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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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chapter Eleven

Ashelia went over to stand by Dominick, all the while Lucas sat there, speaking to General Demetrius, with the First and Second swords beside him.
            “Absolutely not,” General Demetrius said, his voice chilling. “Why in the world would you even suggest bringing an enemy captive with you to the capital?”
            “Someone needs to bring him to the capital eventually. Why not let us bring him there already? The sooner the better, after all,” Lucas said.
            Ashelia looked up and caught Stephen’s eyes. He was guarded by three soldiers surrounding him. Stephen smiled at her.
            “You already have a former enemy with you,” General Demetrius said, gesturing towards Ash. “Which you for some damn reason made your Royal Guard. Why would you think I’d let a current enemy with you on this journey to our capital?”
            “I trust Ash with my life,” Lucas said adamantly. “And Stephen has been with us for maybe a month now. If he wanted to do anything, he’d have done it by now.”
            “It’s too dangerous,” Demetrius said. “No chance. You’ll be leaving today, and General Cicero won’t be here until tomorrow.”
            Lucas frowned and glanced at Ash, their eyes catching one another. Ashelia felt her heart stop a little. The kiss yesterday was way too surprising…and she knew everything could change. They haven’t spoken to each other since. Even last night, she pretended she was already asleep when he finally came in.
            Lucas looked back at Demetrius. “What if I take Second Sword Matthias with me?”
            General Demetrius looked over at the Second Sword. Matthias bowed his head. “I would not mind, sir.”
            Demetrius looked back over at Stephen, thinking. After a moment more of silence, his voice became icy. “This is huge risk, Prince Lucas.”
            Lucas shrugged, grinning. “I’ve been known to take risks. All of which had ended in victory.”
            Demetrius sighed, shaking his head. “You are still so young, prince. But I cannot deny your victories and glory. I will trust you on this.”
            “Of course, sir,” Lucas said, bowing his head to him.
            They both stood up and saluted each other before General Demetrius left with the First Sword.
            Lucas went over to the three guards surround Stephen and told them it was fine to leave already. They left and Matthias grinned over at Lucas. “So you’re dragging me with you on this agonizing three week walk to the capital, huh?”
            “Sorry,” Lucas shrugged, also grinning.
            “Well, my prince,” Matthias teased. “I best be getting ready then.” And with that, he also left.
            “I should go check on the preparations. Lucas, the merchant should be here by now,” said Dominick, and he headed out also.
            Ashelia went over and gave Stephen a hug when it was just the three of them. She let go and looked over at Lucas.
            “Thank you so much,” she said.
            He smiled softly at her. “It’s no problem,” he said, heading out of the tent also. He stopped and glanced back over his shoulder. “My princess.” Ashelia felt her face start to warm again and she heard Lucas chuckle softly before he stepped out of the tent.

            “So you’re going to pose as a normal traveler?” Ashelia asked, staring at the bottle of hair dye in Lucas’ hand.
            “It would be strange for the heir to the crown to be travelling on foot to the capital,” said Lucas.
            “That is why you wait until transportation is available,” said Matthias.
            “But of course. Lucas is too stubborn and impatient to wait another week or so,” murmured Dominick, who was looking at the books of the merchant’s wagon.
            Ash went over and looked at all the things in the merchant’s wagon. There were things that ranged from books, news, all the way to bears, trinkets, and jewelry. Ashelia found herself staring at some necklace. It was a simple necklace, with only a small blue stone hanging from a delicate silver chain.
            Ashelia unconsciously reached to her neck, to the chain that held Aeson’s ring. Her other hand reached into a pocket, feeling the clip that Nicia had made with her own, bare hands.
            Please, inside, never let go of yourself.
            Nicia’s words echoed through Ashelia’s mind.
            Suddenly, Ashelia wanted nothing more than to be a girl again. To throw this wig down, and stomp on it, showing how much she hated it. She wanted so badly to apologize to her hair and nails and skin for treating them so badly.
            “You want it that necklace?”
            Ashelia looked up to find Lucas beside her, looking at the necklace also.
            “No,” Ashelia said quickly. “It just…made me think about things.”
            Lucas looked at her, his blue eyes burning into her. Her face felt warm again as she remembered the kiss they shared. Suddenly Lucas turned around and faced the others.
            “I think Ash should disguise himself as girl,” he said.
            Dominick’s mouth dropped, Stephen suddenly tensed, and Matthias all but burst out in laughter.
            “Well that’d be cute,” Matthias chuckled.
            Dominick starred at Ash. “I guess he could pass as a female, being so short and delicate looking…but what the hell would the point be?”
            “It’s apparent that news of Ash had spread fast. It’ll ensure safety from being found out by anyone. You and Matthias are already posing as other travelers. Stephen isn’t from here so he won’t really be recognized. But the news of Ash could be relentless and it is unknown how much information the public knows. They could very well have a picture of him already.”
            Dominick scoffed. “Okay, but what, you want him to wear a wig or something?”
            Ashelia couldn’t help but find how ironic that question was.
            “He can just smooth his hair back, changing the part. His hair is already long as it is. He can just dye it black.”
            “Black?” Ashelia asked.
            “Unless you want to stay with your…natural hair,” Lucas said.
            “Black it is, then,” Ashelia said quickly.

Spiridon sat, looking every officer in the eye, hoping his plan would be in agreement.
            “That’s absurd,” said a Lieutenant.
            “Too many risks, Prince,” said a captain.
            “I think it seems to be the only way,” said the General. All eyes went him. General Andreas was the best known General of all Marcellus. He had fought and battled for over two decades, giving his life to this war. And winning many of it.
            “We can’t just suddenly infiltrate Amicah,” said a captain. “And more importantly, Amicah’s base itself?! It’s a suicide mission!”
            “Okay,” said General Andreas.  “Maybe not Amicah’s military base, but another base. I suggest the south base by the river.”
            “That’s led by General Demetrius. Also suicidal,” said another Lieutenant.
            General Andreas smirked mischievously. “I guess none of you heard yet. There had seemed to be some infiltrators from Amicah, trying to spy on us.”
            Murmurs filled the room, and Spiridon narrowed his eyes.
            “But it’s funny how easily people would betray their own country for money. It seems that General Demetrius if up north at the base at the moment.”
            The murmurs became hissed conversations with another.
            “Silence!” Tyrus yelled. Conversation halted.
            “We attack the south base, then,” a captain said. “And continue on with Spiridon’s plan?”
            “It seems reasonable enough,” said a Lieutenant, “as long as we get enough soldiers down there fast enough.”
            Another captain agreed. “Before General Demetrius comes back.”
            “It’s a long shot,” said Prince Spiridon. “But it seems to be the only way. This way, sooner or later, they’ll have to give Aeson back, unless they want that whole army to perish.”

            “For the love of Alister, finally!” Ash exclaimed, staring at the town like it was heaven on earth.
            They have been travelling since that morning, and the sun was already setting. They walked through a never-ending valley, and only now have they reached a small town up north of Amicah. The buildings were different than the ones in Marcel. Marcel’s buildings were usually white marble, over coated with shining stone pathways. In Amicah there was more wildlife. Trees were everywhere, even in towns and cities. Gardens were the main decorations here, and the buildings here had sweeping gable roofs, and each building, except shops, had their own space, a tall wall surrounding the building with gates that opened wide. Inside were more courtyards and gardens. In Marcel there weren’t any gates, but statues lined along fountains.
            “This town is called Alesius. It’s known for their hot springs,” said Dominick, his expression in thought.
            “Hot springs?” Matthias repeated. “Oh, hell yes.”
            “How did they manage to have hot springs here? Is there a volcano nearby?” asked Stephen.
            “That mountain,” said Dominick, pointing to the mountain miles away in the distance, “is actually a small sleeping volcano. The people here managed to make a pipe line long enough to travel there, and bring the water back to here.”
            “I say we go,” said Ash, her back already aching.
            “I agree,” said Lucas.
            They headed off, entering the town. There were townsfolk there, and Ashelia was amazed. She had never even been to a small town in Marcellus, and she didn’t know how...cozy it felt. There were families walking around, laughing and talking. Ashelia was amazed.
            They continued walking, and Ashelia found herself smiling at the changes they had to make. Matthias had dyed his hair black, other than his usual light brown, and Lucas dyed his hair blonde, which Ashelia thought was hilarious. He could pull it off, but now he really looked like a boy from the country like Rex with his tanned skin and blue eyes also. Dominick’s hair was already really short, so he just wore these thick-framed glasses that seemed to really suit him.
            Ashelia, on the other hand, stuffed her blonde wig in her sack and dyed her silver hair black, letting it freely fall around her face. Ashelia was just glad she didn’t have to wear the wig anymore, and lower her voice every time she talked. Matthias and Dominick were surprised at how much I looked and acted like a girl. Matthias didn’t know her, so he wouldn’t really know how to tell that she was actually a girl. Dominick was smart, but at the same time he had a pure mind. He wouldn’t even think that Ash would have been pretending to be a boy all along.
            Along with all the changes, they all changed into travel clothing, consisting of a shirt and pants made of thick but comfortable cloth. They were also to wear a long black traveler’s cloak that hid their swords.
            Traveler’s like these were common throughout Alister, wandering around. But there’s a fine line between travelers and bandits.
            Ashelia looked around in awe, staring at through the windows of the stores they were passing.
            So many things!
            “Is it really that different from Marcel towns?” Lucas asked, falling into step with Ashelia behind everyone else.
            Ashelia looked up at him, her heart seeming to stop a little. “I’ve never been to a town, so I wouldn’t know.”
            They got to the famous Alesius Inn, and Dominick went to check them all in. Ashelia and Stephen looked around the courtyard.
            “It’s so pretty,” Ashelia breathed. The gardens were beautiful. Flowers ringed around mostly everything, even wrapping up around the building’s perimeter wall and the fountain to the side.
            “It’s so much different Marcellus,” Stephen murmured.
            Dominick called them over and explained. “The place is busy today, and there are only two more rooms available. One room has two beds that will one person, so two people could stay there. The only other free room is a couple’s suite. It only has one bed fitting two people.”
            “I can always sleep on the couch,” Matthias suggested. “I prefer to be somewhere I can keep an eye out, anyway.”
            “I’ll stay with Stephen,” Ashelia said. She didn’t want to be with Dominick or Matthias, since it’ll make them easier to find out she’s a girl. So that left Stephen or Lucas. And she definitely didn’t want it to be Lucas.
            “Definitely not,” Matthias said. “The truth of the matter is I’m on guard for Stephen. I’m staying with him.”
            “It’s settled then,” Lucas said. “Matthias, Dominick, and Stephen, you two stay in the two bedded room. Ash and I will stay in the other.”
            Ashelia’s eyes widened.
            “Like hell you will,” Stephen spat.
            “You have no choice,” Lucas said. “Matthias is right. He has to be on guard for you. No more questions.”
            “It’s settled then,” Dominick said, turning back to the reception lady.
            They all started walking to their rooms, Dominick and Matthias speaking about wanting to go to the hot springs, first thing. Dominick apologized, telling Ash that she wasn’t allowed in the men’s bath since the reception lady saw that she was a girl.
            Well, no duh, Ashelia thought in her head. But he doesn’t know that.
            “Its fine, I just won’t go,” Ash smiled.
            Lucas chuckled beside her. “You’re not going?”
            Ashelia scoffed. “Of course I am. To the women’s, though.”
            They reached their rooms, and Stephen followed Lucas and Ashelia to theirs while Dominick and Matthias went to the other to put their stuff away.
            “You may be her responsibility, but she is still my responsibility,” Stephen said.
            Lucas sighed. “Don’t worry. I’m going to sleep on the couch,” he said, gesturing towards the small, red couch in the corner.
            Stephen raised a brow. “Good.” Then he went to his own room.
            Ashelia set her things on the bed, suddenly nervous. Lucas grabbed a robe and a towel form a cabinet, starting to head off. He paused at the door. “I’m going to the hot springs now, and then taking a shower. But…after, can we talk?”
            Ashelia looked up at him and bit her lip. She nodded her head.
            He smiled at her and stepped out.
            Ashelia also decided to get a robe and towel, wanting to go to the women’s hot springs bath. She also got the bottle of black dye from her sack. It was a small bottle, but one drop into a tub of water, and the mixture will turn your whole hair black. She knew she had to be careful though. Water will rinse it away.
            She headed off, making sure none of the other saw her. Then she went towards the women’s bath, seeing a lot of girls there too, all happily sitting there, their towels wrapped all around them. Steam was everywhere, and you could barely see more than seven feet from you. Ashelia did the same thing, making sure to tie up her hair so it wouldn’t touch the water. She stepped in, letting the hot, steamy water wash over her. She leaned back her head on the edge, closing her eyes, letting the steam float up, along with all her worries, even if it was just temporary.
            Ashelia walked back into their room, finding Lucas still not there. She slipped the clip Nicia gave her onto the bedside table, sitting down on the bed. Just then Lucas came in.
            “Hey,” he said, watching Ashelia roll the necklace back and forth with her fingers.
            “Nothing,” Ashelia murmured, slipping the necklace back on.
            Lucas walked over to her, sitting next to her on the bed. “Can we talk now?”
            A panic swept through Ashelia, and she slipped herself under the cover, pretending to yawn. “I’m really tired, can we talk tomorrow?” she asked, hoping to wait another day or so. Or week or so. Or never or so.
            “You’re a bad actor, Ashelia,” Lucas said flatly.
            Ashelia pulled the covers up closer around her. She felt the bed shift, and she saw Lucas walk to the other side of the bed, laying down and facing her. “After we talk, I’ll go to the couch and let you sleep. But only after we talk.”
            Ashelia frowned at him. “Dominick’s right. You’re stubborn.”
            A small smile crossed Lucas’ face, and even with only the moonlight shining through the window, she could clearly see his blue eyes looking into her. “And you’re brutally honest.”
            Ashelia sighed, waiting.
            “The kiss…” Lucas started, and Ashelia could already feel herself tense up. “What did you feel when I kissed you?”
            Ashelia shrugged, trying to seem indifferent. “I don’t know.”
            Lucas groaned a little. “Ashelia.”
            “What do you want me to say?” she asked. “That it felt…good? Amazing? Like all the problems going around me seemed to disappear? How it was…frightening?”
            Lucas watched her. “Frightening?”
            Ashelia sighed, looking softly at him. “Lucas…this thing between us…it’s not even real. How can it be real? With everything going on, it’s impossible.”
            Lucas reached for her hand and pressed her palm hard on his chest, right above his heart. “Don’t you dare say this isn’t real,” he said. “Say my name, Ashelia.”
            Ashelia watched him, feeling the hard, rough skin under her hand. She could feel his steady heartbeat under it. Her voice could only come out in a whisper, “Lucas.”
            In a sudden and abrupt rush, the heartbeat she felt sped up, faster and faster. Ashelia couldn’t believe it. “You too?” she asked, impulsively grabbing his other hand and placing it o her upper chest, enough for him to feel her heartbeat. Lucas watched her carefully, his blue eyes bright. “Ashelia,” he whispered.
            Lucas could feel Ashelia’s heart beat speed up also.
            They looked at each other cautiously; as if one sound, one movement, no matter how small, could ruin that moment they knew would not last, but still hoped would.
            “This,” Lucas whispered, pressing her hand closer to his chest. “There is no way you can deny this.”
            Ashelia looked away, pulling her hand back and setting Lucas’ hand down. “There is no way I can accept it either... and neither can you.”
            Silence enveloped them, knowing the things they could be, would never be.
            Lucas started getting up then, and without thinking Ashelia reached for his hand. Lucas looked down at her.
            “U-uh…” Ashelia stuttered. “I mean…that couch is really small…and it’ll be really bad if the Prince injures his back.”
            Lucas tightened the grip between their hands. “What are you saying?”
            Ashelia sighed. “Don’t make me say it.”
            Lucas grinned, and even in only moonlight she could see the stubborn, boyish, mischievous look on his face. “Say what?”
            “It’ll probably be best if…you stay here…with me.”
            Lucas chuckled, his laugh echoing through the room. He knelt down a little, raising her hand towards his mouth and kissing it. “Well thank you, Princess. I very much appreciate it.”
            “Oh, shut it,” Ashelia groaned as Lucas made his way into the bed, comfortably settling in. They lay their heads down, and Lucas was still smiling at Ashelia.
            “You’re annoying,” she said, teasing him, and she flipped herself around so she faced the other way.
            Lucas saw how the moonlight was striking her now black hair, and he saw how some strands reflected it, seeming to be silver again. He started running his hands through her soft hair.
            “I’m sorry,” he said softly.
He reached his arm around her waist, pulling her closer to him. Ashelia felt her heart race again as she felt his warm body press behind her. She reached up a little so she intertwined her fingers with his.
            “Me too,” she whispered.

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