Hidden Identities

Disclaimer: I don't own anything in the entire world! Except, maybe, my car, a few books, some clothes, oh, that one pencil, and, um, maybe, a coke can and . . .

Summary: What if Hattie had not danced by and snatched off Ella's mask? What if Char had asked Ella THE question? What will Lela do?

Chapter 13: The Quest

"I object!"

The words echoed through the chapel room. Gasps and shouts filled the room from all the guests sitting in the pews. The figure moved into the room and the sunlight slowly fell away from the stranger's face. I gasped.

"Terrance?" I whispered.

"What is the meaning of all this?" the king asked. He stood up and looked at Terrance. His face was thunderous. "Aren't you the personal guard of Lady Eleanor? What are you doing barging in here like this? It's their wedding!"

"I'm sorry, Your Majesty," Terrance bowed his head. When I saw his face again, his eyes were bright with excitement. He quickly marched up the hall towards me.

"Quickly, say the last part of the wedding!" Aaron hissed to the minister. The minister only shook his head and backed up a little. "Fool!"

Char stepped forward, then.

"What's going on?" Char asked. Terrance bowed quickly to Char and then to the king and queen. He did not answer Char's question, but made his way over to me.

"Terrance? What are you doing?" Aaron asked. His face was shocked.

"Ella," Terrance greeted me. "I have found it!"

"Found what?" Aaron cried. Char and Hattie stepped forward, closer to us. I shook my head.

"What have you found?" I asked. I didn't understand him. I tell him my secret and he runs off. Then, he barges in on the wedding and tells me he found something.

"I have found the cure for your ailment," Terrance replied excitedly. I opened my mouth to ask what ailment, but Terrance's meaning hit me before I could say anything. He had found the cure for my curse?

"Ella is not sick!" Hattie cried. "Are you?"

"Where is it?" I asked, my eyes growing wide with happiness. "Do you have it with you?"

"No," Terrance answered sadly, "but, I know where it is. Come! We must go at once!"

My feet began moving towards Terrance and I took his outstretched hand. Suddenly, some one grabbed my other arm and whirled me around. Aaron looked furiously between us.

"What is going on here?" he growled. Char grabbed Aaron's hand and pried it off my arm.

"Keep your hands off Ella," Char whispered dangerously low to Aaron. For a second, Aaron's face looked scared, but he quickly covered it up and scowled into Char's face.

"I'll do anything I please with my wife," Aaron replied.

"I am not your wife!" I shouted. More gasps filled the room. Char had his eyebrows raised. I turned back to Terrance. "Let's go."

"Let's hurry," Terrance answered and began to lead me out of the chapel.

"I command you to stop, Ella!" Hattie shrilled from the alter. I almost stopped, but Terrance quickly whispered for me to go. He pulled me through the crowd of people who had sprung out of their pews and were trying to see what was going on. "Ella!"

I took one last glance back at Char. He was holding Aaron back from running after Terrance and me. For a brief moment, our eyes locked, but then, I lost him in the sea of people.

Terrance had two horses waiting for us outside the chapel and down the stone stairway in the courtyard. He leapt onto a dappled gray one and motioned for me to climb on the brown mare beside him.

"Terrance!" I shouted at him.

"What?" he asked. His eyes widened as guards began to pour out of the doors of the castle.

"I can't ride in this dress!"

Terrance jumped off his horse and pulled out his sword. He pointed it at me. What was he doing? Swiftly, he grabbed hold of my skirts and cut them in a long slit up the center to my upper thighs. He did the same in the back.

"There, now, come on!" Terrance leapt back on his horse. I swung my leg over mine and settled in. A faint blush flittered across my cheeks at how high the slit was when I sat down. Terrance kicked his horse into a fast gallop and headed out the main gates.

"Stop them!" Aaron shouted from behind me somewhere. I kicked my horse and galloped after Terrance. "Ella!"

Terrance and I flew through the throng of people in the courtyard and out through the gates or iron. I couldn't hear anything above the thunder of the horses' hooves on the cobbled street as we rode through the city surrounding the castle and out into the countryside.

Hours later, Terrance and I slowed our horses. We had lost the palace guards a long ways back. My horse was shaking with sweat and needed a good rest after the long ride. Terrance rode in front of me. I watched the back of his head.

The road was packed dirt and dusty from previous travelers. The land to either side of the road was long meadows of grass with a few farmhouses here and there. We were heading Northwest by the look of the land. The tall Hildrenae Mountains towered in the horizon, and before them was the Forest Silver Wood. (AN: I'm making the mountains and forest up. I'm too lazy to go look in the book and figure out where everything is and stuff.)

Where were we going? Beyond the Hildrenae Moutains, there was only the sea. Did Terrance know where he was going?

"You're probably wondering where we're going," Terrance said. His voice startled me out of my thoughts. I glanced up to see him looking back at me.

"Yes," I answered.

"We're heading to the Hildenrae Mountains. It's there that you'll find your curse's cure."

"But, there are bandits and thieves and monsters hidden among the forest the surrounds the mountains! We can't possibly get through the forest alive!"

"I know a way."

We fell into silence again. It was a heavy silence. I wanted so much to say something. To laugh, or to do anything, but I couldn't. I glanced back, to see if I could still see the castle.

The castle was hidden behind a mass of gray clouds that had swirled up. I could barely see the last farmhouse we had passed. My heart tightened as I thought of Char. The last look that he gave me before I left the church was still burned into my mind. It was of longing and love and passion.

"You can't go back to him. At least, not yet. After we have cured you, Ella. You can return and tell him everything."

"What if he doesn't believe me?" A tear rolled down my cheek. "And how do you even know we'll find the cure?! What if I'm stuck this way forever! What if I return and Char has married Hattie? And what if he's . . . he's . . . dead?"

I found it hard to breathe then. Terrance stopped his horse and jumped down. He ran over to where I sat and tugged me off the horse, and into his arms. He set me down on the road and gently led me off to a nearby patch of trees. The horses tentatively followed.

A rough shelter was hidden among the shrubs and branches. It was old and decrepit, barely able to stand among the trees. The roof was made of mossy wooden shingles and the walls were damp wood. There was one room inside, a few blankets piled on a shelf on one wall. A table with four stools was set in a corner. There was a window, but little light filtered through the glass. A kettle hung above a dry pile of wood in the fireplace.

Terrance pulled down two blankets from the shelf and handed one to me. I took it and wrapped it around my shoulders. He walked over to the fireplace and grabbed a bucket beside it.

"There's a small creek out back. I'm going to go fill up the bucket. Make yourself at home," he said. I had to laugh at his last statement. This was where we were going to sleep? It was like a prison cell with clean blankets and wood instead of rock. Terrance heard me laugh. "This used to be a place where illegal traders would camp out in. It's hidden from the road and makes it easy to set up secret meetings here."

"I wonder if my Father ever used this," I thought out loud. Terrance smiled and walked out the door. I sat down on one of the stools and stared blankly at the window. An owl hooted outside.

I don't know how long I sat there for, but the last thing I remember before I fell asleep was a murmur of voices outside the door. One was Terrance's, but the other was unfamiliar.

Author Note: I am so sorry for the delay. I've had so much homework over the past week and I really couldn't find the time to finish this chapter until now. Hopefully, I'll begin the next chapter this week and have it up before the month of September is over. I'm having some trouble uploading documents correctly. It won't let me keep my spaces in between paragraphs! Okay, so I hope this chapter was ok and the next one will be out soon! Thank you soooo much for your WONDERFUL reviews. Thanks for being patient, well, as patient as you can, with me. I know I need to step up the pace a bit.

Next Chapter Preview: Ella, Terrance and a new addition to their group head out on the quest for Ella's cure. Behind them, Char and Aaron both follow, desperately trying to reach Ella. Unknown perils await Ella in the Forest Silver Wood (cheesy . . . I know, but oh, well). Can she make it to the mountains, or will Aaron catch up to her? Tune in next time . . .