Sweet oblivion (sweet se.., p.66
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       Sweet Oblivion (Sweet Series #1), p.66

           Bailey Ardisone


  From atop the outer courtyard, I watched the downpour of rain as it saturated the ground. I stood next to the wall overlooking the Tari Garden as the rain pounded the hundreds of perishing plants below. Queen Lirima used to love this place. Years before, all by herself, she planted every single flower and had maintained the garden daily. It had once been known as one of the most beautiful gardens in all of Aselaira. Since the death of her husband and the rise of his brother Ohtar, the garden was nearly lifeless. A few turquoise lotes and yellow roses bloomed here and there, but now it was only a sad memory of what it used to be. No one ever saw her in the garden anymore.

  Mentally shaking the thoughts away, I took in a full breath of fresh air. Ever since my younger years, I had always loved the smell of rain. It smelled clean, pure, and new, like the bad things were being washed away. If only that were true.

  For the past three days, I had been cleaning the inner guest chambers from top to bottom. The King had invited royal guests from the neighboring land of Llad in hopes they would help us fight Lassaira. I and two other younger servants had the duty of cleaning thirteen guest chambers that would be used. It would take us days, but it was better than working in the hot kitchens and serving food to everyone but ourselves.

  It also meant time away from the dungeon and talking with my only friend, but it felt great to be outside today, even if in the rain. I felt sullen for Calen, for I knew she couldn’t be free to fly around the forest in this downpour. She was holed up in a cave near the center of the forest. I could sense her sleeping soundly amid the storm.

  As I started to close my eyes, and for once try to let my burdens melt away, I was startled as I began to hear shouting from behind. It got louder as I realized whoever was making all that racket drew closer. Thinking quickly, I ducked behind a nearby pillar and crouched low to the ground.

  “You must find him now! No more excuses!” a deep, dark voice shouted again.

  Suddenly there was a loud noise, and after some scuffing around I felt something collide with the pillar I crouched behind—like someone had been thrown up against it.

  My whole body shook as I recognized that deep, dark, and terrible voice.

  “Your family’s lives are on the line, N’taurn, if you do not find him. You do not want to see what I will do to them,” the disturbing voice threatened. “Go back now! Do as I command!” he screamed at what I assumed was the man getting crushed against my hiding pillar. I fervently hoped I was not discovered, for I would not see another day.

  “Y…yes, Y…Your Majesty,” a small voice answered.

  After a few more seconds of shuffling, I finally heard loud footsteps retreating. The captain by the pillar started to cough as he tried to find his breath.

  Soft footsteps approached. “N’taurn, are you all right?” I heard an unfamiliar male voice ask.

  “I am,” he answered slowly. “Listen...gather whoever is left of the extraction mission. Get everyone, and I mean everyone, Talar. We are going back. Tonight. We must…”

  I struggled to hear the last few words as the men walked around the corner. After letting out a huge gasp of breath and much relief, I stood up and tried to put together what I just heard.

  So…they were still looking for him.

  Chapter Forty-Four

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