Mommy Villainess Chapter 67
67 When Love And Duty Collide
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"I ORDERED the replica to burn Her Royal Highness to ashes," Tilly continued. "And because of me, Lahara died. I don't think His Majesty would forgive me for harming his beloved. I'm also certain that once Princess Nia wakes up, she'd be after my throat again. The war has already started. If I don't fight them, I'll die." He let go of his hands to put her hands on her tummy. "I won't let them kill me easily. I have a son to protect. You know the emperor more than I do, Kiho. So, tell me. Do you think he'd listen to me and my fellow Fire Mages?"
Pain crossed his eyes. Then, he gently shook his head. "For His Majesty, the Fire Mages are the royal family's enemies. And he'd never forgive you for harming Her Royal Highness."
"I know, right?" she said with a bitter smile. "That's why I need to make you choose now, Kiho. If you wouldn't take my side, then you'd have to kill me. Because no matter what you say, I won't change my mind. To make the royal family stop killing the Fire Mages, I need to fight them first to force them to listen. If you don't want me to die by the hands of His Majesty, then you'd have to kill me and Winter now."
"How can you say that easily, Tilly?"
"The war has already started, Kiho. I have to act quickly or else, I'd lose everything," she said firmly. Then, she pulled out the dagger in the holster attached to his hip. Then, she put the dagger in his hand and made him point the sharp edge at her heart. He looked horrified by what she did but she held his hands tight. "My life is in your hands now, Kiho."
He didn't look happy with that.
The dagger was suddenly covered in ice and when he grasped it tighter, the frozen dagger broke into tiny pieces.
"If protecting you and our son would make me a traitor, so be it," Kiho said firmly. Then, he held her hands and placed them on his chest on the area where she could feel the beat of his heart. "My heart is in your hands, Tilly."
And she finally broke into happy tears.
"NOW I understand why His Majesty went to my office this afternoon," Kiho told Tilly. Right now, they were riding on his horse that was walking leisurely. His wife was leaning against his chest, listening closely to what he was saying. They could talk freely now because they were already in his estate. Before he talked, he made sure that no one was spying on them. Ah, Captain Denver went home after their conversation because it would be dangerous if other people saw the three of the together. "I thought he was only joking when he made me choose between you and him."
"His Majesty did that?" Tilly asked in surprise. "Who did you choose, Kiho?"
"Are you crazy?" she said, then turned to him with a knotted forehead. "Even if you think the emperor was only joking, you should have given him lip service."
"The emperor is perceptive. He'd know even if I lied," he reasoned. "Now I understand why he was so melancholic then. His Majesty knows that even if you expose your identity to me, I'd still choose you."
"I'm sorry, Kiho," she said in a sad voice. "I'm sorry for making you betray the person you vowed your loyalty to."
"I would lie if I said betraying His Majesty doesn't hurt me," he confessed. "He was the only father figure that I had when I was growing up. I witnessed how he grew from a carefree crown prince into a responsible emperor. He only acts immature as a coping mechanism. I know because I've seen his vulnerable side. But despite the bond that we have, I still can't let him kill you and our baby. Knowing his hatred towards the Fire Mages and the people who hurt Her Royal Highness, we cannot hope that he'd listen to our side. Fighting the royal family is the only choice that we have if we want to survive."
"Kiho, I'm still not giving up on the chance that we might still clear the Fire Mages from the accusations against them," his wife said firmly. "I can feel it in my heart that my ancestors were innocent. I want to prove it to the royal family and the whole empire. I'm going to war against the royal family not just to overthrow them. I'm doing this to find out the truth about the past." She turned to him with a determined look on her beautiful face. "I want to find the Great Fire Tree before I give birth to our baby."
After hearing Tilly and Captain Denver's story, his mind had already started to work on different strategies.
"Tilly, I think it would be better if Captain Denver would lead the search for the Great Fire Tree instead of you," he said. "Even though you have the heart of the Supreme, you really don't know anything about the Fire Mages. But the Denvers know a lot of stuff about your people. All we need is to find a solid clue as to where to find the tree first."
"You're not sending away Captain Denver just because you're jealous of him, are you?"
"Well, that's a part of the plan," he admitted. "But my plan would be beneficial to the Denvers as well. If Captain Denver is away from you, then the emperor wouldn't be suspicious of their family. He doesn't have to worry about you because I'm here to protect you and our son. But for that happen, Captain Denver must find a reason to leave the Royal Capital without raising suspicions."
"How can we tell the plan to Captain Denver?" Tilly asked. "I'm sure that His Majesty has already considered you as an enemy after your conversation this afternoon."
"I'll be having my last meeting with the captains before I officially start my vacation leave," he said. "I'll find the right time to talk to Captain Denver."
"Be careful of Captain Sherwood," she warned him. "We can't trust him."
"Considering his close relationship with Her Royal Highness, then we can't really trust him," he said. "In fact, I wouldn't trust anyone else aside from the Fire Mages." His forehead knotted when he remembered something. "Tilly, confessing everything to me was dangerous. What would have you done if I didn't choose you over the emperor?"
"It never crossed my mind that you would betray me, Kiho."
"You trust me that much?"
She nodded. "But even if I turned out to be wrong, I wouldn't regret dying by your hands. I'd rather be killed by you than the emperor."
"Shh," he lightly scolded her. "I'd never hurt you, Tilly. So please stop saying that you're considering the fact that I'm capable of killing you."
He just kissed her on the top of her head. "There's also the thing about your duty as this year's Beast Priestess. You said a while ago that you also don't trust the High Priest. Should you reconsider accepting the role? You're pregnant and everyone in the empire is looking forward to the birth of our son. Not even the royal family would say a word if you turn down the role of the Beast Priestess."
"I want to do it," she said determinedly. "I need to investigate the High Priest, Kiho. I have a feeling that the prophecy about our son is incomplete."
"I wouldn't be allowed in the temple but I'll find a way to keep an eye on you while you're in there," he promised her. "We'll figure everything out together, Tilly. But for now, you have to rest. I know you're tired after using your power."
She nodded in agreement. "Kiho?"
"Don't you feel a tiny bit of regret that out of all the women you could fall in love with, you fell in love with a Fire Mage?" she asked, fear evident in her voice. "Worse, I have the heart that the twin royals want. Wouldn't your life be simpler if you fell in love with an ordinary lady?"
"I don't regret falling in love with you, Tilly," he said sincerely. "And I don't mind that you're a Fire Mage. Or that you have the heart of the Supreme. You didn't choose to be born that way. But I'll accept it because I love every inch and every part of you the good and the bad."
"Oh, Kiho," she said, sniffing. "You're making me cry again."
He stopped the horse to wrap his arms around her. Then, he pulled her closer and gently placed his chin on top of her head. "Tilly, I don't care who you are. I will always stay by your side. Even if it ends up with us against the world."
"I'll protect you," Tilly said when she turned to him. "I'll protect you and Winter, I swear."
"Cute," Kiho said with a smile, then he kissed the tip of her nose and gently placed his hands on her tummy. "I will live and die for you and our son, Tilly."
And that was the only vow that he wouldn't break no matter what.
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