Divided We Fall

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


Just wanted to say I know the dialogue isn't exactly authentic to the time period, but I did my best.

Chapter 3 (v.1) - Chapter Three

Submitted: September 07, 2019

Reads: 28

Comments: 1

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Submitted: September 07, 2019

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The next day they traveled a couple miles before resting. They would have gone more, but with Raquelle in her condition, Erik found it necessary that she stopped walking for a while. So they found another cave (not hard, Anaria is loaded with rocks) and stopped. 

Erik said he was going to look around, see what’s ahead. He gently pushed a knife into her hand. “In case of wolves. Should be fine, but just in case.” 

She looked down at its engraved handle, running a finger along the intricate patterns, much like the ones in her belt. “It’s pretty.” 

“And sharp. Be careful.” 

“I’m not a little girl.” 

He turned to face her. “You are a child. And you can’t deny it.” 

“Yes, I can. I don’t consider myself a child. Not after all the crap I’ve been through. I am a woman. A young woman, but still a woman.” 

Erik just stared a moment, perhaps wondering whether to argue. “Okay. Either way, be careful. It took a lot to save you. I’d hate to see my effort go to waste.” He was joking, but it made her think. 

“Hey, wait a second.” 

He turned around. “What?” 

“What exactly did you do to me? I mean, what really happened?” 

Erik shook his head. “Not today, Raquelle. Maybe someday I’ll tell you. But not this one.” He started walking. 

“You seem very confident we’ll be together a while,” she called, but he ignored her. 

When he was out of sight, she decided to walk around a bit. Her side really didn’t hurt that much. Or at least not enough to keep her from doing stuff. 

She walked the hills, pretending to be hunting with the knife. she practiced her fencing a bit on a rock with her sword. Really, Erik didn’t have to give her the knife. She was ready to go into battle at any time. She patted the little hidden sheath in her dress. 

She was just about to kill the rock when a long, low howl echoed through the plain. She froze. 

Calm down. Wolves are loud. It could be a mile away, especially with the wind to carry the sound. She started to walk back anyway, when it happened again. She froze and turned around. On top of the rocks was a lone wolf. Huge, black. It stared at her, fur ruffling in the wind.

She took a deep breath and looked down, slowly backing up. One step at a time. There you go. Back to the cave. 

The wolf followed her with its eyes but didn’t move. She slammed herself up against the wall of the cave, and, panting, slowly sagged to the floor. She was clutching the knife so hard her hands shook. 

She looked at the handle again. Just like her belt. Ani made it for her when she turned eleven. Made of skillfully woven strips of leather, it was twisted and pulled into a beautiful, intricate pattern with a knot in the middle, so detailed you couldn’t tell where it began and where it ended. It was the only thing she had left from her. Tears pricked her eyes. She told herself it was because the pain medicine was wearing off and her side had begun to throb, but that wasn’t it. She missed Ani. If she had only stayed with her… she tried to swallow the guilt. If she hadn’t taken off, would she still be alive? After all she’d given her, how could she abandon her like that? 

The tears were faster now. Of course, the time when you’re at your worst is when the most handsome boy in the world comes back. Erik took one look at her face and instantly worry crossed his. Dang. Why did he have to seem so sweet? 

“What happened?” He asked. 

She shook her head. “Just thinking.”

“You know, if we’re going to be living together we might want to be honest.” 

She sucked in a breath and wiped her face. “I killed Ani. It’s my fault she’s dead.”

He nodded. “Okay. May I ask who Ani is?” 

She choked through a few more sobs before she was able to speak. “I am an orphan. You know that. Ani--she found me as a baby and raised me. She was as good as my birth mother ever could have been. I mean, I’ve never met her, but Ani… she’s too good. And in the raid--the one you found me in--when they came, I just ran. We were in the market, and I didn’t even go back for her. I just ran. Because I am selfish and evil and uncaring.” More tears fell. “I abandoned her. I left her to die.” 

Erik looked down as she sobbed, respectively. “It’s not your fault. You are a child. You were scared. You were following instincts. You never meant to hurt her. And by the way you talk, it sounds as if she loved you a lot. And any mother wants their child to run. They don’t want them to worry about them. They want them to be safe. And you are. Which means really, you did a good thing for her. You escaped. You’re safe now. Leokes don’t come to the country.” 

She looked up at him and wiped her face again. “After all she gave me, and I couldn’t even help her.” 

He brushed some of her hair out of her face. “It’s like me and my sister. I should have been able to protect her. It’s my responsibility. I’m her brother. The only family she has. And I let them take her.” He shook his head. “I can barely live with myself.”

“Did they raid your house?” Her voice was meek, like it was when she was asking a question she wasn’t sure if she should be. 

He met her eyes, deep green against her tired brown. “Yeah.” He hit his face. “And I’m so stupid. Didn’t even think of fighting back. Just hid with her. Then they found us. Grabbed her, tried to stab me but I jumped out of the way. I’ll never forget the sound of her screams.” His voice softened, and tears welled in his eyes. 

“It’s not your fault. You are still a child, like it or not, and you were terrified. Who would blame you for not running out into the battlefield? If I would have been indoors, I would have done the same thing.” 

“Now they’re going to hurt her. She’s only twelve. She tried to fight them. Bit the one guy. But it wasn’t enough. In the meantime the guy that tried to stab me flung a bookend at my head. Knocked me out. They thought I was dead and moved on. Then, like, ten minutes later, I woke up, and since I’m so stupid, I ran into the street and bolted for the countryside, and I found you, and… and now we’re here.” 

She nodded and lay down, tucking her knees to her chest and letting her head hit the rock floor. There was a silence, where she looked him over well. She told herself she was just studying, like she did whenever she met someone new. When she realized what she was actually doing, it sent a pale blush to her cheeks. She’d had crushes before, on random boys from her village, but up until a year and a half ago, they were all about the face. Now, they were about the face and the body. 

She didn’t quite know love at fourteen, but she had an idea. She knew the longing when you looked at him, wanting to throw yourself on top of him, feel his hair, run your hands down his body, kissing and kissing and kissing the day away. She felt the sudden urge to lunge and touch, press her body into his and become one. 

She’d had lots of crushes before, but Erik’s was a little different. He had saved her. It was a perfect romance story. Now, she knew they couldn’t become anything, he looked much older than she was, and she was only fourteen. But it didn’t mean she couldn’t dream. 

He had a little bit of a baby face, but his eyes held so much… maturity--he looked like an adult. He had two days worth of facial hair, and black curls that looked dreamily soft. The rest of him looked good, too--fit, lean, tall but not too tall. He had the figure you wanted to run your hands down. 

She let her eyes wander from his face all the way down his body, then back up again. 

“How long are you going to stare at me like that?” 

She snapped from her trance and looked at him. “Like what?” 

He gained a little devilish grin on his face. “Like you’re smitten with me.” 

She turned scarlet, though she tried hard not to, and looked down. “I am anything but smitten with you.” 

“That’s a hard thing to prove when the thought makes you blush so hard you can’t look me in the eye.” 

She forced herself to look up, showing her ruby face. “Just shut up, please.” 

He laughed softly. “Okay. How’s your side?” 

She pressed a hand to it, wincing at the sting. 

“I’m assuming still pretty painful,” he said, and leaned against the wall. 

“No. It doesn’t hurt at all. We can keep moving.” 

He just looked at her, knowingly. 

She shifted. “Okay, maybe it hurts a little. But we can keep moving. You need your sister.” 

“If we push your condition now, you’re going to end up really paying for it.”

“That’s okay. I can take it.” 

He smirked humorlessly. “You most certainly cannot. Why do you think I had to put you out? You were screaming like you were being murdered. When it looked like you literally couldn’t take it anymore, that’s when I gave you the medicine. After I picked you up, you passed out in my arms. Fortunately that sleep stuff erases memory. Otherwise you would have a nasty case of P.T.S.D.” 

“Was it really that bad?” She whispered. 

Erik nodded. “Yeah, it was. I actually considered killing you as an act of mercy for a little while.” 

Her hand went to her side. “Am I going to be okay?”

“He stabbed you deep, Raquelle. You’re lucky you’re not dead already, from loss of blood or complications. But since you can walk, it shows nothing vital was hurt. I think you’ll always have to be careful there, but it will heal. And the more gentle you are with it, the better it will.” 

She took a deep breath and turned around before lifting her dress and slip. Not that it really paid; obviously Erik had seen her more naked than this when he stitched her up, but she felt more comfortable doing it out of his view. 

There was a row of stitches six inches long down her side. A little blood came through, but she could tell he’d done a good enough job to keep her alive.

“Thank you. Again. I’m lucky to be alive.” 

“Damn right you are.” 

She let her dress back down. 

“What are you going to do, Raquelle?” 

She turned to face him. “What do you mean?” 

“I mean, after we get Lola. What are you going to do? What do you want in your future?” 

She had thought about it a lot in the past day and she had her answer. “I’m going to cross the border to Uerik. They’re recruiting spies now, and they don’t care where they’re from. That’s what I’m doing. Well, first I’m stopping in Whitewood. Ani had a friend that lives there, and she said one day we would go. Now that I know that will never happen, I might as well go there myself.”

Erik nodded. “So, you know nothing about your parents?”
“Nope. Nothing. There wasn’t anything with me when Ani found me. I don’t even know my birth name. After it looked like no one was coming for me, Ani called me Raquelle, but I had to have another one. And a middle and a last name, too.” 

Erik was quiet. “Wow. You know, I was just thinking about how much people take for granted. Like I thought I was the poorest person in the world for losing my sister, and then I meet someone who doesn’t even have their real name.” 

She put her hand on his, and sparks bounced through her body. “Names aren’t important. Family is. And right now, neither of us has that.” 

He shifted uncomfortably. “Did you have anything with you at all?” He asked, and Raquelle could see he was trying to redirect the conversation. 

She reached into a small pocket she sewed into her small clothes. “Just this.” She kept it in her small clothes so she would never lose it, and no one would ever take it from her. 

It was a small copper oval, with a wolf imprinted on it, and around the edges, the same pattern as her belt. Raquelle figured that’s where Ani got the pattern. 

Erik gently took it, and her heart fluttered when their fingers touched. 

He rubbed his thumb over the wolf and traced the edge. “It’s the same as your belt,” he said, and looked at her waist. She posed a little, thrilled he was looking there, even if it was in the most innocent way possible.

She touched a hand to her belt. “Yeah. It is.”

“Where did you get it?” 

“Ani made it for me.” 

“What’s that on the buckle?” 

She looked down and fingered the metal square. “A wolf. I figured she got the idea from the coin thing.” 

“Raquelle, do you know what that design with the wolf means?” He lowered his voice, even though they were alone. 

“No.” She shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter, though, does it?” 

“Raquelle, that’s the symbol of the royal family.”
The royal family. It was just a few years after Anaria became a country and the nation turned to a monarchy. The people were unsatisfied with their queen, to the point where they rebelled, killed her, and reshaped the country into the democracy it was. Then the Leokes took over, killing and capturing Anarians, making room for themselves. 

Of course this happened a long time ago, when Raquelle was just a baby, so naturally she didn’t know their symbol. 

“I didn’t know that,” she said, like a guilty child. 

“I know you didn't. But just to stay safe, you might want to get rid of it.” 

“But--I can’t. It’s all I have from her.” 

Erik pressed his lips together but didn’t push it. 

“So, where are you going when all of this is done?” She asked. 

“Whitewood.”

Raquelle quirked an eyebrow. “Same direction as me. Interesting. Then I guess we can stay together a little longer.”

He grinned. “Yeah. We can.” 

She curled up in a little ball and closed her eyes. Even if he didn’t admit it, she knew he was drugging her to keep her asleep so she would rest. And honestly, she didn’t mind. The sleep felt good.

 


© Copyright 2019 Rachel Stone. All rights reserved.

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