The princeling remains a virgin at heart. Lilith cannot figure out what she is doing wrong—she has failed at remedying this every time they enjoy each other under his sheets.
She grabs her underwear and slips back into it, along with the rest of her clothes, one by one, next to the sleeping, and very quite clueless, Prince, until she is donning her full set of armor again. Lilith remembers the knights being impressed at how strong the equipment made them feel the first time they put it on; she still finds herself unable to relate. The armor is an extension of herself. With or without it, Lilith would kill a man—perhaps this is why they made her the head of guard, and them, the guard.
She rises to her feet and exits his room before dawn hits the land. She doesn’t bother bidding her farewells to Solomon. Nobody must know they’ve been fooling around—especially not Trevor, the chef, Aart, the assassin, and Mina, the lovely ballroom dancer from the castle’s troupe.
Lilith greets the guard with vague disinterest as she enters their quarters with a yawn she cannot help but let out. She doesn’t show them the artefact that sits, snug in her pocket. There’s something dangerous about its presence. Lilith is unable to explain the feeling, but she knows someone would inevitably be drawn to it, which would result in an attempt—if not attempts—to steal their only hope at finding that monster of a Halloran. She explains the mission to them though. Half of them are listening. None of them notice her lies.
Lilith presents it as a scouting trip, where they will be tasked with investigating potential locations Halloran supposedly enjoy hiding in, and not an actual search. Sure, it isn’t virtuous to tell this type of fib, but in her position, they would do the same. Maybe even worse. What matters is that the guard follow her lead without question, sacrifice a limb when needed, so that Lilith may continue to freely use hers to protect the Royals, and most importantly: Solomon—the only honest human being in her life. So honest, in fact, that she cannot stand it sometimes.
“You have an hour to grab your equipment, say your goodbyes, and do whatever else that may need your attending to. Dismissed.” Her announcement makes chaos bloom around the ranks. And although none object to the mission, Lilith hears them mutter about how this is clearly not enough time to accomplish all these tasks. Their complaints make her wonder why they ever joined the guard in the first place—here, you do not own the sword, the sword owns you.
There is much noise, much shuffling, the clinking of armor and the eventual swear or two, until there is nothing, and they have all deserted the place like strays who’ve gone searching for food.
An hour is a long time. Especially when Lilith is ready, and has nowhere else to go, nor anyone to bid her farewells to. Mina comes to mind. The woman has been good to her—to the point where Lilith almost considered turning their relationship into something more than a quick caress between her thighs, during her dancer friend’s breaks. But then, there is also the enigma of Solomon Fitzroy to consider. And Lilith finds he is much too interesting to let go of just yet. She had never met a man, until him, that wanted to be taken and not do the taking. Sure, it is under the pretense that Solomon does not have enough feelings to own up to doing such actions himself, yet, nevertheless, these actions have happened—more than once—neither of them can deny that. And where Solomon found the necessary accessories to allow Lilith to do so—to do him—will always remain a mystery to her.
A simple look at the clock tells the guard’s humble leader that twenty minutes have passed. She sighs. Her mind wanders again to the night where Solomon had admitted being unable to love. Sometimes, Lilith likes to think of alternate lives—ones where she wouldn’t have complicated hers with a princeling, who always cares too much for his own good.
Someone knocks at the door. She thanks the Lord—in the case that she may truly exist—for the distraction. As Lilith’s grip tightens around her sword, she yells, “Yes?”
The unannounced visitor enters the guards’ quarters and wastes no time shutting the door behind him. Lilith recognizes him as the soldier she hired from another land weeks ago—the one to whom she’d handed the task of gathering intel for her, in exchange for copious amounts of gold.
Lilith doesn’t bother to rise from her seat. “I hope you are worth the price I paid you.” She crosses her legs, and observes the man who has yet to make another move, or speak.
“I heard about a gift that was handed to the Prince yesterday.”
“Oh?” The knight raises a brow, then cocks her head to the side. “And what might that be?”
“The stone that is currently in your pocket, my lady.”
In a matter of seconds, Lilith has a blade to his neck, and a pit of rage swarming within her gut. “I don’t recall hiring you to spy on me.”
The soldier laughs. He holds his hands up in the air. “I did not mean to,” he tells her. “Forgive me. I merely happened to overhear.”
But his excuse does not amuse Lilith. With the precision of a surgeon, and the confidence of an executioner, she carves a thin, line of red across the man’s skin. “Tell me something of interest, soldier”—her gaze darkens—“before I lose patience and decide I am better off without your services after all.”
He gulps. She’s impressed. By now, most people usually fear for their lives, and start to beg, or piss themselves. Respectable, Lilith thinks, as he finally starts talking.
“There is a prisoner…” His tone implies he is weighing each of his words with great care. Good.
Lilith licks her lips. “Is there now?”
“Her name is Wolf. She’s currently being held in Aglia’s prison, and… s-she claims to be a man.”
“And?” The knight clicks her tongue. “What does this have to do with the Halloran?”
“A young man who was apparently her best friend disappeared on the night your artefact started glowing.”
Lilith releases him. She digs her hand into her pocket and pulls out another sack of gold. She throws it at the guard’s figure. “Consider it an apology for permanently scarring you.” The room is silent. She motions at the door. “We never spoke of this. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. You never heard of the artefact, nor the prisoner.”
He takes the gold. He leaves without a word. A nod is his only farewell. Lilith wishes she could have killed him, but it would have been too messy, and ridding herself of the body in broad daylight would have tainted her reputation. Part of her wonders if the bastard didn’t choose his time and location on purpose with this in mind—though, she isn’t kidding herself, he probably did.
There isn’t much time left before the rest of the guard will arrive. Lilith would have preferred to be alone, but she supposes she can’t do much about it now. She’ll have to take them along with her to Aglia’s prison, before they set out for good.