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Emperor's Heir - Chapter 20

by shieldmaiden


Chapter 20

A cold draft brushed up against my skin, giving me goosepimples. Suddenly, my things didn’t seem so important and I hastily vacated the place. Turning my back on my old quarters, I could almost imagine an invisible pair of eyes, lidless and without pupils, watching me leave. I walked faster, anxious to be out of sight. By the time I reached my new home, I was running at full speed.

Dashing over the bridge and into the garden, I found Iyagi playing tag with Usan. Or perhaps it was hide-in-seek, except the boy was standing in a bush that only came up to his waist.

The point of the game is to make sure I don’t see you,” Iyagi told Usan with a laugh.

But how else will you find me?”

I will look very carefully. And if I can’t find you, then that makes you the winner.”

Oh.” Usan turned to find another hiding place when he saw me. “Kkachi!” He jumped out of the bush and came running at me.

I caught the boy, swung him around and tossed him up into the air, sending Usan into a fit of laughter that filled the whole garden. My heart felt light as I gazed on the child’s beaming face, and in that moment, I silently swore to the heavens that no harm would ever come to the child. Over my dead body.

Iyagi stepped over to us, looking pleased. “Where are your things, Kkachi? I can help bring them inside.”

I shook my head. “It’s no matter. Once I got there, I forgot what it was I wanted,” I said, trying to speak lightly.

But my tone was too forced. Iyagi frowned slightly. “Are you alright?” He asked gently, “You look a bit pale.”

I wanted to tell him. I really did. But someone, or something, was after me. And it lived right here in the palace. Perhaps it was even watching me at this very moment. I didn’t want to put Iyagi at risk.

I’m fine – everything’s fine,” I lied before focusing my attention on attacking Usan’s ribs with my fingers.

Iyagi did not look convinced but chose to leave the matter be. For now.

So, you like it here?” I asked Usan, once I stopped tickling the poor boy and let him catch his breath.

Oh yes!” he gasped in reply. Then he glanced more carefully around, “Except …” He stopped and looked nervously at Iyagi.

What?” I prodded.

Usan cupped his hand over my ear. “Except it doesn’t have a place to fight,” he whispered loudly.

That’s not a problem,” Iyagi answered for me, causing the boy to start. “I shall have someone convert the side property into a small, open courtyard. In the mean time, you can still practice right here.” He gave Usan a wink before adding, “Just mind the flowers.” Looking at me, the Prince gave a nod and then made for the house, leaving us alone.

Well, that solves everything,” I said cheerfully. Usan didn’t reply, but continued to stare after the prince. When he finally turned back to me, his eyes were as solemn as an old man’s.

He cares deeply for you.”

He told me that we used to be friends,” I said.

Usan shook his head. “This is different – it’s deeper.”

I frowned curiously, trying to ignore my pounding heart. “You can tell what we think and what we feel?”

Not exactly,” Usan replied with a little sigh, “I’m not sure how to explain. I think of it as reading people’s eyes. At times they become like windows, and whatever is showing on the other side, that’s what I can see.”

And what can you see in Iyagi’s?” I asked nonchalantly.

Usan met my eyes for a moment, then looked away with a little smile. “I think Iyagi wouldn’t want me to say.”

Hmph,” I grunted, putting the boy back down on the ground, before changing the topic, “So … want to practice?”

The boy’s face brightened immediately and he bobbed his head vigorously up and down.

It was only after a couple of sessions, we discovered that Usan was right and we really did need a miniature courtyard. Due to our intense excursion, in the hurry of engaged defence or negligent pursuit, many rows of gardenias and peonies suffered, their delicate stems breaking wherever an errant step landed. One entire plot of flowers lay in the imprint of Usan’s body, their little bodies flattened, where he had fallen after tripping.

While taking a respite, I looked about us and remarked, “It’s more of an obstacle course, really.”

Usan followed my gaze. “Is that good?” he asked.

We do learn more about agility and precision,” I replied, “But for the poor flowers, we wouldn’t need a courtyard.”

Yes … but I like them to be safe,” Usan said sadly, as he looked at the fair blossoms lining the path.

Seems you guys have been hard at training!” A deep voice called out. Turning abruptly, we saw Prince Iyagi … or rather the fake prince Nakai … crossing over the bridge at the other end of the garden. Now knowing his true identity, I was struck by the man’s ease and confidence. Not an ounce of distress or hesitation destroyed his performance as he impersonated one of the most important royals of the Empire. His walk was always steady, his posture erect, and his head held high with a careless nonchalance.

Who is that?” Usan asked in a hoarse whisper.

Good morning, Your Highness,” I called out with a welcoming smile, “What brings you here?”

I came to see how my guard was treating his new, beautiful bride,” Nakai answered, pausing in his step to bestow a handsome bow, “You are well, I hope?”

Quite well, thank you,” I replied somewhat haughtily.

He nodded back before gesturing towards Usan, who was eyeing him severely. “Who’s this?”

A dear friend of mine,” I stated, refusing to give the boy’s name, since the man in front of me had not yet dropped his mask.

Well, any friend of the princess is a friend of mine,” replied Nakai cheerfully, ignoring Usan’s steady, unguarded expression. “Speaking of friends – I’ve happened to meet another one of yours.”

Who?”

A General Dal.”

My heart dropped. “And?” I asked hastily.

He inquired after you rather brazenly,” Nakai began, “Called you by your peasant name, Kkachi. I was quick to correct him and referred to you by your full title.”

Really?!” I managed to choke out.

Nakai nodded proudly. “The Princess Forsythia, lost and found daughter to His Majesty, the Emperor – that’s what I told the general.”

I was overcome with a strong desire to slap my forehead. That’s when I heard someone chuckle. It was Iyagi, standing on the porch and seemed to be enjoying my pain.

What’s so amusing?” the fake prince asked the real one.

Iyagi shook his head. “Oh nothing. Kkachi is simply discovering that it is better to tell the truth sooner than later.”

Says you!” I retorted strongly back.

So, you know our secret?” Nakai asked hesitantly, glancing at Iyagi out of the corner of his eye.

I crossed my arms and nodded.

Splendid!” he clapped his hands together happily, then jumped up onto the porch, grabbed Iyagi’s hand and began shaking it enthusiastically. “I’ve forgotten my manners,” he said, “Allow me to congratulate you, old fellow. You’ve caught yourself a true beauty.” The arrogant fellow winked at me. “You must tell me your secret.”

Iyagi glanced my way. “I shall keep that secret well-guarded with my life,” he said with a cough as I blushed furiously.

Nakai shook his finger and clicked his tongue. “Is that how you repay me?” He asked, “It was I who threw that spark between the two of you, after all. I’m inclined to accept my own birthday presents from now on.”

Then you will receive none from my wife,” Iyagi replied, his voice tight.

Really?” Nakai glanced at me. “Well, keep an eye on her. I may whisk the lovely princess away someday.”

Iyagi drew an arm around my shoulder and pulled me against him suddenly. “Not likely,” he declared sincerely. My cheeks grew hot. I was so close to him that my head nearly rested upon his chest and caught a whiff of scent from his hair. It smelled like pine.

Well, I must be going,” Nakai said lighthearedly, “I owe Princess Pulsa a visit anyway.” He bowed. “My best wishes to you both.”

Thank you,” I murmured. With Iyagi’s arm still wrapped about my shoulders, I watched as the fake prince/guard walked out the garden. Only once he was out of sight did Iyagi let me go.

For a moment, we just stood next to each other, avoiding eye contact. I looked up at the sky, down at the pebbles, across the rippling brook – anywhere and everywhere except the prince’s direction.

At that moment, Nalda came running down the path. I was so grateful for the interruption that I rushed to meet her.

Your Highness,” she gasped, “General Dal wants to see you.”

I gulped. “Very well. I shall go to him.”

Nalda shook her head. “There’s no need for that, child.”

Why?”

Because he’s already here.”


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Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:21 pm
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Horisun wrote a review...



Hello! It is I, your friendly neighborhood Horisun!
I really like this chapter. It enhances Usans cuteness ten fold, which I'm all for!
This review is going to be mostly my predicting what's going to happen next. I hope this helps you out, at least a tiny bit, in figuring out which twists are to obvious, and what plot point that come out of the blue and which ones are perfect. I hope you enjoy! (It's kinda long)

I don't really know what the real Nakai's motivations, or purpose, in the story is. I predict that there is going to be some major plot twist revolving around him, (I mean, there already kinda was) Like, maybe he will be revealed to be the antagonist, or perhaps he's a puppet of the real mastermind.
Wait, branching off that, maybe Lady Moon-Sol and Nakai are puppets of Leomong's ghost? Wasn't she rumored to be some kinda witch? So maybe she left some magic behind.
I am wondering what Lemongs motivation is in the first place, if she is responsible. What's her plan? But then again, extending off my theory from the last chapter, maybe Pulma isn't as innocent as Nalda believes. What if she inherited some of her Mothers magic, and she's after the throne? That could be a very interesting plotline, instead of Lemong being the mastermind, it's Pulma pulling the strings, framing her dead mother, (Somehow)
ALSO in this chapter, Nakai says that he'll be visiting Pulma, which could be brushed off as a possibility that he's crushing on her, but perhaps, instead, he could be working with her.
This will be doubly interesting if he is doing this in his own free will, instead of being tricked, or cursed, because he'd be betraying Iyagi, and everything that he's been trying to do.
Wait a moment, though, something just occurred to me. Earlier on in this series, it is established that Nakai is not a good sword fighter, as he was easily defeated by the other prince. If he's the guard, wouldn't he be trained well in this? It could be an act, but Iyagi's reaction suggests otherwise, as it seems that Iyagi warned him not to do it, because he really isn't that good of a swordfighter, and it seems like two friends laughing when he can't. It really seems genuine. Also, how would Iyagi's Father know about some threat against the Emperor? Perhaps Iyagi lied about lying, and maybe, A. Iyagi isn't really THE Prince Iyagi, and he's lying about that, which seems like the most likely option, or B. Iyagi was sent by his Father to assassinate the Emperor, and/or put PULMA on the throne, and Nakai, being the loyal friend he is, followed. I actually don't believe this, for reasons you'll realize in a bit. So that's why I think Nakai and Iyagi are plotting behind the Emperors back, (This could be supported by the stuff Usan sees in Iyagi's eyes, instead of a love for Kkachi, (Although, it could also be that) but a secret plot against the Emperor, and he's not telling Kkachi for some reason, maybe because he believes that Iyagi's a good person, and he wants to give him the chance to tell her?) as for what their plan is, as a lot of people in this world are superstitious, are trying to pass the blame over to Pulma, as she is the daughter of a supposed 'Witch' Or perhaps Pulma is working with them, somehow, and has her own motivations to take out Kkachi. But maybe Iyagi betrays the plot somehow, and warns Kkachi?
Another thought, and your probably gonna think I'm crazy for even considering it, (I think I'm kinda crazy too) But maybe Nalda is somehow part of this? I don't have much evidence, and I'm making a lot of assumptions here, but for this theory to be true, I feel like Nalda would have to be lying when she says Pulma's harmless. Think about it, we have NEVER seen them interact, Nalda is pretty superstitious, judging by Kkachi's line in an earlier chapter, "I've been spending too much time around Nalda, I'm becoming superstitious." (Apologize if I paraphrased a bit) and Nalda seems as though she has pretty good judgment, so if it did turn out that Pulma was plotting against the Emperor, I feel like Nalda would have a feeling. Then again, she did trust Lady Moon-Sol, but then again, if she is working with Pulma, and Lady Moon-Sol is too, then perhaps it was part of a bigger plan.
However, I think that Kkachi and Nalda DO have a connection, and I do think that Nalda will, (If she is part of this MAYBE plan) Defect/Warn Kkachi.
But wait, a moment, who poisoned Iyagi then? Was it some one off character who wanted to hurt who he thought was the prince, but got the guard instead? Was it the other prince? Or, what I think might or happened, maybe Iyagi already abandoned the plan, and Pulma and/or Nakai and/or Lady Moon-Sol tried to take him out. Lady Moon-Sol did offer the supposed 'herbs' that I'm pretty certain was actually more poison, to make sure they finished him off.
AND also, this explains the awkwardness of their conversation in this chapter.
Also, during the wedding, they did go talk to one another for a while, what if there was an off-page confrontation?
And the line, "Well, keep an eye on her, I may whisk the lovely princess away someday." And, after that, Iyagi pulled Kkachi closer. What if Nakai's line wasn't referring to getting her to fall in love with him, or something, but instead, something much more sinister?
More than that, all his lines in this chapter were sinister, and seem to have much more meaning to them. All his other lines, previous to this, seemed to be light hearted flirting.
Another thing that I've always been suspicious about is Nakai's birthday, specifically the kiss. At this point, assuming my theory is correct, (Which, that alone is a bit of a stretch) Iyagi is still part of this coup. What if that moment was a spontaneous plan, made by Nakai to get Iyagi close enough to the princess to murder her, or whatever they got planned?
The only plot hole that I see in this plan, is why Iyagi didn't tell the Emperor, but I think that can easily be explained away, perhaps Iyagi fears that the Emperor won't believe him, because he is scared that his love for his daughter will trump his trust of a prince he doesn't know as well.
Beyond that, if he fails in convincing the Emperor, he will most likely be sent to prison, or, he could also be killed by the members of his old team for trying to sell them out.
Another thing, I think that the real reason the Nakai came to their house this chapter was to kill Iyagi. The only reason he didn't was because Kkachi and Usan were there, and he didn't want to Kill Kkachi. There are two reasons I think he wouldn't want to do that, A. They need her for their plan to succeed, or B. They don't want to raise suspicion yet.

I have just realized that in all the time I spent predicting the possibilities, I could've just read the next few chapters to find out what happens next. XD
I probably got a few of them wrong, but I think I might be on the right track for a few of them. I hope you enjoyed my predictions, and had fun laughing hysterically as I went on a wild goose chase, coming up with wild ideas, like these ones. But I had fun, and that's what matters. :D
BUT HEY, THAT'S JUST A THEORY!
A YWS THEORY!
ANNNNNNNNDDDDDD CUT!
(See ya in the next chapter!)




Horisun says...


I do want to add, I think Iyagi will admit to everything, (If this theory is correct) But I think he's waiting 'till he has more evidence.



shieldmaiden says...


Love your predictions!!!! I had a lot of fun reading them you really got me thinking. :)



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Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:44 pm
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Awru wrote a review...



You weren't kidding when you said its gonna be short*pouts*
Poor Kkachi being the sole heir to the throne is hard.I am really enjoying how things are turning out certainly becoming more interesting.I.laughed so hard at Usan playing hide seek he can be such a life of the story.Kkachi and Iyagi really care about Usan that is great for the little boy considering his tragic history.

Usan met my eyes for a moment, then looked away with a little smile. “I think Iyagi wouldn’t want me to say.”

Really Usan as if you haven't already said enough*rolls eyes*
The part where Iyagi and Nakai talk made me kinda uncomfortable i.mean Nakai was just kidding i hope but Iyagi took him seriously but overall his possessiveness was adorbss
I noticed a few mistakes which arrreeee:
cold draft brushed up against my skin, giving me goosepimples.

I feel like up is unnecessary here brushed is fine.Lol goosepimples as if ordinary pimples weren't enough to ruin a girls life
, I silently swore to the heavens that no harm would ever come to the child. Over my dead body.

The placement of Over my dead body does not seem quite right here.
replied Nakai cheerfully, ignoring Usan’s steady, unguarded expression.

shouldn't it be guarded.It really struck me why wasn't Usan friendly to Nakai cuz that kid knows stuff.
I looked up at the sky, down at the pebbles, across the rippling brook – anywhere and everywhere except the prince’s direction.

Hahaha this made me laugh
Other than it was purrr fect

Keep up the excellent work :smt023

peace out




shieldmaiden says...


Thanks Awru! I'm glad you liked it. Nakai and Iyagi's conversation was awkward, but I think that they know each other really well and, I'm not sure yet, but it's possible that the real Nakai is jealous of the real miyagi.



shieldmaiden says...


Thanks Awru! I'm glad you liked it. Nakai and Iyagi's conversation was awkward, but I think that they know each other really well and, I'm not sure yet, but it's possible that the real Nakai is jealous of the real miyagi.



shieldmaiden says...


Thanks Awru! I'm glad you liked it. Nakai and Iyagi's conversation was awkward, but I think that they know each other really well and, I'm not sure yet, but it's possible that the real Nakai is jealous of the real miyagi.



Awru says...


Wow!3 times lol



shieldmaiden says...


Oops, so sorry! My phone wasn't responding so I kept hitting post.



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Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:59 pm
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FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...



Hello, FlamingPhoenix here with a review for you yet again on this lovely night. And to help yet again to get your chapter out the green room.

Wow, we are already on chapter 20, how times flys.
Right to the review!

Ooo I just love the way you start this chapter, it's just so good, sends shivers up my spine, and I just love that about your writing. I also like how you picked this story up at the place you ended it last time, when I began reading I just dived right into the story feeling all the things I did when I left the story last time.

I really like that Usan is getting used to Iyagi, I think it was really cute seeing him try to explain a really simple game to the little boy. That was just to cute. And the silly questions Usan asked. Just to funny. XD
Kkachi may seem all hard and tough on the outside, but when even she is around Usan and talking to him, she goes all soft, and sweet. In simpler words motherly. And I adore those moments in the book, because I have this feeling they wont be lasting for long.

Now I just loved that you managed to bring Iyagi's guard into the chapter, it was really funny seeing him act all prince like, with all the manners attached, and greeting everyone in the right manner, while Kkachi knows his not the really Iyagi! XD, and then when the cat's out the bag, Nakai removes the little mask, and begins being so silly, and really funny. That just had my eyes watering. I also loved that he was playfully flirting with Kkachi and making Iyagi protective over his new bride! XD

Nd then here comes the bad news, what will General Dal say to the news that Kkachi is the princess, that Nakai so kindly told the General. XD That part had me freaking out, and I'm still rather worried about what will happen.

Well that's all form me. This chapter was rather short, but I think it served it's purpose well. I'm really glad I got to read and review yet again another one of your chapters, I'm really loving your story, it's getting really good. Keep writing and posting on YWS, have a great day or night, ether one.

Your friend and faithful reader
FlamignPhoenix.
Reviewing with a fiery passion.




shieldmaiden says...


Thanks as always Phoenix! So encouraging and comforting for you to say all those wonderful things. To be honest, I'm not quite sure how the General will react either. The characters kind of take on a life of their own once I start writing. I'm excited to see what will turn up next.





I'm glad I could make you happy! :D

Don't sorry your not the only one, I no what type of personality my characters need but after that it's up to the fingers, if you know what I mean?




Only the suppressed word is dangerous.
— Ludwig Borne