In the land of Alister, there are two warring countries. When Princess Ashelia's brother dies, she takes his identity as to make his dream come true. But what happens when she get's caught into the enemy's army, and falls in love with Lucas, who is the general, and Prince, of the country she is supposed to hate?


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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chapter Eight

“You can go rest if you want,” said Lucas, his eyes watching Ash picking up some boxes and starting to load it onto a wagon.
            We had decided to get a move on, since we still have to cover quite a distance before we reach the main camp in Amicah.
            “I’m fine,” said Ash, looking at him weirdly.
            Ashelia was continuing to be Ash de Fieruilla, considering it would not be good that the Princess of the Serennio family was Prince Lucas of the Camuilla’s Royal Guard. It was already hard enough for people to accept the fact that a soldier that he had been training for only over a week was his Royal Guard.
            “Suit yourself,” said Lucas, picking up another box and loading it onto the wagon. “All I’m saying is you don’t have to strain your body. You are a girl, after al—“
            “Shh!” hissed Ashelia, covering Lucas’ mouth up with her hands, her hazel eyes wide. “You can’t shut up, can you?”
            She dropped her hands and continued working, and Lucas couldn’t help but laugh.
            “What’s so funny?” she asked.
            “Nothing. You’re just cute, is all.”
            She scoffed and rolled her eyes, though Lucas could see the pink rising in her cheeks.
            Everything she does is like a girl, how could I have not noticed it before?
            He turned around to see Dominick heading over to him, almost in a hysterical rush.
            “You forgot again, didn’t you?!” he exclaimed.
            I stared at him. “…forgot what?”
            “The meeting!” he snarled, grabbing his arm and started pulling him forward. “You’re always like this!” he lectured. “You always forget, and I’m the one standing there alone like an idiot! It’s my job to get you there, and it looks bad when you’re not even there!”
            “Hhmmm…” Lucas mused, grinning at the outrageously worried expression on his friend’s face. “You should do your job better, Dominick.”
            “Well, whatever,” scowled Dominick.
            Lucas remembered and stopped, turning around.
            “Ash, come on!” he called.
            Ash looked up, wiping her blonde wig’s hair away from her eyes. “Excuse me?”
            “You’re my Royal Guard, right?” Lucas asked. “Well you’re supposed to accompany me everywhere I go.”
            “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Dominick murmured to him. “They’ll just ask questions about it.”
            “They’re going to ask questions eventually,” said Lucas. “We might as well get it over with. It’ll be bad if we let out a feeling that even we think it is wrong.”
            “You always think you’re right,” Dominick pointed out.
            Lucas laughed, raising a suspicious look from Ashelia as she got to them. “Not always,” he denied, “just most of the time.”
            The three headed off into a tent that was still set fully up. It was the command center of the campsite, set in the very middle of it. When they entered, all the captains and lieutenants were already there, seated around a table that spanned the whole tent.
            “Prince Lucas, nice of you to join us,” said a middle aged man. Just as everyone else fighting there, he wore the traditional soldier’s attire, except for the amount of swords he had embroidered on his uniform.
            Of all the time Ashelia had been in the army, she already knew her place and the ranks. Each soldier has one sword embroidered. The commander has two, the captain has three, the lieutenant has four, and the General has five.
            The man who had spoken was Lieutenant Andrew, the man who had almost killed her on that night.
            Where Philo died, she thought.
            “Forgive me,” said Lucas, sitting down on the last empty chair at the very top of the table. Dominick took Ash’s arm and pulled him back against the wall behind Lucas.
            “I was busy,” Lucas was saying.
            Dominick stepped up and cleared his throat. “Now for the meeting. We are to discuss the strategy and battle plan.”
            Inside Lucas groaned. Going out and actually doing something was good, but planning it? No.
            “I think we should discuss the matter of the Second Sword, Stephen first,” said a captain, which Lucas recognized as Captain Elias.
            “I think he’s nothing but a nuisance,” said Lieutenant Andrew. “It’s quite obvious he’s not going to say a word about Prince Aeson. We might as well kill him.”
            Murmurs sprang up as the ten or so other people started converse. Lucas heard disagreements…and agreements.
            Lucas looked behind him to glance at Ashelia, and her hands were balled in fists, her eyes hard.
            “About that,” said Lucas, turning back to the meeting. “I had decided to let Stephen live. If anyone lays a hand on him, I will kill him.”
            Relief flooded Ashelia, but everyone else’s jaw dropped in shock.
            “Prince Lucas,” Dominick said, smiling nervously at everyone else. “What are you doing?” he asked, whispering in his ear.
            He shrugged. “It’s what I have decided.”
            “That’s absurd!” Lieutenant Andrew exclaimed. “Let an enemy prisoner live when he has no purpose for us?!”
            “It’s what I’ve decided,” said Lucas, adamant. “You do not know that he is not of use to us. He could break sometime in the future and decide to tell us something. Keeping him alive does us no harm, since it’s obvious he’s not going anywhere.”
            “I agree with Prince Lucas,” said Captain Ajax.
            Murmurs sprang up around of agreements.
            “I also agree,” said Lieutenant Faxon. Even Lucas was surprised to hear Faxon. He was an old man, reaching his sixties and soon to be retired. He had seen more battles than any of them have, and thus has more wisdom about things like this. “Prince Lucas may be just saying this on a whim, but if you think about it, he has a point. He is a Royal Guard for Prince Aeson, and will therefore not say anything to betray Aeson. But you all know his story. He was taken in by the Serennio when he was young. He’s been raised all his life there, so he knows so much more information that is completely invaluable to us. He will never betray Aeson, but who is to say he won’t keep his mouth shut about the Serennio, the king, or their military force strategies?”
            Murmurs of agreement rose up, and Lucas sat back, satisfied.
            “Oh, and about that,” said Lucas. “I think it’ll be a better idea to target Spiridon, instead of Aeson.”
            Shocked gasps rose up, protests starting to get known.
            “I know,” Lucas started, “that we had decided it’d be better to target Aeson instead of Spiridon. Aeson is more dangerous than Spiridon, knowing he was not too pampered as him. But once you think about it, Aeson does not even want the crown. The fact of the matter is, Spiridon is the heir.”
            “Was that not the point?” asked Captain Marcus.
            “That’s right,” agreed Captain Ajax. “We had decided that Aeson is our target. We know that it’d be better to have Spiridon as the heir, knowing he’ll be safer. If we target Spiridon, and kill him, Aeson would be the new heir, and that would be worse.”
            “But think about it this way,” Lucas said. “We all know that Aeson is very defiant. In fact, it even seems like he doesn’t want anything to do with his royal bloodline. If he becomes the heir, what if, it’ll work in our favor? If by some miracle we could end this war?”
            Silence filled the whole tent; the tension rising and building so much that it was maddening.
            “That’s nothing but fantasy,” Lieutenant Andrew said. “Everyone knows there’s no ending this war until either the Serennio, or your own, the Camuilla, are entirely wiped out. Both of your families can’t be alive and there be peace in Alister. It’s impossible.”
            Lucas was surprised to start feeling sorrow rise inside of him.
            “You don’t know that,” Lucas said. “Things change. There’s always a possibility.”
            “Of all the years I’ve been in this war,” Lieutenant Faxon said, his voice strained, “something like that…seems like an impossibility.”
            Lieutenant Andrew leaned back on his chair, satisfied that Lieutenant Faxon agreed with him, for once.
            Lucas nodded, seeing that agreements rose up around them. “I understand…” Lucas started, “but it would mean a lot of you all think about it for awhile longer. Searching for Aeson seems futile. Marcellus has probably already figured out that we’re after Aeson, so they’ll probably take him into hiding. It’ll be too hard to continue searching for him now.”
            Everyone nodded, and Lieutenant Faxon agreed. “I also think we should search for Prince Spiridon, instead.”
            The others started to agree, one by one, until they had a majority vote. Lucas knew he was horribly lying, but if he told them Aeson was dead, it would complicate things even more.
            “Excuse me,” said Captain Elias, his eyes directed behind Lucas and towards Ash. “Is that by chance the Royal Guard Ash that everyone’s been speaking about?”
            Ash froze.
            “Come here, Ash,” Lucas said. Ash walked over to stand beside him. “This is Ash. My Royal Guard.”
            Eyes swept Ash up and down, and Ashelia suddenly felt self-conscious. She may be posing as a guy at the moment, soldier’s uniform, wig and all, but it didn’t change the fact that she was truly a girl. She started to really miss her long hair, the dresses, and flower-fragrance perfume she used to always wear.
            “I hear that you’ve only been with us for a little over a week?” said a captain.
            “Have you had special training before?” asked another.
            “I heard you were a prisoner from the Admes Raid,” Lieutenant Andrew said.
            Silence befell them, and Ashelia wanted nothing better to do but run out of there.
            Lucas sensed she was highly uncomfortable and stood up, ready to speak, but as he opened his mouth, Ashelia spoke.
“It’s true; I’ve only been here for a little over a week. I have not had special training to be a Royal Guard. And I was part of the Admes army that you guys had attacked. But it’s also true that I am Prince Lucas’ Royal Guard, and I will protect him with my life.”
Ashelia has been raised in those sorts of situations all her life. She knew that the only way to fight things like this was head on with full confidence. You could have no confidence whatsoever, but you needed to will to at least pretend you did.
Lucas stared at Ashelia, shocked, impressed, and proud.
“That’s right,” said Lucas, suddenly feeling confident about everything. It started to feel like everything was going to be alright. “Ash de Fieruilla is my Royal Guard, and that is final.”
Everyone looked at them and their uncertainty, but at the same time, Lucas saw the admiration and respect rising inside of them.
Lord Faxon nodded, standing up. “Very well, then” he said, starting to leave. “I think the meeting is adjourned. Dismissed.”
Everyone started leaving one by one, each bowing their heads to Lucas. Soon the tent was empty except for Dominick, Lucas, and Ashelia.
“What’s up with you, Lucas?” asked Dominick. “You know you could have told me all these sudden decisions you had made.”
“You would have disagreed with me,” Lucas pointed out.
“Like that would have changed anything?” Dominick asked.
Lucas shrugged, then gave Dominick a smile, pulling his arm across his shoulders as they started walking out of the tent. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll remember to tell you next time.”
Dominick sighed, the nodded.
“In fact,” Lucas said ecstatically. “After we all get settled in at the main base camp, I’ll take you out for a drink in Mica.”
“You know I don’t drink,” Dominick murmured.
“No. You don’t usually drink. You’ll need one soon.”
Dominick sighed again, but then smiled at Lucas. “Whatever.” Then he walked off, probably to do more work.
Lucas didn’t know what to do without him.

            “Seriously, rest already Ash,” Lucas said, lowering his sword.
            Ash shook her head, frustrated with him. “What’s your problem, Lucas?”
            He raised a brow, confused. “What do you mean?”
            “Ever since you’ve found out who I am, you’ve been treating me like a girl.”
            “But you are a girl. A princess, in fact.”
            Ash shook her head, setting down her sword. They had gone out into the forest to continue training before the whole camp finished packing and they start heading off.
            “You know as well as I do that I can no longer just be a normal girl,” she said. “You have to treat me like any other soldier your training. In fact, even harder than that because I am your Royal Guard!”
            Lucas shook his head. “You know I can’t do that.”
            “You can!” Ash said, “and you will! How will you expect me to protect you if I am weak?”
            Lucas chuckled. “No one’s expecting you to protect me, Ashelia.”
            “I am.”
            Ashelia looked at him with hard, determined eyes. Lucas couldn’t get his gaze of her. “Lucas, you’ve saved my life numerous times now…and I need to repay you.”
            “You’ve saved my life before, it’s fine.”
            “And you’ve saved Stephen’s.”
            Lucas shrugged. “That’s different.”
            “It’s not,” Ashelia said, shaking her head. She went over to sit down a patch of grass and Lucas went to sit next to her.
            “What’s wrong?” Lucas asked, watching her face. He saw all the emotions and turmoil inside her that seemed to eat her away inside.
            “I’ll be honest with you, Lucas,” Ashelia said, reaching up and slipping her wig off into her hands, her silver hair falling into the ponytail she wore. She slipped that off too, letting her hair fall into her face. “The truth is…I have anger inside me for you.”
            Lucas looked at her, knowing there was more to it than her telling him she hated him.
            “My brother’s death was pretty much already set in stone. I had pretended to have the illness also so I could go to the castle and be with him. But…everyday it just got worse. It was to the point that he could barely stand.”
            Lucas nodded, listening. He looked up at the sky, and he couldn’t help but think that even if the sky was a perfect blue, it looked so sad.
            “It was obvious he wasn’t go to make it. No one had to tell me, but I already knew that he was going to die soon. But…then we got attacked. The castle started burning…and the flames had risen high. I was in our room. At the time I was still the pampered princess I’ve been born and raised to be, and I couldn’t do anything but stand there, frightened. Burning debris started falling down, catching everything on fire. I was just standing there, staring up as a piece started falling to me. Too frozen from fear. But Aeson had somehow managed to stand up and he pushed me out of the way. I didn’t know what to do…he died in my arms. It was then that I placed him on the bed, throwing a sheet over him, and took his identity.”
            Ashelia’s hands tightened, crumpling the tie in her hands.
            “You lead the army that was responsible for that attack,” Ashelia murmured. “And even though I know it’s not your fault…it’s still hard. Deep inside me…I know it’s just because I need someone to blame,” she looked up Lucas, her eyes sad. “What is wrong with humanity, I wonder? That you go and start blaming anyone in an attempt to save yourself? Yet at the same time, deep inside… you blame yourself the most.”
            Lucas looked up at the sky, taking a closer look. “I remember my little brother telling me this one thing. He may be years younger than me, but he’s been through more than most people. He asked me, ‘What is right in the world?’ and I had answered, ‘What’s right is what is not wrong.’ After that, he then asked me, ‘So there would be no right, if there is no wrong?’ I couldn’t really answer after that. People always think of perfection, but is there really such a thing? My little brother than started thinking about, and said to me, ‘You know what’s beautiful? Everything. The miracles, the kindness…and the tragedies. Everything’s beautiful, but you know what I think the most beautiful thing is? Hope’.”
            Ashelia looked at him, her eyes watchful. She could see the nostalgic expression in Lucas’ face, the wonder and pride for his brother.
            “You’re brother seems wise,” she commented.
            “He is,” Lucas said. “Wiser than me, actually. Once you think about it, he’s right. People are cruel. They do things that they knew that are wrong…but they change, knowing they could do so much better. They know there is still hope, and that’s what keeps them going, and then they change. And that’s beautiful.”
            “Hope,” Ashelia murmured, her thoughts starting lighten. “Is the one thing that’ll never leave you, I suppose.”
            The days grew short, and it felt like a huge load was lifted off Ashelia’s shoulders as a week passed. Thing seemed to immensely lighten up.
            “It seems you’ve gotten better at riding a horse, Ash,” Stephen commented.
            “I know,” Ash smiled. “But it only after all those days of having my butt hurt.”
            Stephen smiled, looking forward.
            Ashelia had finally convinced Lucas to let Stephen out of that prisoner’s wagon. He agreed, trusting that I would keep him on good hold. It was the others, particularly Lieutenant Andrew that was hard to convince.
            After a whole day of consideration, the majority ruled they would let him roam. Along with four guards with him at all times. Ashelia had also gotten a death threat that she will die if Stephen does anything that will betray him.
            “I promised to protect you with my life,” Stephen said, looking around to make sure the guards were out of hearing range. “And so I will. Though I’d never expected to expect you while betraying Marcellus and cooperating with the enemy.”
            “There’s still things I need to do,” Ashelia murmured, her eyes darkening.
            If I somehow managed to kill King Evander, what would Lucas do?
            Would he hate me?
            “Ash!” Dominick called, riding his horse over beside mine. “Lucas is looking for you. He’s in the carriage.”
            Ash nodded, saying her goodbye to Stephen and heading towards the carriage at the front of the moving line. She slipped off her horse, giving the reins to a soldier who was to the side of the line. She went inside the carriage, seeing Lucas sitting there. He looked up as she came in, his blue eyes bright.
            “What is it, Lucas?” Ashelia asked, sitting down. She closed to blinds to the window where there were people who could peak in, and pulled off the wig. She was really starting to hate that wig, it was way too itchy.
            “We’ll be at the main camp soon,” he said. “After everyone gets settled in, you, Dominick, and I are going to head off to Mica.”
            “Is the capital city really that close to the military camp?” Ashelia asked, wondering if they really travelled that far into the land of Amicah.
            “No, it’ll take another week or so, it depends.”
            “Oh,” said Ashelia. “So what are we going to do?”
            “I still have to get Dominick that drink,” said Lucas. “But other than that, we can do anything you want.”
            Ashelia looked up at him curiously. “Anything I want?”
            He nodded. “Anything you want.”
            Ashelia bit her lip, thinking. “Well, I don’t really know what Amicah towns and cities look like. What can you do there?”
            Lucas grinned, laughing a little. “I would think that other than the looks of buildings, everything else is the same.”
            Ashelia smiled, blushing in a slight embarrassment. “I’ve never even really been out of Marcel…so…”
            “There it is,” Lucas said suddenly, pointing out the window of the carriage that had the view of nothing but trees and land.
            Ashelia scooted over to see what he was talking about, and saw the huge military base camp. It was bigger than she thought it’d be. Even though they were still miles away, they were on a trail that was pretty high in elevation, and she could see the camp. It was filled with hard set buildings, not tents, permanently build into the ground. As you got in the middle of it, the building grew as high as three stories high. Around it were massive amounts of soldiers, training. Even from there she could see that there were millions and millions of them. They stretched around different training grounds and paths that passed the horizon, showing that she wasn’t even seeing all of it.
            One thing she knew while she was looking at the camp ahead.
            There was no going back.

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