Disclaimer: I don't own Jade Empire. Bummer.
A/N: This is just a fun little one-shot I wrote a while back. It's completely unrelated to my fic If Only. Hope you enjoy!
The Still of the Night
Something was wrong.
As her eyes opened and she gazed suspiciously into the darkness, she had no doubt. There was definitely something off, but she simply couldn't determine what it was. Her husband was sleeping soundly beside her, his familiar weight comfortable against her back. She briefly considered waking him, but decided against it. Until she pinpointed the problem it was best not to worry him. He had been worried enough lately.
Careful not to wake him, she slipped out of bed. His even breathing suddenly became erratic; he began to stir, as though realizing even in sleep that she was gone. She placed a gentle hand on his forehead, smoothing back his dark hair, and he slipped back into a peaceful slumber. Smiling faintly, she pulled on her robe, savoring the feel of the silk against her skin, and crept out of the bedroom.
Silently she crossed the hall and tiptoed into the room there. A fluttering erupted in her belly and she smiled, placing her hand against the small mound there. Yes, this is your room, she thought to her unborn child as she gazed at the nursery. It wasn't much yet, just a basinet and rocking chair, but it was a beginning. She had no doubt that by the time the baby got here in four months it would be full of toys. But for now it was four bare walls; there was nothing amiss.
She closed the door quietly and continued to the main suite. It was spacious, befitting their station, and elegantly furnished. There was a large sitting area, with plush chairs and soft cushion to sit on. In the far corner was an elegantly carved table surrounded by silk cushions; they had commissioned it from Chumin the Craftsman in Tien's Landing and ate most of their meals at it. Her desk stood against the wall, various documents that needed her review stacked neatly on top. There were a few books, and of course, Abbot Song's journal, which she was slowly reading. Her husband's desk was along the opposite wall. He rarely did any work here, preferring to travel to Tien's Landing, and so the desk was used to display a few mementos. The medals they had been awarded after the defeat of the brothers Sun were at the center, surrounded by a few more personal pieces: some trinkets she had salvaged from Two Rivers, a glass flower that had belonged to his daughter, an ancient vase the Empress had gifted to them on their wedding day holding flowers from Dawn Star's garden. Locked in the bottom drawer was the Dragon Amulet, being kept safe until the arrival of the newest Spirit Monk.
As her gaze drifted across the room, she searched desperately for something that was out of place, some small discrepancy that would explain the dark feeling that had awoken her. She frowned. Everything seemed to be where it belonged.
She turned, prepared to dismiss it as a hormonal urge – they were becoming more frequent as her pregnancy progressed – when a cool breeze blew across her skin.
The balcony door was open a crack.
Again she frowned.
They never left the balcony door open. While the palace was the most secure place in the empire these days, between her husband's checkered past and her own experiences with betrayal, they found sleeping with the doors open unnerving. Cautiously, she crossed the room, her senses on full alert. It was possible they hadn't latched it properly and it had simply blown open, but she knew enough to be wary. She pulled gently and the door clicked shut. She shivered, the hairs on the back of her neck standing up.
The feeling she had sensed in the bedroom was growing. Something was definitely wrong. Suddenly, it erupted into full blown panic and she dropped, rolling towards the center of the room just as a sword swished overhead. She looked at her attacker and found him gazing at her in surprise; clearly he didn't consider an unarmed pregnant woman a threat. Or maybe it was because her bathrobe was coming open to reveal a long expanse of leg. Either way, it gave her time to act. With one swift chop to his neck she paralyzed him. The weapon fell from his fingers as he moved to clutch his aching throat, and a kick to his side sent him sprawling onto the floor. She was on him in an instant, ramming the heel of her hand into the side of his head. He collapsed with a dull thud.
She took a moment to ensure he was truly unconscious, then rose and walked to the main entrance to the suite.
"Is something wrong, my lady?" asked the Imperial guard stationed just outside.
"I need you to help me with something. Quietly."
He followed her into the suite, stopping short when he spotted the unconscious intruder. He opened his mouth to speak, but a raised hand silenced him. She motioned for the guard to remove the body, and he dutifully hefted the man over his shoulder and carried him out the door. She smiled faintly as she followed him into the hall; there were definite advantages to being the Chief Consular to the Empress.
The other guard stared in shock. "What happened?"
"He attacked me. I believe he may have come in through the balcony," she explained.
"Forgive me, milady," the guard pleaded. "This lapse is inexcusable."
"Then you had best see that it doesn't happen again. We'll have to tighten palace security, and the Empress will need to be notified. Her personal security detail should also be enhanced."
"Of course, my lady. I'll inform the Empress myself. We should also post a guard on your balcony, for your protection."
She considered for a moment; she didn't like the idea, but it was better to be safe. "Very well. See to it that they're discreet."
The guard bowed and motioned for his comrade to take position on their terrace. "With your leave…"
She nodded as the guard bowed low and closed the door behind her. The guards liked her; they would see to her safety, and she and Lian would work out a new security arrangement in the morning.
She padded into the suite, surveying the room to make sure nothing had been broken in the scuffle.
"You all right, love?" Sky asked sleepily, wandering in from the bedroom. "I thought I heard something."
Ling smiled and went to him, resting her small hands on his chest. "I had to put some trash out, that's all."
He raised his eyebrow skeptically. "Don't we have servants for that?"
"It was just something I had to take care of. I'll tell you about it in the morning."
He seemed to accept this and leaned in to kiss her sweetly. "I love you, Ling." The baby, apparently feeling left out, rolled suddenly and noticeably, and they both laughed. "And I love you, too," he promised, resting his hand against her small belly.
"We love you, too. Come back to bed."
Sky smiled and taking his wife's hand, allowed her to lead him back to bed.