The After Effects

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The Comfort's Of Riding

I entered the stable, my eyes set on my black beauty.

“Ivy wait!” A deep voice rumbled as footsteps thudded behind me. I tensed slightly as the male ran up behind me.

“What do you want Soren?” I asked, exhaustion and annoyance driving my words.

“I need to apologize,” Soren said.

“I Don’t Need Your Pity.” I ground out each word, desperately trying to get away from this conversation so I could get Ragnar out.

I need to get away from here. If only for a couple of hours.

“I’m not giving you my pity, just listen.” Soren snapped, making me shut up. “I didn’t know, and I’m so sorry. What you went through... It’s horrible and I shouldn’t have pushed you.”

My eyes flicked to his hand, which was wrapped with a white cloth, red staining it very lightly. He didn’t bleed much, maybe I should have twisted the knife? I thought darkly.

“I hope you feel better about yourself now,” I said to the Prince, before turning and walking to Ragnar’s stall.

“I-” Soren stopped, staring at my massive stallion. “Why are you here?” He asked, forgetting whatever he was going to previously say.

“Mind your own business,” I said opening the stall, completely throwing out trying to hide who I was. He’s going to find out sometime, why not now?

My horse trotted up to me, nickering lowly as he stuck his nose in my stomach.

I could feel Soren behind me, but didn’t bother turning around, instead focusing on getting out of this place. I felt more and more claustrophobic the longer I stood between four walls.

Walking past Soren, I walked to the entrance of the barn and whistled for Ragnar to come to me. Which he did, brushing past a very confused Soren.

Heavy clops of hooves filled the stable as Ragnar trotted to me and lowered himself so I could get on him. I did so with ease.

Before I whistled for Ragnar to move, I turned to the Prince. Figuring I should leave him with a parting gift, I spoke. “Just remember Princey, Not everything is always as it seems.” I left him with that, turning and leaving him behind as Ragnar started moving.


Ragnar’s powerful body exploded underneath me, his head pumping along with his legs as he lightly galloped across the open field.

After my breakdown a little bit ago, I needed his comfort, the freedom he unknowingly brought to me.

I trusted Locke with caring for Harper before I left. Since he’s been sleeping on the couch in my living room for nearly three weeks, she’s become more and more comfortable around him and I figured she’d be good with him for a while while I ride.

Green surrounded me, wildflowers and tall grass coated the ground, coming up to Ragnar’s knees as he stood in the field, waiting for me to tell him what to do.

The field was close to two miles east of the castle, and I knew that if I rode two more miles east, I’d hit the ocean. So that’s what I did. Whistling for Ragnar to just run, he did just that.

I gripped him with my thighs and held onto his mane as he picked up the pace, his legs stretching into an all outrun. The wind whipping his hair into my face as all sounds faded out beside the wind and distant sounds of the ocean.

Ragnar ran, and ran, and ran, and ran, until there was no more field to run across. Until the only thing in front of us was a sharp cliff and beautiful ocean that stretched for miles.

Slowing to a stop, Ragnar walked to the edge of the cliff and snorted. His breath coming out in pants as he huffed for breath.

I too took a deep breath, breathing in the salty and fresh air. Whitecaps crashed all over the blue abyss, as Ragnar and I watched.

The ocean was always a comfort to me, something that was beautiful and free to do as it pleased.

“This is it, boy.” I sighed, bringing my leg up so I could drape it across his neck. “Absolute freedom.” I leaned forward and gave his neck a hard pat. “No walls, no guards, no tyrants, and no prince’s.”

Ragnar snorted back a reply before he brought his head to the ground and started grazing. It’s always about food with this guy. I snorted, looking back up to the ocean.

My lungs inhaled the absolute free air as comfort washed over me.

My breakdown brought back bad memories. Memories of dungeons and men. Dungeons that were filled with men and men that were filled with evil.

I knew that I needed out. Out of the castle and the walls of Everest. Luckily the walls only run North and West of Everest, the East and South both stretched to the ocean.

After I peeled myself off of the floor of the library, I sought out Locke and instructed him to care for Harper.

Suddenly, Locke’s voice filled my head as I remembered his last words to me before I went to the stable.

“Please come back, Ivy. Not for me, but also for her.” Locke had pleaded as I simply nodded and left. The pain in his voice was evident as he begged me not to disappear again.

I stared out into the ocean, mesmerized by the waves and the depth I knew they hid. I felt a slight zap course through my body as I looked out on the ocean. Strange.

So memorized and taken by the ocean, I didn’t hear as someone approached. Ragnar did and his jerk of awareness was my only sign of the male riding up beside me.

Ragnar nickered at the white mare riding up beside us as her rider pulled her to a stop.

“It’s you, isn’t it?” The Prince’s voice washed over me.

His presence was less annoying then it was earlier. Apparently I needed this ride more then I knew.

“What gave me away?” I chuckled as I looked at hands that sat in my lap.

“It’s really you?” The Prince asked, his icy blues eyes staring at me as I looked back up to the ocean.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” I said, watching as a seagull landed on the beach below, picking at a seashell as the tide rushed in. “It’s almost as if it breathes with every wash of waves.” In my peripheral, I could see Soren turn his head to the vast ocean. “Her relentless waves that coat the surface of her vast depths. So free and tempting.” I spoke, turning my head to Soren.

He sat atop the mare that had been in the local stable. Her black bridle and saddle were a stark contrast to her pure white coat. She was smaller than Ragnar, though Soren sat at the same height as me thanks to his perfect posture and natural height.

“Yes. I’m the Acer.” I said simply, watching as he looked to me. Bright blue eyes widened at my admission.

“One hundred battles?” Soren asked, his voice quiet over the sounds of the ocean.

“One hundred battles exactly.” I nodded.

Amazement sparkled in his eyes. Well, that’s a first, most people run in fear.

“You won every single one?” He asked, awe taking over his features as his body shifted more towards me. His mare nosed Ragnar, who snorted and whined at her attention.

“Though some were close, I never lost one, else I wouldn’t be here right now,” I said, surprised by his reaction. “Why aren’t you running away?”

“Why would I?” He shrugged, those blue eyes dancing with amusement.

“I can’t tell if you’re joking or just a plain idiot,” I told the Prince.

“Since I don’t joke, we’ll go with the latter.” His smirk nearly took my breath away. Definitely an idiot.

“I saw your horse the other day.” I gestured to the mare as I suddenly remembered the ring that I kept tucked away in my pocket. I shifted slightly on Ragnar’s back so I could reach in my pocket and retrieve the ring.“I believe this belongs to you.”

Soren watching with amusement as I pulled out the ring and handed it to him.

“Thank you,” Soren said as he reached for the ring and slid it on his finger.

We both turned back to the ocean and watched its mesmerizing movements.

"When I pictured me meeting the Acer, this was not what I expected." Soren sighed as he looked down to where his hands held the reins of his mare.

"More fists and cursing?" I inquired, chuckling at Soren's nod of approval.

"Definitely."

After a few moments of silence, Soren spoke again. "Why did you become the Acer?"

"It wasn't a choice. My father made me." I sighed, remembering that first fight that went horribly wrong.

"For one hundred fights?" Soren asked. At my nod, Soren let out a curse. "That's horrible, didn't you kill like a thousand men?"

"Give or take." I expected to see fear or something of the like on Soren's face, not the softness and understanding of it.

"Everything makes so much sense now." Soren shook his head, his dirty blonde hair shifting atop his head. "The dagger, the advisory position, the scavenging, the sass... Everything."

We sat in comfortable silence watching the ocean, until after a while we started making our way back to the castle. Our horses pausing only to grab some tall grass to munch on. The ride to the cliff had taken maybe ten minutes, and the ride back took an hour.

Stopping in front of the barn, Soren made to dismount his mare, his hands placing the reins and grabbing the saddle as he dismounted, which drew my attention to his right hand, the one I had driven a dagger through.

Surprise rippled through me as I saw the bandage was gone, then confusion and shock when I noticed that his hand was healed. Like completely and thoroughly healed, barely even a scar on his hand.

Sliding off of Ragnar, I walked straight to him and grabbed his hand.

"What are you-" Soren started and stopped as I brought his hand to my face, examining it closely.

Maybe I have the wrong hand? I grabbed his other hand and turned it forward and back. Both of his hands were only calloused from years of work.

Soren, realizing what I was looking for, pulled his hand back.

"What happened to your hand? I just stabbed that hand! How is it better?" I fired off questions, making Soren cringe.

What is happening? Wounds don't just heal like that.


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