(I’m a derp and didn’t realize I had more written on my laptop. So here’s the rest of chapter 4)

Aislin and Ki-Lin spent the rest of the morning together viewing the garden. There was some conversation, mostly one-sided on Ki-Lin’s end. As they were heading back inside, a servant approached them.

“Lady Ki-Lin, your visitor has arrived and is waiting in the meeting room.”

“Visitor? What is the date?”

“The 16th, my lady.”

“…” Ki-Lin sighed. “I apologize, Aislin, but this is one meeting that I cannot run away from. You are free to do anything you wish for the rest of the day. I’m sure I’ll be in that room until dinner, at least.”

The servant turned to Aislin. “Lady Aislin, if you’d like, you can accompany me while I go into town. I have some errands to run…”

Aislin nodded. “Ki-Lin…good luck.” The princess nodded and went inside, leaving Aislin and the servant girl.

“You haven’t been to town yet, right Lady Aislin? You can look around as much as you’d like when we get there.”

“Mm. Your name?”

“Oh…I’m Mei.” She bowed slightly. “Shall we go now?” Aislin nodded, and she followed Mei out the front gates into town.

Meanwhile, Ki-Lin was slowly making her way to the meeting room. Her stomach kept doing nervous flips. She wanted to tell someone she was ill and wanted to rest, but she had done that the last time she had a meeting with this person. The time before that, she claimed she was out of town that day, even though she hid in a secret house located in the town for that week.

Her small hand rested on the door to the meeting room. She took a few deep breaths, trying to control her pounding heart, trying to calm her mind. She slid the door open and walked to the table, kneeling on the pillow at one end, facing the three men inside.

“Ah, Ki-Lin,” the youngest of the three said in his smooth voice, “it is a pleasure to finally see you after so long. Have you recovered from your illness?”

“I have, Lord Jiang.”

“Please, just Jiang is fine. I do expect to get much closer to you, after all.”

“I assume that is what you are here to discuss. My answer is still no.” Ki-Lin was trying to stay calm, but that got harder with each passing minute. She wanted to run away from this room, from the palace. Her mind wandered back to Aislin, wondering how she was enjoying the town.

“…and you do know if you don’t comply…Ki-Lin. Please, I’m sure you have a vivid imagination but this is not the time to be dreaming of what could be.” Jiang leaned over the table. “Your reality is to marry me. Think of what it would do for your country.”

“You would just take over, I know how militaristic your country is. You instated that forced military conscription policy yourself.”

“It would be a simple alliance between our countries, there would be no…invasion or war at all.”

Ki-Lin jumped up. “Do you think I trust you, especially after you took over that seaside country a half year ago!?”

One of the advisors also stood. “They invaded us first! It was in self-defense!”

“Please, calm down, both of you.” Jiang placed his hand on his advisor, who sat down. Ki-Lin stayed standing. “Do not dwell on the past, let us just think of this moment and of the future. Ki-Lin, my dear, if you marry me, think of the benefits to your country. We would be available to protect your citizens from any attack, provide new trade routes and goods, and alliances with other countries. You are taking this situation too…personally.”

“Of course I am! It’s marriage! I…I’m not ready for that…”

“You are old enough to rule a country, therefore I believe you are old enough to marry.” Jiang stood up. “As usual, I will be in town for a week, and I do want a decision made by then. If you avoid this decision…” He walked over to Ki-Lin, leaning in close to her ear and whispering, “my terms might not be so friendly next time.” Waving his hand, he and his advisors left the meeting room, leaving a shaky Ki-Lin standing alone.

Aislin and Mei were heading back up the path to the palace together, carrying their various purchases. Aislin was turning a small doll around in her right hand. For some reason, it caught her eye and she bought it as a gift to Ki-Lin.

“Oh…I guess that’s who Lady Ki-Lin was meeting…” Mei was looking ahead at a group walking down the path in the opposite direction. Aislin also started watching them. The rich-looking young man glanced back as her as they passed next to each other.

“That was?” Aislin asked.

“Lord Jiang…he’s the ruler of the country to the south of this one. He’s been coming here every month to meet with Ki-Lin. He wants to…marry her.”

“…I see.” The two walked together in silence for the rest of the way to the palace. When they entered, Mei excused herself to put away the goods she bought. Aislin decided to locate Ki-Lin. She went to Ki-Lin’s bedroom and knocked on the door.

“I said before that I don’t feel like a meeting tonight, please let me rest.”


There was silence, and the door was opened. “Aislin…I’m glad it’s you, really. My advisors have been wanting to talk ever since the meeting earlier and I …sorry. Here, please enter.”

Aislin walked in and extended her hand. “Here.” Ki-Lin took the doll from her and smiled.

“Oh, it’s so cute! Thank you, Aislin. I’ll treasure this gift.” The girl’s mood had improved significantly by the small gesture, and even Aislin almost smiled.

“The town…it was pretty.” Aislin said, quietly.

“Yes, it is very nice this time of year, everyone’s outside since it’s sunny almost every day. I wish I could visit more often myself, but my advisors…” Ki-Lin sighed. “I understand that they only want to help me the best they can, but sometimes they can be so suffocating.”

“And they force you into things.”

“…I guess Mei told you some things about today. Don’t worry, she won’t be in trouble, I know you still have questions about me and the country and everything. I think you…deserve to know.” Ki-Lin took Aislin’s hand and lead her to the table where they sat next to each other. Aislin lightly mentally kicked herself for being blunt with her last sentence.

“I was visited by a lord of a neighboring country today…”

Aislin interrupted. “I saw him on the way back. He seems…a lot older than you.” Again, she was being blunt trying to get information.

“Oh, yes, he is…I believe he’s about 25 years old? He’s been ruling for a few years now. I…I just turned 14 at the beginning of the year.”

Aislin was slightly surprised. She had noticed that Ki-Lin was younger than her, but not that young. She also realized that this girl was the ruler of a country.

Ki-Lin leaned against Aislin. “You’re surprised, I can tell. I’ve been ruling this country for four years now. Of course, I have my advisors, but sometimes they just make it harder.” Her voice dropped low. “I feel as if some are trying to decide my life for me…by forcing me to marry Lord Jiang.”

“So it was their idea.”

Ki-Lin nodded and closed her eyes. “I don’t want to marry yet. I understand if someday I must marry for politics, but not now…I can’t even bear him any children yet.” She smiled slightly. “What do you think, Aislin? Am I being selfish?”

“…Maybe so. But it’s your…your life. You should be able to choose how you want to live.”

“So you have that freedom where you’re from, to choose your life?”

“…Yeah, I had that.”

Ki-Lin blinked. “Past tense? Did something happen?”

“No. I’m…obviously alive.”

“Of course.” The princess smiled. Aislin noticed that Ki-Lin was still leaning against her, with her head resting on her shoulder. Aislin, after a few seconds of thought, wrapped her arm around the younger girl, pulling her close. Ki-Lin sighed happily. “Thank you, Aislin. You’re so kind.”

“No…you’re much more kind than I am, taking me in here.”

“Maybe so…maybe so.”

The two girls spent the rest of the night sitting together, forgetting about their problems, only enjoying the moment surrounding them.

Afterlife: Second Tale – Chapter 4 Part 2

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