Chapter Two

Pell

Blood unfurled from my stomach as I tried desperately to stop it. Pressing deep did nothing. A face stood over me. Calling to me but his words were silent. I screamed as a dark figure rose from behind. I watched in terror as the dark figure crushed a dagger in the man's skull. A strangled cry was torn from his lips. "Amelia" He called over and over again.

I awoke with a start. My heart was pounding. My skin covered in thick beads of sweat. It took me a few moments to remember where I was and who I was. The dreams were becoming more vivid and now I felt physically drained from them. Nauseous feelings swept over me. I tried to remember what I had dreamt, but like all the others it faded from me in an instant.

I glanced around my small room that I shared with another girl. The room was empty. A cool chill swept through me and I wrapped my robe around me.

Business had been slow. The Blizzard had seen to that. Three days it had raged. I had not been brave enough to face it and had sought out the comfort of my bare room. There would be enough food for a short while, but soon I would have to gather my fur and brace myself. It was not uncommon for a blizzard to unfurl its fury at this time of year. However this blizzard appeared to be worst than most. There had been talk of it lasting for days. Perhaps this was a good thing. I left my room and made me way into the main rooms. The other girls were huddled desperately by the fire, their furs thickening the appearance of their lithe bodies.

Madame Silver was in the corner looking over the books. The irritation in her face evident. "Three days! Three days!" She cried again and again. "What a waste." She muttered under her breath. She caught my glance and her eyes hardened. "Six," she called to me.

She called us by numbers, according to how popular we were. It was only in front of Patrons that she made us feel like humans rather than cattle when she gave us names. Two year I had been here. Madame Silver had stumbled across me in the street, she had taken me in. I should be grateful I was not exactly your normal looking whore. Pale and skinny I was and I definitely did not possess the gracious curves of the other girls. My hair had been cut very short then and I had often been mistaken for a boy. Madame Silver had declared that it was my eyes that would give me business. She had been right. I saw no uniqueness in them, they were blue, perhaps more blue than most. I was grateful to the woman but that still didn't stop me from despising her.

I rolled my eyes. I walked to her aware of the other girls watching me, their eyes now fixed on this rather than the burning flames.

She stood up, towering over me. My height was meagre and made me look younger than I was. She surveyed me before grasping a fistful of my straw coloured hair. "Six, you had better not be letting yourself go, this hair is a disgrace-"

Before she could launch into the tirade of abuse that she liked to direct at me, a loud knocking came at the door. She paused. "Don't just sit there. Answer the door!" She cried out to one of the girls. Nine stood up and moved towards the door but not before removing her fur. The other girls hurriedly removed their furs, exposing their nearly naked bodies to the cold.

The door opened and a large stout man entered. He was regular patron. "Lord Garett! What a lovely surprise," Madame Silver ran forward and greeted him. "Welcome, welcome. Fetch Lord Garett a cup of Cholo." She called out.

"Will it be Cassandra as usual?" Madame Silver asked signalling to One to step forward.

"Thank you." He said taking the warm cup of cholo. "Yes Madame Silver. Although I can't stay long. They say the blizzard will get worse."

One stepped forward and brushed past me. "At least I'll keep warm," she muttered to me with a small wink. I watched as one and Lord Garett made their way off into a boudoir to the side. I watched the sway of her buttocks and how his fat hand rested on one.

Madame Silver clasped her hands together and smiled with satisfaction. "Well one customer is better than none." It appeared to me that although there was a life-threatening blizzard outside the need for the self-gratification of men was higher. I turned and moved to the fire.

When suddenly the door flew open and a great gust of wind circled the room. The fire went out and I and several of the girls screamed as the room plunged into darkness. The deathly cold wind pushed up against me and I desperately tried to hug my body, preserving and warmth. Madame Silver was shouting orders. At last a candle flickered shedding some light on the scene before me. A dark figure lay strewn across the entrance. There was something about him. I was hit with a invisible force that swept through my frail body, electrifying my senses. Everything burned brighter. My head felt dizzy as something pounded against my skull. And then in an instant the world faded from me as I fell to the ground.

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Lady Alara

I lunged with the sword but he swivelled his body sideways, just missing my blow. He raised his sword and it hit mine with an awful clanging. We moved across the training room, each others sword meeting each other, swivelling, turning, avoiding at all costs.

A gong rang, signalling the end of the training session. We stopped almost immediately. The fight would continue another day. I removed my helmet as did my opponent.

Our breaths were strained as we sucked in the air. "You are improving, Lady Alara, your right side is still your weakest but with a bit more practice you should resolve this." Sir John spoke as he wiped the sweat from his forehead and flashed a smile at me. A smile that gave away his desires. This was not unknown to me. Perhaps if I had wanted to I might have taken him as a lover. He was handsome enough. He was an idiotic man although, but he was a good teacher. And I respected him for that. For the last few months he had been training me in combat sword fighting. He had been useful and he had asked for no fee. No doubt, within time he would issue his fee, and I doubted very much it would be gold.

The sound of clapping could be heard. We both turned surprised. Markus stood tall and handsome at the entrance to the room, a smile at his lips. Sir John bowed and the air was filled with a familiar awkwardness.

"Very good."

He signalled for everyone to leave. Guards and Sir John hurried out the room. Obviously the king wished to be alone with his Queen.

Once everyone had left he turned his gaze onto me. He stood there for a moment. "You fight well, for a woman." The double edged compliment no doubt irritated me, but I betrayed nothing on my face.

He moved down the steps to the fighting circle. Without a word he pulled out his sword. A challenge! A slow smile crept through his features confirming his desire to fight with me.

The exhaustion from the previous fight appeared to flee me and adrenaline pumped anew through my veins. I drew out my sword ready to face him.

"Let's see just how good you are." He said, lunging at an incredible pace towards me. I ducked as he glided past me. My back was to him, I raised my sword above my head meeting his oncoming sword.

"Good tactic, Sir John has been teaching you well."

"He is a good teacher," I muttered turning round to face him. His eyes were alight with the joy of combat. It was my turn to lunge at him. Our swords grasped each other. I pushed him backwards bringing my sword down upon his time after time.

"Does he love you?" The question I had not anticipated.

I held his sword strong against my own. "He has not said so."

"You evade my question."

"I gave you the only answer I knew." I gathered all my strength and pushed his sword back. He released his sword and swung it round swapping it to his other hand before launching on me again.

"You are not as weak as you look." He teased me.

"You are not as strong as you look," I replied.

A deep chuckle escaped him as his sword clashed against my own.

We were almost at the back wall, his back almost touching it. When suddenly his sword did not meet mine. He ducked and rolled forcing me to turn. With incredible speed he pulled himself up and seemingly pushed my heavy sword from my hands. I had no choice but to retreat. He backed me up against the wall. The point of his sword came to rest on my neck, pushing my chin upwards. I felt its cool point press against my searing skin. I gulped down air and watched him. His eyes were no longer light with amusement. For one terrifying moment I thought he was going to kill me. The sword's point grazed against my skin.

A moment flickered through his eyes and then he seemed to return to the current situation. Immediately he lowered his sword before swiftly turning from me. As he made his way to the other side of the room, I brushed my finger against my neck. A small taint of blood stained it.

Promptly he turned and he strode towards me. His eyes dark. He knocked me back up against the wall, and an arm fell into place around my waist. He forced his lips upon my own. They came down on me with a crushing brutality. The moment lasted for a mere few seconds.

He pulled away, my lips tingling. "You know they call you the "Ice Queen" out there. I am beginning to understand why."

"I do not care what they think."

"You should. They threaten all of this. Even this cosy life you have set up for yourself. Strong Rebels are forming. An uprising could be sooner than you think, your pretty fighting skills will not help you then."

I did not care. There were always rebels. They were easy enough to squash, usually they were not particularly united or lacked the resources needed to pose a serious threat.

"What is it you want from me?" He did not answer. "Well?" I said sweeping away the stray strands that clung to my face.

"This war to end."

"It has." I replied quickly.

"No, the war between husband and wife."

My face remained passive as the full meaning of his words became clear to me. A barrier was between us, that was true. But it was not entirely my fault. Since Markus had returned we had seen each other barely a few times. How could any hope of a relationship be rekindled between us?

An interruption came with perfect timing. I knew not what I should reply. "My Lord, Sir Gerald requests your immediate attention. He has some urgent news. Sir Frederick has returned."

He surveyed me silently one more time before he turned. I watched as he strode away. He had wanted to scare me at first. Yet I knew better and had never been scared by him. His words had left me more simply...surprised. There was so much I had forgotten about him. His impulsive nature, for one.

I could not help but smile to myself. Although the mood today had been different his impulsiveness had reminded me of a memory, which had been buried in the back of mind. I found an intrigue rising in me. Maybe he was not as different as I first thought. I placed the sword on the stand and brushed my finger over the scratch on my neck. A reminder of a most interesting encounter. My mind was thoughtful while outside the wind howled with much brutality. A reminder of the blizzard. When would it end?

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Pell

Lord Frederick paused at the top of the hill and glanced down at his castle. It held no comparison to the palace in which he had spent the last few nights, but none the less it was where the ones he loved most dwelled. Although the sky was dark the blizzard had yet to reach here. He had been lucky, leaving the city before the blizzard had inflicted its full force. He tightened the reigns on his horse and with a small kick, galloped down to his home. The gates swung open and he trotted into the court yard.

"Frederick!" A breathless cry came from above. He glanced up to the balcony and there she stood. Her hair wavering in the cool breeze. He dismounted swiftly and walked to the steps that the woman hurried down. At the last step she jumped into his arms. He caught her and held her close. Seven years they had been apart. He pushed his nose into her glorious fair hair savouring the smell, he held her tight, savouring the feel of her slim body in his arms. She was crying.

"Fred, I can't believe it's you. It has been so long." He held her even closer not wanting to ever go. All he had thought about these past seven years was her. The thought of this moment had kept him alive and fighting as he had battled each opponent.

Reluctantly he released her at last. She was just as beautiful as the day she had waved him off. "Children! Freddy! Anneke! Your father has returned to us!"

Two white faces appeared at the balcony. They had only been young when he had left them. Already he could see his son was going to be a replica of himself and his daughter held the beauty of his wife. They were no longer babies, struggling to walk now they were young adults. Freddy must have reached his thirteenth year and Anneke her tenth. They made their way down the steps cautiously. Any memories they held of their father were vague. Lord Frederick grieved for the years that he had lost but he would make up for them. When they reached him, he took them both in his arms. At first they were frightened but their father's warm smile warmed their hearts.

The family reunited made its way out of the cold into the warm inside. Smiles were a plenty that night. There was so much to be told. They all stayed up late that night, stories flitting from one to another, until exhaustion swept through them all. They fell into a quick sleep but not before Lord Frederick made sweet love to his longing and loving wife.

Later in the darkness Frederick awoke with a start. Something was not right. A swift glance around the room told him an intruder was in the room. He reached to the bedside table and grabbed his dagger. Cautiously he rose from the bed, he did not wish to wake his wife and scare her. A dark figure lunged at him. He was quick to respond, blocking the attack. Punches were thrown until something hard and heavy hit him from behind on the head. There had been two of them. He fell to the floor, panic for his family as a slumber of unconsciousness overpowered him. Darkness caved in on him to the music of his wife's hysterical screams.

Daylight sifted through the curtain. Frederick blinked. Had it all been a dream? The cold hard floor told him that was not so. His head was thumping but he rose. He had to steady himself. Sandra lay still in the bed. He moved towards her. The once white bed sheets were stained in crimson. As he moved closer he saw a dagger protruding from her chest. Her lifeless eyes were frozen in pain. "Oh god," he gulped.

He hurried forward to her calling her name desperately. But she was gone from him. He cradled her head to her chest and felt a tear prickle against his chin. A roar erupted from his throat. She had been murdered and he had not saved her. Only had he just been reunited with her. Finally he left her desecrated body. Making his way to the children's rooms he too found their small bodies lifeless and covered in dried blood. Frederick ran out to the outside. A powerful roar erupted from his heart as the grief hit him.

He looked up to the heavens and his mind screamed out the injustice of it all. He shouted with pain and hate etching his face, until he fell to the ground sobbing. Life held no meaning for him now. Later he would come to realise that it did and only one word could be used to describe that meaning: Revenge. He would hunt them down and show as much restraint as they had in the murders of his family - none. Hate slowly crept into that once loving heart, threatening to never return to its former state.

My eyes fluttered open. My heart was full of grief and pain. It was so realistic as if I could feel the man in my dream's heartache. My eyes came into focus and a dark figure stood over me.

"What did you see child?" His voice was low and foreign.

"In your vision. You can see things I can tell. It flows through your veins. I felt your power immediately. Ami, tell me." He spoke excitedly, his face alight.

"Anger. Injustice. Death." I replied at last. "Who are you?" I asked the strange figure. His skin was darker than most and a strange symbol was etched into the skin on his forehead.

"There was something drawing me to this place. I had to get here. I battled through the blizzard, but I never expected to find one like you."

"Like me?" I asked confusion weeping through my exhausted brain.

"Ami you are gifted." He said raising a cup to my dry lips. A black liquid trickled down my chin and into my mouth.

"The man I saw in my dream. Was he real? Did that happen?"

"He was as real as you and I. Whether it has already happened or it shall happen is another matter. Now drink this." A strange chuckle escaped from him and I was uncertain whether I could trust this man. I wondered what this name was he called me. Ami? It was unheard of to me. But I was too weak to argue or question right now. I closed my eyes and the man of my dreams face swarmed around me. The pain and heartbreak so clear on his poor face. A tear slid down my cheek as the man's pain stabbed at my heart.


A/N: There are quite a few strands in this and they will all come together I promise. Sorry if it is a bit confusing at the moment, but things will become clearer as this goes on, I know this is a bit slow but it has to build up, and I have quite a few characters to get through!

Thank you to those who reviewed (although I did have quite a few more views- but it is nice to know people are reading this.) As usual I would love to hear what you think,but I guess it is difficult as this has only just begun.