Moonrose

Chapter 11: Rosamar

For a few moments, I stand there and try to swallow the concern and comforting instinct. And then, suddenly, I don't have to worry about that any more.

My guide lets out a bloodcurdling shriek and tumbles from its place in the air above us. I fly forward and catch it in my arms, turning my back toward the direction the arrow came from. And the king, King Caspian, a stranger to this world, King Caspian draws his sword quicker than I can blink and steps between me and another arrow.

"What are you doing?" I scream at him. He's the king of Narnia, he can't put himself in harm's way!

"Stay behind me!" is all he hollers back.

"But-"

"Protect it!"

Then I understand. I'm occupied with the faerie in my arms, and my dagger won't be much use against arrows. The king's sword will be a bit better of a defense, and he's a much better fighter than I am (though he doesn't necessarily know that). So I keep my guide wrapped in my arms and sprint toward the others. Another arrow whizzes past my shoulder, and another past my face. I feel the brush of the feathers against my cheek.

I don't move out of the way; I have to protect these creatures, these beautiful and innocent creatures. I have to launch myself at one of them to knock them out of the way of yet another cursed arrow, and I have to be careful not to jostle the being in my arms in the process. I barely notice its blood staining the front of my clothes. My clothes don't matter one whit.

"Caspian!"

At my yell, he whirls to face me, dodging the small knife that was flying toward his back in the process.

He thanks me with a nod of his head, because it's the only thanks we have time for.

"Can you take cover in the woods?" I whisper to the creatures rushing to me.

"Yes, we'll be safe. Take care of the king," one of the older-looking ones answers. I can't help but admire its calmness.

"I'll see you to the woods, and then you hide, okay?"

They all nod, and I use my body to shield them as they whiz into the cover of the trees. My brain picks that precise moment to note how much thicker and leafier the trees here are.

'Not the time!' I scream internally.

Luckily, my body retains its common sense, and I whirl around to go back to the king's side once the last light creature has vanished into the woods.

"Rosamar, what-"

"I'm helping, Majesty, whether you like it or not!" I holler right back, drawing my dagger without a moment's hesitation. I'm not about to leave the king of Narnia to fight off anything alone, especially not when it's my job to protect this world.

'Who is this, anyway? A stranger in Tanssi Kuun?'

And now is certainly far from the time to be having an inner monologue. That can wait. And the dart flying toward King Caspian's neck really can't.

Miracle of all miracles, I manage to hit the nasty looking thing away.

And then, just as suddenly as the little skirmish erupted, it stops. No more arrows or darts or knives or anything come flying out from the grass. All is still and peaceful, exactly as it was mere minutes ago. I keep my blade out, and so does King Caspian.

"I see you truly are skilled with a blade."

"I beg your pardon?" Does he mean that in a good way or a bad way?

"I believe I know why you allowed me to come with you tonight," he continues, as if he never heard me. His gaze bores into mine.

"And what is that?"

"You want to learn from me," he says, as if it's the easiest thing in the world to guess. Didn't he just finish complimenting me?

But I can't deny that. So I choose to stay silent, using the excuse of sheathing my dagger to break the silent stare-down.

"Don't grip the blade so tightly. It gives you less mobility," he starts. Is that amusement I hear in his voice?

"I never even confirmed I needed your help," I try to protest, even as I store away the tip greedily. I should be much more annoyed at the king's presumption than I am...

"You had no need to." He motions for me to unsheathe my dagger, and to my chagrin, I do so without a further word of challenge. His very subtle smirk of triumph sets my face into a bit of a scowl, but I'm too desperate to learn to really put up a fight.

At his gesture, I take my stance. I curse the embarrassed pink in my cheeks as he quickly stifles a chuckle. If I were any less perceptive, I'd have missed it.

"You need to set your feet much wider than that, Rose."

"Did I ever give you permission to call me that?" I wonder aloud.

"It suits you," he answers with very little attempt to hide his amusement.

"Any other tips, Your Majesty?" I quickly ask, hoping it might somehow cover my unease.

"Keep your elbows in, and your shoulders a bit more forward." At my first attempt, he shakes his head. "Round them forward."

I try to do as he says, but I don't completely understand. Fortunately for my patience, he doesn't chuckle at my attempts.

He does something entirely worse.

"Your Majesty, I can figure it out on my own-" I protest as he stands behind me and corrects my stance in far closer proximity than I'd have chosen.

"I'm certain you can, but this will be quicker." If I didn't know better, I'd say there's a smile in his voice.

I will the pink in my cheeks to make a hasty and permanent retreat.

"Your Majesty-"

"Caspian," he corrects quietly, even as he corrects my arms.

"I don't think it appropriate."

To my surprise, he sighs his defeat and says nothing more on the matter. Yet, he still insists on correcting every last inch of my stance, right down to how my fingers are arranged around the hilt.

"Is this better?" I finally ask after several long minutes pass.

"Much. Try not to move for a while."

"Muscle memory. Is that what we're getting at?"

"I see you've had a few lessons already." There's that smile in his voice again. I find I have the sudden urge to smack it off his face. To my credit, I don't, even though the mental image brings a secret smirk to my lips.

"Yes, I have." And that's all I say on the matter.

A few corrections and tips and a good quarter hour later, I'm released from the stance. My arms have never burned more in my life, not even after carding for the first few days. But I steel my face so it hides as much of my discomfort as possible. I can't afford to seem so weak, not on the first day of 'training,' if that's what this is.

"So is this you saying you'll help me?" I ask, sounding much more confidant than I feel.

"If you ask for my help, I will give it."

If he professes to know me even a little, he knows how big of a step that is for me. I, Rosamar, do not ask for help. Not ever. I'm a very independent sort of soul. I don't ask for help.

But it seems I'll have to. If I want to protect this world, I have no choice. Learning from both Darin and King Caspian could prove extremely helpful. Especially since their styles seem to be rather different, in the little I've seen. If I can learn both, how much more formidable would I be than if I only learned from one of them?

But by the Lion, I don't want to. Isn't there some other way of helping the faeries? There has to be, there must be...

No. There is not. No matter how much I hate it, Tanssi Kuun can't afford for me to be so stubborn. So I bite down on my pride and do what I can't remember doing in my entire life.

"Very well then. Will you teach me how to handle a blade?" I do my best to keep the sourness from my voice, with marginal success.

At his hesitance, though I suspect it's just a show, I tack on something I wouldn't say otherwise.

"Caspian, will you?"

That does it.

The king dips his head as a 'yes.' I contain my smile. After all, this is why I allowed him to come with me. I wanted his help, though I didn't think I'd have to ask for it pointe blank. But now I have it, if nothing else. Even if I'm considering learning just so I can stab him later.

"Thank you, Majesty."

From the sideways look he hits me with, King Caspian doesn't appreciate my return to formalities. But what can I say? I only called him by his name to get him to agree. Surely he understands that.

"Is it safe now?" I ask, changing the subject in a hurry.

"Yes, I believe so."

With that, I quietly call to the faeries. They emerge slowly, cautiously, from the trees, still looking quite on edge. I can't blame them a whit.

"Thank you, Rose," they chorus. "And thank you Caspian."

The second thank you makes my eyebrows jump up, but I recover quickly. Thanks is indeed in order for the Narnian king, no matter how little I might like to admit it. At least I'll be training doubly hard now, and I'll be able to protect this world a bit better each day.

King Caspian accepts the thanks with a humility that draws my eye to him. It's a rare thing, humility like that. He doesn't seem to be a king now; just a man who did what he thought to be right, who's slightly embarrassed for the gratitude being shown him. Somehow, I hadn't imagined him as the type. But then again, I only saw him as a king. Maybe I better try a little harder to see him as a man too. Isn't everyone above their title or station?

I tip my head away from everyone so hide my slight shame. How could I have been so heartless? King Caspian may be a good man. I think I might be able to trust the man Caspian, in time. Perhaps, even the king Caspian.

A gentle hand on my shoulder brings me out of my own head and back the present. I slowly turn and find myself staring into King Caspian's curious gaze. But I shake my head and hide my feelings and thoughts deep inside of myself. I've not known him long enough to let him in too much.

To my relief, the moment is broken by one of the faeries.

"Rose, I believe your first lesson is in order."

"Lesson? In what?" They never mentioned lessons last night.

"To see as we do. With the soul," a particularly brilliantly lit faerie says.

Ah. Now those are lessons I think I'll enjoy much more than swordplay. I'm about to follow the faerie who spoke into the nearby trees, but I remember the king.

"Do not worry. We'll keep King Caspian well entertained," my guide answers my unspoken worry, her voice weak. Her wound is bandaged and one of the older faeries is hovering by her side, but she will need more time to heal.

My concern shifts from King Caspian to my guide, but she points to the forest with one of her ribbons. It flickers, as if glowing is taking up too much energy. I hesitate, but the firmness in her gaze makes me follow my new teacher into the trees, though my feet drag as I go.

We walk along in silence, but I come to appreciate the peacefulness my new acquaintance exudes. It sends one of its ribbons to play with me every so often, and of course I dance with the unique lights. They glide with my every movement with such ease, and somehow they help me let go of my more immediate worries.

"I think these lights are my favorite dance partners," I comment as two wrap around my waist with my arms. They send warm tingles across my skin where they brush the fabric of my dress.

"Come a fortnight from now, perhaps you may change your mind."

Is that mischievousness I hear in its voice?

"What happens in a fortnight?"

"Reach out to me, and see if you can find the answer."

Ah, so my lesson's begun already. I assume it means to use my mind, so that's what I try to do.

"No, not like that. No intellect is needed for this," it corrects softly. Its voice is so like velvet might be if velvet could speak; soothing, achingly soft, warmth-giving, and with a slight, ever so slight undercurrent of coarseness.

I try again, but once again, nothing. My eyes lift from my shoes to the faerie staring at me patiently. I feel its slight disapproval.

"Yes, that's better."

My head tips to the side in confusion. What did I do?

"You felt my disapproval, yes?"

"Yes…"

"This is what you must do. See with your soul. Your aunt preferred to call it seeing with the heart, if that is of any aid to you."

She may have mentioned that, albeit offhandedly. Still, perhaps it does make the concept a little easier to grasp.

"The eyes are the windows to the soul…she told me that once," I recall as I lock my gaze with the faerie's.

This time, I feel approval. I take a moment to bask in that. A faerie approves of me. I haven't felt approval very much in my life. It feels…it's nothing I can put words to. It's calmer then relieving, quieter than happy, gentler than jubilant. It's a foreign feeling, and I know it's not pride. Pride is louder than this new feeling. Whatever this is…I like it.

"Try to find the answer to your question, Rose," the faerie reminds me. It exudes serenity.

I keep my eyes on the faerie's, and I stop trying to focus. When I focused, my mind entered the picture, and I thought far too much.

After a few moments, my mind clears and all that's left is the visual connection. And I see what I'm looking for.

"A moon dance?"

Pride radiates off of my teacher in waves. It's proud of me…it's proud of me. That's a new feeling. A louder feeling than before, but I still like it.

"Tanssi Kuun means 'Dance of the Moon.' You found us just in time," it answers, in its warm velvet voice.

I almost say that I can't wait, but I remember I don't have to say it; my teacher can feel it, certainly.

More approval, and it's approval of me. I duck my head, suddenly bashful. This is new, and I like it, but it's new and it's unfamiliar. I've yet to get used to it, and I think I'll be bashful until I do. But I'm getting the feeling that it's okay. The faerie, well, faeries, are quite understanding.

"Need I learn any particular dances?"

"Dance comes very naturally to you, but we will show you the gist of it. However, you'll have to wait to see the entire thing until the moon dance."

I don't miss the twinkle in its eye.

"Aunt would be proud." Now I have a twinkle in mine to match.

"Yes, she would."

The double meaning is not lost on me, and I duck my head again at the praise.

"Come, we return to the others now."

"That's all?"

"For tonight, yes. The heart is not meant to be a chore."

I pad behind my teacher willingly, my face alternating between grinning and scrunching in slight embarrassment.

"In time, there will be only gratitude," my teacher murmurs beside me. I appreciate the gesture, its flight beside me rather than ahead of me. It feels more companionable.

"As you say, in time," I answer with a smile.

The mood stays light in its peaceful way as we reemerge from our walk in the trees. I can't help but stare at the sight before us.

In less than an hour, the faeries have transformed Caspian from an unsure man attempting a new set of movements into something that I can't tear my eyes from. I never imagined power and grace could be combined so exquisitely. Somehow, the power only magnifies the grace.

"If you allow your mouth to hang open much longer, King Caspian is sure to notice."

I bite the inside of my cheek against a blush and close my mouth in a right hurry.

"Shall we-"

I shake my head before my teacher has to finish the question. No, I have no desire to interrupt. I'm enjoying watching, though I'll never admit it out loud. And besides, isn't interrupting rather rude?

From the quirk of my teacher's mouth, it's amused at my inner sentiments.

'Can the others feel my thoughts on the matter?' I wonder, making sure to direct it at my teacher. I want to see if direct thoughts can be understood.

My teacher shakes its head.

"Thoughts are of the mind," it explains. "The heart is a bit vaguer than that."

So instead I let myself feel mischievous, just a little bit, to see if they'll pick up on that.

As if in answer, every last faerie head turns to look at me with a twinkle in their eyes, but just for a split second. Not long enough for the king to notice. He's busy learning a new technique, a sight that tugs the smallest of smiles onto my lips.

My blush threatens to make a return, and I bite the inside of my cheek again. I feel each faerie's amusement. After taking a moment to appreciate the innocent undertones to it, I send them all a nice wave of playful reprimand. They reply with more muted amusement, and my guide leaves the cluster of faeries, escorted by the same faerie as before, to bring my teacher and myself into the dance.

"You must learn too," it insists as it tugs on my hand with a light ribbon. She must be a little stronger from whatever healing magic the faeries possess; the ribbon doesn't flicker like before, though it's still dimmer than usual. The pale golden band tickles and leaves my skin feeling much cooler than my teacher's amber and sapphire lights did. Goosebumps pop up on my arms in answer to the whispering contact.

"What is it I'm to learn?"

"A new technique," is all it answers with.

'How informative,' I think dryly. I'm met with a combination of mischievousness and amusement from my guide.

It sends more of its ribbons to me and continues to do so until one's wrapped around each of my arms and legs and my torso too.

"A quick teaching method, I suppose?" I ask, even as I wonder if she really should be exerting her energy like this. But I suppose her companion would have reprimanded her by now.

"Correct."

With that, my guide's ribbons begin to move my arms and guide me into a few stumbling steps. It's not like me to stumble! I grit my teeth and find my balance, even as my feet continue to be taken from under me and brought into steps too long for my natural stride. My legs aren't that long. My arms flail of their own accord, and before I can regain my balance again I'm falling toward the ground. My embarrassment begins even before I hit, but somehow I never do.

"Apologies, Rose. I see your legs are not quite long enough for that," my guide says.

"Are you sure of that?" I answer sarcastically as its ribbons right me and begin moving my arms around again.

The movements feel so foreign to me. I don't move this quickly, with this kind of force behind my movements. If I had to name this style, I'd name it after a hawk; it swoops and dips and dives in and out of pauses, and there's incredible strength required to execute it. This must be Caspian's style; was I not admiring the power behind his movements just minutes ago?

The cool of the golden bands tickles my skin, and for a moment I wonder if feeling the slightest bit angry might help me with this technique. I think of my family in Beruna.

Almost instantly, my dancing gains some of the power it was sorely lacking before. No more floating, wispy movements, not while I have my family on my mind. My father, and his constant derision. My mother, my brothers, my sister. How they treated my aunt. How they treated me. I hide the particulars, but I let all the feelings they stirred in me bubble to the forefront of my mind. I don't want anyone, not even these faeries – especially not these faeries, to know the details. They're my burden.

And I think of Aunt. More importantly, I remember how I'll never see her again. Images flash through my memory, of lit pipes and careless men in that tavern my family owned. There's my aunt, coming behind the counter to look for me. I see, with painful clarity, the stray spark from the flint. I see the smoke waft up from the pipes, hear my father's raucous laughter among the others' equally careless hoots. The overly-sweet smoke tickles my throat, as it did then. It smells of burning sap and scorched cherry wood. When the spark hits the spilled rum on the table, the smoke turns decidedly less sweet.

I feel my mouth opening to warn someone, anyone, of the small flame flickering to life on that table. No one hears. The small fight that's broken out in a corner covers the sound of my timid warning. I was taught early on to hold my tongue in the tavern; my mother's handprint on my cheek made sure I remembered that lesson. I wish so much I'd never learned that lesson, never paid it any attention.

It couldn't have stopped the canteen that flies through the air, right toward that flickering flame. But it could have gotten the one member of my family I loved out of harm's way.

The fire explodes into something that no longer needs me to warn people of it; it's far too obvious. And as it bursts to life right next to my aunt, it takes hold of her clothes, and within seconds I've lost sight of her face. Is that her screaming, or is it me? Perhaps both?

The counter edge digs into my hips as I try to scramble over it to do something, anything. But it's too late. Chaos erupts, and I'm knocked to the floor in the commotion. My attempts to crawl to the center of the fire, to Aunt, fail. I try to fight the arms that wrap around my waist and haul me away, but they're just so much stronger than I am.

By the time we're outside, even I know it's too late. I don't even say 'thank you' to the brawny man who pulled me outside before the roof collapsed. I'm not thankful.

With the images of the fire still burning their way through my mind, I dance my way through the flames. My feet leap and my arms lash out, like I wanted to that day. All I can see is my aunt consumed by the flickering orange-red fire.

"Rose!"

A concerned shout – I didn't even know the faeries could shout - brings me back for a moment, and then the moments multiply. My eyes focus, only to see everyone staring at me. Caspian's stare bores into me, somehow the most intense of them all.

"I…need a moment. I'm alright, don't follow me," I manage to say. I walk away on shaky legs without waiting for an answer.

Lion, I hope they don't ask questions. Of course, the faeries probably don't have to. Even better; they know already. I don't need their pity!

My anger comes from seemingly nowhere, but I don't push it away. I think I need this right now.

'Because it is so much easier to be angry than be sad…than be guilty.'

"Quiet!" I grit out. I don't need enlightenment; I just need a moment to compose myself. That's all!

I try my hardest to keep my mind blank, but in the end it's no use.

And I'm forced to understand something I've kept at bay for the year and a half since Aunt's death.

"It's my fault," I whisper to the empty air.

"I'm so sorry, Aunt…"

Father was right to call me useless. Mother was right to say I was a disaster always waiting to happen. My older brother was right to call me a fool. My sister was right to say I was worthless.

"No, Rose. You're not."



Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.