Goosebumps erupted all over my body.
Those assassins couldn’t have come after me, but I happened to be in the same room and the same bed with the emperor.
Should I run and hide in a side room I thought.
They would still find me if I ran away.
On the other hand, things would end up worse if I became a hostage. The emperor might cut me down along with the assassin.
I covered myself with a blanket and tried to sneak away from the fight.
A tremendous force grabbed me and pressed down on my neck.
I tried to scream, but could feel only a pain in my throat as any sound I made remained silenced.
The assassin, whose arm had been cut off, had taken hold of me. How is he still alive I thought as I panicked.
I fell back on the bed as the assassin continued to choke the life out of me.
The sounds of my struggle were undetected by the clash of the emperor’s sword and another assassin’s dagger striking each other in combat.
I gagged at the metallic smell of blood flowing out of my attacker’s severed arm, as he held me down with his remaining hand.
Help me! Panic was overtaking me.
I wildly scratched at my attacker’s hand and arm, desperate to break the choking hold he had on me. Let me go! I can’t breathe! I don’t want to die! Try as might, I couldn’t break the grip.
It was if the assassin had thrust a stake into my neck that was permanently attached to his arm.
The last year of my life flashed in front of my eyes.
I’ve been living comfortably and happily here.
It was better than being a standard slave.
Why was I so emotional that this was the end; death by a simple assassin I don’t want to die like this, I thought. I’ll only die happy if the emperor kills me, just like in the novel.
I believed in reincarnation, but it didn’t mean that I wasn’t afraid of dying.
Especially in this situation. I can’t die yet! I haven’t met the heroine of the novel.
I need to see them in a relationship. It shocked me that my final thoughts were on the books.
Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen that was making me irrational.
As I struggled, my gaze locked with my killer’s.
His wild eyes were familiar.
I had seen them before, the joy of pain reflected in them.
A terrible memory flashed through my mind.
The memory of the night when I lost my voice.
It had been the last night of October.
The evening lacked moonlight and covered the earth in pure darkness.
After being violently overpowered by burly servants, my captor forced me to drink a liquid from a small, silver bottle.
The flask, about as big as two fingers, contained a poison that melted everything in its path.
I could see the vial flickering red, reflecting the torch light and pulsating as if it wanted my blood.
My face was ghostly pale as I begged the man while trembling with fear.
Please, don’t do this, young master!”
The aristocrat was grinning in glee, a demon with a painted smile.
“Iona, your voice is mine forever!” he cackled.
Then he poured the poison into my mouth with a laugh.
The pain was unimaginable as the liquid burned through the linings of my throat and stomach.
Above me now, the demon’s face and the assassin’s face had become one. No! Not again! I screamed in silence.
Blackness was penetrating every corner of my body, as my life force drained away.
I struggled, weaker and weaker, though the assassin’s grip never wavered.
My vision began to blur.
My final thoughts were of Iona’s family and Ji-Hye Lee’s friends, but none of them were there to help me.
In my mind I called one final name. Ridrian!
A miracle must have allowed him to hear me, as the emperor appeared that instant, cutting the throat of the assassin holding me.
The killer’s grip released and precious air returned to my lungs with a dull hiss.
The emperor pushed the corpse away from my body and it rolled across the floor.
I began to cough uncontrollably as the oxygen flowed into my now unobstructed windpipe.
I took heavy, gulping breaths as I slowly revived.
When my lungs were given their fill, I managed to support my trembling body and look up.
The emperor’s face was horrendous.
He had an expression of relief, but his eyes were glowing red.
They had a pupil like a snake’s and stared right into me, as the emperor stood there shaking.
The emperor gave off an unpleasant aura which chilled me to the bone.
It felt like he was considering taking my life with the Lotuboru he held.
I placed my trembling hand on the hand holding the sword.
I desperately needed to feel his warmth and prove to myself that I was still alive.
He didn’t shake me off and took my hand in his.
As his heat permeated my fingertips, my frozen body felt like it was melting.
His energy comforted me, and tears began to fall.
I hurriedly wiped them away and looked once more at the emperor.
He looked back for a moment, then dropped his sword on the carpet and swept me up in his embrace.
The fallen weapon turned into fog and disappeared.
“Liliana,” was all he said.