The Prince watched Tempest with interest as she was able to mount Jasmine with ease, and her laughter was infectious to the stable hands, that were keen to see how the pair fared together. When Sirus thought that she was ready, he clicked his tongue twice and gave his horse a light kick, to get them started off.
Leading out of the cobble stoned court yard, the road base would more like a light gravel, and the surrounding sides covered in a grassy plain. With miles of open fields before them, the Prince sung out;
“NOW TO SEE IF YOU CAN KEEP UP…..YAAAAAH!” With a sudden holler, the Prince took off at speed on Scorn, galloping across the open field, and then jumping a low lying fence, before disappearing off into the dark woods. The path way had many turns and bends, and the Prince’s stead was powering along, thundering through the forest, disturbing many of the woodland creatures. The Prince was a keen rider, and it showed in how he was able to handle Scorn throughout the dense terrain.
Only when he came to a clearing near a babbling brook, did he pull up hard, and look behind him to see if she had been able to follow him.
“NOW TO SEE IF YOU CAN KEEP UP…..YAAAAAH!” he yelled, urging Scorn into a fast run and jumping a fence that seperated the land from a forest. Tempest was not idle, she leaned in to whisper something into Jasmine’s ear. The mare whinnied and took off after Scorn, easily clearing the fence and following behind Sirus by a horse-length. She kept both males in sight as he dodged through trees and leapt over bushes in an effort, it seemed, to throw her off. But she had been taught by the best and had beaten them in a race on more than one occassion.
“Now.” she urged Jasmine in a soft tone. Jasmine seemed to lean forward, putting on a burst of speed and darting to the left through a grove of trees. The path was dense here but Jasmine seemed to easily dodge the obstacles. Tempest caught sight of Sirus as they raced through the forest, pulling even with him with only trees separating them. It seemed he hadn’t noticed that she was no longer behind him and with a grin, she urged Jasmine to go faster.
A final leap over a low lying shrub brought her into a clearing with a babbling brook close by, seconds after Sirus and Scorn. She stared at the Prince with a huge grin on her face, running a hand along Jasmine’s neck as the mare breathed hard beneath her.
“Not bad…but you might need to give your horse a good rest after exerting that much energy so fast.” Sirus let Scorn wander off to eat some of the fresh green grass nearby, as the Prince knelt down to pick up a pebble and then started to play a game whereby he would throw the pebble to see how many times it would skip along the surface of the water before finally sinking below. He was pleased at least to now be out from the watchful eye of his sister and Mother, and he didn’t have to put on grace and airs around a simple girl from some far off realm.
“So…what did your folks do to you?” Sirus asked point blank. Why beat about the bush? If her family was so bad and horrid, he had a right to know, since their kingdom was now placing her under their protection as a refugee. He picked up another pebble, and tossed it like the first, not really looking back at Tempest. It was not that he didn’t find her unattractive, he just had a lot on his mind about the whole arranged marriage deal.
“Not bad…but you might need to give your horse a good rest after exerting that much energy so fast.” he stated. She agreed and dismounted from Jasmine, patting her to let her know she was free to wander about and rest. Jasmine bumped her hand with a nicker and followed Scorn.
She turned to watch the Prince, moving to a downed tree and sitting upon the bark.
“So…what did your folks do to you?” he asked bluntly as he continued to skip pebbles. She was surprised by the topic, wondering if he could sense if she was to be truthful. She couldn’t outright lie, but she could leave out parts of the truth.
“When you said I wouldn’t understand what you were going through…that wasn’t entirely true.” she began. “My grandfather…he…wanted me to marry someone of his choosing. I refused. My own parents didn’t stand up for me and it broke my heart. I couldn’t stay and be subject to such a travesty…all to secure lands and an ally in any future conflicts. He would force me into an unhappy marriage, without love? That isn’t who I am, no matter what my station in life is to be.” she explained.
“My grandfather…he…wanted me to marry someone of his choosing. I refused. My own parents didn’t stand up for me and it broke my heart. I couldn’t stay and be subject to such a travesty…all to secure lands and an ally in any future conflicts. He would force me into an unhappy marriage, without love? “
Ah, so that was why she sought sanctuary. Figures. Sirus sighed, then picked up another pebble to toss, hurling it across the water, and watching it skip across the surface.
“Your Grandfather and my Mother should date. Sounds like they have the same ideas.” He said with sigh, lowering his arm, then dropping to the ground and sitting Indian style, picking up pebbles and looking at each thoughtfully. Looking up at Tempest, he asked;
“So you ran away….and came here seeking protection. Great. Does that mean we are going to have some army and a mad Grandfather pounding on our front gates? Last thing we need is a war.” He asked, now worried if this girl was going to be more trouble than she was worth.
“I mean…sure we can fight, if we knew what we were up against.”
“No one knows where I am. I’d like to keep it that way.” she allowed, brushing some dirt from her clothes. She released a sigh. “I just don’t know if I would be welcome home if I returned there. My family abandoned me to my grandfather’s decree. I don’t know if I can forgive them for that.”
She thought of her father, her hero, her knight…and his betrayal. She pressed a hand to her eyes in an effort to not cry. It was a near thing and she drew in a shaky breath as she got a hold of her emotions. She glanced up to see him still staring at her and she wondered if he was the type to panic at seeing a woman cry. She hoped not or she’d probably have to hit him. “I’m fine.” she stated for his comfort.
“If you say so.” He wasn’t too sure if he believed her. It sounded a bit odd, that by her words her grandfather had issued a decree. That was a royal affair. The Prince wasn’t stupid. But what got him was her reaction. She seemed upset, visibly so. The way she pressed her hand up to her eyes, then the shake in her voice. A tremor that was unmistakable.
“I’m fine.” Tempest insisted.
“I don’t think you are. I mean, if you were, you wouldn’t be off loading all this.”
The Prince was not trying to be cruel, but with his own problems, and now this, he had to wonder just what his Mother had done, dropping her in his lap. He let out a sigh, and then turned to face her, the crush of the sounds of pebbles underneath him breaking the din.
“The things we fight for, are often the very things we can’t see…or touch. You and I both share one thing. Neither of us want to be shackled to a person we don’t love. To be honest, I don’t even know what love is….yet here I am…fighting to have the chance to experience it one day. I must sound like a right prat, huh?’
“No…you make perfect sense.” She disagreed with him. “I used to think I knew what love was. My parents had it…then things fell apart…in a lot of ways.” she sighed, looking at her hands. She sat up straighter and looked him in the eye. “That part of my life is over. The only way they’ll get me back there is if I’m kidnapped, kicking and screaming the whole way.” she stated with conviction. Getting to her feet, she moved to where Jasmine was grazing and began brushing her coat with her hands.
Sirus watched Tempest rise to her feet, brushing herself down, before going over to find solace from the horse Jasmine. He looked back at the rock pool and picked up another pebble, tossing just one last time, before he himself rose up off the ground.
“So what do you hope to gain from living under Fae law, now that you have moved on with your life? I mean..you’re not fae. I have to ask…but what ARE you exactly?”
This was a very good question.