Written by Thien Tran
Inhaled. Gasping in the damp mossy stench, the black cloaked girl exhaled and then inhaled rapidly. She seemed not to have enough of them, air, she needed air! It seemed like an eternity just waiting for her lungs to fill out.
When her breathing subsided, she focused her ears and eyes back to her surrounding. She could feel that same chill slowly creeping down her spine an hour ago. There was no mistaken. Someone was following her. The question was—who? The coldness of the chill increased and she pulled her dark-cloaked hood closer to her face as if she could become invisible. She could only think of one person, or rather that person’s minion that would be following her. For whoever it was, it had good timing, because she wasn’t prepared, not just yet. Not without her friend here to help her anyway. That was why she was on a search for the last two days in the first place. Wanting to find the kidnapper who pretty much eye-napped her beloved friend. She needed help from her friend so she could move on with her plans for revenge.
Without another moment to lose, her instinct took over again and her aching legs began to run, hoping and praying to God that she would lose the follower. But follower hastened behind her all the more. She ran and ran not knowing where she was running, except it was extremely dark and she could barely see and feel the scratches on her aching legs and arms. Once again, her sides’ hurts, her lungs gave out and she was forced to slow down and gasped in more air. The positive thing was she saw no sign of the follower, but the negative thing was that she was complete and utterly lost with no clue where in bloody hell she was.
Wearily, she leaned against a gloomy tree for support. Staring hard into the old, bac-weathered tree barks, her face went rigid with worries then turned to anger as she thought of her friend. Where are you Eye-Za. Please come back, I need your help. I have not come thus far and yet to quit? No, I am sure you are safe somewhere. I’ll come to your rescue soon, please hold on. You must help me avenge my—
“Hey lassie, what’s ya doin ‘ere in the middle of da night?” Her heart almost jumped out of her chest as a creepy voice came from a dark shadow behind her. Then the shadow added, “and all by your lonesome?” and chuckled in a rusty croaked throat.
She wanted to run, but all she could manage to do was standing there motionlessly with her arms cringing tightly around the tree as if it could suddenly fly her away to safety. She wouldn’t give over to her fear she told herself. What if this person was only the landlord of the land she was standing on?
Her heart thumped and thudded loudly that she was afraid the dark figure could hear it. With her back facing the strange man she explained cautiously, “Forgive my poorself if I am trespassing your land, Sir. I’m in search of a lost friend; she has been missing for the last two days. Please sir, I won’t take long—”
“No worry lass, this land isn’t mine,” the figure cut in and slowly creeping toward her. “Poor ya say? Ya sure ‘ave a nice, fancy bracelet fer a simple commoner.”
Unable to move from her position, she cringed her hands harder around the tree to help trigger her brain to think of a solution. It didn’t take much to conclude that she was right from the very beginning that this person was really a minion of her foe. A seeker who was looking for her bracelet likes all his other minions. Then she thought to herself, I could fool this person and get away, he isn’t so smart…I think.
“Why won’t ya take down yer dark hood and show me yer face, lassie.” The shadow said abruptly as if he knew that she was planning something. Then the shadow figure took two more steps toward her, causing her to hastily run behind another tree to hide from him.
She could barely see anything before because of the moonless sky, but now the bright crescent moon was shining right on the spot where the figure held out a sharp dagger pointing directly at the gold sphere-shaped object in his left hand, “or else this yellow eyeball of yers is gonna get it!” he threatened
Immediately, she found herself looking for the object the seeker was holding and shouted, “Eye-Za!”
Rage and relief stormed her mind and she finally glared straight up at the tall, beefy man. “Why, how dare you kidnapped her from me… you old—old-ugly-crude?!” The man looked like a typical evil villain from her childhood stories with a long, deep scar cut across his distorted face. He also has a pointy beard and a dark twisted mustache. She almost fainted at the sight for he was truly the most terrifying man she had ever seen.
“This floating, yellow, red-eyed-ball is a she? How typical!” he said irritably pointing at Eye-Za, her friend.
Overcome with fear just by the sound of his rusty voice, she said, “Le-let my friend go, or else I will scream and—”
“Scream all ya want little lass, isn’t no one gonna ‘ear yer sweet voice but me ‘ere. I’d been trackin’ ya and yer stupid eyeball down for quiet some time now. My master will be very pleased with me.”
“Yo-your master? Who is your master?” she asked cautiously.
“No more questions, lass, lets ‘ave us some fun first,” His scarred face cringed up as he grinned deviously as if he could see through her.
“Wh-what are you going to do?” She pulled the cloak closer to herself. Don’t come near me, I- I’m not as we-weak as you think,” she stuttered, but the man kept on moving one step after another until he was two feet in front of her. “Please, give Eye-Za back to me. I’ll give you anything, ho-how about this bracelet? An-and I will even go with you willingly back to your master. Just don’t hurt us!” The girl pleaded as she held up her left wrist with a silver bracelet embossed with an enormous emerald in the middle. And on each side of the emerald were two empty holes, as though it has a few missing pieces.
Half amused, the scarred man laughed richly into the night, “Aye, now I can see why Lady Melina demanded you to be escort you back to Ferrah. For God’s sake woman, you are as helpless as an one-winged bird.”
Suddenly taken aback, the girl noticed there were no more peasant accents in his voice, but she did not mention it as she asked, “Did you just say, ‘Lady Melina’ as in ‘Lady Melina of-of Ferrah,’ m-my aunt?”
“Why, yes, I think I did,” the man said coolly as he closely examined Eye-Za, now blinking its alarming red eye continuously. “What a lame thing for a pet. Is this all it does, blink itself to dead?”
Instantly the girl became lost in her thoughts. After two months of running and wandering, Auntie Melina has finally managed to find me. “Wait a second, why should I believe you?” she asked suspiciously toward the hideous man.
The man put his dagger back safely into its sheath, then reached into his brown sack and held out a gorgeous silver ring, “Here, Lady Melina said to show you this ring when I’ve found you. I am Lord Sade of Cirrex at your service, Lady Akina Faye.” As he introduce himself, he gave her a mocking bow.
Even in the dark, she could still see the bright shiny glimpse of the red ruby encrusted in the silver ring. “That is the ring of Destiny, one of the two items to my bracelet of Calamity. Where did you—Oh, my beloved Auntie did send you— Hey, stop poking Eye-Za with your dirty fingers, you filthy man. Give her back to me!”
With a grunt, Lord Sade put the Destiny ring onto his middle finger on the left hand, and then stared down at the demanding girl with his cold violet eyes, “Now that we are finally acquainted, Lady Faye, may we be on our way back to Ferrah castle, where Lady Melina warmly awaits you?”
“I-I cannot go to Ferrah just yet. I have an important matter I must attend to… ” She said nervously and looked away from the fearsome man.
“According to Lady Melina’s prophecy of the future, your life is at stake from Eliasius, that mischievous demon of calamity. His whole demonic clan is after you, can’t you see that!” he almost yelled out with rage.
“Eliasius is looking for me? Why, that’s great, I’m looking for him myself!”
“You’re looking for him? You cannot be serious! Eliasius’ orders were to eradicate you directly. Have you no brain? I know that you want to avenge Tandonia, because your parents and the village were destroyed by Eliasius’ ruthless attack. But God’s blood, you’re only a weak damsel of two and twenty. You couldn’t even protect yourself from me, how do you think you will go against the whole army of Eliasius’?” Carelessly, he threw Eye-Za back to the puzzled Akina.
She easily caught Eye-Za with her hands and shouted in a rage, “For your information, you big oaf, I am not a weak damsel. I first thought you were a minion of Eliasius, so I put up an act of a damsel in distress for you, so you would think I’m weak and tell me where Eliasius is. I could have taken you down wit-with those tree twigs you’re striding on and kicking you in—” Burning up furiously she added, “Out of all the men, my aunt has to send you, the most annoying, including the most hideous—”
“Kicking me in what? And who are you calling hideous?” He reached up under his throat and pulled out a thick layer of waxed-skin, “I’m just wearing this stupid mask to scare the living daylights out of you, no need to get so odious about it.”
Although that still didn’t change her opinions of him, her protector’s new features shocked her out of her slippers. “Wow, you ar-are…” She stopped before she made a further fool of herself.
“Are what? The handsomest man you’ve ever seen?” he finished smoothly.
“Don’t pride yourself, yo-you old goon,” she stated angrily, but she had to admit, he was handsome, even though she could not see him too well in the dim moonlight. He was clean-shaven, but there were trait of new shadow of beard growing on his high squared jaw. On top of his head is thick gorgeous, rich, brownish-blond hair, which seemed to be a little on the long side. But those attribute just made him more alluring, a rugged handsomeness to be exact. The man pushed the dark cape back from his shoulders revealing his clothes, which were more adequate than she had expected. At the same moment, Lord Sade flicked the sword slightly out two inches from its sheath with his left hand as he turned humorless and said in the coldest voice that she has had ever heard.
“I have had just enough out of you, woman. I am a knight of eight and twenty, I’m not an old crude or oaf or goon. I’ve won my title as Sade, the Fearless Lord. Just remember that I’m here strictly against my will to protect and bring you back safely to Lady Melina, and to hell if I will take anymore insults from you, understood?” Sade stared coldly into her dark-hooded face.
Trying to backed up the tears, she stared at him right in the eyes, “I-I don’t need your protection, I can take care of myself just fine!” she shouted.
“With what, the pathetic tree barks you so proudly spoke of? How? By poking me to death? Haa! All you women are alike! All talk and no action.” With triumph, Sade turned and walked a few feet away from the stunned Akina.
Akina finally came out of her trance. She hastily rambled behind him and was about to launch a kick into his shin. “How dare you underestimate m—” Unfortunately, she blindly smashed her face into the hard solid chest of his with a bam. It was so hard she nearly yelped.
“Shush! Be quiet woman!” Sade immediately put his right hand over her shrieking mouth and the left hand over her upper chest. “We’re being watched.” He bent down and whispered to her left ear, “I’m taking my hand off, will you be quiet?” After a few analytical second, she gave him small nods of confirmation and then his hands were slowly withdrawn from her mouth.
“Who do you think it is?” Akina asked nervously.
“I think it was those goons that had kidnapped Eye-Za before,” he whispered back. “I guess I didn’t get away carefully enough after all. No more questions and no matter what, just stay behind me, all right?” It was more like a command, but before she could reply she saw him swiftly pulled out his long, silver sword. It was a beautiful sword, but powerful and sharp enough to cut any enemy in halves or quadruples in a slightest swing.
She had no other choice but to stay safely behind his dark cape. After a few watchful second, Akina decided to tuck Eye-Za safely in her baggy sleeve, “You mean you saved Eye-Za and brought her back to me? I thought—”
“I know what you thought, but can you just shut up already, I need to concentrate.”
Right then, he heard a light bash at a corner of their left at the trees above. “I know you are up there, come down here you coward!”
Sade was ready to strike his sharp sword at any upcoming movements. Lady Faye suddenly yelled out, “Now Eye-Za, use your low beam!” In the blink of an eye, a hue of white light appeared in mid air from Eye-Za’s pupil.
“What the hell were you thinkin—” Sade yelled out at the insane girl and her stupid eye-friend, and then the tree rustled. Without any more delay, Sade aimed his sword swiftly and let it fly toward the mysterious spy.
They heard an inhumanely agonizing scream and then followed by a loud thump on the ground, Akina cheerfully muttered, “Hey, I think you got it, I’ll go and check—”
“No!” He extended his left hand to stop her from running forward. “It could still be alive. Don’t be foolish!” After a silent moment, he turned back toward her trembling figure, after a another moment she said calmly, “tell Eye-Za to do what she just did right at that spot on the ground now, won’t you?”
Akina studied Sade under her dark hood. She had never been so terrified by anyone’s voice until now. She let go of her shaking hands off of Sade’s now wrinkled cape, “Eye-Za, you heard the vile man, be careful and be off,” she said gruffly.
“Look, I’m very sorry for yelling at you as I did, I was just worried about your safety, my lady,” he apologized delicately.
“I understand completely,” she murmured bitterly as they slowly walked toward the fallen spy. My safety? Haa! You were only worried about losing those gold coins from my aunt, you jerk! She cursed him silently.
The light from Eye-Za glowed and Sade congratulated his survival instincts. “I knew we were being watched!” And then he scratched his head in disappointment, “But I didn’t know it was a bloody monkey!”
Jumping in front of Sade, Akina queried, “Did you just say ‘monkey’?
Shocked as she stared down at a small dead corpse of a gray hairy primate slightly swelled with blood from Sade’s sword through its heart. She put both of her hands to her mouth in horror, “Yo-you devil! You killed it! Now, I command you to bury it. The poor thing needs a good place to rest in peace.” She gave him an angry glare through her hood.
Her constant mood swings annoyed him, one moment she was distraught for the bloody monkey and the next she was commanding him like a general. He should have taught her a few lessons. Instead, Sade kept his mouth shut, moving himself closer to the dead animal. “Hey, this little thing looks quite healthy, don’t you think?” he asked considerably as he pulled out his bloody sword from the monkey’s chest. It made a slugged sound as he pulled it out and that made her all the more disgusted with his evil deed.
“Well, it was until you killed it, you black-hearted fool! Don’t just stand there, go and bury it!” she ordered harshly.
Instead, he picked up the lifeless animal and placed it on a soil free ground. “I’m a high-ranked knight, lass. I have no need for burying dead animals, especially the one I’ve killed.” He said promptly and glanced pass Akina’s shoulders. “There is plenty of woods behind you, help me gather some.”
“I decline your domineering request, do it yourself! You’re the one who’s supposed to be taking care of me, remember? And I told you once and again, bury the poor monkey, it deserves a good place to rest.”
“You are right, and a good place it shall have— in my stomach! I’m starving, how about you?” He patted his hard, flat abdomen and marched to the broken branches behind her.
“Yes, I’m famished—Wait a—Oh no, you are not going to eat that poor creature, you hear me? It-it is cruel!” She exclaimed in alarm.
“Life is cruel, if you haven’t noticed, Lady Faye. Everyone has a destiny, and this healthy monkey’s destiny was to grow fat and healthy so it could feeds a few others who are in starvation. You and me for an instant, mostly you because I heard your stomach growled just now,” he said, staring down at her hooded face. “Why won’t you take off your damned hood, I can’t even see your face whenever I’m talking to you. What are you, too ugly to be seen?”
“How dare you!” she screeched. “You animal killer! I would surely like to show you it, but I don’t want to be blamed for getting you killed so no thanks!”
“Whatever suits you. So are you going to help me or what?” He handed her a heavy load of branches.
Akina considered the situation and irritably snatched the wood from Sade’s hands, “You shall rot in hell for such an act!”
“Yes, maybe, but at least you will be there with me, eh?” He chuckled softly.
“Why you—!” Akina fiercely tossed down the firewood and walked toward the small bushes behind her. Angrily ripping off the leaves from the bush, and then closely looked at the small circular textures she just felt. She then noticed that there were a lot of the familiar tiny, green berries hidden under the leaves. Akina congratulated herself.
Sade rolled his eyes and looked at the ground where she had thrown the branches in her rage, “Well, I thank you for selecting the best spot for the fire. We’ll be staying in the woods tonight, since it is not possible to find an inn so near.” Then he glanced toward Akina, “What are you doing over there? Moping? Well, bring to an end it and come over here to help me make the fire, or help me prepare our dinner.”
Staying here tonight, alone, with this animal killer? Analyzing a little deeper for the best solution and came up with, Yes, then tomorrow morning I can…
“I’m just taking a break, do you mind?” Then added the regrettable aiding words she was about to say, “I will help you make the stupid fire, but I will not help you skin that poor creature, got that?”
“Lady Faye, your word is my command,” he said sarcastically and gave her yet another mocking bow. He walked toward the dead primate, “Well, chop, your destiny is in good hands. I will make a nice roast out of you yet!” Sade picked up the monkey, and then turned back to Lady Faye, “Will you be fine here by yourself, my lady? I just need to find some water to skin this hairy ape and gut out its—”
“Spare me the cruel details, damn you, it is bad enough that I have to eat it. Just go, I'll be fine here with Eye-Za.” Akina lazily waved Sade away.
“I’ve never met a girl who cursed so much, but it’s a nice change. Scream out if you run into any trouble, all right?” With a last glance at the girl still in her dark cloak and hood, Sade whistled himself a happy tune and wondered off between the darkness of the trees thinking to himself. I’ll never understand them. They’re the other half of the population, and yet no man seems to truly understand any of them. It boggles my mind.
Following his great senses of instinct, Sade finally located a stream with a beautiful waterfall, “Thank ye to God! There is nothing better than fresh water to calm one down during a verbal fight with a thick-headed female a humid summer night such as this. Damnation that woman and her eye-friend sure can strain out a man’s throat.” Sade dropped the dead monkey on the side rock and drank up the clear liquid of life to his heart’s content, “Aye, that is much better,” he sat down hazily on the bedrock, closed his eyes and exhaled deeply.
“I assume you are not yet exhausted, Sade?” A feminine voice sounded from mid air.
Startled by the sudden voice, but he wasn’t going to show it anytime soon. “Lady Melina? Where are you? You have to stop surprising me like this. And no, I’m not exhausted, just overwhelmed,” Sade looked around his surrounding, finally he distinguished an image of a lovely woman with pale blond hair and blue eyes, in an angelic amber gown, on the twirling water surface in front of the fallen waterfall.
A slight smile on Lady Melina’s rosy lips, “Overwhelmed? I hope that means everything is in order?” Lady Melina looked up at Sade’s young, handsome face.
“Yes, everything is in order as you planned. Except for me, your quick-mouth niece is really getting on my nerves. I thought you said she was gentle as a lamb? Did you know she’s insulted me in every sentence she have spoken? I’m overwhelmed with fury just by not giving her a slight whack. Women, they strike like venomous snakes and enjoy watching the men suffer from their poisonous fangs.” He cursed generally to himself.
“Don’t forget, Sade, I am one of them as well, and not all women are as unpleasant as your words, especially my niece,” she laughed softly.
“Of course you’re not, my lady, for you are the wisest above all others. On the other hand I have to disagree with you, your niece is the most conceited woman I have ever met!” Taken by fury all over again, Sade splashed the water with a heavy whoop, and then turned back to the disturbed watery image of Lady Melina, “Pardon my anger, my lady.”
Lady Melina’s smile brightened, “I think you are losing your charm to my dear niece, Lord Sade, perhaps this small mission is too great of a challenge for you?”
“What? Lost my charm to that faceless woman? Haa! I haven’t even tried it yet, should you rather that I do?” Sade inquired with a curious tone.
“It would not hurt to try, could it, Sade? But this matter is extremely serious, I wish I could talk to her now, but it is only you who is destined to help her on this quest back to Ferrah. My dearest niece’s destiny is in great danger, for herself and Eliasius. Sade, let me warn you again, do not look into her eyes. Otherwise, you will regret it. Whatever you do, Sade, you must bring her back safely to me before the next nine sunsets. After that, her destiny can finally turn out for the better, and the world will be safe from her dark side. Oh dear, do remember not to tell her about this secret encounter, she needs time yet to adjust… ” Lady Melina said sorrowfully.
“Adjust? You mean the position she’s in with Eliasius? Thinking she could avenge her parents death? Haa! The only thing she needs adjusting at the moment is her poisonous mouth. She is pathetically weak and demanded in the heart, she thought this dead animal should have a good burial place for God’s sake!” Sade pointed to the lifeless monkey beside him.
“Do not underestimate her, Sade, you have yet to see what she hides from the world…”
“Hides what, her face? Is she ugly or something?” Sade asked curiously, but then he heard incoming footsteps.
“You have no idea…” Lady Melina whispered delightfully and faded away from the glossy surface without Sade noticing.
Sade reached for his sword and hollered it toward a dark outline of a human figure, “Who goes there? Come out now!”
“It is only I, stop swinging you your damn sword every time you hear a footstep. I believe that you’ll give yourself and heart attack one of these days. Wait a second, I’ve just heard another voice a second ago, or were you just talking to yourself?” with her hand clicking on her chin she added, “why else could you have taken so long? The firewood is already half gone and— Wow, this waterfall is gorgeous!” Akina observes the lively waterfall as the moonlight strikes on the glossy water. Then her eyes found the monkey, somehow placed peacefully on bedrock, “Hey, you left the poor thing untouched, have you decided to bury it instead?” Akina asked hopefully and walked passed Sade.
“Ho-how the heck did you find this waterfall? It took me at least half an hour to get here. You are sure sneaky for a small woman. But next time do remember to be careful around my back, I could have struck you as I did the bloody animal.” He assured.
Akina swiftly walked up to Sade and poked at his chest with her index finger as if she would a child, except this one is a big one, “You must be losing your touch… Lord Sade, Eye-Za showed me a short cut to this place through her eye, and it was only a minute of walk. Oh yes, while you were here chatting yourself to death, Eye-Za has also shown to me how you saved her from those pathetic goons.” Akina said smoothly and bent down by the water and took a long drink with her hands.
Sade found himself confused, “What the heck do you mean by Eye-Za showing you how I rescued her. The thing is only an eye-ball after all and— Holy Mother of Pearl, are you telling me that thing could trace the past?”
“Exactly, Eye-Za has many abilities as you already noticed, and one of them was to record what she has seen, in this case, yours. She gave me a quick view of your daring rescue. I might not be as strong as you, but those goons seemed weak and pathetic weren’t they? I was quite impressed with your techniques though, too bad they didn’t put any scratches on you. You deserved to suffer at least a little by the way you killed that poor, innocent monkey...” Akina said candidly.
“Saving that eyeball of yours almost cost me my hind. Well, at least now I know how much you appreciate your protector. I’ve learned an important lesson today. Never again should I take on any mission to save the likes of you!” Sade said deceitfully.
Akina ignored his insults, “Who were those goons anyway? And what did they want with my Eye-Za?”
“It was not exactly Eye-Za they wanted, I overheard them at the cottage where you were staying that it was you they must kidnap, but somehow you were luckily absented, so they took Eye-Za instead. Lucky I had just arrived in time, I followed them thinking they have some clues about your whereabouts. It proved to be a completely a waste of time because those idiots didn’t even know the difference between right and left. So after I’ve snatched your eye friend from them, I went back and waited at the cottage for a whole day, but I guessed you already wondered off on you search. Then it took me yet another long day to track you down.” Sade said as he started skinning the dead monkey with his sharp dagger. He then felt Akina’s stare on him, “What? It’s not like it is alive or anything, it’s already dead. We might as well put it to good use.”
“No, it is fine, I’m over that issue. Well, it’s just that—well…”
“Just spit it out woman!” was all he could say to the prolonged girl.
“I-I was just going to thank you for saving Eye-Za, but with your super ego, you’ll never let me live it down.”
“I have a super ego? I wonder who have the bigger one here. AGH! You ungrateful chit, you really frustrate me! Arguing with you is like arguing to a mule, I give up!”
“Fine!” Akina restored loudly with her chin high up in the air.
“Fine!” Sade replied even louder, not looking at her.
“Fine!!!” he was having a fit just repeating the word, but he couldn’t think of a better thing to say.
“Fine, then you should leave me alone.”
“What?” off balanced at the moment because of her sudden change of tone, “but I got here first!” Damn, he sounded so conceited, but he didn’t care one way or another.
“Put a lid on it. I want to be alone, just leave me here for a while.”
His right eyebrow rose up, “Why the heck for?” Sade asked curiously as his rage subsided.
Unexpectedly she pointed at her person and said, “Look at me! I need a wash because I’m totally covered in mud! Can you just take a hint and leave?” the she pointed at all the dirty spot on her cloak and walking slippers.
“Why should I leave? Like I’ve said before, I got here first? Besides, I have this monkey to clean before it can be roasted. But if you needed to wash your damn clothing, just wash it then.” He returned to his skinning.
Akina’s face blushed red in the moonlit night, “I was thinking more of a bath than a wash. Would you mind just leave please?” Akina said angrily but some how it came out as almost shy.
Acting in an innocent way, he patted his shoulders and arms, “In fact, I don’t mind at all, would you like me to join you as well? I do feel a little sultry at the moment, and I’ve been longing for a—”
“How dare you say such a thing? Don’t even think about it. Have you no manners?” She said defensibly.
“Relax, it was only a jest. Don’t haste yourself. I’m almost done skinning this fat ape.” They were in an awkward silence until he was almost done skinning and gutting, “Are you sure you’ll be okay here by yourself? Eliasius’ minions could be anywhere. Hey, where is Eye-Za anyway?” Sade questioned out of curiosity rather than concern. When I find it, I’m going to have a long chat with that damned eyeball.
“She was fascinated by the fire and decided to stays behind and guards it. I couldn’t even convince her to come with me, so I told her to keep herself safe from the seeing eyes. Can you check on her when you get back? I wouldn’t like her to be taken again.”
“As you wish, my lady. I’ll be back in a half an hour, all right? Make sure if you run into any trouble at all, just yell out or something…” Finished cleaning up the monkey, he chucked the wasted guts off to a nearby tree, and then washed his bloody hands and dagger with clean with water.
Disgusted by the fowl sight, “Aye, Sir!” I rather die than giving you a benefit from saving me, you black-hearted spawn of Satan!
Surprised by Akina’s quick confirmation, “Well, that’s the spirit, if you keep that up, we will be back to Ferrah castle in two days hence.”
“When are we going leave?” Akina said as she sat on the rock as far away from the blood as possible and then slowly rolled up her right sleeve.
Sade suddenly felt curious about the faceless girl all over again. She might have an ugly face or something, but her arm and hand looked smooth as silk… “Uh… Tomorrow at dawn, are you all right with that?” He said mindlessly as he awaited her to take the damned hood off.
“Fine by me and— Hey, aren’t you going to leave? And stop looking at me like that!” She hastily unrolled her sleeves and covered herself again. In your dream if you’re thinking of having a sneak preview, you sneaky bastard!
“It is strange, why do you cover your face like so? Do you favor your chin? Are you sick? Perhaps a bad rash? Burn? Pox? Come on, give me a hint.” He questioned as he listed out the possibilities.
“None of your business! Just leave me be!” She said nervously and covered herself all the more. At this rate, she’ll successfully make a cocoon around herself in the next five minutes.
Dumbfounded by her hot tempered tone, “For all it’s worth, Akina, it is the inner appearance that counts...”
With those tender words, Sade walked away leaving her shaken in the heart. “…inner appearance…” Akina thought wearily, and slowly started on her bathing routine. If his words were only true as he said it was. I wish my appearances weren’t such a curse… I have to get away from this man, he is too suspicious for his own good. And why do I feel so weak whenever he talked or looked at me? Akina continued to bathe slowly in the cool water and turned her mind to another important matter. Suddenly, her face turned hard with anger. I have to continue my search for Eliasius. He must pay triple for his crimes —
Unexpectedly, Akina felt a sleek, yet slimy movement curling around her left arm and slowly down to her bracelet, and then slowly tightened itself around her wrist. In an instant, she pulled her arm out of the water and screamed.
“AHHHH! Get away from me!” Akina yelled fiercely, frantically trying to shake the nasty looking snake off of her forearm. But it was too late, for the small blue snake had reacted to her panic by bitten her and hastily ran away. Panicked, Akina jumped out of the water and grabbed her cloak and put it over her head and shoulders, “Wha-what is going on? I feel so weak…” Holding her arms, Akina could feel the venom flowing through her veins like chill from the winter frost. Next, her heart beat heavily then her eyes started to feel droopy. She tried to keep them open, but they wouldn’t do her bidding, even her body felt numb, and atlas she collapsed on her stomach facing the ground with a loud thump.
* * *
Sade heard Akina’s scream and immediately ran toward the water fall as fast as he could, Eye-Za following closely behind.
He was breathless when he reached the waterfall because he forgot to breathe most of the time because of all the anxiety he had for her. When he saw her lying on the ground, his heart almost gave out. Then the blood flushed from his face as he ran closer and still she didn’t budge an inch from the wet ground surrounded her.
“Lady Faye?” he called. Without another moment to lose, Sade knelt down and carefully settled her cold body in his arms. Fear racked his brain as he tried to figure out what had happened to her. He shouldn’t have left her by herself like that, what was he thinking? That woman keep taking years off his life, he’ll never be truly at peace with her. Just as he was about to knock the black hood off to see how she fared, he heard a small moan.
“Keep your hand off of me, you colt!” Akina tried to smack him with her left hand, but the strengths were zapped out of her and she suddenly fainted again.
“Damn you woman!” Even when she’s in danger, she still wants to keep the bloody hood on, what a stubborn fool! He caught her hand and let it down gently back to her side, right then he saw two pale blue and purple bite marks. “What in the world? Damnation, you were bitten!” Panic reached his brain once again, as he thought of what to do. “Hold still, Akina, don’t move a single muscle.” Sade set her down gently on the ground and seized out her left arm for a clearer examination in the bright moonlight. Swiftly, Sade put her forearm to his lips to suck the poison out, and then spitted it on the ground. He repeated the process until he tasted only blood then looked up to find the floating eyeball floating near by.
“Eye-Za, you know her very well don’t you? Do you think she will be all right?” He couldn’t believe himself that he just asked an eyeball to answer him. For goodness sake, all it did was blink and other strange thing, all except talk.
Eye-Za flew closer to observe Akina more carefully, after a few moments, it blinked Then she Eye-Za turned to Sade and nodded up and down.
“I hope that was a ‘yes’ then?” Sade felt relief as Eye-Za confirmed by nodding again. “All right, let’s bring her back to the fire so she won’t catch a chill. I wouldn’t like her to cough her brain out, I had enough with her nagging as it is, no need for that, eh?” He chuckled hysterically as he picked up the rest her garments by the bedrock and held Akina up in his arms once again and walked toward the fire. Sade was also glad Akina was lighter than he expected of her under the thick, black cloak.
* * *
“Come, reach for me, I will avenge your parents and everyone else’s death. Remember their pains? Yes, your whole village was burnt to ashes, come now, reach for my hand dear, together we will avenge for Tandonia, we must destroy, destroy…” With promises of fulfillment, Akina reached out her hand to the terrifying dark shadow whispering in her mind. “Destroy, must destroy Eliasius, Destroy!” Akina yelled out as she grabbed a hold of the strong, broad shoulders.
“Lady Faye, are you all right? Shush now. It is only a dream. It can’t hurt you.” Sade softly spoke as he embraced her in comfort.
“It was horrible, Sade, it was horrible. He killed everyone in Tandonia. Now he is after me.” Akina hugged Sade fiercely and started to cry, but no tear was shed. The pains inside her were so unbearable, no words or tears could solve them. I will destroy Eliasius and rip him into a million pieces. Akina vowed to herself.
“Shush now, everything would be all right, I promise…” Sade comforted her again, enjoying the strange magical warmth spreading through his body.
Realizing what she was doing, Akina abruptly pushed Sade away, “What do you think you are doing?” She yelled at him.
“What, what am I doing? At least I’m not the one who yelled and grabbed someone nearby in her dreams. You are impossible you know that?” Sade turned back to the fire and checked on the roasting monkey. “Now look what you made me do, our dinner is getting burnt, no thanks to your melancholy dream—”
She then answered with terror in her voice, “I’m sorry, all right? That same dream haunts me every single night, do you think I could help it if I could?”
“You should learn how to take a jest sometime, my lady. How else would you survive this cruel world?” He tried to cheer her up a little.
“I was like that once, a light-hearted girl without a care in the world. It was on my twenty-second birthday, I wondered off into the forest for a little air, but when I came back… I saw Tandonia was burning in front of my eyes. It was so horrible! I lost my laughter that very day, now I feel so alone…” Feeling very frustrated, Akina bent her head down toward her ivory hands, crunching up the cloak fiercely above her lap.
Seeing her sudden hard tensions, Sade changed the subject, “You scared the devil out of me when I noticed you were bitten by a snake. Are you all right now?” He asked caringly.
“Yes, I think am fine now. I still don’t know why the snake had bitten me, I was sitting very still, I didn’t disturb it or anything. How long was I asleep?”
“Nothing much, only an hour or so. But are you positively all right?”
“Yes. Thank you for saving me. I’m just sort of hungry.” Akina rubbed her stomach and stared at the monkey on a stick roasting over the fire.
“Oh yes, here! I almost forgot, try this, it might be a little burnt, but it’s mighty tasty!” He handed her a leg ripped off of the roasting monkey on a stick.
Akina stared at it for a while, “It certainly smells good, but what does it taste like? Are you sure it’s safe?”
Sade stared back at her with amusement, “Yes, it is very safe. It tastes just like chicken, too. Well, don’t let it get cold, try it.”
Akina gave in hungrily, she took off a bite out of the leg and chewed, “Hmmm… Yes, it does taste like chicken, and a little chewy as well. It’s delicious!”
“Oh really? I’ve heard monkey tasted pretty bad, let me see if you’re right.” Sade ripped of the other leg off the stick and chow it down.
Akina paused and looked Sade right in the face, “Wha-what did you just say? You never had any before?”
“This is good isn’t it?” Sade stopped his chewing and glanced at her amusingly, “Nah, I never had a chance to. But hey, you got to do the honor, didn’t you, so be happy!” He added sincerely.
Frustrated, “Why you— you tricked me!”
“Yes, so?” Sade replied and went back eating.
“I despise you!” She cursed at him. Then gave up her anger and hunger altogether, Akina just stared at Sade cautiously under her hood and continued biting down the meat.
Sade knew when he should change the subject, again, “Hey, does Eye-Za eat at all?”
“No, she doesn’t eat, she just refreshes with water. Come to think of it, she does look a little dry”
“Here.” Sade held out his skin water sack to her.
“I-Uh, thank you.” She reached out and accidentally touched a part of his hand; a jolt went down her spine.
After a short while later, “Well, I’m done eating.” Sade stood up and stretched himself, “I’ll be back as soon as I bathe and refresh myself as well. Tomorrow is our beginning to journey back to Ferrah, it might take a few days though. For you, Lady Faye, you should get more rest after that nasty snakebite. Wouldn’t want yourself fainting over me would you?” He chuckled a hearty laugh and walked away.
Arrogant bastard! Akina cursed him under her breath. Then she continued pouring water down slowly on top of Eye-Za, “How are you feeling now, Eye-Za? Much better?” With a few blinks of confirmation, Akina stopped, “All right, I guess we should turn in, Eye-Za, I’m tired and ached all over.” Akina walked over to the fire and added more wood, “I’m glad you can formulate fire from your eye, Eye-Za, or else that idiot would of laughed in my face until the blood drained from his brain… Which wasn’t a bad idea though, but I’ll let him live for now.” Akina now turned to the leaf puddle in the corner by the tree where she slept before, “Well, at least he has some decency, he made a bed for us. Where is his?” She considered the thought and said, “I guess we could make him one, so he won’t get so grumpy when he wakes up in the morning. Come on now, Eye-Za, let’s get to work.” Then both of them went happily to work on building Sade a leaf bed.
Well, will you look at that, she has a soft side after all. Maybe Lady Melina was wrong about her, how can she cause the world destruction ruthlessly, when she’s out making me a leaf bed? How many sides does this girl have anyway? Sade thought to himself behind a large tree with heavy leafing, where Akina and Eye-Za couldn’t see him. He combed his wet hair with his fingers, still dripping with water from his bath. Maybe I should leave for now and return a little bit later. Even though I enjoyed the arguments, there is no need to cause another one. I wouldn’t want to end up on her hit list if she ever turned evil. He chuckled softly and walked off.
* * *
The crack of dawn lit the misty sky; Sade woke up from a peaceful sleep and stretched himself from head to toe. Thanking for the comfortable leaf bed. He checked his equipment and glanced over to where Akina was still asleep peacefully. Then a weird combination of color suddenly caught his attention. Lady Melina had warn him not to look at her face, but why? Sade was beyond curious at this point, so he came closer to Akina, he noticed her hood was off. He couldn’t believe his eyes, straight, long, lustrous hair of a silver-light blue shade of color started from on top of her head, and then turned to amber, and then pink. What sort of hair color is that? Then he slowly gazed at her face. Holy Christ, it-it is worse than I thought! Sh-she-she is— Sade couldn’t believe his eyes, and rubbed his eyes with his hands, he gawked at her some more. Her skin completion is a perfect ivory, a perfect oval face, cheeks is blushed light pink, long eye lashes, a stubborn nose and chin, and her lips— it’s rosy red. Why in the bloody world would she want to hide it? She-she’s beautiful, mor-more than an angel! I wonder what eyes color she has.
In an instant, Akina fluttered her eyes wide open and stared at him right in the face, fear confronted her features as she saw him sitting, studying her, “Get away from me!” She shrieked as she turned her head away.
He suddenly fell aback from her deafening screams. Her eyes were definitely green, spring-green to be exact. She’s gorgeous, like a fairy tale princess. Even more! How strange, looking at her felt like I was sucked into a dream, illusion, fantasy… “You have strange hair colors…” It was all he managed to say as he stared at her back, with her hair glittering in the early dawn, “It is the colors of early dawn, exactly like so…” Then unexpectedly, Sade grabbed his left chest with his right hand as he felt a major pain spreading in to his heart. “What the—?”
Eye-Za promptly flew in front of Sade’s view, blocked him from staring at Akina.
Akina rose up swiftly, “You shouldn’t have looked at me, Sade, and now you-you’re cursed…”
Totally confused and still in pain, “Cursed? Wha-what sort of a damn curse?”
Akina’s voice suddenly weakened, “A-a horrible curse that will put you to death on the next nine sunset. The pain you felt right now is the first symptom, it jolted into your heart, then on the nine sunset, it will automatically shut you down and…”
Sade saw the guilt and serious look on her face and stood up, “What? There are more symptoms? On the next nine sunsets? You must be joking—” Then Sade suddenly remembered, “Whatever you do, Sade, you must bring her back safely to me before the next nine sunsets.” “Lady Melina had said the same thing. Did she see into my future…? No, it’s not possible! How?”
“I-I don’t really know. It was not my choice to put it upon you. I-I was born with that horrible curse. Only my loved one’s were immune to it.”
“Immune? Love one? How many have died from seeing you?”
“I always have some sort of cover or hood on, so there isn’t many— I rather not tell you about it.” Akina made a little cheerful face toward Sade, “Hey… At least now you know when you are going to die… But cheer up Sade, I heard it was a peaceful death for those who died…” Akina said nervously and walked away.
Sade chuckled loudly, “Great one Akina, of all the serious you put up, you finally jested.” Sade felt his knee buckled, and sat himself down to adjust. She had to be jesting. I’m too young to die! Lady Melina, you better have a better explanation for this! On the other hand, I don’t really give a damn if I die today or later as she said. Life is cruel that way. Sade looked up, “Akina, where are you going?” He yelled out at the walking figure of Akina toward some newly found fruits trees.
Birds tweaked lovingly in the early morning, sun lazily rose above the horizon, and Akina turned to Sade with a toss of her hair and said cheerfully across the brightened forest, “I’m going to make up for your upcoming death Eye-Za and I are going to search for some breakfast, so sit still and stay calm, all right? We will be back momentarily.” Akina kept on walking with Eye-Za floated by her side.
Sitting still? That I am doing. But stay calm? How could I stay calm when I’m about to die in nine days hence? A breakfast as a payment for my death? Great! My death worth a single breakfast, who would have thought… Sade looked down to his left hand and realized he was rubbing the ring of Destiny on his middle finger for the last ten minutes. “Destiny eh? Well, what do you know, I really have a destiny after all. Yes, my damn destiny is to die after I bring this strange haired and cursed beauty back to her Auntie. Great, what else could have happen!” Oh this! Sade focused on the food Akina just popped in front of his face.
“Here, Eye-Za found these while we were searching in the forest. Could you just imagine all these berries were here all along? We didn’t even have to eat that poor monkey if we could have found these yesterday.” Akina laughed softly.
It was a nice laugh, he thought. “Berries? Are you sure they’re safe?” He looked at her curiously.
“Why yes, of course they are! You dare doubt me?”
“No, I dare not, not even after you turned angry red when I’ve tricked you into eating that monkey.” Sade said sarcastically.
“Just eat those damn berries, so we can be on our way back to Ferrah, all right?” Akina added hastily.
“Hmmm… all right, since you were being so nice to me lately, not to mention cursed me to death. I’ll eat this anyway, I don’t like to die on an empty stomach.” He stared down at a large green leaf full of all sorts of colors and shapes of berries in his hand. Then he looked down at Akina hands with another cloth full of berries, “Aren’t you going to have some?”
Akina studied him as he put a few berries in his mouth and started to chew, “I already ate on the way back here. This other half is for the way if we ever get hungry. Besides, you won’t have to kill anymore animals. Isn’t that grand?” She said happily.
“Yes, sure,” he said with his mouth half full, “theseberries are good, especially these green ones.” Sade held up a few tiny green berries and put it in his mouth.
“Great!” Akina clapped her hand together and then turned to Eye-Za, “Come now Eye-Za, we should clean and gather our stuff.”
“Akina? Is there any chance there are rum in these berries? How come everything is so blurry and…” Sade collapsed backward on the ground, front faced up.
“Lord Sade? Sade, are you all right?” Akina bent over and slowly poked Sade in the arm. “Eye-Za, it really worked!” Then when she focused her attention on the sleeping Sade, she suddenly felt guilt, “Sade…” She sat down by him and slightly touched his left cheek, “I’m sorry for everything, especially the curse I put upon you. You were kind to me— part of the time that is.” She traced his dark brown eye brows, realized how handsome and beautiful he is in the sunlight, “You were right Sade, you’re not ugly or old at all, you’re very handsome indeed.” Her voice hardened with pain, but now gently stroking his rich brownish blond hair, “I must continue on with my quest. It is up to me to kill Eliasius. Rest at peace in the future, Sade…” Akina emotionally turned away in guilt and about to stand up.
Eye-Za widens her red eye in shock.
“To rest in peace am I?” Sade grabbed Akina’s right hand to stop her from running away, and he slowly sat up.
Really shocked, Akina turned around and she found herself staring into a devious grinning face of the handsome, Lord Sade, as those she was confronting the devil himself. “Ho-how-how did yo-you…?”
“Come on, Lady Faye, tell me again about the part how handsome I am.” Sade pushed on with the subject as he pulled her down to his eye level. “Don’t tell me you’re shocked, Lady Faye. Your mouth is open, close it my dear. Yes, that’s good.” He said playfully as he looked into her pretty face, which he could not stop looking at it. Damnation!
“Yo-you tricked me again! I take back everything I said— Oh I-I hate you!” Akina said blindly.
“Really?” Sade held her pretty face between his hands. “Hmmm…”
“Wh-wha-what are you doing?” Akina said hazily as he lured her face to his. Her brain was telling her to get away, but she didn’t.
“Aki…?” He spoke softly.
For a moment they rested their eyes on one another, “Sade…?”
“Do you know how beau— You have really soft skin. I cannot see a single pore. ” He jested, then pinched her soft pink cheeks.
“As for you… I can see plenty of pores!” Akina clutched both of his cheek and wringed them with no mercy. Then they both giggled with no restrain.
Eye-Za just blinked in disbelieves. Both of them have met their match.
They helped each other as they stood up, Sade was the one first to speak, “Don’t think that we are laughing that I will go soft on you, Lady Faye.”
“I know you won’t. But how did you know? I saw you eat those berries with my own eyes.”
Sade pointed at the floating eyeball, “I made Eye-Za show me, when I went back from the waterfall. I knew you were up to something, when you were standing quietly by the berry bushes, and I was right. Eye-Za almost showed it willingly too, I think she likes me. You’re a sneaky little imp all right. Trying to feed me those sleeping berries did you. Good thing I spat it out when you were not looking. I advise you to never try it again. Got that?”
“I can not believe it, Eye-Za betrayed me to you. Of all the nerve!” Akina said loudly with her hand on her hips. I should have known he was too smart for that… Guess I should come up with a better plan. Speaking of a plan…
Sade saw through Akina’s thought, “And no more next time, or else I won’t be as kind. Now let be on our way to Ferrah, shall we?” He then saw an object in Akina’s right hand.
* * *
“There is an inn nearby. Are you hungry?” Sade asked Akina, walking slowly behind him, “No, I’m not hungry!” Akina said coldly.
“Come on, don’t be so brooding. Are you still mad? I told you before that I wouldn’t be so kind. If you were not trying to hit me with that large branch over the head, I wouldn’t have to tie you to me like this.” Sade held up his left hand, where a strong tanned, rope bonded from his wrist to both of Akina wrists.
“My wrists hurt! I feel like a prisoner, being dragged to the beheaded stadium. And Eye-Za, she wants to come out and see.” Akina complained.
Sade looked up and down on Akina, “Hey that is exactly what I’m planning for others to think. I have to admit, I prefer you without that damned hood. But we could not risk anyone being cursed, like myself here. Also, Eye-Za, she a magical creature, that’s why she must hide in your sleeve, until it’s safe from all the seeing eyes of the peasants in this large market. Well, come on now, we’ve been walking for more than a day and a half now, you must be very tired from your aching feet.”
“No, my feet feel just fine. It is
you who is the tired one. Besides, I have these berries to strengthen up my
energy.” Akina said smoothly.
“Yes, if only you would share them with me.” He said vainly.
“Too bad!” She said mockingly, “May we continue on, the Fearless Lord Sade?” Akina held up her tied arms toward the crowded market ahead.
“As you wish, my lady!” Sade slightly yanked her forward as he cursed her silently.
Sade and Akina kept on walking through the crowed passage. Everyone’s eyes were on them, whispering about the Gods knows what.
“Maybe we should take another passage. Everyone is staring at us.” Akina nervously said as she studied everyone below her hood.
“Me either, but this road is the shortest shortcut to Ferrah. We should be there in seven hours or so.” Sade said blankly and walked close to her in caution.
“Seven hours of more walking?” Akina complained, she felt her feet aching to death, but she couldn’t let him know.
“Why? Are you changing your mind about resting at the inn for a while?”
“I never said that! Just keep on walking, you arrogant bas—”
“Just shush up, or else, I’ll go shut you up myself.” Sade warned her humorously.
“Ay you up there! Knight man with the big sword! ‘ave you seen this pretty woman before? Her title was Akina Faye, Lady of Tandonia.” Sade looked down at the short bulky man who had popped a piece of fabric drawing up to his face.
Sade immediately realized the man was a minion of Eliasius. Grabbing a safe hold of his sword, Sade looked closely at the picture. This seeker here is searching for Akina, but the picture did not do her justice at all, in fact, it was all-wrong! “Wow! She’s pretty! Blond and Blue eyes!” Then he answered smoothly, “Nope, sorry! Never seen her, gosh, but I wish I did…” Sade made a sympathy sound. Well, what do you know? Not even Eliasius has seen the real face of Lady Akina Faye. If he saw the real Akina Faye, he would be in a real shock. A shock of death that is! Hahaha!
Akina hastily jumped out in front of Sade, “He didn’t, but I did!” Akina yelled to the urchin like seeker.
The man immediately hopped over to Akina, “You did? Where is she now? Tell me!”
Leaving Sade irritated. In one fast pace, Sade was in front of Akina again, he then explained to the seeker, “Look, whoever you are, I don’t want any trouble, but this girl hasn’t seen a thing, for she is blind. She been for the last five years, that’s why she covered her face down to her chin like so!” Sade put his right hand over Akina’s mouth in panic.
Akina managed to shove away his hand for a few second, “Yes I did! Because I am her, help get me away from this man, he— umph… captured me— umm…hm…umph…” Sade blocked her mouth again.
“You don’t really look like ‘er, put down your ‘ood lass.” The sturdy man demanded as he stared up at Akina’s hood in disbelief. Then reached out his dirty dagger, crammed with dry, old blood.
A small crowd formed, talking, staring, and whispering around them. Soon, everybody stopped from what they were doing and joined in the crowded circle.
“Of course she can not, because she is not the beautiful Lady Faye. My ugly slave here just wanted to run away again. Yep, last time she tried to run away, I sure gave her a lesson she wouldn’t forget. I poked both of her eyes out! Then she tried again yesterday, I caught her just this morning. So when I return to my castle, I’ll chop off both of her pathetic legs.” Sade faked a chuckle and studied around the huge surrounding crowd that had gathered. Sade bent down a few inches lower toward Akina’s ears and whispered, “Damn you woman, what were you thinking! I can recognize at least a dozen of Eliasius’ minions standing in those crowds, and they are about to jump in and kill. I know you want to find Eliasius badly, but have some decency to keep the civilians safe from their ruthless ways.” Sade put his hand away from Akina’s lips.
Akina looked at the large crowd herself, then turned to her seeker, now looking very impatient, “My master is right, I’m not Akina Faye. I just wanted to run away from him.” She said in disappointment.
“You dare lie to me? You’re goin’ to pay, blind woman!” The seeker angrily launched his dagger toward Akina.
In one smooth stroke, Sade had his sword pointed across the seeker’s throat, “Don’t you think you should ask her master first?” He said coolly.
“Stay away from this, pretty boy! I’ve many friends here, you won’t get away with— Ah-aww!” The man whined in pain when Sade slowly slit a part of his neck.
A few of the seeker’s companions stepped forward.
“What is your name, seeker?” Sade
“Mon-Monty, Monty Gils.” The seeker fearfully answered.
“All right Monty, again, I don’t want any trouble, but if any of your friends come any closer you won’t live to see it.” Sade threatened and took Monty in a hostage position. “Make way everyone!” He said toward the crowd. Then turned to the stilled Akina, “Woman, what are you waiting for, let’s go!”
“You ’eard ’im, make way!” The Monty bellowed out.
Immediately the crowd spread into two, leaving the passage clear.
“No one dare follows, or else Monty Gils here is going to get it!” They both walked slowly and cautiously toward the north of the passage.
* * *
“It is safe enough for you now, please le me go, I beg you!” Monty begged to Sade mercilessly.
Sade and Akina carefully investigated their surrounding. It was already evening, an hour later from the incident in the market. They were now relentlessly back into another unknown forest. With bats flying and screeching from all directions, and birds panicking to fly back into their nests, and owls stared hooting from dark trees.
Akina walked over to Sade, “I don’t like this forest much.”
“It all your fault that we’re here, blame it on yourself, Akina.” Sade mistakenly said her name.
Monty stared at Sade, then to the black hooded woman, “Yer the Lady Akina Faye of Tandonia! Hand over the bracelet! I must kill—”
“Don’t say another word you bastard, I would really like to kill you right now!” Sade warned, then added, “Where is your masters’ hiding place? Eliasius’?”
“Yes, where is his hiding place, tell me!” Akina wanted to know badly.
“I-I don’t know what ya are talkin’ about,” Monty lied, but Sade pressed the sword harder to his throat, “Don’t kill me— All right, ’is lordship is at Tandonia.”
“You’re lying! Tandonia is already burnt to a crisp.” Akina yelled out.
“It-it’s true, he’s at Tandonia, below your castle!” Monty confessed to Akina.
“Below the Faye’s castle?” Sade confirmed.
“Aww! Easy on the throat will ya. A-aye, I’ve been under it plenty of times myself. I’m the twenty-fifth knight in command. Really, I’ll swear I isn’t lyin‘.” Monty tried to vow with his right hand in the air.
“Why—I must go there immediately!” Akina stated.
“Uh-ah! No, you’re not going anywhere Akina.” Sade caught Akina by the hood, and it abruptly fell down her back.
“You have no say in this! You’re not the master of me!” Akina swiftly turned around as the wind tossed her hair flying.
“Who is-is-is sh-she-she-she— She’s not the girl in the drawin‘. But sh-she-she is— Aww, my chest hurts!” Monty yelled in pain.
“It hurts like hell doesn’t it?” Sade chuckled, “Well there you go, she’s the one you’re looking for, the lady Akina Faye herself.” He said to the recovered Monty, and put away his sword.
“Is-isn’t she blond? Like the one in the drawin‘? I ’ave to kill that lass? That gal is way more pretty than anyone could bare-- Aww, what is this pain?” Monty kept on staring at Akina as he fell to the ground on his knees.
“Come on, Monty, don’t tell me you don’t want to kill her anymore, just because she’s pretty.” Sade said amusingly.
Akina left her hood open, took out Eye-Za from her left sleeve, and bent down near Monty, “Now Monty, have you ever seen one of these?” Akina put Eye-Za infront of Monty’s filthy face, “I didn’t think so. Now tell me why Eliasius destroyed Tandonia. And why is he looking for me? Tell me now, or Eye-Za here will suck out your puny brains!” Akina threatened.
Can Eye-Za really do that? Sade thought to himself.
Willingly answering to the beautiful Akina, even without the threat. Monty confessed, “I don’t really know, I wasn’t a knight of his until three months after. But all I heard was ‘e lookin’ for somethin’.” Monty tried to remember, “Aye, ‘e was lookin’ for a bracelet and two rings, for what reason, I didn’t really know. I also ‘eard he have one of the two ring in possession. And he is lookin’ for ya, someone told ‘im ya ‘ave the bracelet. He wanted it badly…”
“He destroyed the whole village for some damned jewelries? Why that cold-blooded bastard!” Sade said angrily.
Akina turned hazy, “My whole village… Destroyed… Burnt to ashes…” Then thought to herself. Rings? Eliasius has one of the rings? Why didn’t I see it before? He has the ring of Fortune! Now he wants the other two items, Destiny and Faith. I -I must go back to Auntie Melina and discuss more about this matter. She would knows what to do…
“Akina! Get yourself together. We must get going!” Sade said to the still life Akina and harshly pulled Monty back on his feet.
With out noticing any pain from being yanked upward, Monty asked Sade, “Is she all right? She looked like she’s in a dream, standing there like a white ghost. A very pretty ghost.”
“Wha-what?” Akina broke out of her trance, “Going? Oh yes, back to Ferrah, let’s go. Don’t just stand their gawking, come on, let’s go!” Akina hollered out to the stunned Lord Sade, and walked forward toward the direction of Ferrah.
“What the heck got into her? But then again, I never did know what gets into her.” Sade shook his head, and then turned to Monty, still staring at the walking away Akina with unblinking eyes, “Hey Monty, cut that out-- Hey, did you know you only have nine days to live in this cruel, cruel world?” Sade said as he walked behind Akina
“You’re goin’ to kill me in nine days? Please don’t, I beg you! I-I will do anything you say. And I already told ya everything I know, ‘onest!” Monty pleads.
“We have a use for you, yet. Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill you. Well, it just happened that you were cursed…”
* * *
A beautiful amber castle stood in the mist of dawn, with luscious grass surrounding its way up the high hill. Ferrah was more beautiful than Akina could ever remember. It had been years since she was here visiting with her parents.
At the front of the castle, there was a grand silver entrance gate, and a dozen of masculine knights positioned themselves down the bricked amber stairs, and in the middle stood the beautiful Lady Melina, herself.
“Welcome back, my dear angel.” Lady Melina spoke softly with affection to Akina.
Even as an aunt, Lady Melina seemed younger and more beautiful than Akina could have remembered. She somehow appeared to be at the age of thirty. Akina stared upon the wise face of her beloved Aunt and suddenly burst with happiness and warmth under her black hood. She then ran up the large amber steps and embraced her Aunt, “Auntie Melina! I’ve missed you so.”
She patted Akina gently on the hood, “There, there my dear, I’ve missed you as well.” Lady Melina then turned down on Sade, “You did a fantastic job, Lord Sade, I was right to send you after all.”
Sade smiled half way up to his Lady commander, “I thank you, my lady.“ Sade then turned to Monty, fiercely trembling up with fear as he stared at Lady Melina’s magnificent knights. “I also had captured a minion of Eliasius’, this miserable urchin, it appeared that he might be some help to us in the future, my lady.” Sade then pushed Monty to the nearest two knights.
The knights immediately restrained Monty carefully and herded him inside the castle dungeon.
Sade turned back to Lady Melina, “I think you have left out a few minor details before, my lady. From the look of things, I seem to have seven sunsets left to live. For now, I am to return and take care of my estate in Cirrex, perhaps, Lady Melina, you can arrange a meeting afterward...”
“Certainly, permission granted.” Lady Melina turned back to her niece and saw the look of guilt in Akina’s eyes, “I’m sure you would like a few word with Lord Sade as well, my dear?” With a confirming nod, Lady Melina commanded everyone back inside the castle, leaving Akina at the top and Sade at the bottom of the great stairs.
Akina was the first to speak out, “I-I should of known better, that my Aunt would not let Tandonia down. I must apologize to you again, Sade, for all the trouble I caused--”
“Adrian, call me Adrian. I realized Sade sounded like an old crude upon your lips.” Adrian cut in, and then he walked up to Akina.
Akina shyly put her hood down, “Hmm… The Fearless Lord Adrian Sade? I see, Adrian… I like it better as well.” Akina brightly smiled up to Adrian.
Looking across at the smiling face of the beautiful Akina, Adrian suddenly felt another jolt in his heart, “Tell me the truth now, how many symptoms are there total in your curse?”
“Symptoms? Oh that! Well, you see, I sort of lied, so I could scare you away, but it didn’t work at all. The only symptom was the one that you felt in the beginning, after that you…” Akina trailed off.
There is no more symptoms? Then what the heck was that jolt I felt just now? Adrian gathered himself back together, “You lied to me? Why you little--” Adrian was startled for a moment when Akina somehow appeared an few inches infront of him.
“Adrian, you look a little pale, are you all right?” Akina started at him with concern.
“Uh, it was nothing. Listen, now that you are back with Lady Melina, I’m sure she do whatever in her power to help you destroy Eliasius, it is only a matter of time, you’ll see. You’re safe now, my lady.”
Akina suddenly put her hands on Adrian’s arms for support, “I thank you, Adrian, for escorting me here to Ferrah…” She then gently tipped up on her toes, closed her pretty green eyes and softly pressed a kiss on Adrian’s lips.
Adrian was in shock, for he didn’t see it coming. Before he could steady himself back together, Akina was already at the silver entrance gate, “Akina…” was all he managed to say.
He lightly touched the tip of his lips with his fingers. Well, hell! What the heck was that for? Adrian would like to know. At that moment, Adrian could see and feel it clearly into his destiny for the next seven sunsets he had left. He won’t be seeing the last of the angelic, Lady Akina Faye, just yet. Yes, he could feel it in his bones, and he will make sure of it as well.
TO BE CONTINUED... in PART TWO, "Farwell, My Dearest Knight"
Short Stories Collection