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Before The Dragon - Chapter 34.2

by ShadowVyper


[tune of the song]

The tune was comforting. It was an upbeat melody, but was peaceful at the same time. And even more soothing as she remembered the way she’d melted into Akie’s arms, letting him be the one to support her weight. Feeling his strong arms around her, protective so she didn’t have to be. Allowing her to lower her guard.

Jerica started singing as Aerik got to the first line, her voice clear and gentle.

See him there your soldier boy

as strong as he is brave,

he will lay his armor down

(and melt into your arms)

oh love, my love, the sweetest love

he will lay his armor down

(and melt into your arms)

~

He will act invincible:

a brave face to the world.

He will trust you to a depth

(no one can ever know)

Oh love, my love, the sweetest love

He will trust you to a depth

(no one can ever know)

~

Come to me my soldier boy,

I’ll shield you from this world.

In my arms find strength to fight

(and all my love for you)

Oh love, my love, the sweetest love

In my arms find strength to fight

(and all my love for you)

Jerica stopped singing, staring straight at the fireplace ahead of her. What she wouldn’t give to be back with Akie and Rek, singing and cuddling. Instead of stuck up here, waiting for the stupid war to end. It’d only been a few days, but she already missed them. A lot. It was pathetic how much it hurt to be away from them for such a short period of time.

Jerica inhaled sharply as she realized she missed the first line of the song: See her there, your bonny girl, as fair as she is strong –

She and Nykim always sang the first half of the song to Akeno and Rek. And then Rek and Akeno sang the second half back to her and Nykim. But Akie wasn’t here. Still. And he wasn’t going to be. So, she jumped back into singing the second refrain.

She will find her rest in you

(and love you through and through)

Oh love, my love, the sweetest love

She will find her rest in you

(and love you through and through)

~

She will guard your secrets

and love you through the flaws.

The greatest friend you’ll ever have

(an ally to the end)

Oh love, my love, the sweetest love

The greatest friend you’ll ever have

(an ally to the end)

~

Come to me sweet goddess

and I’ll share this life with you.

I will never leave your side

(your faithful through and through)

Oh love, my love, the sweetest love

I will never leave your side

(your faithful through and through)

Jerica took a deep breath then let it out slowly. She was being foolish. Sentimental. It wasn’t like she wouldn’t get to see them again. Soon, even. It was irrational to be this sappy from a stupid song.

“That was beautiful.”

Jerica was pulled from her thoughts as Aerik spoke. She looked over at him. He was watching her with a knowing look in his eye. She smirked a bit. Her voice had caught both Akeno and Nykim off-guard the first time they’d heard her sing. “Yeah… I guess I don’t look like my singing-voice is as high as it is.”

“Your voice is as lovely as you are,” he said. She flushed, not quite sure how he’d managed to sneak two compliments into a single sentence. But he went on before she had a chance to properly react or argue with him. “But it’s the emotion that this song clearly holds for you that was the most endearing… who is he?”

She furrowed her brow. “Who is who?”

“Whoever it is that sings that second half back to you,” Aerik said, holding her gaze. “I wasn’t born yesterday, Princess. I heard that delay. You don’t often sing that part, do you?”

“That was – I just got distract—Pff,” she scoffed, cheeks getting a little hotter as she looked away from him. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I don’t think I’m the one being ridiculous here,” Aerik answered, a smile in his voice.

“You are.” She looked back at him, scowling. “Do you really think anyone is actually stupid enough to be interested in the King’s Assassin? Please.”

He raised an eyebrow.

She met his gaze, looking at him challengingly. She wasn’t going to back down from this argument, and was digging her heels in more and more as he continued to argue with her. Akeno and she were nothing more than Lieutenant and General. Friends. Who happened to have a physical agreement. She didn’t even want it to be anything more than that.

“I think that someone who took the time to get to know Jerica would be interested. You’re a delight.”

Her scowl deepened and she answered sarcastically, “Yes. I’m very good at fighting and sharpening weapons. There are droves of men lining up to wife me.”

“You don’t give yourself enough credit, Princess,” Aerik said thoughtfully. “You have many admirable traits. You’re kind—”

“I’m really not,” Jerica interrupted.

“I’m not finished,” Aerik said.

“You don’t need to be,” Jerica retorted. “We’re done with this conversation.”

“No, we’re not,” Aerik answered. “I’m still speaking, and you’re going to listen to me. And when I’m done speaking, then you can say what you’d like, and I’ll listen to you. Fair?”

Jerica sighed and looked at him sourly. “Fine. What?”

“You’re so much more than just a weapon, Princess,” Aerik said, meeting her gaze until she looked away. “You are kind, whether you want to admit it or not. No one rescues an orphan off the street—”

“I didn’t rescue—”

“Ah-ah!” Aerik interrupted her interrupting.

She sighed.

“That’s not something that someone ill-tempered would have done,” Aerik finished. “And of all the descriptors your uncles have used for you, ‘unkind’ hasn’t been so much as whispered even a single time. And you are incredibly intelligent.”

Jerica bit her lip, resisting the urge to interrupt again.

“You’re witty. And funny. And a hard worker,” Aerik continued. “And resourceful. And curious to learn anything and everything. And that’s just what I’ve observed from you myself in the few short days I’ve known you.”

He was getting more and more ridiculous the longer he talked. Sure, she was funny. She knew that much. And obviously she wanted to learn things she didn’t know – who wouldn’t? That didn’t mean anything at all. Besides, Derik and Zander were clearly biased in her favor. They were her uncles – they had to like her. Levin didn’t count.

“And then there’s everything else that I’ve been told about you,” Aerik went on. “Like how you personally check in on your troops every single night during battles, and check in with them on any average week—”

Obviously. That was her job.

“And how you sneak money into the coin purses of the peasants who look the poorest in the market square—”

That was nothing but amusing herself with the game of whether or not she could manage it without being caught. It proved nothing.

“And how you’ve personally taken to tutoring Kieran instead of just passing him off to one of the scholars in the palace—”

He was her responsibility. Of course she was going to take care of him.

“And how aggressive you are about defending the weak. Ensuring that no one takes advantage of their misfortune—”

That also proved absolutely nothing. Obviously she was going to stop people from getting hurt if she could. No one would just sit back and watch someone hurting someone else that was weaker than them.

“And how you nurture any and every animal that you meet,” Aerik said. “From Ranofer all the way down to McCroakers. You’ve got a soft heart for animals—”

“I do not.”

Aerik raised an eyebrow.

She sighed again, biting her lip. Just because she happened to like harassing the various creatures that she’d encountered didn’t mean anything at all. In fact, if she was kind, she’d leave them to go about their business instead of having to be admired by her.

“Not to mention you’re incredibly brave, demonstrated by the fact that youfight with a king and an As’veri on a regular basis when you disagree with their decisions.” Aerik let a silence hang in the air for a long moment, then, “Now I’m finished.”

“None of that means anything,” Jerica answered immediately, ready to argue. “Nothing at all. Just because I get bored and screw around with peasants and animals doesn’t mean I’m anything but bored. And…”

She struggled to find words for the emotions that assaulted her at his words. How was she even supposed to respond to so many absurd comments? And, how in the world had Derik and Zander managed to notice those things? It wasn’t like she announced what she was doing the overwhelming majority of the time that she went into town. Or even that she was going at all. She wasn’t quite sure what all of this meant.

She scowled at him. “You’re absurd.”

Aerik smirked at her. “That the best comeback you’ve got for me, Princess?”

Jerica snorted.

“Is it your Lieutenant?” Aerik asked, circling back to his first question.

“No,” she snapped, getting defensive again. “That’s absurd.”

Aerik raised an eyebrow.

“You’re absurd,” she said, narrowing her eyes at him.

“Akeno, isn’t it?” Aerik asked, undeterred.

“It’s not any of your business what my Lieutenant and I might or might not think about each other,” Jerica snapped. “And it’s not like he – or I – or… you’re absurd.”

“Am I?” Aerik asked.

“You are.” She flushed again. Aerik was so perplexing. It seemed like he saw straight through every defense she tried to put up. And somehow figured out how to get her flustered. “I don’t know what my uncles told you about Akeno and mine’s rel – arrangement, but it’s… no. No. You’re absurd.”

“You keep saying that…”

“Because it keeps being true.”

Aerik chuckled. “Oh, very well. This argument is clearly getting us nowhere. How about we call it a night and hit the hay?”

“Good.” Jerica stood up and stepped towards the hall, glad to have an excuse to escape. “Night.” 


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Mon Jun 21, 2021 3:47 am
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TheScribe wrote a review...



Hey, Shadow! I'm back a little earlier than I anticipated, but I really missed Jerica you and everyone else, and I couldn't stay away cause YWS is just that great. <3

So, first off, I listened to the song in the link before anything else, and it's just AMAZING! The beat was excellent, the singing was amazing, and those lyrics were just so beautiful. I have no idea how you came across this song, but it is now a temporary favorite! c:

Next, I read through the lyrics before humming to the tune. Those were just-- I absolutely pride myself on my abilities to write poetry, but seriously-- this is the very best work I have ever seen a writer create, and it's even more enabled as you've got the perfect tune to go with it a that! Excuse me while I go find a video that loops this song for an hour or so.

Okay, that's been done! XD omg I love this song now tysm

OKAY! Now, I'm finally readint the actual content of this chapter instead of being a music aficionado. XD Actually, now I'm using this as celebration music for the people from an RP I'm in that have been liberated from fasc-- anyways, reviewing XD I am very into this music, you've cursed and blessed me!

Okay, to be totally honest, it was difficult to read while listening to that amazing music, but somehow I did it. XD COntent-wise, this was definitely a balance between light-hearted and serious while also building upon how Aerik sees Jerica versus how she sees herself. We, as the readers, already see how she seriously undervalues herself and what she does as a person and in her capacity as a royal. Whereas Levin is a spoiled brat, she has proven herself to be simultaneously humble and arrogant with just enough wisdom to keep everyone except herself out of harm's way. It also shows how both differ in their own personalities, with Aerik being a more sarcastic, personal-yet-impersonal character that knows everything about everything because he has decided that's his business. Meanwhile, Jerica values her privacy and truly is a softy deep down, though she's vicious to those that she disapproves of. The character development of Jerica especially has just been amazing. It really makes me wish that I was half the writer that you were.

Well, this is getting lengthy, and I'm sure you have things to do, so I'll leave you here. XD Have a blessed [*insert time of day here*]!!! <3 Rest easy.




ShadowVyper says...


AYE GLAD YOU'RE BACK! <3

also omg <3333 this just made me feel all warm and fuzzy xD I, too, love that song. I listened to it like fifty billion times when I was writing the lyrics so it got a little bit old but now I'm back to loving it again lol happy to introduce you to the magic ;) but seriously, though, I was feeling pretty insecure about my lyric ability so I'm really glad that you liked it so much ^-^

she has proven herself to be simultaneously humble and arrogant with just enough wisdom to keep everyone except herself out of harm's way.


ahaha that's the novel, folks xD That's Jerica ahaha

The character development of Jerica especially has just been amazing.


<33

It really makes me wish that I was half the writer that you were.


omg Scribe STAHP u r ALSO gud writer, we both b over here slaying ;)

Thanks so much for the review! You definitely stroked my ego and flattered me a ton with this one <33



TheScribe says...


<33



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Tue Jun 15, 2021 5:45 pm
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AshlynPhoenix wrote a review...



Hiya Ashlyn again here for a review!! As always, please keep in mind that this review is not intended to offend you or make your writing look bad!

It was an upbeat melody, but was peaceful at the same time. And even more soothing as she remembered the way she’d melted into Akie’s arms, letting him be the one to support her weight. Feeling his strong arms around her, protective so she didn’t have to be. Allowing her to lower her guard.

Jerica started singing as Aerik got to the first line, her voice clear and gentle.

I loove the description here. It really sets the mood.

He will trust you to a depth

(no one can ever know)

Oh love, my love, the sweetest love

He will trust you to a depth

(no one can ever know)

No idea why but that particular set of lyrics made me so happy <33
“That was beautiful.”

Jerica was pulled from her thoughts as Aerik spoke. She looked over at him. He was watching her with a knowing look in his eye. She smirked a bit. Her voice had caught both Akeno and Nykim off-guard the first time they’d heard her sing. “Yeah… I guess I don’t look like my singing-voice is as high as it is.”

“Your voice is as lovely as you are,” he said. She flushed, not quite sure how he’d managed to sneak two compliments into a single sentence. But he went on before she had a chance to properly react or argue with him. “But it’s the emotion that this song clearly holds for you that was the most endearing… who is he?”

This chapter is one big sentimental mess and I love it <333
“Do you really think anyone is actually stupid enough to be interested in the King’s Assassin? Please.”

I feel like that'd read better without the word 'actually' ^^
Aaand that concludes this review! Sorry I didn't really have much critique xD It just felt like any change would ruin the sentiment in this chapter hahaha.
Aaaand that concludes this....commentary?? Idk. It doesn't feel much like a review haha.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY...
Image




ShadowVyper says...


This chapter is one big sentimental mess and I love it <333


ahah <33 I'm glad you liked it ^-^ This is definitely one of the softer chapters of the novel and was a lot of fun to write c:



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Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:06 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Ooh a song! I'm no lyrics expert so I'm going to leave that one alone. I'm not usually a fan of having songs in novels, mostly because I think I was scarred from reading LOTR and The Hobbit because the songs were just way too long to cope with. It definitely helped having the tune of the song linked but of course you wouldn't be able to do that in book format (also for copyright issues) so I'd question how engaging this section would be. It's not too long though, so might be ok!

What she wouldn’t give to be back with Akie and Rek, singing and cuddling.

Yes, more of this please. I knew she had these feelings in there!

“You are.” She looked back at him, scowling. “Do you really think anyone is actually stupid enough to be interested in the King’s Assassin? Please.”

This defensiveness is very in character, I like it! I'm kind of hoping she won't tell him, at least not yet. She hasn't even admitted her feelings to herself yet and this is the one thing she hasn't told anybody.

He was getting more and more ridiculous the longer he talked. Sure, she was funny. She knew that much. And obviously she wanted to learn things she didn’t know – who wouldn’t? That didn’t mean anything at all. Besides, Derik and Zander were clearly biased in her favor. They were her uncles – they had to like her. Levin didn’t count.

Oh gosh this is so in character - she can have all her best bits laid out to her like Aerik is trying to do and yet she stubbornly refuses to believe them. So Jer.

Just because she happened to like harassing the various creatures that she’d encountered didn’t mean anything at all. In fact, if she was kind, she’d leave them to go about their business instead of having to be admired by her.

Harassing makes it sound like she's tormenting them, maybe a different word would fit better?

“No,” she snapped, getting defensive again. “That’s absurd.”

Aerik raised an eyebrow.

“You’re absurd,” she said, narrowing her eyes at him.

I would like to draw your attention to another AVPM gif this makes me think of (I know you're not doing this intentionally but it's pure gold!)
Image

This didn't quite feel like the end of the chapter... it was a bit too abrupt? Is there a part 3? If not, I'd think about maybe adding a little bit to the end :)

This was such a lovely section <3 I'm sorry I don't have much in the way of feedback but I definitely enjoyed the read!

Icy




ShadowVyper says...


Aha, fair point! I had the idea for the song being a through back to her and Akie and wasn't sure how to write that without writing out a song, but tbh I'm not excessively proud of it lol. I may just have like one line or something then merge into her thinking about him instead?? Do you think that would work?

Oh gosh this is so in character - she can have all her best bits laid out to her like Aerik is trying to do and yet she stubbornly refuses to believe them. So Jer.


ahah I'm glad I captured the denial well ;) she got this energy going on:

Image

Harassing makes it sound like she's tormenting them, maybe a different word would fit better?


Ooh, fair point!

I would like to draw your attention to another AVPM gif this makes me think of (I know you're not doing this intentionally but it's pure gold!)


ahahah xD I mean Harry Potter b hella successful, so I'll take similarities ;) lol

This didn't quite feel like the end of the chapter... it was a bit too abrupt? Is there a part 3? If not, I'd think about maybe adding a little bit to the end :)


Ooh, good to know! No, there's no more, I just had no idea how to transition from that so my brain went "bed! now!" xD I'll try to soften it though.

This was such a lovely section <3 I'm sorry I don't have much in the way of feedback but I definitely enjoyed the read!


Ayeeee! I'm glad you enjoyed it c: I had fun getting to write the Soft side of Jer that she refuses to acknowledge lol

Thanks for the review!




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