Chapter 3: The Tides Turn

Andrea POV

I was yet again woken up very early. I still wasn't used to the life of a fugitive, and to be honest, I might never get used to it. Vincent told us that we would have to cut through Cyera city for provisions, which Darren then explained meant food. I was then told it was necessary for me to wear a disguise to hide that I'm a princess. I was told to wait just outside the city with Fay while Darren and Vincent find a suitable disguise.

After ten minutes wait, they returned with a dark brown cloak. Knowing I didn't really have a say in the matter, I reluctantly put the cloak on. When I entered the city, every citizen paid me as much heed as they did anyone else, which was only if I bumped into them. I noticed that while people actually had buildings, things were just as bad here as they were in the last town. Although they were Quintel soldiers, they were just as ruthless. If anyone even looked at them in a strange way, they were punched in the face. If the soldiers wanted food from the merchants, they just took the food without giving even one piece of gold (I admit shopping is new to me, but I know you're supposed to give the people money when you take the food). Why are soldiers like these in the armies? I don't understand this.

We bought the provisions we needed, and we were about to leave, when I looked back. I had to do something for these people. I knew there was one way to get these soldiers out of the city. So, I removed the cloak.

Darren POV

"YOU FRIGGIN' IDIOT!" I yelled at the top of my lungs when the soldiers saw her.

I then grabbed Andrea's wrist as me and the others made a break for it. The soldiers looked like they were gonna chase us to the ends of the world. We managed to lose them in the forest. That gave us a chance to catch our breath, and for me to yell at Andrea.

"What in the world were you thinking?" I yelled.

"I knew the soldiers would come after us if they saw that I was the princess," Andrea said.

"Still not seeing your point," I said.

"Those citizens were suffering, and I knew that if they saw me, they would immediately leave the city, and the citizens would be left alone," she said.

"Oh," I said. "Well, I can respect that, but next time can you at least let us know you're gonna do that?" I said.

"Very well," Andrea said. "I apologize for not notifying you sooner."

"It's ok, no harm done," I said.

"Hey, lovebirds," Vince said. "If you're done talking, I think I found a Quintel soldier camp."

"What?" Fay said.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Considering it's surrounded by Quintel soldiers, I think it's safe to assume that," Vince said. "So, what do you guys want to do?"

"I'm for raiding it," Fay said.

"I am as well," Andrea said.

"Might as well, to make it a majority vote," I said.

"Alright then, Andrea you'll stay-"

"I'm sorry, I can't just sit by and do nothing, even if I don't know how to fight," Andrea said.

"Alright then. I'll distract the guards in the front, and have them leave the fort. You guys sneak in, but do not make your move until I get back," Vince said. "Do you understand?"

"Yes," the rest of us said.

"Alright, let's go," Vince said.

Vince got the guards distracted, and led them away from the fort. We easily managed to sneak into the camp, and found a safe place to hide. Vince arrived soon after, and he told Fay to shoot the snipers next. Fay is a great shot with her bow, and she easily managed to snipe all of them without alerting anyone. There were only a few guards nearby, and me and Vince easily finished them off. We found the soldiers' sleeping quarters, and were careful to keep our distance. There some guards near the apparent meeting area, and Andrea came up with an idea. She got the attention of the guards, had them walk up to her, and they were too distracted to notice me, so I brained both of them really hard. We then listened to hear if anyone was inside. We didn't hear anything, so we assumed it was safe to walk in. We were wrong.

Inside was the general of the platoon. He looked like a veteran warrior, and he looked like he'd cut all of us down without a second thought. I told Andrea and Fay to make a break for it while me and Vince bought them some time to escape. I told them that once they've gotten a healthy distance, we'd come back, even if we brought the general with them. They quickly complied, and Vince and me drew our weapons. Strangely, the general's weapon was a ball and chain, but he swung it with herculean strength. The best we could do is avoid getting our skulls crushed in the compact space. We knew we couldn't win like this, but we needed to buy as much time as we could. After five minutes of dodging certain death, we decided we bought enough time, and bailed. We could barely make out where Fay and Andrea were, and we knew that we could use Fay's help. It also helped that we had room to move, but we also knew this guy was a trained professional. We were taking a big risk here. This is for all the marbles.

Andrea POV

I didn't like leaving Darren and Vincent with that general, but I at least understood that it would be easier to fight in that cramped area with two people instead of three and one bystander. I truly hate not being able to help. But I don't have any idea how to defend myself, and I know I'd only get in the way. But I'll learn in due time, I know I will.

Fay and I had to run as fast as we could to get enough distance. Fay explained that we had a better chance in a wide open area, and it would also be prudent to be as far away from the camp as possible before Darren and Vincent had to run. Somehow, we managed to avoid drawing the attention of the soldiers. We ran into an open field, and then Fay spotted Darren and Vincent. The general wasn't that far behind them. Fay trained her bow, and got ready to fire her arrow. I didn't know how she was to make a shot that far away, let alone a shot that could change how this was going. She fired, and she managed to hit the general's wrist. The general dropped his weapon, and knelt over from the pain. But he quickly got back up, so Darren punched him in the face, and then Vincent... sliced his neck. It wasn't the first death I had seen, but it was the goriest. I nearly vomited. But I knew it was him or us, so I didn't say anything. Unfortunately, the soldiers had finally chased after us. We started to run, but all of us were starting to run out of breath. I almost collapsed with exhaustion when all of us were suddenly grabbed, and dragged into the bushes. I thought that was the end.

When I woke up, I noticed that I had been tied up, along with the others. Surprisingly, I was the only one who was conscious. We were surrounded by at least 50 men and women, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were more. Their leader, a man who I guess is about 25 (then again, he could be a really tall teenager for all I know), who wore a camouflage uniform. He was muscular and gruff, but I get this feeling he's a lot kinder than his outside appearance says. That didn't change the fact that he scares me.

"And just who do we have here?" the man asked in an intimidating tone.

"Uh," was all I could say from the fear.

"Well, are you gonna spit it out?" the man yelled.

The others then came around, and the situation kicked in.

"Who are you?" Darren asked.

"You're not exactly in the position to ask that," the leader pointed out.

"What do you want with us?" Vincent asked.

"We were wondering why those Quintel soldiers were after you. We only tied you up to be safe. But I demand answers now!"

"Well, you see-" Fay started to say.

"Those soldiers were after us because I'm Princess Andrea Veranea," I explained.

"Hahahaha, that is funny! Passing yourself off as the princess. She died during that explosion." the leader said.

"I am the princess," I said.

"How am I supposed to believe something like that? It's not like she's ever shown her mug to the public."

"But-"

"General Farrel!" a camouflaged soldier yelled. "Quintel soldiers are just outside. I managed to make out what they were saying. They're looking for Princess Veranea, who was here not too long ago."

Realizing that I was telling the truth, Captain Farrel had me and the others released. He then told us how he formed this small army to take on the three invading kingdoms. However, they used to have a lot more fighters. It turns out that they lost a lot of men in one battle, and morale was almost completely decimated by it. But seeing how the princess was still alive, and not to mention here to lead their army has apparently helped them regain their morale. But this sudden responsibility is too much too fast. However, I can't just say no to possibly the only way I'll ever get my kingdom back to normal.

"So, Princess, can I count on you to lead the army?" Captain Farrel asked.

"Yes, I will do what I can," I said.

Everyone decided to have a big feast to celebrate the occasion, but I wasn't very hungry. I left the banquet early and went outside to think. I have no idea how I'm going to lead this army to save the kingdom; I have a hard enough time keeping myself from being killed. I'm starting to question my decision. I'm scared I'll fail.

"Princess Veranea," a resistance soldier says.

"Yes?" I ask.

"The general would like to speak with you."

"Very well. Um, excuse me, why is there red on your uniform?"

"I accidentally spilled juice from a berry on my uniform."

"Fair enough."

I followed the soldier to where he was walking. I noticed that it wasn't the same path I had taken, but I figured there was more than one way to go back, so I didn't think about it. Part of the way, I heard a rustling in the bushes, but apparently the soldier didn't. My curiosity got the better of me, and I went over to where the rustling was occurring. What I saw was a small fox licking the face of a man with a wound through his heart... where the soldier claimed he spilled juice on his uniform. I managed to put two and two together in time to dodge an attack that would have taken my head off.

"You! You killed him and stole his uniform to pose as... someone else," I said, trying to keep the resistance secret.

"You think we don't know about that pitiful resistance?" the soldier said mockingly. "Those pathetic fighters attempted to ambush our camp before. We already know about them."

"How could you kill someone as if their life didn't matter?" I asked.

"Like this," the soldier said as he prepared to thrust his sword at me.

"Aaahh!"

I closed my eyes, but then heard the sound of someone getting punched in the face.

"Andrea, what were you thinking? I don't want to hear that he deceived you, you need to be more careful!" Darren shouted.

"I-I'm sorry."

"Sorry for yelling, I was just worried," Darren said. "Come on; let's get back to the base."

"Wait, there's a dead resistance soldier. I-I want to give him a proper burial."

"Ok, I'll carry him back to the base, and we'll have the burial there, alright?"

"Very well."

It was a very solemn burial, since he was one of the founding members. I don't like this at all. Lots of people are going to needlessly lose their lives in this ensuing war, which is a fact that I hate, but have acknowledged. I don't want to see my friends die in this war... especially Darren. I don't know what I would do if I lost them. When the funeral was over, I ran to my room. Darren asked if he could come in, and said it was fine.

"Andrea, to you want to talk about something?"

"Yes. How am I going to do this when I can't even fight? I just don't know if I could handle knowing everyone's lives are in my hands."

"Andrea, it's not like you're facing this alone. Me and my sibling are with you one hundred percent of the way."

"I know, but I don't think I could handle being responsible for your deaths due to my lack of experience."

"Andrea, this is a fight for your kingdom. This is no time to doubt yourself. If you do doubt yourself, you will make a mistake you regret. But if you proceed without any doubt, I know that you will lead this resistance to victory and allow us to regain the kingdom."

"You really think so?"

"I know so."

"Thanks, Darren. I needed that."

"Don't mention it."

Darren's words did help, but I'm still nervous. This is the fight for the kingdom. I'll need help along the way, and fortunately, I'll have it. One way or another, I will lead this army to victory, and save Veranea.