He say’s his name is Como. He won’t tell me his last name, and I don’t ask. Right after the near death experience in the barn a couple days ago, I told him everything. Well...not really. I told him my name is Anna, and that I escaped StormsEye with nothing but the clothes on my back.
He tells me something similar to my lie. That he also escaped StromsEye with a gun for protection, and was about to settle in the abandoned barn, but startled when he saw me already there. I don’t know whether to trust his simple words or not.
He talks about his home, and about how he fled the kingdom right after the bombing’s. No tears escape his dark brown eyes, he is brave, I can tell. Como is a young man about the age of 23, and has definitely got the looks to show for it. With his chestnut brown hair, and lean body, I can tell that he is used to female attention.
I straighten as we walk into town together. From the corner of my eye, I can see his gun peeking out from under his belt, and urge myself to look away. If he is lying to me as I am to him, how did he get such a powerful weapon? I don’t want to know the answer, I tell myself quickly. It’s better that I don’t know anything about the man I have come to rely on than to delve deep into his past life.
We could be a great team, if we don’t question each other.
“Anna.” Como shakes my arm to grab my attention, and I snap back to reality. “Do you think we can afford those?” He continues, pointing at a stand in the market bearing loads of juicy sweet fruits. I lick me lips and nod, already starting forward.
“Is this good?” I ask Como as I gather a handful of cherries into my greedy hands. For the past couple of days, we have only eaten a single loaf of bread to conserve money. I don’t show him my fistful of gold coins, as that will certainly alert him of who I really am. And so we begin to starve together.
“Perfect.” Como nods, and we pay for the cherries together eagerly. “This is so good.” He say’s, his mouth full of cherries, and he gags on the pits as he realizes what he’s just done. I laugh to myself as I grab a single cherry from the bag, my stomach gurgling restlessly, and slide it into my mouth. It tastes like a burst of flavor in my newly dry mouth, and I savor the sweet flavor, wishing the taste could last forever.
“Yes.” I agree, as I spit out my thick cherry pit into the earthy floor surrounding us. As we walk back to the barn I soak in the warm sun hugging my back, and the birds singing all around us in a melodic tune only nature can form. It’s been so long since I could just relax, and I’m happy for the break in my Royal duties. I have no plans to return to my former life, and I don’t know whether to be sad or happy about it.
“Here we are.” Como announces as we reach the old barn, the wooden planks greying with such age. We walk silently into our home, if you could even call it that, my tennis shoes crunching gently on the hay floor. I sit at my usual spot on top of a stack of hay. The long pieces stand up on end, digging into my skin, but I don’t think about that. All I can seem to think about these day’s are the others, the others that are still trapped inside the walls of the Royal Palace of BloomsRidge.
At least I think their still here, and that they haven’t fled to another kingdom, masking their trail with whatever sacrifices they need to make. Like leaving me behind. I shake the thought out of my mind like a gust of wind. They aren’t worth my thoughts. Especially Brenton. Because somehow, I thought he would come searching for me. I guess that throughout everything that happened in the time of my engagement to now, I had fallen in love with the Prince.
But I refuse to think of it any longer. Letting myself love him was a mistake. It made me weak, and I will never let that happen to me again.
“You want to talk about it?” Como asks from the corner of the barn, his form hidden beneath the shadows that seem to consume him. I shake my head, embarrassed by how easy I am to read.
“It’s nothing. Really. Just...have you ever thought about everything that you must be missing in the world?” I ask him, my eyes lowered to the floor. He doesn’t respond for a long time, and I begin to play with the strings of hay clinging onto my pants, braiding them into an elaborate design my mother taught me when I was a naive young girl.
“All the time. But I don’t let the thought control me, and neither should you.” Como finally answers, clasping both his hands together in a tight ball. He looks just as stressed as I feel, and I resist the urge to scream into the oncoming night. We sit there silently for a minute, an hour, 2 hours, until the night sky turns black. I figit restlessly as I try to get myself to sleep. But nothing works, and soon I can’t take it anymore.
I stand up slowly, as not to wake Como up, and head out the doors of the barn. The night air seems fresher than the day’s, and I breathe everything in heavily, as I continue on down the dusty road and into the quiet kingdom. Most stands are closed down for the night, but some still stand proudly, waiting for any midnight customers to approach. I steer clear of passerby’s, not wanting to risk the chance of anyone recognizing me, and slide along the dirt roads of BloomsRidge, not knowing where I’m headed to.
Just like the night in the palace, when I had spoken to my sister in our first conversation ever, I only want to get some air and clear my thoughts. I haven’t used my ability for the week since I became a commoner, and I long for the feeling of my powers on my fingers. But still, I won’t take the chance of anyone seeing me practicing.
A sudden scream sends shiver’s down my back, and I turn around, expecting to find a gory sight behind me, but instead I stare into the eye’s of a large owl. It’s golden eyes glow in the moonlight, and I’m vaguely reminded of Brenton. I retreat quickly, slipping into the woods to get as far away as possible from the memories whirling in around me. I debate turning around and going back to the barn, but think better of it.
Who was I to so willingly trust a stranger? Como could have murdered me in my sleep. For all I knew, everything he’d ever told me was a lie. And as I’d always repeat in my head, I can trust no one. I push through thick weeds, and slither around the tall trees that mark the woods so distinctly, with ease. But stop as I pass through a circle. A circle with nothing but hard earth coating the flat shape of it. This must be the middle of the woods.
I rush back inside the way I came from, darting away from the freaky sight, and emerge from the brush to the exact same thing. A circle surrounded by trees on all sides of it. I choke on a scream. What the hell?! Was this just some kind of trick? What’s going on?! I stumble, as I run back out of the strange clearing, and soon enough, I trip into the circle yet again.
I must be going crazy! This is impossible...or is it? I collapse against the wet grass, letting myself drift off into a sleep that now comes easily. I am lost. And no one will come searching for me. Just like before.
“Anna. Anna!” I hear a familiar voice whisper to me, and I roll onto my side, wishing the voice would leave me alone.
“What!?” I ask stubbornly, sitting up and almost hitting my head against Como’s as he leans over me worriedly. His face is a constricted line of fear, and as I slide up into a sitting position, I can see his eye’s clear just a little. I look down, and am surprised to see that I am back in the barn and not in the terrifying woods of the previous night.
“I woke up and you weren’t here.” Como explains, noting my confused expression. And as he talks, I notice that a warm pressure is holding my hand. Como’s finger’s are entwined with mine, and as much as I want to pull away, I can’t seem to bring myself to the task.
“So...what? You just found me?” I scrunch up my forehead, getting more and more confused by the second. Como’s eyes leave mine, and he stares at the floor.
“I can’t be alone Anna. Not now, after...after...” He doesn’t finish his thought, his eyes far away in memory. But I put the pieces together before he has the chance to tell me what he wants to. His family is dead. I can see it in the way his eyes water, tears spilling over rimming his eyes in red.
“I’m so sorry.” I murmur softly, and I don’t pull back when Como takes me in a warm embrace. His body is strangely warm, too warm for my liking, and I panic as I realize that he may be catching a fever. I pull my hands out from my sides, and feel his temperature. He jumps back as my ice cold fingers touch his forehead gingerly, but reluctantly let’s me feel his face.
“I don’t have a fever.” He tells me, a grin now crossing his face. And I pull my hands to my chest, as a weight seems to crash down inside of me.
“Yes, you do.” I say, already starting out of the barn to town. Medication is expensive, but this is the type of emergency that requires me to use my gold coins.
“Anna. Anna, look at me.” Como commands, and I turn around to face him, gasping as his hands spark up in small bolts of jagged lightning. So it’s true then? Commoners can have powers too? I walk slowly towards him, one arm outstretched in front of me, as if to touch a single spark from Como’s fingers, but just as soon as the lightning appears, it is gone, replaced by Como’s warm smirk.
“What the hell?!” I gasp out loud, hitting Como’s strong chest with my fists. He doesn’t seem hurt by my attempt at a punch at all, and I stand still, my head spinning so fast I fear I may fall to the ground. But I won’t. I am too strong for that. I am not the dainty Princess I used to be, and I am unwilling to fall back into my Royal habits of helplessness.
“Somehow, commoners can have powers too. Powers that no Royal seems to inherit. Yes, the four elements make up the world, but they shouldn’t control our lives. And commoners gaining powers, said only Royal blood can inherit, means that we have an advantage to tearing down the divides in our world. It is not fair that while the Royals live lives of luxury just because they are said to have abilities, most commoners like you and me rot away. But we can stop this.” Como begins, taking a deep breath before continuing on. “Anna, the attack on the kingdom of StormsEye was just the beginning. This is the start of a Revolution. And I think you should join us.” Como finishes proudly, looking at me as I take in everything he’s just said.
“Join who?” I ask. But I already know the answer. Como is part of the Rebels. The Rebels that destroyed my kingdom. And they want me to join them. Again, more lies, lies that Como has fed me before trusting me to the association. The association that will tear the four kingdoms of the world apart bit by bit. But still, I feel a strange willingness in myself to accept the offer.
I want revenge. Revenge for all the lies I've been told. But most of all, I want true peace, for me and every commoner that has lived lives of sadness. And I am determined to win that for them. "When do I start?" I ask.
The four words destined to change my life, and everything I've ever known. Forever.