Monday, August 20, 2012

Twin Desires Part 3

Change of plans.  I know you were expecting Replacements, but  . . . we're switching gears. Today's installment is from Macie Snow.  Replacements will appear on Friday in Macie's usual spot. 
Now, let's find out what Justin and Katrinna are up to.

Twin Desires pt 3
by Macie Snow

I jerk upright in my saddle, blinking sleep from my eyes. The first thing I notice is my sore backside. Cursing the poor construction of saddles, I rub my aching tailbone before realizing that Justin is calling my name.

                “-inna! Katrinna! Are you awake yet sleepyhead?” Justin laughs, seemingly in much better spirits than I.

                I moan and stretch, attempting to release some of the tension from my muscles. I had never been a morning person, and usually ended up being extremely irritable until well after the sun had made its way past the horizon.  My mood was improved none by the fact that dew had soaked through my clothes overnight, leaving me chilly, and grumpy.

                “So nice of you to wake up.” Justin grins. “We are approaching the town of Tarneth. Once there we can buy you some more appropriate clothing.”

                “What counts as appropriate?” I ask, hoping with all my might that I would not be required to wear a corset and dress, and briefly thinking about getting some skimpy clothing, but deciding against it as they would more than likely get me the wrong kind of attention, and from the wrong person.

                “A tunic and pants most likely, something easy to move in, and light. We might also want to buy you a cloak.” Justin says. Apparently I hadn’t hidden my shivering very well. I grit my teeth and force myself to stop trembling.

                “That’s perfect,” I say. An idea pops in my head and I blurt it out before thinking twice. “Will I get any weapons? A dagger at least?”

                Justin surprises me by chuckling. “I plan to get you a bit more than a dagger. While I will protect you, you will have to be prepared to defend yourself in case I am otherwise occupied, or something makes its way past me.”Justin says, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “How about a sword? Yes, a sword should suit you nicely; perhaps you would do well with two one-handed swords…” Justin continues to ponder as we approach the town. I bite back my excitement as I mull over what he had said. Justin had said if ‘something’ gets past him, not ‘someone’. Suddenly I find myself rethinking my plan to rush after Adrinna’s kidnapper to save her.

                I clear my throat, causing Justin to look towards me. “You would need to teach me to use them.  The swords I mean. I learned basic defenses, with a dagger, but I’ve never been taught to fight.”

                “Of course you weren’t! You are a princess! You wouldn’t need to know how to fight!” Justin pauses and sighs, before continuing in a calmer voice. “However, I suppose I must teach you, to suit our… Unique predicament,” Justin says, the corner of his mouth twitching up in amusement.

                I duck my head to hide a blush. Teaching me to fight would require the two of us being in VERY close proximity to each other. Suddenly I was very anxious for this evening.

                “We are approaching Tarneth now princess,” Justin says, stopping Flinn. I pull Zypher to a stop and watch as Justin climbs off Flinn and starts rooting around in his saddlebags. Justin pulls out a dark mass of cloth and walks towards me with it.

                “Here princess, we will have to lay low for now. I don’t know if anyone would recognize you, but I don’t want to risk it,” Justin says, holding the cloth out to me. I grab it, and it unfolds, revealing a cloak.

                “Very well,” I say, swinging the cloak behind me. I lift my chin as I tie the cloak at my collar. Once the cloak is secured I pull my hair out from under the cloak and twist it around to lie over my right shoulder.

Justin gasps. I look over to see him staring at me.

“What?” I ask looking around frantically to see what is wrong.

“You-, your hair!” Justin exclaims.

“What? Is there a spider in it?” I ask, swiping furiously at the top of my head.

“No, no.” Justin says, grabbing my wrist. I look down at his warm hand around my wrist. He was so much darker than I. My skin tingles where his fingers touch it.

“Your hair has golden streaks in it.” Justin says, still staring at my head.

“Is that all?” I ask, distracted by his warm skin.

“I just never noticed before,” Justin says, trailing off. He lets go off my wrist and walks over to Flinn, mounting the buckskin mare without even breaking stride. “Let’s go. Pull your hood up princess.”

I smile, and pull my hood up. My brown hair did have golden streaks, but no one ever noticed with Adrinna around. Adrinna was blonde, golden blonde, and with her blonde hair, all people ever noticed about my hair was that it’s brown. That was our one difference, physically that is. We both had bright blue eyes, and the same build.
Before I could start missing Adrinna, we arrived in Tarneth.

I duck my head to hide my face, and peer out from under the hood at the little town. I had never been outside of the castle and its surrounding town before, and I am surprised to find that I love this bustling little town. People and animals are everywhere, running every which way. Justin leads the way to a tailor shop a little ways into the town. I see mothers holding their infants, buying the mornings eggs. Children play in the street. Dogs bark at passersby’s. This town was wonderful.

We stop just short of the tailors, at a hitching post. Justin unties Zypher from Flinn and I start untying the ropes holding me in the saddle. Justin finishes, and ties both Flinn and Zypher to the post near the store. Once he finished tying the horses to  the post, he realizes I am still in Zyphers saddle. He chuckles at seeing that I was still struggling with the ropes before coming to help me.

“Stick close to me Katrinna,” Justin whispers reaching around my waist to unhook the ropes. “The tailor is right here, and the blacksmith is across the way,” Justin says, gesturing across the bustling street. I see a faint line of smoke rising from a building towards the outskirts of town, and assume that is the blacksmith. Justin frees me from the ropes and helps me down. I trip, and Justin catches my arm.

“You okay Katrinna?” Justin asks as I waver unsteadily.

“Yeah, fine, just give me a minute to get my footing,” I say, clutching to Zypher’s saddle.

As soon as I’m steady, Justin reaches behind me and roots around in Zypher’s saddlebags, before pulling out a bag of gold coins. Bouncing the bag on his palm we walk toward the tailors shop. People scatter, avoiding Justin, and pay no notice of my presence. I find myself having to practically jog in order to keep up with Justin’s long strides. We quickly arrive at the tailors and I pause outside the shop. I look up at the sign, causing my hood to fall back. I sigh and, after pulling my hood back up, walk into the store, wishing Adrinna could be here with me.


“Thank you!” I call behind me, as I leave the tailors shop. I was now adorned in a dark green tunic that is remarkably soft. The tailor had called the fabric cotton, said he found the stuff in fields just outside of town, and that his wife spun it into thread and fabric. I also had a leather belt fastened around my waist. The belt had diamond patterns circling it, and inside the diamonds were roses that had been tooled with incredible detail. Tight black pants and tall leather riding boots completed my new attire. The tailor’s wife had helped me braid my hair so that it wrapped up around itself, and hung in a short ponytail on the back of my head. It also made my hair look shorter, which would help me not to be recognized.

                “Well that is definitely an improvement!” I hear Justin call. I turn to see him riding up to me from the blacksmiths. “I’m glad Mr. and Mrs. Tyler didn’t mind dropping everything to help with our unique predicament.” Justin says, smiling as he dismounts.

                “Well, it probably helped that you are the best knight in the kingdom. You intimidate people.” I giggle.

                “Ha-ha princess,” Justin says. His voice sounds angry, but I see his eyes twinkle in amusement. “I had the blacksmith make these.” Justin says as he turns and pulls two gleaming blades off the back of his saddle.

                I gasp and run over to him. The blades were perfection; sleek, and beautiful.

                “Make no mistake,” Justin says chuckling at my reaction. He holds the blades just short of my eager reach. “Despite their hasty production, these are very dangerous weapons Katrinna.”

                I sigh in defeat. “I understand.”

                Justin grins before turning and tying the swords to the back of my saddle.

                “When can you start teaching me?” I ask, eager to have an excuse to get up close and personal with Justin, not to mention learning to defend myself. I was tired of playing the damsel in distress. It was high time I would be able to take care of myself.

                “I can begin your instruction tonight. But first,” Justin turns around and presents me with a dagger. “I believe you might want this.”

                “You got this for me?” I ask, barely able to keep from squealing with excitement as a blush rose in my cheeks. “But why? You got me the swords!”

                “Until you reach a certain level of proficiency, the Damascus blades are as dangerous for you as you enemies.”

                “Damascus?” I ask, reaching eagerly for the dagger, but Justin held it out of my reach.

                “That’s the type of swords they are. Very time consuming to make. Which means they are all the more impressive because they were formed so quickly.”

                “Will they be weaker as a result of their quick formation?” I ask, starting to worry. How horrible would it be if my sword broke in the middle of a fight?  No matter what the circumstances, that situation would have no happy ending for me.

                “No, they are as strong as any blade that took weeks to make. The blacksmith assured me, and I tested them thoroughly.”

                I sigh, relieved as Justin passes the dagger to me. I pull it from its sheath and stare at the blade. It was clear as any looking glass in the castle. The handle was simple, yet beautiful with the metal worked so that it twisted around the handle.

                “This dagger is perfect for you, at least until I am able to teach you the… art of swordplay,” Justin says, climbing onto Flinn.

                I smirk, and re-sheath the dagger before fastening it to my belt and mounting Zypher. Even under the circumstances, Justin insisted on being proper. Art of swordplay my ass. Justin was going to teach me to kill. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. “So when will you start teaching me?” I ask.

                “Tonight if you wish, but for now we must move if we are to stay ahead of search troops.” Justin says, situating himself in the saddle.

                “Justin?” I say softly. Justin glances over his shoulder at me. “Thank you,” I murmur.

                Justin’s eyes soften as he smiles warmly. “You are more than welcome, princess.”

                “Katrinna,” I correct.

                “Katrinna,” Justin says softly. I nod, blushing.

                Justin smiles, and looks ahead. He clicks his tongue and starts Flinn forward. It seemed as if we would finally be starting our search for Adrinna.

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