I don't know how long I was passed out for; it may have been hours. There was a loud clanging noise that woke me. I noticed that I was no longer on a horse; there was a blanket underneath me and one on top of me. My head was propped up on a pillow, and I was especially warm. I opened my eyes a little, and I could smell smoke. I turned my head over on the other side and there was a fire that was about dead.
I sat up and looked around. We were surrounded by a great forest. Philip and Ryerson were standing away by the horses, it looked like Ryerson was yelling at Philip hence Philip had his head down. There were shields lying down next to Ryerson and Philip, someone must have thrown one down on the others and that's what made the loud noise.
On the other side of the fire were more blankets and pillows, most of them were filled with people.
Judging by the dim, orange color of the sky it was morning. The grass around me was a little damp and the air was crisp.
I tried to fall back asleep but I couldn't.
I sat up on my elbows, however I quickly fell back down on my back. My elbows were still scraped up and they hurt like none other. The pain in my leg was coming back, or at least I was starting to notice it again.
I lifted up the blanket to look at my leg, it was wrapped up in bandages. The pain in it started to come in waves, I squished my eyes tight every time it came. I laid there for a couple minutes trying so hard to fall back asleep. But it seemed impossible.
Someone was walking this way towards me, I could hear them. I opened my eyes when they got close, it was Philip.
"Hey there, sleeping beauty." He said with a smile on his face, but there was a lot of pain behind it. He had a bandage over his cheek, however, he was all washed up and the blood from before was gone.
Ryerson then came up from behind him, "How are you feeling?" he asked me.
"I've felt better." I said. I sat up again, ignoring the pain coming from my elbows.
Ryerson took a deep breath, "Columba, I'm so, just so terribly sorry. I wish that there was more that we could do for you, we should have made it back to Kaladia but Orion insisted that we let you lay down." Hearing Orion name made me instantly look around for me, but I didn't witness him anywhere.
I looked back at Ryerson and Philip, "It's fine really, and we didn't have to stop for me. You should have kept on going." I smiled weakly.
"Well you see, Richard and Orion both were taught well in the medical region. Richard is out in the woods gathering special herbs for your leg…" Philip was saying.
"This is ridiculous, you don't have to do this now." I said and almost laughed. Everyone who was around the dead fire now was up and packing. "We can leave." I insisted.
"That's what I've been trying to tell them." Philip muttered, he sounded relieved now that someone had agreed with whatever he had said previously. "You and I would get much better taken care of at the Coercion Fortress than here. But we had to stop and rest." He said the last part to Ryerson in a mimicking voice.
Ryerson laughed and hit Philip in the arm. Philip yelled, "Ouch! That is my bad arm." He said holding his arm. "How 'bout I punch you in your arm?" He asked pretending to hit Ryerson.
Mos came walking up to Ryerson. "Everything is ready to go, we'll leave on your command." Mos looked really sad.
Ryerson became serious instantly, "Good work men," he said looking at the others. "We are just waiting on Richard now."
Where was Orion though? I asked myself. I rolled out of the blankets slowly, trying not to put any pressure on my leg. I got up to my knees, Ryerson came back over, "Do you need any help?" He asked putting his arms out for me to take in case I fall.
"No, I can do this." I said, slowing getting up. The pain in my leg was not excruciating now, but it will be soon I assumed.
"Alright, if you say so…" He said, not believing me. He turned around and looked in the direction of the forest. He put his fingers up to his mouth and whistled. It was really deafening, hurting my ears.
Now that I was up, and could see better, I saw someone sitting on a rock by themselves over by the horses. I walked over there, I'm pretty sure I knew who it was too. It took me forever to get there with my leg but I made it eventually.
He had his feet on a rock that was a little lower than the rock that he was on. His hood was down so I knew for sure who he was. He had both of his hands on his forehead and he was looking down at the ground. I don't know if I should say anything. I was about to open my mouth but someone else spoke.
"Let's get going!" I heard Ryerson yell.
Orion didn't get up right away; everyone was walking to the horses. I felt foolish standing there so I turned around and walked over to the horses like everyone else. I limped a little but I got over it. I walked to Fiero.
Everyone was mounting their horses, but I was still waiting for Orion. I looked back to where he was sitting on the rocks but he had vanished. I didn't know where he went; I wasn't going to wait for him though. I put my left foot, my good leg, into the foot holder on the horses left side. I tried to lift my right leg over the horse, but when I lifted it too high the pain would come rushing in. I tried to get my leg over one more time, it didn't work. With my right leg coming down I lost my balance and just about fell backwards. However, Orion gently caught me with his arms and lifted me back up onto the horse, then he got on.
He didn't say anything, he didn't even look at me. I don't know why everyone is so depressed right now, they accomplished their task. We did lose one man, but I don't think that it was this heart breaking. But they are all 'brothers', I wonder what they did with his body. They couldn't leave him in the streets..
We all left the campsite, heading off for Kaladia. I hung on to Orion's shoulders and let the scenery take me in. The sun was growing higher and brighter in the sky. The noise of the horse was too loud to hear anything, the only thing I could hear was the horses' breathing and every time its hoofs impacted the ground.
Ryerson came riding up close enough and he started to shout to Orion, I didn't care what they were talking about. I put my head against Orion's back, I could feel his words going through his body as he talked to Ryerson.
When they finished talking and Ryerson went back to where he usually rids, I was going to talk to Orion. "Where are we?" I asked loudly over the horse.
"Just outside of Sitar." He answered. He sounded so emotionless, his voice wasn't as cool and calm as it usually is. I was getting sick of it.
"What's wrong?" I asked, maybe I'll get something out of him.
"Nothing." He said with coldness in his voice.
I guess I won't bother then. I looked to my right and Philip was riding close by. I waited until he looked over in this direction. I wanted to get his attention without Orion noticing, if that was possible. Philip tells me everything.
After about five minutes that seemed to take forever he looked over at us, I was waving hand signs at him to get his attention, when he understood I put my finger to my mouth to tell him not to talk. He nodded his head and paid attention. I then pointed to Orion's back, still looking at Philip and mouthed the words, "what's wrong with him?" And I shrugged my shoulders.
Philip squinted his eyes at me for about 10 seconds…it wasn't getting to him. He then mouthed the word, "what?"
I closed my eyes and shook my head and waved my hand at him, telling him to just forget about it. He then looked forward and continued riding.
We were coming up to some woods, I recognized where we were, we weren't far from Kaladia. It was probably about 5 minutes away. We all rode in silence just like before, it's hard to talk to one another when you're all riding really close.
We finally made it to the gates of town. We slowed down and walked the horses in until we made it through the main part of town. The Coercion Fortress still looked beautiful as it always did. We made it up to the gates of the fortress, and the guards let us in without us having to speak to them.
When the gates were opened and we entered Orion let out a huge breath. Some guards came up to us to take our horses. Someone helped me get down, I don't even know who it was. But we all walked to the front doors and entered.
Richard walked over to my side, "Here." He gave me a small bag. What's inside it I wondered – I opened the bag and there were some sort of plants grounded together.
"It's for your leg." He answered my unspoken question.
I closed the bag and kept on walking.
The guards that came with us, however, did not come inside with us. It was only Ryerson, Philip, Orion, Richard and I. None of them stopped when we entered, they all walked up the stairs so I followed them.
They walked straight into the huge meeting room, my father was sitting at the high desk and Marcus was there with him, they both looked at us when we walked in.
"What happened?" My father asked, he was asking me. He noticed my blood stained dress. "What's the meaning of this?" He sounded angry and slammed his fist down on the desk.
I was about to yell something at him but I couldn't find the words. He was upset because I am wounded.
Orion spoke up, he looked up at my father, "There was some trouble, and I have failed you."
"Damn precise you did, Orion!" My father shouted, Orion didn't move, he stood still and calm like a rock against the wind. "And you're supposed to be my best…" My father mouthed, he was making me mad.
"Father what is your problem?" I asked, and all at once they all looked back at me, including Orion. It was making my talking unclear, "It's not his fault I'm hurt, it's my own."
"Columba, you know very well not to speak out against me." He said, not as angry as he did to Orion. He then looked back at Orion with dishonoring eyes.
"Father, it's your fault." I accused, not wanting him to yell at Orion again. "If you would have just taken me back with you when we were in Sitar everything would be fine. What kind of father leaves his own daughter with assassins?" I turned around not wanting to look at him, what I said probably hurt him more than it hurt me. I never talked that way to my father and I instantly wished I hadn't spoken, but it was too late.
It was silent, my father sounded like he was about to say something but he closed his mouth. My heart suddenly filled with remorse.
I then walked out of the big room, limping, on my way to my room. It was all the way down the hall. When I came to my door I opened it and slammed it behind me. I went to the bed and let myself fall down on it. I laid there for about a minute with my face in the sheets. I turned over and laid on my back after it was getting hard to breathe.
I quickly got off the bed remembering that my clothes were filthy. I wiped my face with my hands, I was crying a little bit.
I threw the bag of medicines from Richard on the floor in the corner of the room not really caring about them.
I went over to my bags that still weren't unpacked, to get my mind off of all this I decided to unpack everything and put it in my drawers
It took me about five minutes to get everything straightened up. I was kneeling on the ground getting the final item of clothing out of the bag and I felt something rub up against my leg, I looked back and it was Ginger. I dropped whatever I was holding and turned around and picked him up.
"I missed you so much." I whispered and rubbed our noses together. I stood up and walked over and sat on the bed and he was sitting in my lap. I petted him for awhile until he was no longer interested in being petted. He jumped off my lap and onto the floor. I stayed there on the bed, I didn't know what to do now. I definitely did not want to go back out there where they were probably all arguing.
I jumped off my bed once again, forgetting I had these clothes on.
I felt obscene in these dirty clothes. The cloth that Orion wrapped around my ankle was still on, so I tore it off. I carefully took off the cloth that was around my thigh. I went in the other room and washed up and got dressed in a plain gown. I just left the ripped up dress on the floor.
I'm surprised no one has come here trying to get me out and see what's wrong. My father probably just said that she needs some time alone or something along those lines.
I went to rest a little on my bed, I laid there with my arms on my stomach – just staring up at the ceiling not really thinking about anything.
It was late in the day now and I didn't know what to do. I decided that it's time to gather up some courage and go out there and see what's going on. I got up and went out into the hallway; no one was in the hall. I strolled to the meeting room but everyone had left. I departed down the stairs and some men are standing and talking at the bottom. I staggered past them and went into the study. I could positively hear my father's voice once I entered, so I followed it.
On the other side of a bookcase, he was speaking with two others. He had his back facing me. When the other two saw me they cleared their throats and that made my father turn around. I looked up at him, trying to find the words.
"Father, I'm incredibly sorry. I didn't mean…"
He gradually held up his hand "My dear loveliness, I am the one who should be sorry. You were right, I had no right to leave you out there. I was foolish too, the idea that our plan was getting put into action blurred my conscience and I positioned you in danger. You must forgive me." He said, his eyes were full of concern.
"But father I…"
"I will not have you apologize, you have done nothing wrong. You have spoken the truth." He smiled and took my chin in his hand and said, "You and your mother are the most heavenly things my eyes have ever glazed upon. Most men I meet ask for your hand and always remind me how beautiful you are."
I smiled. "Thank you, father." I bowed. The others were still standing behind him, they were probably waiting so I suggested that I had something else to do and I left him.
I walked into the front main corridor and went out to the back courtyard. My leg didn't hurt so much anymore but I'm sure there would be a scar there for the rest of my life.
There was no one in the little arena set up, but there was someone sitting on the benches in a strange way. His arms were crossed over his chest. He wasn't sitting up and his legs were stretched out far. Orion by himself, again.
I walked over to him, there were many questions that I wanted to ask him, instead I said nothing at the moment. When I came closer he sat up straight and got off the bench. He looked down at the pool of water and stood there motionless.
"Are you…alright?" I asked him, "Why are you so downhearted?"
He didn't say anything for a while but he finally looked up at me, "I couldn't keep you out of harms way." His eyes were firm as usual. Whenever he looked at me my heart jumped, his glaze was so charming even if he was upset.
He continued talking, "It was a small favor from your father and I could not fulfill it. I was not prompt and couldn't make it back in time. I should be stripped from everything I retain."
This compelled me to ponder, "Are you more dismayed that you couldn't protect me or that you couldn't keep your word with my father? Which one?" I asked, with some humor in my voice. I desired to make him feel better.
But he didn't take long to reply. I was hoping that he was going to think for a while, and he spoke, "I never had any solicitude of harming you or letting others harm you. You are what is most important to your father and your father is the most important to me."
"…In other words?" I was a little bewildered in what he said.
"A little of both."
"But you must understand, I brought harm upon myself." I chuckled slightly.
"Because I wasn't there when I should have been. You would have never had to go off on your own." He said seriously.
I didn't find any further point in arguing with him anymore or trying to cheer him up, it would get me nowhere. I wanted to change the subject so he doesn't have to think about it anymore.
"What happens when we defeat Kyrare?" I asked.
"Getting ahead of ourselves aren't we?" There was a smile in his voice but not on his face. "Your father will befall to be the equitable leader over all of Ciyra."
My eyes widened, "What! You mean my father will become…king?" I was stunned, my father becoming king? Living in the castle? Having knights and soldiers? The Coercion looks like a refuse heap compared to the Ciyra royal castle.
He nodded. "That's right."
I didn't know what else to say to that, I was still shocked. It seemed impossible though, us beating Kyrare's whole army. It's resembling one going up against 1000.
"How are you going to defeat him?" I asked, maybe Orion and the others knew what they were already going to do in the future but I was curious.
"We have allies, in a different land. We are greatly outnumbered for the time being." He said, with a serene look in his eyes. "Our allies want to get the Slavia's out of there just like us, we befriended them a while ago."
"Truly? That's valuable that we'll have help." I was relieved.
"They are actually coming tomorrow with a few of their men." He said. "We're going to plan the date of the assassination." He paused for a minute and then spoke again, "Marcus and Richard both are going to Gret tonight and taking out the leader, they'll be returning home the next day."
I didn't say anything for a moment, I took everything he said in, and then I spoke, "So this is really going to happen? There's going to be a civil war and a war on the outside?" It was a little confusing but I think I finally comprehended everything. The first thing I thought of was of all the people that were going to be killed, and that Orion was going to accomplish a lot of the killing for us.
"Something alongside that, hopefully evading a war all together." He spoke and continued, "I certainly shouldn't be speaking to you about this, however I always seem to be revealing everything to you." A small grin came over his face and he was still gazing into my eyes. "I don't know why I do."
What he said made me slightly blush so I shyly turned my face away from him. I always thought he was good looking and that I don't even compare to what he is, but now it's hard not to look at him without wanting to faint. I don't know what it is about him, maybe it's how protective he is and how he's loyal. It could be his aqua, green-blue eyes, or how strong and bold he is. It's probably all those combined.
He started walking towards me, my heart started to pound in my chest. He stopped a few feet away from me and spoke, "I'm going to assassinate the man in charge of Kaladia tonight." He said it quietly and calm. "Just me, alone."
My heart dropped, not in the good way but the bad way. He wasn't going to get any help. "What?" I tried to ask, quietly.
"Don't worry yourself. Approaching him at this point would be the most adroit thing to do, he won't even be awake." He said. "No pain will be felt."
Another question came to mind then so I asked, "Why couldn't you have taken out the other leaders in their sleep? Why do it during the day when everyone can see instead of doing it at night when you can get away without anyone noticing?"
"In Sitar we had no choice; he had to be taken care of then. In Twion, Hector was going to be leaving shortly after the ceremony. It is better that everyone knows right away instead of finding out the following day. It gets our point across."
"What point?" I asked.
"That the Slavia family is foolish. They'll know that we'll go to all ends to stop their tyranny, even if it means getting killed." He said.
We stood there for a moment, I looked up at him and he still had his eyes locked on me, I looked back down at the ground "I just don't want any more dying." I said in a whisper. "When will you be going?" I asked
"Later tonight." He replied. He took his eyes off of me and looked at something behind me then. I turned around and out of the fortress came a man wearing armor. When he stepped into the sunlight, it was extremely bright and shiny.
"Sire Jraun requests and audience with you Orion." He said in an elegant voice. "He's waiting in the study."
Orion took in a deep breath and let it out. "Alright." He said. He went and walked past me and into the fortress.
"Do you need me to accompany you, Miss Antalynn?" The guard asked me.
"No, I'm fine." I haven't been called by my last name in a while, surprised to hear it for the first time in how long.
"As you wish." He said and went back inside.
I sat outside by myself for the time being. The sun was starting to set in the sky. The clouds were all different colors from pink and orange all the way to blue and purple. A flock of birds were flying in the distance and their singing could be heard from here. Grasshoppers were making music all around. It was so peaceful, but the other kinds of bugs that bite you were starting to come out. So I went back inside.
As I closed the door behind me, walking out of the study was Ryerson and then Philip. They didn't notice me. Philip had an angry look on his face and Ryerson looked like he just got done laughing. They walked straight into the mess hall. I ran after them.
"Hey, Philip." I yelled. He came walking backwards out of the mess hall he then finally turned around.
"Columba!" He said, he sounded excited. But then he got serious right away. The bandage was still on his cheek.
"What are you doing?" I asked him
"We're getting supper." He said and looked at Ryerson and back at me, "You want to join us?"
"Yeah, I'm starving." I answered.
I followed them into the mess hall, there were a lot others already eating. We walked to the nearest table coming in. Ryerson pulled out a chair for me to sit in, I smiled and he nodded, then I sat down.
We talked for a while and ate when our food was brought out. After we were done eating Philip and Ryerson got up and said that they had things to do and left me. I sat there alone at the table for a while, I had to find something to do otherwise I was going to get bored.
I got up after about five minutes and walked out of the mess hall, and went straight across into the study where my father last was. I walked to where he was previously but he wasn't there anymore. I looked out the window and the sun was set and the last light from it remained in the clouds. I walked out of the room and back into the hall, where could he be?
I walked up the stairs and went to the meeting room, no one was in here. I turned around and went back down the stairs. A group of guys were coming in from the back courtyard but not one of them my father.
I walked out the front doors into the front courtyard and headed for the stables. Men were walking around all over out here, some talking to others and some were just walking around.
I opened the stable doors, and there were a lot of men in here too. They were all talking and it was so loud. I walked in and kept on walking all the way down the stalls. I could hear my father's voice so I followed it. He did have a loud voice.
I finally found him way in the back with some other men, when he saw me approach he smiled.
"Father, is there anything I could do now?" I asked. "Could I find a friend that could visit? I haven't talked to any of my friends in such a long time."
"Columba, I'm afraid tonight wouldn't be the best time to be away from the fortress, or have others in." He said, "But you should go up to your room, I just bought you a present, go try it on. Tomorrow we will be having a masquerade; it is to celebrate our alliance with our neighboring country." He spoke and continued, "There will be numbers of people, I want you to look your best, but that won't be too hard for you."
He came over and kissed my forehead, "Go now, I have a lot to discuss with the others." He turned his back to me, "Now where was I?" He asked them.
I scrunched my face and turned around, it was going to be a boring night. I might as well go to my room and see what he got.
"Wait Columba," my father called from behind me.
I turned around, "What is it?" I asked
"You do not need to be walking outside now, go through this door." He pointed to a door behind him that probably led inside the fortress. "It will save you the trip."
One of the men who my father was talking to opened the door for me, so I went in it. It led to the entrance hall of the fortress next to the door that led to the back courtyard. It was beneficial I guess. He shut the door when I got inside.
I went straight up the stairs and headed for my room. Every time I look down the hallway it always seems like it's getting longer and longer and my room never gets closer.
Someone was going around lighting all the candles, they finished one side of the hallway and now they were moving to the other side. I walked by him and went into my room. The candles were lit in here already and my window was still open. There was no trace of the sun left, just darkness outside.
On my bed there was a huge, fancy, light pink dress. Next to it there were pink silk gloves, to match the dress that went up to your elbows. Above the dress was a mask that would only cover my eyes, it had a pink color too but it also had diamonds around it. There were some black lines making a design on the face.
It all was very beautiful I had to admit. I picked up the dress and held it to my body. I wanted so badly just to throw it on the ground and stomp on it because I don't think I deserved it, but I went and put it over the chair in the corner. I got the other things off my bed and put them on my dresser, I didn't want to try anything on right now. I was getting tired.
I went into the other room and changed out of my clothes and put on a nightgown. Ginger was in here, just as his water and food were, and he was of course eating. His bathroom was just a little box filled with sand that was sitting in the corner.
I blew the candles out in the washroom after I was done in there. I went back into the other room and started blowing out the candles as well.
The moon was not out tonight, so it was pitch black. Before I blew out the last candle I went to my window to shut it halfway, there was a cold breeze coming in. I pulled the curtains over it. I went back over to my bed and tucked myself in, I got back up to blow out the candle.
I sat there for a while with my eyes open. Ginger jumped up on the bed and started purring up against my hands, I picked him up and laid him on my stomach and started petting him. It was quite early for me to be going to bed but I was exhausted. I then moved the cat onto one side of the bed and I rolled over to my side facing the window. I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
A/N: Please let me know what you think :)