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Retribution II

Aerin’s awareness gradually returned, the disorientation fading. As she opened her eyes, the world seemed less hazy, and her surroundings began to take shape. The room, bathed in the soft glow of moonlight, held a serene calmness that contrasted sharply with the chaos of her previous state.

She shifted slightly on the bed, feeling the coolness of the sheets against her skin. The pain that had once gripped her body had dulled to a persistent ache, allowing her movements to be less strained. Aerin’s gaze wandered across the chamber, taking in the details—the elegant tapestries adorning the walls, the gentle flicker of candlelight, and the warmth that emanated from a crackling fireplace.

As she propped herself up on her elbows, a sight caught her attention. Rohan stood by the window, a solitary figure framed against the moonlit night. An elegant tunic lay discarded on a nearby chair. Instead, he wore a gray shirt with loose, long sleeves, unbuttoned slightly at the chest. Dark trousers and black boots completed the ensemble. His silhouette exuded stoicism, his gaze fixed on the horizon as if contemplating the mysteries the new day would unfold. The night advanced, giving way to the impending dawn.

In the quiet chamber, there was no sign of the healer, Sylvenna. The room seemed undisturbed, save for the enigmatic presence of the High Lord by the window.

Aerin’s eyes lingered on Rohan, the play of shadows accentuating the lines of his profile. The High Lord appeared deep in thought, his contemplative gaze mirroring the complexities of the world she found herself entangled in. His chiseled features and strong jawline spoke of a timeless grace. The dim light highlighted the subtle stubble along his defined jaw, giving him an air of rugged sophistication. His eyes, a captivating shade of gray-blue, held a depth that hinted at untold stories and hidden emotions.

As she observed him, a quiet admission formed within her. Undeniably, Rohan was breathtakingly handsome. The memory of their initial encounter near the pond flashed in her mind, where he had left an indelible impression on her. Yet, lingering doubts crept in—should she trust the healer’s words? Could she truly be safe in the presence of this beautiful male, or was it all a cruel scheme orchestrated by her evil aunt? The fantastical allure of Rohan clashed with the harsh reality of her circumstances, leaving Aerin torn between fascination and the lingering shadows of doubt.

“Where is the healer?” Aerin asked, drawing Rohan’s attention away from his thoughts. He turned to face her.

“Sylvenna had to attend to someone else,” Rohan explained, his gaze assessing her condition. “How are you feeling?”

Aerin, still not entirely convinced of his benevolence, retorted sharply, “Why did you save me?”

Rohan, with a hint of sarcasm, replied, “You’re welcome,” and added, “I suppose it’s a personal failing of mine – I can’t stand to see a lady in distress.” There was a subtle irony in his tone. “You should try gratitude sometime,” he suggested.

Aerin’s reaction showed defiance. “Gratitude? For being saved by a High Lord who probably has some ulterior motive?” She scoffed, a mix of skepticism and rebellion in her gaze. “I don’t owe you anything.”

Rohan, unfazed, approached the bed with deliberate steps, the flickering candlelight casting shadows across his face. He smoothly pulled a chair closer, the wood scraping against the marble floor, and settled into it with the ease of someone who was accustomed to command. The soft rustle of fabric accompanied his movements. “Well, if gratitude is too much,” he said, his voice carrying a hint of amusement, “at least tell me how you’re feeling now.”

His steel-blue eyes bore into hers, revealing a concern that seemed to contradict the air of mystery that clung to him. Aerin, confused, noted the genuineness in his curiosity about her well-being.

She hesitated for a moment before admitting, “I’m…fine, just a bit sore.”

Rohan leaned back in the chair, his gaze lingering on Aerin. “Good,” he remarked, “but don’t hesitate to call for Sylvenna if you need anything. You’re under her care, and she takes her responsibilities seriously.”

Aerin, still wary, nodded in acknowledgment. The room fell into a momentary silence, the crackling fireplace providing the only audible sound. Her eyes lingered on Rohan, involuntarily drawn to the exposed section of his chest, where a glimpse of the swirling thorn tattoo adorned his skin. There was an undeniable charisma about him, a magnetic allure that seemed to capture her attention despite her lingering reservations. In an attempt to conceal her discomfort, Aerin shifted her gaze away from the High Lord, seeking solace in the dancing flames of the fireplace. Her fingers traced invisible patterns on the soft fabric of the bedsheet, an unconscious effort to distract herself from the enigmatic presence that sat nearby.

Rohan broke the silence, his tone taking a more casual turn. “You’re not the first to find yourself in a tough spot here,” he said, a wry smile playing on his lips. “But you might be the first to tear through a bandage with such enthusiasm.” The comment carried a touch of humor, and Aerin found herself offering a small, involuntary smile in return.

It was a fleeting moment, but in that exchange, a subtle shift occurred. The atmosphere, while still tense, bore a thread of something more nuanced. Whether it was trust or merely a momentary connection, Aerin couldn’t be sure, but she couldn’t deny the complexity of emotions swirling in the room.

Rohan, observing the genuine smile that graced Aerin’s face for the first time, couldn’t help but feel a tinge of satisfaction. “See? A smile suits you far better than a scowl.”

Aerin felt an unexpected warmth spreading through her cheeks, and she hastily changed the subject. “What happened to the healer’s arms? I noticed burns.”

Rohan’s eyes darkened at the mention of Absinthya. “Courtesy of our gracious queen,” he replied with a bitterness that didn’t go unnoticed.

Aerin couldn’t help but express horror at the revelation. “How horrible!” She shuddered at the cruelty inflicted on someone who was meant to heal.

Rohan, with a grim nod, added, “If she treats her personal healer this way, you can imagine what she does to others. But I’d advise against dwelling on such thoughts.”

Aerin, although disturbed, was drawn to understanding. “Why does the queen need a personal healer? I understand the necessity at times, but it seems unusual for it to be so frequent.” She admitted her limited knowledge of fae customs, “I may not know much about fey customs, but…”

Rohan, filling in the gaps, replied, “It’s likely some form of illness, though Sylvenna knows more than she discloses. Fear keeps her silent. She has a son, and Absinthya threatened his life if she ever spoke out.”

Aerin’s eyes widened, shock and empathy reflected in her gaze.

Rohan gestured toward the bandage on her arm, his expression carrying a weight of regret. ‘I’m sorry about what happened to you,’ he said with genuine sincerity.

Aerin traced the edge of the bandage with a gentle touch, a flicker of sorrow in her eyes. “I wish I could rip this mark off my arm.”

A heavy sigh escaped Rohan’s lips, and he ran a hand through his dark hair. “I’m afraid there’s not much I can do at the moment. My powers are diminished. Otherwise, I could make that scar disappear.”

The dim light of the room played on the lines of his face, highlighting the weariness that seemed to linger beneath his confident exterior. Aerin’s gaze lingered on his features, catching a glimpse of vulnerability that contradicted the powerful High Lord before her.

She furrowed her brow, a mix of confusion and concern knitting her features. “What happened to your powers?”

Rohan’s gaze turned somber, the gravity of his words settling between them. “The queen stole a part of them.”

Aerin’s discerning gaze painted a somber realization on her face. “So, you’re a prisoner too,” she observed, her voice carrying a blend of empathy and concern. “And here I thought I was the only one desperate for a way out.” Hesitantly, she sought reassurance with a question that carried a flicker of hope. “You’re not working for her, are you?” The glimmer of expectation danced in her eyes.

Rohan met her gaze, the intensity of his eyes softening as he replied, “Not willingly and openly.”

As Aerin processed the weight of Rohan’s revelations, her mind churned with questions and reevaluations of her assumptions. “Did you really kill the guest?” she asked cautiously, her voice carrying a hint of uncertainty.

“Yes, I did,” Rohan admitted, his eyes briefly distant as he revealed a piece of his dark past.”But it wasn’t a choice I made willingly.” The weight of his words hung in the air, a heavy confession that echoed through the room. “It’s just another deed to add to the list of things I’m not proud of.” His words trailed off, veiling the details of a complex history that lingered in the shadows of his past like ghosts haunting the corridors of time.

Aerin, sensing the gravity of his unspoken burdens, tactfully restrained her curiosity.The conversation felt deeply personal, and she didn’t want to pry too much. As she shifted on the bed, her injured side protested, a small, involuntary groan of pain escaping her lips. The sound drew Rohan’s attention, and with a flicker of concern in his steel-blue eyes, he gracefully rose from the chair, moving closer to her.

“Easy there,” he said, his voice gentle, as he extended a hand toward her. However, as Rohan’s fingers were about to touch her, Aerin instinctively recoiled, a reflexive response to the trauma she had endured. The atmosphere in the room shifted again, the momentary connection disrupted. Rohan immediately withdrew his hand, retreating to his seat with a reluctant acknowledgment of the boundaries.

“I’m sorry,” Rohan murmured, his eyes holding a mixture of understanding and regret. “I didn’t mean to overstep.”

Aerin forced a smile, trying to ease the awkwardness. “It’s fine.” She paused, then asked again, “Why did you save me?” She hoped he would give her a different answer, something that would make her feel less alone. But Rohan hesitated, his expression guarded.

“Well… I,” he sighed, “I need your help.”

Aerin felt a surge of disappointment, a soft whisper escaping her lips, “I knew it.”

Rohan continued, his voice carrying a sense of urgency, “It’s not just about helping me. We need to face Absinthya and her daughter, put an end to their cruelty, liberate the prisoners.”

Aerin’s response was immediate; she shook her head with unwavering determination. “No.”

Rohan sighed in mild impatience,”Why? Just out of spite?” he questioned, his eyes delving into hers, searching for the faintest trace of agreement.

Aerin hesitated, “This is too risky, and… I don’t know if I should believe you,” she admitted, her uncertainty palpable.

Rohan ‘s plea echoed with a raw urgency, the looming threat accentuating his words. “I know it’s hard, but we don’t have much time,” he implored, a hint of desperation in his eyes. “If we fail, the prisoners will continue to suffer, you’ll die, and I’ll never escape this place.”

Aerin’s concern deepened, her gaze flickering between Rohan’s earnest expression and the flickering flames of the fireplace. The weight of responsibility tugged at her, intertwining with the worry for the fate of the other prisoners. “What guarantee do I have that you won’t betray us?” she queried, her voice a careful dance between caution and a genuine desire for reassurance.

Rohan, with an air of calm sincerity, met her eyes. “I’m not asking for blind trust,” he said, his tone carrying the weight of shared burdens. “But without collaboration, all hope is lost. Your friend, Caelia, her time is running out. We need each other to survive.”

Aerin’s brow furrowed in contemplation. The mention of Caelia’s imminent danger gnawed at her, adding urgency to the decision she was about to make.

In a hushed tone, Aerin asked, “Is Caelia okay?”

The High Lord hesitated, his eyes flickering with a complex mix of emotions. “She is…alive,” he finally admitted. Despite his reassurance, Aerin couldn’t shake the feeling that he was concealing something, a lingering doubt casting shadows over the truth.

Rohan’s gaze held a hint of uncertainty as he spoke, his voice low and husky. “Absinthya’s confidence in me is shaken, and she thinks I have feelings for you,” he confessed, the weight of his words hanging heavily in the air.

It was a revelation that caught her off guard. Aerin’s heart pounded in her chest and she felt a lump in her throat as his words echoed in her ears. She stared at him, trying to find the truth in his stormy gray eyes, that shone with an emotion that she couldn’t decipher. Could it be possible that he, the powerful and feared High Lord, cared for her, a bastard and half-fae princess? No…That can’t be possible. Rohan could have any female he desired. Why would he ever choose someone like her?

“That’s not true,” Aerin retorted, her voice more assertive than she intended. The acknowledgment of his possible affection stirred something within her, a complex blend of emotions she wasn’t ready to confront.

Rohan met her eyes with a casual air, his voice low, carrying an almost indifferent tone. “Of course not,” he replied, as if it were an obvious fact. Yet, there was a subtle hesitation in his response, a fleeting moment where his gaze flickered, betraying a trace of uncertainty.

Aerin felt a pang of a reality she wasn’t prepared to face. She swallowed the discomfort, offering a nod while avoiding Rohan’s gaze. Her eyes landed on a worn tapestry adorning the stone wall, depicting scenes of a world far removed from the confines of her current reality. The intricate patterns seemed to dance with a melancholic grace, weaving tales of a time when freedom wasn’t an elusive dream. Yet, as she stared at the tapestry, it offered no solace, and the images blurred into a tapestry of her own internal conflict.

His casual response hit her like a cold gust of wind, stealing the warmth from her chest. And although it was a predictable outcome, a tiny, foolish hope had lingered. The sting of disappointment, like a sharp dagger, twisted within her. You knew it, Aerin. Why let such a trivial thing affect you? she scolded herself, her inner voice a harsh rebuke. There are far greater worries in this wretched place than the feelings of a foolish girl. Yet, despite the rationalization, the small ache persisted, and she couldn’t shake off the weight of her own emotions.

Galadel’s words, whispered months ago, echoed in Aerin’s mind, offering a fleeting glimmer of comfort.

“By the lady! You are the most stunning, compassionate, and smart young woman, and any man would be lucky to have you.”

Yet, the grim reality still loomed as she turned her gaze back to Rohan.

The queen’s words echoed in her mind now like a haunting refrain – the elusive promise of the Elyrian stone, a key to potential salvation. Her voice trembled as she voiced her faint hope, “The queen mentioned a magic stone. The Elyrian stone. If I can get it, we might have a bargaining chip against Absinthya.” The uncertainty lingered beneath her words.

The room was veiled in shadows, the soft glow of flickering candles casting dancing patterns across the worn stone walls. The faint light of dawn started to seep through the curtains, casting a muted glow over the chamber. The scent of burning wax hung in the air, mingling with the subtle aroma of aged leather from the ancient tomes stacked nearby. Rohan, a striking silhouette in the dim light, sat reclined in a sturdy chair, his posture exuding an air of both regality and casual nonchalance.

His voice, like a velvet caress, delivered the unsettling truth. “Darling, that stone is nothing more than an ancient legend. Absinthya enjoys toying with Eryone’s hopes, spinning tales that lead to nowhere.”

A soft rustle of fabric accompanied Rohan’s movements as he shifted, elbows resting on his knees. Aerin’s gaze involuntarily lingered on Rohan as he leaned forward, his shirt slightly ajar, revealing a glimpse of a well-defined chest adorned with an intricate tattoo. She found herself captivated by the play of shadows that accentuated the contours of his face. His eyes, a mesmerizing shade of azure-gray reminiscent of stormy skies, locked onto hers with an intensity that sent a shiver down her spine.

A subtle smirk graced Rohan’s lips as he observed her lingering gaze, a silent acknowledgment of the effect he had on her. Aerin hastily averted her eyes, feeling the warmth creep up her cheeks. The vivid image of his muscled form, lingered, and she scolded herself for the momentary distraction.

“As for the dragons,” he continued, “This problem persists, lacking a solution.” His words lingered heavily in the air, entwining with the tendrils of dawn that filtered through the window. The world outside stirred with the promise of a new day, but within the chamber, the unresolved problems cast a lingering shadow over the fragile moments they shared.

Aerin’s horrified gaze reflected disbelief in the face of the frightening revelations. “What are we going to do?” she inquired, her wide blue eyes seeking answers.

Rohan, sensing the weight of the moment, rose from his seat with a weary sigh. The rhythmic tap of his boots against the cold, red marble floor echoed in the dimly lit room. He walked around the chair, each step measured and deliberate, until he stood behind it. He leaned against the back, his strong arms crossed over the worn upholstery.

The dim light of the room cast shadows on his face, emphasizing the strong lines and contours. Aerin couldn’t help but notice the faint scent of wood, a subtle floral note, and a hint of leather that clung to him—a lingering reminder of a world beyond their confines.

“The first step is to get out of this wretched place,” Rohan declared. “I suggest an alliance,” he proposed, his voice laden with determination. “You didn’t have your powers stolen like I have. Together, we can be strong.”

“Without my full powers, I need you,” Rohan added. Aerin hesitated, her mind caught in the turbulent storm of uncertainty. “Darling,” he continued, his voice a soft murmur, “we’re trapped in the same nightmare. Alone, we’ll both perish. Together, we stand a chance at survival and save the others.”

“Do you trust me?” Aerin questioned, her voice a fragile thread in the softly lit chamber. Her gaze searched for the truth within Rohan’s enigmatic eyes.

Rohan’s response was a measured pause, the room seemingly holding its breath in anticipation. He straightened, unfolding his arms and walked a few steps closer to Aerin. The flickering candlelight played on the contours of his face.

“I trust that our survival depends on this alliance,” he confessed, his voice low and resonant. “Trust is a luxury we might not afford, but cooperation is a necessity,” he said. “We’re stuck in this nightmare together. I need you, Aerin, as much as you need me. We either work together, or we perish alone.”

Aerin, absorbing his words, felt the weight of the world pressing down on her shoulders. She sighed, a mixture of sadness and fear intertwining within her. Lowering her gaze, she focused on a worn rug near the bed, the patterns blurring as her eyes welled with unshed tears. Shame crept through her, an unwelcome companion in the quiet moment.

“I’m useless,” she murmured, almost to herself, her voice carrying a tinge of embarrassment. “I can’t control my powers. I don’t know how to use… I..” she admitted.

Rohan settled on the edge of the bed, the mattress creaking softly under his weight. Aerin, feeling the subtle shift in the bed, looked up to meet his gaze. His eyes held a depth of understanding as he reached out, his fingers grazing Aerin’s chin. The touch was gentle, a fleeting reassurance amidst the shadows that danced along the walls.

“You are not useless, Aerin,” He said, his voice a soothing murmur in the quiet room. The delicate scent of lavender wafted from a nearby oil diffuser, creating a calming atmosphere. The fabric of the bedsheet under her fingers felt cool and slightly textured, grounding her in the present moment. “Your powers do not define your worth. We will find a way through this, together.” Rohan’s words, though soft, carried the weight of conviction, a promise to navigate the challenges ahead together.

His thumb traced a gentle arc along the curve of her jaw as he continued to hold her gaze. “We will find a way through this,” he repeated, his voice carrying a quiet determination.

Aerin’s mind buzzed with questions, uncertainties, and the overwhelming fear of the unknown. She couldn’t escape the feeling of being a pawn in a grander scheme, her powers a burden she had yet to understand fully.

“How?” she whispered.

“Concentration and control… I-” The High Lord’s words faltered as a discreet knock echoed through the room. Aerin tensed, but Rohan was quick to dispel her apprehension. “You’re safe,” he assured her.

Rohan’s calming reassurance, cut through the tension, settling her nerves. With a confident gesture, he opened the door, revealing one of the queen’s guards—a monstrous male fae, towering and ominous in stature, with wings that seemed to cast shadows in the flickering candlelight. His dark, tangled hair framed a face etched with the weight of ages, eyes gleaming a piercing amber.

The guard’s voice, a low and guttural rumble, made Aerin’s skin prickle with unease.”The queen summons you,” he declared to Rohan.

As the guard departed, an unsettling tension lingered in the room like a malevolent ghost. The place fell into a heavy silence. The air carried a distinct scent of apprehension, and the shadows played on the walls like silent spectators.

Aerin’s voice, soft as a whisper, tentatively sliced through the silence. “Should I go back to my cell?” she inquired, her words hesitant, each syllable pregnant with uncertainty.

Rohan, his aura radiating authority and concern, dismissed her suggestion with a gentle yet firm insistence. “Stay in bed,” he commanded. “Before you return to your cell, I’ll have Sylvenna give you a final check and bring you some food,” he said, his voice low and reassuring.

Aerin nodded, her eyes betraying her fear of being left alone. “Rohan, I… I don’t want to be alone,” she confessed, her words barely more than a breath in the quiet room.

Rohan’s calming words wrapped around Aerin like a protective shield, easing the tension in the room. “You’re safe here,” he assured, his gaze steady and sincere. ”No one will enter without my knowledge. I’ll be back shortly.”

Aerin felt a subtle release of tension at his words, the room suddenly feeling more secure. She nodded, grateful.

Rohan took a step closer to the bed, ensuring Aerin was comfortable. Just as he moved away, she unexpectedly reached out and caught his hand, her touch gently halting him in his tracks. “Wait,” she said softly, her eyes searching his for a moment before she continued, “I accept.”

His surprise was evident, his eyes meeting hers with a mix of relief and gratitude. “Thank you,” he murmured, his gaze lingering on hers for a moment before he nodded in acknowledgment and proceeded toward the door.

As Rohan reached for the handle, Aerin’s voice gently called out to him once more. “And thank you… for saving my life.”

Halted by her words, Rohan turned back, his gaze softening. A charming smile played on his lips, casting a warm light that eased the shadows around them. With that, he exited the room, and the soft click of the closing door echoed in the dimly lit chamber, leaving Aerin alone with her thoughts.



2 Comments on “Retribution II”

    1. Thanks my friend! ^^
      One more part and the chapter comes to an end. 🙂
      After this chapter, I need to make up my mind about certain things, and if I can’t think of something to “close the gap” on some things, or if I have doubts about whether my idea is bad or not, I’ll ask for your precious help with opinions and suggestions. 🤗💜

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