The princess looked on at the battle below her, her eyes stinging in rage and confusion. The dust had drifted through the air into her nose, making her sneeze. Her eyes were misty; she had been weeping. Now, she simply stood strong, gazing at the battle below her, as though it were not really happening and it was all just a horrible nightmare.

The land all around her was completely devastated, all wasted. There were houses burning from the wake of the rebel's path; death and decay spreading like wildfire, as though it were a plague upon the nation of Caere. It was a plague, really. War spreads like a disease, intoxicating all those who encounter it with either bloodlust or fear. She straightened herself up, closing her eyes and imagining what it once looked like. The rolling hills gently sweeping the countryside, quaint villages dotting the landscape. She could smell the forest to her left; the scent of sweet pine mingled with the metallic and nauseating scent of fresh blood. She tasted defeat, it was bitter and left a foul taste in her mouth. She could do nothing, only look on in hopelessness.

The men fought with all their might, but the rebels were strong and many. Too many. She sighed bitterly, her mind almost in a trance state. She almost feared what would happen is those rebels won, but not quite. She detested fear in herself, and refused to think about it. She ignored the feeling, and knelt to touch the grass. It was cool and soft, and smelled fresh. It was like the old days, when things were not tense and war filled, but beautiful and happy. Her white dress flowed in the wind, and her long golden hair shone and shimmered like the sun. She closed her eyes and looked up, enjoying her last few and crucial moments of freedom. For if the rebels won, she would be nothing more than another grave, another senseless death among the thousands that already lay dead. She would have two choices: Die or run, and she would never run. She stood, shifting her gaze from the grass to the field below. Her deep blue eyes drifted, watching that field, searching for any familiar face.

A snow white horse stood behind her, grazing, not knowing anything was wrong. How could he? She turned to lay a hand upon him. The proud woman stroked his back, feeling the coarse hair between her fingers, letting one single tear fall from her face. She inhaled deeply, smelling him. She realized what she was doing, the touching of the grass, the inhaling of the scents and scenes around her; she was making a memory. A memory of things that she often overlooked.

The princess' dress billowed as the wind picked up speed, as if it were begging the battle to end. Her eyes searched for the familiar knights, but she couldn't tell who or what anyone was anymore, she was too far away. She turned and looked at the castle, and frowned. Several horses were approaching her at top speed. Recognizing the royal symbol, she hitched up her skirts and headed toward them, wondering what news they brought. The horses hooves thundered against the ground as they approached her, dust flying around them as if they were flying on a cloud. They reached her side, and stopped. The horses snorted and stomped their hooves, and dust swirled and gathered at her feet, dirtying her skirt. She watched as a tall man stepped out of the ornate carriage, dressed in the finest purple velvet. Gold medals hung from his neck, and his robes were edged in silver. He shrugged these ornate robes off, servants rushing forward to take it from him. Underneath, the royal armor that he wore beneath that fine cloak was revealed. She rushed to him, and embraced the man. She rested her head on his shoulder, and wept once more.

"Father," she whispered. He held her, and stoked her shiny hair. He held her at arms length, and looked at his daughter. She was beautiful, like her mother had been.

"I am joining the fight." He stated simply. She could only nod. She knew he would, he had to fight with his people and his knights. He called for a horse, and a short page brought one forth. He mounted, and sped towards the battle, without looking back.

"Father!" She screamed. "No! Daddy, no!" She screamed as she fell to her knees. "No…" She could only watch as she listened to the shouts and screams of the innocents that were dying at the hands of the so-called rebels. She covered her ears, not wanting to hear the torture. She watched her father slay rebel after rebel, without remorse. Who could have any for them? Her eyes flickered and watched with a certain intensity, waiting for the outcome, who would give first.

The princess' eyes widened as her father was attacked by a particularly strong rebel. He was taken by surprise, but fought back with a rage she did not know he had within him. She scrambled upwards, and tripped. She hit the ground on her stomach, and pushing herself up with her hands she watched her father struggle as the two men's swords clashed together. She reached back, felt in the folds of her skirt and found her one small dagger. The two men were engaged in fierce combat, she assumed the man her father fought was the leader of the rebels. He was holding the king at bay, but only barely. The man moved desperately, trying to avoid the kings humming blade. Their swords clanged together, and they circled one another and watched each other with a hatred burning in their hearts.

She stood up to move closer, and tripped over her dress again and tumbled down the hill. She stood, feeling rather stupid and awkward and brushed herself off. She edged nearer, trying to stay out of sight. She had to help her father, for he was certainly weakening. Her dagger was now poised, and she made her way towards the two men. She hid behind the ashy remains of burned houses, the black soot leaving a grimy residue on her hands. She edged from home to home, ignoring as best she could the bloody bodies in the cobblestone streets. Blood ran freely down the rivets in the ground and she tried not to vomit as she moved closer and closer to her father.

The leader tripped her father and raised his sword to kill him. She gasped in horror, and lunged towards them. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. The mans back was to her, opening him up to her knife. She lunged, and embedded her dagger neatly into the his back, causing him to drop in agony. He would soon die, there was nothing to be done for him, and nothing would be done for him. He would die alone. She shakily helped her father up, and he quickly embraced her and told her to run back up to the top of the hill to safety. She could sense his anger at her, and also his relief to be alive. She nodded, and he left her alone, assuming she would follow his instructions. Of course, she didn't.

She stood alone in the midst of a battle for her kingdom. She reached up, and touched the diamond encrusted tiara atop her head. She took it of and threw it aside, hoping no one noticed that she was the princess. Her dagger was gone, she was weaponless. She was not scared, but she was concerned. She ran to a smoking building and huddled, the stench of death invading her nose and making her ill. Her eyes skimmed the war, wondering if it would ever end. Amidst the fighting and anguish, her eyes focused on a young rebel not to far from where she knelt, fighting for his cause. He had such stamina. His brow was beaded with sweat, his dark hair clinging to his head in clumps. His eyes were forest green, deep and penetrating. He was fighting her favorite knight, Sir Glendal. She was unsure of him, Sir Glendal was most certainly better trained, yet this boy seemed to be getting the best of him. She groped at the ground, looking for some sort of weapon to help Glendal. She found none. She would have to use her body as a shield. After all, she was indeed useless, she was not fighting. Sir Glendal was needed.

She dashed from her hiding place, and ran towards Glendal and the boy. She yanked the boy by his hair, just as he was about to deliver a blow to Glendal. He tumbled to the ground with a startled cry, and she used his down time to position herself in front of Glendal. The boy scrambled to his feet, clutching his head and glaring at her. She reached behind her, and grabbed Glendal's sword from his hand. Glendal was speechless and frozen in surprise, not quite knowing what to do, and she was able to snatch his sword quite easily. The princess was very commanding, so he had no choice but to let her proceed. She held the sword out, pointing its deathly tip at the boy. She was not stupid, she had been trained in the art of sword fighting since she was four. The boy gazed at her in wide eyed wonder. He held his sword, and prepared to fight. She stepped forward, and lunged, her blade crashing against his. She moved towards him, forcing him back. Her eyes burned with a fire that excited the boy. She was a real challenge, and not one of the many puny knights he had fought. She tapped her blade to his, and her dance with death began.

Her blade sang, and all of her senses were heightened. Her nose smelled the wind, the dust, and the blood. Her ears heard the screams, the pleas for help, and the dying groans of men. Her eyes saw the devastation that was forced upon her land. The trees burnt, homes ransacked and left for thieves. Her tongue tasted the dust, the dirt in the air, and the salty sweat that dripped into her mouth. She felt the blade in her hand, and the sweat sliding down her arms. Her heart felt the sorrow, and the love of her people. She glared at the boy, and his eyes penetrated into hers. They were intriguing, and they distracted her. All of this anger, sorrow, pain and anguish poured from her soul and into her blade, fighting with such viciousness he was rather afraid she would take him down easily. However, she didn't realize that they were nearly to the forest. She glanced behind her, and in that split second, the boy knocked her blade from her hands. She looked at him in fury, and looked at the blade which lay too far away for her to grab. She slowly held her hands up in surrender. Her eyes widened as she realized that she was in front of the forest. The tree line was just behind her. She could smell the woodsy scent of it.

The boy stared her down, and watched as her eyes widened. Fear, he supposed. He slowly blinked. She bolted, and she was gone. He saw her in the forest. He had no intention of losing her, nor of killing her, so he dashed in after her.

The trees snagged at her dress, and scratched her skin. Her heart pounded as she ran, her breath coming in short gasps. The bushes tore at her hair, and she bit her lip to keep from crying out in pain. She knew the boy was following her, and she ran even faster. She veered off the path, and deeper into the dark woods. Her heart beat in fear, she knew not what lurked in these woods since the coming of war. She saw something out of the corner of her eye, and she slowed, and saw that it was another rebel. She sprinted again, fear only now driving her, for she was out of strength. She knew not knowing where she was going, she only ran. Tears streamed down her face. She was going to die in these woods. The other rebel was older, much older, and had indeed seen her. He chased after her, and the boy saw him, and quickened his pace. The other man was gaining on her, and soon he was at her heels. He stretched out his arms, and tackled her. She landed with a loud thud, and pain shot through her body. He landed upon her ankle. She heard a loud snap, and she cried out, but he only laughed. He smelled of whiskey and sweat. The boy saw them on the ground, and drew his blade. The man stood, and saw the boy.

"Look 'ere!" He slurred. The boy nodded grimly, and quick as a flash, he sliced the mans stomach.

The princess looked away in disgust. She could no longer take the killing, and she wretched. Her mouth tasted vomit, and blood. She had seen to much death that day, and she wanted to die herself.

The boy knelt next to her and handed her a slightly dirty handkerchief he just so happened to have stashed away, and helped her to sit up. She looked at him weakly, thanking him with her eyes, but also questioning him. He offered a small smile, but she didn't smile back.

"You are a very good fighter." He said, not really knowing what else to say to this beautiful creature, who looked wonderful even though she was covered with dirt. She looked at him, her eyes sad. He held out his hand, and she took it. She let out a cry of pain, her ankle had been sprained. He looked at her in concern, not knowing.

"What happened?" He asked.

"My ankle," She gasped. "I think it's broken." He helped her to stretch out her leg, then lifted her ankle. He pressed in certain places, and she gritted her teeth. He shook his head.

"Not broken. It's only sprained." She nodded, and he helped her back up. "Can you walk?" He asked. She shrugged, and put her weight on it. She was back on the ground in an instant. She shook her head regretfully. "I'll carry you." He didn't let her have a chance to respond, he picked her up, and began to walk. On the way, he talked to her, trying to get her mind off her ankle.

"My name is Ardon, and I have lived in the small village of Calcun all of my life. I am twenty years old. Most of my life has been spent on a ship, repairing sails and working for a living. I am fighting for what I think is right." Her head snapped up.

"Right? For what you think is right? Sir, people are dying, suffering, thousands of innocents are dead, our country has gone to waste, and you think that right? It is quite wrong indeed. This whole bloody war is wrong. I have saved my father and a man that is almost like my father to me, and both times, they would have died by the enemies blade. I am the princess Kaolin, and I cannot stand for this any longer. I needed to fight, and not stay on top of that hill as my father instructed me to. I had to fight for my people, who were being killed by the rebels, such as yourself. There was nothing to rebel about, Ardon. There is plenty of food, water, and you do not live under a tyrannous monster. You live under a kind man, who would rather die than see his people unhappy. Your leader is but a selfish man, searching for power in this greedy world." She was furious, and hurt. She smelled his sweat, and saw his rigid face, wondering if she had even budged his mind.

He gazed at her, incredulous. He had obviously been misinformed. He looked at her face, which was set in a grim expression. He now knew she was right, but he would be a coward if he left his side.

"Face it, Ardon. I am indeed right. But, we are weak. We are going to lose everything we hold dear, everything I hold dear. I will be taken prisoner, and my father killed. Our messengers have been slaughtered before they have reached the closest kingdom of Tathinia. We have no hope. What you have been told is wrong. The rebels are no rebels, they are aristocrats from a neighboring kingdom. They have disguised themselves and spread false rumors to gather an army much larger than our own. We were caught ill prepared, and we have suffered grave consequences for our negligence. " He cut her off.

"I will help you."

"What?" She questioned, but he would say no more. He took her back to her horse, gracefully avoiding the 'rebel' army, and set her upon it, and climbed up behind her. He grabbed the reigns, which were old and weathered, and they galloped off to the castle.

They reached the castle, and he lifted her off of her horse. Ardon gently carried her inside. Her father was already back, exhausted by the days fight. Ardon carried her into her quarters, and set her on her bed. She touched his hand, and he glanced at her.

"Thank you for helping me." She said softly, her eyes on her hands. He silenced her with a finger to her lips.

"It was my pleasure, princess."

Her hand tingled as she touched his, and her eyes closed. Seconds later, her lips tingled with Ardon's kiss. She smiled, and pulled back. He looked at her, his eyes searching hers, hoping she felt as he did. She did, and he kissed her again, wrapped in an embrace of tentative love. At first sight, they were meant for each other, mind, body, and soul. Forever. No matter that a battle raged on just outside the window. All they knew was each other, and in that kind of deep love, there was always some kind of hope.