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 Seven

Spiridon, First Prince and heir of the Serennio family, walked determined towards the kings room of the Castle of Marcel.
            “Father!” Spiridon called, his voice surprising some of the guards stationed at the door he just went into. They suddenly stood straight in attention.
            King Ezio of Marcellus stood up from the chair he was sitting on, setting down the book he had been reading.
            “Spiridon,” he said, his voice dangerous. “You know better than to just come into my room without even a knock.”
            “I am sorry, father,” Spiridon said, bowing down deeply. “But I have grave news. The army in Admes where Aeson was training had gotten attacked by Marcellus soldiers!”
            King Ezio’s eyes darkened. “He was taken?”
            Spiridon shook his head. “We’re not sure. But a messenger who was delivering news found the whole site destroyed. He just got back. We must hurry and find Aeson!”
            The king was silent, his eyes in dark thought. He slowly sat back down, getting the book he was reading back into his hands.
            “Leave him.”
            Spiridon wasn’t sure if he had hurt right, and he was silent from the shock.
            “…leave him?” Spiridon asked, confused.
            “Are you deaf, boy?”
            Spiridon shook his head. “But father! He is your son! My brother!”
            “He is only your half-brother,” said King Ezio, his tone bored. “There’s no need. You are the heir, not him.”
            “Do you not care?” asked Spiridon, in utter disbelief. He knew that his father didn’t like Aeson too much, but to just leave him in the enemy hands to die? That is just too cruel!
            “Aeson was born of a now deceased queen. He holds only half a living royalty blood at the moment. But you,” he said, looking straight into Spiridon’s eyes. “I am living. Your mother, Queen Jade, is living.”
            Spiridon grew weary, and a sudden sorrow filled him. “You know that’s not true father. I was born when you were still with Queen Ahleya, Aeson’s mother. You know that in technical terms, I am an illegitimate child. If Aeson wished to, he could be the heir.”
            King Ezio slammed the book back down on the lamp table beside him, his eyes shooting dangerously to Spiridon’s. Fear suddenly filled the prince.
            “You do not speak of technical terms, Spiridon. What’s technical right now is your mother is now the queen, and you are now the heir. You will do nothing for Aeson. He is now a lost cause. He is nothing to us now.”
            “But,” said Spiridon, remaining adamant, “what will our people say?”
            “We will tell them that he had gotten his sickness again, and died before the attack even happened.”
            “That’s lying, father.”
            “Listen to me well, son,” said King Ezio, his voice ringing with authority, “No one plays fair in the game called life. You do what you must. Everything comes with sacrifices.”
            Spiridon couldn’t believe what he was hearing, and he couldn’t help but think; if I had been in Aeson’s place, and he in mine, what would he do?
            He already knew the answer.
            When they were little, Aeson and Ashelia were always together, but Aeson had always needed a father figure, being a boy and such. Their father was never there, so Aeson had always come to Spiridon.
            And yet I had pushed him away, treating him equal to dirt.
            After he quit trying, he never even cared to speak to speak to me again.
            And the answer to Spiridon’s thoughts were clear. Even if Aeson never really liked him, Spiridon knew the kind of man he had raised himself up to be.
            Completely opposite of father.
            He would come save me, no matter what.
            “Father,” called Spiridon, his resolve growing stronger every second. “He may matter to us after all. Think of all the things the Camuilla could do to us knowing he has them. Blackmail, sabotage…there are too many things! The people will find out for sure, and Marcellus will become troubled. That could damage us during this time of war.”
            King Ezio looked back up, and Spiridon saw the uncertainty in his eyes. The one thing he knew his father hated most in the world is losing to the Camuilla.
            “Not only that, they have the Second Spear and Royal Guard, Stephen.”
            King Ezio sighed, and Spiridon knew he had done it.
            “Very well,” said King Ezio. “Do what you must. Just get Aeson and Stephen back.”

            Ashelia immediately sat up from the cot she was laying in, her brain going into overdrive. Her hand clutched at her throbbing, aching side. She was surprised to see herself cleaned. The wound was already wrapped, and she even got new bandage wraps for her chest. She was wearing a long tunic and a pair of pants made of soft fabric.
            “You are finally awake…princess.”
            Ashelia looked up, and saw Lucas sitting beside the bed on a chair. She saw her blonde wig on the table beside the cot, along with the tie that usually held her hair up, bandages and water, and the clip she had been hiding that she had gotten from Nicia when she left, a long time ago.
            Too long ago.
            Lucas and Ashelia watched each other with cautious, curious eyes. Even now, Ashelia could see the caution and hostility in Lucas.
            “Why did you not kill me?” Even to Ashelia herself, her normal voice sounded strange.
            Lucas shrugged, not sure himself either. “You are not Aeson, so I have nothing against you. Besides, I need answers.”
            “Ask. And we will see if I answer.”
            Lucas looked skeptical, but nodded. “Where is your brother?”
            Ashelia continued to stare at him, and then a small laugh escaped. “Why don’t you take a guess?”
            “Is he in hiding?”
            “Then where is he?”
            “A place where you cannot reach him.”
            Lucas continued to watch her. “…We have gotten some information going on in Marcellus. When the castle you and your brother burnt down, it was said that Aeson survived…while you hadn’t.”
            Ashelia’s eyes grew distant. “But I am the one here. You should realize what really happened now.”
            Lucas stared at her, his blue eyes sharp. “Aeson was the one to die and you took his identity.”
            Ashelia looked away from him, and reached for the ring that hidden around her neck. It was the ring she took as she held Aeson in her arms as he died.
            It wasn’t there.
            “Where’s my ring?!” asked Ashelia, panicked.
            Lucas reached in his pocket and pulled out the chain that held Aeson’s ring.
            “Prince Aeson De Sancto Serennio’s emblem ring; the seal and mark of the eagle with it.”
            Anger surged into Ashelia. “Give it back.”
            Lucas raised a brow. “You want it back?”
            Ash started to lean towards him, hand starting to reach. “Give it back! It is not yours!”
            “Nor yours.”
            The words pierced through her like a real sword, and her hand fell back to her side. “I know,” she said. “But it is my dear brothers. You don’t even know him.”
            Lucas scoffed, but threw her the ring. Ashelia caught it and clutched it to her chest, relieved. She slipped it on and glared at Lucas.
            “I must say I’m quite impressed, though, Princess Ashelia,” said Lucas.
            Ashelia felt a slightly warm feeling come over her as he said her name; her real name. She quickly pushed it aside, knowing there was nothing to it.
            “You have managed to keep your identity a secret for so long. I’m amazed none of soldiers have found out. Hell, I’m amazed I did not know myself!”
            Ashelia shook her head, avoiding his eyes.
            “Were you put up to this? Take the identity of your brother? I bet the Second Sword over there in our prisoner’s wagon feels real stupid right about now.”
            “No!” blurted Ashelia, panic rising once again. “Don’t tell him! Please!”
            Lucas’ expression became amused. “And why not?”
            “He doesn’t know,” said Ashelia, dragging herself off of the cot and managing the best bow she could able. Her side started to ache even more and she knew she was more than likely reopening the wound. “So please, I’m begging you, don’t tell him, Prince Lucas.”
            There was complete silence, and then Ashelia heard a slight chuckle come from Lucas.
            “Don’t bow to me. It’s shameful for royalty to bow. And get back onto the cot, you’re bleeding again.”
            Ashelia stood up, her eyes pleading. “Are you going to tell him?”
            “He will find out eventually, princess.”
            “I know,” said Ashelia. “But I would want to be the one to tell him.”
            Lucas sighed, but nodded, much to Ashelia’s relief. She sat back down on the cot, her hand clutching at her wound again. Her thoughts were still in a jumble. She knew she was to be found out eventually, but by the Prince himself? That was just ridiculous! And even more, he didn’t even kill her.
            “Do you plan to use me to your benefit?”
            Lucas frowned. “Excuse me?”
            “Are you going to blackmail me, or use me as bait, or what?”
            Lucas’ frown deepened. “We’ve known each other for quite a while now. You should know I do not fight like that.”
            “Then what are you going to do with me?” asked Ashelia. “If you’re going to kill me, kill me now!”
            Silence fell after her outburst, and Lucas’ eyes stayed on her, watchful. “I do not wish to kill you. I will not kill you unless you betray me.”
            “You said that before,” Ashelia murmured. “And even then, I was lying to you.”
            Lucas shrugged his eyes thoughtful as he looked at her. “Well it would be hard to kill such a beautiful woman.”
            Ashelia shook her head.  “That’s not why,” she pointed out.
            Lucas tilted his head in thought. “No, it’s not. I guess it’s because I trust you?”
            Ashelia scoffed in utter disbelief. “You trust me? After I’ve been lying to you, and even my own real comrades?”
            He shrugged again. “Well, it would be different if you had only lied to me, probably. But knowing that you are desperately trying to keep this secret means that you have a very important goal in mind. Seeing as you have made no attempts to kill me or even harm me, means that my life or any of my men’s lives are not in danger. Also, knowing that you are even deceiving your own Royal Guard means that it has nothing to do with the war.” Lucas’ blue eyes caught onto Ashelia, which caused her to quickly look away. “So tell me…what is your goal?”
            To kill your father.
            “I cannot tell you.”
            Lucas raised a brow. “Well at least you’re being honest now. You could have just lied and said something that would not make me so suspicious.”
            Ashelia raised her right hand, which had been clutching at her wound. There was blood smeared across her palm, already starting to dry. “I’m sick of lies.”
            “As am I,” said Lucas in agreement. He reached over to the table beside the bed, reaching for the water and bandages. He took a small cloth and poured some water over it, then reached over and caught Ashelia’s hand. He started wiping the blood off.
            “I may have been lying about who I really was…but everything was real, Lucas.”
            He looked up and caught her eyes.
            “What I said about you going to be a great king,” said Ashelia. “I meant it.”
            Lucas’ hand froze, his hand with the cloth still enveloping hers. Then a slow chuckle escaped his mouth, the tension around them dissipating. “Well I never expected that,” he laughed. “Getting a compliment like that from the princess of the enemy country, I mean.”
            Ashelia pulled her hand away, her face suddenly hot. She shrugged, feigning indifference.
            “Don’t you have another older brother? The heir. Spiritone or something?”
            Ashelia managed a small laugh. “Spiridon,” she corrected him. “Yes.”
            “Do you not want him to be the king or something? He is your blood, after all.”
            Ashelia shook her head. “The one that I had wanted to be king was Aeson.”
            Lucas leaned back on his chair, nodding.
            “He would have been a great king,” she murmured, her vision and thoughts becoming distant. “A fair one. A people’s king. He wouldn’t let his people starve, and he would have helped them as much as he could…Spiridon he…he’s different. He’d be like my father… power-hungry.”
            “Is your father a bad king?”
            “No!” Ashelia said. “I didn’t mean like that! He’s still a good king. In his reign we had gotten wealthier, our commerce booming up. But it’s also true that he’s spending so much energy on…this war…between our families.” Ashelia slightly frowned to herself and added, “Though if you asked me if he was a good father…my answer would be completely different…”
            Lucas nodded. “But Aeson?”
            Ashelia smiled herself. “Aeson would have been a great king. A legendary king, actually. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he could have managed to end this war peacefully.”
            Lucas thought of that. “Well if we knew Aeson would have peacefully ended this war, we wouldn’t have followed that woman’s advice and burnt that castle down.”
            Ashelia’s head whipped to him, her eyes glaring and saddened at the same time. Her voice came out shaking, “That was you?” she asked, “This is it, Lucas. You are a great prince, but I cannot forgive you. My brother died because of you!”
            Lucas shook his head, suddenly becoming a little defensive. “It’s your fault you had enemies of your own people! That woman came and told us where you were, what else were we supposed to do?! Just ignore the opportunity?”
            “What woman?”
            “I don’t know? One of your people, though. She came and told us where you were, so of course we go and take the opportunity. She was gone before we could ask her questions.”
            Ashelia’s mind was spinning. “Woman? Why a woman? We have no enemies among our people. Our people tried their hardest to protect us!”
            “Apparently not everyone.”
            Ashelia shook her head in protest. She wanted to believe that he was just lying, but she knew Lucas doesn’t lie. And it wasn’t like he was the one exactly responsible for his death. Ashelia knew that well.
            She looked down at herself and the new tunic and wrappings around her.
            Her face grew unbearably warm. “Did you…?”
            He nodded, a small smile crossing his face. “It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
            Ashelia shook her head, burying her face in her hands. “Oh, no.” It was already too embarrassing that Prince Lucas found out who she really was, but while she was in the river, taking a shower?!
            What the hell was I thinking last night?!
            It then occurred to her that she had probably been sleeping for hours, and how much time she was losing.
            Ashelia immediately looked up. “What time is it?”
            “It’s been about nine since you passed out. It’s already morning.”
            Ashelia struggled, so Lucas helped her up. She tied her hair back and put on the wig.
            “I think it’s time that I tell Stephen.”
            Stephen could tell by just looking at him something was very wrong.
            “What happened?” asked Stephen, his eyes scanning around to see if anyone else was there.
            Aeson reached up and pulled the blonde wig off, dropping it beside him.
            Stephen grew tense. “What are you doing? Someone could see you!”
            Aeson shook his head. “There’s only that door that Prince Lucas is guarding.”
            Stephen shook his head. “He could come in any moment and find out who are!”
            At this point Ashelia looked away from him. It was hard for her to look at people at these sorts of situations. The dreaded feeling was building up in her stomach, rising up to the top of her throat.
            Stephen watched him closely, and his eyes grew wide. “He knows…”
            Aeson looked up, pleading, “I’m sorry! I am truly sorry! I had become unconscious. I didn’t mean for him to find out.”
            “The prince himself!” Stephen spat. “What’s wrong with you Aeson? You should know better than to be careless! You know that you should take care of yourself as to make sure nothing like that happens! All those months of training you in secret, what had you learned?!”
            “You trained Aeson?”
            Ashelia quickly covered her mouth, knowing she forgot to lower her voice.
            Stephen looked at her. “What?”
            “It is true…but it does not apply to Ashelia.”
            Stephen’s expression became confused. “Well yeah. She didn’t need to know. You are the one who came and asked me personally.”
            Ashelia’s thoughts started to click together. “For what, I wonder?”
            “Your goal that you would never seem to tell me about.”
            Ashelia hung her head. “Always have been determined. Much to a foolish point, I say.”
            Stephen managed a grin. “That’s right.”
            Ashelia knew her brother’s dreams and goals well. He wanted to go kill the one who murdered their mother. Then he planned to come back and we would leave our lineage and royalty behind. He planned on taking Nicia with him, and Ashelia was excited for when they would get married.
            Now that she thought about it, those dreams…were just dreams.
            It was foolish to think that we could just cross to the enemy’s territory and kill their king, and then leave. Even more than that, our father would never let us leave the family, for the sake of his image.
            “Stephen, who am I?” Ashelia looked closely at him, her eyes burning
            “Aeson, of course.”
            “Stephen,” she repeated, reaching up to take off the tie that was binding her hair. “Who am I?”
            Stephen stared, moments going by in utter silence. His eyes started widening as it started to become clear. “…princess.”
            Ashelia nodded. It felt like a huge burden lifted off of her, but at the same time another took its place. She knew though, that she had no right. Stephen was the one to be hurt the most by this.
            Stephen looked away, staring at absolutely nothing at the ground in front of him. “So this whole time…you...”
            Ashelia nodded.
            “And that means that Aeson is…”
            Once again, Ashelia nodded. It took every bit of strength in her to not burst out in tears. But she knew it was worst for Stephen at this moment. Ashelia has already had time to deal. But this whole time Stephen was being deceived, and only now does he know that his best friend is dead.
            They grew together, and have been through so much. A lot of which Ashelia doesn’t even know herself.
            Stephen faced the ground, his expression unreadable. He wouldn’t look at her, and she was kind of glad.
            How could she face him like this?
            “I had a sneaking suspicion,” murmured Stephen, and Ashelia couldn’t help but notice how dead his voice sounded. “that it was you, Princess Ashelia. But…I couldn’t bring myself to believe it.”
            Ashelia nodded, understanding. “I wish I was the one to have died, also.”
            He shook his head. “Don’t get me wrong. I would give my life for you, Ashelia, in a heartbeat. But…there were so many things I still needed to tell him…and if it really was you…then I knew I was too late.”
            Ashelia looked at him, sudden memories coming back to her. “When I was little,” she started. “Aeson and I weren’t always together. We had our secrets from each other too. I remember one time Aeson was to start meeting all these girls to find one that he could build something with for the future, since he was to start becoming a man soon. I got a little jealous. I started thinking that he would leave me, and I would never see him again.
            I didn’t express any of those feelings, though. How could I? I knew I was just being selfish.
            But, being him and all, he understood what I feeling just by looking at me. Soon he turned down all those girls and was just being with me. He even gave this big huge speech to our father that he will find a girl himself that he will be with, no one that would help our ties between nobles.
            I didn’t say anything…and yet he already understood.”
            I didn’t realize how absorbed I was in the story, and I started wiping the tears off my face. Stephen looked at me with sad eyes. “What I’m trying to say is, whatever you wanted to tell him, and couldn’t. He probably already knew.”
            Stephen let that soak in, and after a moment he let out a small chuckle.
            “You’re right,” he murmured. “You’re right.”
            The emotions overwhelmed me. The sorrow, grief, and loss of it all came at form all sides, and the sadness was suffocating. I started bawling, crying my heart out.
            This whole time, I had thought I finally got the idea that he was dead through my head. But that wasn’t true. Not at all.
            Somewhere deep inside me I had been in denial. Complete and utter denial. Maybe pretending to be Aeson had made me get the feeling that he really was still alive. People still talked about Aeson, people still acknowledge Aeson.
            So of course there was still an Aeson.
            But looking at Stephen now, and knowing that he knew he was gone. His best friend…her brother.
            She knew he was gone.
            Aeson De Sancto Serennio… is dead.

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