Fire starter and Grunt began leaving the torched area after releasing the fire elemental’s nine remaining summonings. As the two instigators began walking further into the forest, Grunt heard a rustling in nearby brush.
“...........” Grunt warned.
Fire starter stopped walking, “Hm? Think sumbody try’n ta get tha jump on us ah? Well, come on out’ya cowa’d!” the fire user threatened. He clutched his staff in preparations for a fight.
Another shrub was disturbed as someone ran by it, kicking with their leg. The mystic and suit of armor both turned to see the spy, but saw no one. Both stood back to back ready and waiting for the intruder to expose themself. When suddenly an individual jumped through the greenery and landed before them both.
“SAMMY SAMMY SEVEN!” he yelled.
Fire starter and Grunt jumped in surprise, but were quickly annoyed. One of Fire starter’s summonings, number seven, had been following them. A six foot tall mountain of muscle who’s sadly lacking in the speech department. For Fire starter however, it wasn’t the fact that Sammy sammy seven was stupid that annoyed him most, it was that he was incapable of not yelling everytime he spoke.
“Numb’a seven, what’r ya do’n he’ya?! Yer supposed’ta be out burn’n tha kingdom down with tha oth’a sum’nings.” Fire starter scolded.
“SAMMY SAMMY!” Sammy sammy seven explained in a yelling boisterous voice.
“I don’t need protection, I got Grunt.”
“SEVEN SAMMY SEVEN!” he yelled.
“...........................” Grunt defended.
“Ugh, screw it! Juss whateva! Let’s go.” the hot tempered elemental griped.
Fire starter, Grunt, and Sammy sammy seven disappeared as they marched deeper into the dark woods together.
Meanwhile, princess Alisha continued traversing through the darkening woods. The horrific day began to close, the blue sky began to transform into a heavy purple and fade into black. She eventually, after a fair amount of time traveling, sat down on a large tree root next to her shark dog friend. Vincent stood close by incase of danger while Wraith wondered off.
“Wraith seems to have been gone a long time, don’t you think?” the princess asked.
“Yeah, hm. It is possible he’s been eat’n I suppose.” Bo thought out loud.
Alisha gasped, “You think so?”
“Possible, there’s a lot of scary monsters in these magical woods ya know. Ogres, trolls, goblins, fairies, all sorts a stuff. Maybe we shouldn’t have let the little tyke wonder off by himself.” Bo figured.
Alisha began to worry, not only for herself, but Wraith and the others as well. “Vincent, do you think Wraith is okay?”
“Pft, I dunno. What? You care?” Vincent snipped back.
Alisha easily picked up on Vincent’s negative attitude, “Yes as a matter of fact I do.” she replied gaining Vincent’s attention quickly. “I think there’s been enough people,....” she stuttered a swallowed, “..getting hurt today. I can’t deal with anymore.” she teared up.
“Oh, look what ya did there ya big jerk! Ya made her cry.” Bo barked, “There, there princess I’m here for ya.”
Vincent was shocked, he didn’t give a damn about Wraith’s safety, but he certainly didn’t like to make girls cry. Especially a girl he found particularly interesting. “Wha?” his jaw dropped, “You’re crying. Stop crying.”
“I’m not crying!” she quipped back while crying softly.
“Ya big jerk! That’s no way to stop somebody from crying.” Bo complained.
“Is this really cause of Wraith or your dead parents?” he asked.
“You’re such a jerk!” the princess yelled with watery eyes. She swung her arm in Vincent’s direction hitting his braced arm to protect himself.
“Geez, just be thankful ya had parents will ya?”
“Hm?” she sniffled, “Yours are gone too?”
“Ha. Yeah, their gone alright. Cast me aside like a bag of trash.” he explained reliving the burden.
“So? Their alive?” she sniffled.
“I dunno, who cares.” he shrugged his shoulders. “They didn’t want me and I don’t want them.”
“Why? What happened?”
“Ugh, would you drop it already? Damn. How did we get to talking about me anyways?”
The princess stopped for a moment, and looked away then scratched Bo’s ear, “You don’t like talking about yourself, do you?” she sniffled
Vincent sighed and ran his hand through his hair, “Ugh. No.”
“Why is that?”
“Really?” he asked back looking towards her.
“Fine.” she stopped for a brief moment. The silence however was soon broken yet again by another question. “Do you really think they’re both dead?”
“I don’t know and I don’t care, can we drop it already?”
“I meant mom and dad.” she explained softly.
“What a jerk.” Bo scorned.
Vincent actually felt a bit like a jerk, “Oh.” he paused. “Yeah.” He took a deep breath and walked over to the princess. As he sat down near her and looked away, “I’m sorry.”
The princess toughened, “For what?”
“Ya know. You cried. I didn’t mean to make you.”
“I don’t believe you.” she accused.
“Huh? I didn’t.” he defended.
“Not that. I don’t think you’re really sorry.”
“What?! Fine, whatever. Forget it then.”
The princess gasped, “You’re so rude.”
“Me? I’m the one who apologized and YOU called me a liar.”
“Well it certainly didn’t sound sincere.”
“Well I don’t make a habit of apologizing to people. Damn, first time I do and I’m called a liar for it. Glad to see my words are meaningless, thanks.” he replied with sarcasm.
Alisha had noticed she offended the silver haired teen. She placed her hands in her lap while looking down, “I’m the first person you’ve ever apologized to? So, you don’t feel you’ve ever done anybody wrong before?”
“Didn’t say that, just never cared to apologize to those people.”
The princess blushed as she heard the message through his strong words, “Then I’m sorry.”
“Thank you. It makes me feel kinda, special.” she said looking away.
“Well, to be the first. I just didn’t know you cared about me enough to apologize.” she explained peering towards him.
Vincent swiftly looked her in the eyes and darted his head another direction to hide his blushing face, “I, um. Well, that’s not exactly what I said.” he recovered.
“What a dip.” Bo said to himself.
“So, you care about Wraith huh?”
“Well, yeah. Right now, I’ll admit, I’m a little concerned for his well-being. He has been gone a good while.” she answered.
“Oh. Yeah.” Vincent replied with a hinted lack of emotion due to hearing Alisha’s concern for Wraith. “She cares about him?” he thought to himself.
The concerned princess continued disrupting the silence with further questions, “What about my brother?”
“Hm? What about him?”
“Do you think, he too is...” the lonely blonde couldn’t bring herself to finishing her own question.
Vincent began to answer the girl’s question, but stopped as he heard movement growing near. He jumped to his feet as did the others. He withdrew his dual blade katanas as he readied for what approached, but lowered his guard once he visibly identified it was in fact Wraith.
“On edge squirt?” Wraith mocked.
“Where you been this whole time?” Vincent inquired.
“I told you I’d look for some shelter stupid.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t know you were gonna take a nap first! Might as well of caught a movie while you were at it.” Vincent returned.
The princess chimed in just in time to cut off Wraith’s reply, “We were just worried that’s all.”
Wraith smirked and looked at Vincent, “Awe, wittle Vincent miss me?” he mocked as if talking to a baby.
“Screw off.” Vincent stated.
“Hey! So? Did ya find anything?” Bo added in.
“Well, all I could find was a small bridge. We could sleep under that until morning. Should be pretty safe.” Wraith answered.
“Under a bridge?” Alisha gasped.
“You expect a princess to sleep under a bridge like some hobo?” Vincent griped.
“Hey, we don’t exactly have any hotel reservations out here. Unless you can pull a tent outta your ass that’s the only option we’ve got.” Wraith argued.
“You moth’a.....” Vincent started.
“WAIT a second, wait a second!” Bo interrupted and sniffed the air, “I smell something. It smells like cooking meat.” he informed licking his chops.
“Really? Where?” the blonde beauty wondered.
“It, it’s coming from this direction.” Bo pointed. “Come on, maybe there’s a cabin we can sleep in?”
“Hold up, what if it’s some Vailstone soldiers setting up camp out here looking for Alisha?” Wraith warned.
“Then we’ll be careful.” she said following Bo as he wondered off, “Come on.”
The two swordsmen looked at each other with uncertainty before following after. The sun had long since set and darkness blanketed not only the sky, but the woods as well. Twinkling stars dangled over head as the three teenagers followed the sniffing sharkdog. Slight movement in the distance was heard around them from time to time. Sometimes from the ground and at other moments in the trees above making them more on edge. Finally, the glimmering shine of a small campfire was noticed several feet away.
“Hey, see that?” Bo asked happily.
“Shhhh, be quite.” Vincent warned as they moved in closer.
The small group hid behind two trees, Alisha and Bo behind one while Wraith and Vincent hid behind the other. They peered around each tree to witness the owner of the campfire. As the four spied it was obvious it was only a single man traveling with a stage carriage who had set up camp for the night. Bo was drooling at the mouth as he became hypnotized by the delicious smell of the cooked sausage. The hungry sharkdog leaned closer toward the odor, unfortunately in doing so he tripped an extremely thin wire with small bells tied to it causing them to jingle. The man turned in their direction once he was notified of their presence.
He was a man of average height with very baggy clothing. He wore a bandana on his head and around his neck, one piercing on the side of his nose, and multiple in his ears. On his shoulder, sitting with in his long black hair sat a small pet ferret. The tanned man had many belts one which contained a holster with a gun and another holding a sheath and sword.
“Who goes there?!” he yelled with concern.
“Please don’t panic, we’re coming out.” Alisha warned. Despite Vincent and Wraith motioning for her to stay back the princess proceeded anyhow. “I am princess Alisha of Vailstone.” she informed with her hands suspended in front of her.
Bo followed Alisha mimicking her with his paws in front of him as well, though his attention was solely on the cooking sausages.
“A princess, huh?” the man questioned.
“What’re you crazy? You can’t just announce to the world you’re a princess.” Wraith warned as he and Vincent stepped out from behind the trees.
“Oh? Um, how many more of you are hiding out there?” he wondered.
“Why?” Vincent returned.
“Well, I would like to simply rest easy tonight.” he replied.
“It’s just us four. I promise.” the buxom girl declared.
“A princess’ promise, well that’s as good as gold.” the man bowed slightly in the presence of the blonde beauty. “And what do I owe this pleasure?”
“We’re hungry.” Bo interrupted.
“Oh? Certainly not for long, please sit down with me by the campfire. It’s not much, but I can roast more if you like. It’s not every day I am given the chance to dine with royalty.”
“If it’s not too much trouble.” she asked softly.
“Certainly, um, pardon me for just a moment.” the man stepped inside his stage carriage for a moment to collect more food.
“What makes you think we can trust this guy? He looks like he’s dressed like a gypsy or something.” Vincent pointed out.
“So? What’s wrong with being a gypsy?”
“Have you ever stepped foot out of your comfy castle? Gypsy’s are crooks and can’t be trusted.” Wraith added.
“Isn’t that ironic.” Vincent muttered glaring at Wraith.
“I’m starving and Bo too. We’ll just be careful. Besides, I have my two body guards with me.” she smiled.
Wraith and Vincent looked at each other, “Body guards?”
The man stepped out of his stage carriage with additional foods for roasting over the fire. “Please, sit. Sit.”
The three teens and single sharkdog walked over to the campfire and each sat down. Alisha sat on an upside-down bucket while the two boys sat in the leaves with Bo.
“So, what brings an angel like yourself this deep into creepy woods such as these?” he asked while placing more food in the fire.
Vincent and Wraith glared at the strange man with hate as he tried flattering Alisha. The two teens weren’t fond of the idea of him moving in on ‘their’ girl. The princess smiled from the compliment before allowing it to fade away. “My kingdom was attacked early this morning. I fled with my two body guards for safety.”
“That’s awful. Any idea of who would do such a thing?” he asked.
“It was our own grand duke. He took possession of something that belonged to my father, the king.”
“After doing so, he killed my mother and I’m fairly certain he’s killed my father as well.”
“Oh my God, you poor dear. You must be a strong young woman.” he assumed.
“Oh, no. I’ve cried all day. My eyes hurt from all the tears actually.” she woefully smirked.
“Well, a tear doesn’t mean weakness. It’s the truly weak that cannot cry.”
A comment which caused Vincent and Wraith to roll their eyes.
“Here ya go, eat up.” he said handing her over a roasted sausage.”
“Thank you.” she thanked before taking a bite.
“You two seem a bit young for body guards.” he continued while eating.
“So.” Wraith replied as Vincent said nothing.
Everyone ate around the camp fire before the stranger broke the silence again, “So what’s your course of action now? I mean, doesn’t this make you a queen?”
Alisha was stunned for a slight moment, “I hadn’t thought about it actually.” she paused, “I suppose......I must avenge my parents. I couldn’t live with myself knowing their murderer wandered freely.”
“Pft, how are you going to stop Raziel?” Vincent inquired.
“I don’t know, but we’ll figure something out. I’m sure of it.”
“‘We’?” Wraith interrupted, “What’s this ‘we’? I’m not getting involved.”
“You’re already involved.” Bo stated.
“Not anymore. Fighting Raziel in that armor is a death sentence. Screw that.”
“Wraith? I can’t do this alone.” she teared up. “I’m all by myself, I don’t know what to do.” she began crying.
“Smooth move jack-ass.” Vincent whispered Wraith’s direction.
“Well, maybe I can help.” the man stated reaching into his deep pockets. Alisha was curious, ’what could this man do to help stop Raziel?’. He pulled out a bottle smaller than a finger, cupped the girl’s hands, and handed it over.
“Hm?” she sniffled, “What’s this?”
“It’s a poison.” he replied.
“WHAT!? SUICIDE’S NOT THE WAY YOU FREAK’N IDIOT!” Vincent yelled jumping to his feet.
“No, no. It’s not that kind of poison. It’s zamora.”
“What’s, zamora?” Alisha wondered.
“It’s a poison that helps you forget. The story is that a great wizard was known around the north for his powerful potions, he was like the best or something. Anyway, he lost his one true love and couldn’t bare the pain. He felt so lost that he created zamora. After he drank it, he forgot all about what hurt him most.”
The princess looked at the tiny bottle, “How could he do that? How could he forget about what brought him so much happiness before?” she shook her head ‘no’ and handed the small bottle back to the oddly dressed man, “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t bear the thought of forgetting about my family. I’m sorry, but thank you.”
The man refused to take the bottle back, “No, no. You keep it. Think of it as a gift.”
“Hey, we never got your name.” Vincent announced with suspicion.
“Oh my God you’re right. I am Enrique. It means ‘lord of the manor’.” he explained kissing Alisha’s hand.
“You know what your name means?” Wraith questioned.
“Of course I do. Such as the lovely Alisha’s here, ‘protected by God’. You truely are an angel.” he said making the princess blush.
“Well, well my name’s Bo. What’s it mean?” he asked excitedly.
“Bo? Hm, let see.” he thought for a brief moment, “Ah yes, ‘to live’ or ‘to dwell’.”
Bo’s enthusiasm suffered greatly, “Well that doesn’t sound very awesome.” he groaned folding his tiny arms.
“Hey silver, I don’t remember catching your name.” he smiled.
Vincent just looked towards Enrique with extreme dissatisfaction while chewing his food. “Vincent.” Alisha stated, locking eyes with him for a long second before looking to their new friend for a response.
“Oh! Vincent, I remember that one well. It means ‘conquering’ or ‘to win’.”
Enrique then looked at Wraith last, “Wraith, right?”
“I know what Wraith means. I gave it to myself.”
“What does it mean Wraith?” Bo wondered.
“A Wraith is kinda like a ghost, but shaped like a person even though it ain’t. It appears before you, right before you die. It’s the last thing you see.” he explained.
“That’s creepy. Why would you call yourself something like that for?” Bo asked further.
“Cause when I was with my crew and we ran into trouble,” he paused as if recollecting moments in the past, “I was the last thing they saw.”
Enrique’s random statement gathered everyone’s attention around the campfire.
“What?” Wraith asked.
“Or ‘to lick nut butter’.” Enrique smiled.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“‘Wraith’, it means ‘peanutbutter licker’ or ‘to lick nut butter’. I don’t know where you got that other information from, but that’s something else you’re talking about there.”
“That’s not what it means.” Wraith snapped back.
“Calm down ‘nut licker’.” Vincent smirked.
“Shut up!” Wraith warned.
“‘Nut butter licker’.” Bo corrected.
“Would you drop it!” Wraith yelled.
Enrique clapped his hands, “Very well, perhaps we should call it a night. Um, where will you all be sleeping tonight?”
“Oh, um, I don’t know.” Alisha wondered looking around noticing nothing but trees, leaf patches on the ground, and a few rocks.
“Well, in the dirt of a dark forest is no place for a princess to sleep.” enrique motioned to his stage carriage, “You could sleep in the carriage with me if you like. It’s much safer than the open wilderness, that’s for sure.” he smiled innocently.
“She stays with us.” Wraith proclaimed.
Alisha noticed a certain determination in Wraith’s eyes, “Yeah, we’ll, we’ll figure something out.”
“Alright, suit yourselves.” he began making his way to the carriage before stopping, “Actually, now that I think about it. I might have something. Hold on just a sec.” he said stepping into the carriage.
Wraith walked over to Alisha, “You can’t sleep in there with him. I don’t trust this guy.”
“I wasn’t going to do that.” she stated. “What’s up with you two? Why are you guys always so negative? I swear you two probably hate everyone you meet.”
Enrique started stepping out of the large carriage, but with resistance. In his hands was a large folded tent, which didn’t pass through the carriage door very well.
“Come on Vincent, let’s give’m a hand.” Bo asked slapping on his arm. Vincent hesitated for minute before huffing and walking over to Enrique and Bo to help out.
Alisha and Wraith stood by the fire while the others pulled the large tent from the carriage. Small flickering embers floated from the campfire and drifted around the two while standing alone surrounded by darkness.
“You’re wrong just so ya know.” Wraith said easily.
“About what you said a second ago. You were right, to say I hate a lot of people. But, I don’t hate everybody.” he continued softly.
Alisha looked at Wraith, he spoke softer than before. The tone of his voice had a level of comfort she hadn’t heard before. The light of the campfire danced in his eyes as they were focused on hers.
“A part of the tent is caught right there, in the corner.” Bo pointed out.
“Where? Can you get it silver?” Enrique asked.
“I’ve got it.” Vincent groaned, “Just lose the nickname.” Vincent moved around to make an adjustment on the tent so the full object would fit through the doorway, but as he looked back at the campfire, he noticed Wraith walk over to princess Alisha and softly grab her hand. He froze for a slight moment until further questioning from Enrique snapped him out of it. “Oh, uh yeah. Um, I got it.” he said freeing the tent from the carriage.
Alisha saw Wraith move in close and removed her hand from his. She inhaled quickly and held her hands against her chest. Looking into Wraith’s eyes, seeing a part of him she hadn’t before.
“Tent’s ready!” Bo happily yelled to them.
“That was fast.” Wraith noticed.
“Yes, it was.” Alisha agreed also referring to Wraith’s actions.
“It was a pop-up tent.” Bo said speedily wandering inside, “It’s so big! I’ve never slept in one of these before.” he said as his silhouette jumped up and down inside.
Vincent was upset and laid down inside the tent with some pillows and blankets given by Enrique.
“You two outta get inside there soon, there’s no tell’n what’s out here at night.” Enrique warned with a smile, “Goodnight now.” The long haired man climbed into his stage carriage and shut his door for the night.
Wraith walked over to the tent and stepped inside, “Come on Alisha, let’s go ta sleep.” Bo smiled largely.
The princess walked away from the weakening campfire and to the energetic shark dog.
The night sky was a comfortable black with twinkling stars scattered across the night sky. The forest was quiet and the terrible day finally came to a rest. The princess laid between her two new ‘body guards’ with a snuggly shark dog cuddling to her side. Before she drifted off to sleep, she couldn’t help but remember the tragedy that befell her parents and wondered, what was the condition of her older brother.
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