Chapter 1: Cloaked In Black
"So you see," said the Royal Advisor, moving his hands as he spoke, "the King will want you at his side during this important gathering today."
"Couldn't there be one day where I wasn't caught up in this political business for once?" The pink princess asked. "It's not like my presence makes any difference."
The Advisor only shook his head.
"I understand.." She grumbled softly as she folded her arms in frustration.
"The King is doing this to keep your people happy." The man assured.
Her people. The young princess stood still as her Advisor continued on about the duty of her father, and, eventually, ramble on about her duty. Amy Rose is the princess of her father's land. Land that stretched as far as Amy knew. She's known little about her kingdom. Only that thousands of villagers she ruled over and how vast it supposedly was.
The Kingdom of Ocovia. A beautiful and lush kingdom where people come to start a new life. It was bright and so energetic and in no signs of decreasing in population. Actually, it seemed to be growing day by day. While Amy thought of the growth as a positive, her father, King Andriet, saw it more as an opportunity for more trouble to boil over. Why he thought like this, Amy was not entirely sure. But it could be because of him.
No, there has not been much trouble when it comes to violence in the village. However, Andriet did take notice of some villagers making a big fuss whenever he made a huge decision or something else political. That hardly bothered the king, but one thing bothered Andriet more than anything: him.
Someone dwelled in his kingdom that deeply despised the king. He caused ruckus and even was able to convince a small part of town to rebel against the royal family a few years back on more than one occasion. His intentions still wonder the King's mind.
I wonder who he is, the pink hedgehog asked herself.
Amy looked at her Advisor, who was still letting his mouth run in and out her ears, "John, may I ask?"
"Yes, princess." He answered politely, sliding the changing divider in front of her, "After you get dressed. It won't be long until the King calls for you."
"Hmph." Amy huffed and grabbed her dress from the hook on the wall. Taking it, she, with the help of her ladies, carefully assisted the princess in the dress. It was a long red dress, with sleeves that ran to her knuckles, made of the finest silk in the land. The dress was a Bateau and laid comfortably on her shoulders and curved below the collar bone. On the top of her neckline a pattern of white jewels was uniform. Amy also wore a jeweled belt to go with her whole attire. Finally, she brushed her short hair to be rid of the bed nest that rest on her head from her sleep last night.
"Okay," Amy twirled in her dress, satisfied. "So about my question." John nodded and moved his hands frantically.
"Yes, yes. Go on, your highness."
"Well, Father is so busy concerning this gathering of the people," John nodded again, slightly signing as if to say, Okay what's your point. "Could he be doing this to find that-" She paused, thinking of the right words to say, "mysterious one?" She muttered, putting more silence in the last two words. John simply stood there, looking at the princess, probably lost in deep thought.
The 'Mysterious One' Amy's only heard stories about. The one who's been causing the kingdom to be in uproar over her father. She had asked her father before why this one person in particular was fighting against him, but the King would usually just say, "Oh, it's not your place."
What does that even mean, Amy asked herself. She looked back to her advisor, who still stood there, unanswered. Amy was about to snap him out of his glance, but John quickly collected himself. He jolted his head and placed his attention back to his princess.
"Ehm, it's not my place."
"And why not?" Amy questioned, raising her voice slightly.
"It's just not my place with my ranking."
"Ranking means nothing to me." She quickly answered, staring him dead in his eyes. He looked at her jaded eyes, seeing nothing but truth, but also curiosity. He swallowed hard as sweat began to built up.
"Princess, I-I can't." John looked away from her, rubbing the back of his head and sweat from his head. "I can't spread royal affairs. The King will have my head." Amy sighed at this, looking toward her window.
"Yeah, okay. That will be all, Johnathan." She whispered, disappointed at his words and turning toward her window to let her mind drift elsewhere. The young advisor tried to say something, but was immediately was cut off by a royal guard opening the door.
"Pardon me, princess." The dark knight apologized. He was a hedgehog who's hair was raven in color and red streaks along the edges of his prominent quills. They bent outward giving the presence of sharpness and danger. His eyes, though he wore a mask over his face, glowed a bright crimson red like his highlights. These eyes he wore never were soft. They held such stern and seriousness that even made the King uneasy at times. He was the princess's personal guard: Shadow.
Amy looked to him, gesturing him inside. Shadow walked in on her exact gesture and stood a few feet from her. His body was stiff and stood boldly. "My lady, the King would like your company." His voice was deep, almost sounding like he was demanding her to go see the King on his orders and his alone, not her fathers.
"Yeah, I suppose it's already time for my father's gathering." She sighed, cupping her hands together and holding them to her stomach. "Let's go then."
Shadow escorted Amy out of her chambers down to the halls of the castle. The halls were long and tall with vast portraits of past royalty members who once ruled the land. Amy looked at each one studying them as she walked. Nothing was new to these portraits. They were all the same ones she had seen since she was a kid. But every time she did walk through these halls she always looked for the portrait of her mother. Amy couldn't help but dwell in the past quite often when she remembered her mother. Her mother brought her so much happiness and joy in the world even before she was a princess. Her smile and laughter brought her so much jubilation and glee while living in this castle. But after she died, everything changed. Her father changed.
Amy shook her head, trying to forget her thought, and looked in front of her. Her knight walked with heavy steps and the metal guards on his shoes ringing through the halls. The silence and only being able to hear the sounds of metal and swords would drive anyone mad. She had asked for long carpets to be placed in the halls to help with the 'emptiness' feeling she got, but still has yet to be done. That was two years ago, and she decided to leave it alone and let it be after months of nothing happening in her request.
"Now before we go barging in the room, you know the protocol?" John reminded.
"And it would be?" He waited for her answer.
"Smile, look pretty, and don't speak unless the King demands it." She flatly replied, holding nothing back in terms of sass. John nodded, happy with her answer, but annoyed with how it was said.
"May I?" The dark hedgehog spoke, making both Amy and John turn their heads. Shadow rarely spoke, but whenever he did, everyone was always careful to listen. His words were never passed by any ears in the castle. Amy's known her guard only about 3 years, but in all those years, he rarely spoke to her. It was possible that he just thought himself too low to speak to her. After all, knights are only trained to protect the royal family. He must have deemed it unnecessary to say much words to his princess. Amy could respect that, but she could only imagine the things the mysterious knight could've said in those three years of knowing her. He was a perplexing one indeed.
Amy nodded for him to speak. "As a princess, there's much more to it than smiling, looking pretty and doing what is expected of you." Amy raised her brow, Shadow continued. "As a princess, and one day a queen, you are to be there for your people."
"I know that."
"But you don't do that duty."
"Excuse me?" Amy held her hands in a tight fist. "Are you saying that I don't do my duty well?" She snapped at him.
"I'm not saying anything." He argued, and looked back at her, lifting his mask to get a better look in her eyes. Amy stopped and froze at this action. "I am saying that you can either be a princess who does big things and wins the love of her people, like her mother, or she can be a puppet that lives to be stringed and controlled." He nearly spat out the last two words: stringed and controlled.
Amy didn't dare to move as he spoke. His words were sharp and it thickened the room's atmosphere. She struggled to breathe, but gained her footing as she squeezed her hands together, breathing slowly. Shadow stood motionless, watching her soft eyes become vulnerable. He wasn't trying to frighten her but evoke her to be more than just another princess. He wanted the young girl to become someone he wouldn't want to mess with.
John held her shoulder and looked to the dark hedgehog. "I think we should hurry along to the King, no?" He pressed Amy to walk to the double door dawn the hall.
Shadow watched them leave and followed behind them.
"Don't listen to him, Princess. You do a great job." John proudly stated.
But he was right, Amy's thoughts echoed in her mind. Ever since her mom died she's done nothing but follow her fathers' orders. He told her what to do, what to say, and when to say it. There was no ifs, ands, or buts about it. She followed his orders like a puppy to its master. Like a puppet on strings. She couldn't help it. She lost so much confidence since she lost her mother. So much had changed in that instant. So much changed in a single night...
She remembered it like it was a dream. Though, you could more so think this dream would be a nightmare. One that never ever would leave Amy's mind. She was so young and so innocent. To have her mother ripped away from her as a kid, it left nothing but scars. Deep scars that refuse to heal until she knew the truth behind her mothers passing.
Amy shook her head and look back to John, who continued his usual rambling.
"-As a princess you can only do so much as your father rules. It's just how things are." He observed the pink hedgehog, who looked a little lost in his speech. "Eh, I guess you're thinking too much to listen to me." He gave her a quick smile before opening the doors to the throne room. "I'll see you after."
"Yeah, see you soon." Amy gave him a warm smile and walked in the room, with Shadow following close behind, but stopped when John grabbed his arm. Shadow looked at his arm and back at the advisor, confused, but almost insulted by his touch.
"Shadow, watch what you say to her." He warned, still gripping on the knight's arm.
"…I'm trying to help her."
"What your doing is going beyond your boundary. You are a knight. Nothing more."
Shadow gripped his other arm on the handle of his sword, but slowly eased his tight grip. Seeing the advisor in no way a threat to him. Just giving an honest conversation to the dark one.
"Don't talk to her like you're over her and don't talk about her mother. You know how the King feels about that." He keeps eye contact with the hedgehog, making sure Shadow got the message.
"I get it." Shadow stated and glared as he moved his arm from John's grip.
Amy's eyes wondered the room as she stood beside her fathers' throne. So many guests were crowding in one after another. There was guest who dressed so high class that the dresses could have been mistaken for giant colored bowls with jewels embedded on them. Some other guess dressed in normal attire dresses. Some even house dresses or working dresses that still had stains on them. The men also dressed in either high or low-class clothing. Some chatter started among the village friends and family. The kingdom was full of people who knew one another in various ways. It was so full of life. That showed especially tonight with the smiles and the shaking of hands.
"Strong community." The King spoke to his daughter, looking forward at the crowd. "It's this that helps keep our kingdom strong and full of loyalist." He rubbed his chin as he spoke.
Amy nodded as she listened to her father.
"Today, Amy, I want to discuss with the people about expanding the kingdom."
"Yes. The more we expand, the more resources we can use for our growing villages."
"I thought you said expanding brought more threats, father?"
"It does." He looked around the crowd of people, scanning each and every one of them like a lion to his prey. His eyes felt like a knife at people's throats as he gazed at them.
Amy looked at him baffled, raising her brow. "I don't understand. If you want less threats, wouldn't you not want to expand?"
He thought, but slowly started to laugh through a fake smile. "Oh, daughter, you have much to learn." The King sat up so he was sitting up straight. "In order to find the threat, I have to shrink his areas of hiding places." He said coldly and with a distant stare in the crowd, rubbing his hands together.
Amy looked at the crowd and back to her father. He said it again, she thought. He mentioned him..
Amy's mind wondered. Could this meeting be just to find the man who's trying to rebel against him. The one that's creating problems for the family? If so, why? Why is her father putting up so much of his energy in finding this guy? There must be some reason.
As far back as she knew, the King has been on the hunt to find this mysterious He. She can even vaguely remember her father going out of his way to find the guy since she was younger. Though she still had no idea why, she wished she knew the answer. That's when her father started acting different. Becoming more distant and talking to Amy less and less as the years pass. Now, she barely even knew her own father. What she did know, was that he was hungry for this mysterious man's blood.
Andriet finally stood up and walked in front of his throne. He fixed his shirt and pulled his light pink bangs back out of his eyes. He took in a breath, and lightly sighed as he looked to the crowd. "My people, please if I may." He announced himself and watched the crowd as their attention moved to him. "I thank you for your attendance today."
Amy looked to her side, seeing her knight stand behind her in his guarding position. She gave him a warm smile and turns back to face the crowd as her father made his typical introduction.
"Princess, are you okay?" The knight spoke out, speaking at a hush tone.
"Hm? Oh, yes of course."
"I apologize for what I said earlier. It was out of my boundaries."
"Shadow, don't worry about that." Amy led her eyes to the stone floor. "You were right anyway. I do act like a puppet."
Shadow said nothing and turned his attention back to the King. "The more we expand this lush kingdom, the more opportunities we can create for you, the people of Ocovia." The king moved his arms as he spoke, getting the crowd on board with his plan. "Together, we can make this kingdom powerful and one to fear. No one can stand in our way!" He cheered as he held his hands out to his people, invitingly as though they were his own children.
The villagers spoke among themselves, nodding in agreement. The crowd cheered and applauded the King for another smart move on his part. More space, meant more opportunity for the villagers. Everyone seemed to be on board... Almost everyone.
A man cloaked in a black hooded cape moved among the crowd. His hood was as dark as the depths of Hell, keeping the wearers face darken. His ears had holes where they stuck out of the hood and the parts where the end of his quills would be, were slightly torn off. You could see hints of blue from his ears and tips of his quills. The cape covered half his face. Starting above his muzzle, dropping down above his ankles. His legs, from what could be seen, were covered in black leather material. His white gloves were tattered and worn, slightly stained with drops of blood. He wore bright red shoes that were covered in dry mud, golden buckles on the sides that barely shined in the light. Under the cape's material, the bottom half of a sword's holder could be seen hanging at his waist. He walked with heaviness and thick presence.
His eyes scanned among the crowd, unknowing of his presence. His cape moved swiftly to his movement, making the strange allusion of wings as he walked. He pushed one person from his sight of view, and soon enough, all eyes were on this stranger.
People pointed and stared at the mysterious hedgehog. Some started to talk amongst themselves. "Is that.." One asked.
"It's him." Another said.
"No way!" Another shouted in disbelief, "How did he get pass the guards?!"
The King's eyes wondered at the chatter the crowd started. Looking for the source of the commotion, his eyes gazed at the sight of him. He saw the rebellious one he was looking for. The one that's been causing a ruckus for five long years.
"You're that hedgehog.." The King said in disbelief, but surely not surprised. King Andriet had planned this meeting for months, hoping to be able to stir enough tension to get the hooded hedgehog under his own roof. In his den. He's waited many years to see this man again.
The hooded stranger directed his eyes deep on the king. He stood with pride but fueled with pure anger. Andriet saw this, but only smirked as he watched the hooded man stand completely still. The tension between them was strong and heavy.
Amy's attention went to her father and followed his direction to the mystery man. "Shadow.. Is that..?"
"It's you!" Shadow spat out at the intruder, lunging toward him with his sword. As quick as Shadow charge, the hooded hedgehog swiftly pulled his sword from its case, blocking Shadow's blow without even taking his eyes off the King.
Amy watched in horror as the hedgehog had drawled out a long-curved sword. It wasn't a thin sword, this one was thicker, but its blade wasn't long like a normal curved saber. This one must've been custom.
The two swords clashing made an ear pitching nose and made the Princess shield her ears, gritting her teeth in the process. The king barked orders at his dark knight, making callous comments that made the crowd fearful and run out in panic. "Kill him!" The King barked at Shadow, "I want him alive so I can kill him!"
Keeping his full focus on the intruder, Shadow gripped harder onto the handle of his sword and yanked it back to his side. Charging at the stranger again, he held his sword above his head and swung the blade downward. Though, the hooded stranger had speed and cockiness on his side.
He jumped backwards, sliding against the cold slick surface, stopping himself with his free hand's grip on the floor. He looked up at Shadow, crimson eyes meeting emerald green ones.
"You shall lose your head for stepping foot on these grounds!" Shadow announced, making the other smirk in response.
The other hedgehog waited for Shadow's charge, which he predicted, jumping a few seconds just before he swung his sword once more. He pushed his feet off the floor and jumped on top of Shadow's head, throwing in a swift kick to the back of is head. Thus making Shadow's patience run on thin ice.
While he was distracted, the other hedgehog made a quick leap toward the princess.
"I-It's.." Amy stuttered and fell back into the stairs that lead to the throne. She watched him stand above her and looked into his light emerald eyes. His eyes met her jaded ones, and Amy, for a moment, could have swore she saw a softness to his eyes. Did he feel pity for her? No, she had to be seeing things in the heat of this moment.
Shadow, now realizing the situation at hand, turn himself and ran toward the princess. "Amy!" He held out his hands toward her, rushing in.
The hooded hedgehog, in one instantaneous move, held out his hand to Amy, shielding her eyes, and jabbed his sword behind him piercing Shadow through.
Amy could hear the sound of flesh meeting blade, and the dark hedgehog's quick gasps of sudden sharp pain. The hard drops of blood that dripped onto the floor rang in her ears. It was as if the whole thing happened in slow motion, even though she couldn't see it herself.. She waited, for what seemed like forever, and heard the loudest drop of Shadow's body hitting the ground. His blade meeting the same floor he laid on dropping with a loud CLANK CLANK, bouncing off the walls of the room.
Her eyes filled with tears, still unable to see the event that just took place. But she knew, somehow, she knew who this man was. Amy did not know what true fear was until right now, with this deadly man holding her and shielding her eyes from the evil he caused. If so, why? Why is he 'protecting' her from the sight. What is his motive here?
The Winged Saber
ANNNNND There's the first chapter! Phew, that took up a lot of my time and it's 2 a.m. as I publish this chapter! Worth it though. Reviews are always welcome :-)