Part 5: War

For the next few days, Aislin and Ki-Lin spent most of their days together. They ate every meal together, and took frequent walks through the gardens. Aislin even attended a few of the meetings Ki-Lin was forced to attend with her advisors.

Each meeting was focused on one thing: her marriage to Jiang. Even her advisors were arguing amongst themselves over what their princess should do. Ki-Lin stayed silent, usually looking out the window or to the floor. Her advisors were clearly starting to take sides, and each meeting had more arguments than the last.

Four days after Ki-Lin’s meeting with Jiang, everything turned for the worse. One of the servants found two of the advisors dead, poisoned sometime the night before. These two advisors had also been the only two to support Ki-Lin’s decision to not marry Jiang at this time.

It was obvious what the rest were pushing the princess to do.

Ki-Lin was sitting in her room with Aislin, braiding the older girl’s hair. She kept sighing and stopping her work to lean against Aislin’s back, holding back her tears. Eventually she finished, tying a ribbon at the bottom of the braid.

“You’re so beautiful, Aislin…” The princess spoke quietly, her voice wavering. “I really mean that, too. I…for some reason, I look up to you…your beauty, your maturity…”

“I see.”

“I don’t want to marry him…”

“I know.”

Ki-Lin had wrapped her arms around Aislin and was clinging to her tightly. “I really don’t want to.”

Aislin suddenly turned around, pulling Ki-Lin into her arms. The younger girl gasped at the sudden display of affection. Aislin herself was surprised that she had reacted in this way, not being one to act this nice to people. She was also blushing slightly as she held the princess. “I’ll…help somehow, okay Ki-Lin? Don’t cry more…”

“…Aislin!” Ki-Lin started crying anyway, sobbing hard into the older girl’s shoulder. Aislin awkwardly patted her back, not used to having to provide comfort to others. Her thoughts drifted to trying to figure out why Ki-Lin was so attached to her. She closed her eyes, thinking back through the last week. It had been surprising that it was only a week since she came to this world. On one hand, time had moved by rather quickly, but she also felt like she had known Ki-Lin for years.

The princess’ movements in her arms brought Aislin back to reality. Ki-Lin had pulled back, wiping her face and straightening her hair. She was blushing.

“My apologies, I…broke down…how embarrassing. This is…so hard. I didn’t think it would be, but it is…”

A knock at the door interrupted their conversation. “Please enter.” Ki-Lin hid her wavering voice well as she allowed the servant to enter. It was Mei, and she smiled at Aislin as she walked in.

“Lady Ki-Lin, Lord Jiang is here to see you.”

“He…he’s early. It’s only been four days.”

“Yes, but…excuse me if I’m out of line by saying this, but you should see him, my lady. Before he gets angry.” Mei shifted nervously.

“…Yes. I will go now.” The princess looked at Aislin. “Will you…walk with me there?” Aislin nodded. They walked to the meeting room, and Ki-Lin walked inside. Aislin sat against the wall outside by the door.

Inside the room, Ki-Lin was met by her surviving advisors, Jiang, and his advisors. Her heart started pounding as they stared at her when she sat down.

“Ki-Lin, I’m glad to see you again. I was afraid that you wouldn’t come.” Jiang spoke softly.

“Why are you here? It has not been a week.”

“I heard about your advisors. I give you my condolences. However…” Jiang leaned over the table. “I believe you should make your decision now, dear Ki-Lin. You don’t know what might happen if you continue to stall.”

“…I do not want to marry you. That is my decision.”

A heavy silence hung in the room. The advisors were exchanging glances, and a few were whispering to each other.

“I see. Well, if that is your decision, I accept it. I’m glad you were able to tell me your feelings this time.” Jiang stood up. “We will take our leave now. I wish you luck in the future, my dear Ki-Lin.” He bowed, and left the room, his advisors closely following.

All of Ki-Lin’s advisors were staring at her now. One spoke up. “My lady, I apologize if I’m too forward, but…why have you chosen this? You know your country is in danger now.”

“I said I wouldn’t marry him.” Ki-Lin said, defiantly. “It doesn’t mean I won’t try to make an alliance with him.”

“He might consider your refusal a hostile act.” another advisor said. “I honestly believe you should reconsider you decision.”

“I believe all of you are overreacting.” Ki-Lin stood up. “Please calm down. If you are worried about my future, trust me, I will marry someday. I will contact Lord Jiang after he returns to his home with a request for alliance.”

(Pretty sure the chapter would’ve gone on for a bit more here, but I don’t remember now. Basically Jiang would’ve had troops already situated at the border in case of Ki-Lin’s decline of his proposal, and he invades. A war breaks out, and Jiang’s troops end up outside of the capital…)

Afterlife: Second Tale – Chapter 5

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