It happened while she was off on a ride one beautiful morning.
She had just entered down her usual forest path on her gleaming
white stallion when a large man jumped from behind a tree. Her
horse shied away in fright and reared up on its hind legs.
Catching her off guard, she fell to the ground landing hard on
her back. The fall knocked the air from her lungs and she gasped
for breath. Several large, dark-clothed figures surrounded her.
Still in shock from the fall, she lay helpless as they grabbed
her roughly, bound her hands and tied a cloth tight around her
mouth. She was not able to get a good look at any of them because
their faces were covered, except for one quick glimpse of the
bluest set of eyes she had ever seen. At that moment a warning
cry from the lookout man announced that they've been caught, but
when they looked up they spied a young boy running back the way
he had come having seen the attack. A few men scrambled to their
horses, but a voice called them off.
"Leave him! We don't have the time!"
Everything went dark when they finally blind-folded her and
hoisted her back up onto her horse, followed by one of her
kidnappers who jumped up into the saddle behind her. She knew
there was no escape now.
They rode for a long time; so long that she began to grow
extremely sore and tired from trying to keep hold of the saddle.
It was much more difficult when blind-folded, and she began to
slip. She felt a firm arm grasp her around the middle and hold
her in place. They rode for a little longer when her captor, who
rode behind her, spoke with a concerned voice,
"We should stop to rest a few hours, Vince. The girl is
His voice was that of a younger man's, but the voice answering
back was distinctively older.
"Stick to the plan, Griff. We don't want to risk stopping. I'd
remember whose neck is at stake if I was you. Her father would
skewer us if we were caught."
So they continued on, and from that short conversation she could
easily recognize who was in charge, and it seems like this
Vince-character was not one to be taken for a fool.
In response to Vince's reply, Griff slowed the pace and held her
more firmly so there was no way for her to fall. He leaned
forward, brought his lips to her ear and whispered,
"Don't worry, I've got you. We're almost there."
She didn't understand why he was being kind to her. Is he not
still one of her captors or was he only half-heartedly a part of
this job? The reason for her kidnapping was obvious: being the
daughter of a rich lord has its downsides because her father,
Lord Benjamin, treasured her above anything else, even his land
and especially his gold. Now here she was, young and beautiful
Evaine, named after her mother who had died when she was only
just five years old, being taken to an unknown and far away
Several hours later, she finally felt the pull on the reins to
slow the horse and heard the others dismounting around her. The
young man, who she now knew as Griff, leapt down off the saddle
and helped her down. Evaine's blindfold was removed, but it
didn't do much good, as it was the middle of the night. The only
light came from the full moon, high up in the sky, that shown
through the branches of the surrounding trees. They were in the
middle of a forest and a large, two-story cabin lay before her or
rather an old, abandoned tavern. The others had already entered
the cabin. Evaine could see the faint glow of fire coming from
the windows. Griff grabbed her arm and escorted her toward the
cabin. Now that the journey part of the kidnapping was over a new
wave of fear crept over her.
Once the door was thrust open, Evaine was pushed into the room
and stumbled forward. The men in the room let out an amused
triumphant laugh. One man in particular stood up from his chair
to speak and began to approach her. When she saw his face Evaine
knew he was the one she had heard earlier when Griff spoke up for
"Well done boys. I think it's safe to say in a very short time we
will all be rich men! You all played your parts well, especially
this one," gesturing towards Evaine and letting out a deep
chortle, "It seems that what my men say are true. Your beauty is
beyond compare, but then there is only one way beauty can be
Her heart was racing as he stood only inches from her, and she
flinched as he reached for a strand of her hair. He smirked at
her reaction, satisfied with her fear of him. She was even too
afraid to meet his gaze.
"Nervous are we? Why shouldn't you be? No one knows where you are
so no one can come to rescue you. I'm surprised your father would
let you wander so far on your own. It seems he has become
arrogant and ignorant alike towards anyone, but him and his
precious daughter. Perhaps we should just have our way with you,
and send you back in ruin. We'll see how he feels towards you
then. No man with a lord's status wants a daughter who has been
spoiled. No suitors would ever want you, and that is a blow I
would love to give to that rich bastard."
The other men were nodding and grunting their approval and
smiling with greedy eyes. At this moment Griff stepped from the
corner of the room where he had been standing silently.
"Vince, if we harm her we would be in more trouble than we
already are. We should demand the money in promising that no harm
would come to her. It would ensure that we will get the ransom
even sooner. We already know how much Lord Benjamin loves his
daughter. Don't forget we had a deal. We are all wanted men now.
That boy we let go could easily match the description of any one
of us, not to mention they could find us even if they have a
tracker half as good as me. Would it really be worth it if we
didn't ransom her?"
"Your not beginning to fall in love with her I hope, Griff."
"Of course not, I just wanted to remind you of why we did this in
the first place."
"Ah right, the gold. I suppose it's a bit more substantial, but I
never want to pass up a moment of torment and fear. It makes
these jobs much more enjoyable." Vince let out a disappointed
sigh, "Well then, why don't you be the one to escort her ladyship
to her room. Be sure to lock the door tight. I don't want to have
to go chasing after her when we caught her so easily."
With a satisfied grin Vince tossed the key into Griff's hand, and
turned back to his chair by the fire. Griff turned his attention
to Evaine, and their eyes finally met. The striking blue eyes
Evaine had seen before were now gazing into her own. He stood as
one of the tallest men in the room with light sandy colored hair
that hung down in waves just past his strongly set jaw.
Wordlessly, Griff took her by the arm once more, and led her up
the stairs to her room or more like her prison. The room was very
small, and the only window was boarded up tight. There was a
small cot in one corner and an old wax candle for light. He left
her hands bound, and before Griff shut the door he met her gaze
for one short moment, and in seeing her looking so small and so
helpless, Griff's doubts began to grow.
What Evaine or any of the other men did not know, was how much
Griff really knew about her. He first saw her walking through the
streets holding onto her father's hand. Lady Evaine was just 8
years old. She was already very pretty at that age, and Griff was
simply fascinated by her. As she grew up she grew into certain
habits. Every day in the early afternoon she would walk past his
family's shop looking at the goods for sale and talking with the
different shopkeepers along the lane. He loved everything about
her. He loved the way she walked and smiled and how she took the
time to speak with people under her station. She didn't care
about protocol or listening to the gossip of the other high-born
ladies. She was always very kind to everyone she met. He loved
the dark brown color of her long flowing hair that was very often
adorn with sweet smelling flowers. He could even guess her
favorite colors because she would wear them most every day: a
dark forest green or a sky blue, or really any shade of blue.
As soon as she heard the lock snap into place, Evaine sat up,
bending her knees so she was able to touch her feet. She reached
down and grabbed the hem of her dress, pulling it up to reveal a
tiny dagger hidden in her right boot. She wedged the knife
between her feet and began to slice through the rope that bound
her wrists. All the while she thought, "Men," Evaine scoffed,
"just because I am a woman they wouldn't think I would carry a
knife." She smirked. Now that her hands were free she wasn't sure
what to do next. She examined the boards on the window and knew
they would take time to pry off and she wouldn't be able to fight
her way out of the cabin with only a small blade. So she decided
to get some rest and figure out what to do in the morning, but
first, she retied the rope together loosely to give the
appearance that her hands were still bound.
Several days went by and not a word was heard from Lord Benjamin.
He would have, of course, gone out and searched for her first
before giving into a ransom, but it seemed to take longer than
the men expected. They began to grow restless. One night, Vince
paid Evaine a visit, and began questioning her. He mocked her by
asking how her father could delay the return of his precious brat
of a daughter. He kept asking her questions she could not answer,
and every answer she did give, Vince responded with a stinging
smack across her face. He left her with both eyes swollen and
bruised with tears running down her cheeks that made the cuts he
had inflicted upon her face ache. Griff was gone at the time, but
when he returned in the evening, and brought her food he knew
something was wrong when she did not turn to look at him when he
opened the door. He stepped forward laying the plate of food on
the floor, and crouched in front of her.
"Look at me," Griff demanded softly.
When she didn't respond he reached his hand forward, and lifted
her chin, turning her face towards him, and he brushed her hair
aside. She looked up at him, and saw a mixture of horror and
anger in his eyes. Evaine could see he already knew who had
beaten her because all he said was,
"I'm gonna kill him." He rose to his feet. "I'll be back later, I
Evaine heard his footsteps receding down the hall, and after a
few minutes she heard arguing coming from below her. She couldn't
make out any words, but she knew it was about her. She had to
escape tonight, but she still had several nails to pry out of the
wood. Evaine worked faster than she had before, and she didn't
care how many cuts or slivers she got. After several more hours
she finally worked the last nail loose, but then she noticed how
the light trickle of rain had become a full raging storm. Now she
could see the lightning flashing every few seconds, and the wind
was beginning to howl even louder. When she pulled down all of
the boards sprays of rain blew in through the opening.
Now was her chance, she quickly took up the piece of bread she
had saved and stuffed it down her dress. She looked down at the
ground that was a good twenty foot drop onto hard ground. She sat
down on the sill and twisted her legs around so they hung over
the side. Her body was poised and ready to jump when she heard
the door open suddenly behind her. Griff was standing in the
doorway gaping at her. Evaine just saw his lips forming the word,
"No!", as she pushed off, and fell towards the ground. Her feet
hit the ground so hard it sent a painful jolt up her entire body.
She felt her ankle give under her and a shock of pain went up her
leg. She stifled a cry and turned her gaze up to the window. She
could see Griff gazing down at her, but she turned her head away
and willed herself to stand. She took a quick intake of breath
and ran as fast as she could, but with an obvious limp in her
Griff watched her disappear into the darkness before he turned,
and walked briskly from the room, and down the stairs to retrieve
his pack. He slowed his pace so he wouldn't attract attention as
he filled his pack with a few supplies before he went back
upstairs. Once he reached the empty room he finally raised the
alarm that Evaine had escaped. All the men came running, most of
them had been sound asleep and were rubbing their eyes with looks
of confusion. Vince pushed his way through to the room where
Evaine was kept only to find her gone and the boards torn from
the window. Vince went ridged and his eyes turned wild.
He spun around, "Find her!" He shouted. "I don't care how bad the
storm is, I want her found!" With a sneer, Vince turned towards
Griff, "Dead," he emphasized, "or alive."
The men scrambled for their clothes and weapons. Griff was
already prepared so he grabbed his cloak from its peg and pulled
his hood up before he plunged into the pouring rain and raging
Evaine ran blindly through the rain holding her hands over her
face to shield the sting of the wind whipping water, branches,
and leaves at her from all directions. She had slowed down to an
agonizingly slow pace as the pain in her ankle became unbearable.
She had only gone a few miles before exhaustion overtook her. She
was soaked and cold to the bone, and kept stumbling over roots
and stones. Evaine knew if she fell once more, she wouldn't have
the strength to stand again. She staggered on for several more
yards until her legs could carry her no further. She fell to her
knees and tried to crawl, but failed to make it another few feet
before she collapsed all together and curled into a ball. She
closed her eyes to try and shut out the pain and the cold as her
body shivered violently.
Griff trudged quickly through the forest; his eyes had adjusted
almost immediately in the darkness. Every so often he would spot
several footprints, and other marks imprinted deep in the mud
from when she had stumbled or fallen to her knees. He knew he was
gaining on her.
Evaine was thinking of home and the comfort of her warm bed and a
fire crackling in the fireplace and then, she almost thought she
could hear her father. He was saying her name, "Evaine!" He
whispered lovingly, and he kept saying it over and over again,
until she realized it wasn't her father she heard. Evaine felt a
hand on her arm, and she forced her eyes open to see a hooded
figure crouched in front of her.
"Please, don't take me back. I just want to go home," she pleaded
"It's alright, it's me, Griff. I'm not here to take you back. I
need to get you out of here. Come on."
Griff wrapped his cloak around her, and lifted her into his arms,
cradling her to his chest with her head resting against his
shoulder. He began to pick his way through the trees while the
storm continued to rage. She felt light in his arms despite being
soaked from the rain. Her shivering began to subside a little,
but he felt her ragged breathing against his chest and it made
him press on faster. Finally, after a few more miles he saw a
looming wall of darkness ahead of him.
It was an ivy covered stone wall that ran a few miles in each
direction, but this was where Griff wanted to be. He recognized
the unusually large stump that stood firmly in the ground, and
was right up against the stone wall. He climbed up onto the stump
and walked to the wall without stopping he carried Evaine through
the ivy, brushing it aside. Instead of running into stone he had
walked into a narrow passageway that soon ended into a
surprisingly large area surrounded by stone. It was no more than
the bottom of a giant crevice in the stone which was large enough
to hide a small cabin within. It was the same cabin that Griff
and his father used to spend time in together. They would spend
entire days hunting and fishing, and his father would teach him
how to track animals and identify the different tracks. That was
how he knew the forest so well and of course, no one else knew
about the cabin.
Without stopping, Griff pushed the door of the cabin with a shove
of his foot and brought her near the fireplace and laid her on
the floor. He grabbed some wood from the corner and took out his
flint to start a fire. Once there was a sizeable flame he threw
off his cloak that was soaking wet and heavy, and hung it near
the fire to dry. His father always taught him to keep the place
stocked with supplies so fortunately he had a few extra blankets
which he grabbed and laid them over Evaine. Griff went out for
more wood and came back as quick as he could in case Evaine would
need him, but when he came back he found her asleep and no longer
shivering. While she slept he took some meat he had taken before
he left and speared it over the fire, and went back out to get a
bucket of water. Once he hung the water over the fire to boil he
sat next to Evaine as she slept and turned the meat that was
Evaine woke suddenly to a smell that made her mouth water despite
her thirst. She moved to turn her body, and forgot about her
ankle and gasped. Then she notice Griff was sitting next to her
because he turned towards her when she gasped. He stopped turning
the meat he was cooking, and rolled onto his knees.
"How are you feeling?"
Evaine shut her eyes and bowed her head, "I'm fine." she
answered, and pressed her lips together to push away the pain.
She didn't like feeling weak. When she opened her eyes again she
could tell by the look on his face that he didn't believe her,
but he didn't press the subject. Instead he stood up and walked
over to what was a small wardrobe in the corner of the room and
came back with a few garments in his hands.
"Here," Griff said, handing the clothes to Evaine, "These will
probably be too big, but you shouldn't keep those wet clothes on
or you'll get sick. You can hang your wet things by the fire to
dry." Once she took hold of the clothes he turned and left the
She stared after him for a few more moments, and then quickly
changed, and put on the clothes Griff had given her. Evaine then
fixed her hair into a thick braid that hung over her shoulder
before sitting by the fire once more with a blanket around her
shoulders. A few minutes later she heard a knock on the door.
"You can come in." She called.
Griff stepped into the cabin and she followed him with her eyes
as he walked back to the fireplace and took the meat from the
fire. They sat on the floor together and as they ate Griff
"We should leave at dusk so we can get away undetected. None of
the other men have as good of tracking skills as I do."
"But I can't walk." Evaine cut in.
"I've thought of that. Luckily, I was already prepared by
bringing my horse here yesterday." Griff rose to his feet, and
went over to a shelf full of supplies and retrieved a few strips
of cloth. He returned and sat in front of Evaine's feet so he
could wrap her ankle to help with the swelling. He gently and
carefully lifted her leg and placed it on his lap.
Evaine was puzzled as she stared down at her swollen ankle and
then back up at Griff. "I still don't understand. Why are you
helping me? I thought you wanted the reward money?"
"I did before, but when I saw what we did to you I couldn't bear
it, and when Vince hurt you I was tempted to kill every one of
them." Griff avoided her gaze by staying concentrated on the
cloth he was wrapping with practiced precision around her ankle.
Griff finally looked up at Evaine with intensity in his icy blue
"You don't remember me at all do you?" Griff asked unexpectedly.
Evaine was startled by his question. "What do you mean? Have we
met before?" Her brow furrowed as she searched and studied his
"Yes, actually we have, once, but we were much younger. You would
always walk down the market streets with your father. You always
carried a small basket with you and when you were passing by my
family's shop you dropped your basket, and I retrieved it for
you. You looked me right in the eye, and smiled with your cheeks
blushing as I handed you your basket. I couldn't seem to find my
voice, but then you had shyly whispered, "Thank you." and placed
a quick kiss on my cheek before running back to your father."
"I think I remember." Evaine thought for a moment. "Yes, yes, I
think I remember you. So you were the boy?" Evaine asked
Griff could tell by the expression on her face that Evaine was
seeing the images of those long forgotten memories flashing
across her mind. Her eyes looked unfocused for a moment, but then
she brought her attention back to Griff who stared at her with a
hint of curiosity showing on his face. Griff only responded with
a half smile.
"I, I didn't recognize you. You've changed so much since then,
but of course, we were children. I just still don't understand
how you would get mixed up in a kidnapping job."
Griff sighed and laced his fingers together. "It was quite simple
really. I needed the money because my family business wasn't
doing so well, and Vince had asked around and heard from other
villagers that I was a good tracker."
"Ah, I see. I'm so sorry."
"Don't be. You can't choose the life you are born into, and I am
to blame for letting Vince take advantage of my situation." Griff
dropped his gaze as he said this. He fiddled with the knot he had
just finished tying. He lifted her leg from his lap and set it
back down on the floor.
Evaine bent her legs to the side and drew nearer to him so she
could reach up and place her hand softly on his cheek,
"We all make mistakes, Griff. Don't be so hard on yourself."
Griff shut his eyes at the touch of her skin on his, and he
reached up and placed his hand over hers.
"Yes?" He asked as he opened his eyes, and raised his head to
look at her. He didn't realize how close they were now. Their
faces only inches apart.
"Do you love me?" She spoke carefully, but her question was
serious as she locked her eyes on his.
He chuckled softly. "Must you even ask?" He lowered his hand, but
still kept her hand in his.
"Yes, because I want to hear you say it."
He took a deep breath and swallowed before he spoke. "I won't lie
to you or attempt to hide my feelings. I have never loved anyone
more, and could never dream of loving anyone else for the rest of
my life. So the answer to your question is yes, I do love you and
I have always desired your love in return. I know there is no
excuse for how you were treated and I wish I would have chosen to
stop it from happening. I hope that you can forgive me, and---"
Evaine placed her hand lightly over his mouth with an amused, but
loving expression. "It seems I thought you to be a man of few
words, but now I was unsure of when you meant to stop." She
giggled softly and lowered her head. "Now I suppose it is my turn
to be honest with you. You took a great risk in sharing your
feelings, and I should feel ashamed if I should not respond in
kind." Evaine raised her head and leaned forward to press her
lips gently against his. She felt Griff stiffen in surprise for
only a moment, but then she felt his hand on her cheek, and she
placed her hands flat on his chest as he pulled her closer to
him. She could feel his heart beating just as swiftly as her own
as their bodies pressed together. Time seemed to stand still as
they kissed until Evaine finally pulled away and smiled up at
"I hope my feelings are agreeable enough?" She asked with a
"More than enough." Griff responded by leaning down once more to
kiss her. His lips brushed lightly over hers. Even that slightest
touch of her lips made his heart race. "You should rest. We'll
have to move quickly if we want to make it out without being seen
by Vince and the others. I'll wake you when it's time to leave."
He rose to his feet and wordlessly left the cabin.
There was nothing else Evaine could do, but take his advice and
get some sleep. She laid down on the floor and stared up at the
ceiling until her eyes slowly closed and she fell into a deep and
dream filled sleep. She found herself stumbling through the storm
again, but then she heard a loud echoing laugh. She tried to run,
but several pairs of arms wrapped around her, and ripped at her
skin and clothing. Evaine screamed and suddenly woke to find
Griff crouched over her with his hands holding her arms. He
looked at her with concern.
Evaine's heart was racing as she gasped for air. She realized she
must have screamed out loud.
"It's alright. It was only a dream." Griff reassured her pulling
her into his arms.
She wrapped her arms around him and closed her eyes as she leaned
her head against his chest, and her breathing began to slow.
"We should be going." Griff whispered as he pulled away. "I'll
let you change so we can leave as soon as possible."
After the door closed behind Griff, Evaine took a deep breath
before she struggled to her feet and quickly changed back into
her dress that had finally dried. A few minutes later she heard a
knock at the door which opened slightly, and she saw Griff's head
appear through the crack in the door.
"Are you ready?"
Evaine nodded. Griff stepped into the cabin and came towards her.
"Put your arm around my neck." Griff said as he leaned down to
hook one arm under her knees, and one under her arms, and swung
her up into his arms.
"You should stay off your ankle for as long as possible." Griff
explained as he maneuvered his way out of the cabin to his horse
that was saddled and laden with provisions. He lifted Evaine onto
his horse, and instead of jumping in the saddle in front of her,
Griff grabbed the reins and began leading the horse.
Griff glanced back at Evaine. "I would be too tall for the tunnel
if I sat in the saddle so it would be best if you would duck your
head." Evaine did as she was advised as they made their way
through the dark tunnel. Once they were in open air again Griff
jumped up into the saddle, and Evaine wrapped her arms tight
around his waist.
"If we move fast we should be able to make it in three days."
Griff turned to look at her. "Ready?"
"Ready." Evaine smiled up at him.
He slapped the reins across his horse's neck, and gave a little
kick, and the horse broke into a swift, rolling gait. As they
weaved through the trees Evaine noticed that the forest seemed to
have been transformed over night. There was no longer that
feeling of fright and panic, but the rays of sunlight that passed
through the trees and the calm, cool air felt refreshing and
peaceful. Wherever the sun touched the plants growing in the
underbrush they sparkled brilliantly from the water droplets left
over from last night's storm.
Griff knew they only had a few hours before it would be too dark
to ride so he kept pushing the horse as fast as it would carry
them. His goal was for them to reach the Hills of Bollán in two
days time. From there it would be only five more leagues
separating them from town.
Once dusk had finally faded into night they had stopped to rest
for a few hours until it was light enough to continue riding.
Before they even jumped down from the saddle Griff pointed out,
"We can't make a fire because it will draw unwanted company so we
have to make do." Griff then held out his arm to help Evaine down
before he swung down from the saddle. Griff busied himself with
removing the saddle and the bags of food while Evaine unrolled
the sleeping mat before she sat and rummaged through the saddle
bags for something to eat. Griff soon joined Evaine on the
ground. She was staring up at the sky as she nibbled a piece of
"At least the moon is bright enough. I'm not sure how I would
feel about being in complete darkness and out in the open."
Evaine spoke as if talking to herself.
Griff chuckled, "Well you still have me. You shouldn't have to
fear the darkness when I am here."
She tore her gaze away from the sky to smile up at Griff. "Now
that you reminded me of when we had first met in the marketplace
I remember wanting to know what your laugh sounded like. I hadn't
even heard you speak, but I just wanted to see how your face
would light up, and how that expression would compliment your
bright, blue eyes. It was your eyes that I recognized when I
first saw you on the day I was kidnapped. I knew I had seen them
before, but I just couldn't remember where." Evaine reached up
and brushed her fingers softly across his cheek as they sat and
held each other's gaze in their own. Then Evaine slowly closed
her eyes, and realized how heavy they were and she took a deep
breath and sighed. It was obvious Griff had heard her because he
rose to his feet before saying, "I'll keep watch while you rest.
We'll leave as soon as it is bright enough."
"You're sure you do not need rest for yourself?" Evaine asked
"I don't necessarily need sleep to get rest. I'll be fine, I
Without waiting for a reply, Griff turned and walked away,
disappearing in the direction where he had tied up his horse. His
horse whickered as he approached, and Griff gave him a light pat
on the shoulder as he walked over and leaned up against the tree.
He could just make out Evaine's figure lying on the ground a few
feet away and kept his eyes on her as the hours sped by. Griff
eventually sat down with his back propped up against the tree
when his legs began to ache. He had a feeling of unease the
entire night, which was partially why he couldn't sleep, but
didn't want Evaine to worry. She had already gone through too
much, and he didn't wish to burden her any further. Now Griff
couldn't wait any longer and he decided it was bright enough to
continue riding. He walked over quietly and knelt beside Evaine.
It was hard for him to wake her. She looked so peaceful and
beautiful as she slept, but it was time they had left.
He gently placed his hand on her shoulder, and whispered,
"Evaine, wake up."
"What time is it?" Evaine groaned softly.
Griff smiled down at her, and spoke softly, "It's nearly dawn,
Evaine blinked her eyes open several times, sleepily. She yawned
as she sat up, and rubbed a hand across her face as if she could
wipe the tiredness off her face. Griff gave her a hand up, and
helped her walk over to where his horse was waiting. Her ankle
felt so much better from when she had first landed on it, but she
still limped slightly as she walked.
They were galloping through the trees once more, but at a slower
pace because the trees began to grow closer together which
prevented them from traveling in a straight line. They weaved
back and forth between the trees with a rhythmic grace. They
continued the pace until it was close to noon when they finally
stopped to rest the horse, and to have a short meal. The sooner
they stopped to rest the sooner they were off again.
They were making good time, and according to Griff, they would be
at Bollán by late afternoon. "The size of the rocks at Bollán
should give us good enough protection so we can both get enough
rest. We should be close enough to town where we should be safe.
I do not think Vince would come that close, and risk being
"I hope you're right."
The ground began to tilt upward and steepened as they continued.
An hour had passed and Evaine thought she could hear the rush of
water. Soon after she was proved right as they came over a ridge
and below the view was breathtaking. A small river of water
tumbled over giant rocks and disappeared around a bend. Every
where there weren't the colossal rocks there was an abundance of
trees, flowers, and berry bushes.
"Oh!" Evaine exclaimed, "It's beautiful!"
"I'm glad you like it." Griff had turned to see her delighted
reaction. "We'll camp right next to the river down where it is
flattest." Griff pointed towards a large flat span of stone.
"We'll have to go slowly. It can be a bit treacherous."
Griff helped her down off the horse, and she kept hold of his arm
as they descended towards the river. It took longer than Evaine
thought, but they finally made it down without injury. The flat
stone was covered with a thick layer of emerald green moss which
cushioned the hardness of the stone beneath it, and made it more
pleasant to lay on. Griff deemed it safe enough to light a small
fire so they could have a hot meal instead of stale bread and
dried fruit. After they had eaten they laid side by side by the
edge of the river and starred up at the night sky. They were
lucky enough to have a clear night. The stars sparkled like
precious gems. As Evaine's gaze swept back and forth she saw a
streak of light flash across the sky.
"Oh, look!" Evaine pointed in the direction the star had fallen.
"I think that is the first falling star I've ever seen."
"Did you make a wish?" Griff turned his head to look at her.
"A wish?" Evaine looked over at Griff and saw him staring at her
"When you see a falling star you're supposed to make a wish. It's
just a superstitious, but it couldn't hurt."
Evaine turned her face back towards the sky and closed her eyes
for just a moment, and when she opened her eyes she smiled and
turned back towards Griff. "There I made my wish."
"What did you wish for?"
"Well why should tell you?" Evaine asked as she chuckled.
"I was only curious." Griff said innocently.
"Well you will just have to wait, and see if it will come true."
Evaine was staring up at the sky again, but she saw Griff roll
onto his side so he was leaning over her with his arm bent up to
support his head, and she looked up at him smiling. He paused
only to stare into her eyes as if he could see into the depths of
her heart and soul. It made her shiver with delight. He slowly
bent his head down and his lips met hers, and she had closed her
eyes just before he kissed her. The sensation was electrifying
and made her feel alive and Evaine was certain that Griff felt
the same for he had brought his hand over to caress her face, and
she could feel his fingers running through her hair.
All of a sudden they heard a loud splash and they sprang apart
and Griff was on his feet, but as they looked toward the noise
all they saw was a small group of deer who had crossed over the
river and were already disappearing into the trees. Evaine was
the first to laugh, and she heard Griff give a sigh of relief and
he turned back toward her with a huge grin on his face.
"I think that was our cue to get some rest now." Griff said as he
stepped toward her so they were almost touching. He looked down
and took her hands in his. "I love you."
"And I love you."
Griff was already leaning down for one last kiss before they
returned to their beds they had laid out upon the moss covered
stone. It did not take long for Evaine to drift off to sleep, but
Griff laid there for a moment looking up at the sky once more
before his eyelids slowly drooped, and he welcomed the coming
Before Evaine even opened her eyes she heard the chirping of
birds and rushing water from the river. She felt the warmth of
the morning sun on her face and she turned her face towards Griff
only to find his blanket empty. She sat up and found Griff
crouched next to the river with his back to her. She watched him
as he ran a wet hand through his hair and when he shook his head
she half expected flecks of gold to scatter.
"Good morning." she called. Griff turned towards her and smiled.
"Good morning. Did you sleep well?" He rose to his feet, and
walked over to sit next to her.
"Yes, I did." Evaine said as she gave a little yawn.
"I was about to go hunt down some lunch for us if you are alright
with staying here alone for an hour."
"Yes, I'm sure I'll be fine."
Griff got to his feet and walked over to his pack to retrieve his
bow. He also removed his sword from his belt before he came back
to stand in front of Evaine. He held out the sword to her.
"Here, take this. I don't want you to be unprotected while I'm
gone." Griff said as he handed her the sword.
Evaine held the sword in both of her hands and felt its weight.
It was definitely not what she was used to, but it still felt
somewhat familiar. She looked back up at Griff and smiled
Griff returned her smile before he turned and disappeared into
the trees. After he had gone Evaine turned her attention back to
Griff's sword. She got to her feet, and pulled the blade from its
sheath to examine it. It was carefully sharpened, and the sun
made the steel shine. She spun it once in her hand, and then
returned the sword to its sheath.
Evaine made her way to the edge of the river where she sat, and
let her feet dangle over the edge of the rock. She could feel the
cool, rushing water on her toes as she sat staring into the water
and her mind began to wandered.
It had to have been more than an hour when Griff had left, and
there had been no sign of him. Evaine hadn't realized how quiet
it had gotten. She gripped the sword tightly in her hands as she
scanned the surroundings. She began to grow suspicious, and as
her nervousness grew she had gotten to her feet to stop from
fidgeting. She was still facing the river when she heard rustling
in the bushes behind her. She spun on her heels and drew her
sword. Evaine's eyes widened as a familiar figure stood several
feet in front of her, it was Vince. He was just as she remembered
him, with his nasty grin and hateful eyes.
"Well, well, well. What have we here? Did you honestly think you
could escape from me?" Vince said as more men
emerged from the bushes with a struggling body in tow. Griff with
his hands tied and mouth gagged he fell to his knees and looked
up at her with panicked and apologetic eyes. Evaine stood her
ground, but couldn't hide the moment of fear that passed over
her. She heard Vince chuckle as he turned his attention to Griff.
"And you!" Vince spat as he swung his arm back, and brought his
hand across Griff's face with enough force that knocked him on
his side. Vince's men grabbed him and pulled him to his feet. "I
knew I shouldn't have trusted you with her. Any fool could have
seen that you were in love with her."
He looked back towards Evaine who hadn't moved an inch from where
she stood gripping the sword in front of her until her knuckles
had turned white.
"Now, if you don't mind handing over that sword of yours, and
coming along quietly I will consider lowering your punishment and
giving this scum," Vince gestured toward Griff, "a clean and
She stood up tall and squared her shoulders as she stared him
down and with all the courage she could muster she declared, "I
will be bullied by you no longer, and will fight for my freedom
whilst I have a sword in my hand."
The smile on Vince's face disappeared and his eyes turned dark.
"I've had enough of this." He turned towards his men and gestured
towards Evaine. Two of the three men advanced on Evaine and drew
their swords. They approached her has if she wouldn't put up a
fight. They saw her as a inexperienced woman, and because she was
a woman that meant she was weak. The thought just angered her
even more, and she stepped forward to meet them. She swung her
sword at the first man before he had the chance to raise his
sword. A wide slash opened across his chest and it bloomed red,
and he looked down in confusion. He fell to his knees as Evaine
was already advancing towards the second man with blood dripping
from her sword. This time the second man was ready for her
attack, but he still underestimated her. Both men lay dead at her
feet and she stood leaning on her sword and breathing heavily.
She felt her ankle had started to throb.
Before Vince could say anything, his third man was already
storming towards her. She could see the anger and frustration on
his face as he approached. She raised her sword with both hands
to block the oncoming strike. The man first came with brute
strength which forced Evaine back towards the river, but she
still held her own as she blocked each swing of his sword. After
another minute she was able to slice open his leg which caused
his knees to buckle, and in one smooth motion Evaine swept the
blade across his neck.
Evaine felt exhausted as she limped forward towards Vince. She
heard him curse.
"I should never rely on anyone who isn't me. It's time I dealt
with you myself, you spoiled, little whore!"
Vince drew his own sword, and pushed Griff to the ground as he
stepped down towards Evaine. Evaine raised her sword more slowly
than before, and willed her hands to stop shaking. Vince proved
to be very good with a sword as she slowly began to lose ground.
As Evaine was backing up she stumbled over a rock. As soon as she
lost concentration, Vince took the opportunity to shove his foot
into her gut which sent her sprawling to the ground, and gasping
for air. She tried to reach for her sword, but it lay a few feet
away, and Vince was upon her. He knelt next to her with a smile
on his face again. He grabbed her hair, and pulled which made her
cry out in pain. It made Vince laugh as he brought his sword up
to her throat. She knew he could see the fear in her eyes.
"Beg!" He whispered hoarsely, "I want to hear you beg for your
worthless, little life!" He was an inch from her face, and
she could smell his foul breath. Evaine turned her face away, and
her eyes searched for Griff, but she couldn't see him.
"Look at me, little whore!" Vince tightened his grip on her hair,
and she looked up at him with a mixture of fear and hatred.
Evaine struggled to speak, but in one breath she declared, "I
will never give you that satisfaction, so just kill me now." She
spit in his face.
"Have it your way!" Vince drew back his arm, but before the sword
descended a jolt went through his body. He looked down at his
chest, and saw the point of a sword protruding from it. He looked
up with wide eyes before they rolled up into his head, and was
kicked to the ground by Griff. While Vince and Evaine had fought,
Griff had managed to work his hands out of the rope that bound
them. Kneeling down next to Evaine, Griff gently lifted her head
onto his lap, and pushed her sweat-soaked hair from her face. She
smiled up at him and reached up to touch his face. He closed his
eyes at the feel of her fingers on his cheek and he smiled.
"I'm so sorry." Griff finally said. "I shouldn't have left you
Evaine moved her hand over his mouth. "You couldn't have known
they would be so close. It was an honest mistake, and you have
done so many remarkable things already. I couldn't have asked for
more. There will be no more apologizing."
Griff smirked and then gave her a curious look.
"What?" Evaine asked.
"Where did you learn to fight like that?"
Evaine laughed, "My father had me taught after he found me
fighting with the kitchen boy instead of attending to my
etiquette lessons. I guess he saw more of him in me than my
mother, and didn't think it was worth dealing with my
Griff shook his head and smiled, "You truly amaze me."
Half the day had gone by, by the time they had ridden over the
high ridge that overlooked the town. The sight made them both
give a sigh of relief, and with Evaine's arms around Griff's
waist she clung tightly to him as she smiled up at him.
Not even an hour had passed, and they were riding over the
causeway and through the gate. People in the street stopped what
they were doing to turn and stare. Surprise and shock swept over
their faces as they recognized Evaine.
They rode all the way to the gate that led to her home and was
stopped by a guard who asked, "Who are you and what is your
"It is I, Lady Evaine. I was kidnapped by a band of ruffians, but
was rescued by this man. I returned as soon as I could, but the
journey was long. I'm sure my father has been very worried for my
The guard stood astonished, and gave a hasty bow. "Forgive me, my
lady. I did not see you. I shall give you entrance immediately,
and inform his lordship that you have returned safely."
The guard quickly ran to the gatehouse, and Griff gave his horse
a kick and they jogged into the courtyard, and were met by a
stable boy who hurried forward to take hold of the horse's
bridle. Griff jumped from the saddle and helped Evaine down just
as a cry rose up from behind them.
It was her father, Lord Benjamin. He was already hurrying towards
them with his arms outstretched. Evaine was caught up in her
father's embrace, and he spun her around in a circle and when
they had stopped spinning she realized he was crying. Lord
Benjamin held her face in his hands, and just looked at her with
the biggest smile on his face she had ever seen with tears
streaming from his eyes.
"I never stopped searching for you, and I kept hoping you were
safe, and you would return to me. You are the only thing I care
about in this world." He wrapped his arms around her once more.
"Yes, my dear, Evaine?"
"I would like you to meet someone. He saved my life many times
over." Evaine broke apart from her father, and turned towards
Griff who had been standing, and watching her and her father
reunite. Griff stepped forward as Evaine beckoned him to her.
"This is Griff."
Lord Benjamin immediately held his hand out to Griff, and Griff
"Thank you, sir. For returning my daughter to me. What ever you
wish for it is yours. You only have to name it."
Griff was speechless, and he looked over at Evaine with
uncertainty. She returned his gaze with a reassuring smile and
"My lord, I know I may not be at a high enough station for your
daughter, but I feel that when two people are in love, it should
not matter who your family is. I know you do not know me at all,
but I would wish to prove myself to you so that I may be worthy
of your approval to court your daughter. I ask for nothing else,
but for the love that I know I already have. I only have the
highest respect for you, my lord, and most importantly, for your
daughter, lady Evaine."
When Griff had finished there was a moment of silence as Evaine
and Griff both held their breath as they waited for Lord
Benjamin to give his answer. He first turned curiously towards
Lord Benjamin took both of Evaine's hands in his before asking,
"Is this what you want as well, Evaine? Do you love this man?"
Evaine couldn't help but smile. "Yes, father. I do. With all my
Her father's face immediately lit up, and he laughed, "Then who
am I to stop you. You know, you remind me of someone."
"Your mother of course."
Evaine laughed with joy as she threw her arms around her father.
Lord Benjamin brought his lips to her ear as they embraced, "I
love you, Evaine. My only goal in this world is to make you
happy, and to wish you joy. You've grown into a fine young woman,
and I am so proud of you."
"I love you too, father. Thank you!" Evaine whispered, and she
kissed his cheek before she turned, and ran into Griff's arms.
She felt his warm breath upon her neck as she heard him whisper,
"My lady Evaine."