I want so badly, but also understand, I can’t hold her next to me by force. And she goes. She leaves. Again. I exhale sharply. Pain carves in my chest. I can’t stay alone, so I decide to move. Something inside me tears off. I have to move, to get her out of my head. I run on top of the trees, sometimes between branches. I seek to free myself from her and that pain blowing my chest.

  • But that’s what happened… 

I say aloud to myself lost in thoughts, which are hunting me no matter which way I choose to take. She found me. She saved my life. I was out for so unbelievably long.. How.. how did this even happen?!

I was in darkness, not in this world, and could smell her sweet scent. I could recognize it between millions of others. Her voice showed me the way. And her taste, her blood… I know the taste of animals, humans, and other creatures, but this one… 

  • Mmm.. It’s matchless.. so unique…

I growl. How can I keep her? And… Eden?!

  • Dadaaamm! 

My dagger meets Porir’s chin before I see him properly. 

  • Don’t be so angry. You only lose a race. 

He swipes my dagger away. At least he tries. It’s just Porir. I lower my dagger.

  • And now you are greeted by the best of the best!

I know, he tries to teaze me, but I’m not in the mood. I don’t stop and move forward to the palace. His face falls and he follows me. 

  • Eirik! What’s wrong? 
  • She saved my life.

I mumble.

  • Don’t be dramatic. It was just a race. You don’t have to make up an excuse why you lost. 

I stop and turn to him. 

  • Eirik, it’s just a stupid competition. I didn’t expect you to be so upset. 

Our noses separate just an inch or two. He looks alerted.

  • She saved my life.

I whisper as I don’t want others to hear this. I turn and head to the throne room. Porir closes the door behind us and looks at me expectantly.

  • Eden.
  • What?!
  • She mentioned Eden.. and message..

I pace trying with my hands to show the point I try to express in my words. Probably I look not myself. I don’t feel myself. I almost died. I couldn’t heal. My f*cking blood betrays me. It’s too weak even to do his daily task. Reality crushes on me. And she.. She left. Again. And this pain.. It kills me from inside.. I rake my hair trying to order my messy thoughts and the whole array of feelings.

  • Calm down, Eirik. That doesn’t make any sense. Sleepover and tomorrow your thoughts will be much clearer.

I nod to Porir. It’s for the best. First, I have to put all together to myself. Where is she?

It’s hard to sleep after such a night experience. Eden. It’s a sacred place in the polis. Eden. That’s what we call its keepers. Eden. It is this palace. Eden. It’s one of my names like my grandfathers, fathers or brothers. What or who she is looking for? What kind of message does she carry on?

Her smell is still on my body and gets even stronger with each hand’s move. I lick my lips and intentionally buck my hips. Oh hell, that woman! I open doors and land in the pool on my terrace. I expect cold water, but it’s not cold enough to wash her scent, my feelings. I get out of the water even more frustrated. It’s chilly. I feel her sweet smell. My back slams against the wall and I slide down along the wall taking some pieces of it with me down. My body is too small for what I feel now. I close my eyes and hide my face in my palms. I hear her in my head. 

  • Stay.. stay with me.

It repeats as an echo till I drift to sleep exhausted.

  • One more woman? She better be worth the loss of race.

Porir sits next to me with a quirky smile. I hold my heavy head between my palms.

  • It was SHE.
  • You met her again?!
  • She found me floating in the mountain stream.

His eyes widen and lips open.

  • I thought she would be the death of yours, Eirik. And here we are. She saves you! I’m in debt for her. 

His voice says he is sincere. I also sense guilt in it. He is my guard after all. His priority is to keep me safe at any cost.

  • I couldn’t heal myself.

I open up to my friend in a whisper.

  • How come?! Your bloodline!

I shrug my shoulders. I have to check some books. Maybe they will provide me calm and proper answer.

  • Congrats, by the way. Take a day off for your pleasure.

He shakes his head in refusal. 

  • Don’t make it hard for me, Porir. Just agree. You won and I admit it. 

Of course he doesn’t want to leave me alone after I just told him.

  • We are off to polis tonight.

Right. We still have no clue where the Black princess hides. It’s time to change that.

  • That I can manage without you.
  • And you believe I will miss the party?

We laugh. Oh, that Black Lady will be trapped. She walked away from walking heads, but not from me. It’s just a matter of time when we will meet.

Continue reading chapter 20