Lexa's gait held purpose and she arrived at the location where her Night Bloods trained. She had been informed that Clarke was training ever diligently with the young potentials as well as her own personal soldiers with the training led by the Azgeda born female. Lexa had only seen Clarke in passing since that first night after the meeting and the challenge to Wanheda's title and suggestion of the Skaikru's induction into the Coalition. Clarke had removed some of her belongings from her room (not all of them) and returned to her previous quarters with Jacob. They had disagreed most verbally the next morning regarding the challenge, and Lexa thought it was that conversation that had angered the foreign raised woman to relocate.
It was a smart move to seclude herself from all distractions. She did not need to be coddled if she was truly to fight and she had no intention of backing down. Lexa knew Clarke had every intention of winning and killing Prince Roan. Some part of her knew that the Skai woman understood that it was not just her life in jeopardy, but Lexa's and her legacy as Heda. It brought her immeasurable pride to know that despite all they had gone through Clarke was fighting to uphold the honor of Heda. Nevertheless, she felt the emptiness of her bed, and bereft each time she gazed at the basinet Jacob usually resided in. She had grown accustomed to having them both by her side.
It felt as if it was a premonition of what was to come, and as Heda she was preparing for the moment when they would be lost to her forever. She had lost Costia once and survived, she would do so again after Clarke left her as well. They all left her in the end. To possess the spirit of Heda was to be alone. But if she could prevent it in any way possible, she would.
She had one last attempt to change the course of this battle tomorrow.
Titus came to meet her as she approached. He had taken to following Wanheda when not in her presence. He did not trust Clarke; she knew this. But recently that mistrust had transformed into something entirely different. He studied her. It was as if he was deciding on something of great importance. She remembered that assessing gaze upon her during her own training as a young and promising Night Blood.
She noticed that the majority of her Night Blood's were engrossed in Clarke and Amelia's training. She saw their admiring faces and took a moment to admire the skills of both warriors. However, it was not long before she noticed that there were two of her potentials unaccounted for. Her eyes searched until she found Crystina and Kalyn circling the perimeter in a brisk run.
"What are they doing?" she asked with curiosity placing her hands behind her back.
Titus took a moment to direct his attention to where her gaze was and sighed. "Wanheda thought it necessary to have them run until the sun set."
Lexa turned and raised an eyebrow to meet his face after looking at the obviously fatigued Night Bloods. She idly wondered how long they had been running for.
"Punishment?" she asked inquisitive as to why Wanheda would make such a request and even more amused at the thought of Clarke giving orders to her charges. She kept her lips from turning up in amusement. The Night Bloods were hers to command, but they had listened to Clarke and Titus had allowed it for whatever reason.
"A lesson, Heda." He gently waited patiently for him to continue as she observed Crystina stumble and nearly fall until Kalyn grabbed the back of her shirt and pushed her forward. She recalled the young girl and boy being frequently at odds. Crystina was one of the potentials she had not expected to last the first year upon reaching the Capitol. She had survived, but she was most likely never to be anything more than a Night Blood. The Conclave would be her death as it would be most of their fates. "They were attempting to impress Wanheda with their skills. Crystina's wrist was injured in a sparring match with Kalyn. Wanheda proclaimed they run together until the sunsets. When the first one falls the other must carry them. 'Blood must protect blood'."
She raised her head in approval. Blood must protect blood. It was an old saying for their people, but an oath for the Night Bloods. The Night Blood was a rare gift. Train hard. Protect one another. Protecting those of the Night Blood was to protect the legacy of Heda. Injuries occurred in the years training as an initiate, but injuries made in the face of pride, or other reasons outside of bettering one self for becoming Heda, were considered unwarranted. To harm another unjustly or oneself unjustly, was inexcusable.
Lexa watched the two Night Bloods continue to run and predicted Kalyn would be carrying more weight on his shoulders in the next hour. The sounds of battle redirected her attention once more to Clarke and Amelia. She scrutinized every move estimating the blondes' chances of survival. Her eyes narrowed in scrutiny. The skill was unmistakable, but the weaknesses were evident. Clarke would die tomorrow if she did nothing just as Costia had.
The sharp metallic blade came at her suddenly and Clarke barely managed to evade the blow with her own sword. Her arms shook with the force of withstanding Amelia's sword bearing down on her. This was the last day of training before the fight tomorrow at noon. Clarke had been on a strict regimen preparing for the fight with Amelia. The woman was of the Azgeda and was determined to fit a lifetime of training and living as an Azgeda warrior in one week. Clarke deferred explaining to the warrior that a life's worth of training could not prepare her for a match against Prince Roan. The man had a legacy of spilt blood.
Sweat dripped from Clarke's brow and ran down her face to disappear into the light jacket she wore against the late afternoon chill. It was a few hours yet until sundown, still fairly early, but Clarke had been training with Amelia since just before sunrise. Unable to hold the attack any longer, Clarke threw her body weight to the side and spun rapidly avoiding Amelia's ensuing attack. Her blue eyes stared at the former Azgeda warrior in concentration trying to find some semblance of an opening. It was not an easy thing to do and Amelia was trained much differently then Liam who was born and raised in Trikru tactics. The Trikru were warriors, but the Azgeda were unpredictable and ruthless in battle. Liam had trained her well, but he had focused on defensive tactics to prepare her should she need to defend herself or her son.
Amelia sliced the edge of her sword along Clarke's shin creating a shallow cut. She pursed her lips angered at her inability to block the small attack. Liam had always been fair and in hindsight easy in practice. Clarke wondered if it was due to who she was and because Lexa had ordered him and his family to protect her.
Amelia was anything but fair. She was trained of a different clan, one that she was to fight tomorrow to the death. Clarke appreciated the ruthlessness with which Amelia trained her. She did not spend time praising her in what skills she possessed; there was no time for such things and her feelings mattered little in the face of impending death.
"Wanheda!" Various arms bearing weapons waved in the air in excitement.
"You can do it Skai Prisa!"
Amelia and Clarke circled one another waiting for the other to strike first. Clarke tried to keep her eyes on Amelia's face as she was instructed. In trying to do so she missed the slide of Amelia's feet as they slid in an offensive maneuver. She avoided the first swing of the blade only to be backhanded. She stumbled nearly falling as her tongue swept along the fresh cut on her bottom lip.
"Watch out Klark!" Rebekah called sitting on the sidelines with Lexa's young protégé Aden.
She ignored the calls of the young Night Bloods taking a break in their own training to watch her get her ass kicked. She was far too busy trying to block Amelia's attacks and watch her footwork to anticipate her next move. In some ways it was beyond embarrassing having these young initiates watch her train and fail against another warrior.
Clarke blocked another attack and held off the blade before rotating her arm around and spinning to catch Amelia's blind side. The attack was successfully, if barely, blocked and Clarke elbowed her in the face knocking her a few paces back. The cheers continued from the usually quiet group of adolescents.
"They are impressed with you." Amelia grinned despite the newly acquired mark on her face.
"I sincerely doubt that." Clarke scoffed and swung at her only to miss.
"You defeated one of them." Amelia countered both in words and with her blade. Steal clashed for a few more blows before they circled again.
"I defeated a child." Clarke gasped in harsh exhales. It felt good to use her muscles and exert herself. She was sore, but she felt stronger. It felt almost as if she was back in the forest before she had met Coltrane and found respite in Leston and the safety of its borders.
Clarke remembered a time when her mother believed she was still a child.
She stopped being a child when you sent her here to die.
"No easy feat." Amelia said. "These initiates are trained to be warriors and leaders. Much is expected of them and of you." She struck and tripped Clarke. Clarke fell but orchestrated it into a roll to avoid the following assault. She rose to her feet with her face searching for the next attack and wondering where she could strike unsuspectingly. "Outside of Skaikru and Floudonkru you are Wanheda."
Amelia yelled and struck from overhead. Clarke blocked with a grunt, her feet sliding back in the dirt. Sweat dripped down her brow and Clarke narrowed her eyes. With a yell she pushed Amelia back and the warrior stumbled a few feet away. "Good," Amelia panted lowering her sword. Clarke waited a beat before doing the same having already learned that particular lesson on the first day of training. They nodded to one another and lowered their weapons as their breaths eased.
"Slowly you also gain the power of Heda." Amelia straightened and Clarke's chest heaved. She ignored the sounds of excitement as Titus called the Night Bloods to attention and they paired up to fight. Aden approach Rebekah confidently and Clarke held back a grin as Rebekah tried to smother her elation at being asked despite being an outsider amongst the Night Bloods.
"The power of Heda?" She asked pulling her attention back to Amelia. "What are you talking about?"
"You lay with Heda in the evening and her power transfers to you just as the power of Wanheda transfers to her." She explained and her eyes glanced away for a moment.
Clarke followed her gaze and noted Lexa standing off to the side observing them. She appeared collected as always, but Clarke could detect the determined look about her and the way Lexa's eyes swept over her form. They had rarely been in the same room over the last week. Clarke was trying to stay focused and Lexa was giving her the time and space she needed. She felt guilty, and knew that Lexa did not approve of her accepting the challenge let alone representing herself in single combat.
She tore her eyes away before she became lost in the hazel green eyes. "We're not sleeping together." At Amelia's bland expression Clarke nearly rolled her eyes and clarified. "Having sex I mean."
"It matters not. Everyone thinks you are." Amelia quirked an eyebrow sheathing her sword.
"We're not even in a relationship." Clarke sighed absently looking at the blade in her hand.
"Heda's do not have houmons they have consorts." Amelia stated strongly.
"I'm not her consort." Clarke denied with a snarl.
Amelia nodded at the blade sheathed at Clarke's waist. "I know. That blade says otherwise. It means you are more, that you are above all others. You are her equal. There has been no other like you in our history and it makes you dangerous. That's why they want to kill you. One of the reasons at least."
"Let me count the ways." Clarke finally relented and rolled her eyes while muttering under her breath. Amelia had no idea how dangerous she was. She had not seen the carnage at Mount Weather. The radiation burns of the dead alone were enough to fuel any child's nightmares.
"Night Bloods!" Lexa called and the young initiates paused and waited for her to speak. "Your training has finished for this day. Rest, for there will be much to do tomorrow." Lexa said as she met Clarke's eyes.
Crystina and Kalyn immediately stopped running. Crystina gasped for breath and collapsed to her knees.
Clarke walked forwards and the young Night Bloods looked between the two women unsure of whether to keep running or leave for the evening.
"Do you understand now?" Clarke asked patiently. "How does one lead as Commander?"
The two looked at one another still gasping for air. They took a moment to steal looks from Heda before the leader nodded in approval."By serving our people. Each life is valuable, and we suffer every loss as our own. Protect the blood, protect each other and the legacy of Heda." Kalyn panted between gasps.
"Pride has no place," Crystina added. "Respect our strengths and weaknesses and the lives of our fellow Night Bloods.
Clarke nodded satisfied. "Do as Heda says. Keep your wrist clean Crystina."
"Sha, Wanheda." Crystina stood on shaky legs and Kalyn followed none to gracefully. Crystina stumbled once and the older boy swung his arm around her waist to support her. Clarke's lips turned up in approval and she playfully touched Kalyn's shoulder urging him on his way.
"Heda," Clarke faced Lexa and took a moment to compose herself.
Lexa squared her shoulders and clasped her hands in front of her. "You have skill."
"Prince Roan's abilities far surpass yours." She said bluntly.
Clarke looked to the side and closed her eyes briefly willing for patience. She stepped closer and raised both of her eyebrows. "Your pep talk needs a little work."
She moved to walk past her but Lexa clasped her left arm. The touch startled her more than anything. She glanced down at the hand and then to its owner meeting Lexa's imploring eyes. Titus and Amelia stood in the background and she ignored them to the best of her ability. The Night Bloods were slowly disappearing beyond the hills with a small assembly of guards. They were the treasure and legacy of the Trigedakru and were always escorted.
"Please Klark, see reason. This challenge is for you as much as me. I know what you're doing. You try to fix everything but you cannot. You are playing into the Azgeda's hands." Lexa's eyes searched hers and Clarke met them determinedly.
Challenging the power of Wanheda was to challenge Heda. Clarke did what Lexa had failed to do at Mount Weather. If Clarke lost in single combat, then it determined that Lexa was weak and undeserving of the title of Heda. This single combat was to determine if the power of Wanheda truly existed and if she was worthy of the privileges that Heda bestowed upon her and if Lexa had chosen wisely not to kill her and elevate her as she had.
"I won't watch you die." Lexa said in resolve her face brimming with repressed anger echoing words spoken days ago between them.
"I don't plan on dying," Clarke said with emphasis. She removed Lexa's hand from her arm and the appendage dropped uselessly back to its owners' side. "What would you do if the challenge was for you?"
Lexa immediately straightened her posture. "I am Heda. No one fights for me." She declared her eyes burning like repressed flame.
"Exactly." Clarke turned her head and raised her eyebrows.
"This is different." Lexa bared her teeth walking away unable to maintain the physical closeness.
"If I let someone else fight for me, it makes me look weak, it makes you look weak."
She would not let that happen. There was too much at stake. The lives of their people and impending war were on the line. Lexa was trying to protect her to the point of making both of them vulnerable. She knew that the leader still felt responsible for leaving her at Mount Weather and was doing all in her power to show in words and actions that they were in this together until the end.
Lexa pursed her lips and silently drew her blade from its sheath. "I possess no weakness. Fight me."
Clarke stared at her for a moment before gripping her sword. She tightened the grip on her weapon and raised it as Lexa raised her own sword. She swallowed thickly and let a slow and calming breath ease between her lips as she took a defensive stance. Heda's fighting prowess was legendary and Clarke felt more prepared going up against Roan tomorrow than facing her in this moment. Lexa studied her for an instant before falling into her own posture. Clarke waited patiently for her to attack. After a moment it was clear that the Trigedakru leader was waiting for her to make the first move.
She squared her shoulders and her thighs tightened in preparation. She pushed from the ground and came at Lexa without so much as a cry of warning. Lexa spun to the right and swiftly kicked Clarke in the rear as she passed nearly sending her to her knees. The blond nearly dropped her sword and clenched her fists in anger. She turned and found Lexa waiting for her. Heda's sword was lowered and her chin rose, clearly waiting for Clarke's next move. Her relaxed posture indicated that she did not perceive Clarke as a threat.
Clarke roved towards the warrior and brought her weapon in front of her face. She lunged and used her momentum to change directions at the last minute. Lexa caught her attack but barely. It was obvious Lexa was stronger physically, and Clarke's arms shook from withholding her opponents blade. Their gazes matched between their scraping blades. Clarke narrowed her eyes and quickly kneed Lexa's side hoping the blow would make her give. As it happened, the only indication of any contact was a small twitch in the woman's facial muscles. Her black outerwear with the many buckles suited as a sufficient amount of padding.
In an instant, Lexa released her blade with her left hand and used her elbow to strike the side of Clarke's head. Her eyes shut briefly in pain and she released the power struggle but was able to swing around. In doing so, the tip of her blade caught the short dark skirt near Lexa's hip. Lexa's eyes widened and they both paused looking to the torn clothing. Clarke recovered first from the surprise at actually catching Lexa off guard and reverted into a basic stance. Lexa's feet widened and she held her sword up pointing to Clarke with her elbows bent ready to strike.
She charged in such a fast pace that Clarke barely had time to parry and her arms shook with the effort to hold her attack and reverberated from steel meeting steel. They traded blows and despite the sweat dripping into her eyes, Clarke focused on the fight with vigor. She had something to prove. She needed Lexa's respect and confidence. Her opinion mattered more to her than anyone.
With an uncharacteristic cry, Lexa swept Clarke's feet from underneath her and she fell to the ground with the air knocked out of her. She tried to get up only to have Lexa grab her left wrist and knock it against the ground until the blade fell from her fingers. Her eyes were clearly angry as she peered at Clarke in victory. Slowly, she trapped Clarke's left arm and brought her own sword near her throat. Clarke refused to break eye contact as she narrowed her eyes. The moment that Lexa realized there was a knife ready to be imbedded into her side she closed her eyes and opened them with the anger all but gone. She freed Clarke but did not move from her position atop her. Clarke's hand shook still poised to imbed itself in Lexa's side.
"Well done, Klark." Clarke moved the knife, Lexa's gift from long ago, from the leaders' side. Lexa's strength all but fled before her posture became guarded. Clarke's gaze softened in understanding. Lexa was worried and she did not know how to protect her.
"It's going to be fine." Clarke soothed as she brought her hands to Lexa's sides. Lexa's face was slowly inching forwards as her hair flowed to curtain around them. "I have too much to live for to die tomorrow."
Hazel green eyes dilated and darkened until they abruptly looked away. Lexa removed herself and Clarke quickly followed. Lexa stood slightly turned away from her and Clarke returned her blade to her waist and sheathed her sword behind her back. Clarke felt that the leader was not willing to face her for whatever reason. She knew that Lexa was trying to prove a point and perhaps even change her mind and force her to allow Amelia to represent her tomorrow. She did not blame her for this. Lexa most likely would have won if their positions were reversed. And Clarke would not want to watch Lexa fight to the death either. Clarke's heart was too full to stay angry with Lexa out of spite. They were angry, frustrated and fearful to lose the other. It was an unstable time, and Clarke was realizing that she did not want to waste the time they had.
She approached Lexa cautiously not wanting to startle her. Clarke could feel the eyes of Amelia and Titus even though they were respectfully keeping their distance.
"Heda…." She said softly daring to take a step closer. "Lexa," she spoke intimately. She touched her fingers lightly to Lexa's and they twitched. The green-eyed woman turned to angle her head until she glanced at their hands. Emboldened, Clarke took a firmer grip and Lexa's fingers entwined with hers. Hesitantly, Lexa met Clarke's eyes and turned fully around to face her.
"I won't loose you." Her voice was strong but there was an unmistakable waiver.
"You won't." Clarke shook her head and furrowed her brows resolutely. She raised her other hand to cup Lexa's jaw and the woman closed her eyes briefly before leaning into the touch. "I know what I'm doing." Lexa raised her eyes again and nodded grasping Clarke's wrist near her face. "I need you to promise me something, just in case." Lexa's nostrils flared slightly taking in a breath but she nodded. "I know we're not exactly on the best terms, but I need you to do something for me, no matter what." Lexa nodded against her hand. "Take care of Jacob."
She felt the moment when Lexa distanced herself. She froze under her palm and released Clarke's wrist. The brunette swallowed and stepped away. Clarke saw the moment that she protected herself and drew strength, as her stance grew planted and her muscles tense. She nodded slowly and meaningfully.
"He will be as my own. I swear it." Lexa declared shortly. She picked up her own sword without another word and regally walked into the early sunset.
"Mochof." Clarke whispered both grateful and forlorn.
Clarke watched her back as she walked away and Titus approached after Lexa's form faded from sight.
"You take life as easily as you heal, you lead as you follow when it suits you." He paused for a moment watching her closely even as she did not meet his eyes. "I was worried about your influence. And I was right to." He said after a moment as Clarke continued to stare where Lexa's form had disappeared over the hills. His voice was a constant buzzing in her ears. "I hope you succeed Klark kom Skaikru, if not for yourself and your son, then for Heda." He left her with those words following after all of the others until it was just her and Amelia left on the hillside gazing over the city of Polis.
"I hope so to." She exhaled a shaky breath trying to calm the staccato of her heart. "May we meet again."
Next up is the single combat.
Canon is amazing. I am on tumblr. blogbdcvitanovworld
Most likely the last update of this month. Sorry. Too much going on. Please read and review! You inspire me to write more faster!