A.N: I am truly sorry it's taken so long to update. Life has been kicking my behind (I haven't even had time to watch the new Grimm series yet!) So it's taken a while for me to get organised, and as said before this is a work in progress, meaning the chapters aren't pre-written. I'm sorry folks. Hopefully this chapter won't seem rushed and hopefully will be an enjoyable read.
Last time: A young Prince called Nick was almost assassinated by the King Regents (his own uncle Renard) Huntress, Juliette. Juliette says she did it all on Renard's orders. Nick barely escapes her. Eventually he meet two shepherds, Rosalee and Freddy Calvert. In the evening, a wolf is heard. Nick and the Calverts run outside and lose one another. Nick finds an unusually large but overall placid wolf which is injured. Guided by his moral compass he takes the wolf back to the Calverts cottage and fixes him up. Freddy returns and everyone sleeps until the following morning when Rosalee suddenly arrives at the front door, closely followed by a sword and Juliette the Huntress.
"Alright, everyone just needs to stay calm..."
"Stay calm!" Freddy interrupted the Prince, "stay calm? There's a giant wolf, a prince and a sword wielding maniac in my front room! Don't tell me to stay calm!"
Juliette smirked, "I just need Prince Nicholas to come with me. I won't hurt you your majesty, but I will hurt the pretty lady if you don't follow me."
"What danger have you put us in Nick?" hissed Rosalee, and instantly the Prince felt guilt tug at his heart.
"I'm sorry, I never meant to put either of you in danger. Juliette, you say you aren't here to kill me, so please lower your sword." She paused for a moment, but finally gave into his plea. In turn Rosalee slowly made her way to the couch where she placed herself stiffly next to her brother.
"My name is Nicholas Burkhardt the Third of the Royal Family of the Southern Kingdom," said Nick after taking a deep breath; he knew he owed it to the siblings to come clean, "our home situated within the southern Port-lands. I was running away from my Uncle the King Regent. I can't go into any more detail for fear you will both knew too much and will be harmed because of it. This woman is one of the King Regents loyal servants. I thank you both for taking such kind care of me, and now I shall be on my way. I doubt our paths will cross again, but if anyone else comes here looking for me claim that you did not know who I was and that some vicious wolf killed me, is that alright?"
The pair nodded, both looking too stunned by the wealth of information to truly process the requests he had made.
"Thank you, please keep this wolf alive and set him free, as he will be evidence of my death." Nick looked down at the wolf, who was watching Juliette with intelligent brown eyes. It seemed amazingly calm, at complete odds with its wild appearance. The Prince bowed lightly, before walking out of the front door following Juliette, feeling more saddened at leaving the three friends he had made more than he had when he had been forced to leave the castle.
Outside was cooler than it had been the day before, but the bright pink sky was promising warmth as the sun rose higher. A rich and vibrant autumn was approaching; Nick could smell the on-set at winter.
When they had gotten far away enough from the cottage, Nick grabbed Juliette's arm and demanded, "why are you here? Have you come to return me to my Uncle?"
Juliette pulled her arm away and smirked, "only a couple of days from being under the wing of the castle and you already think you're a tough guy. I'm not going to take you to Renard. He is no longer my master. There is somewhere else to you can go, somewhere where you'll be safe."
There was a pause before:
"I don't believe you. You would never betray the King."
"You don't know me Prince Nicholas. After you got away Renard found out quickly enough that had allowed you to escape. Rather than let me earn back his trust in me, he threw me out of the castle. I was destitute. Now I am vengeful, after everything I had done for him and after all the years of service I have provided, he dares to betray me like this! I have been his servant since I was a girl, he owed me more loyalty and charity than what he has shown. My master has become twisted by power, and I think he is not the sort of man I wish to serve any longer. So I am taking you to a neighbouring kingdom, there you can make allies and we can defeat Renard together."
"I'm sorry for everything that has happened to you, believe me Juliette, but I don't want to defeat Renard. If he wants to be King he can, I don't have any interest in ruling the land."
Juliette scoffed in disgust and turned away, "you make me sick, you silly pampered prince. How can you not care? He is on your throne ruling your people!"
"If my uncle was a bad king then I would care, but he isn't. In the time of his Regency the Kingdom has been peaceful. I know the history of this land and know that at one time the seven families were at war, but now the boundaries are up and everyone is calm and comfortable. If me stepping aside helps keep the peace, then that is what I will do. Te minute I go to another kingdom is the minute I doom the land to fall back into warfare. I will not do it; I won't have blood on my hands"
There was a moment of silence as Juliette watched him, her eyes were sharp and predatory. As a slight breeze lifted her red locks he realised that she was one of the most beautiful creatures he had ever known.
"Do you really think that Renard is a good man, a good king?" she said her voice so low and quiet he barely heard it over the rustling grass and distant bleating of sheep. "Look at what he has done to you. He tried to have you murdered. You are his own nephew and he was sworn to protect you. Does this sound like a good man to you? You have been deceived all your days, and now that the truth his slapping you in the face, you deceive yourself." She shook her head in disgust, "I should have known that a child like you, self-centred and over indulged, would be too lazy to bother challenging a corrupt king. But the fact that you are too lazy to even try to save yourself astounds even me."
"There is some truth in what you say," he answered, thinking of his surprise at Renard's betrayal, and that if the man could turn on his own nephew in such a way, then what did he do to his actual enemies? "Why don't you come with me Juliette? I was planning on heading far up north, where the hermits live, and perhaps seeing if I could start a new life up there. What do you say?"
"The Reapers are on your trail, they will never be put off by the North. The cold and desolate landscape is not enough to stave their thirst for blood. They'll kill everyone you, or we, will come across, such as the shepherd and shepherdess you have befriended, and then they'll kill us. We need powerful allies, and there is no power in the north."
"Fine, where is it that you want us to go?"
"To the Eastern Kingdom. There is a powerful Duchess there called the Lady Adalind, she will help us. She is a good woman and has been kind to me in the past. She knows of how treacherous Renard can be and will take us in with open arms."
Nick sighed. He didn't like the sound of going to some random woman for help. In fact, the whole situation seemed to scream 'trap!' at him, but he was uncertain of what else to do. His instincts were telling him to go north, but logically Juliette was correct, the north had nothing but a few old families no one had heard from in decades and vast wastelands of nothingness.
"It's wrong that I on't even trust my own sort," he thought to himself, "I trust the common people of the land more than duchesses and dukes, but considering my uncle's behaviour, it seems that my aversion to royalty was somewhat justified. But maybe that's just prejudice..." The idea that he was biased in anyway sat badly with him, so eventually he answered; "Alright, we will go to this Lady Adalind, but if there is any talk of war I shall leave you there and continue north myself, is that understood?"
"Perfectly, you majesty," Juliette drawled with a mock bow. The pair chuckled good humouredly and began to walk away when a deep, mournful howl tore into the air.
"What was that?" muttered Nick, turning round and looking back into the direction of the cottage, "it must have been the wolf."
"Come on, we haven't much time."
Nick nodded and followed after the red head, a feeling of deep unease suddenly settling into his soul.
As soon as the wolf howled, it's call so loud and so low it made the floor reverberate, the fox-siblings, who had been feeling pretty intense anyway, at once transformed and leapt over the couch simultaneously, two tall balls of vermilion-coloured fur whimpering and shaking. Blutbaden were scary when they howled.
The howl turn into very human grunted until finally they heard what sounded like a large man panting from exertion.
"Are you foxes alright?" he called out. His voice was light and friendly.
Rosaleen looked at Freddy questioningly, Freddy shaking his head furiously in response. She rolled her eyes and anxiously got to her feet. The blutbaden was huge...and hairy...even as a man.
He smiled sheepishly, soft brown eyes making him seem weirdly cute, his hands cupped over his genitalia. "Ahahaha, yeeeahh, sorry about this folks. I didn't want to transform before with that man here...and I was pretty sick...so...hey, please stop looking at me like that I'm not going to kill, maim or eat anyone I swear. And will you make that other guy stop hiding behind the couch? Please?"
Rosalee looked down at Freddy, he shook his head again.
"Um, he isn't ready to come up right now." She coughed lightly trying to prevent her voice from shaking too much. "My name is Rosalee. I don't think we'll have any clothes that fit you but, ummm..."
"Oh it's fine, I'll turn back wolf in a moment, but you two needed to be warned. I was listening to the Prince and that woman. She's taking him to Adalind Schade."
"What!" cried both foxes (Freddy leaping up from behind his hiding place) at once their true forms popping out momentarily again. "Is she coming here?"
"I don't know, but as that woman knows that this is your home so you'd be better off leaving now."
The siblings suddenly looked suspicious, "we know what you are," said Rosalee, "why would you help us?"
"Because I don't like being under the domain of that witch," he responded quickly, "I like to be my own wolf. I could have killed you both last night, and taken the Chosen with me, but I didn't. Like the Prince, I want to carve out my own path and my own destiny. Surely you can both understand that?"
"Of course we can," sighed Rosalee, "it's just strange is all. What will you do now?"
"I'm going after the boy."
"But that will take you back to Schade!"
"Maybe, but I'm hoping to convince him to turn back before that happens. It's alright I have a sort-of plan."
"A sort-of plan?" repeated Rosalee incredulously as Freddy groaned and rolled his eyes.
"Look, we will go to the northern hillsides," said Freddy, his disdain for the wolf and his fear of Schade over-riding any anxiety he had previously for the blutbaden, "if you survive and help Nick escape, then meet us up there. We will tell others of his coming, hopefully clearing the passage through the dark woods."
"That would be much appreciated, thank you." He turned back into his wolf form almost effortlessly compared to how painfully he had become a man, and loped out of the front door.
"Good luck," called Rosalee, before rushing with her brother to pack.