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The crypt IV

Rohan’s gaze was like a frozen bolt, piercing the prisoner before us. The anger radiating from him was intense, almost tangible, making the air around us feel charged. His hands, clenched into iron fists, trembled with brute force. “Silence,” he commanded, his voice vibrating through the walls. “I’ll deal with you later.”

The muffled voice behind the rough sack whimpered, weak and trembling with fear. “P-please…have mercy. It won’t happen again.”

I stared at the prisoner, my mind racing to make sense of the situation. The prisoner’s voice… it sounded so familiar. How could this be?

“Traitor!” Rohan’s roar reverberated through the chamber, each word dripping with fury. “You put us all at risk!”

Traitor. The word echoed in my head, a monstrous thing twisting my insides. But the voice… it couldn’t be. It sounded so much like…No. It can’t be him. 

I knew Rohan could be ruthless, a terrifying storm of shadows and fury. But Sylvenna had also spoken of his hidden depths, a capacity for compassion that surprised even his closest allies.

The muffled voice rasped again, “Please, I beg you,” sounding more desperate than ever. “I’m sorry.”

Rohan’s jaw clenched, a muscle ticking in his temple. I could practically smell the heat of his anger radiating off him. It simmered just beneath the surface, threatening to erupt and I feared he would do something impulsive.

“Rohan, please,” I intervened, my voice wavering slightly. “Let me speak with him.”

“This piece of shit would spill the whole damn plan to your aunt, risking the lives of everyone involved.” Rohan snapped, his stormy grey eyes flashing with irritation.

My stomach clenched, a cold dread slithering down my spine. No. This had to be a mistake.

I glanced at Sylvenna. Her posture was firm, her expression composed. In her eyes, there was a quiet acknowledgment of Rohan’s necessary ruthlessness.

The goblin, Grizpik, smirked, clearly enjoying the scene.

Thistle, however, remained impassive, his arms crossed over his chest.

Disbelief choked me. “That’s… that’s impossible,” I stammered, the words catching in my throat.

“Come on, princess. Do you really think I’d have any reason to lie to you?” Rohan retorted, his voice as sharp as steel. “After everything I’ve done for you? Please. Give me some credit.” A flicker of annoyance, quick as a dart, crossed his gray eyes, but it was quickly replaced by a crooked, humorless smile. “Believe me, I prefer the truth. It’s much less tiring.”

“But you’re wrong,” I insisted, my voice growing louder. “He can’t be… he wouldn’t do something like that.”

This has to be some kind of twisted joke. A cruel trick.

His brow furrowed, etching deep lines into his forehead. Frustration and confusion warred in his icy gray eyes. “What the hell are you talking about, Aerin?”

“Please, let me talk to him,” I pleaded again. “He deserves a chance to explain.”

Rohan’s eyes bore into mine, intense enough to set the whole world on fire. “Does he?” he asked, his voice rough like coarse sand. “Does he deserve your compassion after what he’s done?”

“Yes,” I responded, my chin jutting out in defiance.

A tense silence stretched between us, broken only by the ragged gasps escaping the traitor’s lips. Rohan’s jaw clenched and unclenched. I could practically see the war raging within him. The fury in his eyes hadn’t entirely dissipated, embers glowing beneath a thin layer of ash. He took a deep breath, his chest rising and falling with a controlled effort. The anger seemed to recede, replaced by a simmering frustration that clung to him like a mantle. Did I reach him through the storm, or was he simply choosing a different strategy?

“Whatever,” he grumbled, his jaw clenched so tightly I worried he might crack a tooth. “One shot, genius. Make it count.”

I gave him a firm nod, my eyes glued to the bound figure.

Rohan shifted his attention to the prisoner and let out a heavy sigh. “Talk. Now.” He commanded.

Silence. But not the empty kind. This silence thrummed with a tension so thick I could taste it.

I stepped forward, my gaze fixed on the prisoner. Every pair of eyes in that chamber seemed to burn into me, scrutinizing my every move, their gazes heavy with confusion. I ignored all of them. Each breath felt like swallowing shards of ice, my heart pounding against my chest like a wild animal trying to escape. “Tell me why you did this.” I said addressing the prisoner directly.


Taking a shuddering breath, I extended my arm. My hand, trembling like a leaf caught in a hurricane, hovered inches from the prisoner’s head. The only sound that broke the suffocating silence was the ragged gasps escaping his lips. My ice-cold fingers brushed against the rough fabric of the sack, the coarse texture sending goosebumps erupting across my skin.

“Aerin,” Rohan barked, a single word laced with annoyance.

I ignored him.

Finally, with a slow, hesitant movement, I pulled the sack down.

The world tilted on its axis. My breath hitched in my throat, a strangled gasp escaping my lips.

It couldn’t be. It simply couldn’t be.

Not him. He’d been with us since the beginning, fought by our side, bled for me. We’d laughed together, shared secrets under the cloak of night. How could he?

But it was.

Green eyes, once bright and brimming with life, now bulged with fear and shame. Short, messy blonde hair framed his face, falling onto his forehead in a wild fringe. His once prominent, healthy cheekbones were now sunken and pale.

The prisoner was Gareth.

He looked at me, his eyes pleading for forgiveness, for understanding. “Aerin,” he rasped, his voice hoarse and broken. “Help me. I’m so sorry.”

The world around me seemed to dissolve into a swirling vortex of colors and sounds, leaving only his face, his voice, his desperate plea. Confusion and fear washed over me, leaving me dizzy and disoriented.

“Gareth,” I whispered.

Maybe, just maybe, there was an explanation. Maybe Gareth was coerced, threatened. 

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