Chapter 6: Escape

I was awoken by the intoxicating aroma of something cooking. The smell drifted over my senses, making me gag in disgust. I was fully awake now, and aware of the morning feast taking place a few yards from where I sat.

Groggily, I rid my eyes of any sleep and ran a hand over my messy, black locks. Sometime during the night my hair had fallen from it's bun and was now hanging over my shoulders in thick waves. I have always hated my hair since I was a little girl. Born into a family of auburn hair, and I had to be black headed.

"Psst." I turned around at the sudden hiss and saw a figure peeking out of the flap of a tent. I stood up and stumbled over to it, seeing Clara motioning for me to follow her in the small leather tent. "Yes? She narrowed her eyes on my face, surprised that I didn't call her princess.

Figuring she could have me be-headed, I quickly drooped into a courtsey and stood up straight. She seemed satisfied at my action, and turned her back on me. I let out a quick breath. "I need a bath." She said in a snobbish tone. I hesitated to say something, afraid she would start talking again. But, after a second, I persisted the topic. "And.."

"And, I do not wish to take one while these...oafs are watching me. So, I have ordered your release on one condition." I nodded, suddenly feeling a wave of nausea spread through my torso. I didn't want to be her servant, nor anybody elses.

"You must accompany me to bathe. You may also bathe, I do not care. But, I need you to carry my belongings and necessities. We will travel unguarded, so be on the lookout. Follow me." I stood there astonished that she was this . . .odd. She didn't seem like she cared about a bath in the book.

Especially since she complained every other page about being treated like she was some uncaring girl who only wanted to be left on her throne. But, now that I am actually standing next to her, she is an utter brat!

I widened my eyes as a thick robe was thrown into my arms and we made off toward the river. My eyes darted everywhere, praying that those riders were not anywhere close by. It was amazing how calm Clara was this far away from the camp.

I took this oppurtunity to look at her. She was much different than I had imagined. Instead of beautiful blonde hair, it was braided messily and fell to her lower back like a rope. She did however have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. Her green emeralds made me loathe my plain crap-brown eyes that I have hated all my life.

"What is your name?" She asked suddenly, making me jump out of nervousness. "Uhm, Sam. Samantha." Clara turned and looked at me over her shoulder as she stopped. I could see the river beyond the bushes, calm and crystal clear, yet cold as ice.

Clara began to strip of her muddy tunic, throwing it over a branch that hung low from a tree. I turned around, not comfortable with seeing another woman naked. It wasn't that I was embarassed. It was more like I was ashamed of my own body being so puny and...lifeless.

"Aren't you going to undress? You can not bathe in your nightgown. I do not see why you were even wearing that in the first place. What were you and doing in the forest last night?" I narrowed my eyes as she mentioned Zeke. 'Man?' He was about 10 years younger than her, if not younger, and yet she still called him a man. Odd.

"We...were forced out of our village. By-By Baskiel." I pulled my stockings off last and draped them over my soiled jumper and button up shirt. I was completely exposed, and was not happy about it.

As I turned around, I found that Clara had already skipped to the bath, clearly not in the mood for a conversation. I followed and took my place in the chest deep water, suddenly fearing leeches and other underwater creatures.

"Don't just stand there, girl. We are limited to our time before they come looking for us. Hurry up." Clara snapped, making me submerge my head under the cold water immediately. Without any soap, it would be hard to bathe. I doubt they have any Herbal Essance.

I narrowed my eyes and ran a small rag Clara had given me over my skin, rubbing the dirt and grime off my body. By the time I started combing my hair out with my fingers, the princess had stepped up onto the bank and wrapped her robe around her tightly. She shook out her hair and quickly braided it back.

"You'd better hurry. It will take you quite a while to dry off and unfortunately, I do not have a robe for you." She smiled smugly and wrapped the folds of her thick, warm robe tighter around her frame. She is definately a brat.

I stepped up on the sandy bank of the river and shook my hair out. Even in the heat of the summer, I shivered, folding my arms over my chest. Clara was gone by the time the water droplets had completely vanished from my skin.

A stream of water still ran down my spine and back of my legs from my soaking wet hair. I squeezed much of the water out and ran to my clothes. They had been kicked and walked on, getting them more dirty and much more dusty. I sighed and shook the sand from my underwear before slipping it on.

Just as I had snapped my bra, something else snapped behind me. I spun around quickly gasping at the boy that stood gaping at me. We didn't speak a word. His eyes glued to my half-naked body, and my body completely frozen where I was.

"Uh..Uh..I'm sorry!" Zeke stammered, turning around and running as if a ghost was chasing him. I shook my head and shakily put my clothes back on, knowing I could not look him in the eye. As I walked back into camp, I heard a soft giggle coming from Clara. She was all over Zeke, pushing him into a tree trunk as he looked at me with a look of helplessness.

I smiled mockingly and shrugged. "You there!" I jerked my head to the side just as someone took hold of my wrists. It was Victor. "Who is that young man?" I looked to where Clara and her victim were standing. I let out a giggle and turned to look at Victor.

I was so close to his face and with one look in his grey eyes, all of my dreams and fantasies came flooding back. My cheeks flushed brightly and I cleared my throat. "I..I'm not that familiar with him. His name is Ezekiel and he belonged to the same village as I." Victor, not pleased with my answer pulled me into a tent and forced me onto a table.

A few utensils and papers flew off at my awkwardness and fluttered and crashed to the floor. "Tell me more! Why is he all over the princess?"

"Uh, it looks more like she's all over him. And why do you care?" His eyes shifted uncomfortably and he turned around, clearing his throat. When he spoke again, his voice had turned deep, hiding his feelings.

"I am just concerned of the well-being of the princess." As he spoke, the dusty wheels in my head started turning.

I tapped my fingernail to my chin and stood from the desk, tapping Victor lightly on the shoulder. "If I may, I have a proposition for you.." Once Victor was hooked, it wasn't long until I had him, hook, line, and sinker.

"And we will just 'slip' away un-noticed, leaving your princess lonely, and desperate. She'll need someone to cry to, Victor." He cast me a warning glance and I shrunk back, knowing where I stand. "Anyway, we'll be out of your hair without a trace! Just get your guards off of us while we leave!"

Victor nodded violently as I held my hand out for him to shake. He took it reluctantly and gave my small hand a firm squeeze. He left the tent and called for a fire to be lit immediately. I grinned to myself and left also, seeing Zeke rush by quickly.

He grabbed my arm and pulled me past the tents to a shaded part of the camp. He ducked behind a thick patch of bushes, forcing me down with him. "I do not like it here and no matter what you say, we're LEAVING tonight!" I nodded.

Zeke looked at me with an authorative look before he realized I was agreeing. "I don't care what you say! We're- Erm, you...want to leave too?" I nodded again, grinning from ear to ear. "Duh! Anyway, the quicker we leave, the better chance Victor will have at getting Clara for himself. Besides, I have an idea on how to help the good guys out." I sat back on my rear-end, amazed at how relaxed I am acting when this boy just seen me half naked not an hour ago.

Zeke narrowed his eyes on me and grabbed my forearm, pulling me infront of him. My mood changed to bad as I looked into his eyes, noticing the color changing from light to dark, navy blue. "You are NOT getting us in any more trouble!" He growled, shaking me slightly. I narrowed my eyes and jerked myself away from him.

"Please, I know what I'm doing. I am the one that has read this book 40 million times, ok? I know what I'm doing..Trust me." I stood up and left him sitting, hiding behind the bushes. The little pixie I had forgotten all about, returned at my shoulder. She squeeked and pointed to the sky.

The sun was setting behind the salmon colored clouds. I smiled at the bright purple and pink clouds that spanded the entire horizon. It seemed picturesque, like an artist had painted the clouds delicately, knowing exactly how to make them beautiful. I blinked back sudden tears as my head filled with questions that had been haunting me for a while.

Why are we here? What if we never make it back home? I don't want to spend my life here, not knowing what would become of my old life. . .

I sat there while they ate, and suddenly I realized I had not eaten in two days. My stomach answered me back with a loud growl that turned a few heads. A couple of rough looking soldiers turned to stare at me as I stood up and made my way to the table where Victor sat.

He smiled to me and handed me a dark brown plate. There were vegetables, fruit and some heavily salted meat. A cup of water was also forced into my hands as I tried to balance the pile of food on my plate and the sloshing water.

I sat down beside Zeke who was eating. He shoved handfuls of apples, carrots, grapes, and chicken in his mouth. I picked at my food mostly, wondering how sanitary it was. How had they cooked the meat? We could die from food poisoning, but I realized our problems were bigger than the food.

With a sigh I looked back up to see the eyes of Victor staring at me. We held each others gaze for eternity. The laughter faded out into the night as everything around me molded into Victor. He was every single thing I had ever wanted. His face was all I wanted to see. Yet, I was still not happy. We were leaving tonight, and all I wanted to do was. . .leave

I didn't want to stay here. The butterflies in my stomach vanished. I no longer saw Victor as my 'perfect' man. He was merely. . . a man. I heard a burp from my side and Zeke smiled at me, lifting his cup in the air. "Cheers!"

"Whatever." I gulped mine down and set it on the ground beside my feet. Nightfall came shortly after dinner, leaving me nervous. Zeke had no idea of mine and Victor's plan, and I do not intend to tell him anytime soon.

The pixie's name, I found out from Victor, was Lilly. He can understand and speak her language. She doesn't speak the common tongue, so I have no way to communicate with her. It doesn't particularly bother me, but it would be nice to know where we are and were we are headed.

Zeke, who was dusting off the seat of his pants at the moment, looked bored to death with this place. Every other minute, he was swatting the flies and mosquitoes away with his hand while grumbling and complaining under his breath. Just as I looked at Lilly to smile, a hand was placed on my shoulder, sliding around my back until it left my body completely.

I glanced back, dazed at the sudden touch, and found it to be Victor, signaling me to get ready. Standing, I took Zeke by the hand and pulled him closer to the edge of the camp. The firelight barely reached to where we were, but it still lit our way. "SOUTHERN RIDERS!"

Victor howled over the laughter and conversations, pointing to the West. I took this oppurtunity to run with Zeke right behind me. He was already panting, trying to keep up with my swift feet. Lilly was having a hard time keeping up also.

I looked behind me occasionaly to see the camp fire grow smaller and smaller behind me. I didn't want to leave, but I had no choice. If Zeke and I interferred with the relationship that has to develop between Clara and Victor, we could be in serious trouble. The surpisingly wonderful thought of leaving my fantasy of being with Victor behind only made me run faster.

"Sam! PLEASE!" Zeke shouted, his voice echoing in the night. I turned around, panting to see him surrounded by a dozen men. They were all dressed in black from their head to their feet.

"Whoa!" I exclaimed, turning to run as they seized Zeke. However, I too was taken into their grasp. My arms, secured by two men, who were quickly tieing them together, felt as if they were being crushed under a thousand pounds.

These men, probably the Southern Riders, were evil. The bad guys who chased us in the forest. I gasped and looked up into the trees to see Lilly, hiding in the branches. She flew away as soon as she saw my eyes, fluttering back to Victor.

"Well well well..." A voice said from beside me. I looked up to see a man standing before me. Black clothing covered every inch of his body except a slit where his eyes could be seen. I stared up at them, noticing how the fire from the torches danced in the black orbs.

"What do we have here?" He said, taking my restraints into his own hands. I didn't say a thing, only concentrated on his eyes. I was not familiar with many of the characters from the Southern Formation. I usually didn't like them, and immediately hated them.

I felt his hands wrap around my wrists before he loosened the ropes. "Loosen their ropes. We do not want our new friends to feel uncomfortable do we?" The man turned from his company, to look at me. "You have no reason to fear us, my dear. We just need to ask you some...questions."

AN- Wow, I've been falling asleep on my job. Well, here's chapter 6...and I'm still embarassed about the mistake chapter 5...*sighs and hides face in shame* please review!