"Marry me," she pleaded, her voice laced with a sense of desperation. Kneeling before him, she perked her head up and watched where he sat, on the edge of the mattress. Beside him was one of his wasted concubines that he had likely devoured over the previous hours.
Watching them from behind her cloth-covered face, there was no change in her expression. She wanted it to bother her—him and the concubine—but for some inexplicable reason, it didn't. They had grown up together, surely no one could easily take her position in his heart.
He seemed to be deep in thought as he ran his hand over his bald head. Her heart, on the other hand, was beating so fast, as time was not on her side. Soon, they would arrive and take her away, away from this palace, away from her freedom.
"Princess—" He started with one of his coy smiles. Her heart fluttered in anticipation. "You know that I'm the crown prince. Marrying you would be too scandalous."
"But... you promised." She tugged the sleeves of his nightwear silks, her eyes flooded with multiple emotions.
"I know, but you have only lived for fourteen summers, still too young. If only you were sixteen summers old, then it would be easier."
She tried to persuade him. "Brother Hu-go, father dotes on you the most. Surely he will grant you anything you ask for."
"If I jeopardize the plan meant to bring relief to the suffering of my people then what kind of crown prince would I be?" His voice was soft and contrite.
His words were sound but she wasn't ready to give up. She swiftly pulled down the sheer cloth on her face that had covered all but her eyes, revealing a striking face. At this, he breathed in deeply, taking in the sight of her and a smirk began to grace his face. He ran his fingers down her face, his skin rough from his swordsmanship.
"Your beauty can shake the foundation of great nations and bring great destruction." He spoke in a trance. Then he sighed before continuing. "Give me time. When it is right, I will ask for your hand from father and send for you."
He made another promise, and she trusted him. She trusted him because, at that time, she was still young, naïve and desperate.
Time passed, and he never came for her. Although she knew she had been lied to, she still waited. She waited for what was possibly her only escape.