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 5, 2011

Chapter Five

The campsite had quickly gotten ready to leave, packing everything and getting the oxen and horses ready to get a move on. Lucas, being the prince, was put in near the front of the moving line.
            A few days passed, with the same routine over and over again. At that moment though, he couldn’t think of anything else but how utterly bored he was. Dominick was who-knows-where doing who-knows-what to try and keep this moving military camp safe.
            He got out of the wooden carriage he was in and stepped out onto the ground, the wagon continuing to move from the horses pulling it. He stepped aside to make way to the many other wagons being pulled by horses. They were going through a slight mountain pathway, a huge fall only a few yards away from where they were all crossing.
            “Captain,” he called to a man in his thirties. Lucas recognized him as Captain Ajax, a captain of the newest and youngest company. “Have you seen soldier Ash?”
            The captain went over to Lucas on his horse, and he nodded, his brown eyes shifted towards the long line now passing them. The line extended as far as they could see, and it wasn’t even half of the line yet.
            “The soldier went off again. I would say it’s to visit the prisoners wagon again, my prince.”
            Lucas sighed. “For goodness sake. Again? He goes off every day!”
            Captain Ajax nodded and saluted, and then he pulled on the reins and moved back to his position in the line.
            Lucas went over to his own horse, Ambrose, and pulled himself up. He headed for the prisoners wagon.
            “We have to be careful,” said Stephen. “You are taking precautions?”
            Ashelia nodded, unconsciously placing her hand on the wig she was wearing.  She knew he was talking about them finding her real identity. The wig could never fall off, which is why she never took it off, unless it’s during her past-midnight showers in lakes. Even more than that, even when wearing the wig, her hair must be bound back in the style her brother always wore his hair. Therefore, if for some reason the wig was not there, they would assume she was Aeson.
            Aeson looked sadly at Stephen. “Maybe…somehow, I could convince Lucas to free you.”
            Stephen laughed sadly. “You’ve always been a dreamer, my prince.”
            Ashelia shrugged, playing with her fingers. Her nails were dirty, and she had grown scars and calluses.  If she was still a princess, this would be absolutely unacceptable.
            But she’s not anymore.
            “You don’t know that. Lucas let me free, so he’s not that bad. Maybe he could free you too,” Aeson murmured.
            Stephen stared at him.  “Have you grown soft on him?”
            Aeson shook his head. “No! It’s just that…”
            Stephen sighed. Even then Aeson could barely look at him without guilt. He was bloodied, and his Second Sword uniform was tattered and dirty. Everywhere the rope had tied him his skin was cut and bloody.
            “Remember your purpose here,” said Stephen, his eyes sharp.
            “I know,” said Aeson, a little hard. He caught himself and said again, softer, “I know.”
            Stephen looked cautiously around his prison wagon. It was empty, with only one small window high up on one wall. He looked back towards Aeson. “Have you found anything out?”
            Aeson opened his mouth to say something, but hesitated. Stephen looked at him to continue. “He has a brother.”
            Stephen stared at him. “Prince Lucas?”
            Aeson nodded. “It turns out King Evander has been keeping secrets also. It seems that Prince Lucas was not even supposed to tell me.”
            “Do you know if it is an older or younger brother?” he asked.
            Aeson shook his head. “He never said.”
            Stephen leaned back on the pole that he was tied up against, his expression in deep serious thought.
            A sudden knock on the door of the wagon broke the silence, and Ashelia nearly jumped. The door opened and Lucas came in. He looked from Ash to Stephen’s glaring expression.
            “You are always here, Ash,” Lucas said. He then turned towards Stephen. “Hello, Stephen.”
            Stephen scoffed and spit on the floor beside him.
            Ash stood up instantly. “Lucas.”
            Lucas looked back at Ash and nodded. “Care to eat dinner with me?”
            Ash looked hesitantly at Stephen, but nodded at Lucas. “Yeah, sure.” Lucas started back out the wagon and Ash followed. He looked back at Stephen before stepping out. “I’ll see you later, Stephen.”

            The whole line stopped for the day, giving everyone, including the animals, much needed rest. They still had a few weeks ahead of them before we got to the main camp.
            “We lived near the border of Marcellus, so we saw many battles,” started Ash. “One day there was a battle right on our land. Our house was burned, taking our little brother and sister, but Philo, my parents, and I managed to escape. But we were caught by Amicah soldiers, and our father protested, and they killed him. And…when they were capturing us, Philo made an opportunity for me to escape, which is exactly what I did. We were separated away for awhile, but somehow we managed to find our way back to each other. Philo had somehow escaped…but our mother had been sent to the city for slavery…”
            Ash didn’t know what to think. He was just saying exactly what Philo had told him. He didn’t know what else to do. A sick feeling came up onto Ash.
Sooner or later these lies are going to catch up with me.
Lucas nodded, eating his food that he had placed on his lap. They were off to the side, away from the other soldiers. “I’m sorry for that.”
Ash shrugged. He looked off into the distance. The sun was setting, turning the sky different shades of colors. She remembered the castle Aeson and she stayed at in the land of Adora. She had always looked out the highest window of the castle, staring at the sunset. It was always so beautiful.
“It looks like a sea of blood,” Ashelia murmured, her heart tightening with the memories of the flames.
Lucas tilted his head, trying to see it. “It looks beautiful. Though a sea of blood is a little extreme don’t you think? There are still the orange, purple, pink, and many others.”
Ashelia couldn’t stop staring at the sight. “I see blood…all I see is fire and blood.” That’s when she realized that soon the sight of the sunset wasn’t even there anymore. All she could see were the memories of that night once again. The flames and the blood.
This whole time, that night had been clearly etched into her mind forever, but now that she thought about it. He had been coughing up so much blood. Too much blood.
Lucas’ voice got him back into reality, and Ash blinked a few times to clear his vision again.
“Yeah, sorry,” apologized Ash, feigning a smile.
Now that she thought about it, what exactly did Aeson catch? Was it just a local sickness…or something else?
“Are you certain?” asked Lucas. Ash saw the genuine worry in his expression.
Ash nodded. He turned towards him and started finishing up his food. “So…what of your brother?”
Lucas’ gaze turned distant. “What of him?”
“Will you tell me about him?”
“It depends on what you want to know.”
Ash paused, staring at him. He had the feeling it gave Lucas pain to talk about it. Yet he knew had to.
“Is he younger or older than you, for starters?”
“He is a couple months older, if I recall right.”
“Why are you not sure?”
“He was banished,” Lucas said. “You see, he is my half-brother; an illegitimate son of my father from one his affairs. He was conceived a few months before my father was to have been married to my mother.”
Ash nodded. “An arranged marriage?”
Lucas nodded. “Correct. Though my parents are happily in love now.”
Ash pulled his knees up and rested his head on his hands that were wrapped around them. “You are lucky then.”
Lucas shrugged. “Yeah.”
            “I get the feeling this is some sort of punishment!” complained Ash.
            “It’s not punishment,” said Lucas. “It’s just what’s necessary.”
            Ash glared at him in utter disbelief, his hazel eyes annoyed. “I would think that having to train, while we are traveling hundreds of miles, on foot, when everyone else is resting, a punishment.”
            “Mind your words, soldier. Remember who you’re talking to,” smiled Lucas.
            “Oh, shut up!” said Ash in annoyance. He set the long bow to the ground and took off his gloves, staring at the bleeding and open blisters from too much practice.
            Lucas went over and picked up the bow and got an arrow from the quiver on Ash’s back.
            “This,” said Lucas, preparing it and aiming, “is how you do it.”
            He let go of the bowstring, shooting the arrow at the target on the tree, which was yards and yards away.
Ash grunted, walking over to sit down on some bedding of rocks. “Show off,” he muttered.
Lucas went to sit down next to him. “You’ll get the hang of it. Eventually.”
Ash sighed, grabbing a rock and throwing it as hard as he could. Lucas couldn’t help but think it was a really short distance.
“You’re really weak.”
Ash groaned, starting to stand up to get away from him.
“Hey, hey, hold on a minute soldier,” laughed Lucas, grabbing his arm and sitting him back down. “I didn’t mean it as an insult.”
Ash looked over at him. “You’re an idiot.”
“What I’m trying to say is,” said Lucas. “Maybe you need less training in the weapons department, and more…fitness and endurance.”
“You mean like pushups and running?” asked Ash, a slight expression of fear settling in.
“Exactly. After all that, using weapons should be easier, especially with more strength.”
Ash sighed. “Oh, just kill me now.” He raised up his hands, and a subtly sad look came over his face. Lucas wondered why.
“It’ll help with your girly hands too,” laughed Lucas.
Ash shook his head, his voice a little softer. “What are you talking about? These aren’t girly hands at all.”

            “I’m just telling you to be careful, Lucas. He may be…amusing and such, but it does not change the fact that he used to be the enemy!”
            “I know that, Dominick,” Lucas said, looking over at him as they rode together on their horses, side by side.
            “And he always goes to Marcellus’ Second Spear! For all we know they’re plotting something!”
            “I know that, Dominick.”
            “Then why do you keep messing with that boy! We should just tie him up or kill him—”
            Before he could even finish speaking, Lucas had raised his dagger and pointed at Dominick’s throat. The whole line had stopped in shocked. Everyone that was sight was not close enough to have heard anything, but they knew something was wrong by just looking.
            “You lay a hand on that boy, my dearest friend, and I will not hesitate to draw my sword against you.”
            Dominick just stared in disbelief. The moonlight was casting on both of them, and it made everything more eerie. The silence was deafening.
            “I will not harm him,” stated Dominick, roughly. Lucas put away the dagger. “But I know you, my dearest friend. You can’t just trust everyone. There are evil people out there who will take advantage of it, and use you completely.”
            Lucas nodded, his expression softening. “I trust them until they give me a reason not to. I know you are looking out for me, Dominick. But I am very well capable of taking care of myself.”
            Dominick continued to look at him, in thought. Then he nodded, urging his horse to continue, which got the line moving again. “Very well. I just hope you know the risk of everything, your highness.”

            The knocking on the carriage door woke Ash up, and he groggily sat up. Lucas was sitting on the other side, and he got up to open it.
            “Prince,” Ash heard, though he didn’t feel like looking. Instead he looked out the other window. It was still dark, and the moon was full.
            “Speak, soldier,” said Lucas.
            “We have spotted a lake and river, a quarter mile south. The captains have been thinking to go ahead and let the soldiers bathe, since we have not since beginning the trip, which was three days ago.”
            “Good idea,” said Lucas. “I’ve been wanting to anyway. Spread the word. We’ll head there now.”
            “Thank you, sir.” With that, the door closed and Ash looked over at Lucas.
            “How long until we get there?” asked Ash.
            “About a week more, I think. What, are you getting impatient?” he teased.
            “I think you’re getting impatient,” said Ash.
            Lucas scoffed. “You are right.”
            They continued in silence, and Ash continued to stare out. By then she got view of the lake and soon they stopped. She already saw the soldiers rushing past, some sprinting towards the water.
            “They’re eager, aren’t they?” Lucas commented as they got out of the carriage.
            Ash fell into step with Lucas as he started heading towards the water. “So does…uh, does Stephen get to clean himself up also?”
            Stephen frowned. “Why should he? He’s going to die anyway.”
            Ashelia completely stopped, along with her heart. “…what?”
            Lucas stopped and looked back at Ash, confused.
            “You’re going to kill him?”
            Lucas looked at Ash with a confused expression on his face. “He’s not going to tell us anything, so there is no point in keeping him.”
            Ashelia suddenly had to use every drop of strength she had in her body to keep standing. She suddenly felt light-headed, and she wanted nothing else in the world but to tear the wig off her head and rip the bandage off that was tightly wound around her chest.
            “Are you okay, Ash?” asked Lucas, stepping closer to her.
            What would happen if he knew who I was? That question has been her head a lot these past few days. What would he do?
            Would he kill me?
            “Don’t kill him,” said Ashelia, her voice wavering. She was fighting to keep her voice low enough to be passed off as a guy’s. “Don’t kill him, please.”
            Lucas stopped, and his expression softening a little. “I know you two are close, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is the enemy.”
            Ash’s mind raced. He needed something, anything, to make him change his mind. All he needed was for him to not kill Stephen, because everyone else would listen.
            Convince him, Ashelia. Come on!
            “What makes you think I’m not the enemy, either?”
            Lucas froze, and his expression hardened this time. “I know you, Ash. You wouldn’t betray me. Not anymore.”
            “You don’t know me at all,” Ash said, his expression becoming a mask of indifference; emotionless, void.
            Though he’s right. I’m not sure that I could even betray him anymore.
            “I was actually planning to betray you. I’ve already got important information out of you, Lucas. Like the fact that you have a brother, for example. Everything you’ve said, I have been telling to Stephen.”
            Ashelia, you idiot, what the hell are you doing? What kind of quick thinking is this?!
“But…I’ll keep my mouth shut. I’ll even make sure he keeps his mouth shut. I’ll do anything…just don’t kill him.”
            Lucas stared at Ash, his blue eyes frighteningly blue from the moonlight. “I could just kill you too, you know. Kill you both right now. It would save me from any future problems.”
            “I know you, Lucas. You wouldn’t kill me. Not anymore.”
            The problem with this whole quick thinking was the risk of saying that. Honestly, she did not know the outcome. She did not know for sure, for all she was relying on was what she felt.
            “I’ll do anything, Lucas.”
            Lucas stepped forward, closer to him. A sinking feeling dawned upon him. Lucas could very well just reach for his sword or dagger, and kill him right then and there.
            Actually, he probably doesn’t even need a weapon to kill me.
            “Vow yourself to me.”
            His voice a low, deep, and truly frightening. Ashelia has heard this type of voice all the type. It was in her father, Spiridon, and Aeson. The voice of a Royal. The voice of a man who has the ability to become King.
            “Vow yourself to me. You will be marked and branded as a Royal Guard of mine. You cannot betray me, nor run, nor hide from me. Do anything against me and you will die. In your case, so will Stephen. But if you vow, it also guarantees you in a high position, and safety. Along with that, we will not kill Stephen. As long as you manage to control him, we will let you see him as much as you want. We will always keep an eye on him, but we’ll give him more freedom than this.”
            Ashelia stared in utter disbelief. “A Royal Guard?!”
            “Or I could kill you both.”
            Ashelia’s head was spinning. What would happen if she becomes his royal guard? It gets more risk of being discovered. And when she does, Stephen would die.
            But it will give him more time to escape.
            But what about her? She could never run. Stephen can go back and be safe back in Marcellus. But if she goes back with the brands and marks of Lucas de Camuilla, she will be just as quickly killed as she would be here, even if she was Ashelia or even Aeson de Serennio. With that mark, she will die.
            But without it, Stephen will die.
            And what’s with going home, anyway? There is nothing left for me there.
 There was also the thought that if she went with Lucas, it will give her a chance to kill Evander de Camuilla. She would be fulfilling Aeson’s goal.
Of course, she will most likely die after that.
But it’s still better than dying now.
Ash knelt, bowing his head down.
Ashelia knew how this thing worked. Stephen may have been guarding her and Aeson their whole lives, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that he officially became a Royal Guard. They are branded by the Royal’s seal, which is by a ring. Ashelia’s was at her home castle back in Marcel, but she could see that Lucas had his now.
            “I vow myself to you, Lucas de Camuilla.”
            Even then it sounds like death.
            Lucas took his gold, emblem ring. He took a match that was in his sword holster, and lit it on fire, along with the emblem on the ring. It burned a deep blue.
            Like his eyes.
            Lucas took Ash’s right hand, palm down, and pressed the burning ring onto the back of her hand.
            Even the pain of it as it burned through her flesh didn’t compare to the chaos going on inside her, screaming how idiotic she was.
            Oh Aeson, what have I done?

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