Blue eyes of fire snapped open, examining her surroundings. Lana woke up refreshed, looking down she saw that the cause of her peaceful sleep was due to a rock, covered in some type of grassy moss. She blinked as she stared at the bright light, letting her eyes have time to adjust when she looked around trying to piece together where she was and what had transpired. She was under a tall pine, lying on the soft moss, that seemed to cushion her body, almost pulling her deeper into the earth. Lana also noticed jagged rocks poking from under cover of moss and leaves, and that her location resided in some type of forest. She heard a rustle coming from behind her, she turned around her hand raised in a fist, only to lower it when she saw it was Alec. Stupid, annoying, irrational planner, idiotic, brave, Alec, and she couldn’t be happier to see him.
“Oh, glad to see your finally awake” Alec, commented, a sly grin stretching his face.
“Yeah, how long have I been out?” Lana asked.
“About two hours,” Alec said the grin still not dropping from his lips - if anything it grew even more.
“Are you feeling well?” Alec asked in a different tone; it wasn’t in a mood that sounded like he was concerned, it was more of him holding back his laughter in hysterics.
“Fine, why you ask?” Lana asked suspicious of the thrill of Alec’s amusement.
“Nothing, it’s just your hair is very…” He said trailing off not able to find the right word to describe the scene in front of him.
“Hey, I’ve been living in the forest the past couple days, your hair is no prince charming either.”
“I get that, in fact, I‘m used to that, it comes to no surprise to me, but what happened to us, is something well… I guess you could say you’ve been under more than a little stress lately.” Alec comments looking her over.
“Oh Flames, why do you say that?” Lana asked this time starting to get worried.
“Well, judging from your hair…”
“What about my hair,” Lana demanded, her eyes hardening, her lips beginning to turn into a snarl.
“Oh, nothing, it just appears that your hair has decided based on the few days as a result of all of your stress, that it would skip the gray aging phase, and jump all the way to white,” Alec said cheekily.
“What do you mean?” Lana asked, using all her strength to hold herself back from jumping up and strangling the moron in front of her.
“Here,” Alec said not answering any of Lana’s questions.
Alec reached behind him and held out a sheathed dagger. She reached for it and slowly unsheathed it. Its sleek, silver surface glows in the moonlight. Its elegance is radiant. Lana didn’t marvel much when she caught her reflection in the blade. Staring back at her was a person she didn’t fully recognize.
Lana knew it was her, but her face was covered in dirt, and there was a small cut with dry blood on her neck. The most mouth dropping thing was her hair. Gone was her perfect, full, black, silky waves. It was now ragged, and black wasn’t the only color that would describe her hair now. Instead of its usual midnight black, half of her hair, from her chin to the tips of her hair below her shoulders, was snow white.
There was no mix of the black meeting the white; it was just her typical black and then white.
“H-how?” Lana stuttered in shock.
“I don’t know,” Alec stated flatly.
“It started to happen when you were asleep,” Alec said his half joking-self returning. “But this could be good; we could use this to our advantage.”
“How so?” Lana asked him finally peeking her interest.
“You’re a runaway,” he stated directly. “People will search for you, and you being a Princess will make it on a larger scale.”
“And…?” She asked, “It’s not like we didn’t already know this.”
“You’re right on that one,” Alec agreed, “But your new hair gave me an idea.” Lana made a motion for him to continue.
“If you changed your hair, it would be harder for them to find you, but not impossible. However, if we change your whole identity, make you someone new; someone better, they will never find you,” Alec said in a voice that was so convincing that Lana believed him.
“A new me,” Lana said, her voice not a question, but a statement. “What do we have to do?” Alec’s face broke into a mischievous grin.
“Find a town.”
“We take action.”
She would never admit it, for he would hold it above her head for the rest of her life, but Lana had to say that Alec’s plan for once wasn’t half bad. No, it wasn’t even remotely decent, as his plan never seemed to be. It still had the dumbness, and was still bad, as his ideas mostly were. But luckily, it wasn’t ‘suicide bad’ like his general thoughts and ideas were. The plan was, and she quoted, ‘simple.’ At least that’s what Alec had said, but Lana didn’t see anything simple about breaking in and stealing from the village.
Lana had said it was one of Alec’s better plans. However, that didn’t make it good. It depended on skill, Alec had said, but Lana disagreed. She thought it only depended on luck, something she wasn’t sure was on her side anymore. For starters, her kingdom was under attack, and some enemy knights almost killed her. Yes, Alec had saved her, and again when the explosion went off. But then there was the knight in the alleyway, and if she hadn’t discovered her power, she would have been toast.
She can’t forget the time they tried to escape, only for them to have to split up and run from her knights. For days after that, she was running, being chased, until she finally lost them. But it wasn’t over, she continued to bump into people both friend and foe, and it all only stopped when she was rescued by Alec again. So, in other words, it’s Alec who has been the lucky one. Always coming in the nick of time to save her. But soon, his luck will run out - no one can be that lucky for all of their life. Lana just prayed that today, wouldn’t be that day.
“Lana, you here?” Alec called out his voice low and light, the wind carrying his voice so when it reached Lana it was barely over a whisper. Lana was snapped out of her thoughts by the sound. He must be back from scouting the towns from in the shadows.
“Over here,” came Lana’s reply, poking her head above the bush she was hiding behind. In less than a minute, Lana felt someone’s eyes on her.She turned around and was relieved when she saw that they belonged to Alec. The feeling of people watching her was a constant, and she felt safe now that Alec, her savior countless of times, was there with her.
“Any luck?” Lana asked. After realizing what she had just spoken, a grin broke out on her face. Of course, Alec would have luck.
“What’s with that crazy buffoonish look on your face?” Alec asked.
“Oh shut it!” Lana said punching him lightly on the shoulder; a smug look decorated her face. Alec stood there frozen for a couple of seconds, eyes wide, before snapping out of it. The corners of his mouth started to twitch up.
“Yes, it seems I did” Alec answered deciding to change the subject.
“How so?” she asked curiously.
“At the end of this village, lives a tailor, figured we could break into his house and take something that is in your size,” Alec said a bit too smugly.
“That’s your plan?” she asked raising one eyebrow unimpressed, “How are you supposed to grab something that is my size? And more important, how are you going to break into his house? Are the owners home, in the house, the house you’re going to rob from?”
“Umm…” Lana wouldn’t let him start, cutting him off.
“And what are you going to do if you wake them up, or knock something down?” Lana asked Alec opened his mouth to protest, only for Lana once again to cut him off and continue ranting. “You could be caught that’s what. Then what would you do to escape?” Lana questioned already knowing the answer.
“Run?” Alec responds in a wavering voice. It sounded like the question was aimed more at himself than her. Lana just huffed out an angry puff of air,
“I swear that’s the stupidest thing you’ve said, and trust me that’s saying something,” Lana snapped.
“Fine, what do you want me to do?!” Alec said raising his voice.
“Don’t get caught!” Lana said. At this point, they were both yelling.
“Why would you care?” Alec yelled back, only to regret it when he heard what Lana said next,
“I’m not going to lose the only person I care about, to something this stupid!” Lana yelled, her voice so furious it almost hid the layer of pain. Lana’s eyes grew wide, realizing in horror what she had just said. Alec stood there, frozen. Staring at her, a feeling of guilt hit him hard.
“Lana…” he breathed out softly.
“J-just, just forget it okay?” she said turning away from him. She managed to take three steps before she was whirled around and pulled into Alec’s chest.
“Lana, I won’t get caught here or anywhere. I will stay with you, always. Now that’s a promise,” Alec said, his head leaning against her neck, his lips moving softly next to her ear. She was still, and quiet. Alec was sure she had fallen asleep; it wasn’t like it was the first time it had happened. He was starting to gently pick her up when her voice surprised him, so much, so he almost lost his hold on her.
“Be safe,” she said it so softly, that if he had been just a few more inches away, he would have missed it. He gently got up, moving slowly, laying Lana down behind a tree trunk. After making sure she was out of danger, he got up, walking in the direction of his target. But not before he whispered, “I will.”
Lana was hugging a tree, well not quite, more like holding onto it for dear life. Holding on, so she wasn’t in danger of falling off the tree branch she was now hanging out on.
“Alec, I’m going to kill you!” she forced out quietly, not wanting to have the people, more specifically knights, down below in the forest looking up to find her there.
“Okay, I’m sorry. How many times do I have to tell you that?” Alec’s voice was rising above her. Whenever she tried to paralyze him with her glare, she could only make out the blackness, and a thick layer of branches that surrounded her. It was too dark to see clearly. That was why this was the best place to hide in such short notice without being detected. The darkness was keeping them from being discovered.
“A million more before I decide to forgive you, Alexander,” Lana responded angrily.
“It’s not my fault!” he bellowed back.
“How in Hell’s God is it not your fault!” Lana yelled.
“How was I supposed to know there was a Sherinian's point nearby? They’re your knights! You should have known. And how in bloody Hell’s fire was I supposed to know that I would just happen to run into a knight after I escaped from the house?” Responded Alec bitterly.
“I don’t know… Could you have checked before you broke in? During, your scouting perhaps, Mr.I’m-too-cool-for-scouting. And how in hell’s bloody fire was I supposed to know there were knights out here! I’m a princess, not a flaming general!” Lana snapped loudly, dangerously close to blowing their cover.
“I did this for you! We’re up here now because I went and got you some clothes, so you wouldn’t have to stay in that dirty undergarment this whole run,” Alec snapped back. Lana looked down at her new clothes, her dirty nightgown had been replacing with a slightly shaggy gray shirt that hung to her shoulders, and a new blue navy leather jacket which she had to roll up a second time, so it would just reach her wrist. And her once cold bare feet were now covered in black boots. He even found a pair of dark pants for her to wear. The only thing she did keep, was the grey cloak that still carried on her shoulders. He’s right… she thought appalled.
“This, this is both of our faults so stop putting all the blame on me!” Alec yelled forgetting that there were trying to keep quiet and hidden. Lana opened her mouth about to apologize when she heard something that made them freeze in place.
“They’re here, up there,” a knight said right below them, he no doubt had spotted them.
“Alec…” Lana whispered, now hesitantly, “What now?” She looked up, only to be surprised when she saw Alec hanging from the branch above her, slowly lowering himself onto her branch.
“Grab ahold of my waist,” Alec said, his tone commanding and confidence. Lana bit her lip, holding back her questions and did what Alec said. She wrapped her arms around his torso, trying to get a solid grip. What she thought was that solid grip soon tightened when Alec jumped off the branch, dragging her with him.
Her firm grip became deadly, as she screamed through her teeth, trying to stifle it. All of a sudden she was jerked up, almost pulling her arms out of their sockets. Looking up, she could see Alec hanging from a branch, much like the one they were standing on before the fall.
Before Lana could fully catch her breath, they were plummeting once more. Every time they descended, Lana got a new surge of terror that filled her veins. When they had finally made it to the ground, the impact didn’t kill them as she had first thought it would.
Lana still had a death grip on Alec, and she couldn’t decide if she should let go of him, and punch him, or tighten her grip, if that was possible, maybe killing him in the process. He was insane. He must be for doing something like that and living to tell the tale. Oh, yes, a mad genius, Lana thought.
When Lana decided to do none of the prior, well not at this moment at least, she chooses to let go of him, and step away, so they were now side by side. I’ll save the punching for later, she thought cunningly. By now the knight’s reinforcements had arrived. But the knight was standing there frozen, as he was before, his jaw on the ground below. Lana decided to ignore him and the rest of people that were circling them, trapping them.
“Alec…” Lana spoke softly, turning to face him “What do we do now?” she asked expecting he had a plan.
“Run,” Alec said, his expression stony.
“But what if I use my po-” Before she could even finish, Alec had cut her off.
“No,” he said.
“B-but why?” Lana finally asked, her tone baffled.
“They’re knights; they may work for the kingdom if the knight told-” There was a pause, and Alec met her eyes, she got the hidden message that wasn’t spoken ‘The king, your father, would find out.' “We would be hunted, and killed,” Alec said, reaching to grab her wrist.
But Lana had other plans; in one rapid motion, Lana had retrieved the dagger Alec had shown her recently. Again there was the unknown thing, being of instinct, talking in the back of her head telling her what to do. Bending down, she drew a design on the hard ground, the dagger cutting it like wet clay.
“Shift.” Lana had finished and spoken her hands already outstretched before her. Alec had the time to yell out, lunging forwards.
Lana’s word was forceful, powerful. In one swift act, the earth underneath the knights had crumbled, leaving a wide gap where they once stood. It was soon getting covered as the dirt turned once more no indication of what happened prior. The knights were gone. Dead by suffocation, one would assume.
Alec, not wasting any time, with one arm rushed forward and grabbed Lana, the dagger still in her grasp. He had leaped over the ditch like an elk, before shooting off towards the forest.
When Alec finally stopped running, feeling safe, he dropped Lana. Surprised, she ends up falling to the ground roughly. She looked up at Alec angrily, only for it to die down when she noticed he wouldn’t even look in her general direction.
“Hey, you okay?” she asked concerned. “Alec…” she called out his name. His eyes gave her a quick glance before looking away. “Alec, what’s wrong?” she tried asking again.
“Wrong?” he whispered like it was a foreign word, “What’s wrong is you,” he said finally meeting her eyes. Lana was taken back, What did she do?
“How’s this my fault?” she asked annoyed. Alec shot her a glare, stopping the spiteful commenced that was about to be spoken.
“You showed your power, in front of knights, fully knowing the consequences!” he bellowed out in anger.
“What else was I supposed to do? Let you fight all of them at once? A long shot outnumbered you.”
“Well, that would be better than showing the knights your power,” he defended.
“I’d rather a few knights know my secret then you end up dying on me,” she exclaimed.
“You don’t get it!” he yelled, yanking on his hair, “If even one knight knows, the king will be sure to find out. He’ll know about you, Lana.” His voice full of anger slowly softened.
Her voice like ice she replied,“Well, good thing I made sure he would never find out.” Making Alec flinch back, not only from her tone but also the truth to her words.
“You… shouldn’t have needed to have done that” Alec said his tone sober, he now transferred back to not meeting her eyes again.
“It was either that or my secret exposed; we wouldn’t want that, would we?” she responded her tone reserved around them, never looking the steel coldness.
“... I didn’t mean that I didn’t mean for you to kill.” Alec said his eyes transient as if he was staring at her, already seeing her death and future fate is already written.
“People die, all the time, it’s war, not more then a few days ago I was under attack. I saw death every day, bodies stranded in hallways, or strung up as some trophy, why is it different now because I did it?” She asked her tone metallic, remote, without emotion.“The difference is, you shouldn’t have to, as a former princess, it doesn’t fit your image.” Alec snapped back.
“So what if I did it, it was just a handful of knights. Just a handful, and so what…if I hadn’t, they would have just hurt others and killed others. IS it so bad that I killed them?” “... Killed them, I did that…” her voice breaking from its formal metallicness, “Oh god…” she said hand clapped over mouth as she let out a weak whimper.
“Oh god, I killed someone, I killed a lot of someones… Alec, what did I do?” She asked looking up towards him. He should have been startled, at seeing the so emotionless princess only seconds ago break, but he wasn’t. He had experienced years of lessons on the battlefield, which had ended up teaching him: it was just a matter after of time after the first killing before they break, they have to break before they can grow stronger finally.
“You need to get up” he gazes cold “get up and continue living. Like you said it was either fight or flee. Originally, I wanted to run, thinking you’d be too weak. Prove me and yourself wrong, and get up.”
“Now what..?” she asked weakly, her voice trembling as she climbed up off her knees.
“We need to get them off our trail, change something….”
“You know what, Alec you’re right!” Lana explained the emotions resurfacing in her voice after a while.
“I am. Am I? How exactly?” he responded sounding different, baffled, not expecting the answer Lana provided.
“Let’s give them the person they see; we’ll form a new a new name as your first promised,” Lana said her eyes lighting up as a plan seem to form in her head. “Make them see a new person, not some damsel in distress princess,” Lana said a fox like a smirk playing on her lips. “But before anything, we need to get rid of this,” Lana said yanking at her long, tangled black web of hair. In one quick motion, Lana once again grasped the dagger, now warm to her touch. Making a whoosh sound, it cut through her hair like a blade cutting a tear in the fabric of the night sky, which soon fell to a carpet of white snow. Lana watched her hair fall like cut ribbons to the forest ground below. Alec seemed startled by her actions, unable to move.
“Now a new name… ” she pondered, “After all, you can’t be a new identity, without a name…” At this, Alec seems to shake himself free from her trance, a small smile appearing on his face. Not a smirk, not a grin, but an actual smile. Seeing this, Lana couldn’t help smile. “Hmm…,” she said tapping her chin as if she was in deep thought. “How ’bout Amber? Amber what, though… I have to have the last name,” Lana said in a fake accent, making Alec laugh lightly. “Nightshade? No… That sounds too dark, and I think that might be a poison…” she pondered aloud, “Red, no, Waters, nope, Woodland, nada, Fox, can’t. Arion, that won't do they both begin with the same letter. Ugh!” Lana growled out, by this time Alec is clutching his stomach from laughing so hard.
“What ’bout Ever?” Alec asked, finally catching his breath.
“Why, would I choose Ever? It’ sounds like one of those dead legends back in the old world,” Lana scoffed, offended. “You know, ’and then they lived happily ever after…’”
“Exactly,” Alec stated, a grin already placed on his face. “Besides, don’t you think Amber Ever, has a certain ring to it?” he asked raising an eyebrow.
“Amber Ever,” she said out loud. She did like how it rolled off her tongue. Her smile seemed to gleam at that moment like the winter’s moon reflecting off an iced lake’s surface. “From now on, I will only be known as Amber, Amber Ever,” she explained, the last part she said shouting at a now grinning Alec.
“Now I need only one thing.” Alec raised his eyebrows in an unspoken question. In a flash, she had cut a small branch, and started cutting off the bark layer, into only the flexible part was shown. She then started bending and twisting until it was thickly woven into a makeshift belt. With shining eyes, Amber touched her new dagger in its new holster, her very own weapons belt.
“How do you do that?” he asked to astonish, eyeing the new hoster curiously.
“This? It’s one of my skills as a princess. Surprised?” the question was asked amused.
“You have the skill of being a princess… Where did you learn it in Princess survival skills 101?” Alec asked raising a brow in question.
“No actually Woodcarving 101,” she was completely serious, stunning Alec before breaking off in uncontrollable laughter.
“Always the unpredictable one, Lana… ” he said in silent mirth.
After a deadly glare from the said individual, he put his hands in the air, “What?” he asked puzzled.
“Name” realization landed on his face before a smile broke out.
Unknown to Alec, and the newly named Amber, Alec’s assumption was right about the knights; they did report to the king about the run-in with the duo, and how half the unite disappeared after confronting them. This seemed to confirm the king’s fear of the D.E.V.I.L. children dwelling in his kingdom.
Even without the knowledge of the strange girl’s mysterious power. The knights reported what details they could catch from the short time they saw them. How it appeared the girl had been in waiting, and the boy seems to be the leader of the duo. They also mentioned she had been standing next to the strange boy, mentioning unknowingly which one had caused the disappearance of the comrades, or if both were, in fact, the D.E.V.I.L.s.
Although all details of the encounter were unclear, there was one thing that was obvious; one of the duos held power to make people vanish, and that one was one of the Marked, and everyone knew it.
The Knights weren’t the only ones wanting to find Amber and Alec. On the opposite side of the forest, a young man had also heard the rumors about the pair. The Mysterious Duo: the girl beautiful, dressed in all black, her hair the reflection of the night sky mixed with the stars and rumored to be a witch, and how the man next to her tried to take on all of the knights but was stopped by her sorceries. This man had heard about them and watched to see if it was true. More irritable, they were the people he wanted. Those two individuals, the mysterious duo.
The man’s eyes glow radiant blue in the darkness, full of angry and vengeful schemes.