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(last edited Sep 13, 2015 07:27AM)
Aug 22, 2015 11:36PM
Chapter one - The Native Princess of the Maya Isles
Princess Nayeli Faye
Princess Nayeli pulled her cloak tighter around her body, shielding from the cold. It was her favorite cloak, white as the snow that fell around her. Her gaze was on the Aemazon Warriors on the field, one man in particular. Jon May. He was tall and handsome, dark hair and olive eyes. He was a part of an army of men that could not be bound to a place, only bound to a person. He was a twenty five year old man with an appetite for battle. He was also a trusted friend of King Aiden Estrella.
At this moment, he was throwing his King to the ground carelessly. It was boys at play, Nayeli decided, but it entertained every man on or off the field. Men were gathered around them, watching them chase each other around with wooded swords. They barely used the swords, finding it easy for the one to strip the other of his weapon. Now they were rolling together in the mud. The snow fell lightly around the two men but they barely noticed, too eager to win the battle at hand.
Nayeli’s eyes rested on King Aiden. Her heart quivered, restless in her chest. He was handsome, yes, but it was the way he carried his shoulders that always caught her eye. He was tall and broad-shouldered. He carried his warrior body like he was born to be the King of all men, of the world. Some said it was confidence, since he was ruler over one of the strongest kingdom known to date. Nayeli closed her eyes, thinking about Aiden’s dark eyes and full lips. His chocolate hair and tanned skin. He was beautiful in a way only a King could be.
“Enjoying the view, Princess?” a voice asked next to her.
Instantly annoyed, Nayeli opened her eyes to look at Duchess Leilani Kubovy.
“Duchess Leilani,” she said in a way of greeting, her gaze moving towards the fight again.
“He’s wonderful to look at, isn’t he?” the Duchess asked, her tone mocking. Nayeli held her tongue.
“Don’t you just think it’s so disrespectful of that Aemazon Warrior to throw the King to the ground like that without shame?”
“No,” Nayeli replied. “It would be disrespectful to pretend the King is the better warrior when he is not. It’s a fair fight, we will know the winner any minute now.”
Leilani didn’t reply to that, she merely smirked impishly. The two of them kept their eyes on the men, a few minutes of silence passing.
“I was surprised to see you here,” Leilani finally said. “You haven’t been to the fighting fields to support him before.”
“And you have?” Nayeli asked, refraining from groaning out loud.
“Why, yes. I come here often to support King Aiden. He’s usually pretty much completely drained after his training. I make sure I send word to his chamber maids that he would be returning for a bath. The King doesn’t mind it when I accompany him back to the castle. It’s quite a long walk back.”
Nayeli clenched her teeth, holding back words that would shock the Duchess out of her boots. They were ugly black boots anyways, Nayeli thought.
“It’s cold out here,” Nayeli said, not feeling cold at all. “Good-day, Duchess Leilani.”
Nayeli turned to walk away, but the Duchess turned around with her, still at her side. Nayeli stopped to look at Leilani. There was a polite smile on her lips, but Nayeli didn’t trust it for a moment.
“Anything on your mind, Duchess?” Nayeli asked.
Leilani feigned hesitation, her smile staying in place. “Princess Nayeli,” she started. “We’ve become friends, you and I, and therefore I feel like I can speak frankly.”
Nayeli pulled the cloak tighter around her body, listening. When Leilani didn’t continue, she realized the woman must be waiting for her permission. The permission to speak “frankly”.
“Yes, Duchess?” she asked, her voice soft.
“Oh, please, call me Leilani,” she said, smiling at her.
Another silence stretched between them.
“Was there something you wanted to say, Leilani?” Nayeli asked, annoyed and eager to walk away from the woman in front of her.
“Why, yes,” she began. “It’s just that you are a seventeen year old girl. And Kind Aiden is a man that is turning twenty six this year. It’s a nine year difference.”
Nayeli’s cheeks felt hot, her ears burning inside her cloak. She remained quiet, not trusting her voice to speak.
“You’ve been betrothed since you were seven years old,” Leilani continued. “It’s been ten years of peace with your kingdom, why is there still the need for you to marry him?”
“It’s an arrangement made by our late fathers-”
“Exactly!” Leilani claimed. “Why should the two of you give your lives for an agreement that was made ten years ago? Our kingdoms are at peace, it’s not like you are planning another war, is it?”
“No,” Nayeli said and lowered her eyes. “No.”
“Then why is there the need of this marriage?-”
“It’s not your place,” Nayeli heard herself saying, cutting off the Duchess. “I am engaged to by married to King Aiden. There is nothing either of us can do about it.”
“But maybe if you-”
“I’ve heard enough,” Nayeli insisted and the Duchess took a step away from her. Without exchanging another word, Nayeli moved past her and towards the castle. She didn’t look back once, not trusting herself to have another look at the beautiful Duchess Leilani Kubovy.
King Aiden Estrella
Aiden’s chest heaved in and out, wearied and tired from fighting. He held a hand out to his friend on the ground. Jon laughed with a hoarse throat, taking his hand and pulling himself up.
“Did you let me win?” Aiden asked, holding his friend’s gaze.
Jon grinned. “I guess you will never know.”
The men that surrounded them were thrown into discussing their fight. Jon wiped mud from his face, spiting some out as well. Aiden grinned at that, wiping some mud from his own face against his shoulder.
“I see your number one admirer is here,” Jon said, mockingly.
Aiden looked across the field, finding Duchess Leilani making her way closer to the field. She lifted a hand to wave at him. He nodded his head in greeting, looking away again.
“One of her servants is probably already running to draw you a bath with lavender scented water,” Jon continued.
Aiden lifted a brow at his friend.
“Please tell me you take her into that bath with you?” Jon asked, lowering his voice.
Aiden smirked. “That, my friend, is one woman I cannot touch.”
“How come? Distant cousin or what?”
“Trouble,” he muttered, scratching his head. “More trouble than I would like to handle right now.”
“Because of your current guest at the castle?”
“Oh,” Aiden mused. “Is there someone visiting me at this time? Because no one different than my usual company has spoken to me in days.”
Jon took a moment before speaking. “She was next to the field when we started our fight. She was watching you.”
“Yes, well, that is all she’s been doing since she arrived at the castle two weeks ago. Watching me.”
“This will be her last visit before you have to marry her.”
“And thank you for stating the obvious, Warrior May.”
“The obvious being your future?”
Aiden shrugged it off. “There is nothing I can do about it.”
“You are King Aiden Estrella-”
“What is done, is done, Jon. I’m marrying Princess Nayeli before the last snow of the winter sets. And that is that.”
Jon raised his hands in defense. “That is that, then,” he said, lowering his hands again, and adding to his words. “Enjoy the bath.”
Princess Akira Estrella
Princess Akira Estrella stood on her balcony, her head tilted back and enjoying the touch of the first snow on her face. Small, wet hands touched her face and settled on her clothes. The morning was crisp and fresh. She took in a breath of life, tasting the beginning of winter.
When she lowered her eyes, she looked down and saw Jon standing underneath her balcony. He waved up at her, a polite smile on his face. She returned his smile, feeling a bit foolish for standing in the snow. He was covered in mud, no doubt having had a busy morning of training.
“You shouldn’t be outside in the cold, Princess,” he said up to her, nodding his head and walking into the castle. She shook it off, looking up at the sky again.
A knock at the door made her jump.
She thought that maybe it could be Jon, but she decided that he won’t be so bold as to come and knock on her door in broad daylight. He was loved by his King, but that did not mean he could overstep his boundaries. He was after all, only a warrior.
Akira went to open the door and found Duchess Leilani Kubovy standing in front of her with a basket of apples.
“Princess Akira,” she said and bowed her head.
The Duchess was making her rounds, Akira thought, bowing her head in greeting. “Duchess Leilani. Are these lovely apples for me?”
“Why, yes,” she said. “I thought that something healthy would be in order this morning, the starting of winter at our door and all.”
“Thank you, Duchess,” Akira said and took the basket of apples from her. “Was there anything else?-”
The Duchess pressed her way into the room along with her apples. Akira stepped aside, letting the Duchess into her room. She felt like groaning out loud, but refrained from doing so.
“This won’t do!” the Duchess fretted. “Allowing the winter’s bite to openly flow into your room just won’t do. Had the chamber maids gone mad by leaving this open?”
Abruptly, Leilani had the doors to the balcony closed. She fretted on about the cold in the room and complained that there should be a fire in the heath. Akira took an apple out of the basket and bit into it. If she had to listen to Leilani ramble, at least she would enjoy an apple while doing so.
“The King had quite the audience this morning at the fighting fields,” Leilani said, coming to sit down opposite Akira. “He fought that friend of his. It was quite the show.”
“Who won?” Akira asked, eating away at her apple.
“The King showed that Aemazon Warrior his place. You should have seen the way that man was handling the King during their fight. Disrespectful.”
“He’s an Aemazon Warrior, it’s their way.”
“Nonetheless, he must realize that is he fighting a king.”
Akira wanted to roll her eyes.
“Princess Nayeli was there, too,” she said then. Akira sat up in her chair, her interest peaked.
“She was? Did she see him win his fight?”
“No,” Leilani said, shrugging. “She said the fight was tedious and left.”
“Tedious? A fight between Aiden and Jon? No one ever finds that kind of fight tedious.”
“Maybe she couldn’t handle seeing the way our King was being thrown to the ground. Maybe she was embarrassed and thought that he would lose the fight.”
“You think so?” Akira asked, her eyes drifting to the floor. “Do you think it’s because she is so different to us? Our people differ a great deal.”
“That might be it,” Leilani nodded, a smile finding her face.
Aug 22, 2015 11:37PM
Jon May, the Aemazon Warrior
It was late, about an hour after midnight, when Jon walked down the dirt road and heard the commotion coming from the Falcon’s Tavern. It was a wicked part of town and finding a couple of drunkards in a fight would not be a surprise. But there was something that told him to turn into the tavern and see what the uproar was about. He could hear a few heavy punches were being thrown along with a few pieces of the furniture.
Before entering the tavern, he checked his pocket to see if his Ember leaves and roots were still there. It was expensive stuff and hard to come by. He had been negotiating in these debauched parts of town for weeks now only to get a few dried roots and even less leaves. It had cost him a lot too. It was uncanny how much these dealers asked in return for a few pieces of an illegal plant. He tugged the roots and leaves safely back into his pocket.
When he opened the door to the tavern, a mop of black hair and feathers jumped over a table, colliding with the man on the other side. To his shock, he realized it was a young native girl. Straight, black hair filled her back. Pieces of her hair were plaited together with feathers sticking out the ends. Blue and red feathers moved amongst her hair as she got her grip around the fool’s throat. She had a foul mouth, cursing into the man’s ear. She had her back to Jon, holding the man in her grip. Jon laughed, not feeling sorry for the man at all. It will teach him a lesson in taunting a native woman.
Jon moved towards the bar, keeping the fight in sight. He ordered himself some ale, knowing well that it would be of poor quality. But he needed it after the day he had. He leaned against the counter, waiting for his drink. When it arrived, he dropped a copper on the counter and lifted the tankard to his lips. It tasted even worse than he could imagine, but he took another mouthful.
He turned his attention back to the fight and found that the man had gotten out of the girl’s grip. There were a few feathers lying on the floor, but the girl was still up. She was swaying on her feet, her eyes never leaving her opponent. She was drunk all right, and struggling to keep herself together for the task at hand. The man spat blood. It didn’t fall far from the red and blue feathers lying on the floor. Then he lunged at her.
She caught his blow best she could, but her strength was failing. She was drunk and tired. Her head slammed into the floor with a thud too loud. Jon stood away from the counter, sudden worry clutching his heart. Having a dead native girl found in an alley would not be good for the King. Not with the Native Princess currently in his castle.
Jon drowned his last bit of ale and placed the tankard on the counter. The man now had the girl pressed down on the floor, his hand pressing down on her throat. She was kicking and trying to get out underneath him, but to no avail. Jon started his move towards the fight, only to stop the moment the girl threw the man off her. To his surprise, there was plenty of fight still left in her. She jumped to her feet, swinging around to block a blow from her opponent.
His heart stopped.
The moment the girl swung around, his heart went still.
Like an ice cold finger being pressed to his spine, Jon stared at Princess Nayeli as she caught the man’s blow, pushing him away from her. He was too dumb-struck to move. He could only watch as the young girl trembled on her feet. She was barely able to hold herself upright. Blood was leaking out between her lips, her teeth red with blood.
She was going to collapse, he realized, and before he could step towards her, her eyes rolled back and she dropped. Like a copper falling to the floor, her knees gave way, and she landed in a heap of feathers.
The tavern keeper cursed out loud, barking at everyone standing around to watch the fight. No one wanted to go near her, not wanting any part in the death of a native girl.
Life suddenly returned to Jon’s lungs, and he moved. It was clear that none of the lowlifes in the tavern had recognized the Princess, they thought she was a mere native girl passing through. Well, he hoped so. Within moments he had her over his shoulder. People hissed around him, the tavern keeper barking something at him. He ignored it all, holding onto the Princess on his shoulder.
She weighed a lot more than he bargained for, but he held her in place as he stumbled out of the tavern. Once outside, he realized that he had nowhere to go with her. He couldn’t take her back to his chamber next to the Aemazon courters. Surely someone would see him and he had no plan in getting caught with an unconscious Princess over his shoulder.
He started walking, needing to get her away from the tavern. He took his first right, following the street down to the end of town. Soon they were nearing the beach. It was beyond cold this close to the water, but he had no other place to take her. He lowered her unconscious body to the ground, finding himself pacing back and forth next to her.
He should just take her back to the castle and tell them what happened. Tell them that he found her this way in a tavern. Aiden was going to be fucking furious, Jon realized. And he’s going to want to know what Jon was doing in this part of town. Jon cursed, the Ember roots in his pocket heavier than ever. He looked the Princess over in the dim lighting. She was dressed in common clothing, wearing pants and a loose shirt. Not nearly dressed like a Princess. Not nearly warm enough. There were streaks of red and blue painted across her face, her tribal colors. He had to stare at the amount of feathers in her hair again. She never wore feathers in the castle. In the castle she wore gowns like the Duchesses. And her face was never painted either.
The moment the Princess moved on the ground, his warrior heart almost jumped out of his chest.
She mumbled a few curse words, making him raise an eyebrow, and then she reached for her head. She moaned softly, turning onto her side and lifting her head. Her eyes droopy, she looked around the beach. When her gaze rested on Jon, she mumbled something he couldn’t hear, and then slowly started her struggle to her feet. Surprising him yet again, she managed to get herself upright. She stared at him through pieces of black hair and a painted face. There was dried blood on her lips.
“Are you going to try and fight me, too?” she asked.
“You think you can take me?” he played along.
“I have the fight of a tiger in me,” she said, sounding out of breath.
“Not when you’re this drunk.”
“I had…” she began, a smirk on her face. “Very poor tasting ale. I think an old man’s piss might just taste better.”
Jon kept quiet, staring at her hanging eyes.
“We should get you back to the castle-”
She cut him off by cursing. “You’re Jon May,” she said. “Aren’t you?”
“And you are Princess Nayeli Faye. The Native Princess.”
Her face dropped. “You know who I am? That is going to be a problem, isn’t it?”
He nodded his head. “Yes, it is.”
Another curse left her mouth.
“Do you do this regularly?” he found himself asking.
“Drinking, fighting or cursing?”
She swayed on her feet. “I decided to have a little party by myself,” she said with a shrug. “After all, I am getting married in a few weeks. I was rejoicing in my excitement.”
He shook his head. “You should get back to safety and sleep it off.”
He wanted to reach for her, but she stepped away from him. “In mere weeks I will be their Queen,” she said, turning away from him. “They feel nothing for me.”
Jon stopped, listening to the dangerous words of the Native Princess.
“They could’ve killed me and no one would have cared. Just some native girl in a depraved tavern.”
“We should return to the castle,” he said, attempting to occupy her thoughts.
But she turned on him, glaring at him. “I got out of my bed, surely I can get myself back into it.”
“You’re not suggesting that I leave you to walk back alone?”
“I never asked you for anything,” she said and turned on her heel. She walked away from him. He didn’t try to stop her. But a few minutes later, he followed.
Aug 22, 2015 11:38PM
This is the first chapter in my new story. Would love some feedback.
Aug 24, 2015 02:08PM
Hi Mariette! I love your story. I especialy like the native princess... So sad that she had to get marrie. I think that she could be better with Jon. You write weel. Congratulations!
(last edited Sep 13, 2015 07:29AM)
Sep 11, 2015 12:19AM
Chapter Two - To Jest With Him
Jon leaned against the wall, letting out a long sigh. He was in the king’s gardens at the back of the castle. It was early morning, the bite of the cold night still chasing him. Slipping his hands into his pockets, his eyes moved over the gardens, stopping once he sees a smile on Aiden’s face.
Was she making him smile?
Jon scowled, carefully watching the Native Princess at Aiden’s side.
When Jon got out of bed this morning, he was planning on going to Aiden to expose everything that happened during the night. But when Jon came to the King’s chamber, he was told that the King had already been requested for a walk.
He thought it would be a Lord, a Duke, or maybe that silly Duchess Leilani. But when Jon walked into the back gardens, every guard in sight had their eyes on the pair. The Native Princess was no longer wearing her absurd native clothing, she was dressed like a Princess. She wore a green gown with a white cloak wrapped around her shoulders. He had seen her wear the cloak before.
So the Princess was able to beat him to the King, Jon nodded. It meant she didn’t want the King to know about her indiscretions. She made sure she was at the King’s door first, occupying him to ensure Jon did not have the chance to talk to him.
The Princess came to a sudden stop, yanking off her cloak and handing it to the King. Her arms must have been cold, but she ignored it, and sat down next to a thick bush of titsle leaves. Jon stared. Her bare arms and face did not have a single bruise on them. There were no traces of her fight in the tavern mere hours ago. Jon stepped away from the wall, his eyes wide.
Her teeth had been red with blood. Yet, there were not any traces of a broken lip or a black eye. In fact, she didn’t look like she had been drinking the previous night at all. She looked as fresh and vibrant as ever. All signs of common clothing and native feathers were gone.
King Aiden walked next to Princess Nayeli, stealing peeks at her every now and then. He had found it odd that she bothered him with a walk so early in the day, but he did not complain. He had been already awake and pleasantly surprised that his future bride was showing an interest in him. Maybe it was the start of the Courtas Days.
The Courtas Days consisted of five days each year where the kingdom celebrated love and marriage. Aiden had made sure he invited his bride-to-be to visit specifically during these days. He had seen the men of his kingdom finding the courage to approach women during these days. Many marriages came out of it. Well, many passionate stories as well, but that was not Aiden’s aim today. Today he wanted to talk to her. He wanted to ask her what she adored in life, what she did in her free time, and if she had any specific pastimes. He knew none of these things.
His thoughts were interrupted when he heard her sniff. She had stopped, no longer following next to him. He turned around to look at her and a smile found his face once he saw her moving her little nose around.
“Anything the matter, Princess?” he asked.
“I smell…” she started to say but quickly cut herself off. A quick blush touched her cheeks.
“Well, what is it?” Aiden asked, curiosity flaring.
“Will you hold this?” she asked and pulled her cloak off her shoulders. “I don’t want it to get dirty.”
“Of cause,” he said, stepping closer to take the cloak from her.
Gods, she was beautiful, Aiden thought. She had clear, tanned skin. Ice blue eyes glanced up at him shyly. Then she bowed down in front of a titsle bush. His brow pulled together, watching the Princess reach in underneath the bush.
“Come here,” Nayeli whispered.
Aiden gave a step closer to her, bowing down next to her.
Nayeli turned to look at him, amused. “Not you,” she said and reached further in beneath the bush. She made a soft kiss-kiss sound at the bush and a moment later she had a bundle of white fur in her hands.
“It’s a little kitty,” Nayeli murmured, more to herself than to him. They stood up and Aiden watched her cradle the little thing against her chest.
“The cat matches your cloak,” Aiden said, and as if she only remembered her cloak then, she took it out of his hands. She threw the cloak around her shoulders, tugging the cat into her cloak with her.
“She’s so beautiful,” Nayeli said, her eyes not leaving the white bundle. “What do you do with the cats you find in the garden?”
“Well,” Aiden started, thinking out loud. “It’s the first cat I’ve found here. Don’t know if the garden keeper knows anything about her. How do you know she’s a female?”
He watched at the Native Princess rolled her eyes at him. “Men know nothing,” she murmured at the kitten.
“Did you just roll your eyes at me?” he found himself asking. He regretted the words immediately, knowing how they would sound to her. She would think he was questioning whether she sees him as an authority figure or not. He wanted the question to be playful, to jest with her. But instead, ice blue eyes watched him through her pitch black hair.
“I guess you should get used to it,” she said, her words slowly and carefully placed. She raised an eyebrow at him, waiting for him to reply. But he could only stare, could only hold those bold blue eyes.
She shook her head lightly, turning on her heel and walking away from him. Words jumped back into his mouth again.
“Did you just turn your back on me?” he found himself asking. He wanted to kick himself, punch himself, anything that would hurt. Where were these insecure questions coming from and why were they blurting out of his mouth without permission!
She flipped around, still holding the cat. “Excuse me?”
“I apologize,” he began, shaking his head. “What I mean to ask is whether you would like to keep her?”
Her brow furrowed. She looked at him as if she didn’t understand him. He stepped closer to her, gesturing at the cat.
“Would you like to keep the cat?” he asked, his voice kind. “You can raise her here in the castle.”
The Princess looked down at the cat and then back at him again. Her face expressionless, she spoke. “I can’t,” she said softly. “I will be away. I can’t take care of her.”
“I’ll take care of her until you return in a few weeks.”
“You should take her then,” Nayeli said, her eyes lowered to the ground.
Aiden took another step closer to her, reached out and rubbed the kitten behind her ear with a finger.
“She’s shaking from the cold,” Aiden said, his voice lowered between them. “And probably hungry too.”
Nayeli held the kitten out to him. “You should take her.”
“Aren’t you going to help-”
“I have to go,” she said, pressing the kitten into his hands.
He took hold of the little body. “Nayeli,” he said, trying to stop her from running away from him. “Please. Let me walk you back to your rooms.”
“I’m not going back to my rooms,” she said, her back to him.
“Where then?” he asked, trying not to sound demanding.
“I’ll see you at the Courtas Ball tonight,” she said over her shoulder, turning away from him and doing what she did best. She walked away from him.
“You must have her confused with someone else,” Aiden said, staring at Jon as if he had gone mad.
“It was her, Aiden. I’m sure of it.”
“Are you telling me that Nayeli handed a man his ass down in the slums? Those men are unforgiving and murderous fighters.”
Aiden shrugged on his finely-tailored jacket for the ball. He was wearing navy blue, the Royal Family’s color.
“The moment she dropped, everyone moved away, thinking her dead.”
“Yes, and I’m sure that girl’s head is hurting pretty badly today. But that girl is not Nayeli. I don’t think she has ever lifted a punch in her life.”
“You’re wrong,” Jon muttered, getting up. He was dressed in black, the color of the Aemazon warriors. He straightened his jacket. “She’s more dangerous than you give her credit for.”
“She lost the fight. What makes her so dangerous?”
Jon shook his head impatiently. “She took blows like a man would. And she doesn’t have a single bruise to show for it.”
Aiden’s brow furrowed. “That doesn’t make any sense, Jon. And like you said, she was dressed commonly. Is it possible that you confused her with someone else?”
“It was the Princess Nayeli,” he insisted. “And she knew who I was. She called me by name and she didn’t correct me when I called her by hers.”
“And if it was a native girl with a dangerous excitement for adventure? Wouldn’t she want to be called a princess?”
Jon shrugged. “I don’t know. Perhaps. But I do know if she wasn’t so drunk, she would have owned that man.”
“Drunk and fighting in the slums,” Aiden said and expectantly, a smile found his lips.
“The thought of marrying someone with a taste for adventure doesn’t sound too dull right now.”
“Your walk this morning didn’t go well?”
“She’s never going to like me,” Aiden admitted, starting to button up his jacket.
Jon crossed his arms, watching Aiden. “It was quite arousing,” Jon mumbled and Aiden lifted his eyes to meet with his.
“Seeing a beautiful girl fight for herself. Not allowing herself to stay down. She kept getting up, even if she had to drag herself to her feet. Carrying herself with a confidence I haven’t seen in a woman before.”
Aiden’s face hardened, glaring at him. “I’m not sure I like it when you declare that you are aroused by my future wife.”
“But like you said, that wasn’t Nayeli,” Jon defended, and turned towards the door. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I promised your sister that I will walk her to the ball.”
“Akira is a mere sixteen,” Aiden said, his voice raised. “Don’t forget that.”
“Akira is untouchable and forbidden. To me and every man alive. I won’t forget. But maybe Princess Nayeli isn’t? It’s the Courtas Days, King Aiden, maybe you should find out.”
(last edited Sep 13, 2015 07:30AM)
Sep 11, 2015 12:20AM
Chapter Three - The Courtas Ball
King Aiden was seated in the middle of a long table, the dance floor and the rest of the great hall as their view. To the King’s right, Akira was seated, and next to Akira, Jon sat. Jon leaned forward in his seat, looking over at the empty seat to Aiden’s right. The princess was running late. She had been out of the castle for the entire day. He could not find her anywhere. Leaning back in his chair, Jon took another gulp of wine.
“Looking for someone specific?” Akira asked him, a fond smile on her face. Jon turned to smile at her. She was wearing navy blue like her brother. She was slipped into a dress than circled her chest and hanged freely to the floor. She looked beautiful for the Courtas Ball. But he wasn’t allowed to think that.
“No one specific,” he shrugged.
Akira laughed at him. “As if I would believe you! It’s the Courtas Days! Women are probably lining up for the Aemazon Warrior. Would you at least spare me a dance?”
“I’ll spare you more than one,” he said, founding himself staring into her alluring young eyes.
“If you have a moment later on,” she said, her voice lowered. “Can we talk outside?”
His gaze lowered away from her face. “Not with Aiden nearby.”
“You’ve been avoiding this conversation for days now. We have to talk sometime or another,” she said and reached for his glass. Jon watched her as she lifted his glass of wine to her lips. She drowned half of it.
“You know drinking doesn’t help.”
“I had so little sleep last night, I can’t even care right now.”
Jon lifted his head, ready to reason with Akira, but instead he saw Princess Nayeli entering the great hall. If he was ever unsure about whether or not she had been down in the slums, he was sure now. Her straight, black hair was loose around her shoulders and a leather strip was tied around the top of her head, the strip leading across her forehead. Next to her left ear, a blue feather hanged upside down, its end tied to the leather strip. Pieces of her hair were brought together in a few soft, thin plaits. At the end of the thin braids, more blue feathers were tied to her hair. She had hair of black and blue moving around her back and shoulders.
The same as last night.
She was dressed in a subtle red, a mop of black and blue filling her back. Her dress was nothing that he had seen her wear before. With winter at their front door, she was wearing a dress that fitted her scandalously perfect. It hugged every curve her figure had to offer her young body, falling softly to her feet. Her shoulders were bare and the top curves of her breasts showed sophisticatedly. He will have to ask his men to make more fires in the hall for her. She did not even attempt to bring something along for the cold. Selfishly, Aiden was glad. She looked beautiful.
And so different. He had not seen her with feathers in her hair in ten years’ time. He could remember the day he had met her quite clearly. She had been seven years old back then. He remembered thinking she looked like a storm of blue and red feathers. Aiden smiled at himself. At first she had been shy, hiding behind her father. But later she had caught up to him outside at the stables. She had asked him a series of questions and once she was done, she held her hand out to him. He had taken it that day in the stable, a mere boy, and shook it. It had been so much easier as children, deciding everything over a shake of hands.
If only she would shake his hand now.
Aiden stood abruptly. He wanted to run to her, to take her hand before anyone else had the honor. He made his way across the hall, his eyes not leaving her for a moment. People were staring at her, watching the Native Princess. His people. They did not understand her, did not know her culture. He wanted to take her hand, claim her, and walk her to her seat as his fiancé. His heart rumbled in his chest, everything and everyone else in the room invisible to him.
He was closing in on the Princess, but then a man stepped up next to her. Aiden stopped.
Duke Faure Jevric stepped up next to Nayeli. Her face lightened up at the sight of him. And she looked relieved. Relieved, because the son of an old friend was standing in front of her. A man she was actually fond of. Duke Faure had had a native mother. She had died when he was a boy, but his father still honored his mother, telling him about the ways of the natives. Nayeli had always favored Faure because they were similar. Or at least, he was the closest thing to a native that she could befriend in Aiden’s Kingdom.
Aiden wanted to curse, but held his tongue as Duke Faure held out an arm to her. She smiled shyly and took it. Aiden felt a fool, rushing up from his table for nothing. He could go back to his seat, but every eye on him would notice his defeat. Instead, Aiden turned towards the door.
Outside the great hall, Aiden struggled to breathe normally. Puffing in and out, his breath created the linings of ghosts in front of his mouth. It was snowing outside, winter falling down on him. He ignored the snow, sitting down on a nearby garden bench. He held his head between his hands, his eyes pressed shut.
But he could only see one thing behind his closed lids.
The Native Princess and her feathers.
He cursed and opened his eyes. There was no one outside with him, too cold for his people’s liking. But he embraced the cold, taking in big gulps of fresh air. His breathing started to even.
Once he had convinced himself that he was calm enough, he stood. Calm enough not to rip Duke Faure’s head off, Aiden thought. Dusting off snow from his jacket, he ducked back into the hall. Inside the hall he was welcomed by warmth and normalcy. The ball had continued as if nothing had happened. Nothing did happen, Aiden told himself. No one knew his aim was to escort the Princess to her chair, they probably thought that he just needed fresh air and went outside to get some.
He found the Princess sitting in her chair, the seat next to his. Duke Faure was still standing next to her, talking away. He was a handsome young man, Aiden knew. He had heard the women of the kingdom fretting over him. He even caught Akira stealing a look at him. Aiden thought of the way Nayeli had rolled her eyes at him that morning. Standing behind Duke Faure, Aiden tried it. He rolled his eyes.
“King Aiden?” Princess Nayeli asked.
He had to refrain from jumping, instead he pushed past the Duke and towards his chair.
“Princess Nayeli,” he said in greeting, bowing his head.
She bowed her head as well. “King, Aiden.”
Aiden held onto his chair, steading himself. “Why, and if it isn’t Duke Faure,” he started.
“King Aiden,” the Duke said in greeting. “I thought that it was time I attend a ball at the Royal Castle-”
“Especially with Princess Nayeli here,” Aiden added.
“Well, yes. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other-”
“She’s always so busy, I hope she finds time for you.”
Akira stood abruptly. “Duke Faure,” she said, smiling elegantly. “Would you be so kind to accompany me to go get a drink?”
Aiden remained quiet, his eyes still on Duke Faure.
“Why, I would like nothing more, Princess,” the Duke agreed.
The Duke leaned closer to Nayeli, murmuring something to her. Aiden was just about to ask him what he had to say to his fiancé, when Akira pinched him. Hard. He turned towards his sister, glaring at her.
“You’re acting like a jealous fool,” she said through smiling teeth, her voice lowered between the two of them. “Pull yourself together, Brother.”
His glare softened, watching his sister. He knew she was right, he knew he was a simpleton when it came to situations he couldn’t control. He couldn’t control his future wife, he realized.
He also realized that he didn’t necessarily want to.
Sep 11, 2015 12:21AM
Akira returned to her seat after shaking off Duke Faure. Lords and Dukes were coming from around the hall to greet King Aiden and Princess Nayeli. Aiden didn’t talk to Nayeli, he only stole long looks in her direction, making sure he looked away when she might turn her head towards him.
Akira wanted to smack him over the head, but refrained from doing so and sat down instead. To her surprise, Jon was also staring at the Princess. He wasn’t really staring, more like glaring. Akira leaned forward, breaking his view of Nayeli.
“Everything alright?” she asked.
His glare remained on his face. “Just observing.”
“You don’t like her?” Akira asked, her voice lowered. “Or do you like her a lot? She is beautiful to look at.”
Jon laughed. “I’d rather look at you,” he said softly, knowing very well how dangerous his words were.
It made her feel warm inside, and shy. All at the same time. Before her cheeks could flush or her ears could heat up, she reached for his glass of wine again. He reached for the glass playfully, trying to stop her from taking it. But she was quick and had the glass pressed to her lips in no time.
“Duke Faure and wine, all in one night. What’s next, Akira?” Aiden asked, leaning towards Akira and Jon. She scowled at him.
“Do you drink, Princess Nayeli?” Jon asked, raising her voice for her to hear him. He looked over at Nayeli.
Nayeli lifted her head, slowly turning her gaze towards Jon. She held his eyes for a moment, watching him intently.
“Not really,” she replied, unwavering from his gaze.
“Not really?” he repeated. “Is that a yes or a no?”
“If not a yes, a no then,” she snapped.
Akira had never seen the Princess snap at someone. Her brow furrowed, did Jon do something to upset her? Jon and Aiden were good friends. What would Aiden say if his wife and friend didn’t get along?
Aiden cleared his throat loudly, putting his glass of wine down. “Jon, would you step outside with me for a moment?” he asked, getting up from his chair. He didn’t wait for Jon to reply, he knew he would follow. Once they were both gone, Akira looked over at Nayeli.
“Excuse the men,” Akira said, weakly.
Nayeli looked at Akira from the corner of her eye, seeming unsure of how to respond. Akira sighed and hopped over into Aiden’s seat. Once she sat down next to her, Nayeli stiffened slightly.
“Men will be men,” Akira said. “Especially those two. Don’t bother with them too much. Just ignore them, I know I do.”
Nayeli shook her head. “That is very dangerous advice. Princess.”
Akira frowned at first, and then she laughed out loud. Nayeli startled at her sudden laughter.
“I apologize,” Akira said, touching her temple. “It was just an unexpected response.”
Nayeli seemed to relax slightly as Akira got her laughter under control. Akira touched her temple again, taking in a breath and looking at the Princess with a smile.
“Do you have a headache, Princess Akira?” Nayeli asked.
She lowered her hand away from her temple. “I get a lot of them,” she confessed, but she waved it away. “I just need more sleep.”
“Is there something that worries you and keeps you up at night?”
Akira shook her head, her smile faded. “No,” she said quietly.
“Dreams then?” Nayeli asked, turning to look at Akira.
Akira stared at the tanned face and head of feathers watching her. She was a sight to behold. Blue feathers and a red dress. Akira frowned. “Last night I dreamt of a red and blue bird.”
Nayeli held her gaze. “What kind of bird was it?”
“It looked like a raven, except it wasn’t black, it was colorful.”
Nayeli’s eyes bored into Akira’s. Princess to Princess. “It’s called an Alpoca. It looks like a raven, but it’s slightly larger. It’s colors are red and blue.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“It will only be found in the forest of my homeland. Why did you dream of a red and blue Alpoca, Princess?”
Akira shrugged. “I don’t know. But it ended very sadly for it.”
Nayeli swallowed, going quiet. “What happened to it?”
“It was eaten by a tiger,” Akira said and she felt the ball and its people drop away from her slightly. Thinking about her dreams saddened her, making her twirl out of control. “It screamed as it died.”
Nayeli’s icy eyes turned even colder, watching her. “What did the cries sound like, Akira?”
It was the first time Nayeli had ever called her by her name, it didn’t go unnoticed to her.
“Like a little girl,” Akira heard herself saying. “She was crying hysterically. But she couldn’t fight the tiger.”
“She can,” Nayeli said softly, a mere whisper.
“What?” Akira asked but was interrupted when Aiden and Jon returned to the table.
Once Jon pulled out his chair, Princess Nayeli stood.
“Please, excuse me,” she mumbled and left in a twirl of feathers.
Aiden furrowed his brow at Akira. “Everything alright?”
“Yes,” she said and moved over to her seat again.
Aiden and Jon sat down on either side of her, but she couldn’t shake Princess Nayeli’s words. Akira reached under the table, finding Jon’s hand. He stiffened once she touched him, but she needed someone to hold on to. What did Princess Nayeli mean when she said a bird could fight a tiger?
As the meal was served, Nayeli came back to her seat to eat. She didn’t want to offend the Royal Family by not excepting their meal. She sat down next to Aiden, avoiding looking at him. Instead she looked down at the plate in front of her. Her stomach yearned for the meat served. She couldn’t stop herself from finishing off the entire plate. She ate every last piece, from the meat to the very last pea. Once she was done, she found herself hungry for more. Pulling herself together, she gently pushed her plate aside.
She will have to learn to eat more during the day if she was going to marry into this family. Not that the food wasn’t enough. It was more than enough. She just didn’t have time to eat today. After their walk in the gardens, she had to get out of the castle’s walls. She had discovered a small side gate at the side of the castle that only a handful of guards watched. She has been able to bribe them quite often and sneak through. She didn’t know if they weren’t telling anyone because she was paying them well, or maybe because she was going to be the King’s wife. Surely the Queen could do whatever she liked? Even if that meant sneaking out of the castle.
To her relief, Aiden finished his entire plate as well. The rest of the table struggled to get that amount of food down. Except the Aemazon Warrior, he finished his plate too. Well, eventually. He took longer, staring at Princess Akira most of the time. Was he in love with her, Nayeli wondered, or was he just very protective of her? Either way, she should be wary of a man than walked the slums late at night.
Their plates were taken away. Nayeli felt a sudden calmness, knowing that her obligations as the Queen-to-be were done now. The formalities were done and soon people will start dancing. She would use that chance to slip away and go to her room.
“They are waiting for us to dance first,” Aiden said softly. She wasn’t sure if he had spoken to her, so she looked around first. Making sure there wasn’t someone else standing behind her.
Aiden turned in his chair, looking at her. “Would you like to dance with me, Princess?”
She found herself staring at him, her eyes moving towards his lips for a second and back again. A smile found his face. “I’m not sure if I would be able to dance like your people.”
“I’ll show you,” he said, his voice kind and lowered between them.
“And if I look like a fool?”
“Then we will look like fools together.”
She shrugged. “The entire room is already staring at me like I am a fool, I guess five more minutes won’t be any different.”
Aiden shook his head and continued. “It’s our custom for the King to walk to the middle of the room and once everyone is seated, I will bow in your direction. Once I’ve bowed, you will stand up and join me. Stop in front of me and curtsy. Curtsy is when-”
“I know what a curtsy is,” she said, fighting a grin. “Just because I don’t bow to you, doesn’t mean I don’t know how.”
Aiden looked offended.
“Did you roll your eyes at Duke Faure earlier?” she asked, not being able to resist the question.
“Why? Didn’t I do it right?”
It made her smile. “Try being more subtle next time.”
“But you’re not subtle when you do it.”
“I’m the Native Princess,” she mused and raised an eyebrow at him. “I can get away with it. Our ways are so different, remember?”
“Well, I’m rolling my eyes and you’re curtsying tonight,” he said and got up, a smile on his face. Her heart thudded once she realized she had to dance in front of all the people here. Dukes and Lords would be watching.
Sep 11, 2015 12:21AM
Aiden stopped in the middle of the great hall, folding his hands into each other behind his back. He waited as the hall quieted down and everyone found their seats. He was excited to dance with Nayeli. For some reason he looked forward to holding her in his arms and moving with her.
The hall went quiet. Aiden bowed in Nayeli’s direction. She hesitated for a moment, but then she stood up from her chair and moved towards him. Her pale red dress moved effortlessly along with her body. She must have been aware of his eyes on her, but she didn’t react to it. She stopped in front of him and met his eyes.
He waited for her to curtsy, but she didn’t. She stood watching him, the room silent around them. Aiden waited for her, becoming utterly aware of the stares around the room. Just when he thought she wasn’t going to, Nayeli smiled mischievously, and then she curtsied.
A smile played with the sides of his lips, shaking his head at her. He moved forward and took her hand, turning her and twirling her in front of him. All eyes were on her, so he decided to twirl her twice. It looked like she enjoyed it when he showed off with her, because when he pulled her into his arms, she was smiling. He couldn’t take his eyes off her smile. It was as if he was seeing it for the first time in his life. As if she was able to hide it from him until now.
She moved with him effortlessly, her feet finding their way across the floor without hesitation. What Aiden admired the most were the set of her shoulders. She carried herself confidently when she danced. All signs of the shy girl vanished when she moved with him. He couldn’t help himself. Selfishly he held her closer to him. She didn’t fight it. Their bodies touched and remained close during their dance.
The song came to an end far too quickly for his liking. When the music stopped and Nayeli wanted to step away, her held onto her. She looked up at him in surprise.
“One more,” he murmured to her.
“Is that your custom?” she asked.
“No,” he said with a smile on his lips.
Taking in the people coming their way, she stepped closer to him again. He took the opportunity to take her back into his arms. She felt good against his body, he thought, trying not to stare at her revealing chest. Couples started moving around them.
“It’s because you’re beautiful,” he whispered into her ear.
She stiffened for a moment, and then danced again. “Excuse me?”
He pulled her body even closer. “They stare at you because you’re so goddam beautiful,” he breathed into her ear.
She held onto his body, holding herself close to him. “You don’t find me silly in this dress?”
“There is nothing silly about the dress,” he said, a grin on his face.
“And the feathers?” she asked, her voice softer.
“Without the feathers,” he breathed into her ear. “Without them you wouldn’t be who you are. I like seeing you like this, Nayeli.”
“It’s our custom,” she whispered back, her eyes dropping away from him momentarily.
“I know,” he said and twirled her again, beholding the sight that she was. Feathers circled her body as she turned. He caught a smile on her lips and it made him look at her lips like he had never done before. Just then he decided, she was definitely the most beautiful bird he had ever seen.
Sep 11, 2015 12:23AM
Aiden was staring at her, looking at her like he had never done before. It made her heart jump, and her breathing uneven. He must have taken it as being out of breath from dancing, because he didn’t stop, he held onto her. His lips touched her ear when he spoke to her, giving her chills. The hall rapidly felt much warmer than before. Her cheeks felt flustered as the song started to slow.
The flutters stirring in her stomach had her heart in a knot. She was glad the song was coming to an end, she couldn’t be in his arms any longer. It was smothering to think that her body liked being pressed to his, liked feeling his lips touch her ear. As if the heat in her veins weren’t enough, he still held onto her when the song ended.
She lifted her gaze to look up at him. They came to a halt, staring at each other. His hand cupped her face, their bodies still touching. It was no longer a secret that her breathing was uneven. To her relief, neither was his. People were moving off the floor around them, but she remained pinned underneath his stare. It wasn’t the stare of a King. It was Aidan, and only Aiden. He looked at her as if he could–
Aiden kissed her.
In front of all his Lords and Dukes, he kissed the Native Princess.
His lips moved against hers and she allowed her own lips to move along. His kiss wasn’t kind and polite, it was a kiss from a man than knew what he wanted, Nayeli realized.
It scared her, but she didn’t pull away until the kiss began to slow. The moment their lips left each other, the hall erupted into applause. Jumping at the noise, Nayeli stepped away from Aiden and looked around the room. When she looked back at him, he was turned away from her and walking towards the door. Her heart quickened.
She didn’t know which way to go, back to her seat or back to her room? Instead she found herself following the direction Aiden went in. She sped up once she reached the doors, moving out into the cold night. It was dark outside in the gardens, but she continued forward. Soon she was wrapped in the night, she squinted and moved forward. He went this way, she was sure. She could smell him.
As if he knew she was following him, he came to find her. She knew it was Aiden the moment he touched her. She closed her eyes and savored the feeling of being close to him. His warm lips covered hers in the silence of the night. He held her body close, pulling her into him. Now no one was staring at them and she could kiss him the way she wanted to.
She placed her hands on his hips, holding him close. His kisses were mesmerizing, her mind clouded like never before. She slipped her hands in underneath his shirt and placed her hands on the warmth of his skin. He tangled one of his hands in her hair, holding her mouth to his.
Sep 11, 2015 12:24AM
Once he broke their kiss, she inhaled and pressed her head against his chest. His lips touched the top of her head, holding her against him.
“You must be cold,” he said into her hair.
“I’m not,” she murmured.
He shrugged off his jacket, letting go of her momentarily. Putting the jacket around her shoulders, he pulled her closer, meeting their lips again.
“Can’t we just stay here?” she asked against his lips.
“Not in this cold.”
He took her hand and she expected him to lead them back to the great hall, but instead he went deeper into the gardens.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked.
“You’ll see,” he murmured over his shoulder.
He guided them perfectly through the dark night, not falling over a bush once. He must know the garden by heart, Nayeli decided. He led them to the greenhouse on the far side of the garden. Pulling her into the greenhouse, he closed the door behind them. It didn’t help the cold much, but at least they were out of the snow.
“Is my jacket helping?” he asked.
“I’m not cold,” she said softly, now very much aware that they were alone. They’ve never truly been alone before. The silence between them stretched. Aiden’s eyes didn’t leave her for a second.
“What?” she asked, her voice sounding loud in the silent space.
“I like it,” he said, his voice softer than hers. “The silence.”
“You don’t prefer dancing in front of your people? Entertaining them?”
“Not when I have to share you with them,” he said, laughing nervously.
“Because of the alluring dress?”
“Because of your feathers.”
She remained silent. Another silence spread.
“Don’t understand me wrong. But you wore the feathers in your hair tonight, and for the first time in so long, it feels like I am seeing you again.”
“Seeing me again?” she asked.
“The girl I met ten years ago.”
“I was seven.”
“You had a full head of feathers, even more than tonight.”
“Tell me more about her,” she said, pulling his jacket closer around her.
“Well, you were friendlier then.”
Laughter bubbled out of her throat.
“Seeing you being yourself tonight, it made me jealous to share you with them. I wish I could dance with you until the sun rises, but I want to do it with a cleared hall. Just you and me.”
She walked closer to him, a smile playing with the corners of her lips. “We don’t need the great hall to dance alone.”
“No, we don’t. But I can’t do it in here either.”
“In here I don’t want to dance. In here I want to kiss you some more.”
“I never liked dancing anyways,” she quickly said, touching her hand to his chest.
He laughed, his features drawn into a smile in the dim lighting.
“No,” he said, catching her hand on his chest. “Not chaperoned, who would stop us from…well, from not-stopping?”
For some reason she liked the sound of it. She liked doing whatever she wanted, always have. She didn’t have time for their customs anyways. Aiden’s kingdom believed that a man had to marry a woman before claiming her. But her people believed it to be the other way around.
“Do you know I’m dressed like this, Aiden?” she asked, trying not to sound shy.
“To drive me utterly insane?”
“Well, yes,” she murmured. “And it’s also my custom.”
“No, you don’t, King.”
He remained silent, watching her.
“You believe you should marry a woman before making her yours. We believe differently. We believe a woman should be ready to accept the man first. Then she will dress like this. And then she will accept him, if you know what I mean.”
Aiden was still silent, unmoving.
“We believe the woman should lay with her intended before marrying him,” she said softly, so softly that he was barely able to hear her.
Aiden took in an unsteady breath. “Why didn’t you tell me that?”
She lowered her hand away from his chest, dropping her eyes to the ground. “Because it’s not your custom. And your rules sounded so much stricter than ours. I don’t really care, the marriage was arranged, and so whether we are compatible in bed or not doesn’t really matter.”
Heat now lined her cheeks.
“You don’t care whether we are compatible in bed?” he asked slowly.
“I meant to say that I don’t care for the custom, neither of our customs in this regard. I decided to leave it up to you.”
Aiden lifted her head with a finger underneath her chin. “And what else did you leave up to me?”
She stared up at him, holding his eyes. “I waited for you to kiss me first.”
“How long have you been waiting?” he asked, bringing his lips closer to hers. Her stomach started to knot.
“I didn’t know I was waiting until you kissed me tonight.”
Their lips met, folding together. His tongue found hers, his hands both in her hair. He pulled her into him, breathing her in. The leather strip around her head came loose, her blue feather falling to the floor. He didn’t stop to pick it up, instead he kissed her more fiercely.
Carelessly, they started to take off each other’s clothing. Pulling at his shirt and pants, she was able to get them off. He took hold of her dress, but paused then.
“I don’t want you to get cold,” he muttered against her lips.
“I don’t get cold,” she groaned and pulled the dress down over her breasts. The dress didn’t tie at the back like most of her dresses, it merely hugged to her body, so it was easy to pull off. Once her dress fell to the floor, Aiden took in a sharp breath, slowly giving a step away from her.
They stared at each other’s naked bodies, pausing to take each other in. The lighting was dim, but she could clearly see the silhouette of his warrior body. He was beautiful, she decided. As if he agreed with her, he stepped closer. He cupped her head in his hand, staring down at her.
“You are going to have me ridiculously senseless at this rate.”
She laughed, reaching for him.
Stepping into each other’s arms, their lips met. Their bodies pressed together, they melted into each other. She felt whole then, one with the man she was intended to marry. He touched her hips, his hands warm and lovely against her skin.
He whispered her name, his lips moving into her neck. She savored the feeling of his lips on her skin. It felt like fire was burning in her veins, like coals were pressed against her skin with each kiss he planted over her shoulders and neck. Desire burned in her stomach. With her hands on his back, she found herself wanting to tug her nails into him.
“Your skin is beautifully warm,” he murmured to her.
And then she knew. Something was going wrong and it was happening fast. Nayeli’s hands found Aiden’s chest, slowly pressing him away from her.
“Nayeli?” he asked, still dazed by their kisses.
“I can’t be in here,” she blurted softly. Then she cursed.
Aiden stared at her, surely shocked at her foul mouth.
“My clothes,” she muttered and kneeled down to the floor. Except she didn’t come back up, she lost her balance, and fell to her knees.
“Nayeli!” he said, startled. He dropped down next to her, pulling her closer to him. But she pushed him away immediately. He let her go and she moved away from him.
“Don’t touch me, Aiden,” she demanded. “Don’t touch me!”
“No,” he objected, reaching for her again. But he stopped once she glared at him. “Nayeli, your eyes are glowing-”
“Just get away from me and shut up,” she spat.
Sep 11, 2015 12:24AM
Aiden didn’t reach for her again and she took the chance to lower her head to the cold floor. Pressing her head onto the cold helped. The burn in her veins felt lighter, but her hands were still sizzling where they pressed to the floor. She prayed that Aiden didn’t hear it. Then she collapsed her entire body onto the cold floor, embracing the iciness of the surface.
She took in big gulps of air, forcing herself to calm down. The sizzling ceased and the burn of desire in her veins started to fade. She knew Aiden was still watching her, but she had to forget about him in order to find calm. Because everything about him wanted her veins to burn.
Pulling herself together, she rolled onto her back, allowing the cold to bite into her backside. Once her breathing evened, she swallowed, and turned her head towards Aiden. He was watching her intently in his silence.
“I can explain,” she said, sounding out of breath.
“What are you?” Aiden asked quietly, unmoving.
She sat up, frowning at his dark silhouette. “My fever runs high,” she said, taking in a breath. “When I get worked up, it sometimes fires up-”
“And just like that you are able to stop it,” he said softly. Her heart almost gave way when he shook his head at her. “Something else you didn’t tell me.”
She took in a big breath, and when she allowed it to leave her lungs again, she felt tears burning in her eyes.
“Explain to me exactly what just happened, Nayeli.”
“It’s just a fever-”
“Your eyes were glowing bright blue,” he cut her off. “And then you pressed your body to the cold floor.”
Tears left her eyes. “I am different than your people,” she said softly. “I have a fever that runs high and I am able to stop it quite fast.”
“And if you don’t stop it?”
“I get very sick.”
“And why did your fever start when we kissed?”
“I don’t know,” she mumbled, tasting the salt of her tears. “It wasn’t supposed to happen, it shouldn’t have. I thought I had control over it.”
Aiden remained quiet.
“It’s nothing that can hurt you,” she added. “Well, it’s nothing you can catch from me-”
“That didn’t even cross my mind, Nayeli. What I am concerned about is what else is there that you are keeping from me?”
Tears ran freely down her cheeks. “So much, Aiden. I won’t know where to start.”
He fell silent, staring at her.
“I’ve been writing letters to my council in the Maya Isles, discussing a matter I’ve taken up with them before I left.”
“And what matter is that?”
She didn’t answer him, instead she lowered her head down onto her knees. She trembled slightly, holding onto her legs. Aiden got to his feet and stopped next to her. He lifted her body up effortlessly, bringing her to her feet. He seemed concerned for her, but his features hardened.
“What matter, Nayeli?” he asked again.
“I don’t want to marry the King of Adamar,” she said softly, looking up at him. “I want to go home, Aiden. And I want to stay there.”
He gave a step away from her, shock lining his features. “What?” he mumbled in surprise.
“Our marriage was arranged ten years ago to cease war between our kingdoms. For ten years we’ve had peace. We can continue, leave things as it is. We don’t have to marry each other, Aiden. I’ll sign a treaty with you, sign my loyalty to you, but I can’t marry you.”
He shook his head. “Our fathers made this agreement-”
“Our fathers are no longer here-”
“It doesn’t mean we don’t have to honor them!” he exclaimed.
“But I was sold to you when I was seven years old!” she shouted back. “For ten years I was forced to visit your castle. I don’t fit here, Aiden-”
“It’s because you never wanted to be a part of my kingdom! You weren’t willing to learn our ways-”
“And you aren’t willing to learn mine,” she spat. “Except when they say that you could claim me before we are married-”
“Yes, because that would have made everything better. Were you honestly going to let me do this to you when you aren’t planning on marrying me?!”
She took a step back from him. “I wanted to give us a chance-”
“It was not the way to do it, Nayeli.”
She stared at him, shocked by his words. He ignored her, picking up their clothes. He presses her dress back into her hands. He started to get dressed. Once he had his pants and shirt back on, he realized she wasn’t moving.
“Would you please put your clothes back on?” he asked.
She moved, starting to put the dress on. She felt dazed as she climbed back into the dress. Once her dress was pulled up, Aiden looked at her again. He stopped in front of her, handing her his jacket.
She pressed it away. “I don’t need it,” she said softly.
“Nayeli,” he said, lowering the jacket away from her. “This agreement was made by our fathers. I won’t break my father’s word. But I won’t force you to marry me either. Is this what you want?” Silence fell. “Think over your answer very carefully, because I won’t ask you again. And this would be your decision. Your choice.”
She wiped a tear off her cheek. “I truly am sorry, Aiden-”
Without warning, Aiden brought her closer to him, pressing her lips to his. He kissed her carelessly and she allowed him to.
“Please, make sure it’s what you want,” he breathed against her lips.
“I have to go home,” she whispered.
He kissed her again, longer than the previous kiss, holding her body against his. “Change your mind,” he moaned into her mouth.
Tears left her eyes and she could taste them in their kisses.
When Aiden released her body, she stepped away and touched her mouth. “I don’t belong here,” she said. “Please understand-”
“I will never understand,” he said bluntly. He dusted off his jacket, pulling it on over his clothes. “I will never understand,” he repeated.
Sep 11, 2015 08:11AM
Oh my gosh... I want more! Your story pulled me in from the first page! I want to know what happens to Jon, and Nayeli, and Aiden,and Akira... are you going to write a whole book? If you do I would totally read it. You have a way with words, and a great story on your hands!
Sep 11, 2015 12:38PM
Wonderful! Your story is very intense. I am love with your book! I hope to see more...
Sep 13, 2015 01:32AM
Mariettedr wrote: "Aiden didn’t reach for her again and she took the chance to lower her head to the cold floor. Pressing her head onto the cold helped. The burn in her veins felt lighter, but her hands were still si..."
Yes, a making this a whole book. I've written most of it, busy with the last few chapters. I will post more on it today.
Thanks for reading & please feel free to give advise or ask questions.
Sep 13, 2015 01:33AM
Sara wrote: "Wonderful! Your story is very intense. I am love with your book! I hope to see more..."
Much more to come, this is only the beginning of a series of exciting events. The Native Princess is quite the wildcard.
Will post more today.
Thanks for reading.
(last edited Sep 13, 2015 07:30AM)
Sep 13, 2015 01:34AM
Chapter Five - The Snake, the Stag & the Tiger
“Where is she?” King Aiden asked.
The guards pressed open the doors to Akira’s chamber, allowing the King access. Still in his nightwear, dawn barely with them. He moved into her chamber, passed the sunroom and into her bedroom. Akira was on the floor, crying hysterically. Jon was already there and was already kneeled next to her, whispering softly to her. She screamed at him, crawling away from him.
“Jon?” Aiden asked, staring at his sister in horror.
Jon stood, looking worriedly at Aiden. “She thinks I am a tiger. She’s scared of me and refuses to let me touch her.”
Aiden kneeled in front of his sister. Her head was on the floor, eyes open and crying as if she had lost a loved one.
“Akira,” he said softly. “How can I help you?”
“Kill the snake!” Akira shouted at him, covering her face with her hands.
They both looked around in the room, as if the might find a snake rolled up on the floor.
“There’s no snake, Akira,” Jon murmured to her. “It can’t hurt you because it’s not real.”
“Then why does it feel so real?!” she screamed.
Both men on their knees now, they quietly spoke with Akira.
“They are only dreams,” Aiden said. “Calm down and let them go.”
“Push them out of your mind, see that it is dawn and you can wake up and leave the dreams behind,” Jon murmured, quietly getting to his feet to open the curtains. Breaking dawn slowly slipped into the room. Akira started bewildered at day breaking.
“Calm down, Akira,” Aiden murmured.
Her sobs stopped, her eyes staring out the window. Jon opened all of her curtains and even the doors to her balcony. Cold wind pushed through, snow blowing into her room. Akira turned onto her back, her breathing calmed. The last few tears left her eyes, but she was calming down.
Jon and Aiden kept quiet, watching her on the floor. When their eyes met, Aiden nodded his thanks to Jon.
Jon gave a step closer. “She’s calming down,” he said. “Let me take care of her? I’ll make sure you know if she needs you. But I think I can take it from here.”
Aiden hesitated, but eventually he nodded.
“When she’s better, I will come back.”
“She’s going to be very tired. Rather let her rest.”
“Yes,” Aiden said, his eyes on his sister again. “Please get her off the floor.”
“I will,” Jon said.
Aiden left, his heart heavy. Seeing Akira on the floor made him think of Nayeli’s fever from the night before. Was she sick? He had no way of knowing, no one of her culture he could ask. The closest person her knew as a native was Duke Faure. And he wasn’t going to ask that man anything.
Outside Akira’s room, Aiden turned to one of the guards. “Would you please go to Councilman Frances and ask him to arrange a meet? I want every one of my council there.”
Jon lifted Akira’s body, finding it as light as a feather. She didn’t fight him this time, instead she nuzzled herself into his arms. He got onto her bed, still holding onto her. She pulled him onto the bed with her, not wanting to let go.
“I’m sorry,” she murmured.
“Don’t apologize,” he said, wiping hair out of her face. Her face was wet with sweat, her hair sticking to her forehead.
“I’m glad you are here.”
“Where else would I be? I’m your protector, remember?”
“And the only one that knows how to help me,” she said, her voice leaden with emotion.
He shook his head. “It won’t be necessary. You’re alright now.”
“Do you have some leaves or roots?” she asked.
Jon remained quiet.
“So, you do have. Why haven’t you given them to me?”
“They are not good for you, Akira.”
“The leaves make me calm, refraining from having an episode like I just did. And the roots give me dreamless nights. How can that not be good for me, Jon? It is exactly what I need.”
“We’ve been able to go without Ember for weeks now. You need to learn not to rely on it.”
Her face hardened. “I don’t want to dream, Jon. It’s only getting worse. Last night was the worst I’ve ever experienced.”
“And you pulled through,” he said, staring down at her.
“Barely,” she whimpered, tears starting in her eyes. “Why must I be cursed with these distraught dreams of animals and human voices crying out? Why can’t I eat Ember roots and sleep dreamlessly?”
“Don’t cry,” he murmured, wiping tears off her cheeks.
“I’m sad all the time. I cry all the time.”
“Ember is not the answer-”
“I want to feel better, Jon!” she said, struggling out of his arms. “I want to wake up each morning without having to scream myself awake!”
“And what do you think Aiden will say when he finds out?”
“He won’t find out,” Akira snapped. “And, besides, if you don’t want to be part of this, I will find someone else to supply me.”
“You can’t trust anyone else-”
“Then why don’t you help me, Jon?!”
“I want to help you-”
“Then give it to me,” she snapped.
Jon stared at her, shaking his head. “Only if you make me a promise first. One you are going to keep as long as I live.”
Her brow furrowed. “What kind of promise?”
“You will only use Ember when I provide you with it. You will accept it from no other person, no matter who the person is. You will only use what little amount I can provide you with.”
“You want to regulate me carefully. I can understand that.”
“Is it a promise you can make me?”
“Yes, of cause,” she said with a nod of her head. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. You know I trust you, Jon.”
“All right,” he said softly. He dug into his pocket, taking out what little Ember he had bought in the slums. “This would do for a while. Use it sparingly. These are hard to come by.”
“I know,” she murmured, lowering her eyes away from him. “Thank you, Jon.”
“Please, this is not something I want you to thank me for.”
(last edited Sep 13, 2015 01:44AM)
Sep 13, 2015 01:35AM
Princess Nayeli found the doors to the council room open. She hesitated before stepping through. She expected to find Aiden at the head of the table with his councilors surrounding the table, but instead Jon May was sitting at the end of the table, waiting for her.
“I thought I was meeting with the Council?” she asked.
“The Council already met.”
She frowned. “Without me?”
“Aiden knew what you wanted, the rest were mere formalities,” he said. There was a stack of papers lying next to him, he gestured towards it. “The agreement is ready for you to sign. Have a seat?”
Jon started to explain the terms and conditions once she found a chair. She listened, holding her head high and refraining from shouting out loud. Because that was what she felt like doing. She wanted to cry out, scream at everyone around her. She knew she was treading on dangerous territory. Failing to meet the requirements of an agreement made by Kings was going to cost her. There were going to be people, lords and dukes in Adarmar that wasn’t going to accept her failure to marry their King.
But she couldn’t marry him.
The alpoca would not survive the tiger
, she reminded herself.
“You will sign over your kingdom to King Aiden Estrella,” Jon continued. “It would be as if you married him, except without a joining ceremony and you don’t have to live in Adamar Castle. You can go back to the Maya Isles.”
“You will be Duchess of the Maya Isles now. But King Aiden granted you keep your title, as Princess Nayeli Faye. But don’t misunderstand your position in this kingdom,” Jon said. “You’re no longer a Princess, even if you are called one. You have the position of a duchess. You have the same say as any other duchess.”
“Then why call me something I’m not?” she asked.
“Because of respect for your father,” Jon said, turning a page over. “Your kingdom is rich in farms and lands, you will keep providing Adarmar with your harvests. Your kingdom will be provided for first, of cause, and whatever surplus you have will be sent to Adarmar. Adarmar will pay fair charges for it.”
She nodded, her eyes on the table.
“Maya Castle and ground will solely belong to Princess Nayeli Faye, not to King Aiden Estrella.”
He eyes jumped up to look at him. “What?”
Jon let out a sigh. “He refuses to take ownership of your castle.”
Without pausing, Jon continued. He read through the rest, granting most of her kingdom to Aiden. She knew what it meant, she was signing her kingdom over to him. But it would have been the same if she married him. At least this way, he was free of her.
“There are going to be authorities in this kingdom that won’t like this agreement,” Jon said, looking at her now, the papers pushed to the side. “Powerful men and women in Adarmar are going to challenge your authority, Princess. If you had married King Aiden you would have been safe. But you’ve distanced yourself from the only person that can protect a native like yourself. Adarmar would be sending reinforcements into the Maya Isles and into Maya Castle.”
“Eyes for King Aiden?” she asked.
“They are there for your protection. If something were to happen to you, your people will rise against Adarmar.”
“Nothing will happen to me,” she said, crossing her arms.
Jon cleared his throat. “Can I make a suggestion?”
“Is this “suggestion” coming from Aiden?”
“No,” he said, his brow furrowed. “If you let me, if you allow me to speak openly, I can give you very good advice.”
“Go ahead,” she said, her shoulders set and ready.
“I really hope it was you that I ran into in the slums,” he began. “Because that was a woman that could fight for herself.”
She didn’t answer him, but held his eyes.
“You’ll need that courage. The people of Adarmar is going to challenge you every chance they get. They won’t be as polite as in the past. You have duchess status now, and people will make sure you know that you have been de-graded. Accept the King’s men into your kingdom. The sooner your kingdom would merge with ours, the less painful it would be for everyone.”
“I wasn’t planning on fighting against it. I know this is what my father agreed to and what is best for my kingdom. I’ll sign the agreement.”
He pushed the stack of papers closer to her.
“I’m just saying that you should be ready for what is coming.”
“I’ve always been ready,” she said, taking a quill and dipping it in ink.
“It’s a good agreement for you,” Jon said, watching her sign it. “He was kind to you. I wouldn’t have been.”
“Explain to me how it works,” she said, ignoring his previous words. “You are an Aemazon Warrior, right? What does that mean? What do the Aemazon Warriors stand for?”
Jon looked surprised at her question. “We are the strongest warriors these lands have ever seen.”
“That is not what I meant,” she said, placing the quill on the table. “You are five hundred men without a leader. You weren’t born in Adarmar, yet you stay here. Yet you are loyal to King Aiden Estrella.”
Jon shrugged. “We follow whoever wins our loyalty.”
“And the King won your loyalty?”
“When he was eighteen years old, he travelled to the Domain Kingdom. As you know, it is a savage kingdom. Not a safe place for a young prince to walk around. We were bound to a Duke in the Domain Kingdom. Enslaved, if you will. We slept with chains around our wrists, spent our days with them. He used us in their fighting pits. Selling us off to whoever was willing to pay the highest bid.”
He fell silent, watching Nayeli.
“There was something about a young man stepping into a pit and challenging the leader of the Domain Kingdom.”
“Aiden did that?”
“He was reckless. Young, and utterly stupid. He lost the fight, beaten to a pulp. He was thrown into the mud like a sack of potatoes.”
“What did they do to him?”
“They tried selling him to the highest bidder, of cause.” Jon shook his head. “His father bought him,” Jon continued. “Aiden wasn’t even aware that his father had followed him into the Domain Kingdom. Luckily he had.”
“Did his father buy you too?”
“Buy five hundred warriors? Gods, no. He placed his money to better use. He bribed the guards of the slave jails to leave the gates open. Every last one of them. Then he took his son and returned to Adarmar.”
Nayeli almost smiled.
“Of cause we hated the King of the Domain Kingdom, still hate him. So we didn’t even hesitate to search for the young boy who was willing to challenge him. A few weeks later, Aiden woke up with an army surrounding his castle. We’ve haven’t left since.
We choose who we follow. We can’t be bought or bound by an agreement. A piece of paper won’t hold us. And the seas hear me, neither will chains bind my wrists ever again.
We follow the code of the wolves, I guess. The Aemazon Warriors are bound together like them. They choose their loyalty, it can’t be chosen for them. And we remain together, us Warriors, the bond unbreakable.”
“You are Pack,” she said and the term seemed to please him immensely. He smiled at her, a genuine smile.
“Yes, we are Pack.”
“And is King Aiden Pack to you?”
“You can only be an Aemazon Warrior if you’ve been invited to join.”
“Has Aiden been invited?”
“Yes,” he said. “But he declined. He would never be able to be free like us. We can go wherever we want, follow whoever we choose. He can’t. He will have to choose his kingdom every time, every day.”
Nayeli nodded, understanding.
“But we aren’t her to discuss me,” Jon said. “Is there anything you would like to counter in the agreement?”
“No,” she said. “I agree to it.”
“I will give it through to the Council then.”
Nayeli’s body felt heavy when she stood, her heart a magnet to the floor. She stood, her eyes on the agreement, pausing.
“Any last advice, Aemazon Warrior?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said, also standing. “Produce an heir to your kingdom as soon as possible. This agreement won’t stand without you in the Maya Isles. You are your father’s last heir. Who knows what would happen if you weren’t there to honor it?”
“Are you going to offer the same advice to your King?”
“He’s not my King, he’s my friend. And I’m sure he already knows it, I don’t have to say it.”
“At least he’s got Princess Arika.”
“Yes,” he said with a long, weary sigh. “The Princess Akira.”
Nayeli wanted to ask him what his long sigh meant, but before she could, he walked for the door. He disappeared into the hall. Nayeli frowned, still deciding what his words could have meant.
Sep 13, 2015 01:35AM
Princess Akira lied on her bed with the doors and curtains closed. She had lit Ember leaves around her bed, causing it’s odor to traveller through the room. Smoke hung in the air. Akira lifted her finger to play with the gray shadows of the smoke.
Did she light too much of the leaves?
She laughed by herself. Great seas, she surely did feel better. He headaches gone, stress reduced to nothing. Ember leaves might just be the answer to every one of her problems. Akira smiled, stretching herself out on her bed.
A knock at the door made her jump. She laughed out loud, feeling silly that a knock could make her startle so easily. Akira slid off the bed, pillows falling to the floor. She waved some of the smoke away around her head, opening the door a few inches. A maid stood on the other side.
“Milady,” the servant said, curtsying. “You have a visitor in your sunroom.”
Akira groaned. “Tell that simpleminded Duchess that I’m so, so very busy. Or maybe you should tell her that I will be busy for the rest of my life.”
The servant frowned at her, lowering her head as she spoke. “Princess Nayeli Faye seeks an audience with you, Milady.”
Akira shook her head, trying to clear her head. “Why is the Princess here?” she asked.
The servant shrugged. “Do you want me to ask, Milady?”
“No,” Akira mumbled. “Tell her I’ll be out in a minute.”
Akira closed the door quickly, waving smoke away from her. There wasn’t time to dress in fresh clothing, so she pulled a light cloak from her wardrobe, pulling it around her smoke-infused body.
There was not time to pull her hair in order, she decided, as she made her way out of her room. She closed the door behind her, not wanting the smell of smoke to follow her to the sunroom.
Once Akira entered the sunroom, Princess Nayeli stood, her hands folded into her lap. “Princes Akira,” she said in greeting, bowing her head.
“Princess Nayeli,” Akira said, returning the bow of her head. When Akira looked up, Nayeli then seems hazy. Akira blinked a few times, sitting down in the furthest chair from Nayeli.
“I came to apologize for last night,” Nayeli said.
Akira leaned back into her chair, looking at her. “What is there to apologize for?”
“I made my own interpretations of your dreams. I didn’t want to upset you.”
“You seemed to be the upset one,” Akira said, feeling as if her words were leaving her mouth very slowly. Nayeli didn’t seem to notice.
“Do you dream about the red and blue alpoca often, Princess?”
“I dream of tigers and snakes now.”
“A snake?” she asked.
“And a stag.”
“What happens to them?”
Akira shook her head. “I don’t like to talk about it.”
“Akira,” the princess began. “My people are very good with analyzing dreams. I can help you with this.”
“You think you can analyze it? They are not real.”
Nayeli moved uneasily in her chair. “I suppose not.”
A silence stretched between them.
“Did you bring me apples?” Akira asked.
Nayeli’s eyes lifted, watching Akira. “Are you hungry?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “But I won’t say no to some meat. Yes, I’m hungry for meat. It’s funny, because I don’t normally like meat that much.”
Akira laughed at herself. Why would she tell that to the Princess of the Maya Isles?
“You share the appetite of companions in your dreams. Did you dream last night, Akira?”
Akira sat up in her chair. Her body felt heavy, but she kept it upright. “How did you know that I dreamt? Is the castle taking about my fits?”
“No,” Nayeli said, quickly. “I am only offering you my help. Like I said, I can help you with these dreams.”
Akira shook her head. “I can’t accept help from someone else in this regards. I promised.”
“You should write to me,” Nayeli pressed. “Tell me about your dreams. Maybe there would be someone to help you.”
“Your people might be able to take them away?” she asked, holding onto the rail of the chair, suddenly feeling weak and her eyelids heavy.
When she opened her eyes again, Nayeli was kneeled in front of her, watching her. It startled her, falling back into her chair.
“Why would you want to get rid of them, Akira?” she asked, leaning towards her.
“You never call me by my name,” Akira mumbled, widening her eyes to look at Nayeli. She was so close to her now.
“Tell me what you had dreamt,” Nayeli asked, not very nicely.
“Of tigers and snakes and stags!” Akira declared.
“Why do they all appear in one dream, Akira?” Nayeli asked, trying to catch Akira’s wavering attention.
“I want to go back to my room,” Akira said. “And I want you to leave.”
Nayeli shook her head in frustration. “Don’t worry, Princess, I will be out of your castle before the end of the day.”
“You’re leaving? But the Courtas Days only began yesterday.”
“I’m not marrying your brother, Akira. I’m leaving.”
That was able to clear Akira’s head for a moment, long enough to keep her eyes open and to look at Nayeli. Her hair had feathers in, blue and red, and she was dressed in her native clothing. She also noticed that Nayeli’s eyes were red and her cheeks puffy. Had she been crying?
“Why are you leaving, Princess Nayeli?”
“Because the alpoca won’t survive the tiger,” she said softly. “And I can’t be in this castle when that day comes.”
Akira’s brow pulled together. “I’ll write to you,” she found herself saying. “If I see the alpoca in my dreams, I’ll tell you.”
Nayeli’s face saddened. “You won’t see it again, Akira.”
Akira wanted to feel sad, but the Ember leaves didn’t allow her to feel it. She knew that, and well, it gave her courage to continue. She reached for Nayeli’s hand, holding it.
“The snake bit the stag in my dream,” she began and Nayeli’s eyes widened. “Once the stag was dead, the tiger and the snake fought over it.”
Nayeli lowered her gaze away from her, closing her eyes for a moment.
“But it’s the wolf that gets hurt most in their fight.”
“The wolf?” Nayeli asked, her eyes opening. “You never said there was a wolf?”
“The wolf is always there,” she said. “Always. He will never abandon me. He protects me against everything else.”
“A wolf?” Nayeli asked again.
“I’ve dreamt of the wolf and the tiger fighting, too. But they don’t hurt each other in their fights. Not yet, but they will. Oh, Nayeli, I fear the tiger most,” Akira said, her lids seeming to get more heavy by the second. “The tiger will hurt the wolf. I’m sure of it.”
“Why?” Nayeli asked, clutching her hand tighter. “Why does it want to hurt the wolf?”
Akira wanted to sleep, to rest. “Because the tiger wanted the stag for itself.”
“But isn’t the snake to blame for the stag’s death?”
“Yes. But the wolf won’t know that,” Akira said, pulling her hand out of Nayeli’s. “I need to rest.”
“Akira, you don’t look so good. Are you alright? Can I help you back to your chamber?”
“Don’t go into my chamber,” Akira snapped. “I will get there myself.”
“Are you sure? Let me call a servant for you?”
Akira smiled at the Princess. “Don’t fret so much, Princess. You should spend your last few hours with my brother. Usually when he’s upset, he hides in the stables.”
“How do you know he’ll be upset?”
“Oh, he’s upset alright. I’m sure of it.”
Nayeli moved in front of her, but her vision has gone blurry and unclear. She heard Nayeli move away from her. She wanted to say good-bye, but her head was clouded and her eyes were closing. She was almost close to being asleep when Nayeli spoke from the far end of the room.
“We’ll fight the tiger together, Akira.”
And then sleep took her.
(last edited Sep 13, 2015 07:31AM)
Sep 13, 2015 01:36AM
Chapter Six - It Is How We Had Met
When Nayeli walked into the stables, the horses became restless at the smell of her. The stable hound barked and ran around her, sniffing her and barking some more. She was not one for dogs, never have been. Nor one for wolves, for that matter.
“You’re upsetting my stable,” someone said from within one of the horses’ stalls. She turned into the stall, finding Aiden with a brush in his hand. He was brushing a horse, looking over its back to where she stood in the door.
“Good day, King Aiden,” she said, leaning against the frame of the stall door.
“Good day, Princess Nayeli,” he said, brushing the hide of the horse. “And to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”
She crossed her arms. “I came to say farewell. I’m leaving before the end of day.”
“You’re leaving already,” he said, more to himself than to her. He finished brushing the horse, putting down the brush and stepping around it to face her. He stood in front of her, watching her.
“I signed your agreement.”
“Our agreement. If there’s something you don’t like, speak now.”
“Our agreement then,” she said, nodding her head.
He dusted his hands off on his clothes. “It’s so fitting,” he said. “That we say goodbye here.”
She unfolded her arms, waiting for him to continue.
“It’s how we met, well officially, you and me. You came to me in the stable in your homeland and after a series of questions, you shook my hand.”
The memory made her smile. “You remember that,” she said softly.
“You expected me to forget?”
“Yes,” she said, shyly. “I didn’t think you would take a seven year old girl seriously.”
“Well, I did. And I still do. She was quite the shrewd girl.”
“Not really,” she said, weakly. “But I’m glad you remember her. It makes me happy to know.”
“Well,” Aiden said, and held his hand out to her. “I guess this is goodbye then.”
Nayeli stared at his hand, her heart silent in her chest. She stepped forward to take his hand. She reached for him and once their hands touched, he pulled her into his chest, embracing her.
She leaned into his touch, welcoming the smell of him. Even if it was mixed with that of the stables. She breathed him in, holding onto him.
“I’m planning on riding up to the Adarmar River. Would you like to join me?” he asked into her hair.
“I’m leaving in a few hours.”
“Leave tomorrow,” he said, his lips touching her ear.
She tilted her head, looking up at him. “And what will we do at the river?”
“Well, it’s a sight to behold. And even better with company to share it with.”
“You won’t find my company unpleasant on a day like this?”
“It’s exactly on days like these that we need to show each other friendliness. Because we are allied together now. Maybe even friends.”
“Friends?” she snorted.
“I’ll show you,” he mused. “We are going to be the best of friends.”
(last edited Sep 13, 2015 01:37AM)
Sep 13, 2015 01:36AM
Nayeli ran into the river and once she met the water, Aiden grabbed her from behind and plunged into the water with her. The renowned waters of the Adarmar River were as hot and warm as ever, even if winter was threatening the lands with snow. The water of the Adarmar River was famous for its unexplainable temperature and Nayeli could only marvel at the warmth on her skin. The water welcomed their cold bodies, heating them up. Their clothes were left with their horses on the side of the river and her heart jumped at the thought of having Aiden so close to her without any clothes on. She had expected him to be angry with her today, to push her away, but she was pleasantly surprised when he had pulled blankets out for them to lie on once they had reached the river. They had not lain on the blankets for long when Aiden surprised her by starting to take his clothes off.
She would never forget that mischievous smile that had played with his mouth.
She had always been one for a challenge and it was probably time for the King of Adarmar to know that she would not back away from it. She had been brave then, removing her clothes as well, but now that she was in the water with him, her heart was racing.
She took in a nervous breath as Aiden brought her body closer to his. She wanted to see his face, so she flipped around to look up at him. His hands came to rest on her hips, guiding her closer. His eyes were kind, holding her gaze. Boldly, she reached out to touch his lips with her wet fingers, her thumb tracing over his mouth. He remained still and quiet, waiting for her to say something. But she didn’t speak, she could only stare at the man in front of her.
He reached out to guide her long hair away from her chest. It drifted over her shoulders in the water, darker than ever, to reveal her upper body. He stared down at her and marveled at her flawlessness.
“Going ridiculously senseless again?” she whispered to him, repeating his words of the night before.
“I should be mad at you,” he said. “I should be fighting with you.”
“The agreement is signed,” she said, shaking her head playfully. “Nothing to fight about.”
“Isn’t this,” he gestured at the river around them, “supposed to be what betrothed pairs do? Instead I’m letting you leave.”
“This is what free people do,” she said, putting her arms around his neck. “We’re free, Aiden.”
“And if I kiss you?” he asked. “Would you be trapped again?”
“I would be freely happy,” she murmured and brought her mouth closer to his.
“I don’t understand,” he whispered against her lips.
She closed her eyes, leaning her head against his. “I truly hope that you will one day.”
“Why can’t you explain it to me?”
“Next time you see me, we would both know that we made the right decision.”
“And until then?”
“We’ll be friends,” she said and craned her head back to look at him.
“When will I see you again?” he murmured to her.
She smiled playfully. “Soon.”
He kissed her then, pulling her body into his. Their legs tangled together in the water and his back stiffened when she wrapped her legs around his hips. He broke their kiss to lazily lift an eyebrow at her. She smiled innocently back at him, playing with his hair at the back of his head.
,” he warned.
“It’s alright, Aiden,” she whispered as she pulled her mouth closer to his ear, embracing his head. “I’ve always been ready for you, remember?”
He wrapped his arms around her completely, his face in her neck. “Are you sure about that?”
“I’ve never been surer in my life,” she breathed into his ear.
He brought his lips to hers, clutching her bare body against his own. She tasted the salty tang of the river on his mouth as his kisses grew hungrier and it made warmth danced through her veins. Her stomach knotted at their closeness and the heat of his desire filled her. His driving kisses joined them together, their bodies entwining in want.
Aiden’s hands trailed down her back and he groaned into her mouth. Tightening her grip around his neck, she held on when Aiden took hold of her and started walking out of the water with her. He made his way to their belonging, her legs still wrapped around his hips.
She held his gaze as he lowered her onto their blankets. He looked down at her and stopped. Giving them both the chance to breathe, Aiden locked their gazes together. Her eyes roamed his face and her lips parted as invitation. A lazy smile touched his features and he covered her lips with his warm mouth again. She closed her eyes and savored the feeling of him. She wanted all of him, everything he was willing to give her after what she had done to their betrothal. A pang of regret pricked her heart once she realized what she was giving up. She moaned his name against his mouth and tightened her hold on him with her legs. In that moment she felt like she never wanted to let him go. The man she had pushed away was abruptly her only desire.
Aiden’s mouth left hers and she took in a sharp gasp of air. Her eyes opened once she felt his tongue trail over her breast. Her cheeks were flushed red and her heart was throbbing in her ears. He whispered her name against, his lips touching her burning body. She lowered her gaze and stared down into his eyes. His eyes had gone dark with desire, watching her pant under his touch. The way he was making her body respond was foreign to her and she desperately wanted to understand how she could yield so easily. He was even more compelling than she had given him credit for. He was kind and he was gentle, but the next time he kissed her, it was the spellbinding desire of Wildness she tasted on his lips.
Her back arched towards him in craze and her hips met with his. She wanted them to be one in their Wildness for one another. Aiden moaned against her lips and craned his head back to look down at her. He asked with his eyes, his breathing gloriously uneven. Holding his eyes, she granted the permission he craved.
With a nod of her head, Aiden made her heart go aflame.
Sep 13, 2015 03:06AM
This should be a book! I loved reading it! That blue eyes... I wonder what her history is all about. Too intriguing!
Sep 13, 2015 04:27AM
Lovely! Remeber I book than I like very much. The tiger´s curse. Do you know them? I am liking more the story of the Native princess. What´s her curse?
(last edited Sep 13, 2015 04:40AM)
Sep 13, 2015 04:39AM
Yes, the Native Princess has got quite a lot of secrets. They will all be revealed within time.
Enjoy the next few chapters! The story continues 8 months later ;)
Thanks for reading.
(last edited Sep 13, 2015 07:32AM)
Sep 13, 2015 04:40AM
Chapter Seven - Meeting In The Slums
Jon stared at the traitor in front of him, clenching his teeth.
“I paid you in full. Now hand me the goods and get out of my face,” Jon muttered.
“What will an Aemazon Warrior do with Ember?” the man asked. “Aren’t you alive enough, Warrior?”
“Don’t play with me,” Jon warned.
“Oh,” the man mused. “We are planning on playing with you quite a bit, Warrior.”
Jon became aware of movement around him. When he turned to look around, he noticed the scum moving in the shadows. He was in the slums, a few hours from dawn, and he was surrounded by a group of men ripping him off. He had paid for the Ember, much more than what served as a fair price and he had bought a lot, meaning that he had spent a lot of his money and he was about to lose it all. And get a beating out of it too.
“Just give me what I paid for and you can walk away in once piece,” Jon warned, the man in front of him already chosen as his first target to lunge at.
“How about we keep your money this time around? As an insurance that you would only buy from me in the future.”
“I don’t think so.”
“We can come to an agreement here, Warrior. And with your next supply, we can even deliver it to your fighting fields.”
Jon cursed, knowing the chaos that this man could cause.
“Don’t go near the fighting fields. If I smell any of your scum even thinking of nearing me in public, I will rip all of your heads off.”
The man laughed, his features wrapped in the night’s shadows. “It looks like we won’t be coming to an agreement then?”
“Give me the Ember. Or my money back.”
“No can do,” the man said, his voice a deadly soft whisper.
Jon was ready. He knew men would be coming at him from the shadows, but he wasn’t prepared for the amount of men that came at him. And they weren’t the normal scum he expected. To his surprise, the men could throw solid punches and they were armed. Jon had his knife out, defending himself, but soon his knife was hit to the ground by a rusty old sword.
They taunted him with their weapons, poking him with a sword in the ribs, a knife down his arm. A blow came from behind, a shock against the head. They wanted to knock him unconscious, he realized. What they would do with him then, he couldn’t figure out. But they knew he was an Aemazon Warrior. Surely they had a plan with him, either handing him over to the guard for illegal purchases or maybe even selling him.
Jon cursed and another blow struck the back of his head. He dropped forward, landing on his knees. His vision swam, but his anger took hold of his body, pushing him up. Jon rose and managed to grab the wooden cane that came for his head again. He got hold of the cane and pulled it out of the man’s hand. The lot around him jumped away, allowing him the space he needed to fight back.
The moment he was up and ready, they came for him again.
He tried missing the blows, and managed for a while. But eventually the wooden cane became shorter and shorter. He was fighting, but he wasn’t winning, he realized. But he continued to fight either way, taking every chance he could in plucking a weapon out of one of their hands. But he didn’t succeed.
A blow struck him on the head again, harder than the previous two. He could feel blood running down his scalp. He fell to his knees, his vision blurred.
He looked up, looking for the man that had betrayed him. At least he would take him down, give him a good few punches. His eyes met with the man and he was smiling down at Jon.
And then a sight in white struck the man from behind. He fell to the floor, abruptly still. Jon stared at him on the ground. He was out cold, not getting back up from the blow.
A white cloak looped past him, a sword glinting in the moon’s light. The men attacked, but the white cloak was ready for them, meeting each one of their blows. As the cloak danced between the men, putting them on their backs, Jon smiled. He knew that white cloak.
Jon struggled to his feet, dizzy from the knocks to his head. When he turned around, the white cloak dropped the last man to the ground and stepped away from him. The rest of the men were running. Jon stared in amazement as they fled from a girl.
Jon stepped closer to her but stopped the moment two bright blue eyes stared at him from within the white cloak. He stopped and stared. Her eyes seemed
She shook her head, closing her eyes. Then the cloak dropped from her head, revealing black hair plaited with feathers. When she opened her eyes, she seemed calm, and came closer to him.
“You’re bleeding,” she muttered and threw a handkerchief at him.
He caught it, still shocked to find her in the slums once again.
Nayeli had left Adarmar Castle the day after she signed the King’s agreement. It’s been eight months since she left, eight months in which Aiden Estrella, his friend and King, had almost gone mad. A woman he didn’t even like had given him a broken heart.
But seeing her stand in front of him now with a sword in her hand and a battle won behind her back, Jon couldn’t imagine what more any man could want. Jon touched the back of his head, his hair wet with blood.
“I didn’t think I would see you down here ever again,” Jon said.
Nayeli didn’t stand still, she kept pacing back and forth in front of him like a restless cat trapped inside a small space. A silence stretched between them.
“Did you cut your hair?” Jon found himself asking.
She ignored him completely, not even looking at him. Her hair was definitely shorter. It was cropped off just above her shoulders.
Another silence stretched.
“Ember?” she finally asked, coming to a halt.
Jon’s heart stopped. “It’s not what you think-”
“I don’t care,” she snapped. “I
care,” she repeated.
Jon remained quiet, watching her lift her head to look at him.
“Duke Faure Jevric is dead,” she said, her blue eyes staring back at him.
Jon lowered his gaze. “Yes, Princess. He’s gone.”
Nayeli cursed brutally, starting her pace back and forth in front of him again. Jon watched her, waiting for her to react.
“Ember!” she said again, more to the night than to him.
“It’s not what you think,” he tried again.
“I don’t care,” she said for the third time. “I really don’t.”
“Then why so upset?”
She cursed again, turning to look at him. “Because of all the ways I thought I’d be able to persuade you into accompany me to Eldenwood, I didn’t think Ember was going to be my way to do it.”
“Accompany you to Eldenwood?” he asked in surprise, a bemused smile on his face. “Why would I do that?”
“Because you weren’t invited by the King to go.”
She held his gaze, glaring at him.
And she was right.
When dawn comes, King Aiden and Princess Akira will ride to Eldenwood for the funeral of Duke Faure Jevric. Jon was planning on going with, up until Aiden took him aside and told him there was no place for him in the travelling party.
There was no place for Jon in the travelling party because Aiden didn’t want Jon to go with Akira. These past eight months Akira barely ever left her rooms. The only times she left was when Jon forced her out into the gardens. Her room was permanently hanging with smoke and her eyes were always red.
At first, Akira burned too much of the leaves, leaving her head fogged and unclear. But they were able to perfect the amounts small enough to leave her sharp and very much awake. Her days were fresh and crisp, her tongue sharp as ever. Then at the end of the day, her spirit would dwindle. By eating the roots of the Ember, her eyes would close and she would sleep dreamlessly.
But to get hold of Ember was starting to get impossible. For days now, Jon has been unable to make a purchase. For days now, Akira would scream during the nights, leaded with sweat and horror. He couldn’t bear to see her in such states, therefore he was in the slums every night to find her the Ember she needed.
Since Jon had been unable to buy Ember for ten days now, Jon would have to watch Akira leave his side without her “medicine” once dawn came. At dawn he would have to tell Akira that she will be going to Eldenwood without it. And without him.
Aiden had said that Jon and Akira needed time apart. Which was probably true, but Aiden had no idea what he was doing. Aiden thought they needed to be separated because the only time Akira was seen in public, it was with an Aemazon Warrior next to her.
Yes, Akira was growing up, and soon the men of Adarmar would start courting her. It was something Jon had to accept. But it wasn’t easy. And it won’t be easy to see her leave for Eldenwood without him. She called him her protector. And now the protector was being left behind.
“Aiden doesn’t need me to go with him and I have no business in Eldenwood, why would I have to go?”
“Because you want to,” she said, watching him.
“If I must go, I will accompany King Aiden and Princess Akira.”
“Their party is full, I hear.”
do you want me to go with
?” he asked.
“Because my party isn’t full.”
Jon snorted. “Oh, come on,” he said, bemused. “Out with the truth now.”
Nayeli smiled at him. “It’s a four day trip up the Adarmar River. And I imagine that we will be there for quite a few days,” she said, her smile never fading. “And I tend to get bored.”
“And I would be your jester of entertainment for the road?”
“Oh, won’t that be grand,” she said and laughed. “But no, I don’t want you to be my jester.”
“What do you want from me then?-”
“I want you to teach me to fight like you.”
Jon fell silent, his brow furrowing at her words. And then it was his turn to laugh. Shaking his head at her, his smile still on his lips, he continued. “Why would you want to learn the ways of the Warriors when you can defend yourself perfectly fine on your own?”
“Because I’m not strong enough,” she said, her voice serious.
“You did fine,” he said. “The scums ran away from you-”
“I don’t want to make people run away from me,” she said, frustrated. “I want to be able to hurt them.”
Jon’s smile faded, all signs of laughter in the past. “I told you to produce an heir, not to learn to fight.”
She remained quiet at first, but then she shook her head and looked up at him. “I will provide you with Ember if you agree to accompanying me to Eldenwood and teach me your fighting skills on the way there and back.”
Jon remained quiet.
“Mornings,” she bartered. “When dawn breaks and before we continue our travel, you can teach me skills I’ve never had the chance to learn.”
“All this because you tend to get
“I don’t see how you are going to get Ember any other way.”
“And where do you get Ember?” he snapped at her.
“It grows by the bunch in my homeland, you know that-”
“No,” Jon said, his voice firm. “Aiden doesn’t want me to go and therefore I will stay.”
“And what does Akira want?”
“Don’t play me, Princess,” he warned.
“I’m offering you a great bargain, Warrior. Think it over and-”
“I’m not agreeing to this,” he insisted. “I won’t betray Aiden.”
“It’s not a betrayal. You’re a free warrior, you can do whatever you want.”
Jon groaned. “No,” he insisted. “I’m not going with you. I don’t trust you or any of your so called bargains.”
Jon pushed past her, leaving her behind. He wanted to curse out loud, but then he heard her already cursing severely enough for the both of them.
Sep 13, 2015 04:44AM
After his encounter with Princess Nayeli, Jon went to the Warriors Courters, ridding himself of the blood in his hair and on his clothes. He couldn’t shake Nayeli’s blue eyes as he washed the blood off him.
She seemed different.
Was there even one person in this world that truly knew her?
Jon nearly fell over Aiden’s white cat, stumbling into Aiden’s chamber. Jon made his way through the chamber, coming up to Aiden’s bedroom door. He loosened a long breath, giving two hard raps against the door before opening it.
He stopped in the door, finding a naked woman sprawled across Aiden’s bed. She was asleep next to him, not even bothering to pull a sheet over her naked body. Aiden lifted his head, gazing at Jon over the naked woman next to him.
“Jon,” he moaned. “We’re sleeping. I have to get up for Eldenwood in an hour, let me rest till then.”
Jon shook his head and wondered just how many women had gone through Aiden’s chamber these past eight months. The moment Nayeli left, Aiden confided himself to his rooms for weeks. He was barely ever seen. And then suddenly it was as if it had struck him that he was free to do as he pleased. He didn’t speak about Princess Nayeli, always shrugged it off whenever someone would bring up their native ally to the South.
But he had flourished in charming every woman that dared flutter her eyelashes at him. The Princess forgotten, Aiden toyed with his life. And Jon knew that, knew that even if Aiden refused to mention Nayeli, that she was still a conflict that he was struggling to understand. And apparently he was trying his best to avoid working on his struggle by filling his bed with meaningless woman.
Jon hesitated, his eyes resting on the naked woman in Aiden’s bed.
“Is something wrong, Jon?”
“She’s here,” he said. “The Native Princess.”
Aiden sat up in his bed. “Where?”
“Princess Nayeli Faye is in the fucking castle,” Jon found himself saying. And with that he turned on his heel. He didn’t look at Aiden again, he needed to leave the chamber. He was a free Aemazon Warrior. The troubles of a king should not matter to him. He shouldn’t care. It was because of meddling in the business of Kings and Princesses that his head was hurting tremendously. His ribs were bruised and cuts covered his back and arms. He had fought in the slums, coming up empty handed and robbed of his money.
In an hour Akira would wake and he would have to tell her that she was going to Eldenwood without her protector and without her supply of Ember. The thought pressed down on him, troubling him more that it should. It was the business of Kings and Princesses. Why did he had to go pry in their business?
“Fucking Royals,” Jon muttered once he entered his own room, coming to a halt and staring at a package on his bed.
The package was wrapped in brown paper, a blue and a red feather tied to it. Jon sat down on his bed, holding the package in his hands.
Why would she still give him the Ember when he had told her that he would not accompany her to Eldenwood?
Jon snorted and cursed.
Because she knew he wouldn’t stay.
Sep 13, 2015 04:45AM
Breakfast was being served in the great hall. But when she wasn’t there, Aiden found himself looking for her. He couldn’t help it. He asked the guards, the servants, anyone that might know where she was. Finally a young servant lady smiled at him and told him she was in the south kitchens. Those parts of the kitchens would be cleared of staff by now and hope touched the smile on Aiden’s lips.
But the moment Aiden neared the kitchen door, he heard her laughing with someone. He stopped to quietly peek into the room. Like a six year old boy, he was peeking around the corner of a door to steal a peek at a girl.
He felt his heart move once his eyes rested on her. She sat with her back to him. Aiden couldn’t help himself, he thanked the seas that it was summer again. Nayeli was wearing native clothing, which meant she had a small piece of red fabric that covered her breasts and upper body, tying together behind her back. It left the rest of her stomach and back exposed, her shoulders bare. From the waist down, a faint blue skirt wrapped around her body and stopped just above her knees. To his surprise, the feathers in her hair were white, not the usual blue and red.
Aiden’s eyes travelled over her and marveled at the part of her back that she had left exposed. There was a tattoo on her back. And not a small one. He cocked his head to the side, taking in the bird that covered her left shoulder, sticking out from underneath her clothing. That was definitely something new.
“You were right,” a man said and sat down next to Nayeli, his back also to Aiden. Aiden was so focused on Nayeli that he almost forgot that there was a man with her. Judging by his attire, he must be a native too. He had dark hair and a tanned skin. Like Nayeli’s.
“What was I right about?” she asked the man.
“They really are different.”
Nayeli playfully nudged him with her elbow. “Be polite.”
She pulled bread and preserves closer to them. She handed him a plate and took one for herself as well. Just when Aiden wondered why they weren’t having breakfast in the great hall, his question was answered.
“So they sit at their high tables and wait for servants to serve them?” the man asked.
Nayeli shrugged. “It’s their way.”
“Did you like being served when you visited this place?”
This place. Was this how they regarded his kingdom, Aiden wondered.
“No,” she said and placed a slice of bread on each of their plates. “But I didn’t want to offend them.”
“Did you have servants in your room?”
“Yes,” she said and smiled at him. He smiled back at her, shaking his head.
They used only one knife, he noticed. She used it to cover her bread with butter. Then he took the knife from her, covering his bread with it as well. Then she took it back, applying preserves to her bread. Once she was done, she licked the knife clean. The man smiled at that, pulling the knife out of her hand and plunging it into the preserves as well. Aiden frowned by himself.
“Strawberry preserves were always your favorite,” he said.
“They serve it here every morning.”
Aiden’s frown deepened. Why didn’t he notice she liked it before?
“You are spoiled by a rich king,” the man snorted.
“Oh, he never spoiled me,” Nayeli said and took a bite of her bread.
“He gave you a Ploca Stallion for your eighteenth birthday-”
“It meant to say he didn’t spoil me when I was betrothed to him. The stallion came after I broke our father’s agreement and you know that very well, Hael. And well, it was my birthday. The horse was a gift.”
Hael laughed. “Can I have it?”
“You want my horse?”
Nayeli let out a sigh. “The King will take offence of that.”
He leaned closer to her, watching her. “Then you should keep it, I guess.”
They ate in silence for a while longer, comfortable in each other’s quietness. Then she looked at him, chewing her bread.
“What would you like to be called here?”
He frowned at her. “My name is Hael Young.”
She shook her head. “You belong to a very rich family in the Maya Isles. In Adarmar they will call you Lord Hael Young.”
Hael snorted. “Please don’t call me that.”
“And if they ask what you are to me? What do I say then?”
“I’m your Lunar.”
“They don’t even know what a Lunar is.”
“Then you should tell them I’m your lover.”
Aiden’s cheeks reddened, a heat lining his ears.
Nayeli laughed. Never before had he heard her laughed like that before.
“How about I just call you my friend?” she asked, still laughing.
“That sounds ridiculous. But acceptable.”
They leaned closer to one another, their eyes tied together. “My rich friend?” she teased.
“I’m nobody, Nayeli.”
She shook her head at him. “Not to me. You should have stayed home.”
“I knew Faure too. I want to be here.”
“I know. But I’m worried that you might not understand the people.”
Hael pressed the last piece of bread into his mouth, holding her gaze. “No,” he began. “You’re just afraid I won’t like your new King.”
“Our new King,” she corrected him. “And I don’t know if he will understand you.”
“We came for Faure. Not for the King.”
“Sometimes when Aiden speaks, he tends to demand. It’s not what he intends, he doesn’t want to claim my attention… But it’s like he doesn’t know how to ask for it instead of demanding it.”
Hael scratched his head, a playful smile on his face. “This is going to be very interesting.”
“All I ask is that you don’t intervene.”
Hael’s smile faded. “You don’t want me to say anything when he is rude to you?”
“He’s not rude to me.”
“If he wasn’t rude, why did you cry for weeks when you returned home eight months ago?”
“Because I was the rude one,” she said, her voice soft. “Let’s leave it there and eat more strawberry preserves?”
“These preserves?” Hael asked, his smile returning. He plunged his thumb into the jelly of the preserves and before Nayeli could stop him, he smeared his thumb over her lips. She ducked away from him, licking at the smile on her face.
“Will you go greet the King?” Hael asked, licking his thumb clean.
She smiled. “Oh,” she mused. “The King will come to me.”
The words barely left her lips when she turned around to look at Aiden in the door. He refrained from jumping, already caught eavesdropping. How long had she known he was there? A smile touched his lips, leaning against the frame of the door. Their eyes met, the room silent.
Hael stood and Aiden was fully aware that he was looking him up and down, sizing him up.
“King Aiden Estrella,” Hael said and bowed his head.
“This is Hael Young,” Nayeli said.
“It’s a pleasure to meet a friend of Princess Nayeli,” Aiden said and stepped forward. “Welcome to Adarmar Castle.”
“Thank you,” Hael said. “I will give you some privacy,” he added to Aiden’s surprise. Hael left the kitchen, sharing a quick glance with Nayeli before disappearing out the door.
Aiden’s attention returned to Nayeli. There was still jelly on her lips.
“How long have you been standing there?” she asked, breaking the silence between them.
“You cut your hair,” he said, ignoring her question.
“Yes,” she said, slightly frowning.
“And you have a tattoo on your back.”
“Not just on my back,” she said softly.
They shared a silence.
“You don’t like it?” she asked.
“I haven’t seen them. Would you show them to me?”
A faint blush touched her cheeks, her eyes lowering away from him. “They are very personal.”
“Would you like to explain them to me?”
“Not really,” she said and looked at him again.
Aiden nodded his head. “I understand.”
Nayeli loosened a breath. “How is Princess Akira?”
“I wrote you letters.”
Nayeli cleared her throat loudly. “I replied to every letter your council had sent me.”
“Yes, to their letters you replied. But not to mine.”
Nayeli crossed her arms. “A few of them were a bit inappropriate, don’t you think so?”
“You know exactly which ones.”
Aiden smiled at her. “So, you did read them? I’m glad you did.”
“Who knew you had such a way with words?”
“When I’m not being demanding?” he asked, his smile fading.
“You heard that too?”
Aiden moved towards her. Nayeli’s eyes widened as he approached her, leaning closer to her. “Your favorite jelly is still on your lips.”
She reached for her mouth, but he caught her hand before she could wipe it away. He had her pinned under his stare, blue eyes staring back up at him.
“Aiden,” she warned him.
“What?” he asked innocently. Then he wiped his thumb over her mouth, ridding her of the preserves. He licked his thumb clean.
She gently pushed him away and he gave a step back.
“Aiden,” she said again. “I know it was impolite not to write you back when your first letter came. But you shouldn’t have sent it.”
His stare softened. “I wish I could take that first letter back.”
“And not the passionate ones that followed?”
“I thought of ways to erase that first letter from your mind. And as each one left my desk, I realized I only made it worst.”
Nayeli chuckled softly. “You were very creative.”
“Thinking about you… And the afternoon we had spent in the Adarmar River… It inspired me immensely.”
She looked away from him, heat touching her cheeks.
“Well,” she said, still not looking at him. “It was still your first letter that clouded my mind.”
Aiden sighed. “I apologize, Nayeli.”
“Don’t,” she said to his surprise. “They are words I hope every woman hear once she had made love for the first time.”
Aiden wanted to reach for her, but he refrained from doing so. They watched each other, their eyes tied together. He couldn’t stop. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from that tanned face and blue eyes. And he couldn’t stop his mind from wondering to the time they had spent at the Adarmar River.
Nayeli finally looked away from him, absentmindedly touching her lips and making sure there wasn’t any jelly left on them. Aiden shook his head, trying to rid himself of the thought of her lips.
“I wanted to write you when the news of Duke Faure came,” Aiden said, his voice soft. “I know how well befriend you were.”
Nayeli held her gaze on the floor, nodding her head.
“I’m sorry for your loss of a friend, Nayeli.”
“And I’m sorry for your loss of a Duke,” she said, her voice soft.
“We leave in about twenty minutes for Eldenwood,” he said. “I hear you will be accompanying my travelling party up river?”
“If you won’t mind? We will be following behind you.”
“How many in your travelling party?”
She smiled at him. “Just three.”
“Three?” he asked, a smile on his lips. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear you say you travelled from the Maya Isles to Adarmar Castle with only two men to protect you.”
“I can take care of myself-”
“Yes, so you have told me.”
They smiled at each other.
“I guess we should get going then?”
Sep 13, 2015 04:45AM
The travelling party had pulled away by the time Jon May walked his horse up next to Nayeli and Hael. Nayeli turned in her saddle to meet eyes with him. He stared back at her, clearly not pleased to be in her riding party. Or maybe because she had given him the Ember, she thought. She didn’t like Ember and the people that used it regularly. She would definitely advise against it. But something in Jon’s eyes in the slums told her he was desperate for it.
“Princess,” Jon said in greeting, slightly bowing his head.
“Jon,” she greeted, looking him over for any signs of red eyes or a clouded head. He seemed to be himself, clear of mind. “This is Hael Young.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” Jon said, looking Hael over.
Hael merely bowed his head, fully aware that he was a man carrying Ember and that his princess had provided him with it. Nayeli shrugged it off.
“The King’s guard and men are all dressed in navy, the King’s color,” Nayeli smirked. “Since you’re not travelling with him, would you like to wear my red and blue?”
Jon glared at her, his clothing a shockingly black in the morning sun. “The Aemazon Warriors only wear black.”
“A bit glee for me,” she teased him. “How about a feather in your long hair?”
Jon remained silent, glaring at her. He was clearly not impressed by her notions. Hael chuckled next to her, not being able to hold his laughter.
Jon’s glare turned towards Hael.
“It’s a joke,” Nayeli said, her voice kind. “I was only trying to lift your mood. You seem awfully dull-spirited about sharing the road with us.”
“I mean no disrespect, Princess.”
“Oh, come on, Master May,” she mused. “We’ve gotten to know each other quite well, sharing some secrets along the way. You can call me Nayeli.”
“I want no part in your secrets,” he said, his voice soft.
His words did hurt, but Nayeli shrugged it off. “Very well, Jon. Very well. But the road is long and I would prefer it if you would stop glaring at me. Or if you have something on your mind, speak it now.”
“There is nothing on my mind,” he said, his stare softening.
“Great. Shall we leave then?”
“Our party is to leave last,” Jon said.
“I think the King and his guard is already out-”
But Nayeli’s words were cut short once a carriage in dark green started its trek towards the castle gates. A cold finger touched Nayeli’s heart. Duchess Leilani Kubovy. Surrounding the carriage, about twenty of her men were on horses. She was joining their travel to Eldenwood. Nayeli cursed underneath her breath and Hael immediately lifted his brow and followed her stare towards the carriage in green.
“She’s also traveling to Eldenwood?” she asked, her attention on Jon.
“Yes,” he shrugged. “Of cause. One of her fellow Dukes is dead. She has just as much reason to travel to Eldenwood as you.”
Nayeli remained quiet, her glare on the carriage.
Jon whistled loudly, a bemused smile on his lips. “You don’t like the beautiful Duchess Leilani, do you?”
Her carriage left the castle gates.
“Why would you make such a remark?” she asked. “I’ve gotten to know her quite well. I believe she even calls me one of her friends.”
Jon laughed, his mood suddenly lifted. Nayeli was surprised to be relieved by his smile. For a moment she had thought they will trek upriver in uncomfortable silences and awkward glares.
“Let’s just say that we were not made to swim in the same ponds,” Nayeli murmured to the two men next to her. Smiles found both their faces.
(last edited Sep 13, 2015 07:33AM)
Sep 13, 2015 04:46AM
Chapter 8 - That Is More Than Two
They had been travelling for two hours when they reached the Adarmar River. Then they travelled about three hours more before they made their first stop. Jon was impressed by his two companions. Neither of them complained about the long hours of travel. In fact, it seemed that they enjoyed it. They must have known each other for a very long time, Jon decided. They kept their horses close to each other, sharing whispers and jokes with one another. They played with conversation between them like few friends could.
Jon trailed behind them during their journey, watching them. He couldn’t hear what they were saying, but they were enjoying each other’s company. Once Nayeli realized they would have to travel behind Duchess Leilani, she basically recoiled from the travelling party. She sat in her horse, her arms crossed until a good thirty minutes had passed before they made their way out the castle gates.
If they wanted to, they could catch up to the party within minutes. But obviously Nayeli wanted the Duchess out of her sight. She knew then, Jon mused by himself, she knew then that the Duchess had a case of the lovethrills for King Aiden.
They made their first stop, allowing the horses to drink from the river. Hael took out bread smeared with strawberry jellie and shared it with Jon and Nayeli. Nayeli’s eyes couldn’t move away from the river, chewing away on her bread. She stared at it with such a yearning, Jon couldn’t help but watch it as well, staring at its magnificence.
“Have you been in the water before?” Jon asked her after a few minutes of admiring the blue waters.
She swallowed the bread she was crewing on and turned to look at Jon. She seemed to be searching his face, looking at him as if he might be mocking her. But he wasn’t, so he held her gaze.
“Yes,” she said, taking another bite of her bread.
“You should try it in the winter’s time. When it’s snowing,” Jon said. “The water stays warm. It’s warmer then, actually. It’s quite the experience.”
“I’m sure it is,” she said quietly.
“Shall we continue on?” Hael asked over his shoulder, putting the leftover bread away. They both nodded but stopped once they heard hooves on the road. His eyes met with Nayeli’s for a second.
“It’s coming from the travelling party,” Jon said. But she didn’t seem to relax, her gaze narrowing towards the road.
Navy clothing came riding over the hill and Jon’s heart calmed. He didn’t know what he was expecting, but Nayeli was restless and it seemed it affected him as well.
“It’s the King,” Hael said behind them and Jon’s eyes shot back to the rider. “There is someone on the horse with him.”
Jon knew who it would be before he could even make out her face. Akira. She was going to be difficult, he decided. He didn’t have the chance to tell her that he had found Ember, didn’t have the chance to reassure her that she wasn’t going to Eldenwood alone. Right now she would be thinking that he had allowed her to leave without greeting her. And, well, Aiden did not know that Jon was accompanying the Native Princess, his friend’s previously betrothed.
Nayeli turned towards her horse, leading it away from the river. She was readying herself to go, but Jon remained in his spot until Aiden and Akira stopped in front of them.
“Jon!” Akira exclaimed and jumped off the horse. Aiden’s face was a façade of stone as he watched his sister run to him. She jumped into Jon’s arms and he caught her in his grip. “I knew you would come with us!”
Jon didn’t reply, his gaze locked with a furious King.
Sep 13, 2015 04:47AM
Nayeli stepped closer to Hael, watching the Princess Akira run into the Warrior’s arms. He took her into his arms carelessly and Aiden’s disapproval showed on his face. They glared at one another, the air thick with an uncomfortable tension. But Akira didn’t care about her brother’s silence, she smiled ear-to-ear at Jon’s presence. To Nayeli’s surprise, Hael was smiling as well. She lifted an eyebrow at him.
“Who is that?” he asked, a whisper between them.
“She is the Princess Akira,” Nayeli answered. “Aiden’s younger sister.”
“Princess Nayeli!” Akira observed and moved towards them. She walked up to Nayeli and embraced her. The Princess Akira’s arms around her was surprising and somehow felt comforting.
“And who is this?” she asked once she stepped away from Nayeli again.
“Princess Akira, this is Hael Young. He is a great friend of mine.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Princess,” Hael said, holding her gaze.
Akira smiled at him. “It’s the first time I’ve met a friend of the Princess Nayeli.”
“Oh, she has lots of them. But I’m sure I’m her favorite.”
Nayeli’s heart thudded at his words. Oh, how they must sound! Hael had only joked, but now people were really going to assume they were lovers. Akira’s gaze narrowed, looking back and forth between the two of them. Nayeli’s cheeks felt warm, her ears heating up. She wanted to groan out loud and shout at Aiden’s watching eyes that he was her Lunar, not her lover.
“With eyes like yours, you would be my favorite too,” Akira said and it felt like Nayeli might just faint. Hael and Akira were staring at each other like they were dinner.
Nayeli cleared her throat loudly and tugged her horse closer. “We should get going.”
“Aiden and I rode out here to tell you that you were falling behind,” Akira said, her eyes still lingering on Hael.
“You shouldn’t be back here by yourself,” Aiden said, speaking for the first time. He moved his horse closer to Nayeli. “Would you like to move up to the front with us?”
“We are very comfortable here,” she replied and mounted her horse.
“You’re too far back. Get closer to the travelling party.”
Ever so demanding. Nayeli glanced at Hael and she was met with bemused eyes.
“Yes, King Aiden,” she said and saw Hael smile out of the corner of her eye. Their jest didn’t go unnoticed by Aiden. His face hard as stone, he turned away from them.
“Will it be alright if I ride with Jon, Aiden?” Akira asked, causing Nayeli to stiffen uncomfortably in her seat. “I tire of my carriage.”
Aiden held out his hand to her. “Get on the horse, Akira.”
She scowled at him, remaining in her spot. “Jon will return me to my carriage before we reach The Klink.”
“Just get on the horse, Akira,” Jon said, coolly.
Akira looked at Jon, frowning at his sudden coldness. Then she reached for her brother’s hand and mounted the horse with him. Her eyes were shouting questions at Jon as Aiden pulled away and if Nayeli had ever wondered, she knew now. Aiden didn’t approve of the friendship between the Princess and the Warrior and it was probably the reason why Jon had not been invited to go to Eldenwood.
Nayeli nudged her horse in the sides, urging him forward. Hael fell in next to her. A moment later she heard Jon mount his horse and started his trail behind them.
“So, the Princess Akira-” Hael started to say but was cut off by a glare from Nayeli.
“Don’t even think about it.”
“Think about what?” Hael mused. “How beautiful she is? How very alluring she is?”
Nayeli gazed over her shoulder uncomfortably. Hopefully Jon was out of hearing range. “I’m not going to help you when you get beaten to a pulp.”
“Don’t lie, my Lunar Sister. You’ll be the first to throw a punch in my defense. You always have.”
“Not in this regard.”
“Had the King seen you throw a punch before?” Hael asked, a grin on his face and nodding his head. “Of cause he had not. Otherwise he would be madly in love with you.”
Nayeli smirked and shook her head. “I don’t plan on throwing punches in front of Aiden.”
,” he repeated and shrugged. “His name rolls effortlessly over your tongue.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” she asked, her voice sharper than she intended.
“Just observing, Princess, just observing.”
Sep 13, 2015 04:48AM
They reached The Klink as the sun started to set. Rewarded with a beautiful sunset, they entered the town. It was called The Klink because it was established in a turn made by the Adarmar River. From Adarmar Castle, the River went North until it reached The Klink, from there it turned sharply East. The road next to the Adarmar River lead straight to Eldenwood and was the safest road to travel with.
When they reached the town, the travelling party was already unloaded at their different posts. Aiden had arranged rooms for everyone at various Inns. No surprise that the Nayeli, Jon and Hael were booked into the same Inn as Aiden and Akira. Also the same Inn as Duchess Leilani.
Their horses were taken from them, being fed in the stables. Hael had insisted on seeing to his own horse. Even after Nayeli assured him that it won’t be necessary, he insisted on following their horse to the stables. Jon shrugged it off and escaped their company immediately.
Jon disappeared to his room and was not seen for the rest of the day. Nayeli went to find the room Aiden had arranged for her, planning to collapse on her bed and sleeping through the night. She was exhausted by the day’s ride.
But when Nayeli entered the Inn, she faced Aiden, Akira and Leilani sitting together at a table. She groaned quietly to herself.
“Princess Nayeli,” Leilani exclaimed falsely and stood. “I hear that you’ve been travelling in my dust the entire day without me even knowing it.”
“She was too far away from the travelling party to see your dust,” Aiden said, his voice sharp and unforgiving. Nayeli knew she disobeyed his request to ride closer to the party, but she simply refused to stare into the back of Leilani’s carriage the entire ride to Eldenwood.
“You fell behind?” Leilani asked. “Probably tired of riding a horse the entire day. You should invest in a carriage if you are not a strong rider, Princess.”
Nayeli wanted to scream at her. “Maybe I should,” she said calmly.
“Come have a seat next to me. Dinner will be served any minute now.”
Nayeli glanced at the small table she would have to share with the Duchess. It was too small, she decided. In fact, the entire Inn was too small to share the company of Leilani Kubovy.
“I’m tired,” she said. “I think I might head to bed early.”
“Already, Princess? Without eating?”
“I’ll bring food to your room,” Hael said and appeared next to her. He stank of horse and the stables.
“And who is this?” Leilani chirped. “You have a new man in your life, Princess? And a native like you, nonetheless.”
Hael glared at her, not very subtle in his dislike.
“Yes,” Nayeli found herself saying, too tired to explain. “A native just like me. Aren’t we a just the perfect match?”
“Indeed you are-”
“Good night, Duchess.”
Nayeli turned away from her, feeling the Royal eyes of the King and Princess on her back.
Sep 13, 2015 04:48AM
Jon hurled her to the ground.
She tasted sand and blood in her mouth, and groaned in frustration. Dawn was gaining on them and she had yet to get a successful punch in. Nayeli pushed away from the ground, rising to her feet with the Adarmar River running past them. She glared at Jon, covered in dust.
“Come one, Little Princess,” he mocked. “Imagine me as a drunkard in a tavern, would that help?”
“You’re a very gentle teacher,” Nayeli said, wiping blood off her lips.
“Luckily you don’t bruise easily,” he observed.
“After you fight in the slums you didn’t have any bruises on you.”
She licked her red lips. “You picked up on that?”
“Of cause I did, Princess.”
She lunged for him and was met with his wall of a body. He easily caught her, grabbing her wrists and swinging her around. With her back to him, her wrists still in his grip, he murmured into her ear.
“You’ll have to do better than this.”
“Then I shall,” she said through gritted teeth and with that she managed to rip her hands out of his grip. She turned on him, bringing an elbow into his face.
Jon exclaimed in surprise, kicking her away from him. She fell forward, her hands digging into the unforgiving ground. To her liking, Jon was holding a hand to the side of his face.
“Great,” he muttered. “I’m going to have a black eye.”
She smiled in satisfaction. “That is for throwing me to the ground so many times.”
“Isn’t that how you learn?”
“Consider me learning then?” she mocked and stepped closer to inspect his eyes. “It’s nothing.”
“I’ll survive,” he said, not pleased with her at all.
“Dawn is breaking. We should get cleaned up.”
“I’ve noticed that you own a sword,” Jon observed.
She wiped a hand over her dusty face. “Yes. It had belonged to my mother.”
“Bring it along tomorrow and I will show you how to use it.”
“I know how to use it.”
Jon smiled to himself, eyeing her carefully. “Sure you do, Princess.”
Sep 13, 2015 04:48AM
Their next day of travel felt tedious, dragging on forever. They had left The Klink late morning, not getting a head start on the day. It annoyed Aiden. He was planning on getting out of The Klink as dawn broke. But clearly that wasn’t Duchess Leilani’s plan. She insisted they sit down for a served breakfast and then insisted they drink warm tea before going on the road again. If her ways wasn’t tedious enough, she liked travelling slow as well. This was by far the slowest he has travelled upriver. But the Duchess insisted that her carriage go slow because she tended to get nauseous easily.
Leilani also fretted over Nayeli’s absence at breakfast, implying that it was rude and disrespectful. Why she did not join them, Aiden had to wonder, she usually didn’t mind sharing a table with him and Akira.
Aiden stiffened in his saddle, sighing restlessly. Great seas, this trip upriver was going to take forever. He fiddled with his reins impatiently. Closing his eyes, he wished for something exciting to happen.
So when laughter nudged at his ears, his eyes open.
The hooves of Nayeli’s horse drummed on the road, the feathers in her hair dangling behind her. She was riding at full speed and her friend, Hael, was chasing her. She surged ahead, coming past the front row of the travelling party. Passing by, she glanced at Aiden and laughed again.
She was free, he realized. That was what she had wanted and what she now enjoyed. Wasn’t he supposed to feel the same way?
Hael chased Nayeli past them, going out ahead. Aiden wondered where Jon would be sine he was not joining in on the fun they were having. Aiden decided to do the same and stay put, watching them ride carelessly up the river. It was only when he saw them plunge into the water that a sting of jealousy pinched his heart.
He had shared these waters with her and now she was plunging into it with someone else. Who was this man anyway? Maybe he really was her lover. The thought nearly drove Aiden mad and he couldn’t take his eyes of them. They dove into the water, clothes and all. The horses had retreated onto the river’s bank, but the two of them floated in the water. Hearing Nayeli laugh with someone else was maddening.
“I wish I could be like that,” Akira said, riding her horse up next to him. “I wish I was impulsive enough to do it.”
Aiden frowned. “Why do you think you can’t?”
“I don’t know,” she said, her voice soft. “Sometimes it feels like I’m too scared.”
“You shouldn’t be scared of living, Akira.”
His sister looked at him and smiled. “I can’t help it.”
“Is that why you hide in your room every day?”
Her smile faded. “Why didn’t you invite Jon to come to Eldenwood?”
Aiden let out a sigh. “What would an Aemazon Warrior do at a Duke’s funeral?”
“You know he goes where we go. He’s protective of both of us.”
“I have enough men to protect me. I can survive one trip without him.”
“You’re trying to separate me from him,” she accused.
“And what if I am, Akira?” he asked, holding her gaze. “You’re a Princess. You need to make friends other than Jon May.”
“Someone like Duchess Leilani?” Akira asked, not sounding very interested. “She brings me apples and speaks to me like I am a child.”
“You’re not a child. You are seventeen and old enough to choose the friends you like.”
“Anyone but Jon May?”
Aiden hardened his stare. “Jon is…unbound.”
“You know,” Aiden began. “The Aemazon Warriors will only be loyal to me until the next person wins their favor. What if that happens and Jon leaves, Akira? I’m afraid that you forget this at times.”
She shook her head. “Jon is not leaving. He’s loyal to you.”
“He is unbound. There is no way in telling who his next King might be.”
Akira remained quiet for a while and he was glad that she was thinking his words over. Because they were true and a thought he had dreaded himself since the day he had befriend Jon. He was a devoted friend. Aiden trusted him, confided in him. But he couldn’t let him love his sister.
“I should live my life,” Akira said after a long while of silence. “You’re right. I should make friends – and I will do just that.”
Akira turned her horse away from Aiden and turned it away from the travelling party. Aiden watched in dismay as his sister rode downriver. She wasn’t going to Jon, he knew. She was going to befriend Nayeli’s absurd friend.
“Yes,” he muttered to himself. “Urge her into befriending the native. This is going to win her so much favor with the rest of Adarmar.”
Sep 13, 2015 04:48AM
Akira rode closer to Nayeli and Hael, stopping where their horses stood next to the waters. She dismounted her horse and watched as they came walking out of the water. They were soaking wet from head to toe.
“The presence of a Princess,” Hael said, touching a hand to Akira’s horse.
“Two Princesses,” Nayeli reminded him, catching her horse’s reins. “But if you don’t mind, this Princess is going to go find Jon May. He’s sulking at the back.”
“We’ll join you in a moment,” Akira said, her eyes on Hael.
He was so unreasonably handsome, she thought. His eyes matched their royal color. His eyes were navy. It was the darkest blue pair of eyes she had ever seen, and they were staring right at her. She liked the open curve of his face, his strong jaw. And his full lips were smiling fondly at her.
Nayeli had left them, but they were still staring at each other.
“Would you like to walk with me?” he asked.
She nodded, reaching for her horse’s reins.
They walked side by side, the river pushing past them. Falling into conversation with Hael was easy and comfortable. She asked him many questions, deciding to keep her questions light and easy. He answered every one of them with a smile.
“And how did you meet Princess Nayeli?” she asked, the hooves of their horses like music in her ears.
“On her day of birth,” he said, his eyes almost never leaving her.
“You were there? And how old were you?”
Hael chuckled. “I am exactly the same age as Nayeli.”
Akira frowned at him.
“Do you know what it means to be someone’s Lunar?” he asked and when she shook her head, he smiled fondly at her. “It means being born on the same day but from different mothers.”
“Oh,” she said. “And that made you friends?”
“I was sent by my family to live in Maya Castle, to be raised as her friend and confidant. In a way, I was to be her protector and she mine.”
Akira smiled at that. “Lunar,” she said and tested the word on her lips.
“Oh, I like it when you say it.”
He was flattering her, she realized.
“You are but months older than me,” Akira said. She didn’t know why she said it, but for some reason she wanted him to know it.
“I know,” he nodded. “Nayeli speaks about you often.”
“Good things, I hope.”
“She tells me you dream of tigers and wolves,” he said, his eyes on her.
Akira slowed her step, her heart rising in her chest. Why would Nayeli spread stories of her dreams? It was something she was ashamed off and now she had gone and told everyone. Akira frowned, not answering him. Suddenly she had the urge to get back on her horse and run back to her carriage to hide.
But then Hael took hold of her arm, bringing her to a stop. His navy eyes looked down at her. She wanted to look away, wanted to get on her horse and go. But his eyes held her. Her heart beat sped up once he dared touch her, cupping her face.
“Don’t be ashamed of your dreams,” he said, his voice lowered. “And don’t shy away from it when I bring it up. Nayeli only told me, she won’t tell the world. Not that you have to hide it.”
She wanted to shake her head at him, but she was too afraid that he might lower his hand from her face. Instead she leaned into his hands, staring up at him.
“Does Lunars become lovers?” she found her lips asking.
He pulled her closer to him. “Many of those who share the Lunar bond marry each other.”
He was very close to her. Was he going to kiss her? Her heart drummed in her chest. “What about you?”
He smiled broadly, lowering his hand away from her. “We are nearing the end of the travelling party. From what I hear, I should keep my hands to myself when Jon May is near.”
“Except if you don’t want me to?”
Her eyes widened at the thought of someone touching her with Jon nearby. “I think I prefer our walks alone.”
“Are you suggesting there would be more?”
She shrugged. “I haven’t decided yet. Depends on how dull the roads going to get.”
“And what about your nights?”
Her heart almost left her chest. “Excuse me?”
“Do you like music, Princess?”
“Oh, I would like to hear you sing.”
She remained quiet, watching him cock his head to the side and examine her. As if by looking at her he might be able to tell whether she could sing or not.
“Don’t eat your dinner this evening,” he murmured at her.
“I’ll be hungry.”
“You won’t,” he said and smiled.
Akira stiffened slightly. “What did you have in mind?”
“Don’t look so worried, Princess. I’m not going to claim you as my own,” he said with a laugh. She wanted to ask him what he meant by “claim” her but refrained from doing so.
“If it would make you feel better to know, Nayeli will be joining us.”
“I don’t mind,” she whispered at him. “I would love to go to dinner with you.”
Sep 13, 2015 05:11AM
I am having chills!
(last edited Sep 13, 2015 06:21AM)
Sep 13, 2015 06:20AM
Akira played with the ale in the end of her glass, stealing a look in Hael’s direction. Nayeli was sitting in front of him, a smile on her lips, while he painted her face. He held the finest brush she had ever seen. His work on the side of Nayeli’s face was so finely done and delicate, she could only stare at it.
They were in an old tavern. The place was surprisingly clean and nicely furnished with wooden tables and chairs. She took a sip of her ale, playing with the taste of it on her tongue. There was music playing in the background, two men playing on drums and a lute.
“Where is everybody?” Akira asked.
Hael looked away from Nayeli to smile at her. “The place is ours for the night. You should eat.”
Arika glanced at the plate of food in front of her. She reached for a grape, plopping it into her mouth and swallowing it with another sip of ale.
She wondered if Aiden would notice she was gone. She had slipped out of their Inn once everyone had gone to bed. The thought of opposing him made her heart jump, but she took a deep breath and another sip of ale.
When Hael was done with Nayeli, she stood and turned to look at Akira. She had to stop herself from gaping at her. The right side of Nayeli’s face was painted in fine floras. Tendrils travelled down her throat, stopping on her shoulder. They were painted in colors of blue, red and white. Her features shouted native, but it also screamed
Nayeli smiled and moved away from the chair she was sitting in. She stopped next to Akira, leaning towards her.
“Your turn,” she said and reached for the ribbon that held Akira’s hair together, gently removing it from her hair. Her hair spilled down over her shoulders.
Akira stood, hesitated, and then sat down on Nayeli’s chair. Hael smiled at her. His hands rested on his thighs, taking her in. She held his stare.
“Give me your hand,” he asked, waiting for her to respond.
A faint smile touched the corner of her lips, holding her right hand out to him. He took it into one of his, picking up his brush with the other. He didn’t speak much as he painted. A small v formed between his eyes as he worked, concentrating. Arika watched as tendrils covered the top of her hand, moving into her palm, and circling her wrist up to her elbow. His brush tickled, but she kept herself from twitching away. Once the tendrils were done, he painted exotic floras down her arm. They varied in many colors and made her pale skin look even paler.
“You have beautiful skin,” he said, as if he could hear her thoughts.
“I think of myself as average,” she mumbled in return.
It made him smile, stealing a look at her face.
Once he was done with her hand, she relaxed, but suddenly he shifted closer to her and took hold of her chin. Akira froze, staring into his navy eyes. His eyes travelled her face, her lips.
Then his brush was in his hand again. The wet kiss of the brush touched down just above her right cheekbone. She felt him draw a blue line across her face from one cheekbone to the next. The line travelled underneath her right eye, over her nose and underneath the other eye to the other side of her face. He repeated the line over and over, making a slightly thicker. Then he finished the line with a shade of black.
“What does the line mean?” she asked.
“It brings out your eyes,” he said simply. “Now, answer me this, do you like music?”
“Of cause I like music.”
He grinned at her, taking her unpainted hand and pulling her out of her chair. Nayeli got up with them, taking her glass of ale with her. There was a sway in her hips as she approached the two men with their drums and lute. They smiled at her, stopping their music.
“Do you mind if we have a take at it?” Nayeli asked, her words a bit slurry by now. It must have been about mid-night, Akira guessed, feeling a bit light on her feet as well after all the ale. Hael pulled a chair into the middle of the floor, the part she would guessed was a dance floor. He plopped her into the chair and took his place behind the drums.
Hael and Nayeli laughed, looking at each other and hesitating with the instruments in their hands. They spoke names of songs they knew and finally decided on a song to start with. Nayeli touched the strings of the old lute and foreign notes came from it. Hael nodded his head, falling into beat with Nayeli, his hands touching down on the drums.
Their music was different.
The words to the songs were in a language Akira did not understand but it must have been amusing because during the entire song neither Nayeli nor Hael could stop laughing. Their laughter was infectious. She found herself smiling at the two of them, watching as two old friends had their fun with a song. Once they finished the song, they were both shaking their heads.
“We made up the song when we were ten years old,” Hael explained to Akira. “It’s about an old lady that fancied a young lad.”
“It’s quite detailed,” Nayeli explained, her tankard at her lips again.
“Alright, next,” Hael mused, his hands on the drums.
This time they were not fooling around. It felt as if Akira was swift away and landed next to a fire in a native camp. Their tongues clicked and native words streamed out of their mouths. She had no idea what they were saying, but she was entrapped by the fast workings of their hands and fingers.
The beat of the drums echoed inside her chest, shaking her heart into a trill for life. Taking a big gulp of ale, she stared at Hael. As if he knew she was looking at him, his eyes met hers momentarily, grinning at her.
The next thing she knew, she was out of her chair and twirling to the music. They both cheered once she started dancing with the music. Then it was only the lute playing and Hael was next to her. He grabbed her hand and twirled her around and around. She laughed out loud, feeling dizzy once she stopped. Hael held her up, taking her with him. She had to focus to keep up with his fast feet, but she managed, and enjoyed every moment of dancing with him. The way he led was different than the way they danced in Adarmar, but she savored the transformation.
Nayeli kept the music going, pushing all sorts of notes out of the lute and singing the songs. Hael said every word with her as he danced with Akira. She listened to the native words in her ears, not even caring what they meant. She closed her eyes, allowing herself to be swift away to their native means.
To her dismay, Hael suddenly stiffened and he slowed down. Akira opened her eyes to look up at him. His eyes were staring past her and towards the door. Akira turned around and found Aiden starting at them. A few paces behind him, Jon stood in the door with his arms crossed. Letting go of each other, Akira stepped away from Hael.
Nayeli stopped playing once she noticed Aiden and Jon. She cursed softly under her breath, putting the lute down beside her. But Aiden was still staring at Akira. How this must look she had no idea, but she crossed her arms and stared back at him. The paint on her skin was louder than the highest fire.
“So, just disappearing out of our Inn,” Aiden began. “You thought that was going to be a good idea?”
“Jon is going to take you back to your room,” Aiden snapped.
It only enraged Akira. “What?” she snapped. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“It is mere hours from dawn. You need to get some rest before we depart again.”
She had no idea it was that late. “I can put myself to bed. I don’t need Jon to do it.”
“So, now I’m in trouble too?” Jon asked from the door.
“No,” she said, lowering her eyes to the floor. “I just meant that I can take care of myself.”
“Well, next time you decide to do that, just let me know, alright?” Aiden asked, his eyes moving to Nayeli.
Nayeli was clearly drunk and trying to keep herself from laughing at them. Hael stepped closer to Nayeli, hissing something at her. It only made her smile broaden.
Aiden let out a heavy sigh. “Please take her to her room.”
Jon remained where he was, not moving. She knew he was waiting for her. Akira turned to look at the two natives.
“Thank you for a fun night,” she mumbled with a half-smile.
“Anytime, Princess,” they both said at once. Lunar bond, Akira thought, and turned towards the door. She passed Aiden, not looking at him, and walked up to Jon. He had a slight smile on his face as they left the tavern.
Sep 13, 2015 06:21AM
“You shouldn’t test your brother like that,” Jon said, closing the door to Akira’s room behind him. She turned to look at him, a frown between her painted eyes.
“I wish he hadn’t intervened.”
“He found your room empty and he panicked. He could have reacted much differently. I think he handled it…well, considering his sister disappeared and he found her dancing with a native.”
“And painted like one too?”
“Well, yes,” Jon said, bemused.
“And he ran to you first?”
Jon’s smile faded. “He thought he was going to find you in my bed.”
“He accused me of bedding you behind his back.”
“What?” she snapped again, feeling dizzy on her feet.
“Are you alright? You seem a bit drunk.”
“I am,” she admitted. “And humiliated that Aiden would ask you if you were bedding me. As if.”
Jon crossed his arms. “As if?”
She shrugged it off casually. “As if you would touch me.”
“Would you want me to touch you?”
Her cheeks flushed, heat lining her neck. “Excuse me?”
Jon walked closer to her, his eyes roaming her painted face. “You think I won’t be interested in you?”
“Of cause you’re not,” she murmured.
“Do I have a say in any of this?”
She looked up at him in confusion. “What would you say if you did?”
A smile touched the corner of his lip. “That it’s not a good idea.”
“Then why bring it up?-”
“What would you say about it if I was interested?”
“That it’s an immaculate idea, Master May,” she said, swaying on her feet.
Jon’s hands came down on her shoulders, steadying her. “You’re drunk.”
“Just influenced,” she mumbled. “By you.”
Jon laughed softly, his eyes not leaving her. “You should sleep it off.”
“I’m not that drunk,” she said, turning out of his grip. She stepped closer to her bag next to the bed. She felt Jon’s eyes on her as she took out the Ember leaves he gave her the day before. She used an iron tankard on her bedside table to crush a few of the leaves inside it.
“I should bid you good-night,” Jon said behind her.
Without answering him, she lit the leaves in the tankard at the hearth. Jon watched her as she approached him with the tankard in her hands, smoke travelling out of it. When she neared him, he gave a step away from her.
“You have a black eye,” she said softly.
“Would you stay a little longer?” she murmured softly, nearing him with the burning Ember.
“Akira,” he warned.
She let the smoke travel between them. She breathed it in, her eyes tied to Jon’s. Jon watched her, and eventually, he closed his eyes and breathed in the smoke with her.
“Jon…” she whispered, reaching for him. She pressed her hand against his chest, watching him breathe in the Ember.
Jon took the tankard out of her hand, putting it down next to them. He stepped closer to her, cupping her head in his hand. “I shouldn’t be doing this.”
“Don’t stop,” she said and dared to put her arms around his neck.
He stared down at her and touched her cheek. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispered to her.
“I like it when you say that-”
“But I’m not the man for you, Akira.”
She held her arms around his neck. “That doesn’t mean that I don’t want you to kiss me.”
“No matter how many times I kiss you, you still won’t be mine.”
“I know,” she murmured. “But I want to be yours. And I want to be yours right now.”
Jon breathed in another breath of the smoke that travelled the room.
“One kiss?” he asked, and she was surprised to find a hint of a smile on his lips.
“Two?” she played along.
“Fine, two,” he said and abruptly brought his lips closer to hers.
Her heart sped up, his lips inches from hers. He was waiting, waiting for her to make the final decision of pressing her lips to his. Without hesitation, she kissed him back. She thought that he would give her a peck on the lips and then let go again, but to her surprise, Jon took hold of her head and claimed her mouth. His strong arms came around her, lifting her feet off the ground. She yelped in surprise, breaking their kiss.
“That’s one,” he murmured. It made her smile, quickly returning her mouth to his. He took possession of her mouth and started forward, still holding her in his arms. She let him carry her across the room. Her head swam, drunk, fogged by the Ember and crazed with an unknown feeling for the man that held her.
Her feet found the floor next to her bed. Jon broke their kiss and it almost made her go mad. She turned and pushed Jon onto her bed. He sat back onto it, softly glaring up at her. He wasn’t impressed with her idea but she could not care. She touched his shoulders, slowly pressing him back onto the covers. Jon didn’t object, following her lead. She clambered onto him, sitting down on his hips. He stared up at her in silence. She leaned forward, wanting to press her lips to his when he suddenly took her by the hips and changed places with her. Pinned underneath Jon, he leaned into her neck and kissed her behind her ear. A million birds fled her stomach at once. She felt flushed, her breathing accelerating. When his lips covered hers, she moaned into his mouth, her eyes closed.
He whispered her name against her mouth and it made her body react in a way it had never done before. She wanted all of her clothes off. She wanted to feel his skin against hers. She fumbled with her clothes, still dressed in her travelling attire. Jon took hold of her shirt and she lifted herself so he could take it off. Once her chest was bare, he brought his lips down over left breast. She gasped, tangling her hands in his hair. Then he kissed her other breast too. She arched her back, wanting his mouth to travel all of her.
But Jon gave her one more lingering kiss on the mouth before cupping her head and making her look up at him.
“I think that is more than two kisses,” he said, softly.
“Please don’t stop now.”
He shook his head. “I have to go and you have to rest.”
“How am I supposed to do that when all I can think about is you?-”
“Eat the Ember roots and sleep.”
She groaned, shaking his hand away from her face. Then she pushed him off her and grabbed a piece of the bedding to cover her chest.
“If you want to leave, then go.”
“You can’t be mad at me-”
“Oh, yes, I can,” she said, glaring at him. “Why can’t you make love to me?”
Jon got off the bed, pulling his clothes straight again. “You know exactly why, Princess.”
She wanted to scream. And she wanted to curse. She jumped out of bed, not caring that she was half-naked. “I don’t want to be a Princess! I want to be with you. You care for me more than some Duke-husband ever would!”
“Alright, stop,” he demanded. “A few kisses and suddenly you want to marry me? No, Akira. You are just drunk and influenced with Ember.”
“No,” he insisted. “You wanted me to kiss you and you got that out of me. But what you want after the kisses, I can’t give you.”
“Good-night, Akira,” he snapped and pulled open the door to her room.
“I don’t want you to go-”
But the door closed and Jon was gone. Suddenly tired beyond measure, Akira dropped back onto her bed. She breathed loudly, her heart racing. But then calm took her and darkness claimed her.
Sep 13, 2015 06:22AM
“Are you drunk?” Aiden asked, sitting down on the chair next to her and pulling her mug of ale closer to him.
“My friend is dead. I’m grieving,” she said, glancing at him with rosy cheeks.
Aiden took a sip of her ale. “Where is everybody?”
“You scared them away,” she said, scowling at him.
“I asked Akira to go to bed, that is all. Was I unreasonable?”
She took the mug out of his hands. “You’re always unre…unreasonable.”
A smile touched the corner of his lips. “You’re drunker than I realize, aren’t you?”
“You should be more lenient with Akira.”
“Just this morning I told her to live her life. But I didn’t mean she should sneak out of her bed in the middle of the night.”
“She had a good time.”
“And clearly you did too.”
“Yes, I did,” she said, smiling broadly.
“You play an instrument?”
She took another gulp of ale, reaching for the jar of ale on the table to fill her cup again.
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”
She rolled her eyes at him. “Oh, Aiden.”
He remained silent, watching her.
“Drink this. You’ll feel better,” she said and held the mug out to him.
He lifted an eyebrow at her. She leaned closer, putting the mug in his hand. She smiled up at him, holding his gaze. Still watching her, he took a mouthful of ale. She seemed pleased.
“Have you ever gotten drunk in the slums of Adarmar Town?” Aiden asked, and by the expression on her face, he clearly caught her off guard.
“You know about that?”
Aiden’s face changed. “That was you?”
“No,” she snapped, reaching for the mug.
Aiden lifted the mug away from her, knowing she would lean into him to reach for it. Coming closer to him, he took the opportunity to whisper into her ear. “Fighting and drinking. I have so much more to learn about you.”
She pulled away to glare at him. “What makes you think you will have the chance?”
“Oh, I can promise you that I will.”
Her glare softened. “Those letters-”
“Were promises, too,” he said, drinking from the mug.
“Then why bring it up?”
“Because they were extremely unfair.”
“Unfair?” he mused.
“And distracting,” she said and touched her hand to his chest. “You clouded my mind when I needed to think clearly.”
“And drinking helps you think clearly?”
“What is your problem?” she snapped. “If I want to have some fun, I can. I don’t answer to you.”
“Maybe you should,” he said, setting the mug down on the table and pulling her closer to him, folding her into his embrace.
“Don’t kiss me,” she objected, startled by his closeness.
He had her in his lap, her face inches from his. Her gaze roamed his face, stopping to stare into his eyes.
“You don’t want me to kiss you?” he asked, softly.
“I’m drunk. You will think I’m only kissing you because I’m not thinking clearly.”
“Are you thinking clearly?”
“Yes. I don’t know.”
He smiled at her, tucking her hair in behind her ear. “I won’t kiss you.”
She breathed out in relief. “Thank you,” she whispered, leaning into his arms. He embraced her, holding her in his arms. She felt small in his clasp. Not like a young woman ruling a Kingdom on her own. She cuddled herself closer to his warmth, her eyes closing.
“Nayeli,” he whispered into her hair. “Are you alright?”
“Sleepy,” she mumbled.
“Let me walk you back to your Inn?”
“In a moment,” she whispered into his chest.
A few minutes later she was passed out in his arms, breathing steadily. Aiden took hold of her body, lifting her in his arms. He sneaked out of the Tavern with her sleeping in his arms. He kept to the shadows of the street, not wanting to be seen. After about five minutes’ walk, he found the Inn she was staying at. He entered the Inn, glaring at the Inn Keeper.
“Which room belongs to Princess Nayeli?” He asked quietly.
“I’ll show you,” a voice said from the other end of the room. Aiden turned to see Hael sitting next to the fireplace, getting up from his chair.
“Your digression will be appreciated,” Aiden said, his eyes on the Inn Keeper. He nodded quickly, disappearing out of the room.
Hael didn’t say much more as he led Aiden down the hall. The Inn wasn’t much, not nearly good enough for the beautiful woman he had in his arms but refrained from barking that at Hael.
Hael opened a door at the end of the hall, stepping inside. Aiden carried Nayeli into the room, slowly laying her down on her bed. She mumbled something, her eyes not opening. Aiden wiped her hair out of her face, fully aware of Hael’s stare on his back.
“Does this happen often?” Aiden asked, his voice soft.
“No,” he said. “Only when she’s got a lot on her mind.”
Aiden stood, turning away from Nayeli to look at Hael. “Who are you?” he asked, his voice sharper than he intended.
Hael looked amused. “The man that have always been there for her.”
“Are you in love with her?” he found his mouth asking.
It made Hael snort, shaking his head. “Aren’t the world in love with that face? I mean, look at her. And you are the man that gave her up.”
“I gave her what she wanted.”
“She was scared, so she ran. And you let her.”
“What are getting at?”
“I’m saying that you should have married her. Should have protected her. Now it’s too late and she’s on her own.”
“I am still protecting her.”
Hael shook his head, another grin touching his face. A grin Aiden was quickly getting tired off. “You have no idea what is coming.”
“Are you threatening me?” Aiden demanded.
“I’m warning you.”
“I don’t have to listen to this.”
“I guess you don’t, King Aiden Estrella,” Hael mocked and bowed in front of Aiden. It made him furious. He had to refrain from jumping across the room and ripping that smug smile off his face. But instead, Hael turned his back on him and left Nayeli’s room.
Sep 13, 2015 08:13AM
Chapter 9 - A Moment With The Wild
With his feet in the water of the Adarmar River, Aiden sat down on a rock, his eyes on the view of the waters. He hadn’t slept much. He couldn’t stop thinking about what Hael had said. Did he warn Aiden against Nayeli? He replied the words of the previous night over and over in his head. What had the man meant? Was Nayeli in danger?
He cupped a bit of water in his hand, splashing it on his face. It made him feel better, so he reached for another scoop of water. Wetting his hair and face, he took in a big breath of fresh early morning air. The sun was barely out, night still lingering, but he couldn’t sleep a minute longer. He had fled the Inn before the place could start buzzing with people and staff.
He lifted his head, pulling his hand down over his face. He looked up and across the river he spotted the threat. He froze and stared. Across the river stood a snow-white tiger. It stared back at him, its attention locked onto his. It was beautiful. White with black stripes. Aiden don’t know how long he stared at the Wild creature, but eventually it decided that he wasn’t a threat and made its way towards the water. It stopped with its front legs in the water, lowering its muzzle to drink from the river. Aiden couldn’t take his eyes off the creature. They were not far from the Seneca Woods, but it was rare to find wildlife this far away.
Once the creature had satisfied its thirst, it looked over at Aiden again, regarding him. He probably had to run, to take the chance to get a head start on the tiger. But instead, he found himself staring into the light eyes of the creature. It was mesmerizing and inspirational at the same time, as if being eaten alive by it would have been a good way to go. Aiden smiled and it made the creature lift its head, watching him as if startled by his kindness.
But then it turned away from him, its tail lingering behind it. Aiden watched it go, his eyes not leaving it until it disappeared into the trees on the other side of the river.
Sep 13, 2015 08:14AM
Jon leaned against a tree, cocking his head to the side at Nayeli.
“Why are you naked?” he asked curiously.
“You’re early!” Nayeli snapped and grabbed her cloak out of her heap of clothes. “Stop looking!” she shrieked and pulled the cloak around her naked body. Jon stepped around the tree, turning his back to her.
“I went for a swim,” she said after a few seconds of silence. He listened to her get dressed, the waters of the Adarmar flushing past them.
“What is it with princesses and taking their clothes off,” he muttered to himself, his thought on Akira beautifully bare chest of the night before.
“I wasn’t supposed to hear that, was I?” she asked next to him.
Jon jumped, stepping away from her. She was dressed and her hair was wet, looking Jon up and down.
“Can we just get this over with?” Jon said, shrugging off her question and stare. “I’ll go easy on you since you probably have a headache this morning.”
She smiled at him. “I assure you that I’m perfectly fine.”
“Then let’s go,” he said, stepping into a clearing between the trees.
Jon watched as Nayeli stretched her limbs with a bemused smile. As each limb is stretched, she walked closer to him, her smile broadening.
“What are you smiling about?”
“I feel refreshed this morning. Ready for whatever you are going to throw at me.”
To Jon’s surprise, she was right. She was even lighter on her feet than usual. She had a different spirit in her fighting, a flex to her legs that helped her to dodge every blow he brought down on her. She danced her way around him, hacking him in the ribs, slapping him against the back of his head, playfully escaping his every move.
Jon curled around, catching her by the wrists and pulling her closer to him. “You’re better than you led on.”
She grinned back at him. “Did you think I would reveal all my cards in the first fight?”
She was ignorant and Jon took advantage of it by catching her off guard and hurling her to the ground. She hit the ground in a heap of dust. He thought it would hold her down, but she rolled away and jumped to her feet.
“You always get up,” Jon said. “That night in the tavern, too. No matter how hard the blow had been, you got back up every time. Well, until you passed out.”
“Always get up,” she said, wiping dust from her face.
“Good girl,” Jon said under his breath, readying himself. He knew she would come back at him quite hard. He wasn’t wrong and he wasn’t disappointed. She fought well. She fought with heart. Her swift feet gave him quite a hard time in catching her.
After dancing around each other for some time, Jon finally caught onto her and trapped her into his grip. He scowled her for not watching his every move, for letting herself get caught. He was hard on her but she took everything in with a frown or a bemused grin.
“Where is your sword?” Jon asked and pushed her away from him.
Nayeli took in a breath, wiping away sweat on her forehead. “I didn’t forget,” she said and retrieved her sword and belt. Tying the belt to her hips, she unsheathed her sword. Jon stepped forward and held his hand out to her.
She gazed down at his hand, hesitated, and then handed him the sword. Jon inspected it, feeling her eyes on him. Carefully touching his finger to the side of the blade, he nodded his head.
“Delinoc Steel,” he observed. “Do you know how scarce and expensive this steel is?”
“I might have an idea,” she said with a smile. “So, you approve of me sword choice?”
“That I do,” he said with a smirk. “Now you just have to learn how to yield it properly.”
“I did just fine in the slums.”
“Yes, yes, of cause. You saved my ass, I’ll admit to that.”
His words seemed to please her immensely. She smiled ear to ear and tucked her hands in behind her back to beam up at him. Loose hair fell into her face and she shook them away from her face to look up at him again.
To his surprise, he found himself returning her grin.
Sep 13, 2015 08:14AM
“You are in a very sour mood this morning,” Aiden observed, watching Akira out of the corner of his eye. “I know I didn’t handle last night well but-”
“Aiden, it’s alright,” she said, her voice sharp. “I apologize for not telling you that I plan to go out.”
“In the future you can just tell me. I won’t make you stay, I just need to know.”
“Yes,” she retorted. “I understand.”
Aiden let it go and he rode in silence for a few more minutes. He thought of the tiger he had seen this morning, savoring the memory of its beauty. It had been such a remarkable moment that he had shared with the wild creature, he almost doubted whether it was real or not.
“Is Duke Faure’s funeral tomorrow?” Akira asked, still not looking at him. “When do we return home?”
“We haven’t been away for three days and you already want to head back? You don’t like travelling, do you, Akira?”
“I do,” she said with a sigh. “I do. And I wish I had more opportunities to do so.”
“Then why the haste home?”
“I miss my things,” she said softly. “What happens after the funeral?”
“Tomorrow night there will be a gathering in Faure’s honor. The morning after that we will have to attend a council meeting with Faure’s old council.”
“Because you have to appoint a new Duke in his place?”
“Yes, but I don’t have to do it immediately. I will think it over before making a decision.”
“Who do you have in mind?”
“Well, Leynar Kubovy would be the first to volunteer for the position.”
“Leilani’s brother,” Akira said with a nod. “Yes, of cause he would. He’s power hungry, Aiden.”
“That is why I’m taking my time on this decision.”
“Do you have anyone else in mind?” Akira asked, leaning forward to touch the mane of her horse.
“Not really,” he said, lowering his eyes. “Duke Faure’s lands are different to the rest of Adarmar. I don’t know if Duke Leynar would be the right man for it.”
“Because of Duke Faure’s regulations regarding his wildlife in the Seneca Woods?”
Aiden nodded his head and his thoughts went back to the tiger he had seen earlier that morning. Glimpsing the exquisiteness of that majestic animal had stayed with him for the rest of the day. He could understand why Duke Faure would like guard the wildlife the woods offered.
“Jon told me that you accused him of bedding me behind your back,” Akira said, glaring in his direction.
“You had no right,” she snapped. “Jon is good to me. To us both. Now stop your foolishness and point your thoughts to the days to come. What if it won’t just be Duke Leynar that would volunteer for Faure’s position? What if the other Dukes or Duchesses from the Kingdom are interested too?”
“I am considering all my Dukes and Duchesses, Akira. Whether they volunteer for the position or not.”
“What about the young Duke Daniel Parnell?” Akira asked. “After his father’s death four years ago, I only hear good things of the way he’s handled his new title as Duke.”
“The Kubovy family dislikes him.”
“They do?” Akira asked in surprise. “I think you should consider him anyways.”
“But Leynar Kubovy would not-”
“Leynar Kubovy must realize that he is not the King. You are.”
“Yes, yes,” Aiden said, nodding his head at Akira. “I know.”
“Now, about Jon-”
“I will make an effort to stop probing,” Aiden agreed, a smile on his lips, watching his little sister scowl at him.
Sep 13, 2015 08:14AM
“Can we stop and eat something?” Nayeli asked, sagging her in seat.
“We are two hours from our destination,” Hael said over his shoulder at her. “We should press on and get the day behind us.”
Nayeli frowned, her eyes on his back. She brought her horse up next to his. “You haven’t spoken much to me today? At first I thought you might have a headache because of our time last night. But now I think your mood might mean something different altogether.”
“I would just like to get to Eldenwood,” Hael said.
“Oh, come one, Hael,” she said, reaching out to put a hand on his arm. But instead, Hael pulled away from her and steered his horse off the road. Nayeli followed and they stopped their horse next to the flowing river. Jon didn’t follow them, he continued trailing on behind the travelling party. Nayeli dismounted her horse with ease, swinging her legs off the horse. Hael did the same, his back still to her.
With the music of the flowing waters in their ears, Nayeli placed a hand on Hael’s shoulder. “Lunar Brother?” she asked softly. The set of his shoulders were tense and his silence was tugging at her heart.
He turned around abruptly, glaring at her. “You are not ready for what is about to come,” he accused.
She gave a step away from him. “I am ready-”
“You made a promise to Faure Jevric!”
“I know that,” she snapped, instantly furious.
“I don’t take promises lightly, Nayeli!”
“Neither do I!” she said back, her voice raised. “Why do you think I am here then?”
“You tell me!”
She glared at him, unsure what he meant.
“Why do you think I won’t honor my promise to Duke Faure?” she asked.
“Because you have feelings for the man you are going to oppose.”
“This is about Aiden?” she asked in surprise.
“The King,” he reminded her.
“I had been betrothed to the man for ten years, Hael. Can’t you understand that I’ve become friends with him along the line?”
,” Hael snorted. “Well, it is the
I’ve ever seen-”
“Stop it,” she snapped. “It’s none of your concern.”
“Isn’t it?” he asked, lifting his shoulders at her. “Am I to be an innocent bystander as you get your heart broken by the most powerful King I’ve ever met?”
Nayeli frowned at him.
“He might be “Aiden” to you. But to me he is the King of Adarmar. A King that took the Isles from us. A King that benefit every moment of every day by the hard work of men and women they only regard as mere Natives. But we are not as weak as they think and you know that. We fight with the tiger-”
“Shut up,” she blurted, sudden terror clutching her heart. “What you speak is treason, Hael Young . I don’t ever want to hear you say any of that again-”
He turned his back on her, his shoulders set in fury.
“Where is your fire?” he exclaimed, his navy eyes turning back to glare at her. “Ever since you’ve returned from Adarmar eight months ago, you haven’t been yourself.”
!” she screamed at him. “The fever claimed me the moment my heart turned eighteen, I would say that I have the right to be different after what I’ve been through, don’t you?!”
“You blame everything on your Tiger!” he screamed back at her.
“Yes, I do!” she yelled and grabbed his shirt, lifting it up and away from his stomach. “Just look at you, Hael! Look what I have done to you!”
Tears burned in Nayeli’s eyes, staring at the scratches that circled the side of his body in scars.
Hael tugged the shirt out of her hand, giving a step away from her. His glare softened when he looked up into her teary eyes. “You are my Lunar,” he said as if it could explain everything. As if his words could make it right and cure every wrong she had every done him. Her warm tears filled her lids and rolled over her cheeks.
“You are my Lunar,” he said again, his voice soft. “I would take a hundred more for you,” he said, touching his ribs.
“I don’t want you to,” she said softly.
“I know,” he murmured, stepping closer to her. “I know.”
Nayeli surrendered as her friend pulled her into his clasp. He kissed the top of her head, holding her in his warm embrace. She felt home then, as if The Maya Isles had travelled to Adarmar and were holding onto her now.
“You will help me keep my promise to Faure,” she whispered against his chest.
“Only if you promise to let your fire burn brighter than it had ever burn before,” he said into her hair.
Sep 14, 2015 05:01AM
Done! Finally got to the latest update. Phew! Hoping to read more of this story :D To many questionable things that are yet to be found out.
Sep 14, 2015 09:54AM
Mint wrote: "Done! Finally got to the latest update. Phew! Hoping to read more of this story :D To many questionable things that are yet to be found out."
Any questions so far? Anything unclear?
Thanks for reading!
(last edited Sep 14, 2015 10:32AM)
Sep 14, 2015 10:27AM
Chapter Ten - The Eldenwood Folk
The Eldenwood Castle was something to gape at and Nayeli did just that. At the tip of the Seneca Woods, the Castle stood tall with glass windows lining every inch of the building. No matter what time of day, the sun would shine through the castle in light. He had lived in light, Nayeli thought fondly. Faure Jevric had loved the warmth that life had to give. He embraced the innocence of the ancient world that had surrounded him.
The Castle was not surrounded with walls. The Castle had been left open for anyone to enter. It was inviting to every man, woman or child that lived in Eldenwood. Without walls to cut the Castle off from Eldenwood Town, people were coming and going freely as they pleased. To finish off the final touch of his lively Castle, the notorious waters of the Adarmar River led past it and into the majestic forest of the Seneca Woods.
Oh, and the people
Riding through Eldenwood Town, the people stared and gaped at her. She had to keep herself from doing the same. They shared features, black hair and bright eyes. Like her own. Like Hael’s. There were more Native Blood in Eldenwood than she could ever have hoped. Children lifted their arms as if they were reaching towards her. Admiration shone on their faces.
“They can’t take their eyes off you,” Hael whispered to her, his voice lowered.
Her heart almost left her chest.
But they were just as scared as she was, Nayeli realized. Their Duke was dead and no one knew what would come next. But Nayeli knew what would come to pass, she knew what she had to do.
The astonishing memory, ways and life of the Stag had to live on.
Nayeli dress in black for the funeral, as was their custom, one of the few they shared with the Adarmar Kingdom. Her chamber was made up in bright red and blue, her homeland colors. She liked the respect that was being offered to her. It was not often she felt adored in the Adarmar Kingdom. Mostly people would shy away from her distinctive differences.
It made her smile when she opened a package on her bed. Small, delicate black feathers fell out onto her bed. It was a gift from the people of Eldenwood. Lifting one of the feathers to her chest, she felt herself hugging it with her eyes closed. She stood in silence, sunlight falling into her room.
Her eyes opened when someone stepped into her room and closed the door behind him. She looked up to meet his gaze. He hesitated before stepping towards her.
“Are you ready?” he murmured.
“My voice will be the loudest,” she said to him. “Like I’ve promised.”
Sep 14, 2015 10:27AM
The funeral took place where the Adarmar River met the Seneca Woods. All the nobles of the Adarmar Kingdom had come to attend. It was something Aiden’s father always insisted on. The most powerful men and women of Adarmar had to grieve together.
Powerful they were indeed, Aiden thought, clearing his throat and stepping closer to his sister. Akira glanced up at him, concern filling her face. Her eyes had not stopped darting around the people of Eldenwood since the moment they entered the Town.
Next to the river a bed was built of firewood. Faure’s people had laid his body down on top of it. Words of farewell would be spoken before the bed was lit, Aiden knew. He had offered to speak, but Faure’s council turned him down. The head of their council, Councilman Loiry would speak the words of farewell. Loiry had been a close friend to Faure for most of the Duke’s life. It was fitting, Aiden decided.
Aiden and his nobles stood to the left of the bed of firewood to give the folk of Eldenwood a clear view of their late Duke’s funeral. The people appreciated it, staring at the cold, pale body on the fire bed.
Everyone was ready for Councilman Loiry to start his farewell, but his eyes were on his people, watching someone in particular. Aiden turned to follow his gaze as The Native Princess came walking through the folk of Eldenwood. She was garbed in a black dress that hung to the ground. Her feet were bare and her black hair was covered in delicate black feathers. The right side of her body was filled with black and white tendrils of paint, running up into her face. He almost didn’t recognize her. She was always so bright. But not today. Today she was grieving. The people made way for her as she walked up to the fire bed. She didn’t join Aiden’s party of people, she stood to the other side, not looking at him or his Dukes. Hael Young was with her, standing to her right.
Councilman Loiry started his words of farewell. Aiden did not hear one word. His eyes were on the Native Princess, his heart beating uneasily. Something was not right, he kept thinking. The set to Nayeli’s shoulders were wrong. Her hardened stare was off. She didn’t glance at him once, her eyes on Faure’s body the entire time.
The people of Eldenwood had tears in their eyes as Councilman Loiry spoke. His words were kind and forgiving, and the people soaked it in. Everyone held flowers in their hands. It was beautiful, Aiden decided, to see a funeral in black lightened up with the natural colors of flowers. Even Akira had tears in her eyes, subtly wiping at her cheeks. He had to refrain from reaching for her and comforting his young sister.
Councilman Loiry’s words came to an end and the council drew closer to light the bed of wood. The people started moaning louder then, feeling the loss of their Duke. Aiden’s been to many funerals, but it was the first time the folk were grieving like this. He tried swallowing the knob that burned in his throat as the bed was lit up in fire.
Then an ice cold, frozen, little finger was pressed to his spine.
As the funeral bed burned and the Council stepped away from it, Princess Nayeli stepped
. She neared the burning bed, faint tears on her cheeks. Momentarily she seemed scared, Aiden thought, but he could feel her as she pushed herself towards the fire. The entire Eldenwood had their eyes on her, every one of his nobles too.
Hael Young stepped up next to her and he handed her a small knife. Aiden watched as Nayeli pulled the knife down her thumb, tearing it open and lifting her hand to drip her blood into Faure’s fire.
“Purdty,” a man out of the Eldenwood folk said, his head lowered. Aiden didn’t know what the word meant, but Nayeli had inspired it and now the folk of Eldenwood were starting to smile one by one.
“Purdty,” another man said to the folk around him. Aiden stared as the man’s sad face turned upwards into a smile. It was those with Native Blood that caught onto Nayeli’s gesture first. It was those with the blackest hair and brightest eyes that mumbled “Purdty, Purdty.” Their faces lit with hope. Every time someone spoke the word, another echoed further down the crowd.
He turned his gaze towards Nayeli, seeking answers for what was happening around him. But she didn’t look at him, didn’t dare lift her eyes towards him.
Jon May stepped up to Aiden’s side. “It means promise,” he said to Aiden. “Purdty means promise.”
He turned to look at Jon. “Promise?”
“The Princess Nayeli is claiming that she will not rest until the people of Eldenwood are cared for in the same way Duke Faure had cared for them.”
Aiden turned his gaze to Eldenwood’s folk. The tears that left their eyes were different than minutes before.
“Escort the nobles back to the Castle,” Aiden said to Jon.
Jon took hold of Akira first as he left. Aiden turned to follow, but selfishly, he allowed himself a glance over his shoulder. Nayeli’s blue eyes were glowing back at him. She was still standing next to the fire, her hand covered in paint and blood. She held his stare, watching him and lifting her chin.
Sep 14, 2015 10:27AM
Still garbed in her black dress, her feet cold on the harsh floor, Nayeli watched as Hael was removed from her side and she was forced into the small council room. Aiden was there with his two remaining Dukes, one Duchess and Faure’s Councilmen. A man with light brown hair was standing over Aiden, speaking loudly into his face. Aiden glared back at him, challenging him to continue his disrespect.
Once the doors to the room closed behind her, every one turned to look at her, to glare at her. She had been thrown into a pit of snakes, she realized. But which one was the deadliest, she would soon know. It was the only way, she reminded herself. The only way to bring the snake to the surface was to provoke it.
“What is this, King Aiden?” the man with the light brown hair shouted again at the King, his eyes on Nayeli. She knew who he was the moment she met his eyes. Duchess Leilani was standing at his side. He shared features with her, but where Leilani was soft on the eye, this man’s features were hardened and sharp. His name was Leynar Kubovy, the Duke of Keldar, and Leilani’s older brother. He was Duke of Keldar and Leilani was the Duchess of Keldarilly.
To Aiden’s left, a young man stood with his arms crossed. He was the young Duke Daniel Parnell of Panit, Nayeli knew. He had a boyish way to his face, but the set of his shoulders made him a man, not a boy. There was a kindness to his hazel eyes, yet stern.
Aiden stood abruptly, startling the Duke of Keldar. The room felt quiet as Aiden glared down at the Duke. Aiden’s eyes were glowing in anger, screaming King. The moment he stood, he claimed his title of authority. The mouths around the room were sealed instantly.
“Take a seat, Duke Leynar,” Aiden said softly, every word a challenge.
A shiver ran through Nayeli’s body, fear clutching her Wild heart. She knew those same eyes were going to turn away from the Duke any moment now, and it was going to rest on her. Her heart’s beat sped up anxiously.
Aiden and his nobles each took a seat at the table. It left her standing at the opposite side. She stared at the lone chair at the end of the table, feeling their eyes on her.
The Councilmen didn’t join the table, they stood a few paces away, waiting for Nayeli to take her seat. Not wanting to offend, she pulled the chair out and sat down. She looked down the table, staring in Aiden’s direction. She should not look to him, she knew. He couldn’t protect her or choose her side. He was the King and not her protector.
“She had gone and publicly declared that she would be volunteering for the title of Duchess of Eldenwood,” Leynar spat, glancing at Aiden before glaring at Nayeli again.
,” Aiden said, his voice sharp.
“Explain yourself, Princess Nayeli,” Leynar said from the other side of the table. “What is this promise you declared?”
Nayeli felt sweat run down her spine. She was running hot, her blood burning in her veins. Clenching down on her teeth, she straightened her posture. “I have Duke Faure Jevric’s written consent to volunteer for his position if he should die without an heir to his title.”
The Duke stared at her in distrust, in loathing. Yes, there was no love lost for the Native Princess.
“It’s not up to Duke Faure Jevric to decide who have the right to his title,” Aiden said, before Duke Leynar could bark at her again.
“I know,” she said, her voice sharp. “But Duke Faure had taken special precaution in the leading of his lands. The wildlife of these lands and woods are sacred to the people of Eldenwood. Whoever will be appointed must abide by the rules that had been set-”
“That will be up to the new Duke appointed!” Duke Leynar interjected. “These lands are rich with opportunity and Duke Faure refused to use it. It’s time that Eldenwood start offering its opportunities to the rest of Adarmar, Princess.”
Duchess Leilani nodded her agreement at her brother’s words. Duke Daniel Parnell of Panit noticed their approval, meeting eyes with Duchess Leilani. Nayeli wanted to rip her head off.
Aiden spoke before Nayeli could bite back. “Your actions at Duke Faure’s funeral were inexcusable. The people of Eldenwood need to know that Adarmar would take care of them. Not you, but us as a whole. You are part of Adarmar now, Princess. We act together. The folk of Eldenwood needs to understand that we are not divided,” Aiden insisted, his brow furrowing. “Let them understand that we are one in the mourning for Duke Faure. Tonight there would be a gathering in his honor. His life deserves to be celebrated without a divided folk.”
“I agree, my King,” Duchess Leilani said, her face a false façade.
Nayeli kept quiet, looking into Aiden’s eyes. His face was serious, yet expressionless and rid of emotion. He was King, not Aiden. She had been rebuked by the King after creating chaos. But she needed chaos if she wanted to provoke a snake. But to her dismay, Aiden had a way to calm the seas. By tonight order would be restored once the King of Adarmar soothed Eldenwood’s people. He was soothing the snake when she needed to taunt it. Duke Leynar started talking about Duke Faure’s lands again, about the potential his wildlife offered, but Nayeli’s ears felt like they were slammed shut.
Aiden was going to be a problem in infuriating the snake, she realized.
“Our meeting is to take place tomorrow morning as agreed,” she heard Aiden say, cutting the Duke of Keldar off. “I won’t discuss this now. Not with Eldenwood left restless, and not on the day of Duke Faure’s funeral. We will continue our day of grievance and meet tomorrow.” Aiden stood. “I will see you all at the gathering tonight. We will honor our late Duke together.”
Everyone stood, bowing their heads and agreeing to what Aiden had said. Nayeli nodded her head curtly, her eyes not leaving the table. Everybody left the room one by one. The council left first and the rest followed. But once Nayeli turned for the door, Aiden spoke her name. Stopping at the door, she turned around to look back at him.
“A moment please,” he said and his face hardened.
Hael was brought into the room by Aiden’s navy guards. He shrugged the guards off and joined Nayeli’s side. Their eyes met for a brief moment, concern touching their features.
Aiden came around the table to stop in front of the two of them. He looked back and forth between them, his eyes screaming at them. Nayeli wanted to look away from his anger, but held her stance.
“If you ever cause turmoil like that again,” he said, his voice not sounding like the Aiden she knew. “The seas her me, Nayeli. If you ever play in dividing my Kingdom’s people, I will make sure you regret it. You do not want to see me retaliate. I am the fucking King of Adarmar. I am not your toy and my Kingdom is not there for you to play with.”
Hael wanted to give a step towards Aiden, not taking kindly to the threat spoken out to his Princess. But Nayeli caught onto his arm, stopping him from reacting.
“I understand,” she found herself saying.
“Excellent,” he breathed, his eyes not leaving hers.
“We’ll behave,” she added.
Aiden looked relief, leaning back against the table behind him.
“But,” she began and Aiden stiffened. “I won’t retreat easily. I will fight for what I believe in.” Holding his eyes a second longer, she broke their stare and turned on her heel.
Sep 14, 2015 10:28AM
Aiden was dressed in his navy clothing, ready for the gathering for Duke Faure when a guard knocked at his door. Aiden buttoned up the last button of his coat before opening the door. The guard’s eyes were wider than usual, stating that there was someone seeking an audience with him.
“He is of the Domain Kingdom,” the guard blurted out.
Aiden stiffened, searching for any signs that the man might be fooling around. But he soon realized the guard was serious and extremely nervous as well. Aiden pushed past the man, finding the urge to run to whoever dared put a foot in his Kingdom.
In the front hall of the castle he found a mountain of a man. He stood tall, taller than Aiden or even Jon. He was the lankiest warrior Aiden had ever seen. He had fine, blond hair that hung loosely around his shoulders. A pair of light brown eyes looked back at Aiden.
“King Aiden Estrella,” the man said, bowing his head. Not low enough for Aiden’s liking, but he decided to let it go. “My name is Eiric Whittaker, brother to the King Jairo Whittaker of the Domain Kingdom.”
Aiden’s spirit fell, his mood gone sour. He stared at the man, not getting a word out. How dare he enter his Kingdom?
“From the expression on your face,” the traitorous Whittaker began. “I can see that I am quite the surprise.”
Aiden found his voice. “What can we help you with? What business brings you here?”
An amusing smile touched the man’s mouth. “I am here to attend Duke Faure Jevric’s gathering in my King’s stead. As representative of the Domain Kingdom.”
“Like I stated, you have no business here.”
“But we do,” the man said, his voice a challenge. Aiden didn’t like being challenged. “As I understand, there will be a meeting of council tomorrow morning. I am here to attend since we expect your new Duke to keep all arrangements made by Duke Faure in the past.”
“Oh,” the man mused. “Should we start the meeting now?”
“Don’t mock me, Whittaker.”
His words only amused the Domain Warrior more. “I am not here to stir trouble with you, Estrella. I am here as representative of the Domain Kingdom out of respect for the loss of an honorable man. My King won’t take kindly to it if I were to be denied the chance to show our respect. Oh, and don’t mistake this as respect for you, since we have none, I am here for the Duke Faure Jevric.”
Aiden clenched his fists at his sides. “I won’t have another disruption on my late Duke’s funeral day-”
“Another?” the man mused, but his smile faded quickly. “Like I already stated, I am not here to stir trouble. You won’t even know I am here.”
“Yes,” Aiden said, taking in the tall Warrior. “Because hiding you would be so easy.”
Eiric Whittaker folded his hands in behind his back. “You are seriously going to let me dress up for this gathering and then deny me access?”
“The moment I see a spot of red coming from you, you will land yourself in the Eldenwood jail. Do we understand each other?”
It pleased the Warrior immensely and he smiled politely back at Aiden. “Agreed.”
Aiden was about to turn away, but the Warrior cleared his throat loudly, making Aiden look at him.
“Will I be having a little problem with your trusted, black-clothed friend?” he asked, cocking his head to the side when he met Aiden’s eyes. “How is the unspoken voice of the Aemazon Warriors these days?”
“Strong and healthy,” Aiden said, his voice sharp. “And not a problem. He will keep his distance if you agree to do the same.”
“That is an agreement I can make,” he said. “But if your little Warrior even attempts to so much as to approach me, I will leave his head for you on your table.” He smirked at Aiden and made his way past him. He walked down the hall towards the gathering as if he knew these halls.
“Find Jon May,” Aiden muttered to a nearby guard.
Sep 14, 2015 10:28AM
Jon cursed, glaring at Aiden.
“Me or the Whittaker will be dead before the end of the night,” Jon said, his face serious and his voice harsh.
Aiden shook his head at his friend. “You will do nothing,” he ordered.
“I won’t be in the same company as that filth!”
“He came in good faith, Jon. Until that change, you will keep your distance from him. Don’t even engage in a conversation with him. He dislikes you just as much as you dislike him.”
“You shouldn’t even allow scum like him close to you and Akira. Your nobles are going to faint at the sight of him.”
“I’ve sent word to the Duke and Duchess Kubovy, and to Duke Parnell. Everyone agreed to keep their mouths shut, allowing the man the chance to honor Duke Faure as representative of the Domain Kingdom. Come tomorrow, he would say his piece at the meeting, we will listen and then take it from there.”
“I can’t believe you are allowing this-”
“Just for the moment, Jon,” Aiden snapped. “I’ve had enough turmoil for one day. Would you please just listen to me for once in your life?”
“Oh, let’s not even go there,” Jon bit back.
“We will most definitely not,” Aiden agreed.
“Speaking of Akira,” Jon began, treading more carefully. “You will find me close to her side this evening. If you are going to allow that filth at the gathering, I am going to make sure he doesn’t approach Akira.”
“Well, I can’t argue with that,” Aiden said. “Shall we go then?”
A smirk found Jon’s face. “No companion tonight, King? You couldn’t find a lady fluttering her lashes at you here in Eldenwood?”
“No,” Aiden replied with a grin. “But I have my little Aemazon Warrior. What more do I need?”
Jon frowned at Aiden. “There is nothing little about me,” he snapped, annoyed.
The grin still on his face, Aiden opened the door to Jon’s room. He followed him outside, making their way towards the gathering.
The gathering took place outside in the Castle Gardens. People were dressed in various colors and Jon found it refreshing. The people seemed to be in a much better states of mind in comparison to this morning. This morning they mourned the Duke’s life, now they were celebrating it.
Jon looked around for any sign of the Domain Kingdom filth, but couldn’t find him yet. Jon spotted Akira, dressed in a beautiful navy gown. Her chestnut locks were up into an elegant bun, a style he was fond of.
Then Jon’s eyes drifted to the Princess Nayeli. She was dressed in a faint blue gown, a single white feather in her hair. She seemed almost ordinary tonight, Jon thought. Well, after the act she had played this morning, fading into the background would do her some good tonight. There was no sign of her Native friend, Hael. Did she come alone?
Jon found himself nearing Akira, but suddenly stopped. They haven’t had the chance to speak yet, not really, after the night they had kissed. Jon refused to think about it. It alarmed him how much he wanted to do it again. But he knew he couldn’t.
“Jon May,” Akira acknowledged him, finally noticing him a few feet away.
“Good evening, Princess Akira,” he said and bowed his head at her.
“Good evening,” she said, her eyes looking up into his. “How are you, Jon?”
“I am well, thank you. And Milady?” he asked formally.
“Yearning for more kisses,” she said carelessly.
Jon almost fainted. “Akira!” he scowled her quietly. “Don’t say that out loud-”
He was cut off by her laughter. “Stop fretting, Jon!”
Her voice was too loud, her mouth constantly amused. Jon stepped closer to her, glaring into her eyes. “Akira,” he breathed softly. “You smell like Ember.”
She giggled. “What does it matter?” she mused.
“What are you thinking?-”
“That I had a long day and I needed to relax. I was tense.”
“You know what you are risking,” he said, his voice lowered between them.
“Oh, stop it, Jon,” she said, her voice too loud. “Now if you don’t mind, I am going to go have some fun.”
“Don’t drink more.”
She waved him away, her eyes moving past him. “Duke Daniel Parnell,” she exclaimed, pushing past Jon.
Jon turned around and watched as the young Duke Daniel Parnell’s cheeks reddened when the beautiful Princess Akira threw her arms around him in greeting. Akira smiled at the Duke alluringly and a sting of jealousy pricked his heart. He watched them carefully, hearing a few words here and there. The Duke seemed happy to see the Princess. He talked fondly with her, his eyes never leaving her face.
A tall, broad-shouldered man entered his sight of vision-
Long, blond hair like a girl
, Jon thought the moment her saw the Domain Warrior. Jon resisted the urge to spit on the floor. His eyes darted around the people of the gathering, only a few were noticing the threat that the man posed. Jon clenched down on his teeth, fighting the urge to lunge at the man in his Royal Grey Color.
His eyes darted to Akira where she continued her conversation with Duke Parnell. Then his eyes darted in Aiden’s direction. He thought he would find Aiden watching the filth, but to his surprise, Aiden was watching
. Their eyes met and Aiden glared a warning at Jon. Jon cursed quietly under his breath, looking away from Aiden.
Jon dared another glance in the Domain scum’s direction and his heart went quiet as he watched the man stop next to the Native Princess. His eyes shot to Aiden, but the King wasn’t looking, locked into a conversation with someone else. Jon wanted to scream at Aiden, to shout at the top of his lungs that the biggest threat in the Adarmar Kingdom was smiling at Nayeli like she was a quick snack before the feast.
Sep 14, 2015 10:28AM
“Why, if it isn’t the lovely Princess Nayeli Faye,” someone said behind her. Nayeli felt uneasy, a sudden outbreak of sweat on her brow. She knew the voice, but it was impossible for him to stand behind her. Curious, she turned around and looked into a tower of a man.
Eiric Whittaker was towering over her, the bastard brother of the Domain Kingdom’s King. A polite smile lingered on his face. His hands were folded in behind his back, his eyes intently fixed on her. She had to stop herself from yelping in surprise, giving a step away from him.
“Don’t look so frightened,” he said to her. “The entire gathering is already staring at me like I might just snap your neck. Stop it now, calm your features.”
As if he had control over her mind and body, she relaxed. “Eiric Whittaker,” she choked out.
“Oh, you remember me,” he said with a smile. “I’m flattered.”
“What are you doing here?” she asked, her voice uneven.
“I am here as representative on Duke Faure’s day of funeral.”
“I don’t believe you,” she found herself saying.
He ignored her comment. “I hear you’ve caused quite the uproar this morning.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Oh, but I do. Quite the promise you are making to his people.”
She kept silent.
“I can help you with your cause, you know. In exchange for a favor.”
“No,” she insisted. “I won’t do you any favors.”
“If you don’t want to play along, then I will be the only one playing. You won’t like it, I’m sure.”
She remained quiet, glaring up at him.
“Speaking of very important matters,” he mused. “My dear brother, the King of the Domain Kingdom, is not a very patient man. You ought to remember that.”
“Oh, fuck you,” she muttered, her voice lowered between them.
“Oh, that is not very ladylike,” he said and chuckled. “Or does the King Aiden Estrella like your foul mouth when you are pinned underneath him?”
She wanted to grab onto his Warrior throat and rip out his windpipes. She would frame those windpipes, put them on display in the front hall of Maya Castle for the world to see.
“I gave you my answer to give to your King.”
“And I told you that I wouldn’t accept it. Neither would my King.”
“Is that why you are here?” she snapped. “To threaten me some more?”
“We are not people that threaten. We merely make promises. And we keep to them.”
“I don’t have to listen to this-”
“Jairo Whittaker is a very jealous man, Nayeli Faye. I feel obligated to tell you that. And I hope that you would know that I am earnest in my warning.”
She looked up at the Whittaker and she was surprised to find a touch of concern in his eyes. She wanted to assure him that she didn’t need his concern, but they were interrupted by Aiden. Her heart quickened at the thought of Aiden so close to a Whittaker.
“Princess Nayeli,” he began. “I see that you have met Eiric Whittaker.”
“Oh, we’ve met before,” Eiric said, eyes still lingering on Nayeli.
“You have?” Aiden asked in surprise.
Eiric tore his eyes away from Nayeli’s. “She didn’t tell you?” he asked. “Most interesting.”
With his faint smile unfazed, Eiric turned away from them and left. Nayeli couldn’t look at Aiden. She turned away, her heart beating in her throat. She didn’t trust her voice to speak. Aiden spoke her name, but she ignored it completely and walked away from him, finding the urge to run.
(last edited Sep 14, 2015 10:29AM)
Sep 14, 2015 10:28AM
Jon walked Akira to her room, a mischievous smile playing with her face. She thought she was so clever, making eyes at Daniel Parnell for the entire evening. Jon knew she was teasing him, making him jealous. And even with Domain Warrior to watch, it had worked. Jon hated the way Akira smiled at the Duke. He was the kind of man she would end up to marry one day, Jon knew, but knowing and understanding the obvious, didn’t necessarily make it easy.
“I’m glad this day is over,” Akira said, stepping closer to Jon.
“Yes, funerals can be tiresome,” Jon said, watching her carefully.
They walked in silence for a few seconds.
“Tiresome,” Akira repeated to break the silence. “Does that mean you are tired and would like to go to bed?”
Jon eyed her cautiously. “I would say it is time I retire to my room, yes.”
They neared Akira’s chamber and she came to halt in front of her door, turning to Jon. “Do you think you need to stay with me? Since there is a Domain Warrior in Eldenwood. You know how they feel about the Estrellas and me being an Estrella after all. With you nearby, that Whittaker won’t even think about-”
“Akira,” Jon said, cutting her off. “I should say good-night.”
“We should,” she mused, moving in on Jon.
Jon caught her chin, holding her eager lips at bay. “I will be sleeping in my own room, Princess,” he said.
She smiled up at him. “I can always come with you,” she murmured to him.
“No, you won’t,” he said, a little bemused at her notions.
“Are you never going to kiss me again?” she asked, feigning worry and playfully furrowing her brow.
“Two kisses were trouble enough.”
“Good-night, Princess Akira,” Jon said, letting go of her chin.
She crossed her arms. “If you won’t kiss me, I will find someone else to kiss.”
“Like your new Native friend?”
“There are so many options. I will have to see who I choose.”
“Akira,” he warned.
“Good-night, Aemazon Warrior,” she purred and reached for her door. She smiled at him over her shoulder as she pushed the door open. He felt himself wanting to follow the smile on those perfect lips. He stopped once the doors to her chamber closed in his face.
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