A snap of a twig breaking was the reason why Lana, the former princess, found herself up high in the tree branches out of sight. Hesitantly she looked down, waiting to see if it was a knight of her father’s, that had caused the sudden sound in the once earsplitting silence. Instead of a knight, as she had first thought, met with the warm brown eyes of a fluffy brown and gray squirrel with its chubby cheeks full of nuts.
She almost wanted to laugh at the seriousness of the situation Alec had put her in; she had just barely escaped a panic attack because of a stupid squirrel. By now she was bone-tired; having been on the run with her guard up for the last four days. Four days, she’d been running from her father, her flesh, and blood. To survive, it was all for her survival. And it was all that moron’s fault! She thought dimly, silently cursing Alec for his idiotism. He convinced her to run away, to hide, to leave her kingdom behind, only to leave her alone; as he went and hid in the trees.
She was now stranded alone. When she needed him the most, he was nowhere in sight. Sure, it might have been, so she could have made a break for it, to escape the knights that had been hunting her. So what if she only knew him for five hours; albeit, two of which he was passed out because of the blast of the explosion. She had gotten attached to him enough, that she felt lonely, with his presence missing.
She had been absent-minded, as she slightly worried about if he had indeed managed to escape that night unharmed? Or did he, in fact, get caught? She’d be screwed if that was indeed the case. She had thought about marching back up to the palace, to yell at the king and guards to release Alec, just so she could scream and later kill him herself, for putting her through this hell.
She climbed back down to the ground and continued strolling towards the edge of the trees to a clearing of paridies at the bottom of the hill. The hill was overlooking a fascinating landscape with mountains in the distance, a beautiful mural of blues and purples with a deepening blue lake nearby. Right where the hills seem to meet the lake, a small village was located.
Lana had run across this surreal place a night and a day ago. That night she had just outrun the last knight that somehow magically had manage to find her again and continue to chase her. Her other two pursuers had disappeared sometime in the previous past two days.
At the moment she had been peering at the small paradise from behind a group of thick oak trees. She wanted to go down, get a closer look, meet new people, get a fresh start, but she knew that she couldn’t. For one, she had only escaped in her nightgown and slippers, but after what had happened, her slippers had been left long in the dust. But that was all just an excuse; she knew the truth, she was a princess that had run away afraid of her father. She could never have that kind of normal life as a princess, and could now never step foot in the village as a runaway. That was a deeming fact, and she knew it.
She stepped away from the trees she started to pace, back and forth, back and forth. She was hungry, thirsty, and was beginning to get tired more quickly. Right now all she wanted to do was find a warm place to sleep the night and worry about the future tomorrow. But sadly she knew the chances of that happening were nonexistent at the moment. Even though she was born a princess, she left her name, her title and everything else that came with that behind.
She now had nothing and no one. She was alone, and she loathed it! She would rather spend the day fighting while being under an attack, or flee from her former knights by order of her father or even do one of Alec’s stupid plans. At least then she would have been with someone; she’d have someone know that she was out there and her presence would no longer be ignored.
That’s all she wanted right now: to talk to someone freely and openly, and not run away anymore. Her steps faltered before she came to an abrupt stop, as she collapsed to the ground her face buried a puddel in her hands, as tears ran down her face.
The very first tears she had cried out in the open, the first tears she had cried since she left. She was so scared and so lost right now and had no idea what to do. She felt the new tears replace the old as they rolled down her cheeks and ended up dripping slowly at the bottom of her chin. When she finally had stopped because she had run out of tears to cry out, she sat there on the tree roots, unmoving drowning in her endless thoughts. It may have been minutes or it could as well as been hours, she was unsure when she heard the voice that had drawn her out of her thoughts.
“Stay where you are! Place all weapons on the ground, now move nice and slow...” A voice commanded Lana’s head snapped up in the direction of the sound. It had been so long since she had human contact in the past few days, that the voice, now sounds almost foreign to her.
“I have no weapons,” she replies looking over her shoulder as she moves her hands to show them, free.
“Keep your hands where I can see them!” he shouts, in a semi-familiar voice. “Turn around slowly.” The voice commanded, startled, Lana did what she was told. She was left both surprised and afraid when she found out two seconds later why, that voice, in fact, sounded so familiar before. Standing in front of her, aiming a crossbow at her, arrow notched, aimed at her heart; was the knight Sir Kylz.
She stood there frozen, not moving, not able to run, barely breathing. Had they already learned of her betrayal, would he shoot her? She couldn’t force herself to move, as these unanswered questions swirled around her head in an unnerving buzz.
The knight answered her question and stopped the unknown buzzing with the simple act of lowering his crossbow.
“Princess?” He asked his voice hiding his compassion.
“Princess, is that you?” Sir Kylz asked in disbelief. Lana with hesitation nodded her head, afraid of what her answer might provide. With relief, Sir Kylz quickly lowered his bow, that he unconsciously still had pointed to her with the loaded arrow still in the quiver, notched. Before rushing and pulling the former princess in a tight hug.
Surprised, on the sudden embrace, Lana stiffened. Feeling her uneasiness, Sir Kylz froze, realizing what he had just performed.
“My deepest apologies, your Majesty, I stepped over my bounds, so suddenly and with hastily. I was just so pleased with your return that I lost myself for a second. Please forgive my disrespect,” the knight said, head bent, an apology, trying to hide the small amount of the color rose on his cheeks in his state of embarrassment. Lana forced a laugh, to cover her still uneasiness being near the knight once more. It was making her on edge. Still baffled, and a little irked, on the way the knight’s words, seemed formality to her as if she had heard them before... She couldn’t stop the unknown thoughts, did her father know… Had he learned of her traitorous acts already? She bit her tounge to stop herself from not speaking straight out-ride her hidden thoughts to the knight in her father’s guard.
“No, it is alright” She reassured him, forcing her voice to stay in a steady stream of calm, even with her panicking inside. “It was just a slightly surprised, that’s all.” The knight’s face lit up in relief before dropping in a masked manner.
“Those sick bastards didn’t hurt or touch you did they?” He asked his voice cold like steel, yet still showing his feelings of concern for her well being.
“I am perfectly fine. My purity is still intact if you must know. And whom are you referring to, with the ill comment and name?” Lana asked, tilting her head upward slightly in a questioning manner, to match her tone, faking innocence. She had a pretty good feeling she knew who the knight was referring to.
“Those sick people that kidnapped you…” He said confirming her previous suspicion, looking down not meeting her gaze he continued “...We almost had him caught, but at the last moment it was a trap, and he manages to get away.” The moment that the truth of these words finally processes in the princess’ head, she had to bite back a tooth aching smile. He had gotten away… Alec had gotten away! He had escaped! He had kept his word as he promised. He would come and find her as he had promised, wouldn’t he? But before that, she had to get her father and the knights to stop pursuing her. And to do so, she did the only thing she could think of. She lied.
“No sir, you must have been mistaken, I was and have never been kidnapped. I left freely, all of my own free will.” She said turning to face the frozen knight.
“What?” he mumbled weakly.
“I was never kidnapped.” She repeated once again. “I had left on my own…” Lana stated bluntly.
“What are you trying to say?”
“I ran away.”
“I may be speaking out of turn, Princess… But if you’re afraid, please don’t be. Please understand Princess, by taking your rightful seat on the throne; it isn’t replacing the late queen. In fact, I bet she’d be ecstatic for you,” sir Kylz commented, trying to put her false doubts at ease. It wasn’t working.
“Yes, it may be true that I’ve been holding some hidden resentment for taking the throne, but me running away in the attack has nothing to do with that. Everything changed once I learned….” The formal princess replied, eyes void.
“Learned what?” the knight asked, his eyebrows crumbled, in puzzlement.
Lana pondered quickly before praying for her mother to one day, forgive her for the lie she was about to spread, maybe ruining her mother’s memory.
“I-it’s not that, well not exactly. It’s something I heard… During the attack right after I left you, I was running into to the royal chamber when I came across some knights. I quickly hid before they passed me, all the while talking about something. One of them had mentioned that we need to get her… finish the mission… take her out, just like we had done with the other woman - the mother.”