LOST – CHAPTER 2
Lexa woke with a start, her chest contracting as her lungs urgently fought her body to take in the oxygen required by her rapidly beating heart. She was covered in a cold sweat, the rough pelt wrapped haphazardly around her waist and right leg, evidence of the restless night she had - twisting and turning in her sleep. She had a nightmare, one she couldn't recall though she was sure it revolved around a certain blonde woman.
She tried to calm her racing heart, shutting her eyes and pressing a fist onto her forehead lightly, as though it could dismiss the sinister scenes her mind had delivered in her slumber instead of the rest she yearned for. Her breathing slowly regained normalcy, but the tension in her chest did not subside. She finally opened her eyes to the new day. Her throat was dry, so she made her way to the jug placed on her table and gulped a glass of water. Her body felt drained of its strength. Her limbs hurt. She felt exhausted externally as well as internally. The last part was new to her. She couldn't recall feeling weak internally in a very long time. She had been injured a lot of times and physical pain didn't matter to her anymore. Last night's reckless, needless and limitless sword 'practice' was the cause of the stress in her limbs. It was very rare for her to be exhausted after merely exercising but how long had she been at it? 5 hours? 6? I think I broke my own record, she mused. Thinking back to the present, this new feeling of being emotionally drained returned. She frowned. What was happening to her? After splashing cold water on her face, as if it would also wipe away the memories she was trying very hard to block, she made her way out of her tent.
The sun was just beginning to make its presence known on the horizon, not yet delivering any warmth, but lighting the sky to a dark blue shade. The camp was silent and Lexa could only hear the low rhythmic footsteps of her guards guarding the perimeter; that too thanks to her remarkable hearing. Her mind was burdened and she could not think properly. She needed to clear it up so she could perform her role as the Commander of thousands of people of the 12 clans.
She made her way to one of the guard patrolling. He, upon seeing her, instantly bowed his head in respect and acknowledged her, "Heda." She nodded in response and asked the warrior to fetch her a horse in Trigedasleng.
He immediately obeyed and brought her the finest horse; her brown, strong, lethal horse. She took the reins and left the camp without a word. The guard had wanted to accompany her for her safety but had been silenced with one look of the deadly Commander.
Riding was all about the feel of it, for the troubled Commander. The feel of a connection between her and the horse, soft and supple through the reins, the feel of her hips freely moving in sync with the horse's strides, the feel of a firm back delivering a well-timed half-halt. The more she put her attention to these feelings, the more harmonious and joyful riding became. She was no longer the Commander everyone feared, rather a young innocent woman. A free woman. The woman she wanted to be. Carefree. Joyous. Lighthearted and happy. The woman she could never be.
She commanded her horse to stop by pulling the reins when she reached a clearing in the forest. This was her favourite spot. It was not the most beautiful piece of land she had witnessed but she loved this place because of the peace and tranquility it offered. Even the birds were quiet here. She got off her horse and sat down on the grass.
Then she tried to recall her dream. Nightmare would be more accurate. The Commander was fearless and hadn't had any nightmares since Costia's death. She closed her eyes and lied down. The images of last night came flashing back to her in bits and pieces. Clarke hanging upside down, being drained of her blood. Clarke being tortured, her nails brutally removed. Clarke being electrified. Clarke being...she jolted her eyes open and in a swift motion sat up. "No," she whispered softly, defeated. She had lost the battle against herself. She was totally and utterly in love with Clarke; the girl who hated her.
Lexa took in deep breaths to calm her emotions down. The cool, refreshing morning breeze helped. She was a warrior and this was just another war, she comforted herself. She hadn't lost any battle since she had taken up commandership and wasn't ready to lose this one either. Determined not to think of Clarke, not to care about her, she rode back to her camp. Repeating the mantra love is weakness in her head.
The sun was mature enough to provide heat when she returned. Her subjects were awake and the camp was busting with life. Blades were being sharpened, as per early morning routine of her warriors. The children were laughing and playing around. Some warriors had already started training, which she approved by sending a small nod in their direction. She made her way to her tent where breakfast had been placed on her table. She did not feel hungry but ate because she knew that the day would require her energy.
Soon after that, Indra entered to know what services the Commander demanded from her today.
"Get a hunting party ready. We need to hunt for tonight's festival. And position additional guards at the perimeters."
"Yes, Heda." Indra responded respectfully and left.
Moments later, Lexa went to the hunt. It was working all well - the distractions - till Lexa heard the voice of Pauna. She, momententarily, froze. Her mind shouting Clarke! The sinister scene replaying in her mind; how she thought Clarke and her were going to die, how Clarke would die in front of her eyes. She opened her mouth to give voice to the shouts in her mind but, thankfully, Indra spoke up and brought Lexa back to the present.
"Commander, we need to leave. Now." Indra said, urgency in her voice as she watched her Commander rooted to the spot.
She propelled herself after her army chief and found her out of harm's way soon enough. Indra had a confused look on her face, as she had never seen the strong Commander at loss of what to do, even if it was for a moment. This was a first. However, she knew better than to voice her concerns.
They were greeted in their camp by cheers, bringing in four deers and one panther.
The preparations of the festival were complete. Dancers were ready to perform, a bonfire was set up and the fermented intoxicating drink was also brought in for the celebration. The hunted animals were being roasted on a separate fire.
Lexa went into her tent and cleaned herself up. When she went back outside, she found that the heads of all the clans had arrived except the sky people. She frowned at their absence but before she could ask Indra about the matter she heard a commotion on her left side. She already guessed what this was about before she saw Clarke's blue jacket making its way towards her. She knew her people didn't care about the sky people anymore; not that they ever did for that matter but it had been clear that the Commander had favoured them greatly. No one had dared to go against the Commander but since the alliance had been sabotaged by the Commander herself, they felt as though they could go back to treating the sky people like the scum they thought they were.
"Daun ste pleni!"(That is enough) Lexa ordered in her native language.
As the crowd made way for the sky delegation, Lexa saw that Clarke was accompanied by Bellamy and Raven's boy - what was his name, she failed to recall. They were both armed and walking on either side of their leader. The rest of the crowd had resumed back to their celebrations, when Clarke finally stood in front of the Commander.
"Welcome, Clarke of the sky people." Lexa spoke in an emotionless voice.
"Thank you, Commander." Clarke said, her voice not betraying any emotions either.
"Your bodyguards need to put their..."
Clarke cut Lexa off. "Weapons? No. I don't think that's going to happen."
"You are going to defy me in front of my people, in my camp? Who do you think you are?" Lexa spoke dangerously but behind the mask, she was enjoying this. It was just like the old Clarke, always defying the Commander. Besides, no one was watching them anymore.
Clarke took a bold step towards the Commander and, looking straight into the green eyes, spoke,
"I am the leader who is your equal. Not your subordinate so it doesn't matter where I am, I do not take orders from you, Commander. Besides, I cannot walk without any protection in your camp especially."
Lexa thought this over and couldn't help but agree. Clarke had a lot of enemies here and she suddenly felt very stupid for inviting Clarke to such event where she would find an enemy everywhere her head turned. She needed to announce the peace treaty quickly...but she needed to discuss it with her generals first. Therefore she motioned for Clarke to follow her to the headquarters' tent.
All the generals and Clarke stood around the table as the Commander told them about establishing the peace treaty with the sky people.
As soon as the Commander stopped speaking, many of her generals protested against it. One of them managed to raise his voice over the others.
"What are they doing here, Heda? I thought you were done with these invaders. We don't need them or their technology! We have survived long enough without it." He said spitting.
"Behave, Jared! Need I remind you what the mountain men did with their weapons? Their technology? The sky people have that technology now." Lexa spoke sharply.
"Then we kill them all. Kill this girl!" He threw himself at Clarke but the Commander was faster and, in the blink of an eye, he was on the floor with the blade of her sword pointing at his throat.
"You listen to me. You are not the Commander. You do not have the right to decide. Your job is just to voice the opinion of your clan. And listen to me clearly, I will not allow anyone to destroy the peace I have built. "
"Yes, Commander." He croaked and was released after a while, though Lexa kept glaring at him.
The rest of the generals watched the proceedings with bored looks, which made Clarke believe that it must be something normal for them.
"Commander, with all due respect, I want to ask you, why can't we just wipe them off? Like Jared asked?" Another general spoke, looking directly at Clarke.
"Because you cannot." Clarke answered before Lexa could, gritting her teeth. Lexa remained quiet because she knew Clarke could stand her very well.
"Is that so, sky princess?" The grounder mocked her.
"You failed to take down the mountain for 97 years. Your people were turned into reapers and you watched that happen helplessly. Your people were kept prisoners in that mountain yet you couldn't get them out until very recently with MY people's help. You have failed to bring down the mountain. Your warriors were useless. MY people are the conquers of the mountain. The victors. Oh, and we are the ones who can revert back your reapers with our useless technology. So tell me, can you afford to attack us?" Clarke said, breathing heavily.
This general wasn't a hot head like general Jared and remained quiet for a while, thinking. Finally he spoke up, "Then why are YOU forming this alliance?"
"This isn't an alliance, general. This is just a peace treaty." Clarke corrected him instantly. Lexa inwardly flinched at this. It was like Clarke hated the word alliance; ironic as she was literally saying it all the time when she first met Lexa.
"As for the answer to your question; I don't want any more battles between our people. It does us no good; we just lose lives. We don't need to fight nor do we need to stay together. We just need to remain at peace so we can both move forward with our lives. Life isn't just about surviving, there is more to it that than. We need to give all ourselves the chance to find out the 'more'."
"We deserve it." Lexa spoke quietly.
Clarke turned her head in the Commander's direction and when their eyes met, Clarke was sure what moment Lexa was recalling from her memory. Lexa continued to stare into Clarke's eyes as if to decipher something. Clarke didn't back down; she had nothing to hide from Lexa anymore. She no longer cared for Lexa's opinion, about her thoughts. Finally the Commander broke away from the stare and asked her generals, "Any more questions on my decision, generals?"
None of them said anything but Michael, the one who had questioned Clarke, stared at Clarke with clear fascination in his eyes. Clarke took no notice but the Commander did and this made her scowl. However she knew better than to speak her mind over such petty matter.
"You all can go and enjoy the celebrations now. I will join you all shortly and announce the peace treaty." She said the last part looking at Clarke who nodded and left the tent first. Bellamy and Wick following in her step.
The rest of the generals mumbled "Heda" and made their way out too. But Lexa asked Jared to stay in her tent. Once everybody was out, she, in a quick motion, took Jared by his throat and whispered menacingly in his ear.
"Do not dare attack Clarke. Ever. If you as much as come near her, I will make sure that's the last thing you do."
"Why do you care so much about that girl, Commander?"
"I care about peace, general. She is the one who ensures peace between our people and the sky people, and you will do nothing to jeopardize it, do you understand?"
"Good. Leave now. And speak of this to no one or you won't live to see another day."
The poor general nodded and quickly made his way out of the tent.
Meanwhile, Clarke was confronted by Michael, about his fascination of the sky people's ways. He asked her, very curiously, "I don't understand, Clarke of the sky people. If you have all the power you claim to have then why do YOU want peace this way. You could just win a war and have peace all over."
Clarke smiled before answering, "Those are your ways of ensuring peace, general. Not ours. Besides, I know where the loyalties of your people lie. They lie in the right person. Lexa might have betrayed me and my people but she is the selfless Commander for her people. I could never be that leader for your people. There will always be differences."
"You know people will follow you, once you earn their respect." The general spoke after a while.
This made Clarke turn to look at the general, as this was not what she had expected any general to say. This general was not very old. Older than Lexa and Clarke but not very old. He must be 25-26, Clarke observed.
"I know how respect from your people is earned, general. I think I will pass on the offer. Now if you'll excuse me I would like to join the celebrations." Clarke said coldly.
"Yes, sure." The general mumbled and removed himself from Clarke's proximity.
"What was that about?" Bellamy asked, making his way to Clarke.
"You heard what it was about. Grounders and their ways." Clarke said, rolling her eyes.
They heard cheers and saw that a dance had started around the fire. The sky people didn't know about the steps; nevertheless it looked fun.
"You both should go and enjoy yourselves." Clarke told her guards.
"What about you, princess? You are not safe here." Wick said.
"Oh, I doubt anyone would try to harm me in the presence of all these witnesses. Their Commander would not want the peace to be turned into pieces." Clarke smiled.
"Then come on, join us Clarke!" Bellamy said, trying to take her hand.
"I will, after Lexa announces the peace treaty, Bellamy. Now go. Have fun."
Clarke watched, smiling, as both her friends made their way to the "dance floor". She couldn't help but laugh at how ridiculous they looked dancing in grounder fashion.
After a while, the dancing stopped and Clarke frowned at the abruptness. Then she saw the Commander walking out of the tent. People bowed at her as she passed them. She ignored them and made her way to the center.
"People of the 12 clans, you are gathered today to celebrate the day we all were united 6 years ago. We have accomplished remarkable achievements since that day. All our clans have contributed equally for those successes. Today's celebration is also a means to welcome back our warriors who had been captured by the Mountain Men. We welcome you all home."
Cheers greeted the Commander's little speech. "Heda, Heda" was being chanted all around the camp. This was another demonstration for the sky people of how much the people loved and respected their Commander.
Lexa did not smile; she rather remained stoic at the appreciation. The Commander who did not feel anything. After some time, she raised one hand to quiet the crowd. Immediately, silence overtook the cheers.
"On this day, I would like to announce a peace treaty between our people and the sky people." She nodded her head in Clarke's direction, who looked straight into her eyes without flinching.
"No one is to cause any harm to Clarke's people. You do not need to corporate with them but you are also not allowed to hurt them. If someone attacks them, we will not fight for them but we ourselves will not be the attackers."
Murmurs started in the crowd on how unfair this was but the Commander again successfully silenced them by warning her people,
"Anyone not honoring the terms will lose their head. No questions asked." A pause.
"I have one last thing to say. The people we've lost in Ton DC will always be remembered. They were our heroes. We owe it to them to bring the city to its previous glory, and so shall we. Today, we drink to them." Lexa said raising the glass of wine that was handed to her by one of her guards.
"To Ton DC." She said as she gulped down the foul liquid. The rest of her people followed her example. Then the Commander moved from the center and the celebrations resumed. She was walking to her attributed seat when she heard someone call her from the back. She turned around and found Bellamy standing there.
"Commander, can we talk in private?"
"I will tell you but not here." He said his eyes pointing over to Clarke who was talking to Wick.
"Alright. Follow me." Lexa said as she made way to her tent and sat on her throne.
Bellamy, ever confident, spoke up immediately, without needing any permission.
"This morning Clarke was attacked by a mountain man."
"Mountain man? Didn't they all meet their ends at the mountain?" Lexa questioned rapidly.
"They did, but some of them survived and are angry. Most don't dare do anything but we cannot stop them all, neither can we track them all and kill them."
"Where were Clarke's guards? Didn't you think it necessary to defend your leader?" Lexa hissed.
"She doesn't like to be followed, I am sure even you know that. She dodged all of us when she left camp Jaha."
"Where did she go?"
"To the river. She had a lot on her mind."
"Clarke is still alive meaning she defended herself well." Lexa stated.
Bellamy sighed and said, "Not really. I couldn't find her in the camp so I went out to look for her. I found her bleeding with the mountain man pointing a gun on her head. Clarke had shot all her bullets but the mountain man was wearing a bulletproof vest so it had no effect on him. He was about to shoot her but I shot him in the head first."
Lexa was shaken to her core. Clarke had been so close to the clutches of death. She shuddered involuntarily and spoke angrily. "How could you leave her even for a second Bellamy? She cannot die!"
"I know that! But I also know that if Clarke doesn't want to be protected by others then no one can do it. She is very stubborn!"
"That she is." The Commander said, her lips twitching a bit. She quickly recovered and, with her mask firmly placed back on she asked,
"Why are you telling me this, Bellamy?"
"Because I need your help. I need your people to teach Clarke how to fight in grounder ways. Physically. Without guns or pistols."
"And why do you think I will help you?"
"I don't think you will help me, Commander. But I am asking you for your help because I care about Clarke and I know that you owe Clarke at least that after what you did."
"You dare speak to me in this manner, boy! I can have your head for this!"
"But you won't because you know I am right. Now, the choice is yours Commander. I have said what I wanted to say." Bellamy said, retreating out of the tent.
"She will not listen to me. She will not take any favours from me." Lexa spoke quietly.
"Then don't make it a favour." Bellamy left with these words.
Lexa frowned. She knew Bellamy was right, no matter how much Lexa despised him or his affection for Clarke. Clarke needed to learn how to protect herself and her people could teach her that on her orders, but she knew convincing Clarke would be next to impossible. She was so close to death, Lexa shuddered again.
She needed to make the impossible happen, whatever the cost.
Lexa knew she had to be present at the celebrations and made her way out of the tent. She took her high seat and watched the dancing without much interest until she saw blonde hair bouncing side to side. A smile crept on her lips as she watched Clarke moving care freely among the crowd. Her moves were not coordinated but the pleasure on her face was evident. Her face was literally glowing. Lexa's amusement turned to boiling rage as she saw Bellamy place his arms around Clarke's waist and hers on his shoulders before starting another dance. The Commander's face had turned red and her hands were holding onto her chair so hard she feared the chair's handles would break soon. Just when the Commander thought she couldn't take it anymore and was getting ready to kill Bellamy, they stopped dancing and Lexa watched as Clarke made her way to the food to take a bite of the roasted meat. She was offered wine by one of the many servers but Clarke refused. Lexa approved as she herself disapproved of the drink. She had only taken a sip of it when she had dedicated it to the Ton DC people. But that was it. Lexa believed the drink was made for foolish people, intoxicating them and making them lose all their senses.
Suddenly Clarke looked up and saw Lexa staring at her unabashedly. Clarke didn't back down from the stare either; instead she made her way to the chair placed on the left side of the Commander.
"This is a nice celebration. You didn't tell me it was for celebrating you." Clarke accused.
"Celebrating me? No." Lexa replied, confused.
"Who united the clans? You. What are the people chanting? 'Heda. Heda.' Who is the Heda?" Clarke said, rolling her eyes.
Lexa felt her lips twitching on their own accord at this.
"Commander, I wanted to talk to you about Ton DC." Clarke said, turning her head in Lexa's direction.
"What about it?" Lexa questioned, not turning her head to avoid Clarke's gaze.
"I heard you have started rebuilding it." Clarke started.
"Well, I want to help you do that." Clarke offered.
"And why would I want or accept your help? We are not allies." Lexa spoke with a firm voice.
"No, we are not. But I am just as equally responsible as you for destroying the place."
"Those were my people who died, not yours. You need not worry about them."
"You can help me on one condition."
"And what is that?" Clarke asked sharply.
Lexa finally turned her head to look at Clarke. "I do not want favours from you, Clarke, just like you don't want from me. In exchange for your help, I will have my warriors train you to fight."
"I do not need a warrior's training, Commander. I have all the latest weapons. Guns are much better than spears and much lighter too." Clarke said, looking back at the celebrations.
"Yet, you were helpless this morning." Lexa spoke quietly.
"How do you know? Oh! Of course, Bellamy told you! I will kill him!" Clarke squealed.
"And here you were telling me your ways are different from ours." Lexa smirked.
"I do not need your help, Commander. And that is it."
"Then you do not get to help rebuilding Ton DC."
"It's not your decision to make. I owe it to their families. I am doing it for them, not you."
"And they are my people so indirectly you are helping me. Making me indebted to you."
"You are impossible." Clarke said, getting up.
"So I've been told."
"When will this warrior of yours start the training?" Clarke asked, defeated.
"Tomorrow, at sunrise he will be at camp Jaha." Lexa replied, looking straight ahead at the celebrations.
"And my people, with the required machines, will be at Ton DC tomorrow as well. Goodbye, Commander." Lexa nodded and watched amusedly as Clarke scolded Bellamy while walking out of her camp.
Clarke was angry at Bellamy for telling the Commander about the incident. Bellamy defended himself by telling her he could not risk her life again and that she was the one thanks to whom peace could be created and had been established. At one point he also said how important Clarke was to him and how he refused to lose her. Clarke raised her eyebrows at this but didn't reply. After all, she wouldn't want any of her friends to die either. Bellamy must feel the same way, she presumed. After losing the argument against Bellamy, she instructed him to send a team with constructing machinery to Ton DC and then, she walked away from him, still angry.
So here she was now, waking up the earliest in camp Jaha to get her ass kicked by the warrior Lexa was to send, and she was sure the warrior, whoever that would be, would enjoy every second of it. She knew what the tree people thought of her.
She quickly ate her breakfast, which comprised of a rabbit's leg and an apple. Then, putting on her jacket, she made her way to the fence. She contemplated whether or not to wait outside the gate. In the end, she decided that she would stay inside and wait. It was not safe out, she knew.
After a few minutes, she saw a horse moving towards the camp. She saw a large guy sitting on it. Obviously, all the grounder men were huge. She bent down to tie her shoe laces and when she got up, her mouth fell open as next to the man rode the glorious Commander herself with a smirk adorning her face, stopping her horse right in front of the gate.
She said something to the man who dismounted from the horse and left.
"What are you doing here?" Clarke asked, crossing her hands over her chest.