A/N. Thanks to everyone for your fantastic reviews.
FarmersDaughter-I was hoping someone would catch that line.
The next morning, I had to pack my belongings and leave everything I had considered stable. I had been living as a castle ward for almost eight years and now I was leaving my room, the library, and the screamers. I would miss it all, even the screamers.
By the time the sun peeked over the horizon, I was packed and leaving the castle for the last time. I walked through the kitchens that connected the girl's and boy's dormitories. The idea was to pinch a loaf of bread and a couple of apples before any of the staff roused themselves and be on the road before anyone could stop me. The problem came when I ran into Mark as I was wrapping the warm loaf of bread into my bundle and making for the apple barrel.
"I am so sorry." I said, trying to make up for my clumsiness.
"It's fine, Alana. I see you have pretty much the same purpose that I have right now." He gestured to the bread I was trying to hide.
I looked down at the floor, embarrassed all of a sudden.
"Hey, I said it's okay. Don't be so hard on yourself. You are so beautiful and strong and smart."
I looked up. Mark had never outright complemented me before. He had been the only person that had ever made me feel really special. I had always had a soft spot for him.
"I'm going to miss you." I said softly.
"And I you."
I pulled Mark into a firm hug. He smelled good, like the fields after a spring rain. He stroked my hair calmingly and we stayed like that for a few moments. We separated and looked into each others eyes for a second. Without warning, Mark pressed his lips against mine in a soft but firm kiss. I stiffened for a fraction of a second but relaxed as his arms wrapped around me, comforting me. We broke apart a minute later.
I looked at him and said "Be careful, Warrior."
He smiled and said "Same to you, Ranger." Mark was the only one I had told.
He grabbed some bread and whispered "Be safe," in my ear.
He turned and walked out of the kitchen. "You too." I whispered as his frame disappeared down the hallway. "You too." The second one was more of a prayer.
Though I could have stood there all day grinning like an idiot, I forced myself to pack up my apples and walk to the gate. There was one last person I had to say goodbye to.
It was pretty nice, being to walk unhindered out the castle gate and into the marketplace. I didn't have to tuck my hair up or vault garden walls in order to get out. As I wandered the market looking for Jonah, I felt free. I could walk around in my tunic and leggings and not be have to worry about it. My hair was down and I could feel the wind in my hair, whipping it about my shoulders.
I felt the ground vibrate unusually to my right. I turned and saw Jonah getting slammed into the wall of a shop. I quickly tucked my hair up in my cap and advanced towards the fight.
As Jonah got slammed against the wall yet again by a huge older boy with his two cronies, my blood started to boil. Without thinking, I ran and tackled the crone closest to me. In the process, someone's leg kicked against the other crone and knocked him over as well. We wrestled on the ground for a few moments until I had one's arm completely locked out (meaning he couldn't move it without breaking it) and my elbows resting on the other's chest.
I suddenly got up and faced the cronies. "You will go now." I ordered, my voice no louder than a growl. Both scampered away as fast as their legs could carry them.
That left the largest one who was still slamming Jonah against the wall, despite his attempts to defend himself. I gripped the attacker's arm hard, pinching a spot I knew putting pressure on would cause his arm to be useless for a long time. The assailant looked down at his arm when he found that he could no longer use it. Then, he looked at me in shock.
"Listen to me." I growled. "I will make that permanent if I ever catch you messing with anyone around here EVER again. Do you understand?" He nodded. "Go!" My growl had faded to a dangerous, lethal whisper. Just like the cronies, the attacker scampered away.
"Are you okay?" I asked Jonah, who is lying on the ground, out of breath.
"Yeah, I'm fine." He replied as he took my hand and I pulled him up. "What are you doing here?"
"I just had something to tell you."
"Fire away, I need something to brighten up my day."
"I got accepted as a Ranger."
"Alana, I am really not sure that is a good idea."
"Just let me try. I need this. I need to use my talents." He glared at me. "One sign of sorcery and I'll leave, okay?"
"Alright. I will allow you to go." Jonah said jokingly.
"Thank you." I smiled.
"But I am going to miss you."
I hugged Jonah tightly. "I'm going to miss you, too."
"You'll come back, right?"
"Every chance I get." I said into his shoulder.
We broke apart and I turned and started walking through the woods towards my new life.
A/N. Like it? Don't Like It? Let me know. I figure this chapter is not one of my best, but it is kinda necessary.
I really am not planning to make the romance aspect a big thing, but I think it will be necessary at a later point in my plot.