Chapter 36: Bonus Prequel Series Part 4
I dragged the rock across the stone wall, frowning when I couldn't get it straight.
One. I took a single trip out of the cave and managed to get stung by a scorpion.
Two. That's how many near death experiences I had while my body recovered.
Three. That's how many weeks for the poison to leave my body.
I continued scratching marks until my hand began to bleed from clutching the rock so tight. I growled under my breath, wiping the blood off on my leg.
I glanced back up at the wall.
Ten. That’s how many times I've tried to kill Kellan.
“Oh my gods must you continue with that incessant tapping? I’m going to tie your feet together if you don’t stop,” I growled, whipping around to face him.
“Make me princess,” he taunted, a sly grin playing at his lips.
I growled again. “How dare you mock me?”
He rolled his eyes as he stood. “You’re not as terrifying as you think,” he remarked.
I glared at his back as he crossed the cave to return to his cooking. “I’ve killed dozens of people—I am stronger than any of the warriors in the dragon guard—"
“Lyza you seem to have forgotten that I was the one who watched you break down every night after your father died. I was the one who helped you do everything because you were so badly injured you couldn’t even move. I was the one who took care of you while you were at your literal worst. You are far from terrifying to me,” he said in a soft voice.
I glowered down at my feet. “I didn’t break down every night,” I mumbled under my breath.
I heard him chuckle, then felt his hand squeeze my shoulder. “Yeah okay.”
I grumbled curses under my breath making Mitalonys laugh in my mind. My nails curled into my palms and I bit down hard on my tongue.
“You didn’t drink the tea.”
“What?” I asked, craning my head around.
He motioned to the cup by my feet. “You didn’t drink the tea,” he repeated.
My lip curled as I stretched, suddenly uncomfortable. “I’m not particularly fond of tea.”
He smiled with a raise of his eyebrow. “I know it’s disgusting but it will help you get your strength and energy back faster.”
I pushed it away from me and shook my head, earning a heavy sigh in response. Kellan picked up the cup and shoved it into my hand. I tried to push it away again but he was persistent.
I ended up drinking it anyway. I started to comment on the tea, how it wasn’t as bad as I thought, when the aftertaste hit me.
I gagged at the harsh bitter flavor in the back of my throat; my eyes watered. Kellan’s amused face appeared in the corner of my vision. I swung out a blind fist. I caught his cheek and sent him reeling backwards. “Son of a bitch,” I spat, vigorously rinsing my mouth out with a canteen of water.
He groaned from where he landed on the stone floor. “Okay,” he wheezed, clutching at his chest. “I think that may have been a bit of an overreaction.”
“Yeah well that was rude,” I retorted. “You trying to poison me or something?”
“It’s a medicinal tea—I told you it was going to be disgusting,” he grumbled in annoyance.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I realize I may have overreacted, but I ignored it. I hadn’t left the cave in weeks, I decided I had more than an excuse to be short and irritable.
“I need to get out of here,” I complained.
“Yeah you really do,” Kellan agreed, rubbing at his face. He mumbled swears under his breath as he moved about the cave, rearranging his belongings and tucking away the clothes that littered the ground.
We need to go back.
I paused, my heart pounding as I weighed his words. Go back where? It was a stupid question. I knew exactly where.
We can’t. It’s too dangerous.
His growl was teeming with pain and frustration; my resolve almost broke. Zari! We cannot simply abandon the dragons!
They’re dead Mita! I am not going back simply to visit corpses! I snapped.
Then they will be forgotten, along with their sacrifices.
He retreated to the back of my mind. I blinked a few times, staring blankly at the ground. My head throbbed as all the faces flashed behind my eyes. All the faces I would never see again.
I looked up. “What?”
Kellan hesitated, then stepped forward and gently brushed his knuckles across my cheek. I reached up and touched my face. It was wet.
“Are you alright?” he asked, his snarky tone from before replaced with a soft, concerned one.
“My dragon wants to go back.”
I saw something change in his expression for a brief second and then it was back to normal. I still saw it. He wanted to go back too.
“It’s all gone. There’s no point in going back,” he reasoned.
“Yeah, right.” I nodded in agreement but the idea continued to eat away at my thoughts.
The rest of the day seemed to fly by in a hazy blur. Everything I did was with half a mind. All I could think about was going back; that miniscule possibility that there could still be dragons made it almost unbearable to imagine. If I went back and they realized my father and I had abandoned them—
They would never accept me as their Queen after everything that has happened.
You left to protect your kingdom, Mita murmured.
No I left to protect myself! I growled.
You are the kingdom Zari! he snapped back. The kingdom lives and dies with its leader.
I clenched my jaw, blinking hard while sucking in a heavy breath. Its leader is the king, and the king is dead.
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