â€śAll you need to do is beat the other women for his affection and stab him with this once youâ€™re completely alone.â€ť Seker remembered the words of her Master as he handed her the sharp, enchanted blade. â€śRemember, he is a demon and can snap your neck before you can blink, you must be close, you must be fast.â€ť
She stood there now, feeling slightly exposed in the outfit the Emperorâ€™s handmaidens had chosen for her. It wasnâ€™t that it was uncomfortable or that she was embarrassed, it was just it had been hard to find a place to hide the dagger. She had chosen her thigh after much deliberation. She looked down the line of women. Some of them looked excited, others nervous, and a few looked like they thought the world revolved around them, like they would easily entice the Emperor. Seker had to admit that there were many beautiful women here and if the Emperor cared only for oneâ€™s outward appearance then choosing a new wife should be easy.
She looked around the room, taking in the armed and armored guards, especially the woman standing to the right of the throne. She wore a pair of grappling gloves with metal on the knuckle. She was a pugilist and was probably much faster than the others. A voice pulled at her attention and she realized it was announcing the arrival of her target. Emperor Themis Orunmila came striding through the room, his eyes focused straight ahead and seeming not to notice the women. Then he paused in front of her, his nose flaring, his eyes locking with hers. Her heart jumped and for a moment she wondered if he knew, but he turned his gaze away and continued on to his throne.
It was odd to her a supposedly lecherous man paid so little mind to the scantily dressed women in the room. She had always had a mind of her own. Just because her master thought a certain thing didnâ€™t make it true and it definitely struck her odd he had only stopped to look at her. Even as he sat he seemed disinterested beyond his occasional glance her way. She decided he could just have a very specific type and she could fit the bill. She didnâ€™t want to kill an innocent man though so at the same time she now wanted some verification what her master thought of this emperor was true.
She tried to keep her eyes facing away from him as the man who had announced the Emperor began talking to her and the other women. He repeated what she had heard upon being chosen, that the Emperor was looking for a wife, that if they were lucky they would have the honor of marrying him. He even pointed out that those who were not chosen, wouldnâ€™t leave empty handed. She could see Themis watching her out of the corner of her eye, but she acted like he wasnâ€™t there. She had to act the part and get him alone. The man ended his speech by letting them know that today would be spent with them mingling and getting to know Themis. â€śWe have prepared a large banquet for all of you as a way to celebrate our Emperor choosing a new wife. Please follow me and if you should have any questions, donâ€™t be afraid to speak up. Your comfort is important to us.â€ť
The man nodded to Themis and he nodded back. Seker knew what this really was. It was a way for them to weed out those they didnâ€™t deem good enough for the Emperor. Seker wondered what his type was. She had been told he had an entire harem, so she guessed he was into those who could be easily broken. As the women started to shuffle out, she couldnâ€™t help but look at him. He was speaking to the woman next to him and when they both looked at her, she shifted her gaze away. She told herself not to worry. If they knew, they would have done something by now.
Once the women had left the room his right hand woman said â€śIâ€™m glad thereâ€™s actually a woman here you like so much. I was worried since youâ€™re still healing from the loss of your wife.â€ť
â€śIts almost not fair to do this when my heart still so belongs to my departed wife but maybe with her I can learn to love again. She actually stirred my heart when I saw her and I wasnâ€™t sure it would ever be able to react to a woman againâ€ť
â€śKeep in mind Cora would be happy youâ€™re doing this. Anyone who knows you knows youâ€™ll always have a place in your heart for Cora but you can love again and that will be completely okay. Cora was not the kind of woman who would want you to spend your life aloneâ€ť
â€śIâ€™m just hoping the one woman I am interested in does have a desire to be with me. Didnâ€™t she seem uncomfortableâ€ť
â€śif sheâ€™s here sheâ€™d have to want to be unless maybe she had pressure from her family. You can get to the bottom of that and even so you could probably get her to fall for you anywayâ€ť He almost laughed â€śthanks, I dont know how Iâ€™d do this without a friend like you. With the pressure Iâ€™ve gotten to chose a new wife I feel like nobody understands how much I loved Coraâ€ť
â€śItâ€™s not that, people are just weird and expect the emperor to be married. They just think it makes you look weakâ€ť
â€śNothing makes you stronger than loveâ€ť
â€śYes, say those things when youâ€™re talking to that girl. Most girls love mushâ€ť
â€śI highly doubt she wants to talk about my departed wifeâ€ť
â€śYou never knowâ€ť
â€śTell me more of what you thought of her at first glanceâ€ť
â€śShe seems intelligent and she holds herself like a woman raised to fight which is definitely something I can respect. I really donâ€™t see her as a woman here against her will or because of pressure from her familyâ€ť
â€śThereâ€™s something about her scent though.â€ť
She wagged her finger in front of his face. â€śItâ€™s rude to smell a lady on the first date.â€ť
He chuckled. â€śYou know I canâ€™t help it, instincts and all that.â€ť
â€śI guess I can give you a pass then.â€ť She rested a hand on his shoulder. â€śYou can do this boss, just donâ€™t make it too obvious. Pretend some of the others are interesting.â€ť
â€śI have dated before.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re rusty so trust me.â€ť
â€śThank you, Iâ€™ll take it slow.â€ť
â€śFor now at least. A woman like that must have a wild side.â€ť
â€śOh?â€ť since there were no outsiders around she hit him â€śpervertâ€ť Taenya said with a laugh. He chuckled with her and she was glad he could have even had a thought like that for a moment. She meant it when she told him she didnâ€™t think Cora would want him alone, she had loved Themis too much. â€śI do hope sheâ€™s an adventurous sort of womanâ€ť
â€śYouâ€™ll get to know her soonâ€ť Themis excused himself before he followed the group of women in there and sat with the woman who had caught his eye. Taenya was right, even though she was here as a possible bride he shouldnâ€™t show just how interested he was in her yet, it would make most women uncomfortable.
Seker moved among the women, a drink in her hand as she surveyed the room. She didnâ€™t see Themis among them and she changed directions, heading over to the man who had brought them into this room. He smiled warmly at her when she approached and took her hand when she offered it. â€śSeker, right?â€ť He said.
â€śYes, and I didnâ€™t catch your name.â€ť
â€śMay I ask where the Emperor is, Rhesus?â€ť He released her hand and gave her a nod.
â€śHeâ€™ll be here soon. He asked that you all have time to get to know each other before he came in.â€ť He gestured toward the other women. â€śYou are competing, but you are not enemies.â€ť
â€śI see, I hope my question wasnâ€™t too forward.â€ť
He chuckled. â€śNot at all, so please, enjoy yourself. Our home is your home.â€ť
She was tempted to keep to herself, to just lean against the wall and wait but that would make her stand out too much. She couldnâ€™t see a single other woman doing that and while she wanted to be picked she didnâ€™t want to stand out so much they suspected her of wanting to do anything else besides become his new wife. She scanned the room and went with her gut on who she might get on best with. The woman wasnâ€™t as interesting as she had hoped but it killed time until he finally entered. All the women eagerly looked toward him so she could comfortably look him over, searching for anything she should worry about.
â€śI hope you have all been enjoying yourselves.â€ť Themis said with a smile. â€śI know this is all a little overwhelming, but hopefully youâ€™ll feel comfortable here for the time being.â€ť He gestured around him. â€śFor now, consider this place your home.â€ť He let his eyes sweep over them and they settled on Seker who forced herself to hold his gaze. She was relieved when he finally looked away. â€śYou will all be given fair treatment here, youâ€™ll all have a chance to get to know me.â€ť
â€śAnd how will you be choosing?â€ť One of the women asked. â€śI mean, it shouldnâ€™t be that hard right?â€ť
â€śThis is not something I am taking lightly, itâ€™s an important decision, one that will not only effect me, but my entire kingdom. Someone who thinks they are better than others, is not the kind of person I am looking for.â€ť The womanâ€™s face flushed with embarrassment. â€śNow, please continue and I will come around so you can introduce yourselves.â€ť
Seker couldnâ€™t ignore that nagging feeling within her that something was amiss. She knew not every sleaze was obvious but he just seemed so genuine. There really wasnâ€™t anybody in this room he truly needed to put on an act for, none of them would have batted an eye if he went for purely looks so he must actually care about who the woman was at his side. If he had twenty or so stashed somewhere it wouldnâ€™t really matter. She wasnâ€™t quite ready to dismiss her mission yet though, the feeling was just nagging at her more.
Seker continued talking to the disappointing woman she had been speaking to before until Seker made his way to her. The blonde coudl barely hold in her delight â€śItâ€™s so amazing to meet you!â€ť she gushed. Themis had been ready to talk to Seker, had been since he entered but he was following Taenyaâ€™s advice. He had made himself talk to others before approaching her. He contained his sigh and gave his time to one more woman before talking to the one he really wanted to know more about.
â€śSo, Seker, correct?â€ť He asked once he had finished his conversation with the other woman. She held out her hand and he took it gently in his.
â€śEmperor.â€ť She couldnâ€™t help but be amazed at how tall he was and how beautiful he really was this close. He wore power like a second skin, yet there was something surprisingly gentle about him. Was it all a trick?
â€śCall me Themis, please, if we should marry, thereâ€™s no point in us not being on a first name basis.â€ť
She couldnâ€™t help but smile at him. â€śIâ€™m surprised you remember all of our names.â€ť
â€śI wouldnâ€™t be a good Emperor if I didnâ€™t have a good memory.â€ť He realized he was still holding her hand and released it. â€śApologies.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s fine, really.â€ť
He chuckled. â€śI couldnâ€™t help but notice your hand though, rough skin, from a sword Iâ€™m guessing.â€ť
He heart jumped in her chest. â€śUh, wellâ€¦â€ť
â€śIâ€™m amazed. Perhaps you could demonstrate later?â€ť
â€śUhâ€¦â€ť she didnâ€™t know why she was so suddenly so hesitant. Itâ€™s not like he had cornered her, like he had smelled her out or something.
â€śI mean for everyone, not anything private.â€ť He cleared his throat. â€śYou could maybe fight Taenya, though sheâ€™s not into using swords.â€ť
If she wasnâ€™t here to kill him, the thought of going hand to hand with Taenya would be exciting but she was hiding a dagger and the cards probably held a non friendly fight for them anyway if she didnâ€™t do this sneakily enough and get out of town. If it should fall off of her there was no explaining it, they had been told they couldnâ€™t have weapons. Instead of directly answering she asked â€śdoes she just box in general or is her skill specializedâ€ť Why pass up an opportunity to learn about a woman she may have to fight to escape once her job was done.
â€śShe doesnâ€™t have a special fighting style but sheâ€™s the best Iâ€™ve seen, beyond being a friend of mine now thatâ€™s why she is often at my sideâ€ť
â€śwhere is she now?â€ť
â€śI assume taking a much deserved rest somewhere.â€ť she wondered if maybe Taenya was checking on his captives, making sure they didnâ€™t escape and join this little party.
â€śMaybe after getting settled into my room.â€ť That way she could hide the weapon. She didnâ€™t like the idea of leaving it, but until she got a moment alone with Themis, she wasnâ€™t going to be able to use it.
â€śOf course. I hope it wasnâ€™t too forward of me to ask. Taenya would tell me to slow down.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t mind.â€ť She gestured to the sword at his hip. â€śThat oneâ€™s quite beautiful.â€ť
â€śIt was a gift.â€ť
â€śOf course.â€ť He unsheathed the sword and held it out to her. She traded her drink and took to admiring the blade. â€śItâ€™s sharp.â€ť
â€śI can see that.â€ť She smiled and his heart danced. He knew he was being rude to the others, but he couldnâ€™t help but linger with Seker. â€śIâ€™ve never seen anything like it, thank you.â€ť She held it out to him and he allowed his fingers to brush hers. He watched her cheeks flush, delighting in the reaction.
â€śYouâ€™re very welcome.â€ť
â€śSo what now?â€ť Seker asked as they traded drink and sword. Her heart was beating far too fast. He had an obvious effect on her and she mentally reprimanded herself.
â€śYou get settled in and I talk to Rhesus about who stays and who goes.â€ť He answered honestly.
â€śI see,â€ť she dropped her voice and he leaned closer to hear her, â€śam I staying?â€ť
He chuckled. â€śIâ€™m not supposed to tell you, youâ€™ll just have to wait and see.â€ť
He was smiling too much and too genuinely for her to be leaving so she relaxed as he moved on from her. She hoped her attraction to him wasnâ€™t clouding her judgement. Most importantly, she hoped she had resolve on weather he was innocent of the accusation or truly a terrible man in need of ending. Seker sought out another woman to distract her so she wouldnâ€™t stare at him and this one was a much better choice.
She began telling Seker about her family, mainly her father. He had apparently done a lot of traveling before settling down and Seker found the stories his daughter retold absolutely fascinating. It wasnâ€™t too much longer before they were excused and shown to where theyâ€™d be staying if they made the cut â€śfinallyâ€ť she thought to herself. She wasnâ€™t here to make new friends or socialize, she was here for her job or to warn Themis beings were spreading falsehoods about him in order to get him killed. Sheâ€™d hate admitting why she was there but she would, no matter what that might mean for her.
â€śSo?â€ť Taenya asked as she came up behind Themis.
â€śDid you get to meet your future wife?â€ť
He arched an eyebrow. â€śWhere were you?â€ť
â€śDoing my job and making sure everything was secure. You know I barely stopped the last assassin that broke in here.â€ť
â€śNot that you had to, I could have taken care of it.â€ť
Taenya rolled her eyes. â€śThat would be boring.â€ť She waved off the idea. â€śAnyway, how was she? Whenâ€™t the wedding?â€ť
â€śYou told me to take it slow.â€ť
â€śAnd did you?â€ť
â€śFor the most part, yes. I asked her if she wouldnâ€™t mind fighting you in front of everyone.â€ť
Taenya started laughing and he looked away embarrassed. â€śSo romantic.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll make it up to her, I just didnâ€™t know what else to say.â€ť
She patted his back. â€śItâ€™s sweet how much you already like her.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s crazy you mean.â€ť
â€śLove is supposed to be crazy.â€ť
â€śAnd Iâ€™m trying to be fair to everyone.â€ť He sighed. â€śCanâ€™t I just kick the others out and follow my instincts?â€ť
â€śBe nice, instincts are for later.â€ť She winked and he shook his head.
Themis hadnâ€™t kept many of the other girls around, not wanting to raise too much false hope. He kept just enough to keep with his plan of not being too obvious about his focus being on Seker. The first thing Seker did in her room was find a place for her weapon. Simply putting it under her pillow or mattress wouldnâ€™t do. For all she knew he would have beings searching their rooms when they werent in them. On a job like this it was better to be paranoid. She needed to stay ahead of her hosts.
She wished she had her own bathroom, there were always good hiding places in bathrooms but this was just a room, nothing attached. There was however two paintings in her room. If she could get it to stay behind one of them it would be perfect. Even if he had servants invade their belongings for information they wouldnâ€™t check her room that thoroughly unless they suspected her.
She was relieved when it stayed lodged behind the second one and she backed up, examining it. Nothing looked out of place and it wouldnâ€™t be noticed unless someone actually moved the painting. She then took in the room, checking all the exits in case she had to escape from here. She could scale the outer wall if she had to and she had see that the hall where her room was located was long and she would have quite the run if she had to leave that way. A tap on her door made her heart jump and she froze. â€śWho is it?â€ť She called out.
â€śJane maâ€™am, one of the maids.â€ť
She crossed over to the door and pulled it open, getting a smile from the woman on the other side. â€śIs something wrong?â€ť
â€śNo maâ€™am. Rhesus asked that myself and the others inform you ladies that Themis will start spending time with you all individually tomorrow. Rhesus plans everything, so he wants to know what things you would like to do for your day.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s really just going to be us?â€ť
â€śYes maâ€™am. Oh and also, about your match with Taenya, Rhesus believes it would be fun to have you do so during dinner tomorrow night, as a form of entertainment.â€ť
â€śThat sounds perfect and do you think Themis would be opposed to just showing me his home? Iâ€™ve heard this place has a lot of secrets since itâ€™s so old.â€ť In truth, she simply wanted to see if there really was a harem and it was a bonus if she could get him alone in a room.
Seker was left alone until she was escorted to dinner where she took it as a good sign she was the nearest woman to Themis. She was sure he had picked where theyâ€™d sit since she was directed to a certain spot. He spoke to her frequently over dinner but made sure he was talking to the other women as well. Seker hadnâ€™t been surprised Taenya was at the table but it did surprise her the woman talked to her as much as she did. She hoped it was out of true interest and not suspicion. Just before they left Taenya told Seker â€śIâ€™m eager for our matchâ€ť Seker found herself more eager as well, especially since she had a good place to stash her weapon. Though, she did hold some hope she could dress in something a little more her in the following days.
Themis found it hard to leave Seker when they all had to get ready for bed and took more time telling her goodnight, hoping the other women didnâ€™t notice his growing affection for her. Seker couldnâ€™t help but find it a little adorable when he glanced around before taking her hand and bringing it to his lips. She knew demons, as a rule, were supposed to be scary, but with him she couldnâ€™t see it. â€śThemis?â€ť
His eyes locked with hers and she swallowed then sighed. â€śDo you think you could maybe get me some clothes that are more comfortable?â€ť
He smiled, then let out a little chuckle. He didnâ€™t know what he had expected her to say. He found himself hanging onto every word she said. â€śOf course, Iâ€™ll talk to Taenya about you borrowing some of hers.â€ť
â€śThank you, sorry to ask.â€ť
â€śYou deserve to be comfortable.â€ť He released her hand. â€śGood night.â€ť
They parted, Seker heading to her room while Themis was intercepted by Taenya who couldnâ€™t help but tease him. He just smiled as he went up to his room. Seker couldnâ€™t sleep that night, her mind too busy trying to work everything out.
In the morning she was leaning more towards he was innocent of what he was accused of than she had this entire visit. He just gave off absolutely nothing that he was some bastard forcing himself on women. There were good actors but could someone really be THAT good. She was brought out of her head when she was summoned for breakfast, there she found out heâ€™d be spending time with one of the other women today, her day would be tomorrow. That was about all Themis could stand. He wanted to pretend to care about the other women but he needed more time with Seker so heâ€™d see one other to make him not look so eager but one day was all he could wait.
As she was leaving breakfast Taenya walked over to her â€śI hear you want to borrow some clothesâ€ť
â€ścome with me then, I wanted to hangout with you anyway if youâ€™re not opposed. You can even change in my room, I dont peg you as too shy to change in front of a womanâ€ť
â€śThank youâ€ť relief swept through Seker her weapon wasnâ€™t on her.
â€śSo,â€ť Taenya asked as she handed Seker a couple of pairs of clothes then sat on her bed, â€śwhat do you think of Themis?â€ť
â€śHeâ€™s certainly not what I thought heâ€™d be.â€ť
Taenya laughed. â€śHeâ€™s such a teddy bear.â€ť
â€śYou wouldnâ€™t know it, but these last five years have been hard for him.â€ť
Seker pulled off the clothes she had been given by the maids and reached for the pants Taenay had given her. They fit snug, but were soft and flexible. â€śWhy is that?â€ť
She sighed. â€śIf he doesnâ€™t mention why to you tomorrow, then Iâ€™ll tell you.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s fair.â€ť She pulled the top on and looked up at Taenya. â€śSo, any good?â€ť
â€śThemis is going to faint.â€ť
â€śIs that good?â€ť
â€śDefinitely, so keep them, they suit you.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s nothing.â€ť She stood and stretched. â€śHe likes you.â€ť
â€śWe hardly know each other.â€ť
Taenya shrugged. â€śItâ€™s instinct, at least thatâ€™s what he says. Demons just know and itâ€™s in the way he looks at you, the way he smiles.â€ť She walked over and rested her hands on Sekerâ€™s shoulders. â€śI want to thank you for giving that back to him.â€ť
Seker felt a guilty tug on her heart. This kind woman she was getting to know would cut her throat if she knew the real reason she was here. Just the way she was speaking of Themis had her believing even more this might have been a set up, that Themis was innocent. â€śHeâ€™s an emperor, he must have many more reasons to smile beyond meâ€ť
â€śHeâ€™s not much for material things. Like I said, Iâ€™ll explain if he doesnâ€™t tomorrow. I want to at least give him the chance to tell you first. He hasnâ€™t gotten much time with you yetâ€ť
â€śwell, what would you like to do before we end up fighting tonightâ€ť
â€śHow comfortable are you fighting with your fists? We can practice a bit first. Themis mentioned you seem to use swordsâ€ť
â€śOh Iâ€™m comfortable, you donâ€™t have to practice with meâ€ť
â€śAre you sure, I donâ€™t mind a little warm up.â€ť
Seker smiled, actually enjoying Themisâ€™s bodyguard. â€śAlright, sounds fun.â€ť She looked around the room. â€śHere or somewhere specific?â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re going to love this.â€ť She hooked her arm around Sekerâ€™s and pulled her out of the room. â€śWhen Themis hired me, I was competing in the ring, so he had an entire room converted into a sparring arena because he liked it so much. He used to host fights beforeâ€¦before. Anyway, itâ€™s amazing.â€ť
â€śHe seems like the type who goes big or not at all.â€ť
Taenya laughed. â€śHe really is.â€ť She let out a sigh. â€śDonâ€™t tell him I told you this, but I really hope he picks you.â€ť
She was just heaping on the guilt, though, of course, she didnâ€™t know it. It seemed everybody trusted her and honestly, people with secrets like that probably wouldnâ€™t be this trusting. The room Seker was lead to was more impressive than she had even expected. â€śIts perfect isnâ€™t it?â€ť
â€śyeahâ€ť Taenya tugged Seker into the center â€śI want you to watch me do a few things while I talk you through what Iâ€™m doing. Up close to me is better, I swear I wont accidentally hit youâ€ť
â€śI can tell you have good control. Iâ€™m not worriedâ€ť That earned her a smile from Taenya and soon Taneya was giving her lessons. Beyond lunch and a few rests all the two women did until it was time for their match was practice. It had been incredibly fun. Seker blushed at the thought of how much sheâ€™d enjoy living here and spending time with Taenya and Themis all the time. The voice in her head said â€śPlease dont be wrong about the emperor and pleaseâ€¦whatever god might be listeningâ€¦help them understand and not hate meâ€ť
Themis couldnâ€™t help but stare at Seker when he and the other women walked into the arena room. He was so taken with her that he didnâ€™t realize he was ignoring one of the women until they actually tapped on his arm. â€śHmm? Sorry, yes?â€ť
â€śI didnâ€™t think you were one for fighting.â€ť She repeated.
â€śThis place used to get a lot of use actually, just not in the last few years. Taenya is the reigning champion.â€ť
â€śAnd that Seker woman, she seems very at home in here.â€ť
â€śYes she does, sheâ€™s a warrior. Iâ€™m excited to see how well she does.â€ť
He caught Sekerâ€™s gaze as they sat down and he smiled, causing her to blush and look away. Taenya chuckled and slapped her on the back. â€śRemember, weâ€™re performing for your future husband, so we should probably give them a show.â€ť She said just loud enough that only Seker could hear.
â€śTaenya.â€ť She responded, getting a laugh.
â€śWhat, we have to show him why youâ€™re the best.â€ť
Themis was originally just happy to have an excuse to watch her but as the women fought he grew incredibly impressed. It was obvious this wasnâ€™t her preferred way to fight but she was still holding her own against Taenya. They had a few friendly matches then called it quits. Mostly because Taenya didnâ€™t want Seker achy during her time with Themis tomorrow. Later that evening Themis knocked on Taenyas door â€śThemis, wrong room?â€ť she teased. He laughed â€śyou two spent the day together?â€ť
â€śyeah, I really like her. Iâ€™d enjoy her sticking aroundâ€ť
â€śsheâ€™s still the only woman here I wantâ€ť he said in a much softer tone, just incase another woman was up. He had incredibly senses but Themis wanted to be careful. â€śyou should talk to her about your previous wife tomorrow. I know that seems like strange advice but trust meâ€ť
â€śI just donâ€™t want her to think Iâ€™m trying to find a replacement.â€ť
Taenya laughed and punched him in the shoulder. â€śYouâ€™re an idiot. Neither Seker nor Cora would think such a thing, so tell her or I will. If you want her then she needs to know why youâ€™re doing all this.â€ť
Themis sighed. â€śI know youâ€™re right, Iâ€™ll tell her.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t know what Iâ€™d do without your constant pushing.â€ť
Themis chuckled. â€śTrue, thank you.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re very welcome my liege.â€ť
Themis went straight to his room, eager for tomorrow. As he settled into bed it sunk in that he was actually eager for the next day. That was something he hadnâ€™t felt since his departed wife. Though he went to sleep easily he woke up throughout the night, each time hoping it was morning. It was hard not to look as excited as he was about spending the day with her when they began their tour. He brought himself down by reminding himself he needed to talk to her about Cora.The tour was slow, him telling her everything he could about each room of his home. They had the day and even at a slow pace they could get through the whole thing today.
â€śIâ€™m surprised you donâ€™t have any guards with you.â€ť Seker said as he guided her up a flight of steps.
â€śThereâ€™s no reason, I can handle most things on my own, itâ€™s just that Taenya is protective.â€ť
â€śI see.â€ť He pushed open and door and she found herself standing on the castle wall. â€śWow.â€ť She moved over to the edge and looked out over the country side that flanked his home.
â€śYou like it?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s beautiful.â€ť She looked up at him and he smiled, making the guilt come back. â€śThemis?â€ť
He held up his hand. â€śCould you wait a moment?â€ť He sighed. â€śThereâ€™s something I need to tell you, the reason why Iâ€™ve brought all of you here.â€ť
Seker nodded. â€śOkay, tell me.â€ť
â€śThe truthâ€¦the truth isâ€¦â€ť
Seker was surprised he looked so worried and she found herself reaching out and taking his hands in hers. He squeezed them, giving her a small smile. â€śYou can tell me.â€ť
â€śThe truth is that I was married before this to a woman named Cora. We were together for a long time, butâ€¦five years ago she passed away.â€ť
â€śYes and I wasnâ€™t planning on remarrying, but Rhesus and many others said that it was important to the kingdom to have someone by my side. Even so, I think they just want me to find happiness. I feel that Taenya was ready to drag me out of this place and force me to find someone.â€ť He chuckled. â€śSheâ€™s stubborn, so I had this whole thing put together.â€ť He sighed. â€śI wasnâ€™t going to move on, I didnâ€™t want anyone else, butâ€¦â€ť
â€śI met you.â€ť
She swallowed, feeling a twist of pain in her chest as she pulled away from him. â€śThemis.â€ť
â€śWhatâ€™s wrong? Have I done something?â€ť
â€śNo, youâ€™ve been amazing, more amazing than I thought you would be. Youâ€™ve made every moment so perfect, so much so that Iâ€¦â€ť She didnâ€™t want to tell him, but she knew he would find out eventually. â€śThemis, Iâ€™mâ€¦â€ť She bent down and reached into her boot, withdrawing the dagger and holding it up. â€śIâ€™m an assassin.â€ť
He looked at the dagger and then back at her. â€śAn assassin?â€ť
â€śYes, I was supposed to kill you, but I canâ€™t.â€ť
Seker couldnâ€™t tell how he felt â€śand why canâ€™t you?â€ť
â€śbecause youâ€™re so amazing, nothing like I was told. The man who sent me here said you had a harem here and it was against their will. I donâ€™t know if the fact I thought you were a terrible person or the fact I wanted to find out for myself first if it were true matters butâ€¦please donâ€™t hate meâ€¦Iâ€¦I know I dont deserve to stay but I like you and Taenya so much. Iâ€¦could see myself staying here with youâ€ť her final words even shocked her a little as she held back tears. He didnâ€™t immedietly say anything so she added â€śyou can kill me if you want, I wont do anything about itâ€ť
He reached out and she flinched but he took her face in his hand gently â€śI knew there was something off with you. I was worried you hadnâ€™t wanted to come here. I do care that you didnâ€™t just try to kill me and I love hearing you could see yourself being with me. I have no reason not to trust your words, if you were going to kill me you could have just waited for your chance. Who knows, I might be a fool but I love you, Taenya loves you. I still want you but I do need to know who sent youâ€ť
â€śIâ€™m not surprised, he wants my kingdom the most. He has sent more than one assassin after me.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sorry, Themis.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s okay, you didnâ€™t know.â€ť
â€śMy master was handed the contract by one of his men and then he passed it off to me. Weâ€™re not bad people.â€ť
â€śI know.â€ť He leaned down so their faces were closer. â€śIâ€™m not mad at you, Iâ€™m just sorry you were pulled into Alcyoneusâ€™s game.â€ť
â€śWhat are you going to do?â€ť
â€śI want you to tell your master the truth about me, let him settle things with Alcyoneus. Then, if youâ€™ll have meâ€¦â€ť
â€śYou really want me to stay?â€ť
â€śI need you to stay, I mean it when I say I love you.â€ť
â€śYou can really still love meâ€ť her voice was in absolute disbelief. â€śYou didnâ€™t actually try to take my life. You came, you observed then you made the right call to disobey your orders. I can forgive you coming here under false pretenses and Iâ€™m sure Taenya will too so donâ€™t worry. She may even admire you just because she didnâ€™t realize you were a threat. Iâ€™ll send the other women home, Iâ€™ve made my choice and Iâ€™d give anything to kiss you right nowâ€ť Seker moved into him and he kissed her with more passion than she had been expecting.
His breath was shakey as he pulled back â€śIâ€™m sorry if that was too much. It can be hard for us demons to hold backâ€ť Seker hugged him and he hugged her back â€śInstead of taking my life youâ€™ve rejuvenated it. I never thought Iâ€™d feel whole again Seker. In a way, Iâ€™m glad people are still after me this way, it lead you to me and I needed youâ€ť
â€śI love you, Themis.â€ť She looked up at him. â€śWhat now?â€ť
â€śYou marry me and I spend forever making you happy.â€ť He rubbed their noses together and Seker blushed. â€śWill you marry me, Seker?â€ť
â€śYes, once everything is settled with my master.â€ť
â€śWould you like me to accompany you?â€ť
â€śYou donâ€™t have to, he wonâ€™t hurt me or anything. Heâ€™s a good man.â€ť
â€śLet me, I donâ€™t want you going to him alone.â€ť He let his lips brush herâ€™s. â€śI would feel better.â€ť
Her skin grew hotter at how sweet and affectionate he was being. â€śOkay.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™ll have to bring Taenya too. Sheâ€™d kill me if I walked into a den of assassins without her.â€ť
Seker was nervous for Taenya to learn the truth but she took it well â€śIâ€™m glad you changed your mind. Iâ€™d have hated for us to be enemies. I have to say Iâ€™m even more glad you two are getting married, enough with this farce. Lets send the other women home Themis, you have your brideâ€ť
â€śfarce?â€ť Seker asked and Themis said â€śI knew you were who I wanted the moment I saw youâ€ť Seker blushed as her heart stuttered. â€śHe was trying not to come on too strong but I figured that was out the window given how easily he forgave you for coming to kill him. I mostly can because damn, I cant believe I didnt suspect it.â€ť she was impressed, just as Themis thought sheâ€™d be.
â€śI want to get going and have Rhesus tell the women but they deserve to hear it from meâ€ť
The other women were understandably upset and confused and Themis did his best to apologize and asked that they forgive him. He held her hand the whole time as he explained his choice and Seker was relieved when no one made a scene. Themis turned and hugged her once the women had been lead away by Rhesus then bent down and kissed her. â€śI hope you donâ€™t think me too terrible.â€ť He said once he pulled back.
â€śNot at all, you werenâ€™t being mean or anything and they seemed to understand.â€ť
â€śYou two are far too cute together.â€ť Taenya said, causing Seker to blush and Themis to let out an amused chuckle.
â€śIsnâ€™t she perfect?â€ť Themis asked. â€śAnd much shyer than I thought she would be.â€ť He teased.
â€śItâ€™s not my fault, youâ€™re kind of intense.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sorry, Iâ€™ll try to tone it down, I just canâ€™t help myself.â€ť He gave her another quick kiss. â€śWe should get going, my love.â€ť
â€śyeahâ€ť It wasnâ€™t much longer before Seker, Themis and Taenya were out of the castle and on their way on horseback. Themis rode in the center while the girls rode at his sides. â€śso, I have to know, when did you start doubting your mission Seker?â€ť Taenya asked, causing a bit of embarrassment to flood back into Seker. â€śpretty soon actually, he just didnâ€™t seem like what had been described. I guess my gut was telling me more than anything. I guess I go into all jobs curious though because like now, sometimes the information weâ€™re fed is false. People with grudges or simple greed in their hearts can often make things upâ€¦Iâ€™m glad I realized you were innocent Themisâ€ť she had been answering Taenya at first but she ended looking at her now fiance.
â€śMe too, though I was taken with you, you probably could have killed me and I wouldnâ€™t have bat an eye.â€ť
â€śThemis.â€ť Taenya said with a laugh.
â€śIâ€™m sorry, but itâ€™s true.â€ť
â€śWhat am I going to do with you?â€ť She gave an exaggerated sigh. â€śAt least youâ€™re a demon.â€ť
â€śAnd now I have a beautiful assassin to watch my back when you canâ€™t.â€ť He reached over and took Sekerâ€™s hand, bringing it to his lips. He hated he had to let it go, but he received the desired effect of making her blush.
â€śSo how far is this place?â€ť Taenya asked.
â€śOutside the city. My master owns and old farmhouse, but itâ€™s just a cover. Our hideout is underneath it.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s smart, keeps your enemies from finding you.â€ť
â€śSome of my fellow assassins have families, so the more covert, the better.â€ť
â€śI hope they donâ€™t become angry with you for bringing usâ€ť
â€śTheyâ€™ll understand, they trust me. If I were a newer one theyâ€™d probably freak out but I feel like they all know they can trust my judgementâ€ť They managed to have a peaceful ride all the way there, only being confronted by anybody when they were nearing the farmhouse â€śSekerâ€¦whatâ€™s going on?â€ť a man who looked to be in his early forties asked as he came into view â€śI want to explain to our master and anybody who is currently here at the same timeâ€ť
He paused briefly â€śalright, I suppose if you trust them. I canâ€™t wait to hear this storyâ€ť They were guided into the farmhouse and shown to the trap door that lead to where the assassins often were. The next man who approached them was surprisingly large. Most assassins Themis had encountered just had incredible skill but this man was built more like a warrior. He had long, black hair that tumbled past his shoulders and his eyes reminded Themis of Prussian blue.
Tattoos traveled his body and his beard was beginning to grey. Themis was beginning to guess the mans height when he said â€śSeker, you have brought your target here instead of killing himâ€¦was the information untrue? Even so, why bring them here?â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sorry if me doing this has upset you Bialaer. Iâ€™ve found him to be innocent and I know that alone doesnâ€™t merrit me bringing strangers butâ€¦he was worried and wanted to meet youâ€¦weâ€™ve fallen in love and I greatly respect not only him but the woman with me, Taenyaâ€ť
â€śI was confused, not upset. I trust youâ€ť
â€śIf you need me to, I will make up for it.â€ť
Bialaer shook his head and rested his hand on her shoulder. Themis found the gesture surprisingly endearing for such a big man. â€śThe only ones making up anything, are going to be the people who lied to me.â€ť He then turned his gaze to Themis. â€śI must apologize for trying to take your life.â€ť He held out his hand and Themis shook it, feeling how strong this man truly was.
â€śNo one was hurt so no apologies are needed.â€ť
â€śI will warn you though, do not hurt her, I will come for you myself.â€ť
â€śBialaer.â€ť Seker said. â€śBe nice.â€ť
â€śHeâ€™s right, my love, I would deserve it and I donâ€™t think there would be anyone who could stop him from getting to me.â€ť
Bialaer nodded and released his hand. He then greeted Taenya and both Seker and Themis were surprised to see her flush. â€śNice to meet you.â€ť She said.
â€śYou too.â€ť He turned his attention back to Seker. â€śI hope you will be inviting us to the wedding.â€ť
â€śOf course, I wouldnâ€™t dream of leaving any of you out.â€ť Seker answered.
â€śGood and Iâ€™ll handle Alcyoneus.â€ť
â€śJust, be happy.â€ť
â€śso you donâ€™t mind me taking time off to be with Themis for awhile?â€ť
â€śof course not, there are plenty of assassins working here. If I really need you Iâ€™ll let you know so donâ€™t worryâ€ť Seker hugged Bialear which caused him to smile “you mustnâ€™t leave right away though, eat with us, allow us to know these two as well. They agreed to stay for lunch which turned out amusing for Themis. Taenya was definitely attracted to Bialear and he could tell the feeling was mutual. He was tempted to tease but he didnâ€™t want to rush anything and ruin something potentially good. They were adults and could handle that themselves. They may have hungout longer but Bialear was eager to deal with Alcyoneus so they said their goodbyes and parted ways right after lunch.
â€śYour master was very unexpected.â€ť Themis said once they were home.
She laughed, the sound causing his heart to stutter. â€śHe was a berserker before he was an assassin. He cut his way through bandits and soldiers, even fought a dragon once.â€ť
â€śAnd why choose to be an assassin?â€ť He took her hand, just wanting to be connected to her as they wandered around his home.
â€śBecause he realized that he was really good at being sneaky.â€ť
â€śNo one suspects the big guy who sticks out.â€ť
He chuckled. â€śI see. By sticking out, he blends in. Impressive.â€ť He brought her hand to his lips and pressed a kiss to her knuckles. â€śAnd what about you? Why do you do it?â€ť
â€śBecause Iâ€™m good at it and generally, I go after people who deserve it. Bialear says that our jobs may be unsavory, but weâ€™re needed.â€ť
â€śHeâ€™s right. There are things that the city guard canâ€™t do.â€ť He smiled. â€śAnd Taenya was quite taken with him. Iâ€™ve never seen her like that. I think he actually embarrassed her.â€ť
â€śThe old manâ€™s a good guy and honestly, Taenya is perfect for him.â€ť
Themis pulled her to a stop and wrapped his arms around her. â€śAnd what about me, am I perfect for you?â€ť
Seker couldnâ€™t help but smile at how unsure he sounded. It amazed her how he could be so confident and also be so unsure. â€śYou are, I love you.â€ť
Themis leaned down, his eyes adoring. â€śAnd I love you my beautiful little assassin.â€ť He pressed a kiss to her lips and Seker sank into his warmth, truly looking forward to life with him.