I am soooooo sorry for the long wait. I promise it will NOT happen again. Life has been a bit crazy so my writing, and unfortunately my readers, suffered. If I could I would reward you all with a nice piece of cake. What I did do is include something in this chapter that I had not planned on putting in until much later. I think you will like it.
Shout outs: Ella, Lehna, and Bingo32! Thank you so much for your wonderful reviews! It makes me so happy that you are enjoying the story.
Without further ado: Chapter 3!
P.S. I do not own... :(
Calia's sleep was dreamless. Something she was very thankful for when she awoke the next day. As she lazily walked up the stairs she could hear the other inhabitants of the tree house talking. She didn't know what they were talking about but caught Challenger's voice "She can't stay here." That statement scared her. What if what had happened last night did not change Marguerite's mind about just getting rid of her and she was convincing the rest of them that the lizard Princess could not stay. Calia rushed up the stairs and listened unnoticed by the adults.
The discussion had been going on for the better half of an hour. They were trying to decide what to do with Calia and Malakai and determining what to do when the two were ready to go home. Marguerite was adamant on the lizard girl staying and helping the Queen. Of course Roxton was on her side. Challenger did not like the idea of having a child running around the house. He barely had enough patience for Finn. Veronica liked kids but she was unsure if having lizards in the house was a good idea. They both wanted nothing to do with the lizard politics. After all the creatures only brought pain to the family. Finn and Ned were rather indifferent to the situation and sat at the table listening to each argument being presented.
Challenger was to his wit's end with this. "I have no problem looking after the man and his daughter until he is well enough to leave. I just do not see why we need to get involved with the lizards politics." It was a pointless risk. If they got involved with every other cultures issues there would be none of them left. These lizards had already cost them Summerlee and he would be damned if they would take any more.
"He has a really good point. We lost Summerlee to these creatures. Why do you want to help them?" Veronica was all for helping the little girl but there was no reason for them to get overly involved. "And how would we help? Storm in and demand the throne? It is too risky."
"I have already explained this to you!" Marguerite was about to leave them here and go get Naomi herself, but remained seated in her chair to explain as much as she wanted to, for what seemed to be the millionth time. "Calia told me last night that her mother is being held against her will in the lizard city and if we do not help she will most likely be killed." She was careful not to let her voice drop in fear at the end of the sentence. Roxton had thankfully agreed not to tell the other explores of her daughter, he was not overly happy about it, but agreed. "Since when are you all so against risking your lives for no clear reason?" Every occasion that she did not want to get involved with someone or something they were all for it, but when Marguerite wanted to get involved they were ready to bunker down and give up.
Finn decided it was time to speak. "I agree with Marguerite. We can't let these people be terrorized." She knew all too well how that felt. "I mean it stinks you lost a friend to these creatures, but if you guys were afraid to help because of death, I can think of a few people who would be very unhappy now." She remembered a story Vee had told her about the Hagen people and how they restored the Queen to power. It was sort of the same situation. She didn't know anything about the lizard people, but they didn't seem so bad judging by the little girl sleeping downstairs.
Marguerite smiled at the future girl. It was not too often she paid any attention to her, but she was glad to have Finn on her side.
"That was different. We did not have a choice in those matters and often it was to save our own lives. I have had enough of this. I will continue to look after the man, but when he is healed I ask that he and his daughter leave." Challenger was done with the diplomatic conversation. He scoffed at the others and went down to his lab. After all these creatures had done he was not about to take an unnecssary risk for them. Marguerite's odd wish to get involved with the lizards was also a little unsettling to him, but it was nothing that could not be put out of his mind with science.
Veronica frowned at the older man's departure. He was normally the voice of reason, but for some reason logic was not getting to her friend. "What has you so determined to help these people? Normally you are the first to suggest we stay home." There was something Marguerite was holding back. Veronica knew it as soon as she asked the question because her friend's neck tensed a little.
"Why don't you want to help them?" Roxton saved his love from answering. He knew this was going to be a fight when they brought it up. It was not that he was excited to go back to the lizard city, but he could see how much pain Marguerite was in from the news of her daughter being alive. He would do all that he could to ease that pain. Before He could get his answer she had risen.
It was time for her to go. "Wether you come or not I am going." Marguerite rose from the table. "I'll go to Tribune and demand he help me! After all he owes us for the last few times we helped him." She walked away from the table without waiting for an answer from Veronica knowing that the jungle princess would not accompany her on the journey. Without turning around she asked "Coming Roxton?" Not that she needed an answer. She knew that he was right behind her. His pack already strapped to his back.
Finn jumped at the chance to go on an adventure. "I'll go. Just give me a minute!" She ran down to her room, noticing Calia in the doorway. "Oh hey! We are going to go help your mom while your dad gets better. We will be back really quick." She did not know how long the journey would take, but these things did not ever seem to take too long. She grabbed her pre-packed bag off her bed before returning to the common area. Calia had walked up and was watching Roxton and Marguerite get ready to depart.
She was scared to ask but wanted to so desperately. So instead of asking Calia went with the approach of telling. "I- I'm coming t- too." She said in a voice just barely over a whisper. It was a huge relief that Marguerite wanted to go, but she could not let the group go without her.
It caught Marguerite a little off guard. There were two reasons she was about to tell Calia she could not come. One: It would only slow them down for her come along. Two: There was a part of her, one she had buried a long time ago, that could not let her granddaughter go with them. She kneeled down to the girls face. "No. It is too dangerous for you to come with us." For some reason Marguerite did not even question why the girl was a lizard. Or how her daughter could have had a child at the age of ten. These things just were not on her mind now.
"It wasn't a question. You need me to get you back to the city and get you inside." There was no way that Calia was going to sit here and do nothing. She could already do nothing for her father, and she would do whatever she could for her mother.
There was logic in the lizard girls reasoning but it still did not sit well with Marguerite. She did admire the stubbornness. With a heavy sigh she agreed seeing the determination in her eyes. "Fine." She turned back to the direction of the elevator and entered it, Roxton following behind her.
It had been roughly three days since the group left. The tree house was quiet once again as Veronica walked on the balcony. It was a stupid mission to go on. One Marguerite was far too excited for. Maybe that was what Finn was talking about. The discussion popped back into her head. It made her worry a bit more. If there was something wrong with Marguerite, Veronica wanted to know. More importantly if the lizards were involved then she could only guess what trouble Marguerite was in.
Ned noticed her pacing. It was rare for her to pace, even more rare for her not to be ready to help. He had noted that fact in his mind over the past few days to remember to ask her about it. Most likely it had to do with the lizards, which he could not blame her for. He waited until she stopped pacing and approached as she spotted him coming near. "Are you alright?"
She smiled half heartedly at him. They really had not been given a chance to talk since he had gotten back. "I was just wondering why she was so determined to go. She hates the lizards as much as the rest of us."
"We never know what is going on with her. Even when we think we do we don't." Ned knew exactly where she was coming from. He had thought the same thing.
"I just wish she would trust us like we trust her. I don't know why we do. She never tells us the truth." There was still so much that they did not know about their companion. It just seemed that around every corner was another secret. Her mind wandered away from Marguerite and to the reporter trying to comfort her annoyance. "I missed you." It was a simple statement but was said with a longing that Veronica did not realize she had felt.
A large grin appeared on Malone's face. "I missed you too. I- I mean all of you. But mostly you." He was trying to include them all and not push the jungle beauty, but he really meant her. It was such a long time alone that he was quite thankful to be back with his friends.
His small stutter made her smile. He was always trying to be careful and not offend her or push over some boundary she had not even made. It was cute but also annoying sometimes. She occasionally wanted what Roxton and Marguerite had. A man who would sweep her off her feet without caring if she was offended or not. "You were gone a long time. It gave me enough time to realize just how lonely the tree house is without you." She was trying to invite him to her. For a kiss, touch, anything. They were alone on the balcony and she hoped that he would be daring for a change.
He could tell she was flirting at this point. Or he thought she was. Women were never his strong department. He moved closer to her looking for any sign that this is not what she wanted. Unfourtunatly the moment was a little awkward and he ended up just standing next to her. In an attempt to fix his mistake he brushed his hand against hers. She interlocked her fingers in his and he was relieved that this was happening. "It was lonely without you out there." He closed the small space between the two and went for a kiss.
Perfect. This was exactly what she wanted. She reciprocated the kiss and it lasted for a few minutes. Her face was a glow when they broke apart, all annoyance with Marguerite gone. She blushed a bit and walked away from him, her mind swimming with what just transpired.
Malone just stood with a dopey smile on his face. He always loved when they kissed but never knew what to do after words.
Everything about the jungle was annoying Marguerite. It was too hot, the hike was taking too long, Finn was oddly staring at her, and Roxton had barely spoken to her since last night. She stared at him wondering what he was thinking, praying that he wasn't changing his mind about saving Naomi. She hopped that they would be able to get to the lizard city and Tribune with no problems, but with her luck there was a very slim chance of that happening.
Roxton was still lost in thought. He was debating on whether or not to carry out his arrangement tonight. It was all in his head, he just needed opportunity. He would do it with no one around. She would not want it to be public. 'After the others are asleep.' He reasoned with himself and avoided talking to his love for the rest of the day so not to ruin his idea. The three days that had passed gave him plenty of thinking time. What he wanted was slightly on the crazy side, but that was not going to stop him. After being on this plateau for four years and being reminded almost every day how short life was, he could hold back no longer. Calia was up ahead of them a little and was looking at a deer track in the mud. It was an old one so Roxton saw the opportunity for a lesson. "What sort of creäture do you think made that?"
This had happened a few times over the past few days. Roxton would ask her a question about the forest around them. It reminded Calia of the endless lessons her mother had given her. The prospect of seeing the woman again was a happy and sad thought for her. She was excited to be held by her again, but was afraid of what Decant had done to her since the escape. "A deer I think." She shook the thought from her head and smiled at the hunter.
Finn smiled as Roxton taught the little girl. She liked to hear the laughter and joy of others. It was a joy that she saw glimmer in Marguerite's eyes a few paces back. There were a few questions she wanted to ask her. "Hey Marguerite, can I talk to you?" Finn waited a moment for them to be walking in line together behind Calia and Roxton.
Although she was glad to have Finn along, the future girl was not who Marguerite wanted to talk to right now. She looked up at Roxton and realized that he would not be starting a conversation with her any time soon. In a bit of a huff she let him take the lead and fell beside Finn. "What?" If Finn was about to ask what they were doing she was not going to answer. The less Finn knew the better. It was always better to keep her friends at an arm's length. That way they could do the least amount of damage. Roxton had already come far to close despite her best efforts to push him away. She could not let the rest of them do so.
"Why haven't you told him?" Finn was forward with her just like she was with everyone else in the tree house. One of the side effects of living in the future was the lack of a courtesy filter from her brain to her mouth. She always got right to the point which helped her be clear, but also made her seem slightly brash.
"Told who what?" Not what she was expecting. Her expression softened with the inquiry. Maybe she would be able to avoid the situation a bit more easily.
There was no way that Marguerite did not know herself. The signs were all there. At least Finn was convinced they were. "Why have you not told Roxton that you're pregnant?" She said it like it was the simplest thing in the world.
Marguerite's face lost all color. She look up quickly to make sure Roxton had not heard. He didn't. The brunette beauty had to remind herself to keep walking and breathe. If she stopped either of those two action it would raise suspicion. "H- Ho- How the hell did you know that?" Her voice was a harsh whisper. She had told no one and was careful to hide the nausea she had felt by going to the lake. It seemed to only affect her really bad in the morning. For the last few days she had been able to put it out of her mind. The cave had been one of the best moments of her life, but the result scared her to death. What would he think? It was not something they ever talked about and she knew he liked kids, but who would want to have them with her? She was not mother material.
"All the signs are there. I have seen tons of women from New Amazonia have kids. I never knew why they did. That's how I knew though. I figured that everyone else had figured it out too, but when I brought it up to Vee she had no idea." This was happy news. Finn could not understand why Marguerite seemed so distraught at it. "I won't tell him, but you should. And the others too." She had left Vee to wonder and it was probably driving her friend nuts.
Swallowing she took a moment to gather her thoughts. "You told Veronica?" That was one of the last people she wanted to know. Finn shook her head and explained the conversation they had. A small sigh of relief left her lips. "I will tell him when the time is right. I'm not even sure of it myself." That was a flat-out lie. She was sure. All the symptoms of her first pregnancy had returned and some were worse than the first time. "Now please drop it. It is of no concern to you or the others." She increased her pace and caught up with Roxton. It took a deep breath for her to not fall apart at that moment but she managed.
Calia had dropped back to Finn as Marguerite walked in line with Roxton. "What was that about?" She had seen the slight change in Marguerite's demeanor.
A smile was given to the girl. "Oh nothing. I was just chatting and annoyed her. Something that is really easy to do." Finn pranced over a fallen log. It was starting to get dark and Finn hoped they would be stopping to camp soon. "So what are we in for when we get to this city?"
Earlier they had discussed how to get to Tribune and Calia had said she knew the exact way to the Empire. Tribune was still the Emperor and that was the place to find him, so that is where they were headed. "Oh the Empire is amazing! I was just there with my dad a few months ago. It's not as tolerant of humans, but they manage." Things had changed since the last time the explorers were there. Stories about them always circulated around. Calia thought about what could have happened if her mother knew that what she was looking for was only a carriage ride away on more than one occasion.
Finn was about to ask more questions when something caught her eyes. It was a flash of green moving behind them. She then realized that Roxton had stopped and was looking around with his rifle drawn. She quickly got out her crossbow.
Calia noted the changed in air and went behind Marguerite who had her pistol pointed at the trees. "What is it?" She piped out.
"Not sure." Roxton continued to scan the area. There was something out there, he just didn't know what. It wasn't ape men. They would have attacked by now as would raptors and trogs. All at once, without any warning a group of lizard warriors emerged and surrounded them. Roxton fired a shot and nailed one in the chest. It was a short-lived victory as another came behind him and punched into his ribs. He was now engaged in a battle with that one.
Marguerite reacted in much the same way, firing a shot before becoming involved with a brawl. Figures they could not have an easy trip.
Finn quickly climbed a tree and was acting like a sniper taking shots with her cross-bow. Their opponents were falling but more just kept coming. She could see Calia also taking shots at the other lizards who were being very careful not to injure the little girl. It almost seemed like they were trying to grab her.
It was just like the night she had lost Meranda. Calia was throwing punches, her teeth, and claws into anything that touched her. It took her a moment to realize that they were not trying to harm her, but they were trying to harm her friends and she would not let that stand. The scuffle continued for a few moments before he emerged. A face that relieved Calia. "STOP!" Calia yelled at the top of her lungs and caught the lizards and the other explorers off guard.
"Listen to the Princess. Fall back men." Quickly they retreated to stand behind the leader. The male human took one last punch at one of his men, but that did not bother this lizard. He had given very detailed instructions that if Calia was found with companions, the companions were not to be harmed. It seemed those words had been ignored as three of his men lay dead and a bruise was forming on the dark-haired female's cheek.
Marguerite quickly grabbed her pistol. Her cheek was killing her and there was a small cut on her leg from a lizard claw. "Who the hell is this?" She was looking to Calia for answers. There seemed to be a connection between the two and it was all that was stopping Marguerite from shooting him. Roxton also had his rifle now pointed at him.
"Tartan, one of my mother's most trusted advisers. He is also a very good friend to my father." She smiled at the lizard but it was not returned. She did not expect it to be. Smiling was not a common lizard emotion unless pain was being caused. Calia looked at Marguerite and Roxton who slowly dropped their weapons. "What are you doing here?"
"I was sent to kill you, but we can't have that now can we?" Tartan had grown up with the rightful King. He had acquired a fondness for the Princess and an appreciation for the Queen. Becoming Decant's right hand man was a plan to keep the women safe. Of course it had cost lives, mostly human, but it was all a necessary loss. He turned to his men. "If anyone of you lays a claw on the Princess or her companions your blood will be mine. Do you understand?" There was a murmur of 'yes general'. "Good. Now make camp. It's getting late."
"Hold on a minute!" Finn had dropped out of the tree. There was no way she was just going to suddenly trust this guy. "You were sent to kill her." She inclined her head towards Calia and waited for the lizard to nod. "But you are actually here to protect her or something? That makes no sense." Generals of armies did not just all of a sudden decide to betray their leader.
Tartan took a deep breath. The need for humans to over complicate things was deeply annoying. "I was the true King's general. These are my men and I trust them with my own, and the royal family's life. This new impostor has none of my loyalty." He gave a disgusted look at the implication.
Calia understood the apprehension coming from Finn. It was also on Marguerite and Roxton's face. "It's ok. I promise he will not betray us." She went and stood by the lizard man.
Marguerite wanted to snatch Calia away from Tartan. It was an instinct that she had not felt for a while. The need to protect someone else. The moment was gone from her mind quickly and she just looked at Roxton unsure whether to trust these creatures or not.
Roxton was unsure himself. But if Calia trusted Tartan there was no reason for him not to. However, he would be keeping his rifle next to him. "Alright. Tartan, names Lord John Roxton, this is Marguerite Krux and Finn." He reached out a hand to shake and Tartan took it firmly. They were invited to camp and dine with them for the night, reassured that the food was non-human.
The night was wearing on at the tree house. Challenger had worked all day on some new rubber technology, checking on Malakai every once in a while. Malone and Veronica had just returned from the lake after a swim. As the couple emerged Malakai shot up off the couch. "NAOMI!" He yelled.
Veronica was the first one over to him. "It's okay. You are safe in the tree house. Lay back down." She paid little attention to what the man had screamed out. It was normal for that kind of thing to happen after being unconscious for days. Malone had gone to the kitchen and returned with a bowl of warm water. Veronica took a cloth and dabbed Malakai's sweating, or at least she thought it was sweat, forehead.
The last thing he actually remembered was the beach. Talking to his wife and leaving her. There was no way he should be alive right now. "H-, w-, w-," Talking was nearly impossible. "W-, wh-, where am, where am I?" He took a minute to look around and realized where he was. Again he attempted to sit up. His father had told him of this place and it was the last he wanted to be. "I- I- I need to go." He found himself being pushed back down.
"Woah! Hold on. You are in no condition to go anywhere." Veronica held him firm against the sofa. "You got hurt. Really badly. Do you remember?" She was worried that he might have some sort of memory loss.
"Yes, I remember." Malakai managed to get out before a wave of pain hit him and he grunted. The action of getting up had opened some of his stitches and they were bleeding. He simply ignored that fact. "But that doesn't matter. I need to go and help my wife."
Malone kneeled next to the injured creäture. "We have sent some of our friends and your daughter to help her. Now just relax and I will go get Challenger to fix those stitches." The news was supposed to be reassuring. He left to go down to the lab for Challenger.
So it was his daughter's voice he had heard. The information made Malakai's brow furrow. "N-" This was not good. He hoped that his mother-in-law had not gone on the journey, but if Calia was there then she probably did. "Who went to help?"
It was very unsettling for him to act like this. "What do you mean 'who went to help?' You act like you already know us." Veronica had met many lizards on their journey's there, but she did not remember him. Not that she could tell the difference between too many of them.
A smile played on Malakai's lips. "No, I hid in the shadows of my mother on your last visit. You were the reason for her down fall. Thank you for that." The memory made him happy. Centuria's downfall allowed him to get married. The current Emperor did not exactly approve of his wedding to a human, but he was more understanding and allowed it to happen.
"Oh. Well Roxton, Marguerite, Finn, and your daughter." Veronica did not like the way this was heading. When she mentioned Marguerite he had cringed. Maybe this is the trouble she had gotten into. "What did Marguerite do now?" Although she could not really blame the woman for whatever antics she had pulled with this creäture, it still bothered her. There were other ways to escape from situations.
His side was killing him now. The effort of trying to get up was pointless and tiring. It was even more exhausting to know that Marguerite had indeed gone to save his wife. She had to know the truth. "She has done nothing. It is more of what my daughter told her that worries me." He could see the confusion in the blond woman's face. The lack of understanding told him she knew nothing of the secret. "My wife is Marguerite's child."
Malone and Challenger had just walked up and heard the last bit of the conversation. Fury instantly jumped into all of their faces.
The night had worn on in the camp site. Calia had spent most of the night talking with Tartan, Finn was learning about the different swords and weapons the lizards used, and Marguertie and Roxton were sitting by the fire.
It might look like a nice scene, but the two had not spoken since she sat down with him. Dinner was filled with small talk and meaninglessness. To be honest it was deeply annoying Marguerite. She was used to him being talkative and flirtatious. Even when she messed up there was still the spark of their love that brought him back to her. "Have I done something to offend you Lord Roxton?" This silence was killing her.
Roxton was pulled from his thoughts. "What? No, why would you think that?"
"Because you have not said more than two words to me today!" Her voice was not raised, but there was an edge to it.
He smiled at her. She was incredibly enticing when she was upset. "I have just been thinking about London." So far so good. The other's were involved elsewhere so they were pretty much alone. "What would you do if we make it back?" He had always wondered. Wondered what any of them would do. Just go back to their normal lives? There was no way he could, too much had happened.
Another question to catch her off guard. That was too common an occurance today. "I haven't really thought about it." That was not entirely true. She had, multiple times, but she found herself wanting not to find a way back more and more. Something she would never tell the others. "I guess I would pay off a few debts. Quite a few for that matter." She smiled at herself. With the gems she had collected she could buy a few of the companies she now owed money and favors to. "Then go back to what I did before I guess."
He did not like that at all. If they did get back he would not let her fall into her old ways. He would protect her from her demons and troubles, just like he tried to do here. "What if we don't?" With every question his eyes remained on the fire.
This one she really did not think about. It was not something that she thought they would ever be faced with. "I don't know." Her voice had dropped to a whisper. This conversation was not going anywhere she thought it would. She actually expected a full-blown argument. "Why do ask?" She knew that he loved the plateau. That he had nothing in London to hold on to. But what was she holding on to? Enemies that wanted her dead? People who turned their back on her every day?
He turned and faced her, the fire glowing on their faces. "I know what I want. In either outcome." He had known for so long. "We have been shown so much on this beautiful plateau. I have learned so much." She had begun to stare at him, making his heart melt. This would be easier than he thought. "Marguerite, no matter what happens, I never want to lose you. I love you. That is something that will never change." He saw her look of confusion and terror as he spoke. She could see where this was going. There was a box being pulled out of his pocket. The ring was simple. A jungle stone on a silver band made by the Zanga.
^_^ How long I have wanted to write that scene! Hope you enjoyed it all. Let me know what you think! R&R!