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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wench

“Wench!” an angry voice rang out among the cacophony of the glitz and glamour of a riverside tavern. Natalie’s face burned in shame as she made her way through the maze of tables and legs. The “customer” was impaired. Anyone with eyes could tell. Natalie personally knew he’d already had seven tankards of ale. She’d brought each of them to him herself.

She set the refilled tankard in front of him and made as if to leave. The man grabbed her wrist, preventing her escape. He pulled her towards him and smiled down at her. Natalie had to force herself not to gag as his awful breath filled her.

“What do you say we go find ourselves a cozy little room,” he slurred.

She made herself to look him in the face. “I don’t think so,” she responded with forced patience.

He gave a low laugh deep in this throat. “I don’t think you understand, sweetheart,” he rumbled. “I wasn’t askin’ your opinion.” He smiled revealing his toothy grin.

Natalie’s face flushed but she was determined hold her superior attitude. “Let go,” she said slowly, pronouncing each word carefully.

“And what if I don’t?” the man asked jovially.

Natalie’s response was cut off as a newcomer entered the bray, “I believe she said let go.”

Natalie’s heart began to pound even harder than it had previously been pounding. Natalie looked over her shoulder at the speaker, and sure enough, it was Michael; tall blond-haired, green-eyed, perfect in every way, Michael.

Mr. “customer” was angry at this intrusion. He slipped his free arm around Natalie’s waist and held her against him. “This is man’s business boy. Go home and play with your dolls,” he smirked at his own joke.

In an instant, Michael’s sword was out of its scabbard and three centimeters away from the man’s throat. Natalie felt the eyes of the entire tavern resting upon their little threesome.

“Let go!” Michael growled. It was a quiet sound that could be easily heard in every corner of the room.

Natalie felt the man’s grip on her lessen as he was mesmerized by the sword. That was enough for Natalie. She jammed her elbow just above the man’s bulging belly into his rib cage.

She was instantly released as the man doubled over. Unluckily, Michael had seen the plan calculating behind my eyes and had moved the sword so as to not slice the man’s neck. Michael used his free hand to grab my arm and pulled me away from the man who was beginning to stand up straight.

“Now get out!” Michael hissed, replacing the sword on the man’s throat.

Even in his drunken stupor, the man saw the wisdom in this. He backed up and stumbled to the door and out. Michael sheathed his sword and gripped my arm, leading me to a back room while the tavern patrons returned to their drinks and conversation.

Natalie turned on him when they were alone. “I was doing fine without your help,” she glared at him.

“Are you okay?” he asked, ignoring her comment.

Natalie was about to make another retort when the intensity of his green-eyed gaze caught her off guard. She looked down at her feet. “I’m fine,” she whispered softly. She didn’t realize she was crying until he used a gentle finger to wipe them away.

“This can’t keep happening, Natalie,” he began. “This is the third time you’ve been attacked this month.”

“It’s not like I have a choice. I’m stuck here as long as papa owns the tavern,” Natalie sighed and gazed off into the distance.

Michael looked at her long and hard. Finally he spoke, “Natalie, I—.”

“NATALIE!” a new voice called, cutting him off.

Natalie gave him a weak smile, “Papa beckons.” She turned and walked out the door, leaving him by himself in the room as she went back to her work.

Natalie sank into a chair and rested her head on her folded arms as the last of the patrons disappeared out the door.

She hated her life. Working in a riverside tavern with people constantly jeering at her was not enjoyable. What happened today had been a perfect example. But luckily her friend since childhood, Michael, had taught her some self defense moves so she could handle rowdy drunks. While she had told him about every incident, today was the first time he was there when it happened.

A grunt came from behind her. Natalie raised her to see her father staring at her with his signature glare. In one hand he held a sack of horse feed. “Those horses aren’t going to feed themselves,” he grunted, dropping the bag on the ground before returning to the kitchen.

Natalie stood up wearily and hefted the heavy bag over her shoulder. She stumbled across the floor and out the door to the stables. She began her trek to the stables when a hand reached out of the shadows of the tavern and clapped over her mouth.

Natalie swung the bag of feed from her shoulder, attempting to hit the person. The person ducked and maneuvered so her back was pressed against them. “Stop!” he hissed as Natalie fought to escape. “It’s me!”

Natalie stopped fighting. “Michael! Why would you do that? You scared me half to death!”

Michael released her and she spun on her. She opened her mouth to say more, but he silenced her, with a kiss.

He pulled away and Natalie found herself utterly speechless.

“Natalie,” he started hesitantly before rushing on, “seeing what I saw tonight really scared me. It made me realize I wouldn’t be able to bear it if anything bad happened to you.”

Natalie regained herself and nonchalantly shrugged off his concern. She had no idea what to make of this new development. “Nothing is going to happen to me,” she assured him.

“You’re right,” he agreed, “that’s because I’m taking you away from here tonight, forever. Away from this tavern and your father and all those people who want to take advantage of you.”

If Natalie was speechless before, now she was dumbfounded. She had not seen this coming. Running away with Michael was an idea she’d never even considered. Who would ever want a wench? Even though Michael was always there, Natalie had never let herself entertain the idea of somebody actually wanting her. And there was no way she could leave her little brother, Gabriel. He would be left here to deal with father all on his own. Now here was Michael, asking her to run away, and it struck her completely blindsided. He couldn’t be serious.

Natalie became angry. What a mean joke to play on her. “Go away,” she said, her voice trembling and angry tears pooling in her eyes.

Michael stepped back as if he’d been slapped. A look of shock and hurt was written across his face.

“You’re a horrible friend, you know that right?” Natalie turned away from him. She picked up her bag of feed from where it had dropped to the ground and stomped off in the direction of the stable, barely noticing the weight. She saw Gabriel’s silhouette standing in the doorway to the stable. He stood with his mouth hanging open.

When she reached the stable door, she looked over her shoulder to see that Michael hadn’t moved an inch. His face was contorted in hurt and confusion. Why was he still playing? Didn’t he realize he was tearing her heart in two?

Suddenly, Natalie found herself wanting answers. She dropped the bag at Gabe’s feet and stormed back over to Michael. “Stop!” she hissed. Standing only a foot away now, she banged her fist on his chest.

To her surprise, the blow made him fall to the ground. She was too angry to care.
“Why are you doing this to me?” she demanded, standing over him.

“Natalie,” he began, his voice laced with confusion, “I don’t understand.”

“Don’t even pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about,” she yelled at him, not caring how late it was. “Why play such a cruel joke on me?”

Michael’s confusion cleared and he stood up. “Natalie, I’m not—,” he tried, but she cut him off.

“You know what, Michael? I don’t care. You’re just a jerk. I can’t believe I wasted so many years on you.” Tears began to course down her cheeks and she ran towards the stable.

Michael was able to reach her after only a few steps. He grabbed her arm and spun her so they were face to face. He wrapped her hands up in his. “You know me better than that Natalie. You know I wouldn’t play a joke like that on you. I love you Natalie. I always have. It just took me until today to realize it. And you know what?”

Natalie shook her head.

“If all the love in the world could be contained on a grain of sand, all the beaches of the world would not come close to the amount of love I feel for you,” he begged her with his eyes to believe him. But when he looked at her, he could still see lingering doubt. “Please, Natalie, what can I do to make you believe me?” he asked.

Natalie took a shuddering breath and pulled her hands away from Michael’s. “Go away,” she repeated in a whisper.

Michael’s face fell.

“I . . . I just need some time to think is all,” she explained weakly.

Hope reentered Michael’s bright green eyes. He took he hand and raised it to his lips, planting a small kiss. “I will ever be waiting,” he whispered.

Before Natalie had a chance to reply, Michael was gone.

Natalie hugged her arms around herself in the chilly night air. Her mind was numb and she didn’t know what to think. A hand touched her arm. She spun, her heart beat wildly, but it was only Gabe.

“What’s wrong Nat?” he asked softly.

“Nothing,” she responded, but then felt the desire to tell him the truth. “Michael asked me to run away. Silly, huh?” she added with false levity.

Gabe looked at her for a moment. He was completely serious, “No, it’s not. Why didn’t you go with him?”

Natalie was shocked at his answer. “I could never leave you Gabe! Why would you even suggest such a thing?”

Gabe rolled his eyes, “Hmmm, maybe because you love him.”

Natalie opened and closed her mouth, but no sound came out.

“Oh please,” Gabe laughed at her, “I’m your little brother. It’s my job to know everything about your love interests. Plus you made it like, not even hard.”

She joined in his laughter. “I guess maybe I do.”

Their gaiety came to an abrupt end as a new, eerily familiar voice reached them. “Well if it ain’t the wench. Looks like we’re gonna have some fun tonight boys.”

The voice sent a shudder through Natalie. A group of riffraff stood a few yards off in the direction of the road. At the forefront of the group was the man who had confronted her earlier. Despite his earlier drinks, right then he appeared completely sober.

Natalie took an involuntary step back, but found herself come to a stop as a giant man grabbed her from behind. She fought against him to no avail.

She had all but forgotten about Gabe until he started swinging his fists at her captor. “Let go of my sister!” he yelled, accenting each word with a punch. His efforts only caused all the men to laugh.

Natalie understood the severity of her situation, and knew that no amount of fighting would get them out of it. So, she did what any normal girl would. She screamed.

Everyone there, including Gabe and the man holding her, were startled by the piercing scream as it split through the still night air like a knife. Natalie’s captor immediately released her. She grabbed Gabriel’s arm and sprinted in the only direction open to them as her assailants regained their senses.

They were through the stable door by the time she heard yelling and pounding feet behind her. She quickly looked around the stable as she ran through it. “Hide Gabe!” she whispered urgently. He took off in the direction of their favorite nook from when they used to play hide-and-seek. The stable had no back door because papa didn’t want thieves to come in the night and steal the tavern residents’ property. She needed a hiding place that would buy her enough time for someone to heed her cry for help.

There! Gabe had yet to unsaddle one of the horses. Without startling the horse, she entered its stall and turned it sideways. On the side facing away from the door, she hooked one leg through a saddlebag and wrapped her fingers through the girth. Then, she raised her other leg off the ground and rested it on her other. In this position, she could not be seen from the door or the walkway separating the two halves of the stable’s stalls.

She was only barely in time pulling her leg up from the ground. Men pounded into the stable.
“Find her!” Tavern Man yelled at his men as he commenced overturning bales of hay. Natalie’s muscle’s strained to hold her up. Tears came to her eyes from pain but she held on tighter.
“There she is!” a voice called. It seemed to come from right above her. She tilted her head back and saw that a man was in the next stall pointing at her. While she couldn’t be seen from the walkway, the stalls to either side of her granted onlookers a perfect view. At least they hadn’t found Gabe.

Natalie tried to drop to the ground so she could avoid capture for as long as possible, but her foot caught on the saddlebag. Her head smashed into the ground. Spots danced across her vision. When they cleared, she saw Tavern Man standing over her, a wicked grin darkening his features.

A man burst into the stable, gasping, “Agar, somebody’s coming!” As if to confirm his words a voice reached them from outside.

“Natalie!” Michael yelled. Everybody in the barn froze.

Agar regained his senses the fastest. “What are you waiting for?” he shouted at the men. “Teach the whelp a lesson he won’t forget about sticking his nose in other people’s business!” The men acted immediately on his orders.

No! Natalie screamed in her head. Out loud she yelled, “Michael, run!”

Before she could get out any more, Agar slapped her face, leaving her stunned. Quickly and efficiently in a practiced move, Agar tied a length of rope around her hands and another around her feet.

To her ultimate horror, she saw Gabe approaching from behind Agar on soft feet. He was holding a length of metal he’d found like one would a baseball bat.

Agar saw Natalie’s eyes widen and spun around, seeing her brother. Before Gabriel had a chance to swing, a knife materialized in Agar’s hand and he stabbed Gabe in the abdomen.

Gabe let go of the metal and cried out in agony. He dropped to his knees and clutched his stomach. Great amounts of his lifeblood slipped over his fingers and he seemed to grow paler by the second.

“No! Gabe!” Natalie screamed, attempting tenfold to break away from Agar as he raised her to her feet.

Agar quickly formulated a plan and tossed her over the saddle like one would a dead animal. No matter how much she squirmed, she couldn’t make herself fall off. She continued screaming Gabe’s name as Agar took the horse’s reins and led it outside. Despite the Agar’s earlier behavior in the tavern, his recent actions had proved him to be a truly dangerous adversary.

What she saw outside lifted her spirits. Michael had used his sword to a great advantage. The ground around him was littered with unconscious men and still he fought on, trying to reach her. She truly did love him. She knew he’d be able to save Gabe.

“Michael!” Natalie screamed, trying to get his attention. He looked up as he collapsed the final man. “Go help Gabe!”

Michael didn’t listen, but started running toward her as Agar expertly mounted the mare. A hand from a man pretending to be unconscious reached out and grabbed Michael’s ankle, causing him to nose dive into the grass. The man was on him in an instant. He brought his club down on Michael’s head with a thunk. Michael’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and he didn’t move.
Agar urged the horse to greater speeds, taking Natalie farther and farther away from Michael and Gabe.

Gabriel managed to crawl out of the stable. He saw Michael lying in the grass. He stumbled over to him and collapsed at his side, taking in huge gulps of air. Giant tears were running from his eyes. He did his best to wipe the blood off from one of his hands onto the grass before reaching out and shaking Michael’s shoulder.

“You have to wake up Michael,” he cried. “Please, Natalie needs you. She needs you! Wake up!”
Michael groaned and brought the heel of his hand up to rub his temple. He blinked his eyes open and looked at Gabriel, not comprehending. “Gabriel, what are you doing in my room?”

Gabe shook his head violently and grimaced in pain. “Focus, Michael! We’re not in your room. We’re at the tavern. That man just rode off with Natalie. He kidnapped my sister!”

Michael sat up with a jerk and looked frantically around him at the scene. Images of what had happened flashed across his mind’s eye. He saw Natalie’s captor riding away into the night. She really was gone.

The man who’d hit him must have run off into the night. Michael looked frantically at the faces of the unconscious, searching for any more fakers. From the looks of it, none of them were. But one of the men began groaning.

Michael crossed over to him and held a knife against his throat. The man’s eyes wearily opened. When he saw his precarious position, he froze and tried not to swallow as the knife pressed against his Adam’s apple. “Where is she?” Michael hissed.

Michael could see an eye forming in the man’s eyes.

He pressed the knife harder until it broke skin and a trickle of blood emerged.

Michael released pressure on the knife so the man could answer.

“Agar is taking her to the warehouse by the river,” he gasped. Michael could tell this was the truth.

“Which warehouse?” Michael asked curtly.

“The big one.” When he saw Michael’s expression he added in a rush, “The one with the horse on the front.”

Michael shoved the man to the ground and sheathed his knife. He set off toward the road then stopped. “You coming, Gabe?” he called over his shoulder.

There was no answer.

Michal spun around. “Gabriel?” He saw him kneeling on the ground with his arms wrapped around his middle.

He had a pure expression of pain etched on his pale face. He looked up at Michael and slowly took his hands from his stomach.

Michael gasped in shock as he saw the blood staining his arms and soaking his shirt. Gabe collapsed unconscious to the ground.

In an instant, Michael was at his side, tearing open his shirt. Only now, as he tried to staunch the flow of blood from the ugly wound, did Natalie’s plea process in his mind. Tying off a strip of fabric, Michael ransacked the stable until he was able to find a small first aid kit.

Quickly, he returned to Gabriel’s side. “Sorry Gabe,” he whispered as he took a needle and thread and quickly stitched the lips of the wound together. Using strips of fabric, he tied off the vicious cut.

“Sorry again, bud,” he grunted as he picked up Gabe and began running down the street through the night in the direction of his own house.

* * * * *

Natalie’s sides were killing her from bouncing up and down on the horse. Her throat had gone dry from screaming. Agar kept a tight hold on her so she couldn’t slide off the horse. Agar jerked back on the reins and the horse ambled to a stop.

He shoved Natalie off the horse. She hit the ground hard, and her vision swam. Stars twirled above her and the picture of a horse on a hanging sign swam in and out of focus to the left. Agar yanked her off the ground so hard that her momentum carried her until she was resting over his shoulder. From her position, she could only see the sweaty back of Agar’s shirt.

She heard laughter coming from down the lane. She tried screaming again. The laughter became louder.

“Whad’ve ya got there, Agar?” One of the voices slurred. Natalie realized they were drunk.

“I’ looks like a neuw trea’!” a different voice hooted.

Drunken laughter bounced off the walls. “Can we ‘ave it when yur finnershed?” A man yelled.

Natalie heard Agar muttering unkind things under his breath as stepped inside the horse building she’d seen before. The door slammed shut, and Natalie knew she was alone with him. She felt her skin break out in a cold sweat as he marched across the room. He plopped her down in the corner on top of a pile of flour sacks. All her breath left her in a grunt. She struggled to regain it as she examined her surroundings.

She was in a large warehouse. From what she could see, it appeared as though it was actually situated over part of the river. Boats bobbed gently in the water that consisted of at least one third of the floor. Other areas of the floor included various other piles of food sacks, barrels of fresh water, tools for boat repairs, a pile of dirty clothes, and a row of cots for sleeping. None of them was currently occupied. A giant door hanging over the river could be lowered by a hand crank that probably took five men to work. Her view was blocked off as Agar stood over her. He wrapped his meaty fingers around her upper arm, and dragged her close to him.

The smell of his breath was beyond words. It made Natalie want to throw up. “You’re mine,” he whispered. His free hand rested on her hip.

Natalie was too shocked and scared to do anything.

Suddenly, the main door creaked open and a man stumbled in, panting. Agar released her angrily and stomped in the direction of the newcomer. “Is the situation neutralized? And before you answer, know that the answer had better be yes.”

The man swallowed and looked down. “Yes, sir.”

Agar frowned. “You don’t seem confident in that answer.”

“I knocked him unconscious, sir¬─”

“Unconscious?” His eyes, already dark, seemed to darken further. “You didn’t kill him?”

“No, sir.” The answer was quieter than a whisper.

Natalie sensed the pending disaster. She turned her head away just as the gurgling sound erupted, followed by a thump as the man hit the ground. Natalie took a deep, shuddering breath. She looked up to see Agar standing over her. “You will be mine soon enough, but for now we must set the bait. Your little friend will come for you, and when he does, we’ll be ready and waiting. She looked to his hand to see him holding a rope.

* * * * *

Michael shouldered open the door to his small cottage. He laid Gabe down on his bed. The bright red had transformed into dark crimson. Carefully, Michael pealed away the crude bandages. Gabe flinched slightly, but remained in his sleep. Michael released a sigh of relief. The blood flow was now only a trickle. The stitches weren’t pretty, but they would hold. Gabe would be okay.

Gabriel blinked his eyes open. “Michael?” He looked around with his eyes. “Where’s Natalie?”

Michael’s expression told him everything he needed to know.

“You have to save her, Michael.”

Michael nodded and looked into his eyes. “Will you be all right here?” He wanted to go after Natalie, but he felt reluctant to leave Gabriel here alone with such a grievous injury.

Gabe’s eyes pierced him. “Go.”

An instant later, Michael was running through the cold, dark streets toward the warehouse district. Buildings flashed by. Michael didn’t take time to notice them. He was looking for a specific feature. The horse. He almost missed it.

The horse was painted directly onto the warehouse, and it was huge. The painting job was amateurish, and it only looked like a horse if one tilted their head to the side and squinted slightly. But it was a horse nonetheless.

He took a few giant steps in the direction of the building when something brought him up short. It was too quiet. Michael felt the wrongness of the situation, but couldn’t pinpoint the source. Michael stepped back from the door, and walked over to examine the horse from closer. He touched it lightly with his hand, and his fingers came away wet. The paint was fresh. Very fresh. Natalie’s captor was trying to trick him.

Running feet sounded from the direction he’d just come. Michael leaped into the small alley between two of the warehouses and pressed himself to the wall. He peered out carefully and saw a man run passed. He looked vaguely familiar. With a jolt, Michael realized it was the man from the yard he had interrogated.

On silent feet, Michael followed him along the warehouse district. The man came to a sudden halt in front of a large building. Michael ducked behind a barrel as the man checked to make sure he hadn’t been followed before disappearing inside the building.

Michael waited a minute, then two. When the man didn’t emerge, Michael approached the door. A sudden flurry of activity in a pile of wood next to the building brought him up short. A car leaped out from behind the wood, but Michael paid it no mind. Glancing around, he stepped towards the pile to confirm his suspicions. Indeed it was the remnants of a newly torn down sign. The pieces rearranged themselves in his mind, and he blatantly saw the horse. Michael knew that this was his building. He also knew that the man was inside, probably waiting for him in the off chance that he hadn’t taken the bait laid out for him at the other building. He wouldn’t be expected, and Michael would use that to his full advantage.

With a quiet hiss, he unsheathed his blade. He threw open the door to the warehouse and positioned his sword at the ready. The man jumped up in shock from his position on the ground. He fumbled awkwardly at his side for his own blade. From his viewpoint, Michael could see Natalie bound to one of the posts on the far side of the room. A gag was in her mouth muffling her words. When she saw him, she began screaming at him and desperately trying to break free from her bonds.

“Get out now,” Michael hissed at the man, “and I’ll pretend that I never saw your ugly face here.”

The man was still for a second. He then sheathed his sword in a hurried fashion and fled by Michael into the night.

Michael sheathed his own sword and ran across the room to Natalie. He dropped to her side, and pulled a smaller knife from his belt. With a quick but controlled sawing motion he began cutting at her bounds. Natalie continued to struggle just as hard, if not harder, than she had been before.

“Calm down, Natalie,” he ordered as he attempted not to cut her wrists. “We have to go now before they figure out I didn’t fall for their ruse.”

Natalie stopped struggling, but glared at him until he removed her gag. “No Michael! You don’t understand! They led you here! This is the trap! You have to leave!”

Michael absorbed that for a second. Had they really led him here? Had it all been part of the plan? Now that Natalie had stopped moving, Michael commenced hacking at the ropes with his knife. “I’m not leaving without you!”

Her bonds fell away and Michael raised her to her feet. Right before they reached the door, it slammed shut and a bellowing laughter filled the air around them.

“You didn’t really think I’d let you get away that easy did you?” the voice laughed. The voice seemed to come from everywhere so that Michael couldn’t locate the source.

He felt Natalie press herself up against him. Glancing at her face he noticed how pale it was. “He’s here,” she whispered, her voice shaking with fear.

Michael looked at the room at large. “Show yourself, coward!” he shouted.

Instantly, a sharp pain flared through his left side, and he found himself falling forward to the ground. Natalie cried out as she was torn away from him.

Michael attempted to push himself up, but his hand shot to his side as the sharp pain reached him. Warm blood ran over his fingers, and Michael found that his sword in it’s sheath had been cut away. Natalie’s scream cut off abruptly. A foot pressed down in the small of Michael’s back. Michael gritted his teeth as his face met with the cold stone ground.

He turned his head as far as it would twist from that position. The man who had started this all was standing above him, his foot still pressing down on Michael’s back. He had one hand clamped over Natalie’s mouth. The sword he’d used to down Michael was replaced nicely in its scabbard. His other hand was holding Michael’s sword, sheath and all, into the air. The man smiled down at Michael with a look of irritation pasted on his face.

“You really are making this too easy, boy,” the man commented lightly. With a quick flick of his wrist, Michael’s sword clanged against one of the boats before disappearing into the depths of the river.¬¬ “How disappointing,” he sneered. Without another word, he turned on his heel, and, dragging Natalie along, made his way toward the boats.

“No,” Michael hissed. Even if he were able to make it to his feet, they would still be too far out of reach for him to save her. Michael climbed to his knees and looked around for something to use to his advantage. Before him he saw the crank used to raise and lower the door. He wouldn’t even be able to operate it without a second man due to the nature of the machine. Even if he had the second man, they would not be enough to control the massive door. But maybe Michael didn’t need to be able to control the door. Maybe he simply needed to set it free. Michael pulled a small knife from his boot and began cutting the ropes.

Natalie was tossed into the small skiff as if she were a rag doll. Agar plopped down next to her. Using yet another rope, he tied her wrists together, and looped the rope around his foot a few times. Natalie was left with no choice but to lie on the floor of the skiff. Agar picked up the paddles and began rowing toward the opening. Natalie shed a few tears as she thought about poor Michael bleeding to death as well as her own bleak fate.

They had almost reached the river beyond when the door suddenly fell down from above. The door splintered and broke at the force of its fall. Agar didn’t have time to react as shrapnel rained down on them. A large beam landed on the Agar and smashed their boat. Natalie, her hands still tied uselessly around Agar’s ankle, found herself sinking under the water, burdened by the weight of the dead man.


“Michael!” she managed to scream one final time as her head slipped under the water.

Michael scrambled to his feet in a rush of adrenaline. The injury didn’t matter right then. It was something to be dealt with later. Taking a hard run, he dove into the water in the direction of the wreckage.

Everything was silent under the water. Silent and pitch black. Michael had to rely on his initial direction and stick with it. His hands met with the ground. He used it as a guide and followed it toward the door. His head with what was left of the door, and he had to make a decision of which way to follow it. Michael could feel his breath burning inside him. He released a few precious bubbles, knowing it would help him last longer in the end. He went left. In seconds his hands bumped against the body of the man.

Michael desperately followed along his body until his hands met Natalie’s own. They were limp. Michael cut away her ropes with one vicious swipe that cleaved them apart. He wrapped his arms around her waist and launched himself toward the surface.

It was closer than he had expected, only 15 or so feet. When they hit the air, Natalie became reanimated, and sucked in great amounts of air. Michael gently swam them toward solid ground. They both collapsed on it in relief and rested quietly as they got their breath back.

Natalie glanced over at him at the sound of tearing fabric. She saw Michael propped up on one elbow, awkwardly trying to wrap the crude bandage around his cut.

Natalie sat up and knelt next to him. She placed a hand on his shoulder, pushing him down, and took the cloth from his hands. “Let me,” she said quietly. She pushed the bottom of his shirt up so she could have full access to the wound. Her fingers danced lightly over his skin as she wrapped the fabric under and around him, finally tying a knot at his right side.

Taking a deep calming breath, she went to lift her hands away. Before she could, though, Michael reached up and snatched her wrist, holding her in place. An intense look of pain was on his face, and Natalie somehow knew it wasn’t from the cut.

“Natalie,” he moaned. “Natalie, I can’t¬―” he cut off abruptly. With a rough jerk on her wrist that Natalie realized she didn’t mind in the slightest, he brought her face to a point where it was only inches above his. Natalie gasped as his intense green eyes bore into her. “I can’t live without you, Natalie. Will you marry me?”

“Michael . . .” She wanted to say yes. Her whole heart screamed at her to say yes. Being as close as she was to him made it hard to think, but one thought blared through the fog. “Michael, I can’t. I can’t leave Gabriel here alone. I’m sorry.” Saying his name reminded her of his dire situation the last time she’d seen him. “Oh my gosh! Gabe! Is he alright?!” Natalie moved to sit up, but Michael held her tight.

“Gabriel is fine. He’s at my house recovering.” Michael’s eyes were unreadable. “I never said anything about leaving Gabriel here, Natalie. Of course we can’t leave him here to deal with your father alone. Plus, it’s never a bad thing to have a babysitter hanging around to your beck and call.”

Natalie’s eyes glistened. “Do you really mean that, Michael?”

His eyes never broke contact with his as he nodded.

“Yes! I would love to be your wife!”

In a single move, Michael had laid Natalie out on the ground and was leaning over her, plastering her face with kisses. “You’ve just made me the happiest man that ever existed.”

Outside the sun was just rising over the horizon.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

(1619) Section 2

When it came in sight, Elizabeth felt dread curl in her stomach. She could see her mother pacing back and forth in front of the window. Elizabeth knew there would be no chance to sneak in and clean up before facing her. Elizabeth took a deep breath and walked calmly towards the house, brushing off her dress as she did so.

Her mama happened to glance out the window. A second later, the front door swung open. Every inch of her mother was etched in fury. “Elizabeth Miller! Where have you been?! Just look at the state of you!”

Her mother stepped aside as Elizabeth walked inside. The door slammed shut behind them.
“Well?” her mother demanded, her foot taping in that annoying way.

Elizabeth sat down heavily on the chair.

“You were with that Foster boy again, weren’t you?!”

She didn’t give her a chance to answer.

“Elias,” she called, “I think it’s time!”

What?

Her father walked into the room and gave her a once over. He sighed, “Yes, Mary. I think you’re right.” He looked at Elizabeth. “Sit down sweetheart.”

She gave him a strange look. “I am sitting down.”

“Oh, yes, I see that.” He seemed flustered.

“What’s going on Papa?”

He knelt down in front of her and took her hands in his. “Sweetheart, what do you think about America?”

“That stupid land across the sea for greedy old men?”

“Yes.”

“What’s there to think about it?”

Mama decided she’d had enough beating around the bush. “Elizabeth, we are sending you on the next ship to America. It leaves in two days.”

Her mouth dropped open. “But . . . but . . . Papa!”

He nodded his affirmation.

“No,” she yelled, “I won’t go!”

“Yes,” Papa said softly, “you will.”

She looked at him for a moment, aghast, before leaping from her chair and running outside.
“She’ll be back,” She heard him say as the door slammed behind her. The sad part was she knew she would be too.

She didn’t know where she was running to, only that she had to get away. As she ran down the lane she saw someone walking towards the farm, but through her blurry vision she was unable to identify who it was.

She heard the person call her name as she rushed by. It was David. He was the last person she wanted to talk to.

Elizabeth ran until she found herself in a field of flowers. She collapsed and cried some more as sobs tore through her body.

Next thing she knew, David was lifting her from the ground and wrapping his arms around her. Elizabeth didn’t care anymore. She needed comfort.

She buried herself in his embrace.

“What’s wrong, Elizabeth?” he asked softly.

“America!” she screeched. “My parents are sending me to America because they don’t want to have to deal with me any longer!”

That shut him up. She continued crying and David held her tighter. His eyes shed a few tears as well.

*******

Two days later, Elizabeth stood with her parents in front of the ship. She was dressed in her finest cloak and skirts. A crewman had already taken her bag up. She didn’t see David anywhere. They hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye. Without a word, she hugged her parents and walked onto the ship; into her nightmare.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Princess Story

Chapter 1
Allison sat cloaked in the back of the pub. It was Tyler’s night for entertainment. She watched silently from the shadows as he took the stage with guitar in hand. She wore the hooded cloak to hide her features from those who might take advantage of the fact that the beautiful princess had left the safety of the palace to hear a commoner sing.

Tyler looked out among the many girls that filled the normally empty pub; hoping beyond hope, that against all the danger, the princess might come to see him. Tyler felt that his hope was in vain. Whenever he attended the palace to play music for the royal family, Allison always seemed to hold herself aloof from him. But he couldn’t stop loving her.

Allison listened to the frantic beating of her heart as Tyler began to play. She didn’t love this boy, she tried to convince herself. He was a commoner who had never so much as second glanced her. Plus, he was always surrounded by beautiful girls. So why would he ever take notice of the ugly princess? It was common knowledge throughout the kingdom that the princess was beautiful. But she didn’t believe it because that’s not how she saw herself.

Beautiful music flooded over Allison. She grabbed at it, desperately trying to absorb it so she could have it with her even after she left to return home. When Tyler played, it seemed like everything was right with the world. Even the birds gave pause to listen. The sound seemed to cast a spell over the audience, taking them to another world.

Then it was over. Allison knew he had played for over an hour, but the time had seemed to fly by. The rest of the girls crowded to the stage, each trying to claim some part of Tyler’s attention. Allison stood up, and moved like a shadow to the door. She had to get home before anyone found out she was gone.

Tyler saw the fleeting movement in the periphery of his vision. He looked up just in time to see a cloaked figure disappear out the door, a shadow in the night. Tyler’s pulse quickened. Leaving his guitar on stage, he made his way through the sea of girls trying to reach the street. He couldn’t say why, but he knew that the fleeing figure was his princess.

Allison had a family that consisted of her parents, three older brothers, and herself. She was nowhere in line for the throne. Yet, the king and queen still insisted that she find a prince to marry. And now that she had reached the age of 18, her parents were starting to get frustrated with her indecision. But she couldn’t choose just any prince who came to woe, at least not while Tyler was still coming to the palace once a week to play music. But I don’t like him, she reminded herself. So why did you go to hear him? a quiet voice whispered in the back of her mind. She pushed the thought away.

Allison, lost in her thoughts, made a wrong turn and ended up in an alley. She stopped in mid-step halfway down the alley, realizing her mistake. Dark houses lined the alleyway. An edifice to the evil things they witnessed. Even the light from the stars would not make a appearance in that dark place. It all served to plant a seed of fear into her heart. She hastened her step to reach the safety of the street beyond. Her heart skipped a beat as a large, blurry figure rose out of the shadows in front of her. She turned around and started running, tucking her head deeper into her cowl. She was faster than the drunken man, and started pulling ahead. Suddenly, two more figures appeared in front of her. Allison desperately pulled a knife from her cloak. She turned around to stab the drunken man running toward her.

The knife’s path was halted as a big hand caught Allison’s wrist mid-stab. Allison cringed as the hand started to squeeze. The knife slid soundlessly out of her hand before clattering to the hard ground. The man pulled her close and pushed back the hood. Long curly lock of hair tumbled down her shoulders. She struggled to pull away, but he only squeezed her wrist tighter and pulled her closer, curiously examining her features. Allison tried not to gag as she smelled alcohol on his breath. A gruesome smile lit his face, revealing eyes gleaming with wicked intent. He laughed cruelly, and she knew she’d been recognized.

“You look even prettier than everyone says, Princess! I bet you give one great kiss,” He leaned down close, his drunken breath assaulting her nose. For Allison, she felt that nothing worse could possibly happen. She had fallen into the clutches of a crazy drunkard, and worse still she’d been recognized. At this distance Allison could see a series of scars running across his face, from some previous fight.

Scar Face grabbed her chin with his vise-like grip. He tilted her head up and leaned forward for a kiss, despite her struggling. Allison reached for all the courage she could muster. As he got closer, she spit in his face.

The man’s smile was replaced by a scowl. He launched Allison backwards into the waiting arms of his two accomplices. They were ready and ripped the cloak away from her body, revealing her petite figure. They jerked her around to face Scar Face, who was once again, smiling. They held her still despite all her struggling.

Scar Face wiped the spittle from his face and started talking to the other two men, Goon 1 and Goon 2. Ring Leader cleared his throat like he was making a speech, “Gentlemen, we have been fortunate enough to have had a jewel fall into our gutter.” He paused and looked meaningfully at his captured jewel, “Well, I think it’s time we spent it.” He looked at Allison hungrily, and her throat went dry.

Her breath started coming out in short, erratic bursts. The goons tightened their grip on her in anticipation. Scar Face pulled out a knife of his own. He gently fingered the neckline of her shirt, as if in silent contemplation. Then, another horrible smile spread across his face. Her last vestige of hope slipped away, quickly buried by her mounting fear.

The knife made it’s way to her neck. Allison shrank back into the arms of her captors, avoiding the cold steel. The knife slid under her collar. She heard the tell-tale sound of ripping fabric.
Allison decided to use the last weapon left in her arsenal. She screamed.

* * * * *

Tyler finally made it through the mob inside the pub, and stumbled out into the crisp night air. He looked up and down the street desperately for his princess, but she was nowhere to be found. Anxiously, Tyler ran down the street in the direction of the palace, hoping he might overtake her. He tried to think of what he might say to her when they met up, but his mind drew up a blank. When he reached the end of the street, he stopped. He frantically searched again, but the street was bereft of life. He was about to give up hope when, a terrible foreboding griped him.
Nothing.

All was quiet.

A scream broke through the quiet revere that had settled over the night.

Tyler turned around, searching for the source of the scream, a scream from a voice he would have recognized anywhere. He saw an alley a short distance away. The scream was cut off as quickly as it had begun; leaving an eerie stillness hanging in the air. He started running as fast as his legs could carry him, feet pounding on the cobblestones. In the half light, he could just make out a commotion happening at the far end of the alley. The commotion came to a sudden stop as they heard the sound of pounding feet running towards them against the hard ground. Tyler froze as four figures seemed to melt out of the darkness before his eyes.

Tyler pulled his sword from it’s sheath. The sinister sound of steel echoed off the walls of the dark buildings.

His eyes feel on Allison and his heart skipped a beat at her state. Her curls were hanging in disarray and her cheeks were wet from the tears streaming down her face. One of the men standing behind her had a grimy hand clamped over her mouth. Her chest was nearly exposed from a cut in her shirt that extended from the top to a few inches above the bottom.

Tyler’s attention was diverted to the knifeman who had placed his weapon against Allison’s exposed neck. “Leave now or the princess dies,” the man iterated in a voice full of hatred.

Anger flared through Tyler’s body as he searched for a plan of action. Keeping his disposition calm, Tyler responded in a tight voice of consent, “Fine.” He turned around and started heading for the street, sliding the sword back in his scabbard as he went. Behind him, Allison’s muffled sobs intensified in volume. He walked 20 feet before checking to see that they were no longer watching him. He pulled a throwing knife out of its sheath at his waist and waited for the man to move the knife away from Allison’s body.

Allison watched in something near shock as her knight in shining armor walked away. Raking sobs tore through her body as he sheathed his sword. Scar Face stepped in front of her, smiling in obvious enjoyment at her distress. Allison closed her eyes and tried to still her sobs as Scar Face lowered his knife to knife to cut the last remaining inches of her shirt. She heard the sound of the last few inches tearing. The last few threads released, and Allison felt the shirt hang loose on her body. Now she was only one step away from total mortification. As soon as this man swept aside the fabric of one of the loose halves of her shirt, the rest of her life would be affected in one way or another. And not even her knight had tried to stop it.

Scar Face dropped the knife to the ground and hungrily reached for the scraps of shirt, the boy with the sword completely forgotten by his overwhelming desire. That was his mistake. A heavy thump reverberated through his skull from the back of his head where the hilt had struck. His eyes rolled into the back of his head, and he collapsed onto the ground. To the other men, it had appeared as though their leader had fallen at the hand of some unseen foe. They simultaneously threw Allison to the ground and sprinted in the opposite direction as fast as they could.

Allison had kept her eyes closed at the incoming horror, and had not seen the man collapse on the street. So she remained face down on the ground waiting for the next assault he had planned for her. She tensed as she felt someone kneel down next to her and put a hand on her shoulder.
“Allison,” she heard a soft voice ask, “are you alright?” Allison raised her head and found herself looking into Tyler’s deep brown eyes, his face etched with concern. She pushed herself off the ground into a sitting position, wrapping her cloak tightly around her exposed body. She was about to answer when an overwhelming wave of emotion erupted out of her. Her body had barely begun to shake when she felt Tyler’s arms cocoon around her.

Allison tried to speak, “I thought . . . I thought you . . .” She couldn’t finish the sentence.

“Shhhhh,” Tyler whispered softly. “It doesn’t matter what you thought. All that matters is the fact that I’m here with you now. I would never abandon you,” he finished.

They sat together embracing for a long time after Allison’s tears had stopped. Neither of them wanted to break the closeness they’d probably never share again. A sudden groan broke through the prevailing silence. Allison recognized the sound as coming from the man a short distance away on the ground. She quickly wrapped her arms around Tyler’s neck, seeking whatever protection he could offer her. Tyler gently scooped her up off the ground, and carried her out of the alley. He kept walking until she finally relaxed her tense body. He carefully set her on her feet. She stepped away from him and looked at the ground. The moment was gone.

“Thank you for what you did back there,” Allison said quietly. She rushed on before he could respond. “I’m sorry you had to see me like this. ‘A princess must always look her best,’” she said it as if she didn’t believe it.

Tyler reached out for her hands, enclosing them firmly in his own. “Allison—,” he began to say, planning on telling her that he thought she was beautiful.

She cut him off, “I should go,” she said, judging the time by the position of the stars, “it’s late.” She slid her right hand from his and brought it to her mouth, letting out a piercing whistle. A short while later, they heard the pounding of hooves as a black stallion came around a corner and started down the lane towards them.

Allison started to pull away when Tyler suddenly turned her round to face him. Allison became aware of their close proximity and of how Tyler was still holding her hand in his own. His intense brown eyes once again held her captive. They seemed to swallow her up as his face edged toward hers. Tyler was inches away. Allison raised her face to meet his.

At that moment, complete awareness of what was about to happen raced through ever nerve in her body. Her brain started screaming at her, “You don’t like this boy! You don’t like this boy!”

She jerked away at the last possible second. The night seemed impossibly dark as she jumped onto her horses back. She sped off in the direction of the palace, leaving Tyler standing alone in the shadows.


Chapter 2

Tyler watched her disappear with a sinking heart and growing frustration. He turned around and walked back into the alley. The man was still groaning, but Tyler ignored him. He quickly found his knife and jammed it into its sheath. He looked hard at the ground, silently begging it to swallow him up. His eyes were drawn to a long knife sitting on the ground not too far away. Tyler curiously went over and lifted it up. He found the royal insignia emblazoned on the hilt. That’s when he knew it was Allison’s.

Tyler pushed all thoughts of her away and stowed the knife in his satchel. He left the alley and went back to the pub. The once crowded room had emptied since he’d gone. Tyler didn’t stop to acknowledge the bartender, but went straight to retrieve his guitar before sulking home.

The house was a simple cottage on the outskirts of the village. Tyler lived there with his dog, Bandit. When he walked through the door it seemed more empty than usual. He set his guitar aside and sat down at the table with his head in his hands. Wearily, Tyler replayed the night’s events in his mind. Allison had come to hear him sing, but that didn’t necessarily mean she liked him. Somehow she’d ended up in that alley and he had rescued her. So she was probably grateful to him, not in love with him.

And then he’d tried to kiss her. Tyler slammed his fist against table, a pained expression on his face. She probably thought he was some creeper, the same as those men who had almost . . . Tyler couldn’t bear to think about it. No wonder she had run away like that. Any minimal chance he might have had with her was now crushed. Tyler looked up at the weapons that lined the walls. He had practiced countless hours with them every day, so that, if the need arose, he might be able to protect his princess. First part of the plan had worked, so why had he tried to kiss her?

Tyler looked at the other wall; this one was lined with instruments. When he wasn’t weapons training, he was practicing his instruments in hope to one day win her heart. He realized he would never be invited back to the palace to play ever again after Allison told the king and queen what he’d tried to do. A huge source of his income would be gone because he’d tried to follow one stupid impulse.

Tyler stood up and walked outside to see the stars. His eyes were automatically drawn to two stars in the western sky, one dim and one bright. As a young boy, Tyler had labeled the bright one Allison, and the dim one as himself. Tonight, the stars seemed farther apart than they had ever been before. Tyler realized exactly how much of his life he’d devoted to a fantasy. He walked back into the house with new resolve. He would stop chasing after a dream. If she didn’t want him, so be it.

* * * * *

Tears streamed down Allison’s face as she rode through the silent city. She was almost amazed she still had tears to cry after all that had happened. Had he really almost . . .? Did he really just . . .? She couldn’t wrap her mind around the idea. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. She was supposed to marry a prince, not fall in love with a commoner. But I don’t love him, she reminded herself again.

She could see the palace looming closer. She brought her mount to a halt, and gracefully dismounted. They moved surreptitiously to the gap in the hedgerow she had long ago discovered, avoiding the guards at the gate. They secreted to the stables, where she gave the horse a quick rub down before heading to the palace. Allison moved like a shadow across the yard to her window, a skill she had mastered as a girl. There was a rope hanging out of it from when she had snuck out earlier. She started climbing, and soon she was over the window sill of her second-story room. She dropped lightly to her feet and glanced around her darkened room. Everything was the same as she had left it. She pulled up the rope and stowed it away. After quickly changing her clothes, she collapsed onto her bed.

Her mind couldn’t seem to comprehend what had transpired. Images washed through her head, threatening to overwhelm her. She tried to push her emotions away, but they kept coming back. How would she ever be able to face him again? He had saved her. And before she had even given him a proper thank you, she had run off. Tears began to stream unbidden from her eyes.

Prince Andrew was coming the next day. The queen had invited Tyler over to play background music while he was over. Her anger overpowered her. She hated being put on display like a package. She suddenly wondered why she had cried as she had over Tyler. “I don’t even like him,” she whispered to herself. Tomorrow she would say thank you properly and put the whole matter behind them.

* * * * *

Tyler walked through the front door of the palace cautiously. He had been surprised that the guards had let him by without a single word. Maybe the King and Queen wanted to punish him for the way he’d treated their only daughter. The thought flustered him. He couldn’t face the Princess after what had happened.

Since the event he was playing for was a dinner party, the servants had set up his harp behind one of the curtained off areas. That way, he would be heard but not seen. He took up his position at the palace harp warily. He had not yet encountered any of the royal family, and no one had barred his way. His fingers ran up and down the strings experimentally. The soft music filled the silence around him, bringing a smile to his lips. He wasn’t allowed to bring any of his own instruments to play. Tyler didn’t care. He loved the palace instruments. They were all of the very highest quality. He would never be able to afford even their mediocre imitations. The party was due to arrive to the dining hall any moment. He let go of his thoughts and fears the let the music take over.

Prince Andrew escorted frowning Allison into the room. He leaned close to her and whispered in her ear. “You could at least try and pretend you don’t hate me before I’ve had a chance to confirm or dissuade your opinion.”

Allison didn’t need to listen to him. Everything about him spoke volumes about who his was. The way he held himself said haughty. The countless number of rings on his fingers spoke of greed. And the way he had looked at her from the beginning screamed hungry. Even as he escorted her to her seat, he was holding her a little bit too close.

He sat down across the table from her as tradition dictated. He stretched his legs out carelessly. Allison had to practically turn sideways in her seat to avoid touching him. He talked about himself unabashedly. Allison added conceited to the list of things she hated about him. She didn’t even bother listening to what he had to say. Her three brothers were absorbed in their wives and her parents were talking merrily with Prince Andrew’s. Allison had a sick feeling in her stomach that she was not going to be happy with the result of their visit. The only thing that stopped her from standing up and walking out like she had with other suitors was Tyler. His music swirled around her, leaving her breathless. She had never felt quite like this when she’d heard him play countless times before. Allison blamed it on the fact that she was hyper aware of him because of their encounter the night before and her rude exit. She needed to talk to him as soon as possible to apologize for her behavior.

She ignored His Princeliness and lost herself in the music. To say she zoned out would be a massive understatement.

Someone tapped her shoulder. “Princess?”

Allison jumped. Prince Andrew was standing at her side. Everyone else had left the room. A shiver traveled up her spine.

“May I have this dance?” He didn’t wait for a reply.

Her arm almost jerked out of its socket as he yanked her to her feet. She slammed into his chest and he held her tightly there. “Let go of me,” she hissed at him.

When he smiled at her, she realized she was very, very scared. “Not a chance.” He started spinning her. She had to lean into him to avoid falling down. “That’s more like it,” he whispered into her ear.

Allison’s face flushed in embarrassment. She released her tight hold mid swing and went tumbling backwards to the floor. Her arm scraped against the stone floor and she forced herself not to flinch.

The prince immediately pulled her to her feet and attempted to resume the dance. Allison tore her hands out of his and shoved him away. “What’s the matter with you?!”

Anger glinted in his eyes. He stepped forward and gave her a shove of her own. “What’s wrong with me? I think the better question is what’s wrong with you?” He shoved her again. “You’re nothing but a spoiled brat princess who thinks she’s too good for the world!” Shove. She lost her balance and was back on the floor. In the back of her mind, Allison noticed the music had stopped. “That’s it isn’t?! You’re too good for Prince Andrew! I’ve never had any girly turn me down before, and I’m not going to start today!” He moved forward to shove her again, but found himself looking down the blade of a sword.

“I wouldn’t take another step if I were you.” Tyler’s voice was harder enough to shatter diamond.

The prince’s face turned pale. He swiftly backed away.

Without taking his eyes off of Andrew, Tyler stepped back and reached down to help Allison up.

“Thanks,” she whispered.

He looked over to smile at her. That was his mistake. The instant Tyler’s diverted his attention, Andrew unsheathed his knife and sent it spinning across the room. Tyler saw it coming too late. He only had time to push Allison behind him. Tyler caught the blade . . . in his stomach.

He gasped in pain and sank to his knees. Allison screamed. Andrew was advance with his sword drawn, fury was etched in ever line of his face.

Allison crouched down beside him. “Tyler!” she yelled.

Tyler weakly pulled himself free from her grasp. He stood and raised his sword. Even injured, Tyler was the far superior swordsman. With one strike of blade against blade, Andrew’s sword was knocked from his grasp. Tyler raised his sword to Andrew’s throat. He spoke through gritted teeth. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t kill you!”

Force of will alone stopped Andrew from quivering.

“No!” Allison ran up and tugged on Tyler’s arm. “You can’t! It would be a declaration of war!”

Tyler didn’t make the mistake of looking at her again. He could barely stand as it was. He couldn’t afford to lose focus again. “This man has done nothing but disrespect you, Princess. I find that plenty of justification to go to war.”

She tightened her grip on him. “Please, Tyler. Don’t.” Tears were falling freely from her eyes. She stifled a sob.

Tyler couldn’t deny Allison anything. “Fine. He will not die today.” His next words were spoken to Allison, but directed at Andrew. “But if he fails to properly respect you ever again, I promise his life will come to a very abrupt end.” Tyler stepped back and lowered his sword.

They all turned at the sound of running footsteps outside the dining hall, brought by the sounds of Allison’s screams.

Andrew took advantage of the moment. At the same time, he pulled yanked Allison toward him and kicked Tyler away. For Tyler the pain was too much. He collapsed on the ground, his sword clattering a few feet off. Tyler curled in pain, his arms wrapped tightly around his stomach. He’d already lost a lot of blood, and he was starting to feel the effects of it.

The two royal families came storming into the room. Andrew hugged Allison firmly; her face was pressed into his shoulder, preventing her from making any noise.

“What happened here?!” Allison’s father yelled.

“Dear King,” Andrew’s voice was dripping with lies, “you’ve come just in time. This man,” he pointed to Tyler, “attacked the princess. If it weren’t for me she would probably be dead.”

Andrew’s parents beamed proudly.

Allison and Tyler could say nothing in the latter’s defense. Tyler was too weak, and Allison, try as she might, she couldn’t fight free of Andrew’s grasp.

The kings’ face was red with anger. “Guards, take this minstrel to the dungeons immediately! He will be executed forthwith!”

Tyler could only cringe in agony as the guards dragged him away. Allison’s fighting became so rough that Andrew could not keep his hold on her.

“No!” she screamed. She ran across the room and threw herself in her mother’s arms. “No no no no NO!” Everything else she wanted to say was unintelligible due to the severity of her sobs.

Andrew joined them on the other side of the room. “She’s in shock,” he said by way of explanation. They all nodded their understanding.

“Dylan, could you take Allison to her room?” the king asked his eldest son.

Dylan nodded. He extracted Allison from the queen and carried her to her room.

The kind addressed Andrew. “Thank you so much for all you have done for our daughter, Prince. I don’t know what we’d do if you hadn’t been here.”

Andrew’s mother was overcome with pride. “I hear wedding bells!”

Everyone in the room smiled.

EPIC STORY

(Romeo and Juliet)

Once upon a time there was a young man named Romeo. He met a beautiful girl named Juliet. Romeo was so happy when he met her, he ran through the streets ballet dancing and singing about a girl name Maria.

(West Side Story)

She said her hands were cold. He said her face was warm. Romeo gives Juliet a beautiful ring to wear.

(Lord of the Rings)

Romeo told her that when you set the ring on fire, words would glow off the ring. Romeo had just slipped it on her finger when an old voice screamed out from behind them. They turned and saw a wizard with a white staff running toward them. He yanked Romeo away from Juliet and called him a fool. Romeo watched as Juliet started to change.

(Harry Potter)

Romeo’s head exploded in pain. His hand jumped to the lightning scar on his forehead. The beautiful Juliet transformed into Romeo’s arch nemesis Lord Voldemort. Romeo and Voldemort drew wands. Voldemort shouted Adada Kedavra at the same time Romeo screamed Expeliarmus. Voldemort collapsed to the ground, never to rise again. Romeo wept for the loss of Juliet while Gandalf shouted for joy over the destruction on Voldemort. Romeo hardened himself as his other arch nemesis appeared and started walking towards him.

(Star Wars)

Darth Vader reached out his hand and Gandalf rose into the air holding his throat. “Join the dark side,” he rumbled. “Never,” screamed Romeo, “you killed my father.” Darth Vader laughed. “No Romeo, I am your father,” he said. “Noooooooooooooo!” Romeo bellowed.

(Spiderman)

Then, Spiderman swooped out of the sky and knocked Darth Vader into a brick wall. He ran to Romeo and said, “You’re coming with me.” Before Romeo had a chance to argue, Spiderman had grabbed hold of him and they were swinging through the sky. They landed on the roof of a skyscraper. A shadow emerged from behind a wall.

(Wolverine)

Sharp metal knives protruded from his knuckles. When he saw Spiderman he called out to unseen others. Others started to emerge.

(Superman Returns)

(The Dark Knight)


(Ironman)


Before Romeo, stood Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Ironman, and Wolverine. Romeo asked nervously, “What do you want with me?” Batman stepped forward and started talking. “Have you noticed a sudden increase in the amount of villains?” Romeo nodded.

(Twilight)

“The evil vampire Edward has turned all the villains into vampires like himself. Their mission is to drink all the blood out of the human race.

(Peter Pan)

(Pirates of the Caribbean)


We are trying to recruit the help of the werewolves but they will only help if our forces are joined by Peter Pan and Captain Jack Sparrow. They are sworn mortal enemies. It is up to you to recruit them.” “Why me?” “Peter Pan only trusts boys like himself. Sparrow is afraid of magic,” he nodded toward Romeo’s wand. “Here’s your ride now.”

(Back to the Future)

The Dolorian shot through the air out of nowhere. It slid to a stop in front of Romeo. The door opened and Romeo slid in next to the Doc. The doors closed and lights flashed around the Dolorian. It stopped and the door lifted open. Romeo stepped out and found himself on a pirate ship. A gunshot rang through the air. “Missed me, Sparrow!” Peter called down from his perch in the rigging. “Oh bugger,” Sparrow muttered. “Get down here and fight me like a man!” Romeo ran up to Jack and pulled out his wand. “Stop Sparrow, the forces of good need you.” Sparrow turned on him, “You want me to join the forces of good? I’m Captain Jack Sparrow, mate. Savvy. I’m a pirate.” He suddenly noticed the wand. “What are you going to do with that, poke me?” Sparrow started walking away looking for a good place to shoot Peter from. “Lumos,” Romeo called. A ball of light appeared in front of Jack. Sparrow turned around, “I’m in.” Peter swooped down and landed gently next to Romeo. Romeo turned to him and said, “The forces of good need your help.” “What have the forces of good ever done for me?” Peter sneered. Doc got out of the Dolorian. “I just got news, Edward heard about us recruiting you. They have the real Juliet,” he turned to Peter, “and Wendy.” Romeo and Peter both stared open mouthed at Doc. Sparrow came up behind them and clamped his hands on their shoulders. “Well,” he smiled, “let go save your bonny lasses, lads.” They climbed into the Dolorian and sped off. The car started shaking. “What’s wrong with this contraption?” Sparrow yelled. Doc pulled out of the time stream.

(The Titanic)

They climbed out and found themselves on a giant cruise ship. Doc lifted the hood and stared at the engine. He looked up at his passengers and said one word. “Sabotage.” Screams began to fill the air. The deck started to tilt at an alarming angle. Doc, Jack, Romeo, and the Dolorian slid down the ship. Peter launched himself into the air and took a survey of the scene. The S. S. Titanic had a massive gash and was taking on water. Peter looked for his allies and saw the Dolorian leaning precariously on a rail at the end of the ship. Doc had his head under the tilted hood. Jack was holding on to a life preserver nearby. Peter landed by Jack. He had to yell to be heard. “Where’s Romeo?” “How should I know?” Sparrow yelled back. Doc yelled, “She’s fixed! Hop in!” “We can’t leave without Romeo,” Peter hollered. He shot up along the deck searching. Peter was almost back to where they had arrived when he saw Romeo. His shirt was caught on some metal and he couldn’t free himself. Peter looked and saw the Dolorian floating in the water alongside the ship. Peter landed next to Romeo and started hacking at the fabric. He’d just freed Romeo when the almost vertical ship snapped in half. Romeo was freefalling through the air. Peter wasn’t quick enough to catch him and he disappeared into the water. Peter braced himself and dove down after him. Doc and Sparrow watched anxiously from the Dolorian. A minute passed before they saw two heads break through the surface. Jack breathed a silent sigh of relief. “We ain’t got time for swimmin’! Your girlies are waitin’ for you.” They swam through the water and climbed, shivering, into the Dolorian. Lights flashed and the next time it stopped they were back in the present.

* * * * *

The room was dark. Edward sat watching his beloved Bella as she slept. It didn’t’ matter that she didn’t love him. He would keep her with him forever. Wendy and Juliet were being kept elsewhere, but Bella would never leave his side. So he watched her. Someone came into the room. “They have recruited the flying boy and the pirate. Now the werewolves will join them,” the vampire Darth Vader reported. Edward never took his eyes off Bella as she opened her eyes at the sound of his voice, “They won’t be much help. Jacob would never let them do anything that would harm Bella.” Bella cowered in her corner and thought of her beloved Jacob. She knew she would never ne encircled by his embrace all because of this fiend called Edward. His black eyes could look straight into her soul, leaving her vulnerable. His voice sent pain through her very core.

(Transformers)

“Send in the Decepticons,” he order Vader. Darth Vader left to fulfill his errand. Edward moved toward the cowering girl. He lifted her to her feet and pulled her close to him. He breathed in her scent as tears streamed down her cheeks.

* * * * *

The doors of the Dolorian opened and the four passengers emerge. The five heroes were waiting for them as well as two others. On was Jacob Black, and the other was none other than Romeo’s Hogwarts mentor, Lupin. A grin spread across Lupin’s face when he saw Peter Pan and Captain Jack Sparrow. “Well done, Romeo!” he exclaimed. Then he put his hand on Jacob’s shoulder, “I guess it’s time to ho save dear Bella.” An awful roar filled the air. From every side of the building rose massive transformers. Megatron roared once again then shouted, “Attack!” Lupin gathered Jacob, Peter, and Romeo together. “It’s up to you. Stop Edward or the whole human race perishes.” He ducked as Spiderman was thrown over his head.

(The Lightning Thief)

“There is a boy named Percy Jackson at the bottom of the Empire State building. He will help you.

(Indiana Jones)

“With him is Indiana Jones. The five of you must defeat Edward or perish trying.” Jacob, Peter, and Romeo ran down the stairs. Romeo and Jacob ran through the town while Peter flew ahead of them. They found Indiana and Percy and quickly talked while Peter kept watch from the air.

(King Kong)

“All cle—,” he started to say as a massive, furry hand plucked out of the sky. “Peter!” Romeo screamed. Jacob started to pull Romeo down the street to the vampire headquarters. “We don’t have time!” he growled. “He saved my life! I can’t just leave him!” Romeo shouted at him. Jacob looked back at Romeo and released his arm. Romeo sprinted back to the Empire State building. He raised his wand and shouted, “Accio firebolt!” The broom flew through the air to Romeo and he hopped on. He flew up to the giant monkey squeezing Peter. There was a look of pain on the flying boy’s face. He flew to Peter. “Where’s your knife?” he asked. “I already tried that!” Peter grunted. “It didn’t work!” “We need something bigger,” Romeo muttered. He looked down and saw a flash. He dove down and saw Percy’s sword. Percy jumped onto the broom with Romeo. They flew up and Percy stabbed King Kong in the arm above Peter. The ape opened his hand and screamed in pain. Peter shot out of his grasp and the three flew to the ground. They joined Indiana and Jacob. They went as fast as they could to the vamp HQ.

(?)

Two minutes later they were at the old movie theater and immediately found themselves surrounded by ninja’s. “I’ll take care of them,” Percy said, uncapping his sword. “You go on.” Peter decided to stay and help while Indiana, Jacob, and Romeo continued on. They started running down a hallway when Darth Vader appeared. “So, we meet again Han Solo, for the last time!” Darth Vader said to Indiana Jones. Indie pulled out his whip and snapped it at Vader’s leg. It caught hold and Darth Vader went down hard. “Not on my watch.” He turned to Romeo and Jacob, “You two go on. I’ll deal with him.” Romeo and Jacob ran on, further and further into the dark building.

* * * * *

Juliet and Wendy were talking quietly in a small room. “I know Peter will come. He would never desert me,” Wendy said proudly. Juliet wasn’t listening, “Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou, Romeo?” Wendy sighed and stared off into a corner. They both heard the sound of running feet from the hall. They stopped before they reached the door. Jacob had stopped and was pointing down as adjoining hall, “Edward is down there.” “Are you sure?” Romeo asked. “Positive,” Jacob responded, “I can smell him, Romeo.” Juliet caught her breath. Romeo was here. She scampered across the floor to the door. “Romeo!” Romeo froze. “Juliet?” he murmured softly. Then louder. “Juliet!” He ran to the door. Locked. Jacob pulled Romeo away from the door. “Move Juliet.” Jacob kicked the door, and it snapped in half. Romeo ran into the room and gathered the crying Juliet into his arms. “I’m here,” he whispered. “I’m here.” Jacob pushed past them. There was another girl in the room, but no Bella. The girl came up to him, an intent look in her eyes. “Where’s Peter?” she demanded. Jacob was taken aback by her force. He pointed down the hall, “He’s fighting the ninjas.” She let out a grunt of frustration and started running down the hall towards the battle. Romeo and Jacob watched her run. A cold voice chilled them to the bone. “Well, well, well. Look who decided to join the party.” Romeo put Juliet behind him and turned to see Edward. He stood ten feet away, his hand gripped tightly on Bella’s wrist. Her eyes were brimmed with tears as she locked eyes with Jacob. She watched as his anger became greater and greater. Romeo pushed Juliet back into the room and pulled out his wand. “No,” Jacob rumbled, “he’s mine.” Jacob transformed into his werewolf self. Edward smiled and let go of Bella’s wrist. She scurried away from him and went to Romeo. “Are you okay?” She nodded. He tried to send her into the room with Juliet, but she wouldn’t go. Jacob launched onto Edward and the battle began.

* * * * *

Percy and Peter had finished with the ninja’s was wiping clean his sword. He turned to Peter, “I’m going to take a look around.” He turned on his heel and walked away. Peter turned the other way abruptly as he heard his name being called. He stumbled back as Wendy crashed into him. He wrapped her up in his arms and held her tight. Now that she was with him, the tears started to flow. “I thought . . . I thought . . .” she started to murmur. “Shhhhh.” Peter quieted her. “I would never let anything happen to you.” Wendy looked up into his eyes. Her eyes widened at something over his shoulder. “Peter—!” she cried out. A gunshot interrupted her. Peter turned around. A ninja was standing over them with a sword raised above his head. The ninja swayed on its feet before collapsing on the ground. Captain Jack Sparrow was standing 30 feet back with his pistol raised. He lowered it. “I’m the only one allowed to kill you boy. Always remember that.”

* * * * *

The fight was intense, with neither side gaining the advantage. Suddenly Edward lifted the struggling Jacob and threw him at the wall. Jacob’s wolf head hit the wall hard. He sank to the floor, whimpering. Edward laughed maniacally as he stood over the wolf. Romeo and Bella were watching immovable at the door.

(The Phantom of the Opera)

A quiet voice whispered in her ear, “Kill him.” She turned around and saw a man with a white mask covering half of his face. He held a knife out to her. Bella lifted the blade from his hand and turned back to the battle. She stepped out into the hall. She looked over her shoulder, but the phantom was gone. She walked up behind Edward and stabbed the knife into his heart. The laugh cut off abruptly. She turned the knife and stepped away. Edward pulled the knife out and turned to face her. He looked down at the knife then into her eyes. He plunged the knife into her stomach. She stepped back in shock and pain. Edward grabbed her shoulders and pulled her close to him. “If I have to go, so do you.” They slid to the floor. It would have been romantic if it hadn’t been so morbid and Bella hadn’t hated him. The light faded from their eyes. Jacob transformed back to human form and cried. Bella was gone. Romeo watched in shock as the events unfolded. Juliet walked up behind him and he held her tight. The rescue group slowly arrived from various places in the theater. They stood as a silent audience to Jacob’s pain. Romeo released Juliet and walked over to Jacob. He crouched down in front of him and waited. The tears stopped and Jacob looked up at Romeo with blank eyes. They stood up and the group left the building. They parted ways from Percy and Indiana and headed towards the roof. The Decepticons were gone as well as the heroes. Lupin and the Doc were the only ones left waiting. Jacob walked to Lupin and shook his head. Lupin placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. Romeo and Juliet said goodbye to Peter, Wendy, and Jack. The three climbed into the Dolorian with Doc and they disappeared into the past. The couple walked over to the two werewolves. Lupin smiled as he had an idea. He pulled out his cell phone and made a quick call. Ten minutes later a beautiful girl with long red hair stepped onto the roof. Jacob’s eyes got big and he was immediately at her side. “Jacob,” he introduced himself. She smiled brightly at him, “Ginny.” Jacob’s pain was forgotten. Romeo and Juliet went down to ground level, walking hand in hand. “I love you,” they told each other. Romeo smiled gaily. If you looked closely, you could see his glistening fangs.

* It is important to note that when a vampire is stabbed by a knife given to you by the Phantom of the Opera results in death, no questions asked.