The jet touches down against the mountains, and I praise myself for learning how to fly this thing in such a short amount of time. I open the doors to the jet, and hop out, wasting no time and running to where I know the direction of the association is. It is silent out in the mountains, and I whip around with every breeze of wind that floats through the empty space of the greenery around me.
I walk quickly, and hoist myself up the steep mountain with no effort. My stomach grumbles for food, and I silence it with a glare. There is no time for food, not now. The association is under ground, hidden by a fake tree, and I wonder to myself what would happen if a person working inside the association spoke out to the Royals on where it is hidden. I shiver at the thought, but don't focus much on it.
I run across the bumpy earth, the sun still rising all around me, casting a bright light in the distance. When I reach the tree that I know conceals a twisting staircase to the secret layer below, I rap on the door just as Como did. It swings open when press down on one particular hollow spot, and I enter inside quickly. My heart races, and my pulse echoes in my ears. No one greets me as I slip down the stairs, but just as before there are people sitting at tables eating and talking together.
I make my way to my dormitory, and settle on my still unocuppied bed. No one is in the room but me, and I feel a nice sort of calm settle over me. Of course the association must have been scared when they saw that Aella was gone, but they most likely didn't even realize that Como or I had dissapeared with her. Even the strange man that had greeted us when we first came here, must not remember us. I mean, it's not like we were going to tell anyone about this place.
The association recruiters had chosen to trust Como with the revolution after all, so even if we had, it would have been their own fault. I lay against my cool bed, the mattress firm but weirdly comforting beneath me. I try not to focus on the bad things in my life, and instead close my eyes, willing sleep to come.
"Brenton? What the hell are you doing here?" I call out to my once betrothed. He looks terrible, with the cuts all around his face, and his tattered dress uniform. Even his once shiny hair looks greyed and dull.
"I've come to rescue you." He says, and he sounds different. His voice is deeper, more harsh than what I remember.
"I don't need your help." I glare at him as everything I've been told about him rushes back to me.
"Yes, you do. They are coming to get you. And when they do, theres nothing I can do about it." He spits on the ground, blood leaking from his mouth until it surrounds us in a lake of blood. I scream, trying to get away from him, but the blood all around us roots me to the spot, and Brenton pushes me under. I gasp for air, but find none and struggle to get back to the surface.
"Brenton!" I scream into the red liquid all around me, and then there is darkness.
I gasp as I wake up from my nightmare. My forehead is covered in sweat, and I grip the plain sheets covering my bed, tightly in my hands. What the hell? I hadn't had a nightmare since forever. Was this some kind of sign? No, that would be rediculous. I just need to calm down.
I swing myself off my bed and walk out of my dormitory and into the headquarters of the association. I'd need to meet some people soon and figure out what exactly the association is going to do next to try and take down the Royals.
"Sorry." Someone says, as they bump right into me. I spin around in shock. The girl that walked right into me has her head in a thick book. She has long red hair and glasses that look way too big for her small face. For some reason, maybe her bony structure, she reminds me of a small raven.
"It's fine." I smile, and the girl finally looks up from her literature. She gasps as she meets my gaze, and I blink back a jolt of surprise. She recognizes me!
"Your the...the princess." She stutters, her book falling to the floor in a pile of pages spilling over each other in a heap.
"Shush, shush." I try to quiet her, putting one finger to my lips. "No one can know. Please, I am just trying to help." I plead with her, knowing fully what the officers that work inside the association will do if they discover who I am.
"Help how?" She asks, still shocked by who I am. Her brown eyes look like Como's, and in a split second I am reminded of Laura. She didn't deserve to die. But most people don't, and yet...there is nothing we can do to stop it.
"I want the same thing as you. Equality." I whisper, my eyes darting all around us. People aren't looking at us luckily. The girl doesn't look convinces though, instead looking at my scars, and I clasp my hands across them quickly, shielding them from her piercing gaze.
"How'd you get those, your highness?" The girl asks, bowing low in a highly sarcastic gesture. But I am not about to answer her deeply personal question.
"I would rather not tell." I speak softly, the memories of my early life swirling all around me in a foggy mist. The girl just stares at me, her eyes narrowed in small slits.
"Royals do not want the same things as commoners. You are just here to spy on us." She starts towards the offices of the officers, and I grab her arm to stop her.
"Yes, some of us do. And you just need to trust me on this. I am no spy. Besides, how do you think I got in here? And if I were to be a spy, I would have disqused myself." I explain to her, and the girls gaze softens with every word I speak.
"I will never trust you. And if you are lying to me, I will hunt you down and slit your throat." She hisses, bending down to pick up her fallen book. I nod quickly, but the girl doesn't leave my side. She's not dumb, and she knows that she should keep an eye one me. Just in case, as I would if I were her.
"So..." I start awkwardly, desperately wanting the girl to leave me alone. My hands twitch at my sides, and the girl doesn't miss a thing, focusing on them with a silent glare.
"How did you find out about this place anyways?" Raven girl asks me suspiciously, still not about to believe a thing I tell her.
"One of my friends was recruited here, and he trusted me with the details." I respond automatically, leaving out the part where I lied to him about my true identity.
"And who was this, friend?" Raven picks at her nails, and I shudder at the girls habit.
"Como. Como Attwater." I pronounce his name clearly, and the girl glances up in recognition.
"Como? He's here?" She asks excitedly, looking around with a sudden burst of happines. The girl can't be much older than 15, and as her happiness surrounds her, her young age definitely shines through.
"You know Como?" I ask, crossing my arms across my thin chest, letting myself breathe. The girl isn't going to tell anyone about me. That is, until I give her a reason to. But I am telling her the truth. Mostly. So there is no reason to tell everyone about my true identity.
"Yes. He was teaching me to become a pilot. That is, until he dissapeared." The girl explains, her toes bouncing wildly against the cement floor.
"He never told me he was a flight teacher." I whisper, stunned by his secret. The girl stares at me intently, and it breaks my heart to have to tell her the truth. "He's not here. Well...he was. But he isn't right now." I try to tell her, and the girls happiness immeadietly snaps away. She stares daggers at me for a false hope, and I drop my eyes from hers, focusing on the walls surrounding us.
Nothing has changed inside the association, and I can still tell where everything is. The officers offices, the dormitories, and even the door to where Como and I found Aella.
"I'm here because of my family." Raven tells me, her eyes still focusing on my face. "And because I want exactly what you claim to want." Her gaze falters for a second, but quickly retains the power of before. "Equality." She finishes softly. At least we have something in common, I think to myself with a laugh. But it doesn't last long, and I sigh to myself in defeat.
"I think it's important that we stand together. No one should have more power over another, or at least too much power. We should all be treated fairly, and live up to our full potentials. And no one should have to live such a terrible life because of someone else's choices. I have realized that Royals only donate to the wealthy, and not the poor. And I do not stand for that, not at all. This world is not a fair place to live in, and we have to do something about it. Or else, it will get even worse." I explain, and when I finish my thoughts, I relaize that everything is quiet around me.
Raven stares at me in awe, and the people that were once eating and talking are now waiting for my next words. I must have spoken louder than I thought, and attracted everyones undivided attention.
"We need to win this war." I continue, and everyone claps loudly, nodding with my speech. I can feel red start to shade my cheeks, and I duck into the safety of my dormitory, Raven following silently behind me.
"Did you really mean all of that?" She asks once I close the doors behind us. I smile, striding to my bed with grace.
"Of course." I laugh, as Raven settles onto the bed across from mine, and I think back to what my mother had once told me, so long ago...
Friends can become enemies. But enemies can become friends.