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The Tale of a Runaway
Freedom Is Fleeting
Little Red Riding Hood Chapter One Part One Me, the Wolf, and a Red Cape
We buckled down in a small hire out shanty for the night. I frowned at the room, the strong smell of mold and excrement wafted in my face. I hated the slums of Woodstown, it always seemed so depressing; anorexic babies, battered children and beefy oafish men. It made me sick. Lupine wined and muzzled my leg with his gigantic snout, picking up on my negative state of mind. I smiled lightly over at my beautiful rusty brown wolf and scratched behind his furry ears. It had been almost six months now since I’d first met him, and I’d like to think we’ve become close. He’s a beautiful creature, and he’s done a good job of keeping me safe. Well, as safe as a werewolf could ever really keep me. There’s only so much he can protect me from here. The woodsmen are one thing, and the armed guards are another. But when it comes to starvation or depression, what could a wolf do? He’s a great companion though, there’s no denying that. But despite it all, I still feel lonely sometimes… Lupine stretched comfortably out along the wet dirty floor as if it were a cashmere cushion. I took off my red hood and sat down beside him, spreading the make shift blanket over the two of us. Well, as much as I could anyway. Its kind of hard when he’s the size of a live bloody horse and I’m… well I’m short. Even by Arcadian standards. Have you ever seen the Arcadian women? Short little lady’s I tell you that. But still taller than me… then again, I guess everyone seems taller to me though. I was 14 now, an adult. I suppose, Arcadians like my self didn’t stop growing until they were 20 odd years of age. But I’d been the same height for two years now. I hadn’t grown an inch. But then again, they say stress stunts your growth. And Shirma knows I’ve had plenty to worry about. These days, being a woman on Virden meant you had five possible occupational options, you can work in a brothel, you can work the streets, you can be a mother, you could join with the Roherdirons or you can join the armed guard. None are good choices. On my tenth birthday I was drafted into the armed guard. It was my destiny to become one of them, just like it was for the first born of every generation in my family. But I didn’t want to be one of the
guards, who could want to kill scrupulously for no real reason at all? But more so, who could do such things… to children? You’d think that would be okay right? Just telling then you don’t want to join. But no. The problem is, no one refuses the armed guard. Not if you want to live. So I ran, I’m still running. My great grandmothers living in Roherdiron, so I intended to go there. That was, until the woodsmen started following me. The woodsmen are basically cheap hit men the guards use when they don’t actually want to use someone expendable. Actually, that’s how I found Lupine. Or, well, he found me… and saved me, in all honest truth. I was running from one, a big scary brutish woodsmen I hadn’t noticed keeping tabs on my in the bar until it was almost too late. The only option I had was to run through the Gildarmen Forest and hope I lost him. But the problem with that was that I wasn’t fast enough, and he, well he was twice my size. I tripped and feel to the ground. I told myself I wouldn’t cry, or scream. There was no point. If I had screamed, no one would have heard me. It wouldn’t have changed anything. But when he grabbed me, any and all thought of control went completely out the window. I screamed, I kicked, I cried and then he let go. I fell to the forest floor and the last thing I remembered that night was a big dark shape snarling as it took down the woodsmen. When I awoke, I was alone again. Or at least, I thought I was at first. But I hadn’t remembered a red cloak, or a burning fire. And the second I’d tried to move I almost screamed. A sharp stabbing pain shot out along my arm. A tall muscular man bounded towards me and made the scream I was holding back emerge. He hushed me and pressed me back on the ground. “You’ll hurt yourself if you move right now.” He said tenderly. I figured I was dead anyway so there was no real point in struggling. He surprised me when he started to treat my arm, instead of rip it into a million pieces. I watched him wearily, noting the glint in his emerald green eyes and the symmetry of his rippling chest. He caught me staring and smiled. It turns out even werewolves like to know there hot. But the thing I have to say that got me the most… was his skin. I’d never seen skin that color before. It was a beautiful reddish brown, a most coveted color. It was said only the royals had skin like that. Only the royals will ever see skin like that. I felt almost… privileged. At least when I died I would have seen something coveted by all of Virden. But he didn’t kill me. Instead, he skinned a dead rabbit and composed a spit roast over the fire, with not but a few sticks and vines. He was quiet as he worked. I studied him, every move; every muscular jolt of his body… everything about him seemed so fluid. It wasn’t long before I grew fond of my savior. His
cropped short black hair glistened with the water droplets of the forest trees. He climbed trees in single bounds to retrieve fresh leaves for a bed. He fazed in and out of form without trouble. But, clothes don’t faze well with the wolf form. And so, it’s safe to say I grew even fonder of my savior, and all his… assets. I remember, one night it was raining and the thunder was so loud it resonated in my very soul making me tremble n fear. He dragged me, careful not to bump my arm, to the shelter of the tree’s and transformed right there and then. He muzzled the blanket around me and pressed up behind me. At first I was reluctant. I mean, come on, a big naked guy fazes then pushes up against you? How are you going to react? But he was so warm. A loud snore ripped from Lupine’s throat and tore me from my reminiscing. I sighed and snuggled closer against him, the humming in his chest was soothing, almost like a lullaby. He was still warm, still beautiful. I timed my breathing with his and found it easier to drift off. All the chaos meant little when he was with me. He had an air about him, a pleasant tranquil feeling spread to all those around him. My head nestled against his fuzzy shoulder, my own golden brown hair spilling across it. I kissed his shoulder lightly, and within moments, I followed him into the warm embrace of unconsciousness. Finally, for the first time in months… It was just me, the wolf, and a red cape.
Little Red Riding Hood Chapter One Part Two Vulnerability
Lupine licked a long line from my chin to my forehead with his flat wide tongue, waking me from my dreams. “Awe! Lupe! Gross!” I smacked at him, but he dogged and let out a barking laughter, a deep rumbling in the very depths of his chest. And strangely enough, I found myself laughing along side of him. I wiped away the sleep from my eyes and ran my fingers through my hair. I knew I looked horrible, but then again, how am I supposed to keep my self respectable when the only things I have in my bag are a spare change of shoes, my money and whatever little food we have with us? He rubbed his enormous wolf head against my own in a mock apology. I stroked the shaggy fur of his neck and kissed his warm cheek. “I think I can forgive you… this time.” I got up and stretched feeling and hearing the harsh satisfying cracks of my back as I did so. I groaned lightly and sniffed my clothing. “Gross.” I grimaced. “Looks like were going to have to find another lake some time soon.” Lupine nodded and let out a yawn as he shook out his fur. It was full daylight, and the streets would be busy. Even here in woodland it was illegal to shelter people like Lupine. And so, Lupine wouldn’t be able to leave these confides in day light without shifting. And he couldn’t shift without becoming completely naked. And so, it was now my job to go out and by the poor beggar some pants. “Hey Lupine, what size are you anyway?” I asked. Lupine gave me a blank look. “Right. You’ve never been here before. Damn.” Lupine had never been anywhere other than Roherdiron and the Gildarmen Forest. But what I never understood was that the Gildarmen Forest was over six hundred miles away from Roherdiron. And whenever I ask him why he was there… he just changes the subject. I sighed and pulled a long piece of what I assumed to be rope from the corner of the room. Lupine looked at me questioningly. “Listen, I need some way to measure you right?” he nodded his big
furry head. “Ten faze so I can measure you.” He eyes me skeptically for a moment, and then grinned. And believe me; a wolf grin is anything but pretty. They look like there going to bite you… not a nice though either. He phased in what seemed like a split second. He was still on all four’s at first. He lolled his head up to look at me and grinned once again, a less cunning death worthy grin that had me smiling back myself. “I need to measure your waist.” I said in all earnest. The cheeky grin remained on his face. “Use the robe to cover up.” I said as I turned around to give him a moment of privacy. It was a few seconds before I felt his big warm hands on my shoulders. “Why would you wish me to cover up?” he asked. “It is indecent for a man of you’re—” I stopped myself. “Any man to go around flashing young women, even if you’re a werewolf.” His bark of laughter ripped through the air. “So am I to believe you would prefer me clothed.” “When you are human, indeed.” Okay, so that was a total lie. “Please Lupine, just put on the damn robe.” He was quiet for a second before letting go of my shoulders and I assumed, went to do as I had asked. “You can look now.” He assured me. I turned around without thinking. “God damn you Lupine.” I cursed. He had the stupid robe tied around his shoulders with the rest of him readily exposed. The robe that came to the floor on me barely made it to his hips. “Can you show me no common decency at all?” he still grinned wolfishly, oblivious to my displeasure. I sighed and walked over to him. I wound the rope around his waist where the pants would sit, careful not to touch anything I would regret touching later. I tied a knot where the two ends of rope connected and stepped away from Lupine. He was just teasing me. The last thing either of us needed was for someone to go too far. When we made it to Roherdiron we would go our separate ways. We hadn’t talked about it, but I knew what would happen. I would live with grandmother, and he… I didn’t know what he would do. And honestly, I didn’t really want to know. He was the first friend I’d made in years. It was going to be hard enough parting with him, without being torture with thoughts of where he would go. I didn’t like the idea of being alone again. “I’ll be back within the hour.” I called over my shoulder. He waved me off without a second thought and took off the robe. Some people would have been pissed off by that. But I wasn’t. It was nice to know that when the time came for us to separate, he’d be okay. He’d be able to live without me, and I assumed, he’d be as happy as he was now.
I smiled ruefully to myself as I headed down Woodstown’s crooked narrow unpaved paths. He would be alright… but I wouldn’t. I’d miss him terribly. He was like a light to me, a bright, somewhat annoying befriended light helping to guide me through a world of lonely darkness. It was like having a thorn in your side. It didn’t really hurt all that much, and over time, you realize you wouldn’t feel the same without the thorn. But you know both you and the torn will be better off once you separate, even if you don’t want to separate, just so you can avoid the pain. But that seems stupid I guess. How could a thorn be better off lying on the ground? I sighed and shook my head. It was stupid of me to dwell on such thoughts. It wasn’t long before I made it to the Woodstown marketplace. There were people packed in at every corner and every inch of the road was full of life. It’d be hard to imagine ever being able to find anything when squeezed among so many poor smelling peasants. But believe it or not, it’s easier than it sounds, even for someone as short as me. I loved the feel of the markets; the liveliness, the colors, the cultures. Everything was new and exciting. There were always imported things to buy, exotic foods to taste, and new sounds to sample. There was a traveling band playing some distance away. The music was a beautiful lively Capriccio piece that made me want to dance along. As I looked over the market place I had to smile. It was as if the people were dancing, they were keeping time with the music as they walked in time with the beat of the marketplace. As their bodies moved to the rhythm it was as if their voices were building to a timely crescendo. And in that split second when the singer’s eyes and mine connected, I wanted to join the dance. Not just temporarily… but forever. I wanted to stay in this market and listen to them play until I fell asleep. But that was impossible for me here. I shook off the thought and went out in search of a tailor. Strangely enough, it wasn’t long before I found a small stall selling one size fits all clothing. I smiled down at the petite Beriadanwen woman. Her dark brown hair twisted into a simple delicate braid, I noticed the color of her hair was just a touch darker than that of her bright clear topaz eyes. Beriadanwen men were all bulky scary men, where as all the women were beautiful petite little creatures. But unfortunately, though Lupine and I fit that description, our skin did not. Beriadanwen’s had a nice tanned looked about them. They were a health, prosperous people. But I was an Arcadian, an aristocrat. My skin was as pail as porcelain, just like all those of my kind. And then Lupine, lupine had the God’s skin. A beautiful rosé color only the royals among our kind had. Usually, red-brown skin is unheard of outside of the Roherdiron.
But it is said the Royals made a deal with the Roherdiron to give them the beauty of their skin. I handed her the rope. “Greetings miss. I’m looking for a pair of pants that will fit a man with a waist length this size, preferably in a brown or black.” She nodded in comprehension. “One moment please.” I took that moment to fish out my money bag and count the few coins we had left. All I had was six silvers and eleven coppers. Well, looks like we were going to have to find more money somewhere… “Here you go young miss.” She handed me a pair of dark brown simple men’s pants and smiled. “That’ll be four silvers thank you” I handed over the money and put his pants safely into my bag. I stuffed the money bag into my dress pocket and kept my hand close to it. Lupine and I would have to cross three days length of forestry before we even reached Beriadanwen’s borders. And after that, we would cross into Roherdiron; Shirma only knows what awaits us there. I just pray we make it out alive. Three stalls down I found a quaint little food stall. The Delran Bread buns were cheep, and so were the Starling Cookies, both were at three for a copper, a good deal if you ask me. “Shopkeeper!” I called. A tall oafish Beriadanwen man came over to me, one of those perverted grins only the older men of his kind got around foreign women. I noticed he had a small limp in his step, meaning he probably either served when he was younger, or was a woodsman until he got hurt. Either way, I almost immediately hated him. “I’ll take a squat of Delran Bread buns and a squat of Starling cookies.” I took another look around and spotted something I hadn’t seen since I’d left Arcadia. “I’ll take that last packet of ribbon fruit too.” Ribbon fruit were these beautiful little red marble shaped fruits, great for dehydration and supposedly, healing the sick. But more than that, they tasted delicious. It was like a sweet explosion of juices in your mouth and for one single moment, it takes your breath away and makes your heart skip a beat. The shop keep bagged up my order and handed them to me. “That’ll be eleven coppers.” I handed over the last of my coppers and put all the food into my bag, along with our last two remaining silvers. Shirma, I just hoped Lupine wouldn’t need another pair of pants any time soon. I don’t think we’d be able to afford it. If Lupine hunted for meat in the forests at night time we’d have enough food to make it through the three day trip. Delran Bread had this beautiful thick rich dark-brown crust that helped to keep it fresh for weeks on end, and there was so much Fay sugar in starling cookies that it could last a life time and never grow stale. And if you ask me, starling cookies were always better the week after they’d been cooked. The Ribbon fruit would still be ripe for another three to four days, but after that ribbon fruit had the
unfortunate curse of exploding. It wouldn’t cause a fire of course; it was just very messy if the fruit was not properly contained. I headed back to the horrible little shanty, careful to mind my bag and the people around me. The streets may have been alive with music, but among the squabbling of peasants there were always bound to be thieves. I ran over the rationing schedule in my head just to make sure we’d have enough for the trip. If the trip lasted three to four days that meant we could share three of the Delran Bread and three of the Starling cookies each day. Considering Lupine was bigger than me, and was going to be doing more of the work, he would get the larger portion. So, he could have two buns and two cookies a day, and I would have one bun and one cookie a day. The ribbon fruit we’d figure out as we went, I wasn’t even sure how many were in the packet, at least twenty odd I’d assume. I reached the shanty and entered quietly, just in case Lupine had tried to squeeze in an extra hours sleep. No such luck. “You’ve been gone for 73 minutes and twenty nine seconds.” He said, he was sitting on the floor with his legs cross and his arms folded across his chest. I smiled over at him, he looked so angry, I hadn’t meant to make him wait. “I’m sorry; I stopped to get some extra supplies. We’ve got a long trip ahead off us; we can’t live off rabbits the entire time.” I set down the bag on the floor and went to retrieve his pants. “I can catch larger game.” he declared. “That’s no what I meant and you know it.” I threw the pants at him. “Now get dressed will you? The sooner we leave the sooner I can wash my clothes, I don’t know about you, but the smells starting to get to me.” I busied myself rearranging the bag to distract myself as Lupine dressed. “I don’t mind the smell.” He informed me. “Yeah, well, I do.” I retrieved the goatskin canteen from the bottom of the bag and swished it around, lees than a mouth full. “Looks like we’re almost out of water too.” “We passed a well on the way into town.” Lupine noted. “Yeah, but that’s at least a mile backwards. It’s a longer trip for something we’ll be able to get by sun down if we keep to the south anyway. The rivers not that far away…” I buttoned the bag shut and swung it over my shoulders as I got to my feet. “We should probably get going then.” Lupine untied the robe from around his neck and handed it to me. He pulled the bag from my back and lugged it across his own huge shoulders; it probably felt like nothing to him. “The bag is heavier than I remember.” He noted as he walked out side the door. I followed behind him happily. “I said I picked up extra supplies didn’t I? I wasn’t joking.” I smiled slightly. “Speaking of which, you’re in for a treat tonight.”
He grinned at me and looked me over. “Is that so?” I punched his arm lightly. “You know I didn’t mean it that way, pervert.” I laughed it off. “I bought Ribbon fruit, you’ll love them.” I promised. He looked down at me, studying me I way that made me want to both blush and fidget. He made me nervous sometimes, like he was looking at me and seeing something I couldn’t comprehend. Suddenly, the corner of his mouth pulled into a smile. “Something tells me I will.” The blush on my cheeks grew even more profound. I pulled the hood up over my head and my let curls fall where they may. It was partly to disguise myself from the woodsmen, and partly to hide my embarrassment from Lupine. In some ways I hated the way he stared… and in other ways, I loved it. For a small moment, when he looks at me like that, I almost think… he might care about me. Even just a little bit. It’s been a long time since anyone’s cared about me, in anyway. Sometimes it’s nice to fantasies about things like that. And other times it makes me so made I want to scratch his eyes out. But I guess, I’d never really do that. Strangely enough, there were times when I’d watch him too, when he was cooking or making a bed of the forest floor for us that I’d stare and think… I might even care for him too. But caring for someone I would loose soon enough… it wasn’t a nice idea. Things like Lupine would make me weak; make me vulnerable to the outside world. And if there’s one thing I can’t afford in this world of cheap murderous woodsmen and legal baby killers its vulnerability.
Little Red Riding Hood Chapter One Part Three My Fuzzy Protector
Lupine had insisted on going to the well before we started hiking into the forests. We’d stopped off at the well and again he’d insisted we both drink our fill before heading off, just in case we didn’t make it to the river before night fall. While drinking the water I was contemplating using it to wash my clothes. Apparently my need for personal hygiene was higher on my list of musts than staying hydrated. I was such a girl. We hadn’t even made it to the outskirts of the city before my feet started to hurt. Hear me out, the city houses over 29 million people, now just think, that’s a lot of houses, and houses need room. So just take that into consideration before contemplating my serious lack of stamina. I hadn’t said anything to Lupine; he just scooped me up into his arms and made me straddle his shoulders. I’d protested for two blocks before giving into the fact it was better this way, rather than having me walk the extra couple miles and making Lupine slow to my snail like speed. The thing is, even though Lupines a werewolf and he can lift over twenty times his metric weight I still felt bad for making him carry me. He never explained to me why he was helping me; he’d never really explained anything to me. All I knew was that he was taking me
where I needed to go, and with him, it would be at least ten times ten times quicker than if I had to go it alone. Not to mention the fact he’s insanely strong and can probably fight off any bad guy with one hand better than I could with both of mine and an Arcadian dagger. It’s true that he hadn’t explained anything to me, but in his defense, I hadn’t asked a whole lot of questions. I’m almost sacred to. I feel like if I ask things will either turn out badly between us, or I’ll get an answer I really don’t want. So for the time being, I’ll let it go. I guess, I trust that if it’s imperative to know he’ll tell me about it. But if its not then why tell me at all? Right? It felt strange being on Lupine’s shoulders. Not because it was uncomfortable or anything, but because of the height. I was use to seeing up to someone’s chest and not a whole lot more. So being lifted up on Lupine’s shoulders and suddenly having to look down on most of the other villagers… it felt… wrong. But at the same time, it was kind of enlightening. “So this is what you see every day.” I mused. “Great isn’t it?” I looked over the crowds rushing through the streets, the light bounced of their clothing and made them shimmer. “It’s so light.” Something about being up this height made me feel… untouchable. I felt on top of the world, and that was just me. I wasn’t strong or incredibly fast… but Lupine was. “You must feel invincible.” I said dreamily. But as fate would have it, as I gazed at the sky’s I saw the storm approaching. It was a heavy grey rolling over the once clear beauty of a blue that adorned our skies. How invincible would he feel in the mists of a storm? “Our journey may take longer than originally anticipated.” Lupine noted. “I think you may be right.” it was one thing to travel through an unmapped forest; it was another to do so in the midst of a storm. “We’ll be fine if we ration out our food properly.” “I’m not worried about the food little one.” “Don’t call me that!” I thumped his head and made him chuckle. “Fine, short one.” I groaned I rested my head atop of his. “You know Lupine; you’re a real pain in the ass.” “But a helpful pain at least.” I smiled to myself “Sure Lupine, you’re the average useful tool.” His laughter vibrated through his head and into me. I smiled a little brighter, I really did like Lupine. And he really didn’t have to be helping me. “Thank you Lupine.” I said. “Huh?” “Thank you for doing this. You didn’t have to, really.” what I wanted to add was ‘so why did you?’ but I wouldn’t pry. If he didn’t want to tell me, then that was his business.
It took a moment before he spoke, but when he did I was glad I had told him how I felt. Well, somewhat of what I felt. “You’re welcome.” I kissed his cheek before I even realized what I was doing. I blushed harder but said nothing, I could see him smiling. If a kiss and a thank you was all I had to give for a free ride to Roherdiron I was more than happy to pay. We made it to the Beriadanwen forests within the hour. Beriadanwen was surrounded by forests at every angle; it was both a security and a privacy thing. The Beriadanwen may look like very calm peaceful people, but they can get very touchy around foreigners. I was use to seeing all kinds of strange and wonderful people now; there wasn’t a whole lot the world could surprise me with. I mean, a little more than two and a half years of running from woodsmen and all kinds of other horrible little creatures soon enough you kind of get the impression that there’s not a whole lot more these people can throw at me. Lupine and I hiked for a while with me on his back until he was sure we were out of sight. He put me down, stripped off his pants, handed me the bag and shifted. I put his pants into the bag, careful not to crush the food; partly for practicality and practically so I could look at something other than a naked Lupine. I shucked the bag over my shoulders and walked towards Lupine. I hated this part, I felt so… useless. But if I rode Lupine we moved twice as quickly. His huge horse sized fuzzy form bowed down on the ground for me. I climbed atop of him and wedged myself behind his shoulder blades; it was more comfortable for Lupine but a little more difficult for me to stay astride him. I sighed and scratched behind his ear. “Come on boy, let’s get out of here.” He stood slowly got to his feet and let me get a firm grip of his fur within my fists. The first time we’d tried this I’d fallen off… and the second time… and the third time… okay, so I fell a lot. But you try keeping your balance while straddling a blood wolf. He started off on a trot then sped to a jog before then sprinting into a high pace run. I dug the heels of my feet into his sides. We’d done a lot of practice to figure out what I could and couldn’t do while ridding him. Lupine hadn’t thought it was necessary, I swear Lupine probably wouldn’t even notice if I stuck a pair of hooks into his back to keep me from falling off. But that still didn’t keep me from making sure he was comfortable while he was carrying me through the forest. I thought I at least owed him that much. I held on tightly as we rode through the uneven forest floor. The harsh crunching of the leaves as Lupines powerful paws pounded into the earth. My body moved with his and it stretched and constricted. He seemed so calm when he was running, so at peace with everything
around him. And yet, if I had been watching him, I’d have thought he was a ferocious king in such a forest. The rain was pouring down now, even through the lushness of the trees it still hit like pebbles against my body. I buried my face in his soft fur. You would have expected him to smell, well, like wet dog. But no, he smelt like the rainforest, it was a fresh earthy smell, almost floral in some ways. But the thought of lupine smelling of flowers was almost too hilarious to even consider. Tonight we didn’t make it to the river. Lupine stopped when he found a rock formation that featured more than enough room for the two of us to be sheltered under. He stopped and let out a howl to let me know to get off of him. I did so and fished out his pants as he shifted forms. It was so dark that I could only just make out what I assumed was his form walking towards me. He took the pants, slipped them on and helped me into the shelter. Who knew wolves had great night vision. But then again, maybe my night vision just seriously sucked banana’s. He sat up against one of the stone walls and pulled me against him so that my back was pressed against his chest. He was leaning at an angle to make me more comfortable, I appreciate that. I took of the red hood and spread in across our legs. Lupines huge hands folded around my own, I hadn’t noticed I was shaking until now. “You sheltered me from the rain as we were riding. Its no wonder your cold.” He yawned; a strong bellow gust of wind escaped his lips. I turned slightly in his arms so that my check rested on his chest. “And you carried me the entire way here, its no wonder you’re tired.” His arms lined up with mine so as much of my skin was touching his as possible. I melted against his constant warmth. “Seems like your skins about as practical as it is beautiful.” he chuckled, a deep rumpling from his chest. “Beautiful?” he asked. “Handsome maybe, but beautiful?” I slapped him lazily “don’t make fun of me Mr. Yeah, your beautiful.” I yawned myself and settled as deeply against his skin as I could. He leaned down and kissed the part in my hair. “You should sleep; it shall be a long day tomorrow.” I laughed. “It will seem even longer to you.” I admitted dreamily. “I’m just along for the ride.” He leaned down and whispered “And what a ride it shall be” I would have hit him if I had had the strength, or even the presence of mind to do so. But as fate would have it, within a matter of minutes I was asleep within the arms of my fuzzy protector. I awoke to a very loud, very irritable snore. One of Lupines legs was outstretched lazily some way away from me, and the other was wrapped round my waist as if he were half crossing his legs. My arms
were curled around one of his forearms, both of which were wrapped around my body protectively. Outside the small shaded area everything was wet from the rain, it was dead silent out in the forests, so I assumed the storm wasn’t over yet. I rubbed my cheek against his chest. “Wake up Lupine, come on” I pushed away his huge arms with as much strength as I had. His body snapped into attention and his arms constricted me against his body. If his arms had been any higher up he would have choked me. But he noticed what he was doing too quickly for it to have likely caused me much pain for long. “Oops, sorry.” “Don’t worry about it.” He hugged me to him for another moment, his face pressed against my auburn curls. And strangely enough, I was happy to be there. I rubbed my cheek against his chest again and let out a sigh. “We should get going soon.” He made a sound of forced agree meant. “Five more minutes, k?” I felt like his favorite teddy bear, the one he couldn’t help but curl up and go to sleep with, sadly, I probably was. But what was even worse was that, he felt like my favorite blanket, one I couldn’t sleep without having his wrap his cushioned muscled arms around me. I sighed and relaxed back into him. “I guess five more minutes won’t kill us.”
Little Red Riding Hood Chapter One Part Four Nude Troubles
Lupine and I had fallen asleep again after that, I wasn’t sure how long we’d been out for, but the sun was high in the sky by the time we set out for the river. The river as it turns out was less than three hours away. When we arrived things got a little… awkward, as you can imagine. I had a spare plain dress in the bag but it was just as dirty as the one I was wearing. Lupine did show me some level of dignity by turning away as I had to strip off. But the bad thing was, I had to wash the hood as well. So, basically I had to suck it up and sit butt naked in front of Lupine. I scrubbed my clothes until I was certain they were completely clean then strung them over a few low branches. I took the liberty of
washing my body as well as possible, after all, what’s the point in clean clothes if your body is still dirty anyway? I turned to Lupine and found him staring at my naked body. Sadly enough, I had all but forgotten I was naked, in a quiet forest… with a beast. Lupine was still in his wolf form, but in all honest truth, that almost made him more intimidating. He stared at me, like I was something to eat. He licked his huge wolf lips and made me back up against a tree. I felt my breathe go ragged as my heart rate suddenly accelerated. He stalked towards me, his gigantic furry form ready to pounce; the look in his eyes unmistakable. “Lupine…” I slid down the back of the tree, not taking in any more than that furry beast and my suddenly very vulnerable self. I accepted that he very well may… may… “God at least change back first.” I managed to whisper. He stopped for a moment in his tracks. I brought my knees up against my chest in an attempt to hide myself. If he was stupid enough to actually try anything I might just be able to evade him long enough to hide somewhere until he calmed down… maybe. But truth be told, if I lost him at this point, I’d be fucked. He’d have the food, my clothes and he’d make it to Roherdiron days before me. It would take me at the very least a week or two to make it there on foot, maybe more. He shifted right there in front of me, his once semi comfortable wolf self now a very intimidating, very naked man. He grinned, the gleaming in his eyes unmistakable now. His russet skin still shimmered, even without the sunshine. The water droplets that once sparkled in his thick reddish brown coat now glistened along his skin. It looked smooth… wet. He continued his stalking; each muscles of his body well define into a simple yet wondrous beauty. And then, he made it to me, his face hovering above my knees. I swallowed hard against my now very dry throat. “What are you doing?” I whispered. His hands came up shakily to rest on my knees, he wasn’t watching me anymore he was watching his hands. My eyes flickered from his hands to his face, and somehow, I realized his hands felt good where they rested, they were warm… and soft. He blinked a couple times and seemed to clear his mind. His hands slid down from my knees to the tops of my thighs as his head came to rest on my knees. “You looked cold.” He whispered. I felt the tension rushed out of my body in one quick gust. My head lulled forward and I let my hands rest over his. “Don’t scary me like that.” I let my head rest just below his and let my self find some level of comfort. I had spent most of my life being told not to trust men. They were ugly vile creatures set on nothing but sex and money. Considering the women in my family had always developed early, and we were decedents of the guard, I was supposedly a fine choice for
both. But Lupine was nothing like what I’d been told. He was beautiful and caring; he looked after me… at all costs. He was the one proof in this world I had that said maybe I could have these kinds of good things in my life. I want to find someone that’ll take care of me, someone who’ll love me and wont care whether I’m rich or poor… I want someone that loves me for me. Not someone interest in trivial things like money of beauty. After all, money gets spent and looks fade away with time… but love can last forever. We stayed like that for quite some time. Well, until the rain started pouring so hard it left dents in my skin. The clothes were as dry as they were ever going to get. I re-dressed into my thigh high white petticoat with tear drop lace, my black tie up bodice that started just under my breasts and ended just below my belly button and a beautiful red and white checkered skirt. I turned back to Lupine and found his eyes staring intently at me. I’d asked him to dress, and in his defense he had done it. But I still felt so… uncomfortable under his gaze. He held out the red hood for me, and I walked towards him to take it. He stood in front of me and draped the cape around my shoulders. He tied the string around my neck and spread out my hair delicately. I blushed uncomfortably under his gaze, I hated how easily he could do that to me. I turned away from him and headed towards the bag. “We should eat before we go.” I unbuttoned the bag. When I came across the Ribbon Fruit I smiled. “Hey come here.” He walked towards me and came to kneel in front of me and the bag. I smiled and picked up one of the small bright red fruits. “Open up.” His eyebrows crinkled for a moment, a small smile spreading across his lips as he opened his mouth. I pricked the stem from the ribbon fruit and popped it in his mouth. He bit into it and I watched as his eyes bulged open. His eyes squinted slightly, the sweetness of the fruit getting to him. “They’re my favorites.” I told him. I bit into my own piece of ribbon fruit and sighed in ecstasy. “It’s probably the last time I’ll ever get to eat them too.” If there was one thing I was going to miss in Arcadia it as the fresh Ribbon Fruit trees. Well, those and Mustafa. “Why can’t you get any in Roherdiron?” “Because, one of the deals between our royalty and the Roherdiron they have to be left in complete isolation. That means no trading, no imports and no Ribbon Fruit.” I sighed dramatically then shrugged it off. “I guess I should just make the memory of it last at least.” Lupine burst into laughter. “What’s so funny?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone more emotionally attached to food in my life.” I slapped his shoulder. “Shut up.” I handed him two Delran Bread Buns and two Starling cookies. I took a bite out of my own Delran Bread Bun and smiled. Delran Bread had a beautiful savory taste. Strangely, it went perfectly with Ribbon Fruit.
We rode long and hard into the night. The sky was ripe with rain babies, and heavy with her thundering love. I clutched as tightly to Lupines coat as I could. My legs constricted around lupines sides as his pace speed until I felt as if I were flying. The rain and rapid winds whipped at my face like daggers at a bleeding heart. I buried my face in his neck and tried to ride out the storm as best I could. If Lupine could run all this way carrying me, then I could hold on for just a few more hours. The sky was already at the point where I wasn’t sure what time of the am it was when Lupine finally slowed his pace. There were no caves or shaded spots around I could see. All that was were trees and forest ground. I sighed to myself, well that’s just great. So I can freeze to death and most likely start to suffer from hypothermia. I climbed off of Lupine and he shifted almost instantaneously. I grabbed his pants from inside the bag and tossed them to him. He put them on without complaint and pulled me to him, his warm skin like fire against my frozen body. I cringed into him and let him hold my body. He scooped me up and rested against a tree. He held me to him as I shivered in his arms. One thing I knew in that moment was that I was glad for him to be with me. I tucked my head into the crook of his neck I wound my arms around his neck. His hands massaged my back through the thin material of the red hood. He kissed a trail down the side of my face to the base of my neck and rested his head there. He was quiet as he held me; the only sound was the rain and the thundering from above. And then, I felt something even colder… and sharper than me pressed against my neck. Lupines head lifted from my neck and his body stiffened. I turned slightly to see six members of the armed guard standing around us, and one very sharp sword resting on my shoulder a little too close too my jugular. “Princess Katrothia of the Robistone clan, you are under arrest for willful disobedience and evasion of the armed forces.” A sound that could only be described as a deep territorial growling came from within Lupines chest. I cringed into him, my brain still not yet ready to process what was happening.
“Go away.” It was the only thing that made sense in my mind. Another violent shiver ran through my body and Lupines body constricted tighter around me. “You have one minute to desist your… fraternizing.” I was getting pissed, I was tired freezing and a bunch of assholes were telling me I had to move away from the only comfort I had at my disposal right now. “Didn’t you hear me? FUCK OFF!” I didn’t hear what the guard said. He was mumbling something, I don’t know. “Let me sleep.” Lupine picked my up and rested me back against the tree. He leaned down over me as the guards yelled all sorts of commands at him. “Don’t go.” I mumbled. I grabbed for a shirt, but there was nothing to grab. “I’ll only be gone for a moment.” He leaned down and kissed my forehead. “I promise, I won’t leave you alone.” I cringed back and got as close to the tree as possible. I heard Lupine howl and then a battle began. I wanted to help him, or at least open my eyes long enough to see that he was okay. But I couldn’t do it. I was too tired. So I sat there with my eyes closed and drifted off to a horror symphony of screams and howls.
Little Red Riding Hood Chapter Two Part One Captured… FUCK!!!
The ground below me was freezing against my skin. That was not a feeling I was use to. I reached for Lupine but all my hands found was a more smooth frozen… metal? I opened my eyes, blood shot and blurry as they were to find bars not that far in front of me. I took a closer look at the metal bars and found the joining door was locked. But it wasn’t just any lock; it
was a lock that bared the seal of Arcadia… a seal mostly used by the armed guard. I pushed myself up into a sitting position and resisted the urge to stamp my feet like a little girl. The cage must have been either on wheels or riding on the back of a wagon because we were moving, and it was not a smooth ride. In that moment I would have done anything to be riding with Lupine through the forest again. He was soft and warm, but best of all, he was safe. “So I’m captured. Great, that’s just great. Two days fucking ride from Roherdiron and I get captured. That’s just fucking great.” One of the guards slammed his hand down on the top of my cage. “Quiet in there!” I couldn’t see from his waist up, the cage didn’t allow it. “Where’s Lupine!?” I yelled at him. “Desist or Sir Endameba will beat you!” “No! Tell me where he is!” I screamed. “God you really have changed you know that? The dog wouldn’t fit in the cage so we had to put him down.” I was stunned for a moment. Put him down? As in… as in death? “You couldn’t. He’s strong enough to take out all of you one handed. He’s one of the Roherdiron, you are nothing compared to him!” I spat at his foot and turned away from the guard. “I won’t cooperate with your rules if he’s harmed.” The man outside ignored me, or at least, that’s what I had assumed he was doing. Finally he said “You really don’t remember me do you?” “I can’t even see beyond your thighs soldier. But I’m sure any conformist bastard willing to serve these pigs wouldn’t be welcomed into my memory.” “Kat… you really don’t remember?” Kat… I hadn’t been called that in a long time… not since… “Holy crap! Julius? Is that you?” Julius… he was one of, well, the main reasons why I hated the armed guard. They took him away from me… I was only ten when he told me he loved me. And then, a week later, they took him away. And he told me… he told me goodbye, because we’d never see each other, ever again. I laughed at myself. “You know, I… I thought I’d never see you again.” I looked through the bars and couldn’t help but laugh again. “And I guess I was right. But then again, I never really thought I’d run away to Roherdiron with a full grown werewolf either.” I swallowed my words and suddenly notice how freezing cold I was. “You… You didn’t really, kill him did you?” I asked. “Na, they just pumped him full of Night Fly. He’s tied to one of the horses at the back of the line. Your boy put up one hell of a fight though; Carrion and Vireo can’t even walk now. They’re riding at the back of the line, there’s not a whole lot the medics can do for them here.”
“But… he’s okay? Lupines not hurt… right?” “He’ll be fine… well, as long as he doesn’t struggle too much against the silver. He put up one hell of a fight to protect you… damn; you sure can pick ‘em you know that?” “What can I say? I have a thing for men with big spirits and a body to match. You remember, right Julius?” “Oh, I remember fine.” He laughed along side me as the Caravan rolled to a stop. I was about to ask what had happened, but then I heard the only answer I’d ever need. “—I said WHERE IS SHE!!!” “Looks like Lupines awake” I mused. “Cant you just let him go? He’s going back home anyway, I was just along for the ride. If I tell him to go home he will, there’s no point in having anymore of your men become injured. And believe me, with Lupine, it won’t stop at injury.” “I-I’ll be right back.” the legs I had come to know as Julius ran away from my cage. I felt like a bird without a song. Caged for another’s amusement with nothing but impending death waiting for me in a world unknown… just outside the cages door. My hands circled the cage bars, my finger tips not even able to reach back to my palm. I sighed, if only I still had my nightingale pin, I would have been able to pick the lock and help Lupine, then maybe we would have had a chance to escape. A guard opened my cage door and for a moment, I was stunned into stillness. “Come on girly.” A hoarse voice cooed. A pair of rough hands caught my wrists and bound them together, I didn’t resist. “Where am I going exactly?” “The wolf won’t calm down; Captain says you’ll do it for us.” He pulled me out of the cage, not letting me pause to get my footing and dragged me towards the end of the line. My knees were now fully covered in mud, I could only imagine how the rest of me looked… hell, the mud was probably an improvement. We rounded the corner of a supply wagon and came across the source of the commotion. Lupine had gone fully wolf now, several armed guards surrounded him, trying to take him down. Lupine snarled and snapped at them as they got to close. I saw the look in his eyes, I knew that look. It was a look that said, I’m ready to kill you. “Untie my hands.” I said the rough brutish guard. “What?” “Untie my hands or he’ll think the worst. I won’t run, you have my word.” He took me in, looking me up and down before deciding even if I did run I wasn’t going to get far. He undid my hands and pushed me off towards the beast, my Lupine. “Go on girlie; you try calm the hairy bastard down.” “I’ll thank you to watch your tongue in the presents of a lady.” I know the fact I myself was cursing just moments ago makes me a hypocrite, but in all truth, I didn’t care.
He scoffed and spat at the ground. “I don’t see no ladies round here, just peasant scum.” I turned back to him, smiled and extended my hand. “Princess Katrothia of the Robistone clan, pleased to make your acquaintance. And you are?” he stared at me, like a dear in its moment of death. “No name then? Just as well, I have no need to know the names of ‘peasant scum’ as you so elegantly put it.” I turned from him and looked towards the gabble of men surrounding Lupine. “Please order them to move away from him. I doubt he’ll be able to see me from back here.” “Guards! Fall back!” The brutish man commanded. The scrambled men hesitated, for fear of becoming vulnerable to my Lupine. “THAT’S AN ORDER!!!” he bellowed. I moved forward around the guards until I could see Lupine. He was still snarling and that feral look was still clear in his eyes. “Lupine? It’s just me okay? No ones going to attack us, I promise.” I was moving towards him with my hands extended, as if I were dealing with a feral animal, and in a way, I guess I was. I was close to him now, less than a meter away. Even as a wolf he was still taller than me. I stared into his eyes and smiled. “It’s just me Lupine, it’s just me.” My hand gently stroked the fur of his cheek and his eyes seemed to come into focus, the feral gleam banished away to a place below the surface. I sighed and looped my arms around his neck. “You idiot, your going to get us kill you know that?” he relaxed under my touched, the rage leaving each muscle of his body as slowly as it did mine. Lupines touch seemed to bring me a kind of unexplainable peace now, as it seemed mine did for him as well. “We can’t escape from this one Lupine. I’ll try to bargain for your life,” the hackles of his neck went on high alert. “Don’t worry, they can’t kill me.” I laughed. “I outrank them.” I kissed his cheek and continued stroking the fur of his neck. “Its okay, I won’t let anything happen.” He muzzled my side, his sharper sense of smell taking in my own horrible fragrance. I pulled away just enough to look into his eyes and smiled at him. “Don’t cause anymore trouble, K? I’ll be back.” He licked a clean line up the side of my face. I pushed him away and smacked at him “Gods Damn it Lupine! You got me again!” I wiped at the dog slobber and found myself laughing along with Lupine. “You’re horrible you know that?” he sat back on his hind legs and gave me a wolfish grin. His tongue hanging out at the side like any well trained dog. I took his face between my hands once again and kissed his muzzle. “Wait here.” He nodded that huge head of his and sat at attention. Good puppy. I turned around to find what I assumed was the entire caravan staring at me. “What?” “Only a woman.” The oafish soldier from before muttered.
“Only Katrothia could calm such a feral beast.” I spotted Julius and melted. He wasn’t that awkward young adult anymore. He was a fully grown man, and eighteen year old booming beauty. His lightly tanned skin was now free of all imperfections, and his once unshapely form was now tall and strong. His long fluid brown curls now framed his face. But those eyes… they hadn’t changed a bit… they were still as bright, still as beautifully blue as they ever were. I smiled. “You sure have change Julius.” “Not all of us stay the same height forever you know.” He teased. I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t mind being short, it adds to the general misguided belief that all small cute things are harmless.” “You always were the one for practicality.” I shrugged again. “Who’s in command?” “And there it is.” He mused. “I am in command.” I strong orderly voice came. I watched as an armored horse came trotting towards me, atop it sat a knighted man, a man I had seen many a time before. Not in person, but on posters and in paintings. “The fairy tale precedes it self, I always though Sir Endameba was just a bed time story to scare bad little boys into being good.” The man atop the horse came into focus, and I almost fell head over heels. He was gorgeous. His long golden locks cascaded over his armor like spindles of gold in the sun light. His gleaming armor sparkled as the sun threw down rays upon it. And then his eyes… oh god his eyes, they were the most beautiful shade of Emerald Greed I’ve ever seen. I had to swallow a couple times before my brain could think in coherent sentences. “We will go quietly, and so you have no need of this chain and cage method. I give you my word.” “And what is it your word is worth?” He asked in a velvety smooth voice that seemed perfect for him. It was almost as if I could reach out for his voice and rap it around me, the way I could with Lupine at any moment. “Surely a man with your reputation knows very well the worth of a Princess’s word. I will not betray you good knight, once given I keep my word.” He stared at me, our eyes locking into a moment that seemed to last forever. “If you betray me, I will bring you a swift death.” He promised. To anyone who did not understand the ways of a warrior they would have taken that as a threat, but in truth, it was a very sweet thought. I smiled. “What a romantic sentiment, but if it’s all the same with you, I’d prefer to die a warriors death.” He bowed his head to me with a cheeky one sided smile. A warrior’s death meant I would prefer to die in hand to hand combat rather than take the mercy killing. “As you wish, Princess. Men, Move
Out!” He ordered. The men scurried away and to their posts. “We shall provide a horse for you.” “No need. Lupine is more than capable of carrying me.” He looked over at my wolf. Lupine growled a deep rumble. “If I was you, I wouldn’t deny him the right, things could get… chaotic again. I believe we would both like to avoid such an outcome.” His brows furrowed. “To leave a Lady alone with such a creature—” “Should be no problem at all. Lupine will not hurt me nor will he harm anyone else for that matter, provided he is not provoked of course.” I walked towards Lupine and rested my hand on his shoulder. He relaxed under my touch and I smiled back at Sir Endameba “See, no trouble at all.” He didn’t look happy about it, but he nodded. “Thank you Knight, I shall not forget it.” He nodded again and rode off towards the front. I turned to Lupine and kissed his forehead. “See, no biggie at all.” He lay on the forest floor and waited for me to mount him. I edge myself just behind his shoulder blades and patted his shoulder as I sign I was ready. He got to his feet as gracefully as ever but surprised me when he started trotting to the front of the caravan. If I could have, I would have explained how the order of a caravan worked and how only the superiors stood in front. But that would have undermined both Lupine and I. So I sat comfortably astride him and let him make a show of trotting to the front of the line. Sir Endameba gave us a look of question but said nothing as Lupine fell into step beside him. Strangely enough, as I sat astride Lupine I was at the same height as Sir Endameba. Lupines size still amazed me. “It seems your wolf is an Alfa.” He commented. I smiled and nodded. “That or he didn’t like the view of the back of your pretty little wagons.” He smiled ruefully. “No, Lupine and I are very much the same. Neither he nor I can stand to be at the back of anything, he’s a leader.” Lupine threw his head back and howled, it spooked Endameba’s horse. I laughed and scratched behind Lupines ears. Sometimes it was hard for me to think of Lupine and my wolf as the same creature. I was more comfortable with him in wolf form; it was easier to think of him as an animal rather than a living breathing man. “So you and your wolf are close I take it.” “When someone saves your life it’s almost impossible not to feel bound to them, he’d been doing it every day for the last six months now. If it wasn’t for him, the woodsmen would have killed me by now.” I looked over at Sir Endameba and smiled. “Strangely enough, bar making it to Roherdiron you’re the best outcome we could have found.” I laughed to myself. “Its quiet depressing if you think about it.” “May I ask, why did you run exactly? Surely a life in the Armed Guard is not as bad as running to Roherdiron for protection.” Lupine
growled beneath me. I stroked his neck, urging him to find a calmer outlook. “Roherdiron is not as bad as you perceive it. The only family I had left is there, where else was I to go?” “Well, yes. But why leave in the first place? Why run from your destiny?” “What, my destiny with the Armed Guard?” “Yes.” “The Armed Guard have taken away every person I have ever loved in my life time… and none have ever come home alive. If my destiny is to die in the Armed Guard, the same Armed Guard who slaughtered innocent children less than fifty years ago… how could I not run from such a fate?” “They were not innocent children.” He corrected me. “All children are innocent Sir Endameba, all children are innocent.” “Roherdiron and Arcadia have an agreement that Arcadians are not to set foot in their lands, the same goes for us. Those children were an abomination; the men who disposed of them were heroes.” Lupine growled again. “I’ll have to disagree with you Knight. A man with a child’s blood on his hands is a murder to me, plain and simple. Its one thing to fight for your country and another to defend one’s self… but newly born children are incapable of sin.” I played absently with a tuff of Lupines fur. “They say even Shirma, our patron goddess cried for the deaths of those children.” I looked over at Sir Endameba and tilted my head to the side. “Tell me Sir Endameba, was it raining on the day of cleansing?” his body went suddenly stiff and ridged. “I thought so.” I sighed and ran my fingers through Lupine soft coat. “I promised myself that if I ever came back here, I would make it so that such a tragedy would never happen again.” “At least your goals are of Noble birth.” The corner of my mouth twisted up into a smile. “I thought the Armed Guards would think it more a weakness than a noble goal.” I laughed it off and smiled fully. “But no matter, it is not their opinions I need bother my self with.” Lupine let out a bark of agreement that caught even Sir Endameba laughing. I scratched behind his ears and smiled. “I’m glad you agree Lupine.” And in that moment, I truly was.
Little Red Riding Hood
Chapter Two Part Two Camping… Yay…
We rode with the Armed Guard until sunset. At that point, Sir Endameba gave the orders for the men to unload and started a bonfire. Of course, the very first thing to be set up was Sir Endameba’s personal ‘chambers’ which in my opinion was a just large tent with a lot of unnecessary decoration. In all honest truth, I was starting to think… I didn’t really mind sleeping under the stars with Lupine. It was comfortable, and open. Sure a small tent to shelter us from the rain would be nice… but such luxuries as a four poster bed or expensive silken robes would mean little to me. As long as I had Lupine for a blanket I wouldn’t need anything else. I ended up bribing the biggest guy I could find for a spare pare of pants with the last of our starling cookies. It seems in his heroic attempt to protect me he’d shifted forms without removing his pants. And pants do not shift with a werewolf. Lupine was sitting at attention with his back to a large Oakland tree, his eyes scanning the camp site before him, looking out for any sign of danger or deception he could find. I came up beside the huge werewolf and smiled. “Time to shift ‘Alfa’.” he grinned at the nickname and shifted. I always found the transformation so strange. One second he was a wolf, and a then the next a swirl of colors took over, moving to fast for my eyes to see and then suddenly he became human again… a very naked, very obvious human. He was still on all fours when I dropped the pants in front of him and walked back to the campsite. Just because he refused to show me any common decency doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to show him his fair share. Julius spotted me as I walked towards the camp. It was dark now, and the bonfire had only just started flaring, it would be at least another half an hour before it truly started going. I caught him in an unexpected hug the second he got to my side. “What was that for?” he asked. “The cage prevented an earlier hug.” He laughed openly before bending down and kissing my forehead. “It’s been too long Kat.” “Yeah… it has.” “Katrothia!” I turned my head towards Sir Endameba and sighed. “The royal nightmare calls. I’ll see you later.” I reluctantly pulled away from Julius and took my time in making it to Sir Endameba. “Yes Good Knight, what can I do for you?” “Why are you fraternizing with my First Capitan?” he asked.
I sighed. “In all honesty, Julius is one of my loved ones your precious Armed Guard has stolen from me. I haven’t seen him in four years.” I smiled over at Julius giving some lowly page boy orders. “But I’ll tell you this; I believe he has at least found himself a home with your troupe. I’m happy for him.” “And there is no current romance between the two of you?” he asked. “Oh, no. No more so than that which is between Lupine and I. We have our chemistry… but still… I forgot about Julius as a lover a very long time ago. Though I hope he will still want to be my friend, I am in more need of those than lovers Sir Endameba; surely you can understand my situation.” He nodded once. “You and your… pet are welcomed to sleep in my tent tonight.” He offered. “No thank you Sir Endameba. It is a generous offer and I am flattered, but I am too much accustomed to the wilderness, as is Lupine. If you could spare a simple blanket we would be most comfortable.” “No.” “Excuse me?” “No I cannot allow it. A Princess riding a wild beast is one thing, but sleeping outside in such dreadful whether, it would be a tragedy. No, if you will not use my chambers then one of the men shall give their tents.” “With all due respect Sir Endameba, I do not need babying. Werewolves run at a much higher temperature than Arcadians do. He’s warmer than any fire you could set me beside. The shade of a good tree and a blanket is all we require Sir Endameba, please don’t fight me on this.” I sighed. “I am weary lately. I don’t have the energy to argue with you.” It was true. I had been feeling… drained lately. Like my energy was deteriorating. Perhaps it was simply because of aging, the childish energy I once had now leaving my system as I became an adult. “No. Tonight you and you’re… Lupine shall sleep under the protection of my tent. I shall be in the war room for most of the night anyway.” “Why?” I asked. “Well, most of the Caravan is going to settle in Woodstown and then head to their next individual posts after that. I’ll have to hand over command of the caravan to Julius and sort out the paper work he’ll need to sign over his troupes to their next missions.” “Sounds boring.” I said. He smiled. “Indeed Princess. It is quite boring.” “Would you like some company?” His eyebrows furrowed. “Company my lady?”
“Yes company. Surely it would be a more entertaining evening with someone to talk to.” His face softened; his military mask melting away as he smiled at me, a real smile. “I am sure it would be more entertaining Princess, but I fear it may also be more counterproductive.” I smiled and nodded. “You’re probably right.” “I appreciate the offer Katrothia, but I shall attend to my paperwork alone. It appears to me you need your sleep more than you need to keep me from the dreadful fate of boredom.” “How would you know? It could be my ‘fate’ to prevent your boring evening” “If that was so Katrothia, I would say the gods have a terrible sense of humor.” I smiled. “Thank you Sir Endameba, we shall use your shelter for the night.” “Good.” “I best go find Lupine before he gets himself into trouble.” “You do that.” I ignored the fact his last comment seemed more like a command than an agreement and let it slid. I walked away and towards the campfire to find Lupine staring at the flames as the other men ate. I bounded my way over to him and landed in his lap. He didn’t even blink. “Hello? Is anybody home?” he shook with an intake of breath and looked down at me. “When did you arrive?” he asked. I laughed at him and settled back against his chest. His strong arms wound around my waist and held me to him with their warmth. “You know, I don’t know what’s warmer, you or the fire.” He chuckled, the vibrations tingling their way down my spine. He kissed the top of my head and sighed. “Do you think I’ll ever get you to Roherdiron?” he asked. “Honestly, no. I think no matter how badly I want it, nothing I ever truly want will go my way.” I got as comfortable as I could in Lupines arms and closed my eyes. “Tell me about it again, your home land.” “In Roherdiron everything is brighter; the rivers are clearer, the grass greener, and the fruit sweeter. It makes you feel as if every experience is your first, even if you’ve already experienced it a million times. The people are a true community; no one is ever left to struggle alone in poverty. Everyone is equal to one another, just as the gods intended.” He took in a deep breathe, his heart beat pounding against my back as the crackling fire set bright red sparks adrift in the night sky. He let his fingers play along the skin of my forearm, following the trail of blue and red lines. “Roherdiron is a land of magic, it pulses through
the land like blood trough our veins. Everything you once thought beautiful becomes nothing compared to the beauty you can find in even the simplest of flowers.” He chuckled quietly to him self. “They treat every day like it will be their last; they make the most of their lives while they can. They even have a festival each month to celebrate the changing of moons.” He breathed in the scent of my hair and moved his head so that he could whisper in my ear. “They have names for everything, beautiful names you could never imagine for every day thing.” He took in another breath of my scent and kissed my cheek. “They would call you, ‘életh’ the stars daughter, for you shine with a light known only to those of darkness. Or perhaps they’d name you ‘Lothel’ for your blooming beauty.” “Okay, you’re starting to embarrass yourself now.” I told him. He laughed. “I’ll never be embarrassed while speaking of you.” “Well I will, so stop it okay?” “You asked me to tell you of Roherdiron.” “Yes, Roherdiron. Not of the romantic names its people would call me.” “You call that romance? You haven’t lived until you’ve seen our weddings.” “Tell me of them then, your masterfully romantic concepts of matrimony.” He was quiet for a moment; the only sound I could hear was the thrumming of his heart and the constant crackling of the beautiful fire. He took one of my hands and entwined his fingers with mine. “The husband and wife would spend one week in the forests together, perfectly alone. On the first day he would cook for her, the second day he would wash her body, the third day he would make her a present from the forest itself,” he kissed my neck, his lips soft and warm on my skin despite the already insanely high temperature of my body. “On the fourth day she would cook for him, the fifth day she would wash his body, the sixth day she would make him a present of the forest.” “And on the seventh day?” “They would make love. The day after, they would wed. Their closest friends and family would take them away to a secret place and prepare them for the ceremony. He would carry her in his arms to their special place, where a great fire will wait. He will take her as his Arves, his noble wife, and she would take him as her Ariven. They would spend their lives together, blissfully as one, eternally happy in their love.” “Damn, that sounds so much better than a big drunken party and then a long life of bitter disappointment. Maybe the Arcadians need a new tradition.” I mused. He brought our entwined fingers to his mouth and kissed along my hand.
“The ceremony isn’t important; it’s the emotions behind it.” I smiled to myself. “Such words Lupine, I never would have taken you for a romantic.” He laughed a full hearted joyous sound. “I never was much for the romance,” he kissed my cheek and strangely, I leaned into it. “But it seems you bring out the romantic in me.” “You make me seem like some great heroine beauty.” “But you are.” He said stubbornly, “Then you’re eyes betray you Lupine.” I sighed and scooted off of him. “I’ll go get us something to eat.” I told him. He grabbed my arm and pulled me back to him before I could get away and pressed his lips to my forehead. “Do not stray for long. I do not trust these men with your life as you seem to.” I laughed lightly and smiled at him. “Is it my life or my virtue your worried about?” “Both.” He decided. “Well I shan’t be gone long.” I promised. I walked about the campsite, trying to find some sign of intelligent life. It took me almost half an hour before I found Julius giving more orders to a small page boy, the same small page boy I had seen him giving orders to before. “Julius!” I called to him. He turned to me and smiled. “Katrothia my princess, what can I do for you?” he asked. The page boy shuffled nervously on his feet. “Umm, Capitan Cross—” “Go tend to the horses Carlo, the messages can wait for now.” The young boy bowed and ran off to tend to his duties for fear of angering his superior, smart boy. “I’m sorry if I’m delaying your work, I just need to know where my bag is.” He nodded and took my hand. “I’ll lead you to it.” He pulled me towards one of the larger carts and opened an all too familiar cage. He leaned in and pulled out my bag. It was the same simple button up brown sack as before. “Here, I believe this is what you looking for.” I smiled at him. “Thank you Julius.” And then it hit me. “Hey, when was the last time you came across Ribbon Fruit?” I asked. “It would have been… two years ago, just after I left the academy.” I smiled and opened the bag. “Guess what I got my hands on.” I said as I pulled the small packet out of my bag. “It was the first box I’d seen for miles. I couldn’t go to the Roherdiron without at least saying goodbye to my favorite food first.” I took out two of the small red fruits and de-stemmed them. “Open up.” I told him. He smiled and opened his mouth for me. I popped one of the small fruits in his mouth and watched as he closed his eyes in ecstasy. “I remember spending all day in the Ribbon Fruit fields with you, do
you realize ridiculously obsessed you were with feeding them to me, every day. You insisted they were good for brain development.” “And obviously they are, why else would you have made Capitan.” He laughed along side me. “Gods forbid I gain a promotion through hard work.” “That just doesn’t sound like you.” I smiled and popped my own Ribbon fruit in my mouth. “I’ll let you get back to work.” I turned from him and headed back to the campfire. I could feel his eyes on me as I went. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. Lupine watched me as I skipped my way over to him with the bag in hand. “Look what I found.” I plunked back down into his lap and his arms found their way around my waist almost instantly. It seems we’d been together so long it’s almost like cellular memory now. We knew each others body, we knew how we did and didn’t fit together. We knew what the other liked and hated. If we ever did end up in a relationship we’d have all the ground work covered. I grabbed myself a Delran Bread Bun and started chewing methodically; not really tasting what was in my mouth and stared at the open fire. Lupine on the other hand ransacked the bag and enjoyed every moment of his food. What can I say, the boy eats. The night seemed to toil on. The same cloudy wet darkness surrounded us as it did any other night, but tonight seemed… different. Like the calm before the storm. It worried me, I mean, if being captured wasn’t the worst fate possible… then what was? We spent most of the night listening to the men regale us with stories of strange lands, and creatures I’d never dreamt of. It reminded me of Lupines own tales of wonder. It seemed as if everyone had seen the world… except me. It was a lonely fact, but a fact all the same. I settled in against Lupine and found myself falling in and out of consciousness. The first biggest hint was when I realized I was under a strangely warm blanket with a blazing hot Lupine snuggled up behind me instead of being in front of a raging bonfire under an array of stars… with a blazing hot Lupine snuggled up behind me. I settled in against Lupine as deeply and comfortably as I could, and within minutes, I was out like a light yet again, ready to dream of strange lands and even stranger people. Hoping one day, my dreams might become my reality.
Little Red Riding Hood Chapter Two Part Three Goodbye Dreams
We traveled with the caravan for what seemed like a full week. Everyday seemed longer, and more tedious than the last. Until final, I found myself wishing for the way things use to feel. I longed to ride Lupine as I had ridden him before. To feel the wind in my hair as the sun blistered along my skin. I wanted to feel the same freedom Lupine had shown me as we flew threw the forests of Beriadanwen. I sighed and lay down across Lupines back as he trudged along side Sir Endameba. Lupine wined, the tedium of such travels weighing just as heavily on his mind as my own. I stroked the fur of his front leg and kissed the hackles of his neck. A shiver ran through his body as my lips touched his fur. It made me smile. “Does something trouble you, ma lady?” Sir Endameba asked. “No Good Knight. It is simply tedium that troubles me; I doubt one such as you could do much to save me from such a fate.” In the time I had spent with Sir Endameba, though I was incredibly drawn to his beauty, I had found him to be quite the bore. All he seemed interested in were rules and regulations. Father would have loved him. Sir Endameba sighed. “We should reach Woodstown by nightfall.” He said. “And then by morning the five of us will set out for Arcadia.” “Why must I go back? I have no desire for that kind of life… I don’t want to serve under—” “Under others lesser than your self.” Sir Endameba assumed. “Under Murderers.” He sighed “Princess, The Dark Angel herself sent me—” “Please don’t speak of her in my presence. I can’t stand that woman.” “But she’s—”
“A horrible worthless person who made every moment we spent together a living hell” ‘and every moment we spent apart even worse’ I added mentally. Sir Endameba said nothing more about The Dark Angel, well; at least he knew his place. He may have been a living legend, but by his own rules, I was his superior and he would obey my orders… unless they conflicted with the orders of someone with a higher rank than my self. And unfortunately The Dark Angel was higher ranked than I; after all, she was a Queen. Lupine wined again, I smiled. “It seems I’m not the only one who’s bored.” I let my hands wander over the fur of his cheeks and smiled as he leaned into my touch. “Just think Lupine,” I whispered in his ear. “Soon we can ditch this caravan and run again. If Sir Endameba can’t keep up then that’s too bad.” I sighed. “Imagine how good it’ll be to feel the grass beneath your paws and the wind sliding through your fur as we run. And once again we’ll be completely free, no cares, no fears—” I looked over at Sir Endameba and smiled. “No grumpy Knights slowing us down… or holding us back.” I took in a deep breathe and let it out slowly, imagining being alone once again. “Just you, me and the trees.” A gentle humming thrummed through his chest and vibrated in his neck. I kissed his shoulder and rubbed my head against his fur. “And you call me romantic.” Sir Endameba mumbled. “I’m not a romantic Good Knight; just a sentimental fool.” “Is that not the same thing?” I laughed lightly and sighed once again. “I suppose it is.” Lupine growled low in his throat. “But I think Lupine would disagree with us.” He huffed, his huge chest expanding further for a moment. I sighed and stroked his fur once more. “Oh Lupine, you’re more the sentimental fool than even I.” I smiled and kissed his neck once more. “Don’t ever change, k?” he barked a happy agreement. I scuffed his ears and pushed myself into a seated position. Sir Endameba seemed to be happier about that. Proper ladies should ride any beast properly. I groaned inwardly. I wanted to escape from all that; all those rules and regulations, the constant stupidity. Wars and murder were not what I had planned for my life. I wanted to be Empress; I was going to spend my life achieving that goal. And once I had, I would put a stop to all of this racism. The countries wouldn’t be divided by huge growths of forests. We would be more like Roherdiron; no one would be left behind. It was a big dream. But why dream at all if your dreams are easily achieved? What do you do after you’ve achieved your dreams? Surely you can’t simply find a new dream with the snap of your fingers. But for Arcadians having big dreams was good. After all, we had
roughly 500 years to achieve them. And if I don’t achieve my dream… at least I can say I’ll die trying. “What are you thinking about?” Sir Endameba asked. I looked over at him and smiled. “Just thinking of how I’m going to end up changing the world, got any idea’s?” he smiled and shook his head. “Didn’t think so.” “Tell me Princess, how is it you plan on changing the world?” “I want” I stopped myself. “It’s hard to explain really. I-I want all the hating to stop. Everyone’s so… singular. It’s like living in a work of stranger.” “We are living in a world of strangers Princess.” “You know what I meant Sir Endameba. They’re all so… untrusting. It’s like all of Arcadia is walking around like they’re scared someone’s about to turn around and stab them. And you know what the problem is Sir Endameba?” he shook his head. “Its you. You and you’re men. Arcadia is scared to death of the Armed Guard. And why shouldn’t they be? There numbers have triple in the last twenty years at least. We’ve never needed this many guards before, so why do we need them now? And why on earth are we building more and more barracks? Are we going to war? And if we are what the hell do we have to fight for? No one’s attacking us, and as far as anyone can tell no one ever will.” “If we ever were attacked princess our assets would be protected.” “No they wouldn’t. The royals would be protected and if the walls held so would the middle classes, but what of the peasants? Who would protect them? No Sir Endameba, if we were to be attacked our people would burn before the walls were ever touched.” “They are only peasants.” “They are human beings! They work harder than any royal ever will. Who’s working in the mines Sir Endameba, who are tending to our crops? Certainly not the royals I tell you now.” I sighed and started playing absently with Lupines coat again. “Have you seen how they live? I ask you, how is that fair? They work the hardest and live in the worst of circumstances while our royalty are born into luxury and do absolutely nothing to benefit Arcadia… How can you people honestly be okay with that?” Sir Endameba was speechless for a moment. “I’ll tell you why you’re all okay with their poverty. It’s because it doesn’t affect you Sir Endameba. You’ve never had to live as they do, and you never will. So why should it matter to you?” I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair. “Don’t dwell on it too much though Sir Endameba, even I don’t understand what they truly go through. Living in the forest isn’t like being a peasant. Its not even close… but I still want to help them.”
He was quiet as he thought. You could almost see his thoughts turning like the wheels behind a clock. “I wish you the best of luck with your goal Princess.” He finally said. “If there is anything I can do to help—” “I’ll come find you.” I looked at him, and for the first time all week, I thought highly of him. “Thank you. Really, I… it means a lot to me. So… thank you.” “You are welcome Princess.” He smiled at me, that perfect godly face softening for the second time since I had met him. He was so guarded; my father really would have loved him. I smiled at the idea. What I would have given to have had a real father. A father who came home at the end of the day, a father who loved me enough to remember things like my birthday… or a father who at the very least smiled once in a while. I sighed. Through all there hardships and poverty, I still envy slaves of that. Peasants know the love of a family in a way I will never understand… in a way no family that had been touched by the Armed Guard could ever possibly understand. “Why did you join the Armed Guard Sir Endameba?” I asked. “What do you mean?” “Was there a reason? Or were you just drafted like the rest of us… given no real choice in the matter…” “I was never drafted. I joined the Armed Guard of my own free will.” “Why?” I asked. “Because I wanted to be able to protect my family.” He chuckled lightly. “I wanted to be like the Knights from my books. Like the great Black knight of Kalontria or the Red Knight of Berradeque. I wanted to save the damsels and fight mighty dragons, a young boys dream I suppose.” He smiled lightly, as if remembering something fond. “It may interest you to know, Katrothia, that I am not of the royal circle, nor am I of the middle classes.” I looked to him and saw his eyes dull slightly with the mentioning of his heritance. “My father was Palos of Varmilia, a simple farmer, and I, a simple farm boy. On my 14th birthday the Armed Guard started paying the families of Varmilian soldier’s money for their commitment to the cause. My younger brother was very sick but we could barely afford the roof over our head let alone treatment for a sick child.” He sighed. “I had long wanted to be a knight Katrothia, and this way, I was able to not only follow my dreams, but help my younger brother as well.” “What happened to your little brother?” “Merlin has survived through the worst of it I believe. But his illness has caused many problems with his mind. He still thinks and acts as any normal man, but he has troubles with his memory.” He sighed again. But this time, it was a painful sigh. “His mind has progressed to that of an old mans. I fear the worst for him Katrothia, there is little I can do for my family out here.”
“There is little you could do if you were standing right beside him Good Knight. Do not torture yourself for following a dream.” ‘Even if your dream evolves murder’ I added in my mind. “As long as you hold him in your heart there is little more anyone could ask of you.” He nodded. But to me, that nod was more ‘I wont disrespect your thoughts’ more than ‘your totally right’. I sighed and ran my fingers over the soft fur of Lupines back. He made a low purr like sound that vibrated through his entire body. “A troubled man needs love more than he needs to be babied, even if he needs the extra care.” I smiled to myself. “I believe as long as you love your brother he will forgive you any wrong doings. For he will surely love you in return.” I laughed to myself and turned my eyes to Sir Endameba. “Blood is thicker than water Sir Endameba, even if there are lieges of it separating the two of you.” I reached across the small space between us and rested my hand over his. “Have faith in love Sir Endameba, have faith in your brother.” I saw the gleam in his eyes, the run of water threatening to break the barrier of his eyes. I smiled when he attempted to clear his eyes. “Tears are nothing to be ashamed of; after all, they only form when the heart runneth over with feeling.” “Feelings are a weakness.” Sir Endameba said, I noticed the stubborn set of his jaw and the frosty gaze his eyes gave off. “And yet again Good knight, I shall have to disagree with you.” I said shortly. “If feelings are a weakness then what of bravery and courage? Love is stronger than both Sir Endameba; it can make you do some of the stupidest things imaginable without allowing you so much as a second though.” I smiled at Lupine for a moment. Was it love I shared with him? Or was it a one sided love? “But more than anything, love makes us wiser.” Lupine barked in agreement and made me laugh. “Even Lupine thinks so.” “I beg your pardon Princess, but how would a… young woman such as yourself know anything about love?” “When I was about five years old I lost my father. He didn’t die, no, but he left my mother and I for another woman. I spent most of my life teaching myself never to trust any man. ‘They are dirty, lying creatures only after two things in life, wealth and the body of a beautiful woman’. My mother never cared much for me, nor was she ever home enough to notice any difference in me, emotionally or other wise. And so, I was unloved for a very long time as a child. But then I befriended Julius, or he befriended me, I forget which. He was nothing like what I had come to believe. He was my very best friend for longer than I myself can remember. And then, when he told me he loved me… I was ecstatic. I felt like a fairytale princess.” I stopped myself, remembering my own tragic childhood and sighed. “But fairytales are fiction Good Knight, and the universe is never kind to those who live in one. Shortly after his confession he was
drafted into the Armed Guard. He left me the way my father left me. After that, I swore never to let another man into my heart Sir Endameba; it would be unwise for me to do so.” I shook off the bad memory and tried my best to smile convincingly. “That is how I know about the power of love Good Knight, it can destroy you, or it can make you stronger.” I laughed lightly. “For me, it did both. Love ruined my heart, but it also gave me the strength to leave Arcadia. The strength to realize I was completely alone in my decisions, no one dictates royalty these days, for no one can be bothered with the troubles of a young one.” Lupine wined and made me smile again. “Until I came across Lupine.” “And you love your beast?” Sir Endameba asked. “I…” did I love Lupine? The thought had crossed me many times before. And yet… it never seemed completely clear to me. Even now. “I believe I do. But it is a different kind of love I think. I don’t feel for him the way I felt for Julius, nor the way I felt for my father… but I do feel for him, strongly too.” I looked over at Sir Endameba and sighed. “Time has clouded my mind with too many questions Good Knight. It seems I can’t even tell the difference in my own emotions. ” I looked down at Lupines back, watching his shoulder blades rise and fall as he walked. “Time makes fools of us all Sir Endameba, in more ways than one. I am one such a fool.” We didn’t take after that. Whatever had possessed us enough to talk of our pasts seemed to dissipate along with the falling sun. It was sunset when we reached Woodstown ad left the Beriadanwen forests. I sighed with relief. No more slow walking through the forests of Beriadanwen followed by a caravan rolling slower that even I walk which was depressing considering the way back to Woodstown was mostly downhill. I leaned forward so that my head was next to Lupines. “Just think Lupine. Now we can run.” Lupines ears pricked up at the sound of the word. “I thought you’d like that.” I turned to Sir Endameba and smiled. “So, is your horse ready for a good few solid weeks of riding?” I asked. “I’ll warn you, there’s a reason we staved off capture for so long. Lupine is by no means slow.” Lupine threw his head back and howled at the rising full moon. I laughed heartily at him and strangely enough, so did Sir Endameba. I smiled at him as the final rays of sun light trickled over the edges of the forest, turning the tree leave from a shadowed gold to a coal black silhouette against the darkening blue sky. “We sent the page boy ahead to make reservations at a small inn I know of. The men shall make camp on the outskirts of town and will be delivered their papers of transfer in the morning before we leave. I trust you would take a liking to the clean baths and washing services.” I beamed at the idea of a hot bath and clean clothes.
“It would be most welcomed.” I said. “Perhaps we should stock up on supplies while we are here Lupine, considering you attacked the last of them last night.” I sighed “You should probably shift before we get too close to town. Its bad enough were traveling with the Armed Guard, but if they saw you…” he was quiet for a moment as he trudged on. I leaned down and kissed the top of his furry head. “I’m sorry Lupine. No one should have to hide who they are.” I rubbed the fur of his cheek and sighed. “I suppose you’ll have to shift anyway if you intend to stay in the inn. Or else, they’ll probably string you up in the stables.” Lupine pulled out of formation and trotted to the right and out of the caravan’s way. I laughed heartily and kissed his cheek. He lay down on the ground and waited for me to dismount. I went trough the traveling bag as he shifted and found his pants. I handed them to him and turned away as he dressed. At least he had the decency not to turn me around and make me watch. “I’m decent” he said. I thought about the last time he had said something like that. Well, he’d actually said ‘you can look now’, but still. I turned to find Lupine sufficiently buttoned and nodded. “We shouldn’t keep Sir Endameba waiting.” I said. “I’d like to be inside soon.” I told him. “Of course, we wouldn’t want to keep your precious Knight waiting.” He spat the words at me; I resisted the urge to jump back or at least out of my skin. “Excuse me?” “You heard me. I don’t like it Kat, you and that… Knight.” He hissed the word as if it hurt just to say. “He’s no good.” I looked over at Sir Endameba, his long blond curls swaying with the wind as his pail skin shone with the moonlight. “He’s a fine man Lupine.” I admitted, but as I looked at him… I looked up at Lupine and smiled. “But I don’t think he’s for me. I need someone…” “Like me.” Lupine said, his eyes twinkling down at me with a sudden wistful playfulness. I smiled and elbowed his side. “Just someone else.” I told him. “I don’t know what I need right now Lupine.” I sighed. “Maybe I just need time to figure it all out, I don’t know.” And then it occurred to me. “Maybe I don’t need anything at all.” “What do you mean?” “Maybe I’m one of those people who don’t need someone special. Maybe I’m one of those people who just don’t get one. Not because I don’t want one, but because I’m just supposed to be alone. Maybe that’s why—” I cut myself off before I could say something I’d regret. “Maybe that’s why what?” “Don’t worry about it okay? Just forget I said anything.”
“Kat!” he grabbed my arm and swung me around so that I stared into his beautiful brown eyes. “I wont you to be honest with me.” He stared into my eyes. But… I didn’t feel it. There was no magical connection, no staggering spark of light… no electricity. “Fine. You’re cutting off my circulation.” He looked down at my arm and noticed the sudden discoloration. He let go and I walked away. I just walked away.
Little Red Riding Hood Chapter Two Part Four A Kiss
Lupine followed shortly after, I hadn’t expected him to. And in all honesty I had expected him to leave me a great many times now. Why was he coming with me at all? I mean, wasn’t following me detrimental to getting himself back home? Why would he be following me to a place of struggles and hardship? And in truth, I doubted they’d even let him past the gates… unless perhaps I could convince them he was just a forest wolf, bigger and stronger than anyone we’ve ever seen before. But then, he’d have to be in wolf form 24/7. I’m sure that would bother him after a while. But surely Lupine would have bigger dreams
than to be at my side for the rest of my school days. I only had two years at the institution left I suppose, but still, it was more than I believed even I could live with. The rules and regulations always got to me. I felt like I was being suffocated by it all. Like a great ridding pressure was pressing down on me. I shook off the horrible thoughts of training and looked over the caravan. They were already setting up camp, the armored men unloading their supplies and dividing it all among themselves for the long journeys ahead of them. I sighed and fell backwards. I landed on my backside and stared up at the slowly emerging stars. The week long storm had just started settling down and the heavy clouds were just passing away, the grey puffy mess now light and flimsy against the sky. You could even see the stars through them. It was like a thin veil slid over the beautiful twinkling lights above me… Lupine’s head was suddenly floating above me, blocking off both my view of the night sky and my somewhat random train of thought. “Are you calm now?” he asked. I sighed. “Yeah, I’m calm.” I said. He lay down beside me, his arms behind his head and stared at the skies. He opened his mouth to speak “But I don’t want to talk about it, okay?” He closed it again and made me smile. “Just tell me why you don’t love me?” he said. “I do love you Lupine… I’m just not sure what kind of a love it is yet.” “How can you not know? Love is love. It’s as simple as that.” “So you want to love your mother the same way you want to love me.” “Don’t be crude.” “Then if those two kinds of love are different obviously not all love is the same.” he was quiet for a moment. “Look Lupine. I just need time to figure out what this means. I love you, and I care greatly for you… but I don’t know if it’s a romantic kind of love or…” I stopped myself. “You’ll always be more than just a friend to me Lupine, and if its not a romantic love… then I’ll count you as family. After all, families are people who love each other beyond reason; they’d do anything for one another. So, in a way, you’re the only real family I have…” “I’ll wait for you Katrothia, you’ll come around one day.” I looked over at him and saw him smiling confidently with closed eyes. He looked so peaceful under the rising moon light. I wanted to lean over and kiss his cheek, just a small innocent peck. I found myself leaning towards him involuntarily, but stopped myself short. Was this love? Is wanting to be next to someone a definition of love… to want them to want you at their side, or was that just a form of admiration? I lay back down and stared at the sky again. I was so clueless… why did everything have to be so confusing? Why did everything in my life always have to be complicated… had I done something wrong?
Was Shirma punishing me from running away? Or was it my doom to forever stay ignorant to my own feelings. I sighed. What was the point in worrying anymore? If it comes, it comes, if it doesn’t… then it doesn’t. But what if it doesn’t? Just because I can’t feel that way for Lupine doesn’t mean that his feelings will suddenly dissipate as well. I love him, I’m certain of that. But as to what kind of love it is… it confuses even me. I care deeply for him, he’s saved my life a million times over, and he’d kept me safe and warm… and alive. And I felt this… this click with him. Everything was so simple, I couldn’t upset him. he understood me fully, there was no miscommunication between the to of us, t was almost impossible for either of us not to get what the other meant straight away, it was like this… well, click. There was no other real way to describe it, we just worked. Maybe that was love, in a way. They say when you love someone your either absolute opposites or a perfect match. Lupine was very different from me, but in a lot of ways we were very similar. Our views, politically or other wise, many of our likes and dislikes were similar as well… but then… we were very different in other ways. He was a wild gorgeous Werewolf from a beautiful free land built on love and prosperity. Where as I… I was an Arcadian Princess, a woman meant to let down her life and charge into great bloody battles in full knighted armor and murder all those who stand against me. We come from such different backgrounds… and yet, in a way, were both looking for exactly the same thing. An escape. I had never truly sat down and talked to Lupine about it, but in truth, we were both running from something. I didn’t know what Lupine would ever run from, it’s hard to imagine Lupine running ‘away’ from anything. He was so… big and… and strong. He would be wonderful in a battle. And then it hit me. That would be my excuse. Lupine would be such a great warrior. Of course, I would never actually allow him to be stationed in a battle… but still. It would give the high council reason enough to at least try the idea. Any advantage they could possibly gain would flash before their greedy eyes, and Lupines strength would be one hell of an advantage. But then… it was all up to Lupine now. “Your going to have to tell me what you plan to do now.” I said. “Huh?” “You were heading to Roherdiron. I need to know… if you’re going to keep heading in that direction.” He was quiet for a moment, the only sound were the crickets and the Mara-Frogs as the luminescent stars giving off an ominous light. “I’ll take you to Roherdiron one day. And to do that, I have to be by
your side.” He turned his gaze towards me then. His beautiful brown eyes stared into my own and in that moment… I felt as if he was staring into my very soul. “I want to stay with you Katrothia, I want to be with you.” He said, his voice so low I would have mistake in for a whisper. “There is nothing in Roherdiron for me without you.” He reached out with one of his hands and pushed the hair from my face. “I love you, Katrothia.” He moved towards me slowly, cautiously, I could see it in his face that he was testing me. He didn’t want to scare me off. My heart was in my throat and my skin felt as if it were on fire. Did I want this? Did I not want this? A million questioned fluttered through my head and for one short moment I almost thought I had the answer. His face moved slowly, our eyes locked together as one. His wide set full lips invited and entranced me. And for a second, I found myself… leaning towards him. “Princess!” Sir Endameba called. I stopped dead in my tracks. Lupine cursed under his breath and stared into my eyes. “Were finishing this later.” He said. I had to laugh. He made me smile, if nothing else Lupine always made me happy. I took his chin in my hand and left the gentlest of kisses across his forehead. “Sure.” I said. “We’ll finish up this ‘talk’ later.” I sighed and let go for his face before getting to my feet and heading over to Sir Endameba. If anything, this just made me more certain Sir Endameba was a party pooper. Is it impossible for this guy to make good timing or what? “Yes Good Knight?” “We’ve had a change of plans. It seems Carlo is more useful than any of us had expected. He has organized for the Purple Rose to take us across the Black Sea to Arcadia; it should be ready to leave by tomorrow morning.” “I suppose a week aboard a ship with a hearty crew beats two months alone with you and Lupine ridding through the forests of Virden.” I said. “But I was looking forward to riding again” I sighed. “I suppose as long as everything goes according to plan one day we’ll be able to ride again… ” “To plan?” he asked. “What Plan?” “You didn’t think I’d walk into Arcadia with a giant wolf without having a plan now did you? Is your impression of me that lowly? I don’t know whether to be upset or… pissed.” “I beg your forgiveness Princes… might I ask, what plan?” “It is fairly simple Good Knight, though it will involve treachery on my part. I would prefer not to involve you in this Sir Endameba; I would not like to put your lively hood on the line.” Aggravation was clear on his face as I spoke. “I am a grown man Katrothia; I believe I can handle keeping the secret of a petulant child.”
I felt my eyebrows lift in disbelief. But I wasn’t angry, if anything I was amused. I laughed softly at his sullen face. “Oh dear, and you accuse me of being but a petulant child.” I sighed yet again and shook my head. “I will tell you Dear Knight, but only if you answer me one question first, and this I will not budge on.” “Fine, what is your request?” I smiled at him. “It’s simple, tell me your name.” “Leopold Archer Endameba.” He said. “Leo…” I said wistfully. “a great lion… ” I looked him over, his gleaming golden locks and strong features made me smiled. “It suits you well.” I told him. “May I call you by your name?” I asked. “Only if I may have the same pleasure.” “Of course, though you have already been calling my by my given name, good knight. I hope you do conduct yourself better within the royal court.” “I apologize for my forwardness.” “No need to apologize” I told him. “If I hadn’t of liked it I would have told you so Leo, I am very forward my self.” I laughed heartily. “I suppose I take after my mother in that area.” “Yes you do, very much so I believe.” “Do you like my mother?” I asked absently. “She is a great warrior—” “I know what she is Leo, but do you like who she is?” I asked. “I do not know her personally Katrothia,” he admitted. “I have not had the opportunity.” I sighed and shook my head lightly “No one does Leo. I suppose you imagine she comes home at the end of a good months raid, puts her feet up and tells me all about her day just before picking up her cross sticking in front of the fireplace? No Leo, in truth, you see more of her true self than many ever will. My mother intends to marry me off to the most important wealthiest suitor she can find and then have nothing to do with me or my children if she can avoid it. My mother would prefer I were never born in truth Dear Knight, well really, she would prefer my father had taken me with him, and then she would not have to pretend she cared for me at all.” “I’m sure that’s not true Kat—” “And I am most certain it is.” I cut him off short. “You may have been taken away from your mother when you were young but at least your mother did not stay away from you simply because of your presence. Your mother has never cursed your name or sworn on their lives they would see you in the ground before themselves. Please do not be little my horrors because they are beyond your imaginings.” He was silent for a moment, the ice of my words settling in. “Oh dear, I’m sorry. Reminiscing upsets me I’m afraid… just thinking of what awaits me back in Arcadia… it makes the hairs on the back of my neck crawl. ”
“With what you’ve been through I understand why.” I nodded. “Thank you Leopold.” I turned to see Lupine talking with a short man. Well, he was probably normal height for the men in Leopold’s troupe, but next to Lupine he looked about as dainty as I. Thoughts of kissing Lupine came back and mingled with the thoughts of my mother. Even if I did love Lupine, there would be no chance for us when we reached Arcadia. Not with mother out to sell my body for a few bargaining chips. “I will need friends in the world soon. I fear, I will not be able to cope with all of these happenings. I am afraid…” I stopped my self dead in my tracks. No point in admitting to fears when the can always be turned against me. “Afraid of what?” he asked. I had to laugh. “Everything! It’s our condition. In the times we live in no one can be without fear! And me, I’m sitting atop of it all!” I felt myself go into a fit of hysteria. “I mean, I have to worry about whether or not I’ll survive tomorrow with all these God damn—” “Nothing will ever harm you while you’re in my presence.” “Oh of course not, heavens forbid anything bad happen under the watch of Sir Endameba!” I swayed on my feet as a sudden dizzy spell hit me. “Oh… dear,” “Katrothia?” Sir Endameba asked. I grabbed onto his arms and tried to steady myself as a wave of sharp pains over took my body. I screamed, what was this? Had I been poised? Undernourishment I could believe but these weren’t like any hunger pains I’d ever felt before. “Get the medics!” he bellowed. “Kat!” I heard Lupine scream. “Get away from her!” Leo’s arms disappeared from around me and I toppled to the ground, it was nothing compared to the insufferable pain coming from inside of me. Lupines shadow came over me and I could smell his breath upon my face. “Kat can you hear me? What’s wrong?” he asked. He picked me up, his hand landing between my thighs before stopping… completely frozen. There was something between his hand and my thigh, something… wet. And then he laughed a deep open bellowing sound. “Oh, Katrothia! How surprisingly naïve you are!” He laughed. He started walking, I didn’t know where, I didn’t care. I just wanted the pain to stop. I felt like my insides were tearing open. “Medic, do you have some Iron-Clad flower and Dillies leaves?” He asked. “Why would you need those? There only used for—” “Yes, It seems our Princess has reached her time of flowering.” Flowering? Oh god! This… this was… Oh my! Through the pain I could still feel the crushing embarrassment.
The medics were rummaging through bags of leaves trying to find me something. Lupine took me into a tent and lay me down on the ground with a simple straw pillow beneath my head. He took my hands between his own and kissed them lightly, a huge grin plastered on his face. Great to know someone was happy while I was writhing in pain. “You realize most men would run screaming when this kind of stuff happens.” I said. “In Roherdiron we have ceremonies to celebrate this moment in your Life Katrothia. You’re a woman now, I real woman. For my people, this step represents your right to control your own life. You can choose whatever life you wish to have at this point love.” He leaned down and kissed my forehead, grinning as widely as he could. “You can bear children now.” He said. “My children” I laughed “I don’t think I could handle having a litter of puppies right now Lupine.” I expected him to maybe look a little hurt, but he wasn’t. He laughed along side me and swept the hair from my face. “Unless I’m furry when in your embrace Katrothia, that will never happen.” Good little tid-bit to know. He was running his hand down the side of my face. Another wave of pains came over me and I gripped onto his hand for dear life. He hushed me and ran a soothing hand down the side of my face faster than before and couldn’t help but smile. “Life will always be painful Katrothia. But think of this as a beautiful pain.” He said. I nodded and tried to time my breathing. ‘In… Out… In… Out…’. “You wouldn’t be saying that if you were going through this.” I told him. “Your probably right.” he said. “But men have a higher pan threshold.” He said. “Sure.” “Here we are.” Said one of the Medics, he leaned down beside me and uncorked a small vile of what looked like a pure black liquid. I didn’t want to drink it. “This will stop the pain for at least three days, but judging from your body size it may remain in your system for up to a week. I’ll have to make sure Sir Endameba packs extra food supplies. It’s too dangerous for such a young woman to go without food.” “I don’t go longer than I have to without food.” I informed him as he handed over the small vile. “but I suppose after being on my own for more than two years has taught me not to waist all my money on food.” I threw back the vile and drank its evil contents, grimacing at the ugly bitter taste. “Oh that’s horrible!” Lupine smiled again, obviously amused by my sudden disgust over the foul tasting concoction. “I’ll send in a nurse to help you clean up. She’ll have supplies you can borrow for the night but I’ll prepare a small bag for you and have it waiting at your hostel by morning.” Said the medic. He was an older man, his skin starting to flatten and wrinkle out as so many of the peasants faces did. If he was one of the royals
she would have guess he was at least 400. but the peasants didn’t live that long. They’d be lucky to see the inside of a century, juts as the middle classes would be lucky to withstand three. His eyes were a beautiful soft emerald green that sparkled when the looked into the light. His long brown hair was tied back in a tight pony tail and his beard was clean and short. I smiled at him and nodded. “Thank you sir, may Shirma smile upon your house.” A blessing from one of the royals was highly valued among Arcadians and the significance was not lost on this man. He bowed at the waist to me, I noticed the grin across his lips. “May Shirma guide and protect the noble house of Robistone.” I smiled lightly at the medic and could feel the pains slowly slipping away from me. I think Lupine noticed too. Not because I looked any different, but because I wasn’t squeezing the living color out of his hand. He stroked my face again and smiled. “Your glowing, did you know that?” he said. “Aren’t you only suppose to say that to women when their pregnant?” I asked. He shook his head, and looked at me… really looked at me. I felt as if those beautiful chocolate brown eyes could stare straight into my soul, and for a moment, I wan convinced he liked what he saw. “You always glow.” He whispered. “Its like sunlight gathers around you… even when the sky turns dark.” His finger spread out to cup my cheek as he took in the gleam of my skin. “It’s beautiful.” he whispered. “You’re beautiful.” he leaned down to kiss me, but I couldn’t. I turned my head to the side and his lips pressed against my cheek. He moved back to look at me, and I smiled apologetically. “I’m sorry Lupine.” I said. I took a second to steady myself against his wounded gaze. “But there are things you don’t know about me… and more so, what awaits me in Arcadia.” He was watching me with a steady curiosity that made me even more uncomfortable than normal. He took my hands in his and held them to his chest. “I want you to be honest with me Katrothia.” He laid a gentle kiss on the back of my palm and stared at my fingers. “I want you to want to tell me.” “I do want to tell you, I just don’t want you to know.” “That doesn’t make any sense.” He said. “I want to be able to tell you these kinds of things. But at the same time I wish telling you didn’t have repercussions.” He nodded slowly. “I’ll try to be open minded then.” I took in a deep breathe and let it out. Trying to calm my nerves. “You’re going to hate me for this.” I told him. “When I go back to Arcadia I have to finish my studies. I only have another year or so of training ahead of me. But still, they won’t let me have a… guest with me.” I took in another deep breathe and let it out. “But… I was thinking, maybe they’d let me have a pet.” He looked down at me
confused. “They’ve never seen anything like you before. I don’t think they know you should even exist. You’re bigger than any wolf they’ve ever seen before, but none of the Arcadians have ever been that close to Roherdiron before. If I tell them you’re a forest wolf… I think they’d want to keep you around.” “So they can use me?” he asked, the acid clear in his voice. “Yes… but that’s not the worst of it. Actually, that’s the good news.” I gave myself a moment to steady myself and collect my thoughts. This was the part where I would loose him… no one can stay hopeful with a lost cause. “My umm… my father left my mother when I was little… but ever since she’s hated me. Mostly, because I look exactly like him. or at least, for what I remember I do. I’ve got her features… but my eyes, and hair… my spirit. I’m just like him, or so mum said.” I sighed. “but the point is, she hates me for it. And the only way she can get rid of me is either have me murdered as she’s been trying to do, hope for me to find death on my own or…” “Or?” Lupine asked. “Or she can marry me off. That’s the only possible reason she’d be bringing me home now. If she can arrange for a marriage to transpire between someone higher than herself, then she…” I took in a deep breathe and found myself shaking. “Then she can gain enough backing to kill my father. In Arcadia you can petition the courts for someone’s life with no real motive at all. The offended can be a perfect model citizen and it wouldn’t matter. But it’s the legacies that get to choose who to side with in court. And the legacies smile on those of equal or higher statues. Besides, if she has her way, she can use me as a bargaining chip. ‘I’ll give you my daughter if you vote in my favor’ kind of thing. But the point is, even if you come to Arcadia with me… we can’t be together as we are now. As far as people could ever know you could be my creature… no more than a horse to Arcadians. ” I looked up at him and felt the sting of tears in my eyes. “But I don’t think I can put you through that.” He was quiet. He hands still clasped around my own, his eyes staring intently at them, as if they could give him the answer to whatever questions were racing through his mind. A nurse carrying a large bowl of water and rags stepped into the tent. “You should wait outside until the young princess and I are finished thank you.” Said the nurse as she set down her things. Lupine hesitated for a moment before dropping my hands and leaving the tent. He didn’t say anything, but what had I expected him to say? All I know was that it was his turn to walk away… and my turn to feel the cold icy sting of loneliness.
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