Just a little oneshot I felt inspired to write after playing through this chapter in Shadow Dragon. I hope you all enjoy it! Comments and constructive criticism welcome :)
Fire in His Eyes
Nobody had seen them coming. Not even Sheeda. Nobody could have predicted that the pirates would begin their rampage and pull the trigger that would send them all on their journey...but when the princess saw the pirates, that was not what came to mind. She immediately turned to her father, who stared out of the windows with a dreary look in his eyes. Sheeda felt her stomach drop and her fingers tingle with the absence of her spear. For years, there had been peace. For years, Sheeda had been happy. And now, as she heard the screaming at the gates and the sound of blood being shed, she knew it was all about to change. She watched her father with fear in her eyes. The princess ran to him and knelt down, grabbing his hand anxiously.
"Father, the pirates, they—"
His voice was hollow. Sheeda looked into his face and saw the resignation, but she fought the tears with all of her might. He sighed.
"Of all people...pirates."
"Father, no. We can fight. We can do it!"
Sheeda looked toward the main doors and knew that Talys's gates were being broken as she spoke.
"Sheeda. It is time."
"Time? Time for what, Father?"
Her hands were shaking and clammy.
"Go to the eastern fortress. Tell the prince."
It was only then that Sheeda suddenly remembered the source of light in her life. The reason she trained, the reason she woke up in the morning and the image she saw in her dreams...
"O-of course. I'll go right away!"
Sheeda pressed her lips tightly to her father's hand and looked into his sad eyes one last time.
"We will fight for you, Father. Do not worry. He—we will protect you."
He gave her one solemn nod before the princess stood up and ran toward the door. She flung them open, offering herself to the bright and merciless sunlight. With a deep breath, she prepared herself for the scene that was inevitably to appear before her. Behind the gates, everything seemed quiet. Peaceful. She heard the soft whinny of her pegasus a few yards away. But the princess was not deceived. She rushed to her steed's side and swung onto his back, gripping her Wing Spear as she did. He whinnied and looked about with a frightful look, as if he, too, could sense the tides beginning to turn and his world beginning to change. Sheeda took a deep breath, tightened her grip, and led her pegasus into the air.
When she looked down at the gates, she urged her mount to move more quickly. The pirates were storming the gates, and there were too many of them for her father's forces to overpower. She saw them falling, could hear their weapons crashing to the ground, tried to shield her eyes from the blood that soiled the wishful green grass. Sheeda knew that her father had little time...so she set her sights to the east, where her savior awaited her.
Abel ran a hand through his green hair and rubbed his temples. Marth glared at him with narrowed, triumphant eyes. Abel scanned the chessboard, analyzing the position of every knight, bishop, and pawn. Marth was smiling and waiting for Abel to do what he always did: lose.
"You ready to just give up yet?" he gushed.
"No! Just because you're a prince doesn't mean—"
"Yes it does."
"Shut up and let me concentrate, you royal pain in the ass."
The prince let out a burst of laughter and leaned back in his chair. Abel scrunched his brow and stroked the stubble on his chin. Suddenly, his face lit up and he grabbed hold of his only remaining bishop.
Marth stood from his seat and leaned forward with an expression of pure shock. He felt the butterflies of shame set flight in his stomach and his skin begin to tingle.
"Guess I'm not just good with a horse, huh?" Abel winked.
"Really? Now I can't even beat you at chess...I can't imagine how rusty I'd be on the battlefield."
"Come on, I'm not that stupid."
In exasperation, Marth dropped back into his seat and twisted a blue strand of hair in his fingers. But he couldn't hide the small smile that tugged on the corners of his mouth. Abel, one of the prince's very best friends, watched him with a gentle and lighthearted grin of victory. He had never beaten Marth before.
"Fine, savor it while you can." Marth rolled his eyes. "It won't last very long."
"Is that a threat, Prince Marth?" Abel leaned forward with a jokingly angry face. Marth pursed his lips.
"Yes. Yes it is."
As they fell into a fit of laughter, they shook hands and ruffled each other's hair playfully. Marth tried only to concentrate on this moment of happiness...he always had so few. With Elice constantly on his mind, along with the death of his father and the crumbling of Altea, there were too many things to worry about. Even after years had gone by. When the word "failure" was constantly echoing in his mind, happiness was a farfetched idea. Everything was his fault. Elice, his father, even Cain. He had utterly failed, and yet he was still being treated like a prince. The guilt was virtually constant.
The hurried sound of heavy, urgent footsteps roused the two boys from their seats. They stood up, letting the chess pieces fall fatefully against the checkered board, and watched a dark figure rush down the hall toward the throne room. Marth's heart dropped to his stomach, and he heard the voices in his head, bringing all of the horrible things to the front of his mind, grow stronger. Abel had taken on a serious expression that made the prince's skin crawl. As they stared in determination, the figure grew closer and closer, and they were able to identify it as Jagen. He was calling Marth's name.
He halted, panting, in front of the young knights. They ran up to him, supporting him and eagerly awaiting his message.
"You've...You've a visitor from the castle."
Marth's worry was growing with each second. Jagen was strong—one of his most skilled and reliable knights. For him to be out of breath meant something truly dark was hovering on the horizon.
A visitor? From the castle? It must be...
"It's Princess Sheeda!"
In one instantaneous moment, Marth's heart both flew and sank deeper into his chest. Just the thought of Sheeda made the color rush to his cheeks in a flurry of red. He saw her face in his head, pushing away the voices, calling his name and laughing melodiously. He looked at Abel, aware of the fact that the look on his face was a combination of utter elation and utter anxiety. Abel tilted his head toward the end of the hall, giving Marth his signal to rush to his esteemed visitor. With a solemn nod, he left Jagen in Abel's care and made his way to the entrance of the fortress. The previous mood of lightheartedness and relaxation had suddenly dissipated into the darkness...but Sheeda was, to Marth, the light.
"Sheeda," he murmured to himself. He saw her dismounting her pegasus outside of the door, fidgeting with her spear, looking around as if awaiting an ambush. And yet, she was breathtaking. He called her name louder, and watched as she turned her head to face him.
"Sheeda, what is it?"
Now that he was closer, he could see the tears on the verge of her eyes. He put his hands on her arms, wanting to protect her, give her a sense of security.
"You look white as a sheet," he sighed. He rubbed her arms, but the princess averted her eyes—an ambiguous gesture to the prince. She was trembling. He tightened his grip just enough to show his affection, but not enough to hurt her.
"Marth, come quickly! It's the castle..."
Sheeda's voice trembled almost as much as her body. She lowered her face, shaking her head as if she couldn't believe what was happening, as if she didn't want to believe what was happening. Her blue hair flew around her face as it moved from side to side, trying to wake herself up from this nightmare.
"Galder's pirates attacked from out of nowhere. They stormed the gates and cut down everyone in their path."
The instincts within Marth, the instincts that led him to fight and battle for the protection of the innocent and the good, flared up until they shined within his eyes. Suddenly, her knees buckled, and the only thing keeping her up was Marth's firm grip on her arms.
"I fear for my father's life..."
Marth stood her up, felt her shake like a baby bird, and was moved beyond description. Here she was, crumbling in front of him, as lovely and as innocent and as strong as ever. She feared for her father, for her people—and Marth feared for her.
"You did well to come find us."
He put his fingers beneath her chin and lifted her face, so that he could look into her eyes and reassure her with the fire in his own. They were wide with fear. Without true control of himself, Marth put his forehead against hers, as a gesture of comfort...but also a gesture of pure and indescribable desire to see her smile. It was, at least in part, a selfish gesture.
Finally, after a long and momentous silence, he pulled away and smiled.
"Altea's bravest knights aren't about to hand Talys to that flock of seafowl. Come, we'll make for the castle now."
A switch seemed to click inside of Sheeda's mind. She nodded, losing the aura of being in a trance, and finally took on the air of being a princess. Of being a strong, loyal, beautiful warrior.
Sheeda stood at the head of the small army beside Marth. She held the reins of her winged steed tightly in one hand and held her spear in the other. Looking out over the land, she saw the beautiful island that she loved. Further in the distance, she saw the flames rising. The flames of destruction, of hatred: of Galder's pirates, attempting to take everything away from her. Then, Sheeda turned her gaze to her left. There was her miracle, the one thing that could make it all go away and give her back the sense of security she needed. Prince Marth, sword in hand, face intent with the desire to free the King of Talys. The strength within her increased at the sight of him. The only word to appropriately describe him at that moment was unbelievable.
"Marth," she called over the sound of the blowing wind. He turned to face her, the fire still shimmering in his deep blue eyes. Her heart was overflowing with the hidden desires, desires she had even tried hiding from herself, of the past years. She had trained with him, talked with him, and now she was relying on him—and he was relying on her. Just like he always had, but with a sense of strength all his own.
Sheeda could tell that her smile was weak, but she smiled nevertheless.
"Anything for you."
He smiled back.
The princess did something at that moment that was to be her driving force for the next few months—the only thing that would keep her going. Utterly unable to hold herself back any longer, out of gratitude and out of weakness and out of courage and out of fear, she dropped her spear and the reins of her horse and ran. She gave the prince no time to register a single thing before grabbing his collar with both hands, pulling him down, and planting her lips on his. Sheeda heard the Rapier drop into the grass and felt Marth's fingers at her neck beneath her billowing hair, thirstily pulling her closer.
For those short seconds, Sheeda felt nothing but absolute ecstasy. For those short seconds, everything was perfect. She forgot about the pirates, about her father, about Marth's inevitable journey, about the dragon kin...everything. The only thing was the feeling of becoming one with him. When she forced herself to let go, praying that it would only be for a short while, he was gazing at her with tenderness accompanying his fire.
"No, don't say it," she whispered. "Not until you have survived to mean it."
Prince Marth smiled knowingly and let go of her.
With a new rush of power, Sheeda retrieved her spear and mounted her horse. She lifted her weapon above her head and, with one last glance at him, led Altea's knights into battle with a cry of renewed energy.
The fire in his eyes was now the fire in her eyes.