The loud crash, that seemed to resonate all around the castle in the middle of the night, was the first sign that they were under attack. Princess Lana stumbled to her feet, only for a small hand to cover her mouth, pulling her back onto the bed. Frantically she fought against her intruded, quickly over powering the small figure that grasp dissolved. Turning around, she saw that the man wasn’t a man, but instead a young boy. A servant.
“W-what, what are you doing here? What was that loud noise?” she mumbled anxiously, only to stop once the servant tried to make a grab for her mouth again.
“Princess, be quiet. They are right in front of us,” he saids, eyeing the door in apprehension.
“Who? Who is out there?” she asked quietly.
The boy replied with haste, “The enemy, they have invaded the castle.”
Lana’s face turned to panic, her face growing paler in the already white moonlight. “We need to leave now, I need to get out of here now, before they find me and...” she initially demanded, with her voice growing weaker.
“I’ll get to that in time, Princess. First, may I borrow your cardigan?”
“My cardigan? What do you need a think like that at a time like this?” she wondered eyeing the east side of the closet.
“Is it over there?” he asked following her gaze.
“And what if it is?” she stated dryly. “What are you even attempting to do?”
“A distraction!” he exclaimed, the silly grin on his face showing his true age. “Sorry princess, you can apprehend me later.” He said before dashing to the closet, and grabbing one, a pale blue one she had plan to wear one of the more higher up dances. She eyes it in betrayal, but did not comment, as the servant boy grabbed it from where it neatly hung in waiting on the back of the door. “Wait here, princess” he said shooting her one final glance, this time his chestnut eyes glinting in the darkness as if as a warning. Before hr took off again, this time out of the door. The curles of his hair and the cardigan rippling as he ran, the glimpse of his teeth shined before he exited into the hall full of intruders.
The princess once prized possession now used as a hood to shield from prying eyes of the knights. As he ran alerting all of them, as he yelled “I must survive!”
His childish tone almost being mistaken for a desperate yell of a teenage girl. Shortly after him green and silver soldiers, passed Lana, as she sat crouched behind the door of her chambers. Ah, so the ones who dare attack were Zeetho after all…
She had just come up with the decision to make a run for it to the royal safety chambers that were just down the hall from hers when she saw a movement from the corner of her eye.
On instinct she found herself at her bed her hand underneath the pillow and pulled out a midnight black dagger. The dagger, a gift from the king, her father, held small purple gems called Minatha that were engraved into the weapon. The gems on her dagger seemed to glow in the moon’s crescent silver rays. She eyed the dagger in question, wondering if she would be forced to use it, and putting her skills to the test which she had taught herself in secret: how to wield the majestic weapon. This may be the first time she’d have to use it outside of her practising in the back of her closet. A second later she heard a thump soon followed by a tumble outside her door. Why didn't I go when he gave me the chance? Why did I wait? Did he even make it with him making such a commotion like that. Well I geuss he did do a good job in making a destraction...
Before she could debate with herself any longer, she noticed the handle of her door slowly turning. With no other choice, she hid her dagger under her pillow once again, and laid down her head in her previous position. Her fingers never lost their grip on the dagger when she heard the door open and the person enter the room.
Lana squeezed her eyes shut, afraid of what might come next. The footsteps crept closer until she could feel the intruder’s hot breath on her face. As she was fighting the urge to shiver, knowing full well if she did that she’d give herself up of being awake, Lana tightened her already hard grip on the dagger; eyes still closed in her best peaceful, fake sleeping mask. That kid.... I never caught his name, but he did a great service to the kingdom, now it's my task to do mine. I must make a move before they do, I’ll attack on the count of three, she thought determinedly a mission now in her head.
1… She quietly pulled the dagger from its hiding place, trying her best to keep the relaxed expression on her face as she did this.
2… She snapped her eyes open, her dagger now in her sight. New adrenaline rushing through her veins, her fear now forgotten, she turned around to face the intruder, dagger raised, ready to strike.
3… She lunged her arm out, swinging the dagger in a quick motion. She waited for the hit. If it was necessary she would kill, if they came at her a second time.
It should have been a clear shot, leaving no room to miss. She closed her eyes preparing for her attacker’s pained cries. Nothing… She heard nothing, no cries of pain not even a whimper. Instead, her dagger fell, limp, to her unmoving side and a sense of dread erupted in her chest. It should have been impossible to miss at that close of range, but she had, and in doing so she had doomed herself to her fate.
She closed her eyes, knowing what would come: her slow demise. She waited for the pain to come and take her into the blackness, until there was nothing left. She waited, but there was nothing; no darkness, no pain, and no sense of fear for death. Nothing.
She hesitantly reopened her eyes. Confused at what was happening she looked around only to let out a sharp gasp when she realized she was face to face with the intruder. He was still in the dark so she couldn’t see any clear features on his face, however a slight shine that bounced off him caught her eye. Looking closely she realized it was a guard’s royal seal. It held a golden lion sitting in front of the sun, and two swords crossed over the lion’s stomach. It was the crest of the Kingdom of Sherania; her father’s kingdom, her kingdom. She was saved! She could cry right now she was so relieved. Looking closer she saw the familiar face of one of her father’s most loyal and kind knights: the strong jaw, high cheekbones, his sky blue eyes that sparkled when he smiled, and his once dimpled cheeks. One of her favorite royal guards, Sir Kylz.
“Dang, little Princess, you almost got me there,” Sir Kylz said, he was one of the few guards that she could actually talk to in her father’s court. He was by far one of the nicest and most playful knights, she thought, that had been employed in the royal guard. He actually treated her like a normal human being, not some dainty, fragile, broken doll that needed protection.
“Oh my lord! I’m so sorry. I saw that we were under attack and started to panic. Hearing you come I mistook you for an intruder!” Princess Lana tried to explain in haist, slightly embarrassed for almost striking one of the higher ranked of her father’s personal entourage. Princess Lana was beyond surprised when all Sir Kylz did to her remark was laugh in amusement.
“There’s no need to apologize, Princess. See, look,” he said raising his hands in a surrender gesture. “No scratches, no harm done,” he said trying his best to reassure her, after minutes of her repeating her apologies.
Both of them were quickly reminded of the events that were occurring, after hearing the painful and angry yells that soon approached outside the door. The princess and knight soon dashed to the door, not prepared for what the two might face.
Blood. Everything was splattered in blood, as if it was all painted in a sick, crimson color. Lying estranged across and down the halls were the bodies of fallen knights, and even a few servants that had happened to get caught in the fire of the fight and bloodshed. Each kill was assumed to be done by three enemy knights that stood in front of the two.
“I’ll hold them off, Princess, you must run to safety,” the knight commanded, turning away to face the enemy knights, stepping in front of the princess protectively.
Never taking his eyes off the three biggest threats, he reached down with his right hand to his belt and unsheathed his sword where it was located at his hip. He raised his sword and charged at the invaders with such confidence that Princess Lana deep down knew he would make it out of there alive.
She also knew that she couldn’t risk seeing the outcome in case he lost. So she did what Sir Kylz told her; she ran for safety. The nearest undercover passage was just down a few halls. Lana ran like her life depended on it, because this time unlike all the rest, it did.
As she knew the castle halls like the back of her hand, the princess already decided to avoid the most likely paths that the intruders might be on, and decided to stick to the secret servant passages.
She placed her hands against the wall to maintain her balance, and took one long breath in before slowly releasing it. She needed to be out of harm’s way but also she couldn’t risk being reckless and getting caught, all because she was too thoughtless to take into account her loud and uneven breathing, from being out of shape. If I make it through this, I promise to actively pay attention and maintain my fitness, the princess promised. Lana continued repeating the process, waiting for her heavy panting cease and for her breaths to finally return to normal. After a few minutes it finally did, softening enough for her to continue her efforts of a hasty escape.
She looked down the hall, scanning for any danger; she had two more halls to go before she could label herself as being safe. She made her move, dashing to the end, before making a sharp turn around the corner. She soon had to slam her heels into the hard, cold, stone floor, to slow her progress so she wouldn’t slam into the person that was standing right infront of her. It took her a moment to realize something; the person she had not so gracefully ran into was a knight of Zeetho, the kingdom that was currently attacking them. That knight was standing in front of her, looking as startled as she was at how she happened to run into him.
Frantickly she reached down to where she always kept her dagger secretly hidden, but instead of grabbing a black dagger, her fingers clenched the cool air, the bare skin, and the too harsh truth. She gasped in dread as she realized what she had done. She had left her dagger back in her room, buried under all her silk quilts, in her bed; forgotten in the chaos. The only weapon she had learned to wield was gone. She was now weaponless and defenseless.
In one last extreme attempt to escape her new fate, Lana turned around ready to retrace her steps, only to run into another chest. She slowly bent trying to regain her balance, before scrambling a few paces back, putting some space between the two knights and herself. Simultaneously both knights started to walk towards her, taking back the space she had just regained. Lana tried to back up, but soon realized her efforts were pointless when her back hit the wall too soon. She was trapped.
There was nowhere left for her to run or hide. She turned her back towards the knights, forgetting for a moment that she was a princess. In that split second, she was just a human who didn’t want to die just yet. She banged and hammered the wall, yelling for someone to come to her aid, and even tried to claw at the walls with her nails till they became cracked and bloody. Finally accepting her fallen fate, she turned around to face the knights, who surprisingly at this time had not attacked her in her vulnerable state. Her royal mask once again returning and firmly taking root. Head raised, looking them in the eyes, she showed no fear.
One knight raised his sword readying himself to strike, as she closed her eyes, anticipating what she knew would come next: the pain. But what happened was not what she had expected, there was no pain, no sword etching and engraving it’s existence into her body, instead there was the sound of metal clanking against metal.
Lana opened her eyes only to be frozen in a state of surprise, that made her wonder if this was all a terrible nightmare. What she was seeing could not be happening. Her eyes were transfixed on the person who had blocked the attackers sword and saved her. It was the knight she had first ran into, the knight who was supposed to be her enemy. For some unknown reason he had just risked his life to save her very own. The princess’ of the royal family that knight was trying to invade. She couldn’t move, couldn’t blink; nothing. She was in too much of a state of a shock.
All she could do was watch and stare as he took on his fellow knight. She watched the intensity of the mysterious savior’s battle with the other knight. Both were master of the sword, neither seeming to keep the advantage long, but having magnificent skill not only for the sword but also in combat in general. She watched amazed, subconsciously cheering for her knight.
Wait, in what point of their short encounter had she started thinking of him as her knight? she wondered, he was still her enemy, even if he had saved her.
A small part of her wanted to fight that belief, unsure what his reasons were behind saving her. He was fighting for her, with his fellow knight, weren’t they supposed to be brothers in arms? So why stop his fellow brother from killing her? Didn’t they share the same goal?
Did he save her, so he could have the privilege of her death to himself? No, she shook her head...she couldn’t believe that. If she let herself believe that, she knew she would inevitably lose hope, and fall into despair. She looked up and realized that she had been stuck in her thoughts for so long. The next thing she noticed was one had gotten the upper hand, whom she couldn’t make out. Then it happened so fast in a blink of an eye. One was now on the ground, empty handed, his sword already across the floor. That’s when she heard the two knights speak out loud, the first time in front of her.
“How could you betray us, your king?” The one holding the sword pointed to the other’s neck asked aggressively. “The very king that took you in, even without you having noble blood. Knighted you for your amazing skill and moral compass. What happened to that moral compass now, your loyalties to your king?”
“Really Xander, don’t you ever think for yourself for once?” The one on the ground asked, not remotely bothered that he was being threatened with the deadly weapon still aimed at his neck.
“You betrayed us, you have no right to speak that name ever again,” the knight spat out viciously.
“Well, well, well, look who’s become tough,” he responded humorously, “You remember back when they used to make fun of us for hanging out so much, and having such close names? They always called us Alexander, Xander the Slanders,” the knight on the ground said chuckling slightly trying to lighten the mood.
“How could you betray your king?” The knight repeated bitterly.
“All I did was the right thing, like I always do! Look at her, just take a second and look at her! She’s young, probably close to the same age as Lilia,” he argued, trying to show his moral compass to the guy who acted like a mentor to him for the past two months.
At the name, the knight froze, for a split second, loosening his grip. That’s all the time he needed, the knight on the floor grabbed for the other’s wrist. His fingers encircled it in a firm grip. It happened all rapidly, first he squeezed before twisting. The sword dropped from the knight’s hand and hit the floor with an echoing, and loud, clang. Before the knight could come to his wits, the knight still on the ground grabbed him by his wrist pulling him down to the floor, hard. Using the momentum from the knight falling, the man on the floor was able to flip them both over. The knight once on the floor, pinned his comrade down with his knees on his chest. With his free hands he gripped the knight on the floor by the neck, slamming his head into the solid floor. Once the knight went limp, the man holding him down loosened his grip and backed away
“Is he d-dead?” The princess asked speaking up for the first time since the fight had begun. The knight kneeling over the other one’s unconscious body, shook his head before flashing a look in her direction. Kneeling down, he took the helmet off, revealing a man in his early thirties with black hair cut short, sharp jaw with just a wisp of a beard. The knight took off his glove and placed two fingers below of the knight’s jaw checking for his pulse.
“He’ll live, he’ll just be knocked out for a few hours at least,” he said walking towards her. She stood there stiffly, pressed against the cold wall.
He hadn’t tried to kill her, which was a relief, but then it brings up the unanswered question. What did he want? Why did he save her? As he started strolling towards her, she knew she would get her answers soon.
She watched him cautiously until he was just a few feet away from her. When he was right in front of her he knelt down, head bent. What was his game?
“Your Highness, are you alright?” The knight still kneeling in front of her asked, looking up. She stared agape at him. “Princess?” He asked worried, as she remained silent. She was startled, normally she could read people superbly, but this person, this knight was different. He was something else, something special.
“Uh, yes… I’m superb,” she managed to stutter out, still fully bewildered. She couldn’t help giving him glances. It seemed no matter what the princess did, she couldn’t keep her eyes off him for long. In other words, he, an unknown enemy knight, had done something that no noble nor prince had done in quite a long time - catch the eye of Princess Lana the sole heir of the Kingstood throne.
“Thank you kind sir, for rescuing me, but if I may ask why did you do it? Why do it knowing you have to fight one of your own fellow knights?” She asked tensely. Lana was taken back when she heard a light chuckle coming from the knight.
“I wanted to,” the knight told her. There was a moment of silence where she stood there baffled, hoping he would carrying out his explanation in further details. “I wanted to do the right thing, killing you was wrong, and we both knew it. The only difference between me and Xander was I listened to my morals over the order of the king’s,” he explained quickly, not seeming to be distressed at all by what he was saying. She was left completely and utterly dumbstruck.
“Sir, I was um, wondering what name you go by?” She asked sheepishly. She didn’t know if he was fully on her side yet, but she couldn’t help herself by asking. Just like the previous time, his answer first begins with his laughter. This time it was more boyish, and this caught her attention, making her wonder how old he was. As if reading her mind, the knight spoke up.
“Forgive me Princess, my manners seemed to have slipped away from me when this horrific attack began,” he spoke, his voice firm but having a slight relaxed ring to it. “Sir Alexander’s the name, but for you, you can forgo the formality and just call me Alec .” After saying that, he quickly removed his helmet. Lana could have sworn he had winked at her, but she couldn’t have been positive with his eyes hiding behind his bangs, which had soon fallen in front of his eyes, as soon as they left where they were trapped in their metal cage. She started to absorb all of his features. The first thing she realized came to her with a jolt; he looked around the same age as her! Moving on, she started to look more in depth at his main features.
The knight’s silky, midnight black, wavy hair that was messed up from where the helmet once sat, hung into his eyes. His perfectly straight nose was peppered with freckles that trailed down his face leading to his mischievous grin. However, the best, and by far most catching and attractive feature of the knight were the bright green, adventurous eyes staring back at her.
“Sir Alexander, wh-” before she could continue Alec had cut her off.
“Please Princess, nor sir or any other formalities, just Alec ,” he interrupted.
“Fine, just Alec , you call me Lana as well, no more your Highness or Princess,” she proposed as an agreement. “I really hate all of that stuff,” she muttered softly unaware her words had reached Alec’s ears. “As I was trying to say before, I was interrupted,” she said shooting a glare at Alec . “I wanted to know what you planned on doing now?” She asked eyeing him.
“Now?” He asked puzzled. Lana had hoped he had at least thought a plan up before trying to save her. She sighed; she should have known, from the start he seemed not to think before attacking his fellow comrade.
“I can see now, that you in fact did not plan ahead after pulling that stunt and saving me.”
“Princess- uh, I mean Lana, if I am aloud to speak freely,” he looked up waiting for her slight nod, allowing him to continue “I didn’t have much time to decide. It was a moment’s decision to save you or not, I didn’t have time to think things out, like you suggested,” he replied, his sharp tongue disappearing by the end and being replaced by a calm yet regretful tone. That seemed to unsettle her.
“As you said before, you did save me, so it’s for that reason that no knights are here right now, their swords pointed at you,” she replied an air of cheekiness about her. She could see a small curve starting to form on the edge of his mouth making her smile right along with him.
“As it happens to be I’m quite grateful, as we don’t want to create a bigger mess do we?” He asked smoothly. “I am hurt that you don’t trust me. It hurts right here.” He clutched his chest in fake pain.
“Trust, why should I? To me, you’re still a stranger, a stranger that might have saved my life but a stranger you still are,” she stated in disbelief.
“That’s good, you shouldn’t trust strangers,” he said, his faint smile disappearing in an instant, before springing back up right away. “Alec Cantrell, age twenty, former traveller, former knight for the Zeetho Empire, now faithful servant of Princess Lana Kingstood.” A crooked smile appeared on his face, “Now we’re no longer strangers so you can trust me. I think it’s best if we get you to safety, until the attack cools down. So where’s the secret way out of the castle? I guess there has to be, with you running this way and all,” Alec answered her unspoken question.
That way, she seemed to say pointing with her finger toward the end of the hall, where a portrait of the royal family sat in place, glowing in the moonlight from the window at the other end. That was at a different time, with different people. She remembered that day and she had been trying to have the perfect portrait done. It had been one of her first portraits, and she remembered that she kept making the artist complain as a result of her not sitting still. In the end, her mother had to promise her sweets to keep her still for the portrait to be finished. In the portrait, her father sat on his throne, to his left his wife, the queen, and next to her stood her first born. She had been young, only four in the painting. Things had changed now, there were four of them then, now there was only two.
Lana still not fully trusting in Alec , had to agree with his plan as the best call of action in the moment. She nodded curtly; this would have to be the best thing at the moment.
“Very well,” she said pointedly, before heading in the direction of the painting. The floor started to hum before turning to a low rumble. She barely heard Alec yell at her over the loud noise to get down; before she was attacked from behind and slammed to the ground.
An explosion was heard, coming from the wall she had been previously standing at. She laid there, stunned, not fully comprehending what had just happened. It took her a couple of minutes to convince herself to try and get up. It took twice as long to actually do so. When she did, she noticed one thing that seemed out of place which hadn’t been there a few minutes ago. Alec was lying next to her, unconscious. He had taken the brunt of the explosion for her, using himself as her shield.
Thanks to his quick thinking and shielding action, she had escaped being severely injured: she had a few scrapes here and there, however, some on her face and on her arms and neck. A burn colored her left arm and shoulder, and she had a gash on her left ankle which was still bleeding. None of that would matter; she would live.
She knelt down next to Alec ignoring all the rubble and ruins that the explosion had scattered across the cracked floor. She started to examine the unconscious knight, resting her hand on his arm, only to pull it back abruptly, yelping. She had been burnt. He had been hit by the explosion so forcefully, that now looking at it, she could see that his armor, having taken most of the damage, was literally smoldering from the hot air that it had been exposed to.
Her first realization of what was happening was the sickening black smoke that creeped up on her like a snake readying to strike, but it was already too late. Alec’s metal plates weren’t the only thing hit.
It started with catching ahold of the ancient like painting that was hanging on the wall. It soon spread to surrounding curtains, slowly making its way toward them, like the waves at a beach.
Her instincts told her to escape, to survive, but she couldn’t. She looked around at her surroundings. The passage that once led to a safe tunnel and chamber was gone. The only thing that resembled it was the broken marble where it once was.
She looked back at the knocked out knight with boy like features only because he took what was meant for her. As much as she wanted to run, she knew she couldn’t. He had saved her not once, but twice, and now it was her turn to repay that favor.
She couldn’t forgive herself if he died now, but what could she do with a wounded boy in a hallway that was being slowly consumed by flames? Now leaning in closer, she could fully make out the mark that covered Alec’s right cheek and could see a large gash that was causing a small stream of blood to drip down over his left eyebrow. His left hand was also severely scraped and covered in blood, however, surprisingly even with him taking a forceful explosion and getting knocked out, he continued to grip his sword with a deadly grip. It was quite a remarkable accomplishment.
Lana searched his body, trying to see if Alecheld anything of importance that might aid to their escape. She looked away disappointed when she found nothing. If only I could just find something sharp, I could break the window down the hall, she thought, only to sit up abruptly when a thought came to her. Could it be true? With new determination she shakily got to her feet, steadying herself before bending down to grab Alec by both arms. She started to drag him to the only window which the fire hadn’t reached yet, located at the end of the hall. The burning sensation that she once received from the smoldering armor was now a dull throb that went unnoticed to her. The plan to go and hide in the passageway was long forgotten.
After what felt like infinity times two, Lana finally reached the window which was now cracked and broken in some places. Looking down, Lana picked up a broken piece of marble and started to bang against the window. Her attempts were wasted as she made little to no progress on the window.
Finally allowing her lack of sleep to catch up to her, she slid down the wall to the floor, her energy depleted. She started to wonder if this was the place that she would finally perish. She had survived so many close calls with death tonight , and this was how she was to go out...in a fire? She shook her head, standing up once again, tiredly.
She scanned the hall once more, looking to see if she could find anything of use. A silver light caught her attention as she turned to pace past Alec . This time her eyes were transfixed on his sword. The sword! How could she have been such an idiot to forget that she had such a useful tool? She knew the safe, and possibly only real option, was the cracked window. However, the window had only been slightly cracked from the explosion, but now she could change that. If she were to put enough pressure on the window’s weak point, she could shatter it.
It had to work, it was their only option, Lana thought determinedly. She rushed to Alec’s side, and tried to pull the sword out of his firm grip to no avail. Even though he was unconscious his grip was like steel. With a frustrated sigh, Lana dropped to her knees, and put her hand on the sword hilt, the other moved to Alec’s hand, slowly uncurling his fingers. Once she was able to, she started to gently start to pull the sword from his once tight grip .
After what seemed like forever, Lana had his sword in her hands. She swung it, testing it’s stability and balance in her hands. It was no surprise that it was heavier than her dagger, the only weapon she was confident with and preferred to use. Yet she couldn’t deny the beauty and gracefulness that the sword displayed.
It was slick and silver, deadly as well, and seemed to have an excellent grip. Lana shook her head, brought herself back to the reality of their situation and walked back to the window, now with the sword in her grasp. She hoisted the sword above her head, the sword fitting perfectly between both hands, Lana started to hack at the window. The windows cracks slowly began to spread growing bigger with the repeated blows and pressure from the sword. Before long, the window slowly shattered, small glass fragments started to hit the floor like pellets of rain.
Soon enough the window had a hole big enough for them to escape through. With great effort Lana raised Alecto a partial sitting position, and dragged him up the wall to the windows edge all the while still trying her best to avoid all the shattered glass.
There should be a large pile of hay under the window below them she thought; however, if she was wrong, they would die. It had only occurred to her then, that is what would happen if her memory was incorrect. If she was right, they’d only land hard on hay. If not, well we’ll die either way, might as well try and jump. If she was wrong, this would have been a terrible way to repay him, by making him fall to his death. She thought humorously and , she couldn’t help but crack a smile. She had been told over a hundred times when she was younger, that she had a horrible sense of humor. I guess this proves it, she thought sadly. She was joking with herself right before jumping from the castle, and soon falling way, way below...
Lana pulled herself onto the ledge, now sitting side by side with Alec . She wrapped her arms securely around Alec , and took one long deep breath of air. She shut her eyes tight, leaned back off the edge, and let gravity take control.
She bit her lip tight, clenching her teeth together hoping to muffle her terrified screams. She hoped to God that her scream wouldn’t be heard by any knights. Having Alec by her side would definitely cause her more trouble in her kingdom now. Distracted from thinking about the height they were falling from, she spent her time trying to keep her screams to the quietest while tightening her hold on Alec ’s arms. She started to count how long they had been falling for...
That’s when she felt it, the impact of hitting hard. Then came the searing pain that ran all over her body and up and down her spine. Lana ignored that, she didn’t mind the pain. They had survived, they had actually survived from a fall of that height. So what if she had been wrong all along? They lived, that’s all that mattered.
Thinking quickly, she grabbed Alec and started to pull him out of the garbage pile they had both landed in, and into the shadows that laid below the window. Once she had ensured that they would both be safe for the time being, she slid down against the wall, crouched in shadows and decided to not get up and move at that moment. She stayed there feeling more safe, feeling invisible and unseen in the shadows and the darkness then being out in the alleyway. They stayed there... it could have been minutes or hours, she didn’t know. She was relaxing slightly, but still looking out for knights, on both sides when she felt Alec’s arm twitch next to her. He was beginning to stir. She waited patiently, her gaze rotated from him, to the alleyway, and back again. She saw Alec’s eyes were open. A look of alarm and disorientation were plastered across his face, and panic was clearly seen in his eyes.
“Princess Lana!” He called out looking worried, not glancing her way.
“Alec , I’m right here. Are you okay?” She asked. He spun around to face her, on instinct his hand found itself around his sword, which Lana had returned to him before he realized it was gone. He quickly relaxed when he realized that the question had come from his new comrade, the princess. He looked around trying to get information on the area, a look of confusion crossed his face when he realized he didn’t know where there were.
“How even…,” he asked baffled, looking around, an unspoken question written on his face. She couldn’t help being amused by his reaction.
“You were out for a while” she commented, and he sighed.
“How long?” He asked skeptically.
“I’m not sure, I’d say a rough guess would be about two hours,” she stated, timidly.
“Two hours?!” He exclaimed loudly, making Lana cringe from the sudden noise.
“Yes, you fell unconscious as soon as you blocked the explosion for me?” Lana said turning away not wanting to show Alec her blushing red cheeks. “Thank you, for doing that, and saving me,” she said not looking in his direction, still embarrassed.
“Lana, how did we get down here?” Alec asked, ignoring the princess’ apology, feeling slightly awkward. He watched as her gaze lifted up to the broken window.
“See that window, up there?” She asked Alec . He nodded mutely. “We came through that,” she spoke flatly.
“Sorry, I’m not following.”
“Simple, I broke the window, and we jumped. To escape the flames.” she said calmly, not putting in some of the details to Alec’s dismay.
“Wait… are you claiming that we just jumped from up there?” He asked pointing towards the shattered window, a rough laugh had already began. “Up there? Man, I’m glad that I was unconscious, otherwise I don’t think I would have escaped the fire if that was my only option.” Alec stated, clearly looking uneasy, his face turning ghostly white, at the mention of jumping from that height.
It took only one look at Alec’s face to make Lana forget all the intense situations she had been in, and instead she cracked up in uncontrollable wolf-like laughter.
“What’s so funny?” He asked her, her laughter catching his attention and only making her laughter grow louder each second. Eventually, her laughter died down enough, that she managed to get control of herself.
She stopped only when she saw him try to get up and he struggled as his legs slowly started to collapsed on him.
“Here let me help you,” she offered, standing hastily to her feet as well, catching him, only to grimace in pain when his full weight forcefully hit her at once.
“We totally need to work on our landing, next time in the future,” Alec joked.
“Next time?” Lana asked completely bewildered.
“Well yeah, I obviously can’t leave you to yourself Princess, more than a few minutes before you get in trouble can I? You’re like a magnet for danger” Alecjoked halfheartedly. But she could still sense some hidden worry in the depth of his tone, that confused her.
“Well, I will let you know, normally I have my knight’s guard by my side all the time keeping a watchful eye on me, but tonight things went unpredictably wrong,” she defensively ranted.
“Yes, you would have totally died if I didn’t step in,” Aleccommented sarcastically.
“Same goes for you,” she snapped back.
“How so?” Alec asked, raising an unimpressed eyebrow. Lana was starting to feel the tension in the atmosphere rise between them.
“I could as well have left you up there knocked out cold, and let the fire get to you . You would have been gone, history, just like that,” Lana said snapping her fingers.
“Okay we’re even,” Alec said smirking, while raising both hands above his head in a mock surrender.
“Good,” said Lana, nodding her head in approval, before turning away from Alec . This might be the best time to make our move, Lana thought, as she took note of the enemy knights rotating their stations of position once again.
“Can you walk?” Lana asked Alec , still keeping a keen eye on him. Lana watched him, taking a few unstable steps before nodding. Wanting to argue but knowing it would be pointless, Lana just let the unlying truth slide just this once.
She glanced at the end of the alleyway once again still experiencing the uneasy feeling that had been sitting with her since she had hit the ground. Her gaze continued to move, before hastily backtracking to the alley, stepping away from Alecto get a closer look.
“We need to move, now!” She demanded, as she turned to face, Alec’s surprised face.
“Why?” He asked worriedly, his eyes following her gaze.
“Something’s wrong! We may have been here too long, we need to go, now!” She said rapidly, her words running together.
“Wait, slow down, tell me what’s wrong.” Alec said, stopping Lana in her tracks abruptly, turning back to face her.
“The knights just changed stations, yet we haven’t seen any knights come this way in a while. Meaning something happened. There might be a fight coming this way soon. We need to leave.” Lana said. Alec finally understanding what had got her so worked up, let Lana carelessly pull on his arm to the end of the alleyway. By the time Lana had reached the end of the alleyway, a cry was heard loudly, coming closer to them, Alec pulled her behind him, protectively. Now even more onguard.
His actions were soon proven to be for a good reason, when a knight appeared from around the corner from them, blade in hand, dripping of blood. Alec quickly eyed the crest on the knight’s armor. It was a picture of a bear;the bear’s tail was a big glorious star. While, the rest of the body had small luminous stars; here and there showing a bright starlight outline with a spear lying next to the bear on the ground. They soon both realized that this wasn’t a knight of Sherania, no, it was a knight from the Empire of Zeetho, the Empire that as of right now was attacking Sherania.
Alec quickly stepped up, his sword unsheathed.
“Lana, I need you to run. I’ll meet up with you quickly, but first I need to deal with this spineless spider of a man.” Alec said stepping forward to face him.
“Spineless spider?” Lana asked raising both eyebrows, in amusement.
“Tell you later. Now run!” Lana was so startled by Alec ’s response that she did what he said without question. She ran and ran, not stopping until she reached a dead end. By that point, she was heaving and her hands were at her sides as she gasped for more air. Once catching her breath, she turned around, ready to try her luck by retracing her steps and taking a new road. But she was stopped dead in her tracks, frozen. She heard the sound of metal being dragged, scraping the cobblestone road nonchalantly. Looking around she found herself face to face with the knight that was responsible for her frozen state. She was trapped, unable to move, trapped, once again, and this time there was no Sir Alexander to save her.
“Ya scared Princess? Ya should be,” the enemy knight taunted in a particular accent. That was it, it was the last straw. She was no longer scared, that emotion had been replaced quickly with the unending rage. For a split a second, Lana felt an unbearable stabbing pain at the base of her neck. She reached back with one of her hands touching the hidden spot which had caused her pain. It was the reason that she always had her hair down or had her seamstress start designing high collars so if she did decide to pin her hair up, it would still cover and hide the spot.
Suddenly, all Lana could see was a bright red. A darkening scarlet clouded her vision. This had happened earlier this night because she had been stupid and naive, and now once again she had backed herself into a corner. There’d be no one saving her, not now.
Instinctively, she undid her bun, making her dark black hair that was still tied up in a braid, fall over her shoulder. Lana opened her hand, now holding a single hairpin in her palm.
Without comprehending or realizing what she was actually doing, she bent down and started to trace a design that had subconsciously come to her. The design was complicated but beautiful. The design was crafted with many different shapes intertwined and overlapping. Circles were woven next to or in letters, and there were diamonds, triangles, hexagrams and different patterns that were all in some way or form along with other shapes, and sizes all squeezed into the miniature design.
Her hair clip moved elegantly against the stone tiles. When she had completed it, she stood up, each move filled with confidence in which she fully performed.
She pushed both hands out, her palms facing outward, to the oncoming knight.
Like in a trance, she knew exactly what word to speak, exuding confidence and power.
And in an instant, a wall had appeared blocking the approaching knight from her clear sight. There, next to the wall, she slumped to sit, waiting for it all to end.
Silence, there was only silence. Then there was a loud bang and crash, the sound of fighting and then again there was just silence. The silence was interrupted when a voice called out her name. That voice-she knew it. It belonged to Alec . Without thinking once again a word came to her, and she soon spoke.
“Release.” As soon as the word left the tip of her tongue, the wall started to crack before soon crumbling into dust like it had never been there.
All at once her remaining energy got sucked out of her, draining from her and losing the power to stand, she started to collapse. Two strong arms reached out and caught her before she could hit the cold ground.
“Lana, are you okay, what happened?” Alec asked concerned, looking at her.
“Yeah, I’m, okay Alec . Just slightly perplexed and confused about what just happened,” Lana responded still dazed.
“Lana, you have powers. Powers Lana! Do you know what that means for your future now!” Alec yelled at the princess.
“Power… My future… wait what?” Lana asked in a shocked state.
“Oh, and let’s not forget the person who will cut down anyone who is pointed or so much gets called a witch. King Theodoric III, your father.” Alec continue ranting in an overly fake and sarcastic cheerful voice.
“What are you talking about Alec , you’re making no sense. Why would I be labeled a witch?” Lana asked confused, Alec laughed a humorless metallic laugh that sound slightly like a dog’s bark.
“Why” he said still laughing “Why! Because everyone is scared of what they don’t know, the unknown. Of people that are different, that have something that they don’t, that act differently from the rest. They label them as children of the devil, outcasts, freaks, psychopaths! Or claim that they are possessed by demons. And those are people who don’t have gifts, the people that do. Well… some of the nicer ones call them witches or claim you’ve been cursed. Then if they see you use a power they’ll execute you. That now devil-children-witch group now applies to you, too dear Princess.
“They’ll call you a witch, maybe worse-they may try to chain and burn you at the stake,” Alec said in a cold darkening tone, a shiver went down her spine. “Yes, you should be afraid!” Explained, saying the same thing the knight before had said, making a cold and unnerving feeling creep over her.
“If your father ever found out, oh… Trust me… He wouldn’t even hesitate to kill you. His daughter.” She felt sick as Alec’s words sunk in.
Your father found out, wouldn’t hesitate to kill, you. His daughter.
Father, wouldn’t, hesitate… kill you. His daughter.
Hesitate to kill… you… his daughter!
Lana couldn’t take it anymore. She wanted to run. Run from the truth, and the new life that had been forced onto her, run from Alec , run from the truth about her father, but most of all she wanted to run from her powers and the mark that gave them to her. The mark that made her feel like a curse had been placed on her. A mark that now was labeling her as a witch, a devil! ...A monster.
“If you want to stay alive, you need to run. Runaway so you can live and not die by the hand of your father. Runaway now, your father will never know. You can start a new identity, a new name, a new life.” Alec finished, letting silence hang in the absence between them. Letting the silence torture her with her inner thoughts.
Could he be right? A small voice agreed with Alec . Live, and not die by your father’s hand. Would he really kill her if he found out? Flashes of memories of executions erupted in her thoughts. Yes, she knew her father and his ideals, she knew what he was capable of. If her father ever found out, she was as good as dead, as her father would only see her as evil and an opponent he must face.
“How will I escape?” Lana asked, finally making up her already quaking mind. Alec’s face broke out into a mischievous grin.
“Leave that all to me,” Alec said calmly.
Some might claim that the plan was a far out fetch genius one full of risk, that was in it the knights showed up, but then again they should have known better. They did know from the moment that they came up with the train wreck of a plan, that something was going to happen to ruin it. Their first warning of the unknown disaster that would soon follow, the fact that the plan had started off without a hitch.
It had began too smoothly, setting them both anticipating the worst. It hadn’t only just started off smoothly it also didn’t hit any bumps on their way to the stables their target, it fact it looked like they had luck on their side as the knights seemed to be getting out of their way. They were never lucky, making them both know that something was going to go terribly wrong, it was all a matter of time. They had managed to jump from one alleyway to the next sticking slyly to the shadows as they moved with the cover as dark as their blanket. Doing all this, still not seeing a knight in sight, unnerved them even more.
It should come to no surprise that it was at that point in time of their plan where they hit the waves and were crashed sideways, prophetically speaking. It all began when they were sneaking across the fields, trying to make their way to the stables, without being spotted and sounding an alarm.
Just when Alec and Lana decided to stand up from their crouched position, ready to sneak over and steal two horses before making their escape, the knight decided to make his presence known. First, there was one, but then a second popped up in the clearing soon by a third, and then a fourth, and lastly a fifth.
“Lana, when you get your chance, I want you to dash into the forest, and keep running staying hidden and safe until I can meet up with you again,” Alec told her quickly.
“Alec , wait meetup? Whatever stupid half-baked plan is going through that head of yours at the moment, ignore it,” Lana said as her stubbornness slowly covered the hidden panic that was buried deep within her vocals. This made a small smile appear on his face, one of the last ones Lana would see in a long time from his stoned-like face.
“It wouldn’t be able to be called a plan of mine if it didn’t have a little stupidly, daring action to it. Would it?” Alec asked grinning mischievously, before jumping up and stepping out of the shadows. That was concealing him from the knight’s eyes, before she could argue with him more on how stupid his plan was. Alec stepped on a stick creating a loud crack, fake freezing when all the knights’ eyes were on him, before he took off.
Alec ran off, sprinting to the right, just staying in the tree line. Drawing them all away for the moment, from where she still stood. She did as she was told, and ran. She ran away from her old life, the pains that each lost a person close to her gave, and all the sadness and loneliness she once felt.
She ran from her new companion, the only person that knew her secret. The person that had saved her twice, and fought with, the person who had joked about landing on their landings in the future. Alec , the person she had realized she had started to think as a forming friend, even if she refused to admit aloud. She ran into the forest where he stated their meet again.
Her name is Lana Kingstood, and this is the the story where she left everything, for a secret that could give her a new identity, lifestyle, and a new future that she could decide on. A secret she would die to protect. She is Amber, and this is her story of her new life and future as Amber Ever.