Chapter 15:


Today is the day Orion we be returning, at least that's what everyone has been saying. Word is that the mission has been completed and he should be returning tonight.

I was practically skipping around the fortress with my movements.

I would walk past the front door every so often to see if he has returned yet. I know he won't be back until later but I couldn't wait till then. There was always a chance he would be back early…

The sun was starting to set and the sky was getting dark. The keepers of the fortress were beginning to light the torches of the fortress. If he was not back by now, he probably stopped somewhere for the night. At least, that's what I told myself.

I did not want to jump to conclusions of what might have happened to him.

I was caught in a gaze looking out the windows of the front door when Philip came up beside me, when he spoke it nearly startled me.

"Columba!" He said very loudly in my ear, trying to scare me.

I jumped, and turned to him slowly, "What?" I asked, almost matching the tone he used.

"What do you say? Another match in King's Chess?" He asked.

He still didn't get over that he lost to me every time in King's Chess yesterday. I had never played it before in my life, but now I was a pro at it. We must have played 30 times yesterday, there was nothing to do at the time. During our matches, Philip had told me many things about his training and some minor missions that he and his group have been on. He even took me outside at night and we practiced some basic attack and defensive moves. The more he told and showed me, the more I wanted to learn for myself. We stole a small knife from the stables for me, it is something to start with. Hopefully I can keep this up without it being noticed by anyone else.

I then looked back out the window before answering him, this unusal habit I picked up. "Do you just want to lose again?" I asked him.

"Are you kidding? I only let you win so you would not be mad!" He laughed, then he got serious, "But really, today you're going down. I won't show any mercy."

I looked back over at him. "I'll hold you to that Philip. Since you're in a competitive mood…first one there will win everything!" I yelled, and took off running upstairs where the game was already set up. I ran past two guards at the bottom of the stairs who gave me the strangest looks.

"What?" I he asked confused, but it must have clicked. "Wait, hold on –this is not fair!" I heard him complain from behind me. He just started up the stairs, but I was already in the meeting room. I quickly went and sat down by the table where the game was. He came running into the room almost out of breath. I sat in my chair and acted like I was pouring myself something to drink with an imaginary cup.

As he walked over to the table I held the imaginary cup up to my mouth and pretended I was drinking out of it. "What took you so long?" I asked and laughed.

"Just planning out my strategy of destroying you." He teased. He sat down across from me on the table.

"I'd like to see you try."

He took the wooden box that was next to the board and opened it up. He dumped the wooden pieces onto the chess board and separated the two colors between our sides.

I set up my pieces up and he did the same with his.

"Game on." He said, "Ladies first." He gestured with his hand.

"As usual." I smiled. "I am the white force after all."

Then the game started. At first, it seemed like it was in my favor. I had taken out most of his pawns. Then I started losing my valuable pieces. First went the Bishops, then the Knights. I had only my two castles, four pongs, my king and queen left.

He still had one of everything. It was his turn and he just took out another one of my pawns. I was stumped, I did not know where to go without him getting another one of my best pieces out.

"Don't have cold feet now, Columba." He smirked.

I ignored him and starred at the board. There had to be a move I could make. I just could not see it. I was not going to lose to him, I couldn't.

Some people came into the meeting room where we were with their long torches that were lit with fire, and were lighting the candles on the wall. I didn't even realize how dark it had gotten outside. But I could not look up at them, I had to win this.

I sat there, still looking at the board. He was getting impatient, but waiting does not kill someone. I might have to sacrifice a good player in order to get closer to his king. The queen is his best player right now. Taking her out would weaken him.

"We should make a time limit on this." He teased.

Without word, I raised my hand off my lap and was about to pick up one of my castles. I moved my castle across the board without letting go of it. He saw what I was going to do. I would take out one of his pawns with this move, and it would also cause him to be in "check". He has to move his king the next round, and once he did, his queen would be open to be taken out. I slid the castle along the board and put it next to his pawn and pushed his pawn slightly over.

"Cheeccckkk." I said very slowly, still unsure if I wanted to make this move. I still held onto the castle, if I would let go – I wouldn't be able to take the move back.

I slowly let go of the castle, my fingers just brushing along it. But someone behind me suddenly spoke.

"That won't get you anywhere."

Philip looked up from the board both startled. I wanted to turn around and see who it was, however I knew the voice. My fingers stood frozen on the piece.

He continued to speak, "Try your other castle."

Automatically, my hand moved this castle back to its previous position and reached for the other castle. Then I saw what he wanted me to do, I don't know how I could have missed it. My king would have been taken out before if I did that. My head just was not in the game tonight.

I moved the castle to where my hand directed it to, I'm not even sure how this happened. Then Philip was in check...but he couldn't move his king.

"Check mate." I whispered.

Philip was in shock, "Everytime..." He muttered to himself. He got up and walked behind me. He didn't seem to care about the game anymore. I now turned around in my chair to see Orion standing there, looking at me. He was in the dark part of the room, his hood was up and darkness crept upon his face. He looked a little scary, but he was so alluring – it only made him look more attractive. My heart picked up its normal beat when he was around.

"How did it go?" Philip went up to him and asked.

Orion didn't look at him, he kept his eyes on me. "It went just as…planned"

"Well that's always a good thing." Philip said a little relieved. "I think we should have a little bit of a celebration… Where is Ryerson?" Philip asked him.

"I haven't the slightest idea."

"Well you need to tell me everything that happened when I get back." Philip said, "Or I can just go find out what happened from the master while I'm down there." He seemed to be a little confused in his thoughts.

I laughed a little.

"When did you get back?" He asked Orion.

"An hour ago. I had to be debriefed." Orion said. I didn't even know he was back then, but Philip and I were playing for awhile…

"Well I'm going to see what they all have to say." Philip said.

Philip walked out of the room and went down the stairs. I could hear his footsteps fade away with every step he took until he was off the stairs.

I got up off the chair and faced him. My legs moved freely to him, as I came closer to him they turned into a jog. He met me a little of the way. I threw my arms over his shoulders and hugged him. But, immediately, he took in a deep breath and pushed me gently away. I looked up at his face, he looked like he was in some sort of pain.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"I was, wounded…it's nothing that serious though."

"Where?" I asked looking around him. My voice was very quiet.

He took his right arm out of his sleeve and showed me the bandages.

At first I didn't pay attention to his bandages, I was looking at his muscles. I then quickly looked at the bandages, "Didn't you get hit there already? Is it the same old wound?" I asked a little scared that I might have made it worse.

He shook his head no, "Hit twice." He smiled.

I didn't think that was worth smiling, "Geez you must enjoy to get hit there; is it really bad? I'm sorry if I made it hurt anym…."

He cut me off, "Don't worry about it. I shouldn't have let it bother me."

We were only inches apart. He must not care about the pain because he went and wrapped his arms around me.

Then he whispered in my ear, "If being with you meant this much pain, I couldn't care less about it."

My face was snuggled up against his chest, but after he said that my eyes flew open. I had never ever heard him say something like that. When had he become this soft? I looked up at him a little confused. Did this trip change him somehow? His aqua eyes met mine. I didn't want to ask him questions, I'm sure I'll find out later.

"I missed you." I whispered.

"Me too." He said in a soft voice.

He looked like he was really tired; his eyes were not full of life like how they usually were, well, life wasn't the right word. They actually looked darker if that was possible. His pupils looked like they were really dilated. I was so concentrated on his eyes that I didn't realize that he moved his hand up to my chin, he gently held on to it and was pulling my head closer to his.

I didn't flinch at the touch of his hand, it only seemed natural. My stomach danced with butterflies, and my head felt like it was going to blackout. It all seemed to happen in slow motion, which was probably a good thing. His head inclined just a little to the left. His breath hit my face and in moments his lips were against mine, nice and warm. His kiss was so soft and gentle, it was hard to see someone who was so violent be so... I searched for the right word, passive? Benevolent? Sensitive?...Towards me.

I closed my eyes.

He went and wrapped his other arm around my waist, pulling me closer to him. His other hand left my cheek and held the back of my neck. There was no space left between us anymore. I could feel the warmth radiate off his body. I inhaled, his scent smelled so good.

I put my arms up and decided where they should go, but this time trying to miss his shoulder. His hood was up, I moved my hands up through his neck to the back of his head and his hood fell. I moved my lips in the same directions his were moving, nothing fast about it either.

I tried to remember the first kiss, or the last one. I reacted very much the same as I am now, still caught off guard, and just so…blown away.

But this was not a long kiss, it seemed like it was over faster than it started. He stopped and half-smiled, our lips were still about on each other's. He then pulled his face a little farther back so he could talk.

"Come downstairs." He breathed. It was more of a question.

I didn't say anything, I shook my head up and down quickly. He let go of my waist and turned to go for the stairs. I was still standing there looking where he had just stood. When he reached the stairs he stopped and waited for me to come. I quickly then walked to him and went down the stairs.

When my thoughts came back to me, I managed to speak, "Where are we going?" I asked.

His voice returned to its normal iciness, but he wasn't speaking to me.

"Where is Jraun?" He demanded one of the men at the bottom of the huge staircase. The way he talks to the guards here had me on edge. I don't understand why to have a tone with these fine men.

One of them turned to Orion and responded, "He was still in the stables when I last checked." He looked at the other guard who shook his head yes. He then looked back at Orion, "Yeah, I'm sure he's still out there."

Then Orion spoke to me, "Your father wanted me to get you." We walked past the guards and headed for the stable's doors.

"Oh." I said.

He opened the door for me and I went in. There weren't that many men out here, but my father was in the front where they had a table set up. He and four others were sitting around it. I had never seen the men before who were sitting by him; they were old like my father. They all had long beards and whitish-gray hair. I went and walked down the stables to where he was, Orion followed quietly.

When we came closer, the men looked at us. My father got up off his chair and said something to the men. They all turned around and resumed talking to one another. He then came walking to us. I stopped and waited for him.

He came up to me, "Thank you, Orion." He said to Orion. Orion bowed his head and turned around and walked away, down to the opposite end of the stables.

I turned and looked up at my father, "What is it you need?" I asked politely.

He turned me around and we began walking slowly away from the men at the table. I could see Orion way in the back with someone else, I think it was Marcus. My father put a hand on my back and began talking.

"I just wanted to tell you all that has happened." He said.

I remained quiet, waiting for him to proceed. I looked down at the ground.

"Kyrare is dead." He announced, but I already knew that. But he went on, "The tables are now turned in our favor, but we still have to get through the other parties that will be stepping up shortly. The queen still has not given birth, so tomorrow there will be a conference of different factions that can take over for the war's sake. Most of our men, and myself, will be leaving shortly in a while. I just spoke to the elders of this city…" He looked back over his shoulder at the old men around the table, I did the same. He continued, "They have given us their full support in this, I have known them for a very long time."

But he still had more to say, making sure I knew all the details. "The council in Ciyra has decided it best that a town leader, which are all dead, could hold the position dictator for a short time. And since all the leaders are deceased, they are looking for someone else with high rank."

I wanted to interrupt, and ask a question I had. When I was sure he was done with that part I spoke, "Father, how do you know all this information? It has only been…" I thought for a moment, "About a day that all this has happened."

He smiled, "Carrier pigeons are faster than horseback. But you see, Ciyra's council had this plan already set up just in case something like this would happen to the King. This has always been the backup plan for them." He said.

I didn't think about my next question, it kind of slipped. "Are you going to become king, father?" I asked.

"If this all goes according to plan…perhaps. But these are hard times and usually nothing goes to what is planned."

I smiled. The thought of living in a castle, a dream come true… I made my head swing back to reality.

We were still slowly walking to the back of the stables, Orion was still back there talking to Marcus.

"Who is all going tonight then?" I asked quietly, looking at Orion. He and Marcus were not looking in our direction, hopefully they were not paying attention to us.

"Well luckily for you, not Orion. He will be staying here." He said, keeping his voice low as well. He must know that there is something going on between us, he would not have known I was mostly asking on Orion's sake. The good thing about it though is that he did not seem to mind.

He stopped walking with me when we reached the other end of the stables where Orion and Marcus were. "I must get back to them now, I'll inform you when we leave." He said quickly and turned around and returned to the other men. My eyes followed him until he reached the other end. He was taking great risks going to Ciyra tonight. Who knows what kind of guards they have set up right now.

I turned around and looked at Orion and Marcus. Marcus was turning around and about to leave the stables. Orion then looked at me.

"Are you hungry?" He asked me.

"Yes, I am." I said.

"Good, you can join us then." He said. He too turned around and went out the door that Marcus had just went out, except that he held it open for me. I quickly walked to the door and went back into the fortress with him.

We walked in to the mess hall and sat at the middle table. I sat in between Orion and Marcus, Orion on my left and Marcus on my was a large mass of men in here already. My guess is that they were all eating before they had to leave. Everyone was chattering so loud, I could barely hear my own thoughts.

The servants brought our food out and we began eating. Like every other plate that was served to me here, it was too much for me to consume.

A couple minutes into eating, Philip came in with Ryerson and they both sat across from Orion, Marcus, and myself. Following them were Richard and two others. They came walking in and sat down near us. They were laughing very loud but quieted when they came closer to the table.

I hadn't seen Richard in such a long time… His eyes were still very dark, and his face looked hard as stone. I remember the bag of medicine he gave me – when we were coming home from the cities – it still sat somewhere in my room. But the one thing that will never leave my memory is what happened in the sewers. I flinched at the thought. Orion seemed to have noticed but didn't do anything.

"So Phil, are you ready for tonight?" Marcus asked Philip from across the table, trying to strike up a conversation.

"Ready as I'll ever be, sir, but it is just a simple run there and run back thing." He said with no excitement.

Philip was going with them tonight? Now who will I play in king's chess tomorrow? I probably could not beat anyone else here. The game was so much fun.

"But sooner or later you will have to take on bigger missions, it's only a matter of time until Ryerson approves of you." Marcus said looking at Ryerson.

"He has come a long way." Ryerson said. "I believe he is just about ready."

Philip's eyes brightened up as he heard Ryerson say that. I was happy for him, it was good that he was getting the recognition he deserved.

"When will we be returning?" Philip asked Ryerson.

"Well I think that Jraun and some others will be staying there longer than what you will. Your job on this trip is to provide protection. But once we get to the town, it shouldn't be too bad. We'll meet up with our brothers and go on from there." Ryerson said to him.

"You better get back right away so I can kick your butt in chess again." I teased, not able to eat anymore of my food.

Philip glared at me, "Oh, I'll be back for that. Just you wait. And you won't be able to cheat again either." He looked at Orion, who was completely oblivious to what we were talking about.

"I didn't cheat." I opposed him and laughed. "You just don't have skills like me."

He laughed, "I'll show you skills if you really want to see them." He looked down at my food. "Are you going to finish that?" He asked, his mind suddenly shifting thoughts.

I looked down at my half eaten plate of food. It was mostly potatoes, ham, and some more vegetables. I shook my head no. I could not afford another bite, my stomach would not approve of it.

He grinned and reached across the table for my plate, he had already finished his meal. I don't understand how they can eat this much. I looked at everyone else around me, they too had finished their meals. I felt like I was being wasteful. Philip then started eating my food that I didn't touch.

I still had some water left in my cup; I picked that up and finished it off. At least I finished something.

"Well it's about time you start eating like a man." I heard someone utter. I turned my head to see where the voice had come from, Philip did the same. It was Richard. He was not talking to me though, he was speaking to Philip.

The man sitting next to Richard started laughing and said something under his breath. Richard joined in with him and they both looked back at Philip. Philip ignored them and kept on eating.

Richard then turned his gaze on Orion, "So, you get a go with any of those Perfects?" He asked and said the Perfect's name with disgust. He looked like he wanted to say something more, maybe something to put Orion down, but he seemed to watch what he said around him.

Orion turned his attention to Richard, "Just one." Orion had already finished his food, he was sitting back in his chair with his arms crossed. Usually, when he was finished, he would get up right away and leave. Maybe he was waiting for me, but I too was already finished now.

"How so?" Richard asked, becoming more curious.

Orion sat up in his chair and gave Richard a strange look then smiled, "Process gullet" He answered, he looked like he was recalling an old memory. I didn't know what he meant, maybe it was a term they used for it. I'm pretty sure gullet was the same as throat. I tried not to think of anything that related to someone's throat as a cause of death, but immediately the ideas flew through me. Perhaps strangling? Maybe breaking, or snapping his neck? Cutting it? I shook my head so no one else could see. That was all I wanted to think of.

Richard smiled, "Very nice, your favorite?" He asked. I still did not like Richard's voice, it was so uncaring and cruel.

"I have many favorites." Orion said in his hardened voice. At least Orion's voice was likable when he was this way. Richard's was just pure hate. Orion finished, "But this happened to be the easiest way."

"What about the pig, Kyrare?" Richard asked in a harsh voice. By now, everyone around us had stopped talking to each other and focused their interest on Orion's and Richard's conversation.

Orion sounded like he wanted to answer right away, but he hesitated. I looked up at him and searched his face for the reasons. He looked confused at first, but he spoke, "Just two daggers to his back. One would have done it slowly, right around his axis, but the other hit was just to finish him quickly. I didn't have time." He finished. I still don't know why he hesitated.

An evil smile sprung upon Richard's lips. "Adequately done. Too bad I could not have been there, what a sight it must have been. You should have let the swine lay there paralyzed for awhile and done what you thought best with him, why was time important?" Richard asked, cocking his head a little to the side.

Orion pursed his lips; I barely looked over at Richard anymore. There was something Orion was not telling them, I don't know if the others could see it, but I could. But he spoke, "After the first perfect, I just didn't feel like waiting anymore."

"Ah…" Richard understood, or at least I thought he did. "You never are patient. They should have sent someone who could have done the right job." He snorted.

Orion looked away from him. He let out a deep breath, it sounded furious as it escaped him. "You're never patient." He said icily.

I could feel the tension begin to grow between them.

"Yes, well it's a good thing some of us know when to be patient." Richard said, looking at the fork he held in his hand.

I don't think I have ever seen Orion snap, and I don't know if I want to. If they were going to be going back and forth like this, things could get ugly. I examined Orion's face; he didn't look so bad, not completely enraged but mostly irritated. It seemed like they were done talking, at least for now.

Philip then stood up, having finished my plate. He seemed he didn't want to stay any longer. I myself did not want to either. I don't know if we had the same reasons why. Ryerson also stood up with him and a few others nearby.

"Well it's best we get on our way." I heard someone mummer. I didn't know the man.

"Yeah, don't want them waiting." Someone answered him.

I still looked at Orion, his eyes were fixed on something in the distance. I wanted to touch his arm or just let him know that I'm there, but I couldn't bring myself to.

Others around us stood up and began to leave. Marcus now had gotten up. I think they are all going to be leaving shortly to Ciyra. Richard and the men who were sitting by him all got up and walked away. Soon it was just me and Orion at the middle table.

"Are you…" My voice trailed off. I don't know what I was going to ask. There were a thousand things I wanted to ask him.

He took a deep breath in and let it out slowly. His body seemed to be calm. He turned to face me. His eyes looked straight into mine, they were hard and dark.

My brows pulled together. I've seen this in his eyes before, but now I was sad to see him angry. Richard was such a low life.

He finally spoke, "Let's go." And he stood up.

I stood up right after him and we walked out of the mess hall and into the main hall. I don't know where we were going but I wanted to say goodbye to my father before he left. Orion must have knew I would want to so he led us to the stables.

The stable's doors were opened already when we got there, but there was a rock holding the doors open. Men were pacing around, throwing on their equipment and swords. Richard was in here among the many men, he must be going on the trip as well.

We walked through them and found my father. When I saw him my eyes widened. He was carrying a sword on his waist.

He saw my face, "What is it, Columba?" He asked me.

"Why do you have a sword for?" I asked, I was a bit more amused by it than scared.

"You don't think that I don't have any fight in me?" He asked. He could tell by the tone in my voice that I was teasing him about it.

"No, it's just I hope you don't have to use it." I grumbled.

The stable watchmen were guiding most of the horses out now, and the other men were following them. My father's horse was being led out as well, he was about to follow, then he turned to me.

"I don't know how long this is going to take, but make sure you stay out of trouble." He put his hands on my shoulders. He was wearing riding gloves, they looked really fancy. "I'll see you soon." He said, he kissed my forehead and walked away.

All the other men were just about leaving the stables. The horses were all nearly gone, Fiero was still here though. Orion stood quiet behind me. I don't even know if he was still there, I turned around to make sure but he was.

Marcus came walking next to us, pulling his horses' reins with him. As he walked by he spoke to Orion, "He's coming here tomorrow. The Alchemist has found us some new things." He grinned and kept on walking.

I looked at Orion, "Who's the Alchemist?" I asked after Marcus was gone.

He quickly looked at me, as if he forgotten I was there. "He's the man who brings us new inventions. He is always up to date, and sometimes ahead of others." He said. It was nice hearing his voice calm and soft again.

There was something eating at him, I knew there was. He looked like he was torn, I couldn't control my curiosity. "What's wrong?" I asked in a low, soft voice.

He then closed his eyes tight and used one hand to quickly rub against one of them. He now looked tired, maybe he was just really tired. He then looked around us, there were still people in here. He must not want others to hear.

"Not in here." He muttered. He turned to face the exit of the stables that led back into the fortress. He gently grabbed onto my elbow and pulled me with him. We walked into the main hall and in here there were some more men, Orion sighed and he kept on moving. I looked out the front main door's windows. Out there I could see all the men, thanks to the torches all over, who were just setting off on their trip to Ciyra. I looked back to where Orion was taking us. He then looked at me, "Outside or upstairs?" He asked.

"Umm…" I didn't know, but he looked like he was getting impatient. "Outside." I said quickly.

He then led us to the door and opened it for me to walk through.

It was beautiful out here. No breeze or anything. The moon was behind some clouds, but otherwise it couldn't be better. He let go of my elbow, and stopped. I walked to a nearby bench and sat down. He came and sat close to me, closer than I expected him to.

He let out another deep breath, but wasn't saying anything.

I got close up to him, figuring that it wouldn't bother him. I just about leaned my head on his right shoulder, but quickly caught myself. "Oops." I muttered, it was almost a whisper. "Sorry."

But he reached his right arm over me and pulled me up next to him, instead of me leaning on his shoulder, he let my head lay in his lap. This was more than what I asked for, but I wouldn't complain. I moved my legs up onto the bench and sprawled them out. My head was not facing him though, I was facing towards the moon. This was so comfortable; my heart began to speed up.

I wouldn't care if we didn't talk at all right now, this was better than talking. I would do anything for it to stay like this forever. But he soon broke the silence.

"Were you fine these last couple days?"His voice was low.

"Yes." I whispered. "Were you?"

He didn't respond right away. After a few moments he did. "If your father would know what I have done, I'm sure I would be expelled forever, or maybe even worse..."

I turned my head to face his, "What do you mean?" I was confused.

I could feel his muscles tense, "There were so many things that went wrong…I was thoughtless. Richard is right, I am too impatient. I almost got myself killed." He said.

My eyes saddened. I didn't want to think that he almost got killed. "Just don't tell him." I said simply.

"It's not that easy." He muttered. "First of all, I let another threat live."

"Who?" I asked. I thought the king was the only threat, but I guess not.

"The Perfect. He will be a problem later" He hissed at it. He didn't leave me time to say anything. "Second, I was seen – by someone else."

My eyes widened, now that was serious. I could understand if he was upset about this one thing. "Who saw you?" I choked out.

He looked down at me, his eyes were empty. I felt his hand smoothly go against my cheek, he held it for awhile. He then started tracing patterns along it, and then went down to the upper part of my neck. His fingers were warm and soft. I thought maybe he forgot that I asked him a question, or maybe he just didn't hear me. I was about to open my mouth when he spoke again.

He looked away from me, up at the moon, "The queen." He whispered.

It took me awhile to think it through, maybe I heard him wrong. I didn't want to believe what he said. But I realized who he said. A small gasped escaped from my mouth. "But she doesn't know who you are." I assumed.

He smiled, but there was no humor what so ever. "She does."

My mouth almost flew open, my eyes got even wider. I did not know that he had ever met the queen before, so much that she would know who he was.

"But, how can she have any power to do anything? She has zero royal blood in her." I quickly stated, even though he already knew.

He sighed, "She can't make anyone come, but she can tell them. They would listen to her."

I thought hard for a minute, if Orion knew anyone had seen him…he would terminate the witness. He probably did not want to, but he had to. It was a rule. I had Philip to talk to for a couple of days and he really filled me in on all of this stuff. Orion knew that she saw him, but he didn't do anything. What he had done was serious, it as serious beyond anything. I knew that if my father would find out, Orion could be killed.

He looked down at my face after the silence. He could see that I was struggling to come up with an answer.

"But…"I couldn't finish, I don't know how he would react.

He looked at me, waiting.
"Never mind." I whispered.

"She won't say anything." He said confident, but his voice was still low. "When we exchanged looks, me and the queen…she realized that she was alive, and her husband dead. Usually, assassin's would kill both the king and queen, at least that's what I've heard. If she was smart, she will not open her mouth, she was just given a warning." He was so sure, but I don't understand why he was acting like this then.

I believed him. But I wish he would at least not look so grim. If he knew that there was nothing to worry about, why was he down? But this is something that I won't ask, if he really wanted me to know he would tell me.

His eyes looked dead in the moon light. I reached up to touch his face, thinking our last conversation was over.

"Did you sleep at all?" I asked, my voice worried.

"Yes, just not enough."

Maybe this is why my father didn't have him come along with them. Not only to be back here protecting me, but maybe to catch up on his rest and recover from his injury. I wonder if he even ever slept when we were out in the cities. He seemed to be up most of the time.

"You should sleep." I said.

He laughed, I could feel his muscles ease up. "'Anything the daughter of the master says goes.'" He was reiterating something someone must have told him.

I scrunched my nose. I wanted to roll my eyes but his hand that was on my cheek went to the back of my head and started lifting me up towards him. My heart skipped and sped off. He must not have wanted me to say anything because he did it quickly. His other arm wrapped around me and pulled me up to him.

Our lips met. His warmth sent waves through my body. Everything seemed to warm up inside of me. My hand was still on his face, but it soon moved to the back of his head and my fingers intertwined in his hair. I felt his muscles tighten as he drew me closer, I could feel his strong arms wrap themselves around me. His stomach and chest felt unbelievable. He didn't even look like a big person, but you could tell that his shoulders were built, so he must have a lot of muscle.

It felt like he wanted to say something for a moment. His lips slowed and stopped, then he breathed out the words, "You have no idea how much I wanted to come home, I even passed up on something."

My eyes opened, but he didn't want to wait for me to speak. His lips went down to my neck and kissed it softly. It was hard to concentrate, "Which was?" I asked almost out of breath.

"I…"He paused, maybe he didn't want to say anything but it was too late. "…I executed out a different plan than what I already had…" He said. "It was a faster way to get back." His lips returned to my neck and made their way back up to my mouth, which left me incapable from saying anything else.

Two in one night I thought. What a miracle…

As I was lost in my thoughts, he slowly pulled away from me. "Now, you should go to bed." He said.

I looked him in the eyes. They were not as dark as before, they at least looked lively now. He also seemed to be in a better mood.

"Ah!" I about yelled. He lifted my body off of him before I could move. I started laughing quietly, it made me jump what he did. I stood up and he got up. I walked to the doors of the fortress, I thought I could fly. I opened them and went inside and he followed.

"Get some sleep." He said from behind me.

I turned around to face him, "I will, you do too." I said pointing a finger at him.

He sighed. We were right at the staircase, but he stopped before going up it. "Goodnight."
He said from below.

I turned around, "Goodnight." I thought he would be walking up here to go to his room. "Aren't you going to bed?" I asked.

"I will in a bit." He said, his voice sounded like it was getting icily again. But it wasn't because of me, he held his shoulder again. He turned to face the stable's doors and began walking towards them. A guard just entered the fortress from outside, Orion turned around to see him

"I was just going to go and look for you." Orion said to him.

The guard nodded without Orion telling him what he needed to do, and the guard looked up at me. Orion looked up at me as well, "He's going to watch over your room for tonight – special orders from you father." Orion teased.

Orion's grip on his shoulder tightened.

"I'm sor…"

"Goodnight." He said quickly, not letting me apologize. I shouldn't have moved my arms at all before. What if I accidentally hit his shoulder? I turned around and headed up the stairs and went to my room. The hallway grew dimmer as I came to my room; the candles down here were not lit for some reason. The guard followed slowly behind me, it was silly that he had to watch over my room.

I yawned as I opened the door. It was pitch black in my room which was also unusual. I turned around to face the guard, "Goodnight." I said in a sleepy voice.

He didn't say anything. His face was compelled to stay expressionless.

I shurgged my shoulders and walked into my room and closed the door behind me. I should have left the door open so I could see better, but I wanted my bed right now. My hands went in the air, searching for my bed. I felt like a blind person, I couldn't see anything. My window was shut and the curtains were all down. I took a few steps forward and my fingers hit something and it made a loud clanging noise. It was much too soon to be my bed. It hurt my hand; I pulled my fingers quickly to my mouth. My other hand touched the object that was in my way. It felt very smooth but very hard; almost like metal…My fingers froze in place. The object moved. It breathed. And it was coming closer.

My body couldn't do anything, it all immediately stiffened. I wanted to turn around and run but nothing seemed to move. My hand started shaking, and eventually my entire body began to. There was a person in my room, it was the only thing going on in my head.

I felt something then fiercely grab my arm and twisted it around my body. My whole body turned with the movement of it; I was now facing the door. It was painful; the person was holding my arm too hard. My arm did not want to twist any further back. I inhaled a quick, deep breath and screamed. Before I knew it there was something covering my mouth, it was cold and hard, like metal. Whoever this was, they were in armor. I didn't let up though, my screams roared into the armor. I could feel my tears run down my cheeks and pool up where the armor covered my mouth.

My bedroom door burst opened, and the guard was standing in the middle of the frame. The person holding my mouth shut used their free hand to quickly throw something at the guard. "Columba! What in…" The guard stopped; he gasped and fell to the floor.

My eyes widened, but the person yanked me backwards, towards the window.

I tired squirming and twisting through the hand lock that I was in, but the person was too tough, I felt like my movements were pointless. The armored man, I'm sure it wasn't a girl, started making his pulls much harder and much more painful. I tried running forward, but his other arm came and held my stomach. I was making it hard for him; he let out a grunt every time he moved me.

I tried kicking and everything – I was still screaming, but nothing seemed to work. Was I loud enough before when I screamed? Did Orion hear me?

Something bashed against my head, and I nearly fell over but whoever held me didn't let me fall. I felt the impact hit the left side of my head. I don't know what it was. My eyes closed together really tight. I felt something warm run down the side of my face and then down my neck. Then I was dropped on the floor, I was pretty sure I was still in my room. I screamed as the hands came off my mouth. My ear was to the floor and all I could hear were fast footsteps.

My thoughts started fading, I was losing conscious. My breathing was so rapid, I couldn't take it. My voice was tired of screaming; I started coughing. My head was throbbing; it felt like every vein in it was dilated. It was pain and anxiety that were taking over my mind. I tried to make my body craw me away from the stranger, but it wouldn't move. I don't know where he was. My eyes flashed up on a light, it looked like a fire. Everything that the fire let me see was blurry. The light came from a door, my door. There were people standing there…

Then I went under.