When she finally came to her senses, she found herself tied to a pole in a dark tent.
The Priestess was overwhelmed with apprehension but tried to calm herself down. She remembered she was about to fall, but someone had saved her. Considering her situation, she quickly concluded that she had been saved by the enemy and captured.
What bad luck. It was her own carelessness that caused this.
She could only wish they didn find the boy and captured him too.
As she squirmed around, she found that they had taken her dagger away, so she couldn break free from this rope.
While she was struggling to loosen the knot, two men entered the tent. They wore the same soldier outfit and were covered with iron planks on their shoulder and chest.
Both soldiers were surprised to see her already awake.
”Hey look. That woman is awake. ”
They walked up to her with evil grins on their faces. She stared at them vigilantly.
”The Emperor ordered us to bring you to him once you are awake. Don even think of running away if you still cherish your life. ”
Before she could respond, one of them approached her and cut the rope. Then, he roughly forced her to stand. ”Get up and walk! ”
An objection wasn an option at this point. She swallowed her words and obediently let them lead her to the man who started this tragedy. She was nervous and afraid but didn let it show on her face.
The moment she stepped out of the dark tent, she found a lot of similar tents around her. This place must be the enemys camp.
There were a lot of soldiers around her. They all wore the same outfit with a rose and shield symbol on their chest.
Upon noticing her presence, they stopped whatever they were doing and looked at her with various kinds of gazes. Some looked at her in curiosity, contempt, or lascivious manner.
She was extremely uncomfortable, but there was nowhere to run.
Even though she had been freed from the rope binding her, her arms were still shackled. Like this, she looked like a prisoner on the way to the death gallows, which was actually pretty accurate with her current condition.
They stopped in front of a huge tent, at least five times bigger than the dirty and dark tent she came from.
One of the men told her to wait while the other entered the tent. As they waited, more and more men crowded around her.
The Priestess had never had too much contact with the outside world before.
Except for a few male guards, this was the first time she was surrounded by so many men. She felt unsettled but forced herself to stand tall. She couldn show her weakness here.
Then, she heard some heavy footsteps. The men who were looking at her with interest up until a moment ago immediately retreated a few steps and respectfully lowered their gaze.
The Priestess kept her gaze forward warily, but her face changed when she saw the figure emerging from the tent.
Golden hair that shone brilliantly under the sun, a perfectly shaped face, and a pair of sharp and blood-colored eyes.
The Priestess was sure it was the same color she had seen before she passed out.
Does that mean this person was the one who saved her? And that person was the enemys Emperor?!
With every step he took, he exuded oppressive pressure that made people tremble before his presence. He walked like he owned the land, and those who stood in his way would be slaughtered.
The Priestess looked at him in a mixture of fear and awe. He was the most handsome and frightening among all the men she had encountered so far.
”How dare you raise your head in the presence of the Emperor? Lower your head! ”
The soldier beside her scolded her before pushing her head down, forcing her to bow. Even when she tried to raise her head again, he prevented her from doing so.
The Emperor wasn amused by the display before him and raised his hand. ”There is no need for troublesome pleasantries. Raise your head, Holy Maiden. ”
Only then did the soldier release her, and the Priestesss eyes were cold as she finally met his eyes again.
The Emperors gaze was piercing. He lifted his chin as his lips curved in a sneer. ”Did you have a pleasant dream? You sure are bold, throwing yourself in front of me like that. What would you do if I didn catch you in time back then? Speak. ”
The Priestess felt there was no need to explain herself, but under his pressuring gaze, she couldn help but open her mouth.
”I didn throw myself at anyone, nor did I have a pleasant dream after owing a barbarian like you a life debt. Id rather you let me fall and embrace my death there. ”
”How dare a mere woman as you talk like that to the Emperor?! ”
”Execute her! Burn her at stake for her sin! ”
The Priestess ignored peoples jeers and cursed at her.
Either way, she was doomed to die. Why should she bother to act politely in front of these people if that was the case?
Her land was burned down, and her people were dead. All because this person brought these men here.
Thinking about people who lost their lives and Maya, who desperately fought to save her, was enough to boil her blood.
The Emperor looked unbothered by her sharp words and walked closer instead. Using his armored hand, he pinched her chin and forced her to look up. She didn avert her gaze and defiantly looked back at those beautiful but wicked eyes.
She could almost see her future, dyed in red blood in his eyes.
The soldiers tacitly agreed that the womans life would end now and respectfully lowered their heads.
”Holy Maiden from the Land of Oblivion. State your name. ”
The Priestess: ”… ”
He pinched her chin harder, making her grimace. ”Speak, and I might just pardon your little guards life. ”
Her eyes widened upon hearing that. ”Where is Maya? What did you do to her? ”
”She fought valiantly, but alas, war is war. She is dying as we speak, but I don mind sending a physician her way if I feel generous. If you are as wise as they said, you will know that her life and death depend on your choice now. ”
The Priestess clenched her hand into a fist. Letting herself be ordered around like this was infuriating.
She knew she shouldn trust him, but whenever she thought about Maya currently hovering between life and death, her heart ached so much.
”I said I have none of that. I don have a name. ”
There was a flash of surprise in the Emperors eyes for the first time. He narrowed his eyes dangerously, but her clear eyes told him she wasn lying.
The Priestess was anxious because she thought he wouldn believe her.
Surprisingly, he released his hold from her chin. Then he raised his hand with his palm in front of her face.
Following the gesture was a loud and bold declaration from him.
”Since no one called you by your name, I will bestow you a new name and life. You will now be called Aisha in the name of Emperor Archibald Lywellyn Ambrose. Remember this name for the rest of your life, and never forget who you belong to. ”
”Glory to the Empire! All hail Emperor Archibald! ”
The Priestess, who had now received a name from her enemy, could only stand there blankly.
For as long as she remembered, everyone around her always called her the Priestess. Some people secretly called her Ominous or Monster behind her back.
However, none of those was her name.
When she asked the nanny who had been watching her grow up what her name was, the nanny was startled. Then, she answered with a grim face that a mortal name wasn fit for a holy being such as her. Because she was the most precious existence in the land.
But if that was true, why did her parents abandon her?
Why was there no one by her side?
Why do they look at her with fear and contempt?
As she had these questions in her mind, sometimes there was a whisper telling her that she was neither human nor a monster. She belonged to neither side and was destined to live forever in solitude.
No one would remember her, and she would die alone without anyone crying for her.
However, this person she had just met today and destroyed her homeland granted her something that no one dared to do, as if he was trying to defy heaven.
The Priestess was repulsed by the idea of receiving a name from her enemy. Still, a part of her that constantly desired an identity solely belonged to her won over that.
Her life could end anytime now, but in this brief moment, she couldn help but think that the name Aisha was the most beautiful name she had ever heard.
And Aisha would be her name from now on.
She wasn a nameless Priestess anymore.
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