Princess Ardelia Zaphyr, was sitting in the Royal Garden. Sephrium, a deadly disease, had been spread through the city. Queen Zephyr had already passed because of it, now her father had contracted it. But many of the Elvin people were immune to the disease, Ardelia among them.

"Ardelia."

She jumped and looked up. Standing in front of her was Anessen Irian. His long silver hair reached past his shoulders and brought out his fair skin and blue eyes. His white shirt with the green leaf design looked like it had just been cleaned. His pants were tucked into his boots with the utmost care. His sword with the gold hilt hung at his side and the earring the Knights of Siofra wore was hanging from his left ear.

"Oh, Sir Irian, it's just you," Ardelia said, looking away. She wiped her eyes of her tears, trying to hide her soft side.

Anessen kneeled in front of Ardelia and placed his hands on her cheeks, making her face him. He wiped away the tears that were running down her rose colored cheeks.

"You shouldn't cry, Ardelia," Anessen said, running a hand through her red hair, gently playing with the braids. "I can't stand seeing you cry. . . You know that."

Ardelia looked to her hands, fiddling with the ring on her left ring-finger. She then looked back up to meet a bright smile from Anessen.

"I don't know what to do, Sir Irian," she said, the tears still falling.

Anessen gave a small smile and wiped her tears again. He took her hand in his and looked at the ring on her hand.

"Didn't I tell you to stop calling me that?" he said. "After all," Anessen looked back at her with a smile, "we are betrothed, are we not? People might get the wrong idea if you keep calling me 'Sir Irian'."

Ardelia smiled. "You're right... Guess it's just an old habit."

Anessen kissed Ardelia's hands and smiled. He then sat down next to her, wrapping an arm around her waist.

Ardelia was reluctant at first, but she soon rested her head on his shoulder.

The water from the fountain filled the silence with trickling, birds fluttered about from tree to tree, a slight breeze filled the air with the smell of flowers inside the garden.

"Anessen," Ardelia said, pushing herself away from him, "I heard from Father you were going off to war soon... Is that true?"

Anessen looked at his soon-to-be-wife and gave a sad smile. "It is true. . . The war had gotten out of hand and the General requested reinforcement. They need my help."

Normally, a the fiancée of a man going off to war would tell him not to go. But Ardelia was different; she didn't care whether he left, she would be grateful if he did. Her engagement to Anessen was forced by her father, she really had no choice in the matter. Sure, she loved him, but it was more of feelings she would feel toward a brother.

She and Anessen had been together since her birth. At the time he was eleven and was the young apprentice of Sir Nezcher-the Royal Bodyguard of the Queen.

Over the years, Anessen acted like an older brother to Ardelia. He had always been there for her, especially when her mother died when Ardelia was twelve.

When Ardelia reached the age of nineteen, the King proclaimed that Anessen was to marry her.

Anessen having fallen for the girl years ago, wasn't against the decision. But Ardelia was. Since her father was King, she couldn't object. It was what he wanted, and what was good for the Kingdom. And if her father were to die, then the Kingdom of Siofra would need a new King. And Anessen was the best candidate.

Anessen gripped Ardelia's hand and kissed the ring on her finger. "But," he said, smiling, "I promise I shall return." He touched his forehead to hers, still making eye contact. "Even if I'm gone, I will stay with you. Always."

Ardelia gave a smile as Anessen kissed her forehead. Never once had he actually kissed her, but she wasn't complaining, not much anyway.

"Princess?"

Anessen and Ardelia were startled, but when they looked up they saw Rosa-the house maid.

"Rosa," Ardelia said, standing, "what are you doing here?"

Rosa played with her hands and had a slight blush on her cheeks. "Sorry for disturbing you, Your Majesty. But it's time for your dress fitting."

Ardelia nodded and smiled. "I'll be there in a moment."

The young house maid curtsied and exited, actually, more like ran away because of the sight she witnessed.

Anessen stood to his feet and held Ardelia's hand, making her eyes meet his once again. "I suppose our time together is over. . ."

Ardelia smiled caringly. "It seems that way, doesn't it?"

Anessen wrapped his arms around Ardelia, surprising her with his strength. She soon returned his embrace, reluctantly. His grip tightened around her and he buried his face in the crock of her neck. It was as if this was the last time he would ever hug her, hold her, feel her.

The two soon pulled away and looked at each other. Anessen caressed her cheek and began leaning in. Ardelia looked down before his lips touched her's and instead his lips touched her nose.

Ardelia released herself from his hold and smiled at him. "I must be going." She turned and left.

Anessen put his hands on his hips and sighed with disappointment. The one time he got the courage to kiss his fiancée, he misses. Or, he thought he did.

"Anessen," a gentle voice called. He looked up to see his future wife, standing on the palace steps. A hand gently rested against the marble pillar and her green dress was partially hidden behind it. She looked over her shoulder to him, her blue eyes shining and her hair falling down gracefully to the center of her back. She was beautiful to him.

If this was the last moment he was able to see her, then it was perfect.

"Please come back safely," she said, giving one of her most caring smiles.

Anessen bowed his head with a smile. "I will."

Ardelia gave her final smile and walked down the hall. But it didn't last long. She soon stopped and gave a sigh with a slight roll of her eyes.

"Glad that's over," she muttered, completely dropped her mask.

She had been doing the same 'girl-in-love' facade for months. It was driving her insane; she couldn't stand it any longer. That was enough. She had to get away from this Princess stuff, for good. And tonight was as good as any to escape.

Ardelia ran down the hall, back to her room for her dress fitting. No one knew what she was planning. She hoped.

That night, Ardelia put up her hood and sprinted through the garden toward the wall. She hid from guards in the bushes and waited until they were gone. She didn't have to worry about Anessen looking around, because that same day he had gone to the front with many of the others.

Ardelia peeked out from the bush and saw the coast was clear. She continued toward the wall again. Without her dress, she was free to move around as she pleased. She wore brown pants with a black shirt and brown boots reaching to her knees. The black cloak covered her pack for supplies and hide her in the darkness, making her invisible to the guards.

Ardelia jumped and was able to reach the top of the five foot wall. She landed lightly on her feet with a tap. She looked over her shoulder and saw the guards paid no attention to her. Ardelia grinned and vaulted over. She was free.

Ardelia dusted herself off and began making her way out of town on foot.