A Story of Strangers

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Hope, Jun 6, 2016.

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  1. Early morning dew covered the cloak draped on the young maiden's shoulders. With an ungloved hand she gripped the fabric around her neck. The cool, brisk, early spring air nipped at her exposed hand. The cloak was plain, but thick. She traded a few coins for it as well as the rest of the garments she was wearing from one of the chamber maidens that worked in the castle. The fabric irritated the skin around her neck as she clutched it tighter.

    The sun has begun to make it's ascent beyond the distant hills. It wouldn't be long till the King would notice her absence and send the knights after her...again. This was not her first attempt at escaping the inevitable events that were sure to come if she were to continue her life for the throne. The thought was nauseating. However, she was naive. Living your whole life within the castle walls will do that to a person. But this time would be different.

    Marching across the plains she could see what seemed to be a small farm up ahead. The last time she was caught she was traveling the main road. A mistake she would not make again.

    Gaining speed she neared the farm and with relief she saw that there were a number of young, beautiful steeds. They became uneasy as she carefully neared the stables. The morning light began to touch everything in sight as the sun rose higher. She would need to hurry. Surely, borrowing just one wouldn't hurt. She rushed to the first stall she saw. It homed a mighty stallion. Beautiful and black as the night. Her clumsy fumbling with the latch made him agitated. Getting nervous she opened the latch as he began snorting and stomping his hooves anxiously. "Shhhh..." she pleaded. It looked so easy when the servants took them out.

    @Nightmare Bonnie
  2. The spring was almost late this year due to the lingering cold of winter wanting to hang on by the bite of its teeth. Vicious and unrelenting but broke eventually knowing that it could not withstand the warmth that demanded its turn. For a brief time it appeared many of them would worry that they would have to farm late and harvest early making for poor rations come the next winter. A nightmare to those who knew nothing but soil, grain and beasts.

    Knocking against the muntin of the door did the screen bang announcing his presence to the morning light; a few of the animals that chose whether or not they went in or out of their homes peeked up to see he was coming. Others took this moment to get excited. Food was coming. Such a simple life in one could be easily jealous if they wanted to lose the basic functions of their mind and intellect.

    A few of the horses grazed in the field, contained by the strong posts embedded in the ground, the young man made little time to swing open the small mangate allowing him passage. The cool morning arm fresh on his arms as the linen shirt he wore was more than enough. One didn't grow up in this life fearing the cold, they embraced it knowing that the rest of the day was going to be hot and sweat drenched. Thick work boots on his feet squished into the soft mud he had created a day or so ago to stop the horses hooves from becoming too hard and splitting, dark brown hair hung deep into his green eyes, the spattering of everlasting and accursed freckles pattered his cheeks; the horses looked up at his presence. Some seemed mildly interest but others appeared to be holding focus to the barn. Not that he was thinking any different of the day, the stallion within was a certainly interesting to some of the mares.

    Barrow Ranch was known for breeding some of the best horses across the land - at least when his father ran the place - he had made a hard point in trying to breed a good mustang for the royals. They came maybe once every few years looking for new horses to bring back, he was just coming to the next year in which they would.

    Norse, -an apt name for the large black stallion- was to be the one he gave to the king when his daughter was married. At least that was the hope. Nothing better than a fine breed animal of burden to carry her across the thresh after all. A simple mindset for a simple country folk; he had no idea what was to be expecting.

    The barn was a simple walk, a hand coming to wring around the handle only finding pause as the hooves within were stomping. Brown brows furrowed deeply upon his head only catching the sound of a hush. 'Bandits?' the word popped into his head unsure of what to make but failed to hesitate when perhaps he should have. Light spewed into the barn causing Norse to nicker loudly in frustration another impatient stomp and the farmboy found his gaze locking onto a cloaked body. Instantly his own level of anger rose, "What do you think you're doing?" It was really a silly question as it was clear what they were trying to do!
  3. "What do you think you are doing?"

    The unexpected voice from behind her echoed in her ears and stole the breath from within her very lungs. In one swift yet clumsy motion she pivoted to see a man facing her, anger etched across his face. Clearly he worked this farm judging by the amount of dirt that he was covered in and the type of muscles that only came with hard labor. Instinctively she turned her head away from him while tugging at the cloak's hood to conceal her face, but more importantly, her identity.

    "Get out of here. This doesn't concern you," she said in a tone above her station judging by her attire alone. She knew full well this was his business. Of course it was. Here she was stealing one of his horses, rather poorly at that. Regardless of how entitled he may be she didn't have the time or the patience to stand there and plead her case, nor was she without the pride to do so.

    The whinnying became louder and more aggressive as he saw his master which captured her attention once more. Quickly and deliberately she gave in to the stallion's anxious demands as the stall's gate swung open. The riled beast stomped his hooves into the ground and begun bucking up if only just a few feet off the ground. She reached for the thick leather reigns that were all too conveniently already placed. Defiantly she grabbed a handful of his mane and swung her leg over the horses back as she mounted him flawlessly. The entire motion surprised herself as not only did she successfully mount the beast, but did so in his state of agitation.

    The abrupt mount only made the horse more irritable. He snorted and prodded his hooves into the ground before bucking up a couple times. His efforts to eject the stranger on his back were valiant, but the woman was stubborn. Pulling back on the reigns she attempted to steady him and guide him out of the barn doors. Unfortunately for her she would need to pass the intrusive man. Decisively she shoved the heel of her boot into the horse's ribs twice as he trotted forward.
  4. He wasn't exactly expecting the attitude to come from the cloaked being, nor it being a female. Hell he was half thinking they would jump out of their skin and beg for some sort of mercy. Not to be told this was none of his concern. It left him a little stunned for a brief moment unsure of how that could have and should have gone different.

    A quick assessment of himself assured that he wasn't exactly hard to miss standing a clean six foot and some odd inches and well he wasn't thin by any means. Farm work either made you strong or it killed you eventually. One usually prevailing eventually. Darius blinked once more just to make sure his head was on right before he pinched a fist into his side. "Doesn't concern me?" He repeated finding stern annoyance to colour his voice very mildly echoing Norse's anxiety. "What the hell do you think I'm doing here, picking my rear? You're trying to steal one of my horses, of course this concerns me." Was he just talking for the sake of talking, cause she sure as hell wasn't listening.

    The great beast was fired up and she willfully threw herself up into his frustrated mass, seeing fit to overcome his hardy nature with a stubbornness or veteran skill once she was in the saddle. "Hey!" His voice boomed rich as thunder as Norse bucked and reared fit as a hornet. His was caged currently, mounted against his will and cranky that he was attempted to be roosted out of his territory without so much as a treat. But, the woman was perhaps just as much antsy as the horse was. Heels made their apparent push into the ribs of the creature forcing him forward; he had no intention of letting this thief take something he had worked long and hard to train and it wasn't even complete! "Oh slag," words cursed his lips making the jarring move to cut his daunting figure before Norse.

    Now he knew the move was stupid. Mustangs weren't exactly known for being the kindest of horses and their hooves dangerous enough to pin and stick a man should have enough reason too; but he wasn't taking this lying down either. This was his property until taken away by the rightful person and he was sure as hell not going to just let it go with a gawk. Norse nickered and hefted a chestful of air as he reared coming hard upon the farmer, making no motion to shove him aside knowing well from his training that often resulted to being tied to the merry-go-round for hours. The bit in his mouth rattled as the gap opened, Darius fitfully reaching to grab the reins attached to his bit. A narrow hope to force the horse back down so he could work the cheek piece off quickly to free his horse and hopefully toss his rider. Not that he generally liked to wish women harm but she was a thief and clearly needed a good bump on the rear to know that she best not be telling the likes of him what to do and not to do. "Take a hike!" He replied bitterly.
  5. A worse situation couldn't have arisen. She was lucky enough to mount the giant beast in all his thrashing about. However, her escape plan would become thwarted as the dirty, nosy, nuisance of a man reached up and grabbed a handful of the reigns. Before she could react he unhooked the piece on the horse's cheek, freeing him of his captor.

    In one great movement the stallion bucked up high in the air throwing his rider off of his back and on to the cold, hard, unforgiving ground. Arina looked up to the man and scowled, not paying any attention to the fact that in the midst of being thrown off her hood got knocked right off. She was slender and toned. All 5 foot 10 inches of her, which was mostly attributed to her the strict diet enforced by her father and the constant hiking across every border within the castle grounds. Deep brunette hair was pulled over her shoulder in a carelessly put together braid which now had pieces of straw throughout it.

    Standing to her feet with a sore rear and a sore pride she faced the only thing standing between her and freedom. "Who..." she breathed in, "Who do you think you are?!" The anger began to boil up inside her. The line between who she was and who she was pretending to be began to blur. There was no holding it back. "Do you have any idea-! You idiot!" she shouted.
  6. In any other situation he'd never hope to see a young or old woman injured by the undue care he might have taken but right here and now, that line wasn't even there to hold him back. Having your property taken away from you by someone who dare thought they were entitled it had a way of putting a human under the grit. At least that was how he was originally thinking about it until the Norse seen very fit to throw the girl. His first thought was by all rights, good riddance. The second one came in quick and sharp knifing away the smug response with one of regret. Especially when she fell on the ground. Even he winced as Norse threw his head back and forth, pleased to have the bridle off and freedom. Trotting around growing back into a content hold.

    A good gentleman would have apologized. Darius looked a little abashed by all means but remained upright and solid. Especially once he had a good look over the woman and something appeared to be biting on the back of his brain. Something familiar. Perhaps something he should have been aware off but found it brushed aside when she gathered herself back up. Looking a mess and clearly pissed off.

    He was taught better by all means. Yet he couldn't be exactly sure where those teachings were at the moment once she came at him like a bull in a china shop. Just waiting to start smashing. "Me?" He balked as she barked at him, "What about you! I'm the owner of this here farm and no namby pampy doll of a woman or a thief is going to make off with any of my possessions should I have the ability to stop it." If he could have, he would have fluffed up big and puffy like that of a hawk. Staring her square in the eye, "How about you get your stealing lazy ass off my property and then see who the idiot is. You're likely I don't go about calling the guards to come haul you away," She looked like she was well off in comparison so some, so why would she try to take a horse from him? Bah! None of that mattered, but now he had to deal with a hornet mad woman. Fantastic.
  7. Green eyes widened in disbelief at the verbal lashings she was receiving. Did she hear him right? Namby pampy, doll, lazy?! Nobody had ever spoken to her nearly as disrespectful nor had she ever met anyone so ill mannered as he. Her patience was running out quick. Not that she had much to begin with as it were. Nobody ever accused her of thinking too much before she acted after all. "Listen here-!" Just as she was about to let him really have it a sudden noise that came far enough away to be mistaken, but close enough to stop her in her tracks did just that.

    It was a familiar sound. One that had followed her numerous times before. Metal clanked against itself causing a loud, ominous noise that caused her heart to beat just a bit faster. Galloping horses became louder by the second with each foot gained. It was unmistakable. It was the guards coming for her to be sure. All of a sudden her current squabble became instantly less important than finding a way to evade the King's henchmen.

    Arina rushed to the nearby window, shoving past the man with little regard for the manners she was taught to have. Before he could protest she blurted out "Shh!" Using a stray hay bale to stand on she peered outside. Sure enough it was the guards, and not too far off. They'd arrive in no more than just a few minutes, and they'd stop to search the area to be sure as they always did. Looking back to the man she pushed her ego aside just enough to mutter "I need a place to hide. Now." She knew her chances were slim that he would help her. After all, she was kind of stealing one of his horses, not that she'd ever admit to it.
  8. Would it be in bad taste for him to make an welcoming gesture for her to attempt to lay into him? Probably. Either way, bad form or not he was ready for her to attempt to start giving him the what for, how to's and what not's. Her mouth opened beginning the start of the unleash but he heard the sound of metal and feet and hooves that evidently caught her attention as well.

    His attention diverted wondering what could have been up that would have called such a loud cavalry. Especially this early in the morning and so far away from well... anything of importance by his standards. Whatever they were about to get into was quickly tossed aside once she ran to the window to look out, Darius took the moment to pull open the barn door a little more to let him peek out. Surely enough the men in silver and plate were heavy on their horses. "Castle men." Darius mumbled loudly enough to be heard but the pique of his voice suggested he was curious but also cautious to their appearance. "Never a good sign this early." Lips pressed into another as a hand rubbed across the scruff of his face.

    He might have said more but he was hushed by the thieving woman. A look of indignation spreading across his face before rearranging as if he might bark at her and throw her right out of the door to face the castle guards.
    Hell he was gaining up the courage to do so when she looked back at him with the green eyes. "What." Darius put flatly gaping at her. "Are you expecting me to hide your thieving ass from them? Oh hell no, if anything I ought to throw you right into their steps and inform them that you were trying to steal from me." Stubborn and strong willed was his nature and it was certainly showing his head right now. "Why would I want to help a brat like you?"
  9. "Why would I want to help a brat like you?"

    Arina thought about this for a moment. She was not accustomed to pleading her case. Normally, when she wanted something she got it with no questions asked. Reaching into her cloak she pulled out a small pouch made of red velvet and a gold drawstring that held it together. Something that had slipped her mind to disguise before she made her escape. Nonchalantly she tossed it at his feet. The loud thud that was created when the pouch connected with the earth made evident the large amount of coin that lay inside.

    "Because I will pay you well over what you're worth," she replied implying that she would be paying a farmer to preform an escort's job. "Take me to the forest that lay beyond the farmlands, the one the reaches to the neighboring kingdom's border and it's yours." The guards were getting closer. "If we stand here arguing the matter it will be too late," she said anxiously as she peered outside once again. She couldn't believe she was handing her fate to this argumentative, irritating man.
  10. Truthfully he wasn't expecting anything from her besides more sass, more anger and more lies. Imagine his surprise when a pouch came to rest in her palm. One that easily betrayed the height of her stature. Something that fine was not commonly bought on a standard merchants table. It either came from afar or it was personally made for someone of high class. Nonetheless as it came flying at him to fall on the floor, Darius eyes were large and round. Their hue viridian just staring at the object as if it might suddenly latch onto a foot and gnaw endlessly.

    The men were drawing closer and closer by the second and he was finding himself at an impasse. "You're..." He wanted to say nobility but was not sure that was the accurate term. She could not be just a random thief, not with that laying pouch on the floor. "If you could have paid for the horse, why didn't you?" Asking the most obvious of questions, the sound of horses nickering as their reigns were pulled signified the chance of her leaving had decreased significantly. There was a margin of hope to escape but it was thin.

    His head turned across his shoulder to consider the voices outside and back at her. His lips pressed, "Greater gods above," He cursed not sure what the hell he was doing. If she was noble or something more and she was running then he had to assume it was for a reason beyond his limited perception. "You can't escape now," Darius pointed towards a stack of hay bales, "I swear if I get my head hacked off, I am going to haunt you until you spin in your grave. Hide there for a moment and when you can, get on through that window there." A pointed finger moved to indicate a small window towards the back of the barn where the saddles and tact were kept. "You can slide out there and either take your chancing running through the woods or you can sneak around to the house and slid into the cellar. You're call but this," Darius stooped to grab the bag and threw it back at her. "I don't need your blood money," He frowned at her but didn't explain the reason he deemed it that.

    Straightening his shoulders, fingers combed through the tidy mess of his hair. Pushing it aside so it did not hang in his eyes but made the time to pick up a bucket of seed to keep the ruse up that he was attending to the animals. Though it wasn't a ruse, it had been his plan after all. Only one final look back at the woman did he narrow his gaze and shouldered the door out of the way to reveal not one by six men in the front of his yard. One had already gotten off his horse and was looking around, the rest were scouting close by clearly looking for something. Or rather someone.

    "Gods graces," Darius didn't have to feign his surprise looking at them all, "Something the matter sir?" Calling to the one that had come off his beast of burden, the armor clad one jolted upright to look in his direction.
    What the hell was the matter with him! Why was he doing this for that... jerk.
  11. His question caught her off guard. She had more than enough money to pay for the stallion, but paying for him would require her divulging the fact that she had such money. Not only would she be risking making herself a target for theft, but also opening herself up to questions as to who she is. That was the kind of attention she really didn't need. Her intention was to make a swift clean getaway. That is until he foiled her plans. "Don't you worry about why. Are you in?" She pushed anxiously.

    He seemed to think this over a moment before cursing under his breath. To her surprise he gave her an option of escape before tossing the pouch back at her. Blood Money? Who does this guy think he is? She thought to her self as she snatched up the pouch and returned it to it's pocket within her cloak. With a short respectful nod towards the reluctant man she slid her way into the hay bales making sure to cover herself completely. Her ears listened intently to the conversation just outside the barn.

    The man who stepped off the horse was smaller than the others in both height and muscular build. Everything from his upraised chest to his entitled stance pointed to an inferiority complex. His armor was made of much higher quality materials than the others and suggested that he was of higher rank than the others. His head jerked in reaction to the farm boy's casual address. "Yes, boy. Something is the matter," he said taking several steps closer to him. "We are looking for a maiden," his eyes narrowed slightly as he debated divulging her identity and ultimately decided to do so. "Princess Arina to be exact. You haven't... come across any stubborn, entitled, bratty, brunettes, have you?" he questioned.

    Arina scowled to herself. The captain was lucky she was trying to escape her life and title. Had she wanted the authority that came with it she'd have him whipped. Truthfully, it was more a blow to her ego that she refused to admit. Her heart thumped hard against her chest as she waited for the opportune moment to make her escape.
    • Love Love x 1
  12. Noting how the other men seemed to stay put waiting for the first to take control, Darius could notice that they were in a rush that he seemed to impeded. Well, considering how the morning started he wasn't too fond of letting more people go rummaging around on his land, neither nobles or royalty. Of course such attitude would get him into trouble which caused him to swallow it down whole. Granted at first he had to wonder what the girl had done to incur the wrath of the guards, probably managed to steal something if he was thinking her to be just that of a petty thief. "A maiden?" He repeated taking a look over his shoulder as if he was suddenly thinking there was someone behind him. His mouth opened again to speak but found itself sealing shut.

    "Wait wait wait wait-" Hands vibrated in hold trying to get the grasp of what was just said. "Princess?" Evident confusion stemmed upon his features true in its display. Every single word that fell from the guards mouth was remarkably dead on. Enough so that his gut twisted up into a violent knot. It fit her to a tee and he was instantly wishing he had slept in this morning just to avoid all of this. That... that brat was the Princess! She was so rude and snotty and well... probably everything he ever heard from a peasants mouth coming to life about any royal. While they lived here and were grateful for the harvest of the land, it wasn't as if the royals who sat upon the throne were anything humble.

    "We do not have all day boy." Impatiently the guard hounded at him.

    "My apologizes sir, I was just baffled by the idea that the princess is running around the countryside. I haven't seen anything of the sort sadly though I am sure I would have noticed a girl. Not exactly the life of busy streets here." Loosely he gestured around him, "Sorry sir." He lied expertly mostly due to his own befuddling confusion that he was dealing with a woman who tried to steal from him when she could just buy the whole damn place and be done with it!

    His lips pressed as if to assess him. Silence reigned uncomfortably stretching thin and long until it was almost unbearable. One foot shifted under the other wadding down the dirt beneath his boots, "If you see anything boy, you make sure you let a guard know. You do not understand how pressing this is but trust me if you do not report something, you will." The threat was vibrant and loud in which Darius nodded rather dumbly to it. "Where is the next farm around here."

    "Down the road to the left, Morgan's Peak should be just nestled in the trees. Hard to miss on the account of three fields of newly tilled land, sir." Pointing down the road like he had done a hundred times before; they seemed somewhat satisfied with his response. Not as much as having the princess in their grasp but enough that the man turned haughtily on his heels. One bound of a push had him swinging up into his saddle - the others scurrying to follow suit. Of course he remained standing where he was watching them with the dopey lost stare in his eyes; waiting and pleading for them to leave faster than they were. "Report anything." Again he repeated earning that of a hollow nod.

    Gravel spit up under the horses feet as they charged off the land. Sharp turn around the post of the farm and they were moving down the road at an alarming speed. "Great slaggin' bags of ash," Darius mumbled for himself, idly rubbing the back of his head. "What in the god's greater green earth happened!"
  13. For now their plan of distraction had been working beautifully. One of the guards had come in the barn and began searching through the stalls. He was anything but subtle in his movements. Her heart pounded harder if that were at all possible. She held her breath as he walked passed the stack of hay bales where she remained hidden. Thankfully for her he wasn't very good at his job as he overlooked her hiding spot without a second glance. The barn door creaked as the lazy guard made his exit allowing her to breathe at last. Beyond the old wooden walls she could hear the pompous man talking to the Captain from the sounds of it. She could pin point his voice in a crowded marketplace. On the surface confident, but underneath it all was a scared little man yearning to prove himself. Unfortunately for him he was put on the 'bring the Princess back' duty that the King was beginning to doubt his abilities. Which he should.

    "-Princess Arina."

    She cursed at the sound of her own name. That big mouthed Captain was sure making enough trouble for her this morning. For all she knew the dirty man might change his mind on helping her if he knew it was she who was running. Not many people would risk their neck hiding a rogue princess with for nothing in return, and she wasn't going to wait around and find out.

    Quickly she shoved the hay bales above her head off to the side. Trusting his first instructions she made her was to the area where the saddles and tac were kept. Just as he mentioned there was a small window in the back just big enough for her to crawl through. The window was old and had been unused for quite some time. She cursed under her breath as she pried it open. Once out she rushed to the house staying low to the ground and taking cover behind trees when possible. Once inside she took a moment to find her bearings. A few moments of scouting led her to a door that clearly led down to the cellar. It was dusty, and empty other than a few supplies, some stored food from the winter, and an old wooden table.

    What was she doing? Why did she head to the cellar? He was probably leading the guards to her at that very moment. For alls he knew this could be a trap. Revenge for trying to steal one of his horses. She headed back for the door but stopped on her heel. Against her better judgment she left a handful of golden coins on the table. That kind of money would provide him with everything he needed to survive and more for the next year. It was the least she could do for dragging him into all of this.
    Without a second look back she made her way out of the cellar, through the back door, and headed straight for the woods.
  14. Sighing heavily when the timing appeared to be so, Darius shoulders slumped forward bitterly and beaten did he think about what he heard. The woman was the princess. The princess! And she had been trying to escape. What, he had no idea and really probably should keep it that way to prevent himself from being charged with something far worse than just helping an escapee from the guards. That alone sent a chill up his spine.

    He just lied to the guards. If they ever found out he had, the consequences would be far worse than he could animate in his head. Teeth grated taking a final quick look around the yard just in case someone had decided to linger, feeling far more paranoid than he had as a child waiting for the monsters in the closet to eat him.

    "Better check on her-" Against his own judgement did Darius swivel around with a hurried step to the house. He half expected her to be waiting there looking at him with her glaring stare debating on how much he would suffer for treating her with such belligerence. Contemplating on throwing him into the deepest, dankest prison cell there was and that caused a hard lump in his throat. Holding a hand over the door handle debating on turning away and pretending he knew nothing but his better judgement had the door swinging inwards. "Your majesty?" Formal tone took hold, careful and poised expecting her to yell at him; there was nothing inside.

    Well not nothing, a wallet of coins and the back door open. "She-" Darius frowned and gaped, "She did! Is she out of her living loving mind, the guards will track her down easily." And what the hell was he thinking! Let her get caught, it wasn't in his best interest not to let her remain as a runaway. Whatever that reason was and yet, Darius cursed. Lividly and loudly, hands scooped up the coins. He was truthful about not wanting her blood money. And now he wanted it even less. If it was a pay off for letting her escape from the guards, he didn't need them coming back and finding it. Asking how did a farmer have so much to tide him over, it was bad news all over the place.

    Against his better judgement, -seemed to be prevalent today- the man stepped through that back portal in hopes to locate her. "I'm out of my own mind." Did he chime giving sprint in hopes to track her down far faster than the accidental run in with a guard.
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