I meet Salem’s eyes and I feel relieved, she grins at me and takes a long look at the rest of her men, frowns and her eyes come back to me. She stands and walks to me, I don’t know why I don’t move or why I just look at her get closer and closer, my heart pounding so loud that I can barely hear what anyone is saying around me. She is in front of me, she is right in front of me and my hands get shaky as I trace her face to be sure that I am not dreaming.
“It’s me…. Are … are you crying?” She grins at me and I hold her tight and kiss her hard, I don’t care that we are in public, I can’t even think with her scent so close. I hug her tight, she lets me hold her as long as I can, she doesn’t stop me.
Akka keeps clearing his throat, it seems like he has been doing that for a while, considering the awkward look most people are giving us.
“We get it, you two miss each other but that doesn’t give you the right to ignore me.” Shem pots and Salem gives him a generous smile.
Salem and the night’s guard look at each other intensely for a short period and I feel an understanding between them, I hold Salem’s hand as we walk to her side of the table, I am afraid of letting her go.
“Who is this?” Emer asks as he settles down.
“I am Luna.” The strange lady replies as she stares him down as if daring him to say something else, I don’t know how she finds women like that.
“Ladda.” Elena says rigidly.
“Elena, you stole from me.” Ladda says with a disappointment.
“And what I stole saved our lives.” She retorts.
“Yes, right after you betrayed us.” Paula returns and hugs Akka, I was wondering where she was.
She sits and another strange man with some men at the table flinch at her return.
“What are they doing here?” Paula points at him.
“Teaching him a lesson in being a man.” Elena explains and she nods.
“You guys took your time finding us.” Paula grumbles.
“You would not believe the days we have had. If I were to tell the tale, we would be here for three days.” Ladda responds.
Roark comes in with a grunt after finding a place to keep his massive weapon. “Silas…”
The strange man who has been looking at us starstruck turns sharply at his voice and exclaims happily as he hugs Roark.
“Brother…” He exclaims; I was wondering where you went.
“He is your brother?” Paula exclaims.
Salem doesn’t look as surprised as she does, I squeeze her hands in question.
“I will explain to you later.” She whispers.
“There are so many things happening at once.” Akka comments.
“Wait, let’s go back, Elena betrayed you?” Ladda asks and Elena sighs.
“And I saved their lives at the risk of mine, keep up!” Elena rolls her eyes.
“No… No…No, we will not skip over just like that. I want the whole story.” Shem takes a bite of the food.
“Why don’t we listen to your tale first, it seems far more interesting.” Elena says to Ladda with a glare.
“Oh, you do have some kind of shame.” Paula smirks.
“Who is the new guy?” Salem asks about Aster.
The men chuckle. “He tried to kill Akka.” Enek says with a grin.
Paula frowns and takes a look at him which makes Aster blush with embarrassment, she raises her brow and looks at Salem who looks back at her.
“Failed Revenge?” Salem asks and Akka nods. I look at Salem startled, wondering how she guessed right.
“How did you know?” Aster asks in a respectful tone which makes the men look at him strangely, he is always snide, arrogant and disrespectful towards us even me.
“That is the only reason why you are still breathing.” Paula answers on Salem’s behalf.
“How often does this happen? People coming for the sake of revenge” I ask.
“Hmmmmmm, more times than I’d like to care. If I had known I would have also put on a mask, I would have avoided having so many scars.” Ladda grumbles and Paula slaps his head.
“You are never around for the blood bath so what are you mumbling about?” Paula asks.
“My poisons have killed more men than your blade.” He retorts and I laugh at the ridiculosity of the entire conversation.
“Where then do you go when the fighting starts?” Elena asks him and he responds with a glare.
“He doesn’t like the sight of blood, he faints.” Shem mocks him and Elena widens her time.
“Just one time and Roark beheaded the guy, like there is a body just right there without a head, it was a perfect rational response.” Ladda murmurs.
Everyone laughs at that and I feel a sense of completeness especially as I look at Salem.
“Keep staring at me like that and I just might ravage you.” She whispers to me.
“I would probably let you do whatever you want to me, I don’t mind if people watch.” I reply.
“Are you a pervert Erin? Did I get married to a pervert?” She says teasing me.
“Which of them is the general?” Silas asks Roark, the seat goes silent for a second and Roark hits his head.
“She wears a mask for a reason.” Roark scolds him.
Paula palms her face in frustration, Luna laughs and Salem sighs.
“She… did you say she?” Silas asks in shock, his men follow suit, he looks at Paula and shivers.
“No…no That was a slip of tongue. She is a man.” Roark tries to salvage the situation.
“Please, just stop… it is embarrassing how terrible of a liar you are. Just please stop talking.” Akka groans as Aster looks at Salem again, Salem notices and winks at him which sends him into a blush mode again, this guy blushes easily, our young rebel might just be shy of women in general.
“I tried my best.” Roark looks into space and gulps his drink down; I notice that our table is drawing lots of attention.
“It is okay, the night guards always draw attention wherever they go, it is only a matter of time before it is made public knowledge that the demon general is a woman, I have made my peace with it since Queen Nuke found out, sooner or later, I will have to face that.” Salem whispers to me.
A waitress comes and pours us drinks.
“On the house, we are grateful for the night guards’ presence especially during this trying time.” She says loudly and there is a cheer from the crowd that we might have gathered unknowingly.
“You are here concerning the brewing war with the Varcasians? Brother” Silas asks loudly brimming with pride.
“What are they talking about?” Akka whispers to Paula.
Salem looks at Paula in question and she nods, “It is worse than we thought. The King might be sick too, your brother-in-law may or maybe not be in charge of the nation, we both know how stupid he is.” Paula remarks.
Salem growls deeply, this is the first time I have seen her agitated.
“Shut up Silas.” Roark covers his mouth.
“Silas, you and your men should check out Roelum’s boundary lines and Otis, don’t do anything, just take note of everything happening and report to your brother in three days’ time.” Paula tells him and he responds immediately.
“I will.” He takes his men and leave the inn.
Akka pats Paula’s head. “Are you sure?”
I am confused and Salem explains to me.
“She is pretending to be me so even if people know that the general is a woman, she would be the first suspect which would also mean she is willing to risk her life for me.” Salem glares at Paula but she ignores her.
“We draw closer to the finish line, what would it be? Who would you choose? Love? Loyalty? What would be your choice?” Luna says casting most of the table in confusion.
“Hanging out with the lots of you is not boring, that is for sure.” Elena downs her drink.
I ignore the tense mood.
“We have to visit your father; he has let us down.” Akka angrily remarks.
“After everything we have done! If this becomes a real issue then every of our work would be laid to waste.” Shem mutters with a sigh.
“Go rest, we will assemble here in the morning, we will see my father by tomorrow.” Salem says and we walk to her room, leaving a loud silence behind us.
We get into the room, she slams me on the door and kisses me while we fumble with our clothes.