What are you talking about?” I feel the palms of my hands begin to sweat. I continue. “The council meeting was exhausting I needed a break from all the deliberation,” I wave my hand carelessly. “And my father.” I say, rolling my eyes while smiling, hoping he won’t notice the change in subject.

 

“Forgive me, Your Highness.” He replies abruptly.

 

“Josiah? For what-”

 

Suddenly everything around us turns pitch black. I see nothing. Absolutely nothing. All I feel is an intense growing pressure all over my body. I see two glowing blood red eyes appear in the eternal darkness. Josiah has activated his pact. Reaper, save me.

 

"Your Highness can you please stand?” I hear Josiah’s deep voice ring through the darkness, asking me in a low but respectful tone.

 

I can’t. I can’t move a single muscle. My heart begins to race and I feel myself starting to sweat. It feels like I’m deep underwater struggling to surface. I’ve felt the Nobles’ pact before, but this… this is entirely different. Reaper, make it stop. Please.

 

“Princess? Is there something wrong?” He continues, gazing at me with those terrifying crimson eyes.

 

He knows. He’s figured it out. I feel sweat drip down my collarbone. My breathing has become short and quick, feeling myself become increasingly lightheaded. I’m afraid.

 

“Princess? Why aren’t you standing?”

 

“I can’t!” I finally yell at him.

 

“Josiah, your connection to my father,” I gasp for air. “I can’t… Breathe.”

 

As the words escape my dry lips, the moonlight breaks through the darkness and the incredible pressure I feel subsides quickly as if I’ve finally emerged from a deep sea. I see Josiah’s eyes lose their crimson glow and return to their natural steel color, feeling the weight on me gradually lift until everything feels normal again.

 

Absolute silence. He says nothing. But he stares at me visibly concerned at what just happened.

 

“I lost my pact okay?! Are you happy?!” I yell at him, near tears and still gasping trying to catch my breath.

 

I barely notice the look of shock he gives me, stepping back seemingly trying to process what I had just told him. Meanwhile I focus on bringing my breathing back to normal and slowing down my racing heart. I’m drenched in sweat.

 

Moments of silence pass before my breathing finally calms down and my heart beat returns to a steady pace. Josiah clearly waiting for me to explain.

 

“Did you have to force it like that?!” I snap at him.

 

He instantly drops to one knee. “Forgive me, Your Highness, I shall take any punishment you see fit.”

 

Regret.

 

“Stop. I didn’t mean it like that. Stand.” I reply, motioning for him to rise all the while still trying to regain a clear head.

 

He rises and stands in front of me. I see the concern on his face.

 

“Sit.” I command, patting the spot next to me on the stone bench.

 

He obeys.

 

As soon as he sits, I lean my head on his arm, his shoulder too tall for my head to reach. I’m exhausted.

 

“Why did you do that?” I ask gently.

 

“Would you have told me had I not?” He replies.

 

“Probably not… But still.” I whisper.

 

“I’m sorry, Princess.”

 

“I know you are.” I reply, letting out a sigh and closing my eyes. “Let me lay here for a while.”

 

I revel in this moment of peace and quiet. My body feels sluggish and tired, but my mind is sharp and clear now.

 

“Have you told your father?” Josiah says, breaking the silence.

 

“He has no idea.” I reply.

 

“Why?”

 

“Why do you think Josiah? He already looks at me like I’m his greatest shame.” I open my eyes and sigh. “No one knows, but it’s getting harder and harder to hide it every day.”

 

“How long have you been hiding this?” He asks.

 

I hesitate to tell him, knowing he’ll be hurt at the fact that I kept something from him for so long.

 

“Nine years.” I reply.

 

He looks down at me, clearly shocked.

 

I wince at his reaction.

 

“Nine years? That would be around the time…” His voice trails off.

 

“Yes Josiah. When my mother died.”

 

There’s a long silence that permeates through the air.

 

I continue. “I didn’t notice it at first. But it got worse over the years. And recently I’ve noticed it deteriorating quickly.”

 

He takes a moment to think before responding. “How bad has it gotten, Princess?” He asks.

 

“Bad. I’ve lost my ability to see in the dark. I can’t hear very far anymore and I can’t manipulate shadows even if I wanted to. I can’t activate my pact at all. You’ve seen firsthand what happens to me. I can barely stand to be in the presence of a pact anymore. I’m basically a commoner.” I pause for a second. “By all accounts, I shouldn’t even be a Noble.”

 

“Senna, you have to tell your father. It’s imperative. This could change everything. Your pact is your birthright. To lose it is unheard of.”

 

“I won’t. And you’ll say nothing to him.” I command with a serious tone.

 

He doesn’t answer.

 

“Josiah?” I ask in a worried tone.

 

“As you wish.” He finally replies.

 

“Don’t do that, you know I hate it.” I scold him, catching him smile out of the corner of my eye.

 

“What are you going to do about the other Nobles?” He asks, turning his head to look down at me.

 

“Nothing.” I reply, still leaning on his arm. “Once they find out, I’ll lose all of their support. No pact, no Guardian ritual.”

 

“So this is the reason behind your desire to find a way out of the ritual?”

 

I nod my head, rubbing my check against his coat. “I found a few things, but nothing I can actually use. If I try the guardian ritual, everyone will know the Reaper has abandoned me.”

 

“I refuse to believe that, Princess. There must be another explanation.”

 

“Maybe there is,” I finally sit upright. “But if there is, I haven’t found it.” I say, throwing my arms up to stretch before letting them gently drop as I sigh.

 

I stand up and turn to face Josiah who’s still sitting down. “Now then, since you’re here, escort me to my chambers. I’m sticky, feel disgusting and want to take a bath.”

 

Josiah gives me a gentle smile. “Of course, Princess.” He replies as he stands up.

 

I put my arm around his as usual and allow him to escort me back to my chambers.

 

“It would have been nice to have you with us to greet the hunters.” He says, while leading me back.

 

“Would have been, but you know my father. He’s overprotective and stubborn. Ever since mother died, he’s never been the same. He won’t even let me leave the castle.”

 

“Perhaps it was for the best. Without your pact you’re vulnerable.”

 

“I know. But would it kill him to let me visit our subjects? Surely it can’t be dangerous. Can you talk to him for me? Please?” I plead with him.

 

“I will try, Princess, to the best of my ability.” He replies, patting my hand with his.

 

“Thank you Josiah. Maybe with you supporting me he’ll finally let me leave the castle. He listens to you.”

 

“Not always.”

 

I give him a confused look. “Don’t give me that. You’re his closest friend. You both fought in the battle of Serathis together against the Elves of Eastfrost. Everyone knows the story.”

 

“Those were different times, Princess. When Mira was still alive.” He looks somber.

 

“Can you tell me more about her? My mother.” I ask.

 

“You know I cannot.” He replies plainly.

 

“You don’t always have to listen to him. My father’s ridiculous command to never speak about my mother is an insult to her memory and you know it.”

 

“It may be, Princess, but it is a Guardians duty to listen to his charge-”

 

I scoff while rolling my eyes. Typical Josiah response.

 

“You’re insufferable.” I tell him.

 

“I have been told many times that I am charming.” He replies.

 

I burst out laughing. “By who?!”

 

“By you, Your Highness.” He smiles mockingly.

 

“Well, forget I ever said it. I take it back. You’re insufferable now.”

 

He chuckles. “As you say, Princess.”

 

“I mean it Josiah!”

 

“As you say, Princess.”

 

I groan at him. “Just forget it. And pick up the pace you’re walking too slowly.”

 

He gently laughs, his warm voice making me smile as we walk back to my chambers.

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A note from AeroKaia

I hope you enjoyed today's longer chapter! Things will start ramping up from here on, so stay tuned for that. Tomorrow's episode will be spicey, I'm excited for you to read it. And it will most likely be even longer than today's chapter. Thanks for reading, you're the best. -Aero


About the author

AeroKaia

  • Under Lexa's Boot
  • YA Novelist - Fantasy and Sci-Fi Addict

Bio: Hey I'm AeroKaia. I'm an author who's currently writing Reaper's Kiss and trying to keep up with my own release schedule (fingers crossed). It's always been a dream of mine to become a writer and share my stories with the rest of the world. Although I prefer to stick to Fantasy and Sci-Fi with a romance focus, I love writing all kinds of stories within the teen fiction category. I plan to release a YA Sci-Fi story at some point after I feel ready. One story at a time, right? Haha.

I'm a huge fan of The 100, A Discovery of Witches, and I'm currently watching Shadow and Bone.

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