The next morning I woke up feeling cold despite the blankets over me. I opened my eyes to see that the cabin was darker than usual in the mornings. I looked around the cabin and like always; Cassius was gone.
I stood up, stretching my arms from the long sleep while yawning at the same time. I looked out the window and didn’t see the sunlight that would greet me every morning. I walked out of the cabin and hugged my waist in the sudden cold. From what you could see from between the trees, it was a cloudy day. The first one I had ever experienced since my arrival. I was definitely going to miss the lovely sun.
“Damn winter...” I muttered under my breath rubbing my arms for a little warmth. I walked to the back of the cabin to see how Lucy was doing. Her head snapped to me when I appeared in sight. She was laying in the same place as always, not even flinching with the cold. Her eyes held something different that day. It wasn’t fear, hostility or indifference as the others days. It was something...warmer. Can’t explain it though.
I got some leaves for her to eat and sat by her side, not as close as last night. I needed to wait for the right moment to approach her so I wouldn’t end up dead. I put my arms around my waist because of the cold and observed Lucy while she ate. I felt steps behind me and turned around to see Cassius watching Lucy.
“Good morning.” I said in a cheerful voice.
“Morning.” He answered in a blank tone.
I chuckled at his mood and looked again at Lucy.
“Is kind of cold, isn’t it?”
I rolled my eyes to the once again short answers and shook my head. Guess he wasn’t the best morning person. A moment of silence passed where the only sound heard was the chewing of the leaves. I decided to test my luck again in that silence.
With slow movements, I inched closer to Lucy. I had to remind myself that anything could happen since she was a wild animal, she was very unpredictable. My hand moved slowly to touch her face while Lucy watched this calmly. Yet, I was a nervous wreck inside. One wrong move and I could end up hurt, or even worse, dead by a single movement of her legs or her huge wings.
I felt Cassius eyes on my every movement and from the corner of my eye, I saw his hand move to grasp his sword. My hands turned sweaty in excitement mixed with nervousness and my heart was thumping hard against my chest.
My hand touched her soft fur in between her eyes and a sigh of relief escaped my lips. I started caressing her and her head moved closer to my hand, showing that she was enjoying it. An instant smile was formed on my lips.
“Good girl!” I said playfully, still petting her.
I turned around to see Cassius standing there, with his eyes wide open and speechless. If only I had a camera to take a picture of his face. There are difficult things to accomplish in one’s life, and leaving him speechless was probably the most satisfying one I had accomplished.
A laugh escaped my lips and he still couldn’t take his eyes off my hand on Lucy’s fur.
“How did you do it?” he said finally looking at me.
I shrugged and continued to caress Lucy.
“Lots of love? I don’t know. I just made sure she understood she could trust me.”
“Trust? It’s an animal. It doesn’t understand complicated things like trust.” He said crossing his arms over his chest.
“You’ve got to be kidding me?” I thought.
“Yet, you see me here sitting next to her, touching her, and she hasn’t made one single attempt to kill me.” I said calmly.
“Right Lucy?” I asked the pegasus with a smile, while she just enjoyed the touch of my hand.
He didn’t say anything and just watched the situation.
After a while, I carefully stood up and shook my clothes off the grass and the dirt. Lucy watched me and huffed, annoyed I had stopped petting her.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be back in a bit.” I said with my pinky finger up, to show it was a pinky promise.
I turned around to look at Cassius, who was already watching me.
“I’m going to the river. Coming?” I asked pointing my head in the direction of the river.
He nodded, and we started walking into the forest. He was walking behind me in silence. After some moments, I heard him mutter.
“You are definitely something else...”
“What?” I asked hiding my surprised expression, making it seem I didn’t hear.
“Nothing.” he said with a huff. He walked past me and started walking in front of me.
When we got to the river, I remembered I had to “take a shower”, but no way in hell I was going to be in my underwear again in front of him. Instead, I just sat on the river bank and put my bare feet in the cold water. The sun was up and the cold freezing morning was left behind. Thank God those damn clouds moved. Cassius took off his shoes and sat beside me.
“We need to get you shoes before you die of cold.” he said in a serious tone that made me chuckle.
“Yeah, in the mornings I don’t feel my feet.”
A moment passed before I realized the flaw in the plan.
“Wait. Where are you going to get them?”
“You really don’t want to know.” he said looking at the other side of the river.
“Maybe from dead people...”
I shuddered at the thought and decided to think about more happy things like unicorns and rainbows.
“Maybe unicorns do exist here...That would be great.”
Minutes passed where we just looked at our feet underwater. Little fish approached our feet in curiosity and with the most minimum movement, they swam away with the speed of light. I wanted to talk, see if things really changed with the conversation of last night, or if we were going to be hostile to each other forever.
“Let’s play 20 questions.” I suggested.
“What is that?” he asked looking at me.
“Is a game where you ask me a question, I answer and then I ask you a question and you answer.” I said looking at him.
“Any type of questions?”
“Well, yeah. But the idea is to get to know the other person. Asking what is two plus two is not the idea.”
He nodded and seemed to be thinking of a question.
“I start.” I said before he could say anything. “Favorite color?”
“Blue.” he said with a smile at the simplicity of my question.
“Your turn to ask.” I said with a smile.
“Married?” he asked with an expression I couldn’t quite decipher.
I almost choked on my own spit the moment the words left his mouth and started laughing.
“No! I haven’t even had a boyfriend in my life!” I said still laughing.
“You have never had a friend?” he said confused but with a smile.
I laughed again and shook my head.
“A boyfriend is like a...- I thought for a word that he could understand with my limited vocabulary- sweetheart? Is the person with whom you have a romantic relationship with but there’s no official commitment.” I ended explaining it anyway to ensure he understood.
“My turn. Twice. You asked a question.” I said with a grin. He rolled his eyes but also grinning. “Brothers or sisters?”
A melancholic smile passed his lips. “Two little brothers.”
“How old are you?” I asked again.
I nodded and just when he was about to ask realization came to my mind and I interrupted him.
“Wait, so you run away from your home when you were fifteen?!” I asked a little shocked, remembering he had said he had escaped from his home ten years ago.
He shrugged and looked at his feet underwater.
“Woah...so young.” He didn’t say anything and continued to look at the water with a frown. I realized he was uncomfortable with the topic and decided to stop talking before I ruin things.
“My turn, twice.” He said looking at me like nothing happened. And I realized I had asked another question.
“Ugh, fine.” I said grudgingly but with a teasing smile.
“Why didn’t you have a boyfriend?” he asked with interest.
“I...- I looked at the woods on the other side of the river and thought for a moment, to found the real answer inside my complicated mind- I waited for the wrong man too long and when it was too late I realized he wasn’t for me.” I finally answered remembering Lucas.
“So you are virgin?”
I snapped my head in his direction so fast I almost broke my neck. I felt the heat rise up my neck, my whole face turning bright red in embarrassment. I looked at him with wide eyes, my mouth opening and closing in shock.
“What the hell?!” My mind reacted and was already thinking a thousand ways to kill him.
He had a smirk on his lips and watched very amused my reaction.
“You can’t ask that you jerk!” I hit him on the back of his head and was going to hit him again when he grabbed my hand to avoid it. But with my other hand, I threw him water. His entire face was wet and his clothes were sprinkled a little. He glared daggers at me and his face clearly said revenge.
“You asked for it.”
Before he could do anything, I freed myself from his grasp, stood up and run like my life depended on it. I entered the woods, jumping and avoiding the tree roots that were on my way. Cassius was hot on my tail, and both of our laughs echoed through the trees. Suddenly a tree appeared out of nowhere, forcing me to stop abruptly. But Cassius wasn’t fast enough.
He collided with me and both of us fell to the ground in not a very gracious way. I collided face to the ground and him on top of me. I groaned at the impact and tried to move to take his heavy body from on top of me.
He rolled to my side with a groan and I turned around to breathe a little.
A laugh escaped Cassius’ lips and in no time it was the both of us laughing so hard that my cheeks felt numb. Cassius stood up and gave a hand to stand. We walked back to the river, talking about the fall.
“It was your fault! You should have said something before stopping.” said Cassius still laughing.
“Oh sorry, next time I will make sure to tell you five minutes in advance.” Sarcasm dripping heavily on my tone.
We both laughed and continued walking towards the river. We sat in the same spot as before and talked about everything and at the same time nothing.
“Unicorns do exist here, right?” I said with my hopes up.
“Unicorns? Those bloody horned bastards that impale everything? Yes, they exist.” He said with a glare that I would not have prefer to be directed in my direction.
“Oh, that’s a dream come true.” I said with a snort.
Silence took over the two of us, the sound of running water filling it.
“I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable before when I asked about you running away. I didn’t realize it was a delicate topic for you.” I said out of nowhere.
“It’s not.- he answered fast- It’s just that...”
“You can tell me anything. I won’t judge. If you don’t want me to say anything, then I won’t. But if you want me to say something, then I will.”
He looked unsure and when he was about to say something, I interrupted.
“Maybe you should tell me another time. We haven’t been on our best terms lately and maybe we should have some days without getting on each other nerves before talking about things like this.” I said with a sympathetic smile.
“No, it’s alright. I want to.”
I nodded and signalized with my hand for him to continue.
“I come from the Kingdom of Adendawyn, one of the strongest kingdoms of the Eternal Unity. I am the oldest brother of three. My father is the king. When I was fourteen, my father got ill and almost died. This left him afraid that the heir to the throne, me, in the case that something happened to him, I wouldn’t be ready to take the crown. He became obsessed with teaching me everything, all at once, like he was going to die at any moment, even though he had survived one of the most dangerous illness. My mother tried to calm things a little, but my father was determined.”
“Every day it was a torture. The pressure of everybody watching your every move, judging when you do something wrong or good was horrible. Generally, the process of becoming king is between the ages of twenty-five and thirty. I was too young to take that weight on my shoulders, and the best decision I could take on that moment was to run away from everything. And without telling anybody, not even my dear mother, I left and never returned. I ran into the woods and since then I haven’t seen civilization.”
I was silence, still trying to make the information sync.
“Did you ever thought of going back?” I asked looking at him.
“Many times, but everyone probably thinks I am dead, so it is not worthy.” He said with his head in between his hands, looking at the distance.
“You are very strong, you know? I couldn’t have been alone all those years, missing my family.” What else could I have said? "I’m sorry"? Giving him my pity wasn’t going to make him feel better. I was honest. Maybe that’s all he needed.
“Whats your favorite color?” he asked suddenly, breaking the depressed atmosphere.
“Mmh, purple and pink.” I said with a small smile on my lips.
“How did you learn how to fight?” I asked the first question that popped into my head.
“When you are royalty, they teach you from a very young age how to fight. Since I have memory I was in sparring classes. My teacher was a very talented knight and he taught me everything he knew.”
I looked at him in awe. I always wanted to learn how to fight but my mother said it was too violent and not very lady-like.
“Whats the thing you miss the most from your world?” In less than a heartbeat, I answered.
“Music. I mean, if it came to people, of course I would say my family and my best-friend, but as an object, music. I miss playing the guitar and listening to Queen...”
He looked at me with a confused expression and I tried to explain.
“My favorite band is called Queen. They played classic-rock. However, the lead singer died before I was even born, so I’m just stuck listening to their albums over and over again, but I never get tired of listening to them.”
He nodded and kept his gaze on me. His intense look was piercing holes at the side of my face and I couldn’t avoid looking in his direction. The both of us were stack looking into each other’s eyes. His hazel eyes held an indescribable emotion, something that seemed foreign in his eyes. I couldn’t tear my eyes from him and he seemed he was in the same kind of trance. My pulse was starting to get erratic and my breath hitched. His gaze went from eyes to my lips, and I’m sure my heart stopped.
“Shall we go back?” he said in a quiet voice, daring to interrupt the moment.
I cleared my throat and nodded. “Y-yeah. Let’s go back.”
We went back to the cabin talking about small things, like why unicorns were not as adorable as I thought of. Both of us decided to ignore the weird moment we had, or well, at least I did.
When we arrived at the open, something was off. The air felt different, tense.
Cassius also felt it, and the conversation stopped.
He took his sword in silence and handed me the knife. I grabbed the knife and took deep breaths to calm down my racing heart.
“Lucy...” My subconscious reminded me of the Pegasus and my eyes went wide.
“Shit.” I muttered under my breath and started walking in the direction of the back of the cabin. Cassius grabbed my arm and turned me around.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?” He said in an angry tone.
“I need to know if Lucy is fine. Please.” I said with a pleading face.
He looked at me for some moments before he let out a breath in frustration. “Fine. I have your back.”
I smiled and mouthed a thank you and then returned to walk in Lucy’s direction.
When I got there, she was terrified and anguished. She couldn’t stand because of her broken leg and I went fast to her side to calm her down. At my sight, thankfully, she calmed down a little.
Luckily, she didn’t have any injuries, besides the ones she already had. The only thing that disturbed me was how scared she was, being this huge giant horse with wings.
I looked at Cassius behind me, that was also watching Lucy suspiciously.
Suddenly, growls came from the other side of the cabin. My head snapped in the direction of the sound and Cassius reached for my shoulder to calm me down. I swallowed in fear and raised the knife to protect myself. Cassius gave me a look to calm me and walked past me in the direction of the sounds. I let out a shaky breath and began walking behind him.
My hands were sweaty and my fingers felt numb from holding the knife with so much force. Cassius looked calm and determined, not the nervous wreck I was inside. We turned the corner and my eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing. My knees went weak in fear and I almost dropped the knife.
A 15 ft Troll with a huge stick, that looked more like a ripped tree, was standing there with blood in its mouth and a murderess look that froze me to the bone.