Amber & The Secrets Hidden In The Shadows

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Chapter Six

A limp body was on her back; Amber struggled to get behind the trees for cover; wobbling every few steps as she stumbled on a gnarled root or bush, or moving too much to the right, making an arm fall loose. It dangled as she tried to regain her footing from the unbalanced weight she was carrying. The attack had happened so fast that Amber could only process the scene in flashes. Soldiers were coming out from the trees, rushing at them… A group of knights circled them, surrounding them… Arrows shot from bows, and the swings of the blades intersecting the arrows filled the air. Alec jumps in front of her, acting as a shield. Then his limp body crashing into her, an arrow now spouting blood from his side, profusely. Her arms were reaching out, too late, he hit the ground hard, falling on a sharp rock. Then blood… From his temple, his side, everywhere… So much blood, his blood... on her hands.

Vision blurry, Amber had just enough sense to note that all the knights seemed to be on high ground. Maybe it was the long swooshing of the arrow after it being shot, or the thumping of her heartbeat pounding into her skull or even the feeling of Alec’s stillness, but she could not think straight. With no plan in mind, Amber decided to do what her instincts had been telling her since the moment that Alec had stepped into her life. Run. And that’s what she did, she grabbed Alec’s body, only able to half carry, half drag it, doubled check her dagger was in her sheath and ran.

She didn’t know how she managed to run so far, losing sight of the knights, but she seemed to be in luck when she caught sight of a small den. She dragged Alec over as gently as possible, before plopping him in there, grabbing his sword, and walking back out. Seeing some bramble and thorn bushes close by, Amber walked up to them and started to cut at them, picking the fallen pieces up and carried them back to the den where Alec was lying still unconscious. She put all her cut-offs in front of the newly found shelter before sneaking back in, hoping that would suffice as camouflage for now...keeping everyone out while hiding the view from any prying eyes.

Looking back at Alec only now did Amber seem to notice how much blood Alec appeared to have lost. Amber decided to take off his black cloak, the same as her gray one. His once blue shirt was a harsh violet, and his skin looked like he hadn’t seen the light of the sun in months. All signs of his loss of blood, which worried her tremendously. She wasn’t a healer, just a runaway princess, with witch-like powers that would be shunned in this world.

The back of the arrow still stuck out of his side near his rib cage. Not knowing what to do, Amber hesitantly reached for the edge of his shirt, her sluggish fingers fumbling with the fabric. Learning over, her body slipped, her hand falling on his chest, making him groan. She was quick to remove it. Slowly, Amber reached around to where the arrow was lodged into Alec’s side, and tenderly put pressure near the wound. Amber only removed her hand’s from Alec’s injury after tightly wrapping Alec’s black cloak around the wound to try and stop the blood flow.

She noticed something under the bottom of the shirt, where it started to bunch upwards. Amber didn’t think much of it anyway at first, not wanting to introduce when he was unconscious. That was until something red caught her eye. Curiously Amber pulled up his shirt more. A red flower like mark was revealed. The picture was small and delicate, and of three black lilies in mid-blossom, the edged died a heated crimson. The stamens were long, extending outwards, like the legs of a spider.

But that wasn’t even the scary and confusing part; the scary and confusing part was the fact that it’s the same mark she has. Or she at least thought it was; she had only seen it once when she was younger. Reflected off a mirror angled held by a friend, after waking up in a feverish daze. Seen it once, before being warned never to let anyone see it. That friend soon disappeared from her life, so she was the only remaining known of the secret. Amber’s hands instinctively go straight to the nape of her neck, where her mark was placed. She had discovered the mark a short while after she mysteriously recovered from the Crimson Fever. New, and old, unanswered questions circled inside Amber’s head like bees in a hive.

Why did he have a similar mark as her? Why didn’t he act surprised when he found out she had this strange power? How did he find her when she was kidnapped? Why and how did she gain this power? Did it have something to do with the mark? Was she wrong believing she was the only one there carrying this type of power? If so, who could there be? Did Alec know the answer to any of these questions, or was he just as clueless as her?

Amber was knocked out of her hurricane of thoughts when she heard Alec give a slight moan of pain - a sign he was beginning to stir. With a defeated sign caused by her torment thoughts, Amber decided to bring it up with Alec later.

Amber unknowingly started to run her hands through Alec’s wild mane in a soothing manner. Little did she know that Alec was awake and enjoying it. Amber began to hum a song her mother always used to sing to her when she was little, softly, oblivious to the green eyes that had snapped open to watch her.

“You have a beautiful voice,” a gruff voice said startling Amber, causing a yelp to leave her mouth. Looking around it took a moment for Amber to realize; one, that the voice belonged to Alec, and two, that her hand was frozen still in Alec’s hair.

“You’re awake,” she stated surprised.

“Yes, I am,” Alec said trying to sit up only to grimace in pain. He looked down at his torn shirt, and at the exposed arrow coming out of his side.

“Oh yeah… About that… do you remember anything?” she asked concernedly.

“I remember most of it, I think,” Alec commented. “The last thing I remember was us being surrounded by the knights, and then an arrow coming at you,” he said sitting up, his eyes wide. “You’re okay aren’t you?” he asked his voice different, not exact the concern, but a different emotional all together. Before Amber could even answer, she could feel Alec’s eyes on her scanning and examine her for any injuries.

“Yes, I managed to come out unscraped thanks to you,” she said forcing a weak smile. “You’re the one who didn’t; you're wounded, all because you took the arrow that was meant for me,” Amber whispered in a soft tone that went unheard to Alec.

“You know… I don’t regret taking the arrow” Alec whispered his voice for once tender, surprising Amber tremendously.

“Why?” she asked her voice strained, now taken aback.

“I don’t like seeing you getting hurt,” Alec admitted softly. Once again Amber was taken back by Alec’s response of honesty. Even though they’ve been on the run for nearly two months, as Alec liked to remind her. She hadn’t seen much emotion from Alec, not since after the night of their first encounter. Sure there’s been the joking side of him; the one that likes to hide her dagger under the folds of his cloak, making her think she had lost it. But there was also the soldier side of him; the one that she had seen the first night at the castle when he had took command and fought to protect her.

The soldier side was the one that had shown up more often now, causing him to almost be in a trance that turned him serious and robotic like. In the past two months, the soldier side seemed like it had taken over most of Alec’s personality.

That was the response behind Amber more aloofness; she had been trying so hard to get him to laugh or even smile.

Lanny, remember everyone deserves to laugh at least once a day, no matter how dire the times are,” Amber remembered, a boy saying that to her while holding two antlers to his head and he danced a jig to an unheard beat, making her younger self-crack a toothy grin, clapping her pudgy hands in delight.

“I need to show my gratitude for what you have done for me; I would like to tell you that you can always rely on me, as I will always be by your side.”

“Yes, of course,” he answered, “And you can alway come talk to me, and ask me anything,” Alec stated firmly but kind. For a second her mind flashed back to all the thoughts and questions that were still unanswered she had thought of and hesitantly nodded her head. “Amber, are you okay?” Alec asked, his voice showing hints of worry.

“Y-yes, I’m just fine,” Amber answered poised.

“Amber,” Alec said, gently grabbing hold of her chin, making her face him. “You can ask me anything,” he said so convincingly that Amber couldn’t help but blurt out what was on her mind.

“Why… why, do you also have that strange tattoo?” As soon as the words left her mouth, Amber’s hands clasped over her lips, in shocked surprise. Alec’s eyes hardened in a matter of a second.

“How do you know about that?” Alec asks his voice cold, commanding.

“I-I, uh, I noticed it when I was trying to treat your wound,” Amber stuttered out. The look in Alec’s eyes was so hard and cold that it that it had frightened her.

“What were you doing staring at my hips?”

“Y-your shirt had been pulled up, as I was treating your wound. something red had caught my eye, so I looked closer, I pulled it up, to check it out.” Amber started nervously, her voice trembling throughout the whole confession.

“So…” spoke Alec, in an almost alarming, flirty way, “you were examining my body?” Both eyebrows rose playfully, a smirk plastered on his face. Amber’s dropped like a rock in disbelief.

Wow, he definitely does switch between two different personally quickly, Amber thought in bewilderment.

“W-what no!” Amber exclaimed her glowing face red as she began waving her hands and shaking her head, back and forth frantically. Her actions, making Alec’s light chuckling explore the air. Amber smiled slightly, but it soon vanished when she started thinking about what had just happened, Alec’s stone cold eyes, his deadly voice, his harsh gaze. Alec seemed to understand what she felt because his laughter seemed to die into nothingness. They stayed like that just hanging out in that awkward silence, neither one of them knowing what to say. Finally, Alec broke the silence.

“Anyway… Let’s continue our conversation,” he said like he hadn’t just been staring her down with his cold, judgmental eyes. Not knowing what else to do, Amber just nodded. “So if what you were saying was true, you happened to see my shirt was pulled up revealing part of my mark, and you pulled up the rest and saw the red Lilies,” Alec stated then raised an eyebrow as if to ask ‘Am I correct?’

“Yes?” unserally she answered.

“Now, you want me to explain, right?” he asked.

“You don’t have to, I mean only if you want to, I don’t want-”

“Amber,” he called out sternly but still amused.

“Yes?” she answered weakly.

“It’s a simple answer a yes or no, would suffice,” he said humorously. She nodded her head before realizing he wanted a one variable answer.

“Yes,” she answered quickly.

“Okay, we’ll hear from the beginning…” Alec stated, then he was quiet. He was perhaps gathering his thoughts, Amber presumed. “It all started ten years ago, with a fever. The Crimson Fever,” he said sourly like it left a bitter taste in his mouth.

“It was a deadly disease that no one knows when or how it was started. They only knew it had plagued the lives of the civilians in there kingdom for centuries. It was a deadly disease, Seventy percent of the kingdom’s population contracted Crimson Fever. Sixty percent of the whole population contracted it and died. Ten percent of the people who contracted it, survived through the fever. However, there was a five percent from that ten, that had survived but had come back from the fever differently,” Alec said slowly.

“Five percent? Different… How?” Amber asked getting hooked.

“The five percent were, what the people called, the unlucky ones. They also survived, but for those people, it was with a price. Each and every one of them was burdened with a gift. So they say,” Alec said sending Amber a meaningful look. Amber inhaled a sharp breath.

“Gift?” she asked hesitantly.

“Yes, a special gift. A power even. Just like yours.” Alec said his voice surprisingly sturdy. “These people were soon named the Marked Ones. Because each of them had appeared with a mark, a flower people would say. Each mark only discovered after they survived the fever. They were feared and were claimed to be cursed, however the executions didn’t start until three years later,” Alec explained, a raging fire was shining in his eyes. “When the executions started, all the remaining Marked Ones ran away and went into hiding. Unfortunately, the Crimson Fever was still happening, meaning new Marked Ones began to pop up daily. All these Marked Ones who went into hiding, started to meet up with each other. They soon formed groups that were called guilds. Each guild came up with their own name and own laws of activity. Some started to revolt against the kingdom, while others stayed quiet and peaceful.” Alec took a deep breath, closing his eyes as he slowly let it out of his mouth, before his eyes snapped open, locking with Amber’s. “Amber, I am one of the Marked, and so are you,” Alec said his voice too warm, too carry, for saying such harsh words.

“Wait... So you’re telling me, for the past two months, when I felt alone, upset and miserable, thinking no one out there understood how I felt when I ran away from my own family... You’re telling me there are people out there who know, who really understand. You’re telling me you’ve been there, you’ve been one of them... Yet you’ve just been hiding it, all this time! You’ve been hiding the truth all along! Why?”

“Amber, I’m sorry I wanted to tell you, but I couldn’t disobey my orders!” Alec shouted, but Amber would have none of it.

“So, this has all just been a stupid job to you this whole time?!” Amber yelled, covering her hurt with pure rage. Amber got up and started marching to the door, “I’m going to find something to eat.”

“Amber, I was only trying to pro-” Amber didn’t hear the rest of what he was saying because she had already left the den.

She stormed out of their makeshift room, trying her best to bite back her anger. She couldn’t believe he would keep all of this from her, she was so… so… ugh! She wanted to hit him, or at least someone… Well, she sighed, I really should get us something to eat so we don’t starve. Unknown to Amber, someone was looking for her, someone who wasn’t a knight and was looking for revenge.

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Connor thought it might have been a mistake following the knight’s lead. It had been two months, and yet he had nothing. Nothing at all; he alway seems to be two steps behind the knights and the mysterious duo. That’s another annoying thing - after two months they still hadn’t come up with a better name than the Mysterious Due; be real. There has to be something better than ‘the Mysterious Due.’

Connor had just come across an area in the forest, where chopped arrows were littering the ground. Hmm.... It looks like a battle has just happened, Conner thought suspiciously, I wonder if it could be them.

Looking down at the ground, he noticed that the leaves and ground were painted red. In one of the mysterious duo’s blood perhaps? Conner had been tracking the duo for a while now, and had a hunch about who they might be. If he was right, he had a bone to pick with them.

“Lanber and that damned knight, I will get you,” Conner muttered his voice covered in the loathing he felt.

To be truthful he didn’t really care about the girl. So she escaped, oh well… No who he really hated was that stupid knight, the one dressed in armor and who beat him in the fight, only to make sure his last strike didn’t turn out to be fatal, before leaving him. Leaving Connor stranded in the bloody forest! Yes, he would get his revenge and if he managed to take back that Lamber girl, to get the knight back, so freaking be it!

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