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 Post subject: #234 Against the elders' wishes (4/27/03)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:55 pm 
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Hi, all. :) The new topic is: against the elders' wishes. Good luck and have fun! I can't wait to read your posts!!

JacLyn :)

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 Post subject: Re: #234 Against the elders' wishes (4/27/03)
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:12 am 
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Here's an old post I wrote for this topic ages ago. :)

----

She tied the delicate rope about her waist and stood back from the mirror. The golden robe excentuated teh highlights in her bronze hair. Candlelight danced off the flowing silk as she turned to grab her cloak. She swung it over her shoulders and clasped it into place.

Aristole took a deep breath to calm her racing heart as she surveyed herself one last time in the mirror.

"Okay. This is going to be simple. A quick in and out. Easy as pie. After all, he hasn't really done anything wrong. Well, he hadn't yet. It's not right to sentence someone for something you only suspect they were attempting. So, the gods should be on my side," she said to herself while fingering the pendant on her chest.

It was a simple pendant of two serpants swallowing their tails, circling a smooth amber orb. Aristole's mother, a High Priestess of the great goddess Swartha, had given it to her when she was just a child. The girl rubbed it whenever she needed comfort as it reminded her of her mother.

"Oh, Mother. If there ever was a night I needed you . . ." she said, gazing into the mirror, trying to build up courage. Suddenly, she pulled her hand away from the pendant and shook it. The shock from the pendant had startled her. It had been happening more and more recently. This time was worse than most. She had been feeling very unsettled as of late. The small energy bursts from her pendant had not helped.

The girl scowled, wondering at the strange sensation. "What could it mean?" she mumbled to herself. The pendant did not look any different. "Only, . . . no, it must have been my imagination. If it were not for the excitement of the night, I would have sworn I saw a brief flash of life in the serpants' eyes. As if I was being regarded, encouraged . . ."

A quick flicker of the candle's flame brought her back to her mission. Her hand still tingled from the shock as she pulled the hood over her head, obscuring her face in shadow. She could easily pose for any priestess now. Only her femininity was revealed by the deep midnight cloak. The velvet gently shooshed as she lifted the candle from the small table. Aristole opened the heavy wooden door a crack and held her breath, listening for any night walkers in the hallways. She stole up her courage, bowed her head and slipped out the door, closing it quietly behind her.

Even though she had a candle to light her way, the passages were still dim. Luckily, she had explored all of them in her youth and knew them by heart. She could find her way with her eyes shut. The candle served mostly to scare away the rats and other things that scuttered in the shadows.

Finally, the soft padding of her leather slippers stopped before an intricately woven tapestry. Aristole swept the heavy material aside and stepped behind the gentle folds. Her fingers searched for the right stone in the wall that would nudge slightly and unlock the hidden door. Dim footsteps in the distance were heard and her heart thudded. She held her breath as they drew closer and cupped the flame with her free hand beneath her cloak. The jingling of mail came closer as the guards approached. They laughed and talked of previous excursions on shared duties. Aristole moved a foot slightly to be closer to the wall. The movement brought a soft scuffle to the guards' ears.

"What was that?" one said, immediately stopping and lowering a hand to his sheath. The other halted and gazed around, wary. Aristole held her breath, her heart thudding in her throat. All of a sudden, the girl felt something soft brush against her ankle and stepped quickly to the side. The sound of metal rang through the silent halls as the first guard unsheathed his sword at the sight of the fluttering tapestry. A large rat scuttered out and ran down the hall, screeching in fear. The second guard laughed and clapped his friend on the back.

"See? It was just a rat. As big as a cat, I'll give you, but just a rat all the same," he laughed. "You've become too jumpy lately, friend. The intruders were caught. No one is skulking around the castle. You need to relax."

"True," replied the first guard, a little miffed at being fooled by a rat, especially in front of a witness. He sheathed his sword. "I guess you're right. I guess all the commotion lately has gotten me on edge. Still . . . something doesn't feel right."

"Come. It will be your poor head that doesn't feel right once the Captain bashes you for being late for watch watch again. Let's get going."

"Alright, just let me . . ." the first guard said, reaching his hand out to pull aside the tapestry. Aristole closed her eyes tight, sure her heart would explode and she would die on the spot.

"Come on!" the second guard said and knocked the other guard's hand away. He continued walking down the corridor, annoyed at his friend's tardiness.

"He's in the guard one year more than me and he knows everything," the remaining guard mumbled. He took one more long look at the tapestry and sighed. "Hold up! I'm coming!" he yelled back and hurried his pace to catch up with his companion.

Aristole stood there, huddled against the wall for what seemed like centuries. At least, the sound of their footsteps faded into the distance and she frantically searched for the release to the door. Finally, a stone budged and she quickly entered the passage. The heavy opening slid silently back into place. The girl collapsed against the wall. Her heart thudded and her eyes squeezed so tight, little tears peeked over the corners. Her breath came ragged. She placed the candle on the ground next to her and hugged her knees to her chest, trying to calm herself. After a few minutes, she regained control. As her eyes opened, she took a deep breath and looked around at her surroundings. She was in a tight passageway that wound downwards at a slight angle.

"At the end of this is my goal," she whispered to herself. She swallowed her fear, stood up, and brushed herself off. As she leaned over to pick up the candle, she noticed a soft glow emanating from the pendant. She shook her head and looked again. "My eyes must be deceiving me, being strained from all this darkness. The only glow can be from my candle." She touched her pendant nervously and it seemed slightly warm. "The heat must be from my candle as well. This is ridiculous. Now, I'm spooking myself," she said as she straightened and continued down the passage.

She walked until her legs started to feel sore. She knew she was traveling deeper into the castle because the air grew constantly damper. Eventually, the floor evened out and ended at a large iron door. She pulled a small copper key from a leather pouch at her side and opened the lock. She replaced the key, slipped out the opening, and found herself behind another tapestry in a deep niche.

From the size of her candle, Aristole calculated about two hours had passed. It was time for the guards to change shifts. She gingerly peeked her head around the corner. No one was approaching from either direction. The girl pulled the hood closer to her face and stepped into the hallway. A pudgy guard sat half-asleep with his chair tipped against the wall, waiting for his replacement. He almost didn't notice her until she was past.

"Who are you and what is your business?" he mumbled, not opening his eyes.

Aristole stopped in her tracks. "I am only a priestess come to give a man his last rights before execution."

"Isn't it a little late for visits?" the man said, lazily opening one eye.

"Please excuse me, sir, but the man is to be executed at sunrise," Aristole answered, her voice trembling slightly.

"Very well, then. You may proceed." The guard closed his eye and paid her no heed.

Aristole released a small sigh of relief and continued down the passage. She looked in every cell of the dungeon, but had not found the right occupant. Soon she heard the guard snoring and moved around with more ease. The girl began to doubt whether the man was brought here when she noticed a familiar shaggy head resting on one of the pallets a couple cells down. She rushed to the cell, her heart quickening.

"Johan. Johan! Are you awake?" she whispered urgently, grasping the cold bars, frustrated that she could get no closer.

A small grunt and then, "Of course I am. How can anyone sleep with that bear snoring down the hall." He rolled over and sat up, absent-mindedly running a hand through the tossled straw mop on his head. "What are you doing here? What if someone finds you?" He shook the sleepiness from his eyes and stood up, his hands clasping hers through the bars. "What about the elders?"

"The elders are fools. They should not have imprisoned you. It was not your fault." Aristole blushed and looked away. Even though his captors had roughed him up, he still held his charm. "Nevermind all that. It doesn't matter. I'm going to get you out, if your rambling doesn't wake the guard." She fumbled in her pouch and pulled out a thick silver key. The girl fit it into the lock and held her greath as she turned it. Both her breath and the lock were released with one simple click. She replaced the key into her pouch and was about to open the door, when Johan spoke up.

"Hold a moment, Aristole," he whispered.

"What is it? We have to be quick!" She looked up at him urgently.

"Do you not hear it? The snoring has stopped. The guards must be changing." They both stood with bated breath, listening to the silence.

Aristole snapped into action. "Come on! We have to go now!" She grabbed onto the bars and pulled them aside.

"You there! What are you doing?" The sound of rushing footsteps came towards them and Johan pushed the bars mostly closed.

Aristole bowed her head and fingered her pendant. "I am a priestess giving last rights before this man is executed."

The new guard ran up beside her puffing for breath. "Sorry, ma'am. It is late. You should not be wandering around at this hour, what with intruders being found in the castle and all. It is not safe. The guard should have never let you pass."

"I will be alright. My High Priestess has sent me to relieve this man of his sins before he passes. The goddess watches over me." The girl rubbed the pendant harder in her nervousness, but kept her head bowed so the hood obscured her face.

"I do not agree with your orders, but I will not argue with the holy. I will give you a few minutes more, but then you must be on your way." The guard turned to walk back to his post.

"Oh, thank you kind sir. I will be speedy so as not to trouble you further," Aristole replied and nodded her head. She felt slightly dizzy and reached her hand to the bars for support. The guard caught a flash in the corner of his eye and turned around.

"What is that? Let me see your hand," the guard said curiously.

"Oh, no. There is nothing. You must have caught the glint of my candle on the bars," Aristole replied, pullng her hand quickly away and attempting to hide it in her cloak.

"I am sure I saw something. All the same, let me see your hand." He grabbed her hand from under her cloak.

"I feel a ring! Priestesses do not wear rings! Who are you?" He pulled her arm into view and gasped. "A silver dragon wrapped around a star sapphire? You can't be . . ." he said in disbelief. He quickly reached up and pulled back her hood. Her bronze locks tumbled over her shoulders. She tried to pull away, but he grasped her tightly. "The Princess!!" he gasped, startled at his own revolation.

He quickly pulled himself together, grasped her tighter with a stern look and yelled for reinforcements. The Princess locked him with her forest green eyes. The pendant flared. She moved swifter than humanly possible and, with a strength not entirely her own, knocked the guard back against the stone wall. He instantly passed out from the impact. The girl swung around and swung the bars open.

"Aristole, I do not understand. How did you do that? What's going on?" Johan stepped back and sized her up, not sure if it was really her in front of him.

"Come on!" she yelled, frustrated at his indecisiveness. She grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the cell. "We don't have much time before others come! We must hurry!"

The glow of the pendant subsided. Johan quickly decided any Aristole was better than no Aristole. "Let's go then," he said and grabbed her hand. They raced down the corridor, faint footsteps following in the distance.

As they ran, the corridor twisted and turned. They heard their pursuers gaining ground. Aristole had beeb tired from her long path down to the dungeon and Johan was still sore from the guards
treatment.

"Where are we going?" Johan gasped, running out of breath.

"I know a place where we should be safe. Just hold on a little further," Aristole reassured him and grasped his hand tighter. She sprinted ahead, pulling him behind.

Aristole stopped running at a large pair of oaken doors. They were enscribed with runes and carvings of small animals and plants. "It is the temple," she said, almost out of breath herself. "This is where they dress and give the prisoners a chance to resolve before they bring them up. Help me push these doors."

They both push upon the doors with all their remaining strength. Just when the guards turned the last corner, the doors gave way and first creaked, then flung open. Aristole and Johan ran inside, slammed the doors shut, and threw the bar into place. They immediately sank against the wall exhausted. A few moments later, the doors shook with the force of the guards pounding on the opposite side. The bar held them shut.

"Don't worry. We'll be safe in here for a while. They can't get through that way," Aristole said and sighed, resting her head on Johan's shoulder.

"If you say so," Johan replied a little uneasily. He kissed her forehead gently and relaxed against the wall. They slipped into an exhausted slumber, a small smile gracing each of their faces.

Aristole blinked and sat up. She was slightly disconcerted. A soft, not-yet-sunrise, light infused the temple, giving it an eerie glow. The statues and figures in the motifs seemed alive and watching them. Aristole shook Johan lightly. He opened his eyes slowly, not sure where he was, but glad she was there.

"The pounding has stopped. They must have gone to get reinforcements and find another way in," Aristole said, standing and stretching. "It will take them a while, since we are at the far end of the castle. The King thought it safest to have the dungeon as far away from the royal quarters as possible," she said, turning away.

"Your father is a very wise man," Johan answered her. He stood and walked up behind her. He placed his hands on her shoulders and gently turned her around. "Do you regret what you did? You can probably still go back. You know your father loves you very much and would always forgive you."

"Of course I don't regret it," she sighed. "How could I? He would have you killed! He would not even listen to the truth!" She spun around. "How could you think I would desert you?"

"Your father was just acting out of passion. He has to protect his family." Johan's voice softened and he laughed softly. "I know you would not desert me, but I'd never deny you the choice." He pushed a stray strand of hair from her face and gently brushed her cheek. Aristole blushed and pulled away.

A statue at the front of the temple caught her eye. "Hmm. There is a statue of Swartha here. That is the deity my mother prayed to." She walked up to the statue, Johan following, and kneeled
before it.

"O, Great Swartha, please hear my prayer. We are in need of your help and guidance. Please lead us to safety." Aristole lit a candle at the feet of the goddess and bowed her head to the floor. After a couple moments, she sat back up.

"We should try to find another way out," Aristole said. Johan reached down to help the girl up. She stumbled on a fallen candle and bumped against the statue. Johan steadied her as the statue slid to the side and revealed a secret passage. Just then, loud pounds resumed against the doorway.

"It sounds like they have found a ram. Come on! We must try the passageway!" Johan said as he pulled her toward the exit. Aristole made a small nod toward the deity before following.

* * * * *

Just as the two fugetives ran into the passage, the statue slid back and the guards burst through the doors. They wandered around the temple in confusion, not finding any sign of the two.

* * * * *

Aristole and Johan ran in delight as they opened the door of the passage and burst into sunlight. They ran across the field, holding each other's hands. They laughed joyfully and looked at each other, loving smiles rejoicing across their faces. Aristole's pendant glowed brighter yet and they were engulfed in amber light.

* * * * *

As more guards circled the castle, they stopped at the outside wall of the prison temple. There were no entrances or exits that they could find. There was no sign of the fugitives. All they saw were two large birds, a bronze one and a straw-colored one, flying toward the horizon.

* * * * *

"I'm sorry, Your Highness, but they have escaped. My men have searched all throughout the castle and its grounds and they have found no sign of them." The Captain of the Guards kneeled at the
foot of the throne.

"I see. I want you to continue searching until they are found. Search the surrounding forest. Search the nearby villages. Do not stop until my daughter is returned," the King replied.

"Yes, Your Highness, of course." The Captain stood, bowed, and left the room.

"Your Highness, may I have a word with you?" an old man said from the throneroom entrance.

"You may approach, Councilor."

The old man was attired in rich silk garments and followed by two others thusly attired. They approached the throne and bowed their heads. "We have discussed the situation at large and have decided there can be only one conclusion."

"Yes? And what is that?" the King asked, half suspecting the answer.

The first man spoke up, "Your daughter, . . . she has arizen."

The King scowled and clenched his fists. "It is just as I feared then. Well, gentlemen, what do we do now?"

The King looked up at the portrait of his daughter on the wall. "You do not know what you are . . . You do not know your powers . . . How could this have happened so soon?" he breathed
silently.

He looked toward the portrait of his departed Queen. "My Beloved, what should I do with our daughter?" The Queen just looked back with that knowing smile that would infuriate him, that he now missed so much. "If only you were here to guide me . . ." he said and sighed.

The King turned back to his Councilors. "Gentlemen, I hope you have rested. We have a long day ahead of us."

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