Chapter One ~ Meeting Beneath The Stars
It was a dark night with stars aplenty and a full moon that shone like a polished silver coin to light the way of those brave enough to walk to the lonely dirt paths at night, but it wasnt strong enough to light the way for a girl that was sprinting blindly through the thick woods outside the royal city, pushing past leafy branches that hung low from the trees and stumbling over gnarled roots that littered her path; she had multiple scratches and bruises from where she had smacked into trees that she didnt see in the dark, and her skin was grimy from when she had fallen in the dirt when something had tripped her up. Her wrists burned from where they had been bound by coarse ropes earlier that evening and her body was sore and bruised from the harsh way she had been carried when the bandits had kidnapped her and stolen her away; she didnt know who the men were or what they had intended to do with her, but she hadnt stuck around to find out. She ran wildly through the trees, panicking when she heard the bandits catching up to her when something grabbed her around her ankles, locking her feet together and bringing her to a sudden halt as she smashed into the dirt and skidded slightly along the rocky ground, knocking the wind from her lungs; gasping for air and curling up in pain on the ground, a group of men, all dressed in black and had pieces of knight armory on, gathered around her and looked down at the quivering woman before them, a couple of them muttering amongst themselves before the leader spoke up and the rest of the men fell silent.
So, what are we suppose to do with her now? He told us to teach her a lesson if she misbehaved; what *kind* of punishment was he
Her silver eyes widened in terror as the men standing around her began to eye her with lust in their cruel eyes and she trembled violently in fear as she realized what the men were intending to do to her; when two of them came at her and one of them ripped a piece of her dress off, she screamed loud enough to wake everyone in the royal city and one of the men hissed in pain at the assault on his ear as he leaned down and smacked the girl had across the face, her screaming cut off as her head snapped to the side and a small trickle of blood appeared at the corner of her mouth.
Shut up, bitch; youre going to like this.
She whimpered in pain and fear, and closed her eyes, unable to look at the men any longer as the one that had spoken to her leaned closer to her and she could feel his hot breath on her neck as she felt the warmth of his hand through the bodice of her gown; there was a small sharp whistle, a thwack of something piercing flesh, and the clearing erupted in pandemonium. Opening her eyes, she found the man that had been trying to rape her seconds before dead beside her, his eyes glassy and blank as he lay in the grass beside her, the hilt of a knife protruding from between his eyes; turning her head limply to the side, she found one of the men running around, screaming about demons and curses, while the remaining men who had kept their senses were fighting, and losing, against a man wielding shinning long sword. Once all the men had been cut down or had fled into the night, the man sheathed his sword and kicked a couple of the corpses out of his way as he approached the girl lying on the ground, barely clinging to consciousness; he crouched down beside her, his emerald eyes locked with the thin silver slits that were her eyes before they rolled up in her skull and she fainted, unable to take the pain anymore and she passed out. He glanced around at the men he had slain, shifted his gaze back over to the unconscious girl, and made up his mind; bracing one of his knees again the ground, he leaned down slightly, scooped the young girl up into his arms, stood up, and disappeared into the shadows of the trees.
Spica, my child; come here, my little star.
Spica blinked her hazy eyes as she looked on at the scene before her and she felt her heart twist as she realized what she was looking at; she was looking at herself as a small child and it was the night her mother, the Queen, had passed away. Her mother lay on her elegant bed, pale and thin, practically wasting away to nothing, and she had summoned her only daughter to her side, wishing to see her child one last time before she left this world and went to the next; the Royal Advisor, Aeron, stood beside Spica, his hands folded behind his back and his head bowed in respect for the dying Queen, his long white bangs covering his face as the Queen motioned for her daughter to move closer. Spica watched with tears in her eyes as her younger self approached her dying mother and, lifting a weak and shaking hand, the Queen touched her daughters tear-streaked face and gave her a smile that showed no fear and no hate, only love for her only child and the last hope for the kingdom she had cared so lovingly for; using the last of her strength, she forced herself to speak, even though her voice had been reduced to a mere whisper.
My poor child, I do not wish to leave you, but one cannot fight the hand of destiny forever and, even though it pains me to leave you alone in this world, I will always be with you
in your heart.
Smiling brightly one last time at her young daughter, the Queen laid back against her pillow and was gone; sighing, Aeron laid his hand on Spicas small shoulder and gave it a tight squeeze, observing her young face with an odd look in his icy blue eyes, causing the younger Spica to shiver at the sight of those cold eyes.
Do not fret, young princess; just as I took care of your mother, I *promise* I will care for you as well.
Falling to her knees at her mothers bedside, the younger Spica cried out in agony as her unseen older self began to sob as well, remembering how alone she really was.
Gasping for breath, Spica awoke with a start and sat up in a bed of cool, clean linen, inhaling sharply when a throbbing pain in her shoulder caused her to double over and clutch the burning joint, tears brimming in her silver eyes as she gasped for breath and grit her teeth in pain; suddenly, the door opened and the man that had saved her earlier entered, a drawstring cloth bag in his hand and a sheathed sword at his hip. Before he could say anything to her, Spica panicked and started to get out of the bed when he rushed forward and attempted to push her back, only increasing Spicas panic.
NO! DONT TOUCH ME! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO ME?
Would you calm down? Im not going to hurt you; I just saved your miserable life after all.
Grabbing her by her wrists, he held her hands away from him and stopped her from hitting him, but when she looked up at him with wide silver eyes and tears pouring like rain down her flushed cheeks, he lowered her hands to her lap and held both of her wrists in one hand while he felt at her forehead with the back of his cool hand; sniffing loudly, Spica twisted her head away from his hand and tugged her hands away, surprised when he let her hands go and stepped back, reaching over to the nightstand and picking up a damp cloth lying in a basin of water, wringing it out before turning back to her and motioning for her to lie down.
Youve got a fever; lie down and let me cool you down with this.
Swallowing hard, she tried to resist, but she felt so hot and dizzy that she complied, breathing deeply at the cool feeling of the pillow cradling her head; when the cloth touched her burning forehead, she closed her eyes wearily and began to relax, finally realizing that the man meant her no harm and that she would be safe in his presence.
Thank you, sir.
She whispered feebly before slipping back into unconsciousness.
What are we gonna do?
One of the bandits asked his comrade as they picked their way through the underbrush, trying to find their way out of the woods and get back to the city.
If the boss finds out that we lost the princess, hell
Hell what, worm?
Both men looked up in horror at the man sitting atop his giant steed, glaring down at them with icy blue eyes; both of the bandits fell to their knees and began begging for him to spare their lives as the white haired man leapt down from his horse and approached the sniveling men, leering at their huddled forms with wicked humor.
Why should I even *consider* sparring your damn lives? You kidnapped the princess and then attempted to rape her; as the Royal Advisor, I render you both traitors and sentence you both to instant execution.
Both men made a wild scramble for their lives, but with two quick flashes of silver, both men fell down dead, their throats almost cut all the way through and their dark blood staining the dirt; wiping his blade on one of the bandits shirts, he stood up straighter and sheathed his sword as another person trotted into the clearing, a young woman in a white cloak over her pale pink gown and her eyes downcast as she smelled the blood of the murdered men.
Must you always be so cruel, Aeron?
Approaching the slightly nauseated woman, he bowed low and kissed her tiny hand, showing his apologies to her.
Forgive me, Lady Seline, I forgot myself; but I am so concerned for Lady Spica that I wish to strike down all who may have harmed her.
just continue searching for her, Aeron.
Bowing to the timid woman, Aeron leapt up into the saddle of his steed and remained where he was until Seline passed, blocking the view of the dead men from her and then following her into the trees, his cold eyes on the moon as it began to become obscured by thick rolling black clouds.
Spica, this was not what was suppose to happen.
~ End of Chapter One ~