Her mind was still replaying the scene of Tianna grow smaller and smaller into the clear azure sky, but Caelia's body was currently being led very quickly through thick foliage.
She blinked, suddenly realizing that she was practically sprinting and everything seemed to be growing darker as she was dragged deeper into the humid forest.
A dull pain circling her wrist attracted her gaze and her eyes flickered down toward it. There was the faint outline of a hand clasped tightly onto it the source that was making her run. Her eyes traveled up the arm attached to the hand and she could faintly see the dim outline of a tall person with short hair flying every which way.
What the . . . ?
A shout sounded behind her, barely audible over the sound of her shallow breathing. She thought it sounded rather angry.
She turned her head slightly, going to see who was shouting, but she was suddenly jerked left and then right, running in a zigzag pattern. Neck slightly aching, she returned her head to face the front, finding it easier to bear the wind whipping across her features.
What was happening?
After a short while, she was beginning to feel the soreness resting in her legs and the thin cuts of various trees were nagging her bare forearms. She started stumbling, her feet unfortunately finding all the gnarled tree roots and jagged rocks embedded into the ground, which seemed to be growing in number.
Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, she felt the one leading her slow, and they both toppled into a slightly lit clearing, her wrist being automatically released. Falling to the ground in a huff, the searing pain in her thigh became apparent. She rolled over onto her back and sat up, cursing under her breath, rubbing her sore wrist and breathing heavily.
"Are you all right?" a smooth voice sounded in front of her.
Her eyes flickered up to see a young man crouching in front of her, a look of curiosity and slight worry spread across his soft features. Illuminated in the dull filtered sunlight, she could make out tousled light brown hair sitting atop his head and light hazel eyes peering at her. A thin and dirty white shirt was resting on his tall and lean frame and brown rough pants fell to his bare feet.
"Y-yeah," she answered, observing him closely. Who was he?
She shook and bowed her head, closing her eyes and trying to put together the events that had just happened. They were in the carriage, there was an ambush, they tried to run away, they got Tianna, someone held onto her and pulled her away . . .
She looked up at the man again, who was now looking down at her leg, a slight frown flitting across his face.
'Did... did he save me? Why? Who is he? Why did he take me? Where are we? What. . .What the hell is he doing?!'
Caelia's eyes widened and she pushed the man hard against the chest, causing him to topple over and let go of her dress. The dress which he had been slowly inching up, revealing more and more of her upper thigh.
She scrambled back, her breathing becoming erratic once more.
"What the hell were you doing? Oh damn! You were molesting me weren't you? Oh great! I was saved by a molester! Oh damn!" she tried to scoot back quickly once more, but her head connected against the hard bark of a tree behind her.
Cursing a bit more, she rubbed the back of her head.
The man meanwhile was watching her, sitting on the hard dirt ground and looking slightly amused with an eyebrow raised. After a while, after the cussing calmed down, he opened his mouth.
"I wasn't molesting you," he said calmly, smiling and hoisting himself up, brushing his rear off and walking toward Caelia, who was pressing herself against the tree warily.
"Then . . . then what were you doing?"
She was quickly calculating an escape plan in her mind as he walked ever closer. Hit him in the ankle, causing him to fall and then scramble away. It was a bit faulty but it was the best she could come up with on such a short notice. Ready. One . . . Two . . .
He stopped a foot away and bent into a bow to look down at her, smooth eyes twinkling.
Gesturing to her leg, he said, "I was inspecting your wound. It seems you got a bit of a nasty cut there."
Caelia found her anger reluctantly ebbing away and escape plan dissolving at the sound of his voice. She relaxed her grip on the rough bark of the roots below her and her gaze was drawn to her torn dress.
"Y-yeah. I cut it on the sharp of the carriage door when," she paused, frowning. She didn't know exactly how to put the events that were still flitting wildly about into words, "when we were ambushed."
Caelia looked back up to find him crouching in front of her again, nodding understandingly.
"I have to get that wound fixed. We don't want an infection. You'll be all right."
She believed him. Relief covered her quickly as his hand touched her shoulder, enveloping her questions and covering up the confusion, leaving her mind still. All she felt was relaxation. She didn't know if it was his light brown eyes, rolling voice, or warm touch. Or maybe all three. Either way it went she felt at ease.
Caelia watched him as he pulled out a long thin piece of cloth from a pocket in his rugged pants and proceeding to lift her dress slightly so he can dress the wound. She let him this time, the feeling of trust unconsciously growing.
"My name is Rain by the way," he said conversationally, finishing up wrapping and bringing her dress down to cover it back up.
"Caelia," she answered, giving her name foolishly without a second thought. She was still under the slightly dizzying spell of this young man.
That spell was broken, however, when something came crashing through the clearing, whipping past them in a blur and sprinting toward the opposite side. She could faintly make out the outline of a large animal of some sort, but the image was quickly gone.
Rain was up, his hands cupped around his mouth, calling to the form that just past and was barely nearing the point of invisibility behind the trees.
Caelia heard a crash, a groan, and a sh-h. Silence, and then a deep voice called out.
Before he could answer, there was a rustling and a head poked out from behind a bush where the thing rushed through just moments before.
"Rain! Hey! Wow, what luck, passing through the same place you came through, eh?"
A tan, well-built man stepped through the bush and into the clearing, a ray of sun falling gently on top of him. He angled his head so his golden hair was illuminated, causing it to glisten and his light blue eyes to twinkle. Clothed in the same type of garments as Rain, his shirt was a dull brown and stretched a bit to fit his brawny frame. His eyes landed on Caelia, still sitting down behind Rain, looking up at the stranger supposedly named Wolf.
A smirk broke out onto his face, revealing dazzlingly white teeth.
"Why hello there. You must be the one Rain here saved. Quite unfortunate that your carriages got ruined and everything. Maybe I could be of some comfort."
He made to make a step but Rain held up a hand, and Wolf grudgingly stopped, pouting slightly.
"Not now Wolf. Now, who do you have with you?"
The blond sighed, "Just ruin my fun, Rain."
But he turned anyway and tromped back through the bushes. He pulled out an unconscious girl, and lay her on the ground in front of them. She looked to be around 17 and had dirty blonde hair, tied back into a loose bun, thin strands falling around her face. Caelia recognized her. She was one of Tianna's handmaidens. Laire she thought her name was.
"This one got knocked out when her head accidentally hit a tree. Her fault she was flailin' about. She was better than the other one I got– Hey! Don't you run away!"
He had looked back at something in the trees, the direction of the bushes, before striding quickly in that direction.
There was some scrambling and grunting heard when Wolf exclaimed, "Gotcha! Don't know why you're trying to run away from me Your Majesty. It's not like I'm gonna hurt you."
Caelia went perked up, blinking avidly at the bushes. Your Majesty? Could it be . . . ?
Wolf appeared again, holding onto a scowling black-haired man she recognized instantly.
"Let go of me this instant!" Torreal said, wrenching his arm out of Wolf's grasp and brushing his clothes off as if it made any difference to the amount of dirt on them.
He straightened and looked sternly at Wolf, taking on his I'm-In-Charge-Here attitude.
"Tell me who you are," was the first order out of his mouth.
Wolf raised an eyebrow and grinned, bowing exuberantly and almost mockingly.
"Wolf's the name, Your Majesty," he straightened and jerked a thumb at Rain, "And his name's Rain."
Rain bowed slightly, his torso barely bending. Even from the back, Caelia could tell he was looking at Torreal and smiling that calming smile of his for she caught the prince's shoulders relaxing slightly.
"A pleasure, Your Majesty," there was a twinge of sarcasm mingled with amusement in his voice, which caused Torreal to stiffen up again.
"And where are you from?" Torreal continued, flickering his eyes back and forth between the two men, not noticing Caelia sitting on the tree roots, watching intently, "I know you're not part of . . . part of the ones that ambushed our procession, " he seemed to be surveying them now, "You're Wood Folk aren't you?"
"Your Majesty is very observant," Rain nodded before continuing, "Yes we are Wood Folk. We live in the village of Quercetum and, no disrespect implied your Majesty, our business in these parts of the forest is our own and we would not like it to be discussed here and now, so do not ask of it."
The corners of Torreal's mouth dipped slightly and Caelia suspected that was exactly what he was planning on asking next. The prince opened his mouth slightly but was cut off by Wolf.
"Yeah but we can tell ya that we were passin' by the main road when we saw your lovely little row of carriages rollin' by when those great lion-birds, the gryphons, dropped out of the sky and started tearing everything apart. We couldn't get near for a minute or two but finally, when they started to leave, we grabbed whoever we could and bolted," Wolf grinned, "I didn't recognize you at first, Majesty, but it's a good thing I got you and not someone else. Didn't know it was a royal procession passin'. Wasn't payin' that much attention. But anyway, glad we got you and that lovely lady Rain did."
Wolf winked at Caelia, and she blinked at the sudden tug into the conversation. Torreal blinked too, his in-charge facade dissolving for a second in surprise as he turned to see who else was in the clearing besides them.
Surprise and what Caelia thought was relief flashed through the prince's eyes for the briefest of moments before he caught himself and put on his mask again. His eyes raked the slight clearing for signs of anyone else ('something he should've done in the first place,' Caelia thought) before looking back at Rain.
"Is she all right?" he said, tilting his head in Caelia's direction.
Caelia clenched her fist. He could've asked her. She was more than capable of answering for herself. Her mouth opened indignantly to prove this point, but was cut off by a rather loud groan coming from the middle of the clearing.
Everyone blinked in its direction, suddenly remembering the servant girl lying haphazardly on the floor at their feet, courtesy of Wolf. She was stirring.
Pale blue eyes opened awkwardly and eyebrows knitted together in pain. Laire groaned again, holding a dirty palm to her head and sitting up halfway, her other hand moving to prop up her torso.
She mumbled something before catching sight of Wolf's dirty tan boots. Her eyes, slowly widening, crawled upward before meeting his bright eyes. His face broke out into a grin, which seemed to scare rather than charm Laire, and he opened his mouth to say something.
"Oh no no no no no, you get away from me," she said, hastily getting to her feet and moving slowly backwards. Her eyes darted from Rain to Torreal, not noticing Caelia and obviously not noticing that Torreal was the Prince of Decile.
"I don't know what you people want with us but just please leave. You've done enough damage. Do you think I didn't see you ravage the procession?" she continued. Her voice was slowly rising. "Do you think I didn't see Miss Tianna being carried away by your gryphons and the other stupid clan members?! Oh you didn't think that I knew right? Well I may be a handmaiden but I'm not as stupid as you th– eep!"
Her rant was successfully cut short as she stumbled over a protruding root and landed squarely on Caelia's lap. Her eyes widened and she quickly wheeled her whole body around to see whose lap she was sitting on.
Recognition flooded the pale blue and Caelia soon found herself enveloped in a tight, suffocating hug.
"Oh Miss Caelia! You're alive! You're alive! I'm so glad! You're not hurt are you?"
"Uh . . . Not very . . . Just a bit scratched up and . . . a bit out of breath," Caelia managed to gasp out as the thin arms of Laire were wrapped securely around her throat.
"Oh!" Laire exclaimed, pulling back to look worriedly at Caelia, roll off her lap, and kneel on a nearby tree root, taking her hand in hers, "It's just awful, isn't it? Don't worry, Miss Caelia, I'll make sure they won't do anything to harm you. I'll do anything to make sure they don't. I'll even put my life on the line. I'll--"
"Laire," Caelia said firmly to cut her off.
The seventeen-year-old blinked at her, shutting her mouth.
"I really don't think they'll do us any harm," Caelia continued, tilting her head at the three men standing in the clearing, "Especially not the Prince."
Caelia gave Laire a look and Laire's eyes widened considerably.
"The Prince?" She whispered feverishly. Caelia nodded and watched as Laire's head swivelled quickly to stare at the three men. Her eyes widened even more, if possible, as they landed on Torreal's garments, recognition once again becoming apparent on her face. She turned her body to bow down low on the ground.
"Your majesty. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry for the disrespect. I am at your disposal."
Torreal surveyed her before nodding indifferently.
"You're forgiven," he said with an air of repetitiveness, as if he said it every day of his life.
"Thank you," Laire said, still on the ground.
Caelia rolled her eyes and looked away, up to the small patches of blue peeking through the treetops. She watched as a shadow rolled over, big enough to be a small carriage.
"We better keep moving," came the smooth voice of Rain, "They'll be looking for survivors. Namely the Prince."
Caelia blinked and looked back down at him. He was looking at the Prince, the smile gone from his face.
"Where exactly are we going?" Caelia asked, tilting her body to get her good leg under her so she could stand up.
"Quercetum," he replied, looking back over at her, a slight smile slipping into place.
Caelia nodded and stood, back against the tree. She was too tired to walk any more. Too much tangled events strumming throughout her head combined with her thigh pounding slightly from her cut made it hard to concentrate on much.
Torreal glanced her way, seemingly considering helping her, before turning his head to look back to the woods. That opened up the opportunity for Rain to walk forward and gently take her elbow and assist her to the middle of the clearing.
Laire straightened to kneel on the ground again but sprang to her feet as Wolf started walking over to her. She quickly walked over to Caelia and hovered behind her, eyeing Wolf. Smirking, Wolf went to stand next to Torreal, looking at Laire and Caelia.
Having no choice but to follow these two strangers, Torreal grudgingly gave the position of leader to Rain, who walked forward and started to lead them through the thick foliage, in the direction of this Quecertum.
A/N: Uh hi! Heh, miss me? Yes yes I know I have been gone for ages. And do I mean ages. About 7 months, right? Well I have a batch of excuses that would do me no good to leave them here so I'll keep my mouth shut and just tell you the main one.... I got bored with this story. Really bored. That's what happens, ladies and gentlemen, when you don't plan your story out before you write it. Writer's block and boredness. So, live n learn. Take my advice and plan. I'm not to fond of planning myself but I vow from this day on to plan it all out (plot, ending, where the story is actually going) before starting a story. And I'm not giving up on this one. I'm determined to finish it.
So yes. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope at least one of my so far faithful reviewers is still reading this. If you are, then I love you! Truly. Thank you. You give me confidence and push me to keep writing! Kisses to all! Chocolate ones!
Love you guys:
virgo-valentina: Yup I'm all moved and it's all good, thanks for the luck hehe. Sorry, I didn't get this chapter out that fast, hope you liked it!
joesi: Hope it is a good one. Thanks for the review!
Dragons 1313 : Thanks for the review lovely.
Goosegirl: Gryhpons are half birds and half lion mythical creatures. I know it's not a very good description of them but you can always google it if you're unsure! Thank you for reviewin!
Bubbl3gum: Haha sacrifice Tianna. That wouldn't be too good. Feed her to the rabid dogs so Caelia can get her man! Too sadistic for this story I think. Too bad. Haha. Yeah I hate moving too. Gotten pretty used to it though. Still hate it. Especially after this move across country (USA...from New Hampshire back to my homeland California). Thanks for reviewing, you're great!
MagicalShade: Thanks. Sorry didn't update soon enough. ::cowers in shame::
Evan-Cora: Why thank you! You're pretty awesome yourself, hon.
Garnet-earth-Princess: Don't really understand you're question. Heh maybe I'm just illiterate but yeah, can you rephrase it? I'd gladly answer it for you when I finds the question out. Thank ya for the review!
Neko-Chibi: Thank ya!
Phoenix Whitlock: Sorry I didn't update soon enough hehe. Hope you got your inspiration and weren't too bored..Thanks for the review.
belle amia: Psh and you complain about me giving you short reviews.
Deliah Minicet: Thank ya. Wasn't expecting me to go the action route either. Glad you like it. Thanks for reviewin.
KaronePrincess: Haha glad you like it so much. Don't worry, I'll have them fighting again soon. I can't very much avoid it with Ms. Short Tempered and Mr. Wise Guy here now can I? Thank you for the review.
Please forgive the lateness of this story and review if you are reading this. Thank you all!