"Milord, you have been summoned to your father’s quarters.” Castian said as he opened the door to Aaron’s quarters.
“What does he want Castian?” Aaron replied, not looking up from his desk.
“That I am not sure of milord, but he said it was urgent.”
Aaron groaned loudly before getting up off of his chair and walking to the door. He walked outside into the blinding light before walking the long, tedious walk to his father’s quarters. Without knocking he walked inside and found his mother and father deep in discussion.
“Father, you called for me?” Aaron said, nodding in greeting to his mother.
“Oh, yes. Son, we need to discuss your arranged marriage.”
Aaron’s heart dropped. He had totally forgotten about this. “Father, please.”
“Please nothing son. You have been engaged to Princess Kaelin since she was born. Now that you are both close to being of age I think it’s about time you get to know her.”
“Father, no good could possibly come out of this arranged marriage. Let me choose my own bride.” Aaron argued, his anger flared slightly, but was still under control.
“Aaron, do not argue with your father. Our marriage was arranged and we have turned out fine.” The queen said in her usual calm tone.
“Oh mother, if you think everything’s fine you surely do not know...”
“Silence! Tomorrow morning you leave for Princess Kaelin’s kingdom. There is nothing to be discussed.”
Aaron stormed out of his father’s quarters in a rage. Without thinking he went down to the training square and pulled out a sword, slashing it around the area.
“How. Could. He. Think. I. Would. Be. Fine. With. This?”
Someone cleared their throat behind Aaron and before they knew it Aaron’s sword was right against their neck.
“Rhys, you should know better than to sneak up on me. What are you doing?” Aaron sighed, removing his sword from Rhys’ neck.
“Wondering if you needed a dueling partner?” Rhys asked politely.
“Definitely would not mind one.” Aaron laughed.
Rhys picked up a sword and without another word being spoken the competition began. Each clang of metal on metal drew the attention of the workers and other nobles in the castle grounds until Aaron and Rhys had a large crowd surrounding them.
Growing up together meant that the two young men both knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This meant that nearly every fight they had ended with them both being too tired to continue, never with an actual winner. Aaron was the highest ranked swordsman in the kingdom, so usually the fights were in his favor. Rhys just held him off, rather than attacking.
Once both of the young men were too tired to continue they shook hands and laughed like old mates, as they were. The cheers and applause of the crowd just made them even happier.
“So, what caused that this time?” Rhys asked as the young men walked back to their quarters.
“My father brought up the arranged marriage. Tomorrow morning I leave for a Princess Kaelin’s kingdom.”
“I cannot say I feel sorry for you. Princess Kaelin is incredibly beautiful. I would do anything to be in your boots.” Rhys laughed softly.
Aaron froze in his spot. “Anything?”
“I am not pretending to be you. We would never get away with it.”
Aaron sighed. “I guess you are right. Father did not mention if anyone was going with me. I could run away. Live off the land.”
“You would not last one day out there by yourself.” Rhys laughed, only to be punched in the shoulder by Aaron as he walked. “I am just telling the truth. You would be an easy target for bandits. You do not exactly scream poor.”
Aaron pondered again on the thought of running away. Perhaps not this time, maybe in the way back he could get ‘kidnapped’ by bandits.
“Do not even think about running away Aaron. Your father’s men would find you in a heartbeat. You would not even be out there for a day before they would find you.” Rhys said, always being the voice of reason.
“You may just have a point there Rhys. I shall see you at supper. I need to prepare for the trip tomorrow. If I leave at dawn I may get there before supper.” Aaron said and split off to go to his own quarters.
As he walks in he immediately punched the wall. The pain shot through his hand but in the state of anger he was in, it was hardly felt.
“Why father? What could you possibly get out of this arranged marriage?” He asked to no one in particular.
Packed and ready to leave before daybreak the next morning Aaron went down to supper, not ready to see his parents but he just could not ignore the hunger any longer.
Without a word he took his seat to the left of his father. Next to him was Rhys and Ryan, his two best friends since birth. Not to mention two of the next knights of the Kings guard, sworn to protect him.
Supper passed rather silently. His father never said a word to him yet alone even looked over to Aaron to acknowledge his existence. In a way he was glad of this. His anger was hardly contained as it is. Some offhanded comment from his father may have made Aaron do something that is not exactly meant to happen at supper.
Aaron retired to his quarters, not bothering with the daily onslaughts of many flirtatious ladies that still pursued him even though he is promised to someone. Sleep came quickly for the first time, which he welcomed eagerly.
“Here is as good a place as any to set up for the night Hades.” Storm said, tying the beautiful mare to a low hanging branch. The mare whined lightly as Storm patted her mane before beginning to eat the leaves around her.
Storm quickly collected some wood as set up a small fire, partly for warmth, mostly for light. She opened the satchel attached to Hades’ saddle and pulled out her worn out, blood stained bandages. Wrapping her knuckles up tightly in the material she began punching one of the trees around the area. The pain was a welcome feeling and it was as close as she got to training for attacks these days. Jordan and Michael both left her a few weeks back to become members of the royal guard, so she needed to do anything she could to keep in shape. Being a woman out on the roads by herself is not the easiest thing. Everyone seems to want to take advantage of you.
When the fire began to get low she stopped. Unwrapping her hands she was greeted with the ever normal sight of red, raw knuckles. Pulling out her flask, she tipped some water over her knuckles, not even hissing at the feeling anymore. Making a note of stopping by a river to get some more water, Storm clutched her knife in her hand and fell into a half sleep. Still on guard. As always.
The morning came quickly and as dawn broke Storm was up and ready to go. Taking a seat up on Hades’ saddle she quickly set off into a trot to the nearest river.
Quicker than expected she reached the river. With a quick check of the area to make sure it was all clear she quickly slid into the river. The water felt wonderful on her hands and other various cuts and bruises. A quick rinse of water through her long, wavy, waist-length, deep brown hair and it was back up in its usual position, under her black hat. A fill up of the three flasks she owns and she was off again
Storm kept to her usual spot of just off the main roads, watching for anyone. Noble or bandit alike. She froze as she heard approaching gallops. As they got closer, nearly directly behind her she pulled out onto the road, hat pulled down over her face and sword in hand.
In a deep, disguised voice she said, “Hello. Hand over your money.”