Author: Cg-in-burns PM
**DISCONTINUED** Acadara is a peasant when the Queen of Estia, Shannai, comes calling. What follows changes everyone's lives forever. The first chapter is a bit old, and of my past writing style, but the chapters following are better.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 10 - Words: 22,863 - Reviews: 8 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 01-15-09 - Published: 08-05-08 - id: 2555322
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Acadara: Chapter 10
Written by cg-in-burns
AN: Surprise! Here's Chapter 10! You won't get Chapter 11 for a while, but hopefully this will hold you over until then. College has been hindering my progress, that and the plot bunny. I'm working on another story and as soon as I get to the end of the year within the story, I'll post it in sections.
Daran woke in a flash on pain. His fingers dug into his palms, his right hand curled around metal. One of the village women sat at his side, speaking words meant to soothe him. When the pain subsided and he finally was able to speak, he asked for Liam.
The woman left as Liam entered the room and looked over Daran. His stomach and left shoulder were wrapped in heavy bandages and his right hand was still clutched tight. It would be at least another few days to a week before he was ready to do any serious moving. "You wanted to see me."
Daran opened his eyes and focused on the older man. "How long have I been asleep?"
"Nearly a week; the healers had to keep you under so you would heal. As to your next question, I've sent some of my best trackers out and they've only found a weak trail. They're following it as best as they can, but it will still take time. What happened out there?"
"We were coming back from a ride when they appeared. The man in the lead was the one Acadara scarred. I feel so stupid! I didn't take any weapons with me. We were fleeing when I was hit with the two arrows. I remember telling Acadara to go back to the village and one of the bandits talking to her, but not much else."
"Did you hear a name when they were talking?"
"No…" Daran paused. "Wait, I think one of them said Blair."
"That's what I feared." Liam stood and went to the door. He called to one of his men. "Blair has her; search harder." A mumbled voice outside answered him. "What do you mean there's riders approaching? How many are there?" Another voice answered him. "Eleven. We can't deal with this now. Let them approach and see what they want, then get rid of them as fast as possible."
"Liam," Daran called. The man turned his head to the prince. "How long have Acadara and I been here?"
"Two weeks now. That's not important though." The man had almost stepped out when Daran spoke again.
"It might be. I told my colonel to come after me if I wasn't back by a certain time. That may be her with a company of guards. Her name is Jos and will be looking for me."
"Is this Jos named Josephina?"
"Yes, she said she was from a village out this way actually. Do you know her?"
Liam nodded and spoke to those standing outside. "It may be Josephina. If it is, bring her to me." Liam resumed his seat at Daran's side.
The prince twitched his right hand and brought it into his line of sight. "What's this?"
"No idea. You wouldn't let go of it."
Daran straightened his cramped fingers and looked at the object in his grasp. He closed his eyes when he saw what it was and dropped his hand to his side. He heard Liam begin to voice a question and spoke. "She was wearing this when we were attacked. It's the ring I gave her as my promise to protect her and I've failed already."
A man stuck his head in the door causing Liam and Daran to look over. "Josephina's here."
Before Liam could answer a voice outside spoke up. "Damn it, Sean! You know better than to call me that." The man was jerked out the door and they heard him exclaim as he hit the ground. "Is this where my pa's hiding?" The door flew open and a young woman in armor, with dark brown hair and emerald colored eyes, stepped through. "Okay, Pa, where—" She stopped short when she laid eyes on the injured Daran. "What on earth happened to you?" Jos kneeled by his bed, metal clinking, and fussed over him, the concerned best friend.
"Bandits, what else would it be?" Daran flashed a quick grin. "What about you and 'Pa'?"
Jos turned pink. "Liam here's my pa. I was born and raised here in Clearhollow."
"That means you and Acadara…"
The colonel nodded. "Lady Acadara and I are cousins. She doesn't remember me though; I'm several years older than you two. Where is she?"
Daran turned his head, so Liam answered. "Bandits again. The same ones who kidnapped her earlier and killed Noah."
Jos' hand went to her lips as she shook her head. "Not again. Last time was bad enough, this time…" Jos stood and began stripping off the noisy metal..
"Josephina, where do you think you are going?" Liam's voice caused his daughter to turn.
She continued to pull off the armor and toss it into a pile. "I'm the best damn tracker you have; always have been. I'm going after her." Her eyes flashed to her father's. "I won't do anything stupid; I know better than that. I'm going to find her and come straight back. I'll leave the rescuing to Daran unless I deem she is in too much danger. Then, and only then, will I jump in."
Daran looked up at her. "Take Tarnis if you need him."
She only shook her head. "I'll travel faster and quieter on foot. Tarnis is a wonderful horse, but not for this." Underneath all the metal, Jos wore leather breaches and a thick tunic. She walked over to one of the three trunks that lined the wall at the end of the bed and dug through it. With the few things she took from it, she disappeared behind the dressing curtain hanging in the far corner of the room. "For your information," she said as she changed, "Adam is doing just fine. The healer said his rib was only cracked and it healed quickly. During the day he still works in the stables, but after his shift he is spoiled by Leidra. She's taken a real liking to him." Now dressed in dark brown breeches, a dark green long sleeved tunic, and soft leather boots, Jos stepped around the curtain and dropped the heavier clothes onto the pile of armor. "By the end of all this, Acadara may have a little brother. Leidra treats that boy as her child anyways." Jos quickly rebraided her hair and coiled it into a bun at the nape of her neck. "If I can get close to her, I'll tell Acadara you're coming, but I can't guarantee that I'll be able to get that close. You better be ready when I return." A bow and full quiver was strapped over her shoulders and a dagger hooked about her hips in no time. She dropped a kiss on Liam's head and said, "I'll be back in a week." Jos was then out the door quickly and silently.
"That's why she was always able to find me, she's a tracker." Daran's eyes moved from where they had followed Jos out to Liam beside him. "What's this about Acadara being kidnapped before? I mean," he said, "I know she was taken before from the records kept in the castle library, but what happened to her?"
Liam leaned his arms on his knees and closed his eyes briefly. "When you're with her, did Acadara bow and apologize at the slightest thing she thought wrong, especially in the beginning?" Daran nodded. "When we found her last time, Acadara had been beaten by those men. Every time she didn't do as they told her or fumbled, they struck her. Hands, feet, sticks, leather, it didn't matter."
"But she was still blind at the time!" Daran cried, horrified.
The older man nodded solemnly. "You see the problem then. She couldn't see what she was doing and tripped, dropped things, and failed to do what they said and therefore they beat her. Noah was supposed to be on scouting only, but went in alone when he saw what they were doing to her. He managed to bring her back at the cost of his life. The other men and I fought once we found him, but we were too late. Noah managed to put the child in Leidra's arms before passing away at her feet." Liam rubbed at his face before continuing. "We all thought it best that Acadara be moved to a new environment. That's why they went to the city. I visited after a few years and she was doing better. She would have episodes of submissiveness once in a while but not nearly as often as she did when we first got her back. I hope we can get her back before they've had any real chance to do harm to her."
Daran worked with Liam and the other villagers to have him back in shape before Jos returned from scouting. The week was nearly up when she did and her eyes were filled with worry and fear. Daran was packing for the trip when she came running into the house and collapsed on the floor. She took deep breaths, filling her starved lungs before speaking.
"We have to hurry. She didn't look to be in terrible danger but she was still broken, close to what she was before, if not past it. I wasn't able to get near enough, but Gods, Daran, she was stumbling around the camp in a kind of daze, like she wasn't really there. It's a two and a half day journey, if we travel light, hard and fast the whole way." Jos pushed herself to her knees and looked at Daran. "We have to get there and you need to get her out while we keep everyone else distracted."
Daran put his hands on his friend's shoulders. "Jos, I can't let you be bait. It would—"
"Yes, you can! I've never seen my cousin look so broken. Why do you think I always volunteered to patrol the North section of the city? Because that's where Acadara lived. I was able to look in on her and watch her grow up. Even with the comments Leidra's customers made about her, she's never looked like that before. If you don't believe me now, you will when we get there." She pulled herself to her feet and looked Daran in the eye. "We have to go now, if we are to have a chance."
Daran strapped on his weapons and followed Jos outside. There Liam waited with the men Jos brought and several others from the village. Daran looked around and counted the number of men to come; there was nearly twenty including himself, Jos, and Liam.
He turned to Jos and asked, "Why so many?"
She didn't take her eyes from the preparations as she answered. "The bandit camp is big. I don't know why they attacked you with the six or seven they brought; that camp has forty men, easily. All of them are trained in close combat and few in long range. The archers will most likely be on patrol around the edge. But we're prepared; if you look at the men I brought, they carry both swords and bows."
Daran looked over the men once more. "That's the tracker unit."
"Yep," Jos said. "All personally picked and trained by me. They're quiet, fast, and deadly. I had a feeling we would need them. The plan is to pick off the sentries using bows and whittle them down until you can sneak in and grab Acadara. The only problem is that she's generally in the middle or far side of the camp. We're going to have to cause a distraction of some kind."
Liam looked over at the two friends, the men gathered around him. "Ready?"
Daran looked up from his conversation. He nodded and said, "Whenever you are."
Jos led the group north and deep into the forest. She patiently followed little signs until dark fell and they could progress no longer. They were all determined to find Acadara and bring her back.