It's weird how time seems to... fly by lately. Ever since he found me on that battlefield... No, ever since I met Willow. She looked so nice. I don't know... I mean? Why am i trying to explain myself to... myself? It's dumb, I couldn't even talk when I saw her, I was mesmerized... Not like it was any different from usual. Have I ever been able to speak my mind? Just how pathetic will this get? And Vlad... he read through me so easily, yet he's so... But the princess... she wasn't... a princess, not one of those... nobles.
Damn them nobles. Royalty, whatever! 'Superior blood' my ass! Oh!! Did I really... think that? The moon, it's so beautiful tonight, though, nothing's as beautiful as my Willow. MY? Yeah alright, the Willow of your dreams, Maclay. But Vlad told me to hold onto that... Maybe he knows something I don't. Heh that wouldn't surprise me, I know mostly nothing, apart from magic.
I'm just a bastard kid after all! Why does that stupid connection with Count Maclay have to follow me like that? And why, why in the world am I, me, the survivor of the family? After mom was...
Tara's train of thought was interrupted when Vlad sat down beside her and looked up at the moon in silence, his legs dangling on the edge of the cliff where they were. "Give your mind a break, Tara." He said, in his usual even tone. The words, they were simple, yet meaningful. How long had he been there? Did he know what she was thinking? Vlad didn't add anything, he kept his usual quietness, and just seemed to enjoy bathing in the moonlight, relaxing his muscles, and for the first time Tara could remember, his guard was down. She sighed, and leant onto him, letting her thoughts get back on the bumpy road they were running down.
I wish this could be Willow, right beside me. I'm sure she's comfy, and great to hold close and... wait! Why am I thinking of her as if she was... it's... I feel like that only because I've never had a friend before, right? Is Vlad a friend? It's not like I could call him father, or brother, doesn't feel like family to me. He's not even old enough to... But he never says anything, he's like... Sir Mysterious. He's a bit like... my brother he killed. Only difference is... instead of... hitting me, he heals my wounds...
I can't even remember what we did here in these past few days, it's been so strangely... peaceful. I've stared at the sky for quite a while, it,s so much more beautiful away from the village lights. And I swam in the lake, the silver sparkling water here is so pure... Oh and I spent a couple hours tending to Vlad's wounds... Maybe... that's what he took me here for? His brother and him... they're so quiet.
Vlad had gotten up and was walking close to the edge, seemingly made uneasy by how close Tara was to him a moment ago. "You... do-don't like it w-when I-I'm close to you?" She asked him, concerned. Everytime they had touched for more than a couple seconds, he had moved away. "Naah!" Was his answer, as he shook his head and walked back to her. "See, I..." He trailed off and looked to the ground. Tara frowned and jumped to her feet, but was immediately pushed back to the ground by Odiluke, just as a wave of arrows flew by them, just over their heads. Vlad withdrew his sword just quickly enough to deflect most of the arrows away from himself, none hit his vital parts. "Curse them!" Odiluke screeched between his teeth as he got to his knees and reached his hand claws in his back. "You stay down, we'll take care of 'em!"
Tara nodded and buried her face in the ground, not wanting to see the slaughter that would go on as Vladawain and Odiluke rushed into battle. Vlad slashed through the air violently, sending a wind blade towards the spot in the shadows where the arrows had come from. Pain, death, and screams were heard, and at the same time, weapons clashing, as Odiluke dove down into the enemy ranks and killed them one by one, sucessfully evading or blocking any attacks that came his way in a serie of summersaults, backflips and other fancy moves, tearing down the armor and flesh of the enemy with his deadly clawed hands. Vlad slowly walked towards the battle as well, his eyes like ice, glaring through them all.
The last noise from the battle was Odiluke's claw burying in the ground to stop himself from sliding backwards after delivering a sever blow at an opponent. Then silence fell on the cliff edge, a heavy, deadly silence, that threatened to crush Tara's conciousness in it's supremacy. She knew, somehow, the exact number of people killed, the exact number of wounds that were inflicted to Vlad and Odiluke, she could feel the blood running through her heart, and the screams still drumming in her heartbeat. She was shocked about how clearly she felt the battle, without even looking at it, disgusted even.
A strong pair of hands picked her up and put her on her feet by the hem of her shirt. Those were not the hands of either Vlad or Odiluke, even though her eyes were still tightly shut, she could tell, but then, who's hands? "You're just a failure!" One of the hands that had brought her up slapped her hard, on the right ear. She stumbled backwards as the contact made her suddenly open her eyes, and another hand grabbed her arm and pulled her back with great strength, but this time, no... hatred? The world around her spun, the images were blurry, but there was this one silhouette, a dark, tall shadow, looking down at her. "You don't have a home anymore, you don't have the right to be one of us, you! You! deserve punishment for even thinking about..."
"Hey! Snap out of it already, kid!" Vlad's voice? No, it was Odiluke's. Was it his hand that had gripped hers, no, she was sure it was Vlad's... She slowly opened her eyes that she had shut again without noticing. Her eyelids were heavy, like after a night of sleep that had been too short. Odiluke was kneeling beside her, looking concerned, about her? "She's coming to! Vlad!" Rushed footsteps could be heard, and then a hand grabbed her by her shirt and lifted her up from the ground a little. "What in Hell were you thinkin'!" Shaken by the emotion in Vladawain's voice, something that resembled fear, Tara finally woke up completely and took in her surroundings. She was still close to the edge of the cliff, the night was slowly starting to give in to daylight, and both the warriors that had saved her were right beside her, looking more concerned than she had never seen them be. "Tell me!" Vlad shook her slightly. "Why'd you try to jump off 'da cliff?!"
Tara's eyes grew wide in shock. She hadn't tried to jump off the cliff, at all. Then she remembered being slapped by... who was it? Her hand slowly reached for her right ear, and she felt no pain, no scar, no bruise, nothing there. Had that happened in her imagination? She frowned slightly, thinking about it all, as Vlad finally dropped her and sighed. "Just... don't do it again." He turned his back to them, and Odiluke also got up to his feet. Tara blinked a couple times, and then got up and threw herself on Vlad, hugging him tightly. The warrior looked down at her and ruffled her hair, giving her a warm halfsmile. She lifted her head, and imitated his facial expression. Odiluke stood beside them, looking far away, both his arms dangling loosely from his body, as the sun was starting it's course through the morning sky. Or maybe... that's what a family is supposed to be...
"So they found us..." Odiluke broke the silence. "They weren't after us, else they would've been more heavily armed. That or our reputation has fallen."
"They're after the girl?"
"Or first class idiots."
"We hafta move anyway, but... where to? Maybe it's time we get outta the kingdom."
"As if they'd let us out, heh. And I just can't leave this place... yet."
"No oh-ing me Luke, You know you'll have to find yours someday."
"Aye! So where're we goin'?"
"Starlust Lake?" Tara couldn't resist proposing that place, out of al the places she knew in the Kingdom: the exact place where her mother was buried after her death.
"So close to the castle?" Odiluke didn't sound too convinced.
"They'd never think of searching for us that near. Sounds like a plan to me."
Willow was sitting on the castle wall, watching the sun rise slowly, her mind drifting around the clouds, the thoughts, the light and the shadow that the high walls were casting on the plain, and then she settled her eyes on the beautiful lake that was just a couple miles away. Starlust Lake... the silvery water, the shades of reflecting light, all the fishies and the life tha's around there. I wish I could go there...Paranoid much daddy? What's all that about rumors of a monster in there? Such a beautiful place. I wanna take Tara there when I... Willow let out a loud sigh, and gripped the stone walls on both side of herself looking up at the sky, her feet dangling off the edge.
I wish I could fly, and go see her, God I miss her and I've seen her maybe five minutes. What kind of dream is that anyway? I want to be with the daughter of the man who almost killed me?My father will never approve. He keeps sending me the dumb prince type pretendants, hoping I'll show interest in them. Gah, what am I supposed to tell him so this madness stops. 'Hello, gay now!'? Then he's gonna ask what I mean, and then he's gonna die of a heart attack learning his only child won't have kids to succeed to the throne...But... Why do I have to carry this burden? Why was I born princess, I could've been a commoner, things wouldn't have been so complicated.
"Willow, your father would like to talk to you, if you'd please get back inside and dress up as a proper lady to go and see him." Willow turned to the blonde girl that was by the window, bewildered by the sight of the princess in her pajama out on the castle walls. "Don't worry Buffy, I'm not gonna fall." The princess got up in a swift, agile move and slid through the open window effortlessly, then smiled at the new maid and took the clothes she was offering her. "You can leave, I'll be alright by myself." Buffy nodded and smiled back, then walked out of the room, shutting the door softly. Well, she's definitely something, for a new maid... Wonder how old she is. Willow quickly changed and walked out of her room in a nice black dress, her steps unsure, her stance uneasy. She obviously didn't like being dressed the way she was. Just for that, I wish I could've been an amazon. A warrior princess of some kind. Damn dresses...
She entered the throne room and immediately walked to her father, who looked at her with a mix of disbelief and anger, his hands tightly locked to the chairs' arms. He kept staring at her for a moment, and Willow started fidgeting with the fabric of her dress, waiting for him to talk, too intimidated to even say hi. He finally got up and started pacing, his voice low and dull, barely covering the sound of his footsteps. "You met the traitor's daughter in the forest, and didn't arrest her." His tone got louder. "You met Vladawain Bagnale, the slayer of armies, the one and only man who's ever dared go against the royalty and survived, and you..." He finally turned towards Willow, his face inches from hers, his green eyes shooting electricity, his aggressivity paralyzing Willow herself. He screamed, just this once, him who would always keep his calm, screamed, shouted, yelled words out, at his own daughter. "You didn't tell ME!" He then stayed still, his breath heavy, his eyes fixing his daughter's intently, and then, all of a sudden, he stood tall, and turned his back to her. "Explain yourself, Miss Rosenberg."
Willow took a deep breath. How did he learn about it? How come he knew every single detail of that encounter when she had made sure none of the guards would talk? "I... actually that's not how it happened. He was, you see, Vladawain, he was much, much stronger than all the guards that were with me. And he was... protecting the girl. So I just... He spared us, well, most of us, in exchange for... the girl's well... well being. She's not... her aura, it's not the same as the traitor's. She's not, his blood, she's..."
Willows father turned back towards her, his face carrying some kind of annoyance. "You didn't answer my question: Why wasnt I informed of that right away?" Willow swallowed the lump in her throat, and hesitantly took a step forward. "I told them... I wouldn't... In exchange for my life, I said I wouldn't say I saw them. "You think that lowlife mercenary could make it here to kill you?" Willow shook her head no, but the thought made her shudder. "I just... he didn't look like... a threat to me. And my guards had agreed on not saying a thing, too."
"The ones who were with you, yes. Not the ones I had sent and were following you, in the shadows."
Shock drew it's way on Willow's face, as her jaw fell open and her brows furrowed. Both her hands hung on her sides, suddenly heavy. Heavy with apprehension? Disgust? Just shock? "You did what?" She just couldn't believe it. Spies were following her moves, moves that had been ordered by her father himself. In what kind of world are we living now? Even my own father can't trust me... Without waiting for a reply from her father, Willow ran out of the room, and up to her bedroom, where she quickly changed into more comfortable clothes and then jumped out of the window on the wall again, and climbed up to where no one could reach her, or even see her. She had picked up a sword on her way, and was holding it in front of her, staring at the tip glistening in the daylight. The shades of light moved across her face, as she played with the weapon, tried to slice some invisible enemy... She enjoyed wielding a blade, the sound of the metal slicing through the wind, the weight of the sword extending her own arm. The power she felt holding the weapon in her hands was much more palpable than the one she had with the crown on her head. It was tangible, real, yet so easy to lose. The power of life and death, more than the power of money. She felt it was her way, but her father had never wanted to show her how to fight, and her teacher had showed her only a little magic. What good will conjuring a tiny little flame do me if I'm stuck in the middle of a battle? I'm a princess, right, fair enough, but I don't want to be a prisoner. And I want to be able to defend my own life on my own! She kept swinging her sword on the roof of the castle, alone, until she crumbled down in exhaustion. She decided it would be about time she returned to her room, ate something, and had a good night of sleep.
I wonder... where Tara is right now, and what she's doing. I hope nothing bad happened to her. Who knows what my father could've done. He could've sent mercenaries to get her... kill her. Vlad, please, take care of her, protect her for me...
Tara stumbled under the weight of all the stuff she was carrying. It was just a bag, and one of Odiluke's battle armor, but it was heavy, as if someone had put rocks, weights on her whole body... Vlad walked by her and picked her up, and then picked up a rock from the road and put it in her bag. "What? You really weighted that up??" Odiluke burst into an incontrollable laughter, and Vlad smirked. "No I haven't, but that's what ya get fer thinkin' I did!" "How did you?" Tara frowned, looking up at Vlad. He was wearing some kind of smile, which was rather unusual for him. Then she stopped walking, dropped what she was carrying on the ground, and let her arms hang limp at her sides. "You can read my mind?" Odiluke's laughter became even crazier, and Vlad shook his head. "Yes. A little, when yer opening it ta me... Like... When ya get close to me. But I... hate intruding on people's thoughts. I just catch a glimpse here and there, dun't worry too much about it."
"Wow, bro. That's the longest conversational talk you ever had!" Odiluke tried to control the chuckling and picked up Tara's bag. "Took ya long enuf to figure out young lady. But the idea's not bad, let's get you fit for life while we get to Starlust Lake. An' dun't worry, if you crumble down outta exhaustion, we'll pick ya up." Odiluke picked a few more rocks on the road and stuffed them in the bag, then handed it back to Tara. "I-I... I'll never be able to ca-carry this all d-day." Worry made its way on her traits, that and a bit of pride too, washing away. She hadn't been raised in the warrior way, at all. All she had done in her young years was housework... But... what if I ever get caught in a battle? I can't fight my own way out, I can't defend myself. Vlad and Odi won't always be there for me. Maybe it's time I learn how to handle my own? And maybe this way, it'll be eaier to see Willow again. Yeah, I'll do it for Willow. This way she won't have a friendly weakling crawling in front of her when we meet again. Resolve slowly made it's way in her expression, and her moves, as she picked up the bag, put it on her back, and started walking again, faster than before, and thanked the gods for the fact she wasn't wearing Vlad's heavy armor.
They finally arrived near a pond surrounded by trees, and Tara litterally collapsed. The hand of a young red headed woman appeared in front of her, lent out, inviting. All the heavyness was gone, there was only the two girls, looking at each other. Tara hesitantly reached for the freckled hand, and took it in hers. The touch shook her whole body with an unknow energy, and the other girl, Willow, helped her get up. Their hands stayed locked in each other's, the effort they had made to get up had positioned them inches apart. Blue was fusing with green, their eyes couldn't look anywhere but in the depths of the other girl's soul. Nothing existed but the pulse of their hearts racing to control all the emotions that were rising. They were so close, and nothing else mattered.
Willow slowly leaned in closer, afraid to break the moment, that precious moment they were sharing just now. Their lips touched, in a soft, but powerful kiss, that sent shivers through their young bodies. Tara shut her eyes and hugged the girl tightly, and Willow happily joined in the embrace. When they finally let go, reluctantly, Willow found herself in her room, alone in her bed, snuggled up to her pillow. She let out a sigh and tried to get her mind off what had just happened. It's just a dream Rosenberg, only a dream, no matter how real it felt.
"Tara..." What? Vlad? But I was with Willow just... "You should eat sumthing, else ya won't be able to carry this anywhere else, m'lady. We'll stay here for the night, 'kay?" Tara nodded her head and lifted herself up, noticing she didn't have the armor on anymore. She reached for the plate Vlad offered her, feeling the strain in her muscles, and the pain in the back of her head resulting from the effort she had provided. Of course it was just a dream, Maclay. How could you even imagine it was real after such a day?