Author: RosesnWater PM
A princess with a bit of a dark side, secretly living in a small village after she and her family escaped certain death, a village that's haunted by a mysterious creature and a town hero that seems to like making her life... difficult. M in later chaptRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Fantasy - Chapters: 53 - Words: 135,259 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 02-22-13 - Published: 02-06-12 - id: 2995338
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"I will be back for lunch, don't start without me, goodbye!" I shout out to anyone in the house who might hear it. The night before I had been invited to a get together on the other side of town and I was too excited to wait.
"Wait Ava, please, come here," Father beckons me to come near, I feel silly being called back as if I was some little child.
"Come, tell me of your day so far, what of these friends, will I ever meet them?" he smiles and though I do love my Father he is so odd sometimes.
"Oh please Father not right now, I must get going I promised to meet Joyce at the field, now please, I have to get going if I don't want to be late."
"Oh alright," he says politely, smiling crookedly, "perhaps I will get a chance to see you tonight?"
"Maybe, please Father, may I leave." He again grins at my fleeting attention
"Then it's a deal, I expect you to be in bed when I come back,"
"Yes, yes, of course, I will see you soon Father, do not worry."
He waves as I leave out the back door of the small cottage.
Running through the large gap between our house and the settlement, I step into the forest for a few seconds as it's the closest route to the valley. Father had told us never to do this; I thought that it would not matter for a few seconds and soon I became terrifyingly lost in the outer wall of the forest.
All around large trees ket their roots run wild, bending and twisting out of the ground so that I caught my foot on them once or twice. Their gnarled fingers scraping at me and brushed against my back, I scream, running farther and farther so that I may have ventured further into the forest.
Then... nothing... as if the sounds, the shadows of sounds, everything went silent, like every animal in the entire world went quiet for a moment.
I could feel something, and turning around I saw Dian come up beside me, "Be careful Avalon, you could get hurt," she whispers looking at me worriedly, it was so dark all I could see was the worry in her eyes.
"What are you talking about Dian? I am just taking a short cut," Dian shakes her head and tries to pull me back home.
"No it isn't safe out here, Casey said-"
"Casey," I laugh looking at her, "I knew you were upset that I told you to go but I only said it so you would have fun."
"I know," she said softly, "I knew it, but they started bad mouthing you and then I stuck up for you Ava," she smiled at this and I nodded appreciatively, "and I got in a bit of a fight." She pulled her hair back to show a dark purple bruise on the side of her face "they said we weren't allowed near this part of town... or else."
I look at the mark, "Wait... did they do this?"
When I asked this I was hit in the side of the face and stumbled backwards.
And that's when I got into a real fight for the first time; of course I was losing very badly so it wasn't as heroic as I thought my first fight would be.
As I was saying, I fought a few unknown people off and I was probably about to get killed, but suddenly there were bursts of cries from the birds, the wolves howled, some grunted, the boars, a yowl from a wild cat, all rang out at once and startled our attackers so that they ran off and I yelled at Dian to run back home quickly. Before she could protest I shoved her in that general direction as a stray animal ran into me and knocked me to the ground where I cut myself badly on the rocks.
I felt my side ache, the blood begin to poor from my side. "I could't just die here," I protested, "this couldn't be it."
There was quietness once the animals departed, all the animals had fled, the people the animals, everything, leaving this horrible feeling. An immense loneliness, like I had been abandoned by every spirit in the world, my broken, bleeding body twisting and writhing as I tried to stand up but unable to manage the simple movement.
I howled out, my brain screaming to move, my arms trying to push me up but I felt my torso crunch in pain. I must have broken my ribs.
Tears poured down my face, runny nose like that of a mewling toddler who had scraped their knee.
But I did not have much time before I felt that I was no longer alone. I heard the snap of a twig to my right and I cried out faintly.
I tried to hush my terrified voice so that only a whimper came out as the floor erupted with the sound of breaking twigs.
It was silent, but I heard it, the only thing, it was heavy, frightening, like the giant footstep of a monster. I know I should not have come into the forest; my face went numb from the petrifying fears, I was unable to move, unable to defend myself.
Five feet to the left of me head I saw and heard a log crushed underneath...something, it was not a foot...or maybe it was, it was so dark I could only see the outline.
Something came close, I thought I had seen something; it was not a person, no, it was bigger... I think... and I was on the ground helpless.
There was this voice.
A dark voice.
"It will be... all right... I'll help you," the voice paused once or twice in its sentence. I felt a prickle around my abdomen where I had broken my ribs, "You are doing very well," the voice spoke kindly.
Any normal girl would have welcomed the hope, the sound of anything that would have to be human to speak so clearly. As soon as I felt my chest less tight and regained my ability to move I got to my feet and ran screaming in the opposite direction, yelling and hollering, practically making a target of myself for whoever had spoken out to me.
The voice still rung in my ears, it stayed with me, long after the event in the forest.
Then a hand grabbed me, taking me in the opposite direction I had been heading in and as soon as we step out into the sun, I see it's Joyce; she had saved me from making a terrible mistake.
"Gosh Ava, what had gotten into your mind to make you go through the woods?" I hold her tightly in a thankful hug.
"I don't know what has been wrong with me this morning. I have got to go back home." I straighten up from my bent knee position and go back the way I had come, well this time around the border of the forest instead of through it.
I have learnt my lesson for the day, never ever go into the forest, ever.
Of course, it must have added ten minute onto my run, however I could be there before lunch, before Father had to leave for work in the town.
Taking a giant leap into the house, I call out loudly.
"Father, Leda, Dian, I am home! Father?" Leda answers my call with a shrill irritated voice.
"What is with all this yelping, if you haven't got things to do I will make you useful," she looks at me scornfully, as I rush around the house opening doors and then slamming them loudly.
"Stop Avalon, right now, you are making a racket, Dian is trying to sleep," she hissed under her breath.
"Where is Father, I need to talk to him right now."
"Papa has gone to the city, Avalon, he told you this morning or were you not listening?"
"I had left too soon for him to tell me..."
He had just wanted to say goodbye, encase he was late...
"Leda, when is Father coming back? I must know."
"Not until late tonight Avalon and you will be sleeping long before he comes back."
"I will wait up all night if I have to, Leda!" I shrieked like an infant and left the kitchen as she throws the towel from over her shoulders at me, calling.
"If I catch you, you little gremlin, you will regret it!"
I take a sharp turn, stubbing my toe on the corner and run up to Dian's room. I stop suddenly at the door and walk inside.
She looked fine and looking for the injury she had shown me in the forest, I stroked back the hair from her face. The bruise was gone! As if it had never been there... I thought back to the prickle on my side and looked for the cut that I had received but as I almost knew, it had also disappeared.
Sighing I laid myself on the bed beside Dian's, staring up at the ceiling, "I won't let that happen again Dian, I swear, you won't ever need to be afraid of them."
I wait up all night for him, there were little things for me to do and I stay awake the entire time, when it becomes early morning I know something has happened, the trip wasn't this long.
"It's time to go to bed Avalon; you will see Father in the morning."
Leda sweetly coaxed me up to my room as she carried me up the stairs; I'm surprised she was so strong.
"I need to see him tonight, please I cannot go to sleep, don't make me." yawning widely I cannot help the exhaustion overrunning me as I try not to think of what could have happened.
I woke up the next morning when Dian talks me out of the sleep that had swamped me.
"Come on Avalon, time to get up, bright and shiny day ahead of us," she smiles unknowingly. "What is wrong Ava, you seem upset?"
"Papa did not come home last night; he did not wake me up."
"Don't be silly Ava," Dian mutters bored stiff, as if I had said something stupid, "Papa is down stairs go ahead and take a look for yourself."
Without a second word from Dian I go down the stairs swinging on the poll connecting to the railing, I head in the direction of the kitchen calling out over and over again.
"Papa? Father where are you?"
There, a shuffle of feet behind me as I am grabbed by the waist and thrown softly onto the couch.
"Come here my Ava, I hear from Leda that you have been staying up late and being a nuisance, am I correct?" Father looked down at me sternly as he sat on the couch.
"Yes, sorry Father."
He smiles at me and picks me up, resting me on his lap.
"That is alright my darling, sometimes I think she overreacts a little…"
"I can still hear you Papa," Leda shouts from the living room where she usually sits down to read her books.
"Yes, I know you can darling, it's for your own good."
Sometime in the day, Father had come back from the city; I remember that he had wanted to know of my friends in town so I decide to go down stairs to talk with him however he was already talking with Leda and in a very serious tone.
"Papa, you must tell me, I know that there is no reason you could be late last night, you nearly gave me a panic attack." Listening at the door, I hear Father sigh and peeking through the slit in the two openings I gaze at him as he holds both hands over his face, wiping the tired eyes woefully.
"I had been riding on Hercules on the way back with all the wood supplies we had purchased in the city when we were attacked by a hoard of thieves and cut-throats."
"But Papa! How did you get back, you could have been killed out there!"
"Hush now Leda, I don't want Dian or Avalon hearing this, it will only frighten them."
She pressed a finger to her lips and calmed down.
"We were coming back with five men, two of which I had never met before, one of Xavier's cousins I suspect, though it doesn't matter." He takes some time, replaying the moment in his head. "It was stormy for fall and we were driven into the drier parts of the road, they were covered by the trees so our gear would not get wet. The back road paths were also cut off, that is where we were ambushed. I knew we should have taken the main, but I had not thought that it would be dangerous with five men guarding the wagon.
"They had come from nowhere and before we knew it, a man who had come along with Xavier's cousin and Xavier were taken hostage, saying that if we didn't hand over the horses and supplies right away, they would 'cut them up beyond recognition.'
"The twenty robbers had seemed on edge for some reason as though they were uncomfortable in the forest; I had tried to negotiate a peaceful trading however Xavier was hurt in the process."
Leda breathed in hoarsely, "What happened after, is Xavier… alright?"
"Yes he is fine, it was a small scuffle. They had taken most of our things but once they gave back one of the men they had asked for something else."
"What was it?"
"Me actually... one of the men thought they had seen my face somewhere before and thought they could get a good ransom out of it, turn me in to the local enforcements. Xavier broke loose, however, was injured when one of the men cut him deeply in the arm. We were on the run with all of us fine except for Xavier who was bleeding and we didn't want to take any chances, so taking a left in the road we went down the path leading further into the wood.
"We had hit a dead end with the horses becoming more unnerved by the second and the bandits slowly closing around us."
"How did you get out alive," Leda interrupts hastily and Father looks at her casually as he began again.
"As I was saying, we were trapped between the wall of underbrush and the murderers ahead of us, when I had heard something snap faintly in the brush. As soon as this happened, the horses they were riding froze up and reared wildly, shaking off their riders and leaving all of the stolen goods that they had taken from us. The thieves ran off after them in a wild panic." He inhaled and exhaled releasing the fright of reliving the terrifying moment.
"So you were alive and well then?" Leda takes off again only to be silenced by Father's severe look once more.
"Yes... but I was more afraid at that moment of what had been behind us instead of the thieves ahead of us. They were terrified and we all knew that whatever could frighten such a large group of sadistic thugs was something we would not wait around for. I don't want anyone going in there from now on; trips to the shed are fine but no further. Something is wrong with that forest and I have no want for any of my darlings to find out." Father gets up and I run from the door as he comes to it. "You cannot tell those two about this or they would be terrorized." Father nods his head sternly.
"Yes Father, I know it would. They will certainly not hear it from me."
And then I swear that I will not tell Dian. We had both been in the forest that day and something had happened, something strange.
There's a reason why I keep skipping from Father to Papa. Avalon only called him Papa when she was little and she thinks this is childish, only when Ava is feeling very frightened or worried does she call him 'Papa'. To sound more grown up she calls him 'father.'