Here it is. I want to give a special thanks to those that reviewed the first chapter. TWLFan, Gemini Explorer, and Bingo32 thanks a ton. You are the reason that there is a second chapter. As long as I sill have even one person still reading I will continue it. Enjoy!
9/19/2012 Update: I re-read this and realized that one of my scenes had gotten deleted. It is here now! For those of you that have already read the chapter it is right after the dungeon scene.
By God's grace the plan had gone off without a hitch as far as Meranda was concerned. They had made it to the woods and a bit beyond by the time the guards returned to their post. Now the journey began. Getting the princess safe was her top priority so they would be traveling through the night to the Amazon camp. She glanced back quickly to check if they were being followed. No obvious signs. She turned front again to see Calia struggling to climb over a fallen tree. "We go around, young one, not over. It will cost too much energy. And we will need all that we can get tonight." Her voice was slightly accented with french. Not that she was from France, but her mother had the same accent and she had picked up on it. She carefully led Calia around the tree taking note of the tears that she was desperately holding back.
Cold. That is how she felt. Calia knew that it was going to be the longest night of her life due to her companions travel plans, but what she wanted was to be in a nice warm place. The warmest she knew, her mothers arms. Only an hour had passed since the escape, but it felt like a lifetime for her. She covered up a tear ridden sniffle with what looked like she was sniffing the air. Bound and determined not to cry she wiped her eyes before they spilled over. She had never been away from Naomi for more than a few hours since she had been adopted. Whats more, she really did not remember before Naomi. Just knowing that this separation was for an undetermined amount of time made her want to run back. But she was on a mission to save that which she loved so dearly. Clutching the necklace in her hand she was given a boost of energy and warmth. The travel was not so bad, she just had to keep reminding herself of what she was after. The snap of a twig made her whirl around to see lizard guards coming behind them at a rather fast speed. She began running before Meranda had screamed the word.
TWO WEEKS LATER
Morning light filtered through the open tree house. The birds of the Plateau could be heard every where. Almost everyone was awake and going about their daily tasks, Challenger down in the lab concocting his newest invention, Veronica and Finn were out gathering fruits and hunting small dinosaurs, Malone was sitting at the terrace writing in his journal, and Roxton was relaxing at the table cleaning his rifle. He glanced at the clock that Challenger had made a few months back, and realized that is was just about nine o'clock. "Hey Neddy boy, have you seen sleeping beauty this morning?" Of course he was referring to Marguerite who was always the last one up.
Ned took a moment to think. "Can't say that I have." He took a nose dive back into the journal. Recounting every detail of the morning was such a routine, one would think that after four years there was nothing else to write about a Plateau morning, but he always managed to see something that was different from the morning before. Today for instance, there was a parrot sitting on a tree near the terrace which reminded him of where they were. Reminded him of how close they were to an uncivilized world. From his vantage point he could also see Veronica, and would take a minute or two to watch her. She and Finn were picking berries off of a near by bush. She looked up and Ned dived back into his journal to avoid her gaze.
"Hmm, I think it is just about time she was woken up." Roxton rose, placed his rifle on the gun rack, and began the decent to her room. About half-way there he realized a serious flaw in his plan. He was entering the lair of the beast without a sword. He quickly ran back to the kitchen to fetch a cup of coffee before going back down. Quietly he crept into her room but a surprise was waiting. Marguerite was nowhere to be found. Her bed was made and the only trace of her was a note. Went for a swim. Be back soon. Roxton took a moment to be mad at her. She was well aware of how dangerous it was to be wandering the jungle by herself without telling anyone that she was going! What was more of a problem was that this was the third time in a week that she had done so. Something was going on and he was determined to find out what. He quickly hurried back up the stairs. "She went off on her own again! I'll be back." Without waiting for Ned to respond he grabbed his rifle, hat, and a small pack before entering the elevator.
The water soothed her body. She had traveled down to the little lake a few minutes from the tree house. Close enough that a gunshot could be heard if help was needed. Not that Marguerite couldn't take care of herself. She had brought a rifle with her, not to mention the knife that she had placed carefully in her bathing clothes. Diving back under the water she cherished the cold sensation on her skin. Today was particularly hot and wetting down her hair seemed like the best way to keep herself cool. She also loved the solitude the dark water provided. That was why she was here. To get away from all the people at the tree house. Away from the conversation and her fears. Away from another secret that she was keeping. Breaking the water surface she grimaced. The sky told her that it was just about the time Roxton would be waking her up and since she wasn't there she would be hunted by her love. Since the situation in the cave, things had slightly altered between the two. She still avoided any mention or action that would reveal how she felt about him in front of the others, but when they were alone it was a different story. They would watch the sun set on the balcony. Every now and again she would fall asleep on his shoulder, but he would always rouse her so she could retire alone. Those were the moments when she felt the safest. John accepted her reservations with their companions, even if he did not agree with them, and she loved him all the more for it. Despite that she never said the words out loud. But her current secret made her deathly afraid his feelings would change. That it could ruin their entire relationship and it was not something that she could hide forever.
It had taken a good half hour for Roxton to find his beauty. She always went to the same watering hole, so after the second time of her running off he knew where to go. To be on the safe side he took his time in looking for her tracks, which is why it took so long. She had never been proficient at covering her tracks but there were a few that he had to look at twice. Once he had found her he scanned the area for any danger and was grateful to find none. So like he normally did he strolled over to the water without any care if she saw him or not.
She had seen him the moment the bushes gave way. "Ah, Lord Roxton, how did I know you would be joining me?" She gave him one of her come hither smiles, but she could see that he was going to prod today. Her smile quickly faded. "Come to be my babysitter?" She commented, her snide attitude returned.
Her sarcastic remarks were something that just rolled off his shoulders now. "Some one has to my dear." Roxton took a seat on a stump that was close to the water's edge. "Are you going to tell me why you have disappeared lately or do I have to force it out of you?" He flashed her a warm smile.
She was intrigued at the prospect. "Now how would you do that?" Her smile returned as she decided to come out of the water. Wading to the edge of the water was rather simple. Once she was there she began to emerge and slipped. A small gasp escaped her lips before she was caught by Roxton's strong hands. He lifted her out of the water. Although she loved it when he touched her she despised being the one who needed help. "I don't need your help, thank you." The incident was strangely reminiscent of the first time she had swum with him. "And I am not disappearing, I'm just going for swims." She quickly wrapped a towel around her waist that she had brought with her.
The lengths to which she would go to avoid a conversation always amazed him. Yes she had come to swim, but behind her eyes he could see she was hiding something. It was a skill that he had developed over the four years they had spent together. He was just about to retort when something caught his eye. He was not sure what it was but it ran on two feet and was coming right towards them. Then he heard the roar of raptors and raised his rifle ready to shoot.
Calia just kept going. Her lizard feet gave her a chance of outrunning them but she was not sure that it would be enough. She was exhausted and had lost Meranda over a week ago. They had been ambushed by a group of bounty hunters from the Kingdom. Meranda made sure that the girl got away, but there was no telling what had happened to her. Snapping jaws brought her back to the task at hand. She had to find some way to lose the beasts behind her. Climbing a tree was not an option because they were too close and would catch her before she made it up. What she needed was up ahead and she was washed with a wave of relief when she saw her chance for salvation. Through the tree line she could see a body of water. There was no way for her to know whether there were more fearsome creatures in the water, but it was that or be eaten by raptors. Since they could not swim it was her best bet. Her legs were really pumping as she dived head first into the water completely oblivious to the couple on the shore.
He took the shot. One raptor down, then the next. Being the hunter he knew that there was one more to come. With a few moments of patients it emerged and was shot down. The creature that had entered the water had yet to emerge. The small glimpse of it he had seen made Roxton believe it to be a reptile of some sort. Whether it was a threat or not was still to be determined. He kept his rifle now trained on the moving depths waiting for the reemergence.
Marguerite waited her rifle also pointed on the water. She knew that the raptors were not a real threat with John there. What she was weary of was the unidentified creature. Over the past four years she had gotten used to the bizarre things and people that they tended to run into but that by no means meant she liked it. Especially when over half of them had tried to kill, eat, or enslave her dysfunctional family.
From under the water their faces were distorted but Calia could see the guns easily. She only knew what they were from her mother. Naomi had told her about them during one of her lessons. They were strange tubes of metal, but by what they had done to the raptors there was no mistaking that they were dangerous. This fact is why she remained under for so long, but her lungs were burning with the want to breathe. With the fear of drowning larger than the one for these people, she burst through the surface gasping. Eyes still targeted on the couple on shore she made her way over. "Thank you." Her voice was weak, much like the rest of her body. She did not realize just how tired she was until that moment. The edge of the lake loomed like a cliff despite its actual small stature. "Please, help me out?"
"A lizard, that's just great!" Marguerite exclaimed upon realizing the origin of the girl. Every time they ran into one of the lizards, normally Tribune, it always meant trouble. She kept her rifle raised as Roxton helped the girl out of the water. The girl was remarkably small for a lizard. The clothing she wore resembled what Centuria had worn, which meant that the girl was of some sort of importance. That made Marguerite's opinion of her even worse. The higher up they were the more of a pain in the ass. As they were on the shore Roxton shot Marguerite his 'be nice' look. It did not even phase her. There was no reason for them to trust the creature and in her opinion Roxton was always too trusting of strangers. Even when the majority of them had wanted to cause the explores harm. There was one thing that she liked about the appearance of the girl. It meant that Roxton would stop questioning her.
Roxton was intrigued by the new arrival. She was different from the other lizards that he had come to know. What was strange was that she was a child. They had never seen any children on the two occasions they had gone to the lizard city. She was also rather human in her demeanor. Rather than acting in charge, she was looking for direction and help. A trait that had been in none of the lizards he was acquainted with. "So who are you little one?"
Calia had to shake the water out of her ears before answering the man who had helped her. Although the question was a little muffled in her mind she understood his question. "M- My name is Calia. Thanks for saving me." She took another moment to recover. The water was slightly colder than she had anticipated and she was glad to be standing in direct sunlight. "May I ask your name?" She looked over her rescuer, not even noticing the woman who was standing near.
Roxton was rather impressed with her dictation and manners. Almost like she had trained in proper English. "Certainly. I am Lord John Roxton and this is Marguerite Krux." At the mention of Marguerite Calia's head made a slight flinch toward his beauty. Roxton would not have seen had he not been watching her movements for a possible threat. "We are pleased to meet your acquaintance. But I must ask what caused you to be caught in that predicament." There was generally a bad situations that followed these creatures and this one was no different. She was a ways from the lizard city.
Marguerite had little interest in the conversation between the two. She was preoccupied with how she was going to get back to the tree house to enjoy some tea.
"It is a rather long story." Calia did not want to be standing in the open any more. Much like they had in the past few days, her thoughts were traveling to her mother. Calia knew that she would be suspected for the escape and for what ever else Decant could pin on her. How desperately Calia wished she was back in Naomi's arms. Her hand went to her neck to feel for the chain that hung there. "Is there some where that we could go for me to explain?" As if in collaboration her stomach growled in agreement. "And possibly get something to eat. Not to impose but I have not really been eating much." Her eyes fell to the ground.
"We can get a snack back at the tree house. This way." Roxton turned to lead the way and found Marguerite in it.
"Do you think it is wise to bring her back there? We know nothing about her and her kind tend to bring trouble!" She said it in a whisper, but Calia could still hear Marguerite. Hear the suspicion in her voice.
"Marguerite please. She is a young girl. What is she going to do? Eat us all? We cannot leave her here to starve or be eaten herself." Although there was reason to her argument, Roxton could not see leaving Calia here.
"Fine. It's not as if you ever listen to me anyway." She stormed off without another word. Sometimes she did not know why she even bothered. There was no point when she knew that he was going to bring Calia home anyway like a stray dog. Marguerite looked back to him. "Do not be mad when I can say 'I told you so'!" And like that she was about 10 paces ahead of them.
Roxton just shook his head.
A tear ran down the Queens cold cheek. 15 days. That had been how long she had been down here, with only the small pressure in her stomach to remind her why she was still holding on. Decant had been ruthless these last two weeks trying to get information. He would go so far, taunting her, abused her, but not far enough to hurt the baby. Just hurt her. A light pierced the darkness of her cell. The illumination made her shudder for what was to come next. Strong scaled hands lifted her body and carried it to his chambers. The same as when he had plotted to have her daughter killed. A week ago she would have fought, but not now. Naomi wanted to know what he was telling the people who were questioning where the entire royal family had gone. Her husband going missing had caused enough of an uproar to give Decant a moment of power, but there was no way that someone did not suspect something was a miss with the entire family gone. Maybe they just did not want to go up against the tyrant. But why had the Emperor not been alerted? The same reason would apply. And there he was with the evil grin on his scaled face, sitting across from her in the Kings chair.
Her smell was the first thing to get Decant riled up. Despair and failure wafted from the disheveled creature sitting in front of him. It was like an ice cream cone to the leader. Sweet and just waiting to be devoured. "Ah my sweet, we are here again. Do you have something that you would like to share?" He ran a talon along the desk causing a cringe from his pray. He was so close to breaking her and finding out where the little nuisance had gone. His hunters had managed to catch the human that assisted, but she was no help. However, she did make a rather fine dinner. His biggest fear was that she had gone to the Emperor, but that fear was placated due to the time that had passed. If the Emperor knew of his betrayal then Decant would be dead now. The human sat silent. "No? Well you might be intrigued to know something. We have found our dear King Malakai, but I am afraid we were too late. He has passed." A ring that he had taken from the King before he had disappeared rested on the desk. That was his ticket to breaking the Queen.
Veronica and Finn walked along the hunting trail. "Finn if you keep bouncing like that we won't catch anything today." She had been gitty all morning, but the jungle princess could not figure out why. "What has gotten in to you?"
Finn kept prancing, more carefully, but prancing none the less. She was so happy for her house mate. But why was she keeping something so wonderful a secret? And what about Roxton? Something like that had to make him happy, but he showed no signs of it. "Hey Vee," Finn stopped and turned to her "why do you think she hasn't told us?"
'Oh great another riddle.' Veronica was confused about Finn's mannerisms but that was an every day occurence. Being from the future sure did shine in her spirit. "Who told us what?"
"Marguerite." A shadow fell on Finn's face as she realized that Vee had no clue what she was talking about. "Never mind." Finn tried to run a few steps ahead so the conversation could be dropped, but Vee was too fast. She had caught Finn's arm.
"What's wrong with her?" Veronica knew that the brunette had acted strange as of late. More like she did when they first arrived here. Cold and distant to everyone around. Although she had also noticed that it happened around the same time every year, but she had never thought to ask about it. She figured it had something to do with Marguerite missing London.
"If you don't know I should tell you. It's kinda personal." Vee's oblivion explained why no one had asked the house mate about the situation. The signs were just so obvious that it seemed almost impossible for everyone not to know.
A worried look flashed on Veronica's face. The idea of her practical older sister being in trouble was not a new idea, but it always seemed to put everyone in her family in danger. And why would Marguerite tell Finn and not her? She was so much closer to the woman and Marguerite never really seemed to give Finn a second thought. "Finn tell me what is wrong. If it is something that concerns us I have a right to know!"
"It's nothing bad." Finn quickly defended. "Just nevermind. If you want to know ask her." Finn broke free and continued along the path. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of a strange creäture sitting against a tree. "What's that?" It looked rather injured and on the brink of death.
Malakai was exhausted and could feel the life pouring out of him. His breathing was labored and the gashes on his body were pouring blood. He had barely escaped from the ape men. He leaned against the tree welcoming death. Just before he lost conciousness he saw her. A woman coming to him as if in a dream. He could not make out anything she was saying, but was glad that he would not have to die alone. His last thought was of his wife and daughter.
They had gotten back rather quickly. Once at the tree house, Roxton cooked brunch for those that were at the tree house. Introductions were made, as well as an explanation of how the lizard girl had been found. After brunch was done and cleaned up Roxton turned to Calia. "Alright, I would like to hear that explanation now." His voice wasn't brash, but gentle.
"I guess I owe you as much." And she began. Calia explained how the tyrant had stolen her father's title, threatened to kill her, and the night of the escape. There was only one part that she omitted. Why she was really there. That would have to wait until she could talk to her goal alone.
Challenger was the first to speak. "So you have traveled by yourself for over a week. Pardon me, but I believe that to be quite a feat for a child. There is something that you are not telling us." His chin raised in the way that it does when he believes himself to be right.
A look of concentration fell on Calia's face. Always thought of as a child. Her mind had gone to this place many times over the past week. Remembering all of her lessons with her father and Meranda about survival. Remembering how everyone in the palace considered her a child, when she was more than that. She was the princess. "I'm not an ordinary girl. I'm a lizard, and a part of the royal family, so I get special training. I have been since I was five. It helped me to survive this long."
It still did not add up to Marguerite. "Why didn't you go to some one higher up in the food chain? What made you come all this way?" She was sitting next to Roxton at the table, her hand in his underneath the surface. He gave it a light squeeze, signaling that there was no need to pry. How ironic. She thought. Some stranger is hiding something and it is no big deal. I hide something and it is World War II.
Calia was thinking of a way to answer Marguerite when the elevator began to rattle. After a moment, two women emerged carrying someone. A scaled someone. It only took one look into the man's beaten face for Calia to know who he was.
Hope you enjoyed! R&R Please! If you have a suggestion I am always open to them. They tend to keep my mind rolling with ideas.