4. Meet your fate
||6 years later||
"The rival soldiers are inside the palace walls!" The guard shouted as chaos surrounded me from every angle. Maids and servants crowded the hallways, panic and fear scattering on every inch of the palace. No place was safe, but I've been prepared for this day since the very beginning.
As an unfortunate character in this book, I had to do my best to survive. And that meant avoiding this damned night.
"Ai Mingxia! Come to mother, we have to escape" The empress whispered from her seating in her throne and I shook my head.
"No, mother! What about my brothers? Father died fighting for this war but they're still fighting out there, I can't possibly leav-" I tried to reason with her, to wait just a bit longer for them to return.
Preferably still alive.
My eyes searched the surroundings and then landed on my dear mother again. Her purple eyes reflected the flames that kept growing stronger and stronger around us, like monstrous creatures in the shadows.
The smoke was suffocating, a poison to the lungs.
We were running out of time.
If the 'Ice Prince' from the rivalling country, the main character of this story appeared right about now, he'll surely stop at nothing to take our heads. He'd kill every single one of us and take me as a prisoner to shame this kingdom.
I couldn't let that happen.
"Mother! Take the underground route from the library, Jin Wei will be awaiting in the cellar near the servant's chambers, I'll go rescue my brothers" I told her and her eyes widened in shock.
"Those two will not live, just come with me and worry about your own life, Ai! You're royalty, you're allowed to be selfish" She grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the back doors and into the royal library, both of our shoes clattering loudly against the stone floors.
"But mother-" I started to protest but she shot me a glare that stopped me from uttering another word.
"I hear footsteps" She whispered back "Be quiet"
And footsteps they were. So silent, it felt as if ghosts were wandering the hallways, but that was clearly not the case.
It was him.
And he had people on his toe.
"Now, tell me where they'll be hiding" He commanded and a guttural noise followed right afterwards.
"If you're talking about the princess, you won't find her!" A voice I was way too familiar with growled back "She's already escaped"
I felt relief wash all over my body. Thank god he was still alive!
"Feng Chen! Being stubborn does not suit you, I'll spare you and your bother's life if you give me her location" The prince's voice was as sharp as a knife, it cut through the silence like ice.
A painful laugh rang through the air and it took my all not to scream. My eyes landed on the dark uniformed figures from the bookshelves. Both of my half brothers were being held at a sword's mercy. And from the looks of things, they were bleeding rather badly.
I needed to do something, fast.
"Mother, go!" I whispered under my breath as my mother's eyes widened significantly.
I pointed at the bookshelf that was only a few inches away from our position in the shadows.
"I became an empress to keep you safe Ai, I'll never leave you" She complained, tears staining her beautiful eyes.
Great. I really did have a loving mother in this life, and as touching as this whole thing was, I had no intention of letting more royal blood shed this night.
Those soldiers will have to pay.
In the previous storyline, all of the royals were either taken in as slaves or killed. This time will be different.
But my stubborn mother probably won't listen to me. My eyes landed on the scroll that acted as a lever to the hidden gateway. I pulled it out and the second the bookshelf turned in, I pushed her inside. Her eyes held mine for the smallest second, pleading for me to follow her there.
"I'll find you" I whispered before pulling the scroll down into its previous place again.
The rustling made the intruders stiffen in their positions.
"Soldiers, check what that noise was" The Ice Prince commanded and the armed men followed through straight away, taking steps closer to my position behind the shelf.
Panic made my heart pick up pace.
"How foolish, a lowly bastard like you trying to destroy our kingdom" Lee Chen suddenly spat in the prince's face as he coughed blood out of his stained mouth "I heard the Yen Kingdom has three more suitable princes ready to take the throne, why are you going against us, just to curry favour with the Yen King-"
That's when the sword was plunged into his abdomen, staining the beautiful carpet of the library. I pressed my palms in front of my mouth to avoid screaming out in rage and horror.
Lee Chen's body fell onto the ground, as the sword buried deep inside his chest was finally pulled out, slowly and painfully.
Tears fell down my cheeks as I pulled out my heavy earrings and threw them onto the opposite side of the library. The noise distracted the soldiers and they headed that way instead.
"Lee Chen!" Feng Chen screamed out as he tried to stop the blood spurting out of his blood brother's chest.
"Mother and father already died, just..m-make sure Ai stays alive" Lee whispered as he coughed out more blood then earlier and my heart broke into small fragments as memories of all the years I've spent in the company of these two troublesome yet caring brothers passed right before my eyes.
They've lived protecting me all this time.
There was no way I'd let them die in vain just like that.
"You said you were looking for me?" I suddenly spoke up, and eyes were suddenly directed at me as I stepped out of my hiding place.
The taller men that carried the bloodied sword with my brother's blood-stained onto it turned around to meet my gaze. And just like a gentle feather, his grey eyes travelled over my features and then at the small bird crested onto my neck.
The mark of the Choi royal family.
"Ai Mingxia?" His lips pulled into a calm smirk as he commanded his soldiers to drop their weapons so that he could approach me "The so-called gem of Choi Kingdom"
"And you'd be the bastard son of the Yen kingdom, Lei Yen" I smiled despite my tear-stained cheeks as I tried to look anywhere but at the bloodied body of my dying brother and Feng Chen who stared at me in shock.
I'd be shocked too. I was originally planning on escaping, now look at me, trying to save people that I accidentally got too attached to.
"That's a lot of dirt coming out of a pretty mouth as yours" The cruel prince whispered in an amused tone.
"That's a lot of arrogance coming from an illegitimate prince" I argued back, glaring at him under my long lashes.
I can't believe the old Ai Mingxia really fell in love with this cruel man, the same man that killed her very family right in front of her eyes and stripped her of her honour and humiliated her in front of the whole kingdom.
I stared at him, taking his appearance in. His hair was a long mane of white that somehow managed to make his sharp features look that much sharper. His eyes were as dark as the shadows, yet as light as ice. He appeared to possess a strong aura and stood as domineeringly and calmly as the devil himself.
Just what you'd expect from a main character.
The Ice Prince.
"I rather despise wasting my time, soldiers!" He barked "Kill the crown prince and pull his brother's corpse into the fire. I hate seeing his face"
"No!" I said, furiously "I'm sure that beheading us in front of your father the king will make your accomplishments that much more, and you'll live up to your name as the Ice Prince" I tried to negotiate "Take us as prisoners if you must, just let us live for one more day"
"Is that a proposal? You want to live one day longer?" He asks curiously "And what if I reject that idea? What if I'd prefer to kill you right now, right this instant, huh?" He tilted my chin and the black and grey swirling in his eyes became that much more hypnotising.
He wanted me to fear him.
"You'll regret it" I spoke confidently.
His eyes crinkled oat the sides at my words and then he threw his head back to laugh. It was somehow enchanting, seeing a cruel man like him laugh so freely, without a care in the world. People were dying this very moment but he was here, accompanied by humour.
It was terrifying in more ways than one.
"You're quite interesting, I'll let you live" He smiled "But those two? Not for long"
I nodded, calm washing over my very soul as I shared a look with my older brother and then fell beside Lee Chen, my hands covering his wound as he smiled despite the pain.
He won't die.
I'll save him, I'l save every single one of them.
The prince's soldiers wrapped a rope around our hands and legs to bind us and I let them without objecting.
I already have a plan, you stupid stupid prince.
I'll make you pay.