”What do you mean Im getting married? Her voice had a low, bewildered, and surprised tone. Her emerald intensely narrowed at the worried-looking middle-aged couple in front of her.

”We gave you our word that you will be free, didn we? ” Lara, the woman, inquired while feigning laughter.

”This is the freedom you promised? ” Ruby asked incredulously while scowling and clenching her fist.

”If you were in my shoes, youd think this is silly, too! ” Indignantly screaming, she turned away from them.

”Youve all of a sudden lost your manners! ” Ruby stopped in her tracks when the man, Andrew, yelled aggressively.

”Manners. ” Ruby muttered, shaking her head and took a step to leave.

”You will get married tonight. ” Andrew continued with a grunt.

Rubys eyes was instantly filled with angry tears and widened in shock at what she had just heard. She turned to face her parents, as if verifying if they were really her parents. Today was her birthday; she was supposed to celebrate with them, and they were supposed to release her out into the world to explore everything she had heard and read about in books.

”My gift of freedom, my freedom, is to marry a total stranger? Except for your father, I have never before seen a man! Isn it absurd? ” Ruby questioned them in an effort to make them think rationally.

While Andrew was irate and Lara appeared to be afraid, they both realised that none of their expressions would have any impact on Ruby.

”How does he know me? Who is he? How long have you two been planning this? ” Ruby questioned irately, anticipating a response. However, they remained silent and continued to look at her while maintaining their expressions.

”Answer me! ” Ruby yelled in frustration.

Andrew abruptly grabbed her hand in an aggressive manner, but she was stronger than him and jerked away from him, nearly knocking him off his feet. He collapsed to the ground quivering, staring in shock at Rubys enraged face.

Lara exhaled in surprise and put her hand on her chest. In her entire life, she had never witnessed Ruby become so irate.

Ruby hissed, ”I don appreciate being double crossed or betrayed. ” She had never felt this way before because no one had ever provoked her to this level of rage.

She groaned heavily as she turned away to look at a young woman who appeared to be in her early thirties. She gave Ruby a disappointed look, and Ruby truly thought she had done something wrong.

”Ruby, what are you doing? ” Nadine questioned, grabbed hold of her wrist, dragged her from the living area to her room, and abruptly closed the door behind them.

”What time did you return from the market? ” As Nadine freed her wrist, Ruby questioned nervously.

”Ruby, it is your birthday… ” Ruby interrupted Nadine as she appeared to be trying to explain something.

”You are aware of this? About me getting married ? ” Ruby questioned while taking a few steps back from Nadine.

”I..I.. ” Nadine stuttered and groaned.

Nadine hurried over to Ruby and gave her a bear embrace while whispering, ”Its not in our control, you have no choice. ”

Ruby froze, her eyes widening, and she withdrew from the hug. ”Were you all threatened? ” She questioned firmly.

Rubys hands were then clasped by Nadine after she said, ”It has to do with you being a phoenix. ”

Ruby gave Nadine a puzzled and curious look. She asked, ”What do you mean? ”

With a forced smile, Nadine mumbled, ”He will protect you, you will be safe with him, and you will also have someone to be with you for the rest of your life. ”

”I don see how it relates to me being a phoenix, ” Ruby admitted with a small nod, her emerald eyes enlarging and showing her desire for clarification.

Rubys golden hair was brushed by Nadine as she smiled and put her palm on her head. ”You are surrounded with so many enemies my dear, strong, mysterious and ancient enemies that your parents and I can protect you from. Do not forget that we are humans and you are the last phoenix in existence. ” Nadine spoke softly before heaving a long sigh.

Ruby boldly argued, ”But I am a good fighter, I trained myself, and I can protect myself, ” which caused Nadine to chuckle.

Ruby received another hug from Nadine as she muttered, ”A stubborn phoenix with a pure soul, naive soul, you don realise how terrible the world is. ”

”Since your birth, you have spent all eighteen of your years in this place. I can tell you that your husband will take care of you, so please don worry. ” With her eyes closed, Nadine murmured.

Ruby remained quiet. She had so many thoughts racing through her head when she came to the conclusion that she truly had no choice but to wed the stranger or else put her loved ones in peril. She smiled and hugged Nadine back. She was happy that she would leave the mansion at last and experience the outside world that her parents had been trying to prevent her from experiencing.

Ruby and Nadine were in the middle of an warming hug when the door burst open. Ruby and Nadine disengaged as Lara and Andrew entered the room smiling.

Ever since they informed her that she was soon getting married, her parents have made her feel uncomfortable.

Lara rushed over to Ruby and gave her a bear embrace after saying, ”You have finally calmed down, my dear baby. ”

”Im sure you have explained things to her, thank you for helping to calm her down. ” Nadine nodded and attempted a smile as Andrew said gratefully.

”I have. ” Nadine answered quietly.

”Then you are set to get married tonight, ” Lara exclaimed joyfully, breaking the hug.

”Why tonight? ” Ruby asked in a quiet, inquisitive tone.

Lara exclaimed, ”He said so, ” in a confident tone.

”Who? ” Ruby asked with wide-eyed curiosity.

Laras demeanour shifted to one of hesitation as she exchanged looks with Andrew and Nadine, both of whom were displaying anxious faces. Ruby was much more intrigued by it, and she anticipatedly stared them.

”Whats his name? ” She waited for one of them to speak, fiddling with her fingers as she did so.

”Mystic ” Andrew and Lara replied, their voices trembling and the look of utter terror in their eyes.

When Ruby noticed how terrified they appeared, she tightened her fists and scowled deeply. ”Why are you afraid of him so much? ”

Ruby looked at them in confusion as Nadine nervously responded, ”He is a prince, my dear. ”

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