|18.| ▪The journey of a King and a Saint▪
We’ve been traveling for three days. Three awkward days since Mila was acting indifferent to me. I understood from where this was coming from; it was because of the way I’ve treated her.
“How far is the garden?” Mila asked as we stop to rest near a small creek.
I looked at our surroundings. A few birds caw from a distance, while empty fields covered a large area of the place.
“Maybe two more days,” I answered, barely a whisper. My eyes were looking back at the road we had taken.
It was strange no one was following us.
Frowning, I turn back to Mila who was still washing her face on the creek.
“We will need to leave the road soon,” I muttered. Mila snapped her head to the side. “They hid the garden from everyone’s view. Remember, the temple put a barrier between it.”
“I know,” Mila nodded and stood. Drying her hands on her skirt, I lower my eyes to her belly.
A slight bump was already visible, which worried me since she wasn’t feeling well.
“How about we stop by a town first?” I suggested, making her snort.
“For what? So, you can escape?” Mila scoffed.
“No Mila,” I sighed. “We need food, proper food for you and the baby.”
Mila gets tense at the mention of the baby. I could see she was avoiding anything related to it.
“I’m all right, no need for you to worry,” Mila mumbled and picked her stuff.
I know she didn’t wish to talk about it, but we needed to. It was our baby, our future, though she would prefer to not have it.
Grabbing my stuff, I followed behind Mila. We walked for another day before we saw a small town in the distance.
Mila was looking at it with saddened eyes. Her freedom, her life, it had been taken away. And it was all my fault.
“Let’s go,” I said, jogging down the hill. Mila cursed behind me as she carefully followed.
I monitored her in case she fell. The least I wanted was her getting hurt while she’s pregnant.
As we both walked down the steep hill, we noticed a few farmers with their carriages. We both pulled our hoods as we approached them.
“Good day,” I greeted. Both men looked at us skeptically.
“Hi,” Mila said, this time lowering her hood.
My eyes widened. What was she doing?
“We would like to know if there’s any place we could rest and eat,” Mila explained.
“Welcome travelers, it seems you’re new in this area?” the man said. We both nodded in unison. “If it’s all right, why don’t you join us?”
“Is it all right?” I asked worriedly.
The old man beamed at us with a smile. His crooked teeth with a hint of gold shone under the sun’s rays.
“Of course, lad, please. My wife and I have a tavern. Now come along,” he said, pushing us up to his carriage.
Mila thanked the old man as we got into the carriage.
“Here some food for the lady,” the wife of the old man smiled. We both thanked her as she served us our meals. I shifted my eyes to notice Mila almost drooling over the food. Her eyes twinkled with desire, making me chuckle.
“What?” Mila groaned. I shook my head and started eating in silence.
Occasionally, I would look at Mila, who was eating like crazy. Her cheeks turn a soft shade of pink as she devours her plate.
I chuckled, watching her eat with delight. It seemed she was hungry.
“We will get a horse,” I said, making Mila stop halfway with her spoon. “The place isn’t proper to walk, especially for someone like you who’s pregnant.”
“I see,” Mila gulped, wiped her mouth, then sighed. “We need to get there before my father finds us.”
I lowered my eyes to my half-full plate of soup. The smell made my stomach grumble, but made me nauseous as well.
Mila was right. We both know Frey would send his underlings or someone to look for us. Though he might be unaware of where we were heading to, he could still find us, thanks to me.
Sighing loudly, I looked at the pendant hanging around my neck. It was the pendant I had from the beginning, the one that kept Elios at bay.
“Elios won’t show his face,” Mila muttered while wiping her mouth. I frowned at her comment.
“What do you mean?” I asked curiously.
“I cast a spell of light on it, keeping Elios in a deep sleep for now,” Mila explained. Grabbing her water, she gulped it down. “It’s safer to keep it like that, so don’t take it off.”
My fingers grazed it as it gleamed under the small sunrays that entered through the window.
“My children, is there anything else you need?” the old woman from before asked.
“Not really, we are fine,” I smiled. She nodded and started making small conversations with Mila. I looked away, lost in my thoughts.
“Oh, my, if you’re pregnant, why don’t you take a rest here?” the old woman suggested. I looked back at Mila, who seemed troubled.
“It’s a good idea,” I encouraged, which earned me Mila’s glare.
“No,” Mila groaned. “We should depart soon.”
“Mila,” I warned, but she scoffed.
The old woman looked between us before scurrying away, embarrassed.
I massaged my temple as Mila eyed me carefully. Her intense gaze was making me angry.
“Cut it, Mila,” I ordered.
“You don’t fucking order me,” Mila cursed. Her knuckles turned white from the pressure she was putting on the table. “Let me remind you, you’re at my mercy, Zion. If it weren’t for me, you would rot back in the castle.”
My lips turned into a thin line at her words. Though I wanted to argue back, Mila was right. It was thanks to her I even felt better than I have ever been.
Being away from the castle, having her by my side, and keeping Elios sealed made me feel normal once again. Not even my hand of stone bothered me, which I didn’t understand why.
As far as I recalled, Mila’s presence only eased it, but didn’t make it disappear completely. So why?
Noticing my confused look, she smiled. “My powers,” Mila scoffed. My eyes darted to her face.
She looked in pain, hurt. I confusedly watched her.
“You’re carrying my power in your body, of course, it will heal you,” Mila commented.
I stood abruptly as I realize what she meant.
“You think I didn’t know?” Mila smirked; arms crossed. My heart pounded against my chest. She wasn’t supposed to know about it.
Standing, Mila grabs her bags and turns to leave. But before she continued, she halted and looked over her shoulder.
“I found out when we were in the cave,” Mila whispered. “You are eating me alive Zion, for that I will never forgive you.”
Mila walked away without looking back while I remained stunned and pained on the table. Feeling conflicted, I looked down with shame.
“Thank you,” Mila smiled and paid the men who handed me the horses.
“We really should rest tonight,” I said for the fifth time. Mila just glowered at me. Her anger was clear on her tired face.
Groaning internally, I grabbed her arm and turned her to face me. Mila looked surprised but angrily pushed me.
“No Zion, we are heading out tonight!” Mila yelled, making a few passersby look our way.
“Calm down Mila,” I ordered, then looking around, I nervously turn to face her again.
“Mila, I know you don’t trust me, but I’m saying this because of the baby. You need to rest,” I mumbled behind her.
Mila mumbled something under her breath before leaning on the horse.
“Fine, just tonight,” Mila grumbled. I reached for her hand, but she slapped it away. Nodding dejectedly, I walked back into the tavern to order a room for us.
Mila and I looked at the small room for two that the old woman gave us for tonight.
It had everything we needed, a bed, sheets, pillows, and a bathroom. Putting our things on the side, I walked to the bathroom to prepare a bath for Mila.
Earlier, before, we had gone to a nearby stall to get some food and clothes.
It was good since now we could get a bath and change into them. Also, Mila wouldn’t have to sleep on the ground.
Touching the water to feel its temperature, Mila walks in. Her eyes met my emerald ones.
“Your bath is ready,” I muttered, standing up. Mila nodded and moved behind a small divider to undress.
I stood with my back on the door.
“Zion, leave, please,” Mila ordered, but I didn’t move. “Zion!”
“I’m not leaving you alone,” I answered. Mila muttered something incoherently before hearing the splashing of water. Once I was sure she was in, I slowly turned around. Her flushed face stared back at me intently.
I could feel my ears burning up from the intense gaze we were exchanging. Gulping away, I undress, making Mila look away shyly.
A smile played on my lips as I watched her.
“Move to the front,” I whispered. My voice was a tad hoarse as she moved, splashing water around us.
Careful not to bump against her, I get in and put my knees on each side behind her.
Mila was hugging her legs as her wet hair stuck to her back. I felt tempted to reach for her and touch her. To feel her and embrace her in my body.
Mila did not know how much she affected me, how much I craved her, like a crazy person.
Sighing, I lean my head back on the wooden tub and relax. I needed to get the indecent thoughts out of my mind. It wouldn’t do me or us any good.
Feeling movement, I dart my head. Mila had leaned close to me, taking me by surprise.
“Mila,” I whispered close to her head.
“Don’t,” Mila grumbled while hugging her body. I didn’t answer and slowly grabbed her waist, pulling her closer until she was completely leaning on me. Her warmth seeped into my chest.
My fingers drifted to her wet hair that stuck to her pale skin. A few bruises were visible, and her small veins were pulsing all over her thin body.
I could see how much weight she had lost, how different she looked. This wasn’t the Mila I once knew.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, while toying with her hair. Mila didn’t have any reaction to my words, so I continued. “You should have never come back for me, Mila.”
This time she tensed, then sitting up, she looked at me over her shoulder.
“Don’t come for you?” Mila retorted. Her voice cracked as her eyes watered. It pained me to see her like this.
I looked away from her. I couldn’t continue gazing into her eyes without feeling remorse, guilt from everything.
“Yes, you should have let me die. Rot in that place,” I murmured. “You wouldn’t be like this if it weren’t for me.”
I expected her to contradict my words, to scoff or reproach me. Instead, Mila turned away from me, making me feel worst.
“What I did, it’s already done. There’s nothing we can do, and nothing would change my decision or my heart, Zion,” Mila whispered after a few moments of silence.
Standing, she grabs a towel and heads back to our room. I pulled my hair in frustration.
What was I supposed to say when she told me things like that?
Letting my head rest on the edge of the tub, I stare at the old murky ceiling. I am a coward who cannot even help the woman he loves.