Chapter 9: An unexpected visitor

Chapter 9: An unexpected visitor

A Chapter by Gosia

         

         May sighed with contentment in her sleep and rolled onto her stomach, clutching the soft pillow. She was in the blissful state of being half-awake, too lazy to open her eyes. The pillows and silk covers on her royal bed were so incredibly comfortable that she wished she could stay here the whole day. Slowly, she stretched her toes and hugged the pillow tighter.

           

Like in the dream, she was taking in the sensations from all around her �" the refreshing chill of morning air combined with the gentle warmth of the first sun rays, the intoxicating scent of flowers from the garden, the sound of birds singing, animals scratching, the chair creaking…

           

Suddenly May stiffened and her eyes snapped open, the lazy feeling of sleepiness washed away as she developed an alarming suspicion that she wasn’t alone in the room.

 

            “You’re finally up,” a childish voice said.

 

            May shrieked from surprise and jumped up, covering herself with silk sheets as though the fabric could provide her some safety. Breathing heavily, she backed towards the furthest edge of the huge bed and took a look at the invader. She blinked several times, startled as she recognized the small skinny silhouette.

 

            “Eren?” she coughed out, staring at the little boy from the day before, who was crouching on the oaken chair looking like a wild animal ready to strike. Eren gave her a sympathetic wide smile before it twisted into a childish pout.

 

            “You said you’ll come to see me at dawn!” he accused May. “The sun had already risen some time ago.”

 

            The girl let out a heavy sigh as she rubbed the sleep crust out of her eyes, shaking off the rest of her lazy mood. She crawled out of the pillow-filled bed and walked over to the high window. Taking a peek outside at the sun, she crossed her arms on her chest; the boy was right, it seemed that the sunrise was three hours ago.

 

            “So you came all the way to wake me up?” she asked Eren.

 

            “Yes,” the boy announced firmly, apparently proud of himself. “you were late so I came to check if you lied to me.”

 

            May tried to focus at Eren, but something outside the window kept drawing her attention. When the clockwork ticked in her brain, she sharply stared outside at her private garden. The serene place filled with aromatic plants and shimmering pond was separated from the rest of the palace by an over three-meters high stone wall, as smooth as the surface of the glass. How possibly could Eren…

 

            The child’s gaze followed May’s and he suddenly dropped his cheeky attitude, appearing to feel more uneasy now; he shifted on the chair and smiled unsurely.

 

            “You still want to be my friend, right May?” he asked quietly, staring at the girl with his big, innocent eyes.

 

The hope and anxiety reflecting In the boy’s honey-colored orbs melted May’s heart and made her feel guilty about failing to meet the kid at the dawn. Smiling gently, the girl strode across the chamber and ruffled Eren’s unruly hair.

 

“Of course I want to be your friend, silly,” she said encouragingly, making the boy flash a wide cheerful smile back at her. May had to admit, that while being happy, Eren looked like an adorable child, much like her sister Hailey when she was still a little kid.

 

“I think I will forgive you this time,” Eren said, a cheeky expression on his face and a playful spark in his golden eyes. “I thought you forgot me, but you’re just lazy.”

 

May’s eyes widened, her cheeks covering with a blush.

 

“You… I’m not lazy!” she protested, clenching her fists. She huffed, displaying faked anger, but Eren only giggled. May couldn’t help but smile. She shook her head, amazed how quickly the child got her into a good mood. “So, Eren, what should we do today? Any ideas?”

 

Eren flashed another adorable, heart-warming smile at May, the his face lightened with enthusiasm in an instant. He looked as though it was Christmas.

 

            “Let’s go fishing!” the boy exclaimed, suddenly energy filling his frail frame. But, when he saw a blank look on the girl’s face, his enthusiasm faded a little. “Um… I guess ladies like Lady May don’t fish.”

 

May arched her eyebrow.

 

            “Don’t you call me a Lady, kid. I’m May, just May,” the girl said, a smug smile appearing on her face. “And never underestimate me. I’m sure I’ll catch more fish than you.”

 

            Eren stared at her with a mix of amazement and surprise.

 

“No way!” he laughed. “You’re a girl, girls don’t do things like that.”

 

            May straightened her back and crossed her arms on her chest in a way she thought of as intimidating.

 

            “Want to bet?” she teased the boy, challenge in her voice. Eren nodded happily. He opened his mouth as though he wanted to retort, but instead he stiffened, turning his head sideways. His body tensed, but May didn’t pay much attention to the boy’s behavior. She turned her back to him as she opened the heavy lid of richly-carved oaken chest and began rummaging through her wardrobe.

 

            “I wanted to ask you before,” she said to Eren while trying to pick a dress for today. “how did you even find my bedroom? The palace is quite a big place, not to mention all the guards.”

 

            When she got no response after a while, she straightened her back and glanced over her shoulder. However, there was no one else in the room.

 

            “Eren?” May called the boy’s name, looking around. When she spotted the swinging curtains, she ran to the window and surveyed the garden. But, there was no living soul either.

           

“No kidding,” May muttered to herself, startled by how sudden Eren made his escape. With such skills he could make a career as a burglar, there was no doubt about it.

            When May was about to venture into the garden to make sure if Eren didn’t hide somewhere, a loud knock on the door made her jump.

 

            “Damn!” she cursed, putting her hand over her racing heart as the sudden sound surprised her. “Come in!”

 

            The door opened and May faced sour-faced Hilda. The strict Lady’s back was so straight and her posture was so stiff that she looked as though she had just swallowed a stick.

 

            “Good morning, Maewyn,” she said.

 

May waved to Hilda and muttered a greeting, noticing another visitor hiding behind the old Lady’s back. It was Levi who began mumbling something incoherent, his eyes darting from May to the floor and back to the girl. The girl furrowed her brows, wondering why her bodyguard suddenly developed nystygmus when Hilda cleared her throat and glared at Levi harshly, making the young soldier set his gaze on the marble tiles beneath his feet.

 

            “Maewyn, this young man,” the old crone’s voice went cold when she mentioned Levi. “Insisted on seeing you. I believe that it’s time for your prayers in the temple.”

 

            “Oh,” May uttered. She nodded and waved carelessly with the dress she was holding in her hand. “Okay, just give me a minute.”

            Levi lifted his eyes, but Hilda unceremoniously smacked the young soldier with her fist on his head, her angry glare clearly conveying that staring at the Lady in her nightgown wasn’t the smartest idea. The door slammed shut and May could hear Hilda’s muffled voice; the old Lady was probably lecturing Levi. The girl sighed, keeping in mind to remember how stuck up the people here, in the world of the Callesmere Empire, were and began getting ready.

 

           

 

            “I need a fishing rod.” May announced to Levi when the two of them were leaving the palace and entering the middle level of the Thoen Stronghold.

 

            The young man scratched his head, confusion showing on his round boyish face.

 

            “A fishing rod?” he repeated. “Why would you need a fishing rod?”

 

            May rolled her eyes and sighed theatrically.

 

            “What do you think I need it for? Fishing.” She shrugged, ignoring the shocked look on Levi’s face. They have walked in silence for some time and the staring of the slack-jawed soldier began getting on May’s nerves. “Look, I promised Eren I’d go fishing with him.”

 

            Levi hunched, not having neither strength nor will to argue with the girl.

 

            “You mean that orphan from the village?” the soldier asked. He wrinkled his forehead as though he realized he had forgotten something, but couldn’t exactly put his finger on what it was. Then he remembered and slapped his face with his hand. “Where are my manners! I should address you properly, my Lady.”

 

            May waved her head dismissively while she was counting the golden coins in her pouch.

 

            “I really don’t mind,” she muttered, still focused on the gold. Levi bit his lower lip, gazing at May with concern.

 

            “About fishing, I think you shouldn’t venture outside the village without a bigger escort. It’s too dangerous,” the young warrior shared his doubts with May, but the girl didn’t seem bothered by his fears.

 

            “The river isn’t far away, it’s right outside the village, right? Anyway you could take some robbers on, couldn’t you?” May finally finished counting the gold and hid her pouch under her dress.

 

            “I’m serious, my Lady!” Levi raised his voice. “There are worse foes than robbers out there, you could be taken and devoured by demons!”

 

            May blinked several times before narrowing her eyes at her overprotective bodyguard.

 

            “Demons?” she arched her eyebrow, giving Levi a skeptical look. “Such things like demons are not real. People made them up to scare children.”

 

            “They are very real!” Levi protested. “Everyone knows that! They come at night to steal children from their cribs and swallow them whole, their favorite dishes are infants and beautiful young maidens. They can assume any shape they want, like that of a harmless old woman or an innocent-looking child.”

 

            May sighed while her bodyguard kept repeating the foolish superstitions. She just got reminded that the people in the Callesmere Empire were at the Dark Ages level of development �" therefore it was no wonder Levi was sprouting such nonsense.

 

            “Levi, did you ever see one of these demons with your own eyes?” she interrupted the young soldier when he was about to betray more details of the so called ‘demons’ and their most fascinating eating habits.

 

            The warrior’s face expression changed into the particular one of a student being questioned by a teacher in class.

 

            “N-no…” he stuttered, his confidence plummeting as May stared at him harshly.

 

            “See?” the girl muttered before clearing her throat. “Anyway, Levi, could you please buy me that fishing rod?”

 

            “You don’t have to! I’ve got you one!”

 

            May and Levi turned around when they heard a familiar voice; they saw the orphaned boy, Eren, running towards them with two fishing rods in his hands and a wide smile on his face. Beaming with pride, the boy handed one of the rods to May and then moved so that the girl would be between him and Levi, shielding Eren from the soldier’s eyes.

 

The girl glanced at the fishing rod �" judging by its looks, it was made of fine wood which wasn’t probably the cheapest. May narrowed her eyes, suspiciously staring at Eren.

 

“Eren, where did you get those rods from?” She asked.

 

The boy’s smile faltered a bit as he shifted under May’s piercing gaze. He suddenly found much interest in his own feet, unable to look the girl in the eye.

 

“Well, I…” he begun.

 

“THIEF! Catch him!” suddenly some woman shrieked and commotion ensued.

May sighed heavily, shaking her head with dismay.

 

“Levi, please settle that so that we could go to the temple,” she said in a tired voice as she handed the young soldier the pouch with gold.

 

 

 

Several hours later the group of three was sitting at the riverbank. May and Eren were observing the colorful floats with anticipation that was slowly beginning to turn into boredom as the fish didn’t seem to be eager to get caught today. Levi was fulfilling his duty by napping while spread on the grass, sword close to his hand just in case the girl he thought to be a Lady needed saving.

 

However, she didn’t. May had the time of her life while spending time with Eren, she found his  company very pleasant. Perhaps it was because the kid distantly reminded May of her sister. Cheerful and talkative, a little bit cheeky at times, he was much like Hailey when she was younger.

 

She and Hailey never really got along and if they were talking to each other, they were usually arguing. May sighed, feeling the longing for her family resurface again; now she even wished these arguments with Hailey to return.

 

…and then I poured horse piss in my sister’s soup. She was so mad, you should have seen her face, May!” Eren finished telling May about one of his pranks, his honey-colored eyes glistening playfully. Then he turned his head to the side, listening. The girl furrowed her brows and stilled, trying to discern the noise Eren was apparently hearing, but her ears picked nothing.

 

“Eren, what is it?” she asked the boy who got serious all of a sudden got serious and tense.

 

“Riders, a lot of them,” Levi answered, having woken up from a nap just a while ago. He pressed his ear to the ground for a moment, listening in focus before standing up and making sure his sword would slide out of the sheath smoothly. “More than a dozen men on heavy war horses, so they’re probably soldiers.”

 

Not long after he finished speaking, the ground under May’s feet began trembling slightly and then the rolling sound of hooves came. Instinctively he got closer to Levi, staring in the direction of the noise.

 

The ground shook more when a large group of riders rode out of the forest heading towards the Thoen Stronghold. As Levi had predicted, there were about thirty riders on horses much bigger and stouter than the ones used by Farn soldiers. The men were clad in heavy plate armors that were shining in the bright light of sun rays. The snowy white capes were billowing behind the knights, adding to the dramatic effects. Even the horses were clad in steel, the white fabric draped over their massive silhouettes.

 

“Black fish on white field,” Levi muttered as he squinted his eyes, examining the banners. “The crest of Karhadon.”

 

“I think the fish had a crown over its head,” Eren said. “What does that mean?”

 

Levi bit his lower lip and readjusted his disheveled leather armor.

 

“That a member of Karhadon’s royal family is here,” the soldier said and looked at May. “Lady, it’s time to go home.”

 

           

 

Eren’s gaze followed May and the soldier who accompanied her till the two silhouettes were out of sight. The boy weighed a fairly heavy package in his hands �" it was a gift which his friend brought him.

 

“My friend,” Eren said out loud, savoring the word; it felt so nice to have someone to call them that. Smiling goofily and humming a melody popular in Teig Dukedom, the boy skipped towards his camp, hidden at the edge of the forest.

 

Moving nearly soundlessly between the trees and bushes, with a skill matching this of a wild animal, Eren made it to his concealed sleeping place and quickly built fire. Careful to keep the flame small and barely noticeable, he sat by it in the wonderful makeshift camp, made out of the items May had bought him the day before. Eren could hardly remember, when was the last time he felt so comfy at night. For months he had to be content with bedding made of branches, leaves and moss. Thanks to his new friend, not only he had a full belly but also the loneliness had been chased away like with a swish of a magical wand.

 

The boy unwrapped a neatly prepared package and his eyes brightened, when he discovered, that inside was a big piece of tasty-looking meat marinated in herbs �" something directly out of the royalty’s table. Treating the roast as though it was a sacred object, Eren pierced it with a sharpened stick and placed it on a simple wooden construction, patiently waiting for the raw meat to roast. He grinned to himself, already feeling the tempting aroma, which began to pleasurably twist his stomach into knots.

 

He was so enticed with anticipating the luxurious meal, that he let his guard down. Suddenly, Eren felt cold, as though the air’s temperature had dropped abruptly. However, the weather was not to blame �" it was his instinct, the very same, which allowed him to stay alive that long. He didn’t wait for anything else, but sprung onto his feet, frantically searching for the best escape route. However, he heard noises of someone snapping the dry twigs �" Eren always placed a lot of those around the camp, so that he would be warned in time if someone or something would try to sneak on him. The boy held his breath, panicked, for he heard the sounds coming from all the directions.

 

Eren inhaled sharply, realizing, that he was trapped. They had tracked him today.

But, he was a resourceful child and refused to part with life so easily. The boy looked at the large tree and smiled. If he couldn’t go sideways, he would go upwards.

 

With a skill matching a monkey, Eren effortlessly climbed the tree, the thick branches easily supporting his small weight. He kept moving upwards till he heard voices in the camp and stilled.

 

“DAMN!” a low manly voice growled, animalistic rage showing in its tone.

 

Eren covered his mouth with his hand to stop himself from letting out a tiniest sound; he silently seated himself on a branch, holding his breath. With the hands trembling from panic, he clutched the pendant with a blue gem on a golden chain. Trying to calm himself, he closed his eyes and began soundlessly reciting the words of a prayer. The air around the boy swirled and then his image blurred before his small form blended with the trunk of the tree, barely visible to the naked eye. He flinched, when he heard the voice from before speak again.

 

“The brat is gone. He escaped again.”

 

“You can’t track his scent?” another voice asked. The first participant of the discussion growled and hit the tree with his fist. The blow was so powerful, that it swayed the huge oak, making Eren grab one of the branches for support.

 

“It disappeared. Again,” the first voice muttered. “The brat is sly.”

 

“He must have predicted us coming and is probably already on his way. I’d say, he’s heading eastwards, to the sea. He’ll sneak onto a ship and sail southwards,” the other male voiced his opinion.

 

“We shouldn’t waste our time, then. Let’s split up and look for him. The boy couldn’t have gone too far. Search in all directions,” a female voice joined the dispute. Eren held his breath even more, afraid to betray his presence to the search party.

 

Suddenly a strange noise was heard somewhere deeper in the forest.

 

“What was that?” one of the voices asked nervously.

 

“Go check it out. It may be the brat,” the woman decided. As soon as the approving whispers followed the woman’s suggestions, the hunters left nearly soundlessly, just as they appeared. The child decided to lay low in the safety of the tree for a few more hours more in case the hunters returned.

 

Eren waited till the sun hid beneath the horizon and the darkness covered the world, but no one appeared. He slowly exhaled, blessing his inborn abilities. The air around sparkled, when the boy became visible again. Deciding, that it was safe already, he slid down the tree like a squirrel.

 

The boy whirled around and collided with something solid. Slowly, he lifted his head and saw a pair of cold golden eyes staring back at him. Fangs gleamed in the darkness, as the man smiled maliciously.

 

“Found you.”



© 2013 Gosia


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This chapter was a little rough it terms of grammar. At some parts it felt like it was written by two different people. I'm not sure why but it felt decidedly more different than the other chapters. However, your usual style came out toward the end and oh boy what an ending!

You really have a gift of hooking people and drawing them in. I loved the interaction with Abbran in the beginning and May's unlady like curse. I saw that coming a mile away but I could not help but feel regret at her potentially botching the marriage. But it bounced back and it seems that Abbran is more gentlemanly than we've otherwise been led to believe. In fact, he seems like a really nice guy that genuinely wants to be with Maewyn and not just for economic deals between the two kingdoms.

Your writing of May is spot on. It's a blast just reading her dialogue. She's such a fun character and it's equally fun watching her interact with things around her. She's painfully self-aware and that's just cool.

Your ending was good too. The whole aura thing seemed a little too cliched to me but perhaps it was in the way it was written. It came out of nowhere and as a reader, I was like...whuutt? But I loved the description of the demon although I don't understand why they'd need swords if they have claws.

The story is moving on pretty well and I'm wondering if May have drawn a connection between the eye colors between the demon and Eren? Anyway, good job, on to the next chapter!

Posted 10 Years Ago


Christopher Angel

10 Years Ago

Oh I don't know...depending on the culture, some people eat with their fingers ;) But I get your dri.. read more
Gosia

10 Years Ago

And swords are cool (yeah, that's the real reason).
Christopher Angel

10 Years Ago

I have to agree there. Swords ARE cool
So, May royally botched that up! (I'm referring to her moments w/ the prince in the garden) I loved her awkward interactions with the prince, but if I were Aberran, I would have dumped her, not had my men killed for her :)

And we STILL don't know why he sent he the mirror!!! I hope he's not dead, cuz then we'll never find out. Same with the priest. Damn it! She was so close!

I really have no idea what's going to happen next.

Posted 10 Years Ago


JR Darewood

10 Years Ago

are we ever going to find out why he gave her that mirror?
Gosia

10 Years Ago

Perhaps. Well, there will be many surprises in the future. Anyway, do you have some predictions abou.. read more
JR Darewood

10 Years Ago

no idea whatsoever.

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Added on August 17, 2013
Last Updated on October 1, 2013


Author

Gosia
Gosia

Poland



About
Hello, my name is unpronounceable for most of humankind, but fortunately it can be shortened to Gosia. I’m an university student in my twenties, about to face the real life very soon. I’ve.. more..

Writing
Chapter 2: The Lady Chapter 2: The Lady

A Chapter by Gosia