The branch they were standing on cracked, and immediately three arrows found their way to the tree, and one pierced through Vladawain’s arm as he protected the little girl. Her eyes turned to his blood, and then she looked up at him, utterly scared. Vladawain squared his jaw, took the arrow out of his arm and drew his sword in a flash, dropping from the tree in front of the scouts.
"Surrender or be killed!" One of the men in the group yelled at Vladawain, pointing his sword at him. "You dun't wanna be messin' with meh, do you?" the fighter answered, his sword hanging loosely at his side, his face remaining calm, as if nothing could hurt him. The red haired kid Vladawain had noticed put her hand in front of the man that had challenged him, meaning for him to hold his horses, and she took a step forward, examining the warrior. "Who's up in the tree?" She asked him, not flinching even a second, though Vladawain was more than imposing to her, in both weight, and power. "None of your business." He answered, hoping the girl was alright. "Get her down, no harm's gonna be done to either of you." Vladawain quirked an eyebrow. Enemies, saying no harm would be done to them? What was this all about? He looked into the girl's eyes, and was struck by how sincere she seemed. He let out a groan and nodded, jumping up the tree once again. One of the scouts was about to shoot at him when the redhead stopped him.
Vladawain immediately came down with the blonde girl in his arms, and then put her down on the ground. He was still holding his sword, and ready to fight, but he felt somehow that it wasn't as bad as he first thought. He felt as if he wouldn’t even have to fight his way out, for once. "Name and function?" The apparently authoritive girl asked Vladawain, aware of his position of... power? "Da name is Vladawain Bagnale, most peeps call meh Vlad, am a mercenary hired by rebel armies. And ye are?" One of the royal knights dashed into him at the same time he finished his sentence. But Vlad was faster than that, and sliced through his throat in one well placed swing, and let the body fall at his feet, apparently undisturbed. The blonde girl winced at the sight of the blood, and... cold-hearted killing?. The red-head's eyes locked on her expression.
Time seemed to stop for a moment. Both their gazes met, and something, unfamiliar, warm, sparked between them. Vlad noticed something was going on, and his mind started trying to understand just what it was. "Hmm hey, I just butchered yer precious guard, mind tellin' me what the hell 'tis all 'bout? Why aren't ye, I dunno, runnin' for yer life, or trying to kill me?" The red haired girl shook herself out of her staring and stepped forward once more. "I'm Willow Rosenberg, the hmm.." she bit her lip and made a disgusted face. One of the guards talked in her place. "She's the Princess, so move out of the way!" Willow sighed and elbowed the man. "I'm talking! Huh Vlad.." She looked up expectantly at him, taking another step forward. She was well over two heads less than the man, and half his stature if not smaller. "I know what my life would mean to the people who hired you, but I... I, you know, I never wanted to be who I am, and I just wanna, live, and I love being able to learn all those things, and please, don't take this away from me... and..." A soft giggle emerged from the blond girl at Willow's babble, that she immediately stiffled, blushing heavily. Was she laughing at how pathetic the princess sounded? The girl once again looked in the blonde's direction, and slightly frowned at her shyness. "Yeah, I know, babble-fest. Happens to me all the time but I..." The blonde girl looked up "I-I think it's cute." The blush on her cheeks deepened, as well as Willow's, at those words.
"Heh, so you do talk, kiddo." Vlad smirked, and sheated his sword. The atmosphere became less awkward, and Vlad walked to a trunk and leant on it casually, crossing his arms over his chest. "Here, go with 'em kid. I'll just let it go, dont wantcha to get hurt." Willow looked up at Vlad, then at the girl, who's gaze shifted to the ground. "What's your name?" she asked, expectantly. "Ta-Tara Maclay." the blond girl answered, with shame in her tone, not lifting her head once. Vlad groaned and titled his head to the right while looking down at her. "Traitor's kiddo, right?" Willow frowned at that, and her expression fell. "I'm afraid I... I can't take you with me at all. But, Vlad, no one's gonna be sent after her, or you, if you just..." Vlad raised his hand to stop her from talking. "Save it for the royal dumbasses. 'Tis not the last time our paths cross, Princess."
"I have that feeling as well, Vlad." Willow answered, sad to have to leave the young girl she had just met. She shot a glance at Tara: she was shuffling her feet on the ground, and looked utterly depressed. "Hey kiddo!" Vlad shouted to get Tara's attention. She looked up, startled, and saw him lending out an hand. "We're movin', say g'd'bye already." Willow stared at Tara as she walked to Vlad slowly, it really hurted to have to part so soon. She didn't have much of a chance to get to know girls her age, and she felt like she would've gotten along with that one pretty well.
"Why?" The question had struck Willow as if it was just a random idea, but it was actually an obvious question. Vlad raised an eyebrow at her, putting his hand on Tara's shoulder in an instinctive move. "Why's she with you, a young girl, with a mercenary, she's not your child?" Vlad shrugged. "Go figure.. " He said, walking away from the small group, and pushing Tara's shoulder slightly. The girl finally turned around a little, and waved at Willow shyly. A small smile formed on the princess's lips as she returned the wave. "We'll meet again, Tara, I promise."
Vlad led Tara to his place in silence, and she seemed to appreciate the comfortable quietness. Probably because things in her head weren't peaceful at all.
She... she talked to me. And she smiled, her smile... it was so... I... I'm not... I want to be with her, and talk with her, and... I'm alive. Just this morning, I was heading to the army camp, and then... this happened. I wasn't safe anywhere anymore, and somehow, I survived, and now someone... Vlad... he was like a demon, he killed everyone, yet he spared me? Or he never wanted to kill me? Is he one of those cold hearted warriors i,ve heard... no, he couldn't... I'm... "Dunt overwork yer lil' brain, kid." Something pretty similar to a smile formed on Vlad's lips, as he took Tara's small hand in his. "You liked that girl, aight?" Tara suddenly looked down and nodded shyly, blushing under the hair that now covered her face. "Well then, hold onto that, and it'll happen." Right as he finished those words, Vlad withdrew his sword quickly and turned around to press the tip of his blade on the throat of a mysterious shadow standing in the wilderness.
"Calm down bro!" The silhouette stepped out of the tall grass, hands up over his shoulders, almost hitting Tara with his elbow while turning to face Vlad. The young girl stood there, petrified at the sight of the other man: He had the same dark traits, the same dark hair, the same blue eyes, he was almost a perfect replica of Vlad. Except for the wound over the left eye. "Back already?" Vlad asked him, still firmly holding his sword in place. "I never left!" Disbelief crossed the man's face, as his expression shifted from doubt to suspicion. Vlad rolled his eyes. "Aight." In a swift move, Vlad knocked over the other man in front of him and sheated his sword, leaving Tara staring at them both, now paralyzed by fear. "Next time, don't stalk Odi." Vlad said as the other guy stumbled backwards and fell on his butt. In a groan, he looked up at his brother and nodded his head to the warrior's orders.
Vlad then picked Tara up from the ground and carried her over to an old shack. He kicked the door open and stepped in before putting her back on her feet. He let her take a look at the small house's furniture: two sleeping mats, a table and two chairs, as well as a small oil lamp in the middle of the table. One of the walls was covered in weapons of all kinds, a couple sets of armor were lying in a corner, and a small shelf held five bottles of spirits. "'Tis home kid. If ya need sumthing, just ask. I'll make you a mat for sleepin' if ya want one." His brother entered the house as well, and noticed Tara.
"Who's the girl Vlady?"
"None of yer business."
"Isn't she a lil' young for..." He was interrupted by a careless voice.
"You touch her: you die."
Vlad's last words were said in an even tone, not threatening, but worse. He had stated a fact, simply. The coldness of his voice had sent chills down Tara's spine. Just who was he? Even his brother was startled at the way he expressed himself, and was standing in the door, mouth wide open. An awkward silence settled down, as Vlad started undonning his battle armor, and finally his brother knelt down beside Tara and tried to smile to her. An attempt which failed as he saw her teary eyes wandering Vlad's now half-naked body and her knees gave up under her. Odiluke caught her before she fell and sat her on a chair. "Hey bro, put on a shirt yer scarin' yer guest." Vlad threw his last piece of armor in the corner with the rest, but didn't turn to them or make a move toward the small drawer that was near the sleeping mats. "Her body's probably half as bad." He finally said, with his usual calm and even voice. Tara quickly ducked her head, letting her hair cover her face, as Vlad's brother's eyes grew wide in shock. Vlad finally turned back to them, walked over to the chair and knelt down beside his brother. "'Tis my brother Odiluke. You prob'ly guessed, but we're twins." He smiled and reached for Tara's face with his hand, then lifted her head up so she would look at him. She slowly lifted her gaze from the ground and met his blue eyes, that were filled with... understanding?
"How about we take care of them scars and then you get yourself a g'night's sleep?" Tara immediately blushed at the thought of someone seeing her naked-two guys seeing her naked. Odiluke bursted in an uncontrollable laughter beside them, as Vlad frowned. "Dude, you're like, Sir Pathetic." But Vlad kept his calm and seriousness, and looked at Tara intently. She blushed even more, and shook her head no. Odiluke got up at that moment and walked off, his laughter still echoing in the room, as Vlad slowly reached for Tara's arm, and ran his fingers over what seemed like an old scar. Tara's gaze immediately shifted to her arm, as tingles of magic ran through her, and some of the pain she was used to eased magically. She blinked a couple times, and then looked at Vlad. He was still looking at her, with his calm eyes, and they weren't cold anymore. They carried some kind of... Tara decided on peace, as she wondered how the warrior was able to control the flow of magic so it would heal any scars on her body, without him touching her anywhere but her elbow. She finally relaxed and let her thoughts drift to the events of the past days.
"How do you... ?"
The question surprised both of them, and Vlad broke the touch instinctively, falling backwards. "S-Sorry." He had said the words getting up and brushing off his pants, and then frowned looking back at Tara. "You said sumthing?" It was Tara's turn to frown. "What? I-It wasn't?" Confusion settled between them, as they looked at each other, neither of them knowing exactly what was going on.
Odiluke barged into the house and threw a pile of wood on the floor in a loud rumbling noise, quite effectively breaking awkward moment. "Well there, birdies said it'd be could t'night, let's make a fire ladies and gents!" The man looked at both of them and quirked an eyebrow at their surprised expressions, and decided he'd just shake them out of their state, litterally, by throwing a piece of wood at Vlad's head, and ruffling Tara's hair with his other hand. "C'mon! Let's make a fire and eat like we've never ate before, to celebrate Vlady's victory today, aight?"
Willow slowly shut the door to her room, and then slumped onto her bed letting out a long, painful, exhausted sigh of relief. This had been a rough day: the way home, the encounter on the road, convincing the guards to say nothing about the encouter, the beautiful girl and her magnificent blue eyes. Her crystal, watery, scared and cute eyes...
Her mind wandered of, remembering every single details of the girl. "Tara..." She said, softly, dreamily, staring at her ceiling and imagining the girl right there, in her room. Then she snapped out of her reverie, reality slapping her hard. She's daughter of a traitor to your kingdom, she's with a wandering mercenary, and she probably doesn't even remember you already Rosenberg. That is, if she's even still alive. Thinking about her is more like torture than daydreaming. Your brain's too intelligent to even think you'll ever see her again... But I... she's... What the hell am I thinking?!?
Willow kicked her shoes in a corner of her room violently and sighed angrily. Then she crawled under the sheets and rested her head on her pillow, but her eyes stayed open, as she stared at the starry sky through the window of her room, wishing, against her own will, that the promise she had made today would come true. She had no idea exactly why, but she wanted to see Tara again, alive, and... Could this be my first crush? On a girl?