Happy Friday, Aledans! We’re continuing with Ocean’s story today, but if you missed part one you can find it here.
The Winged Warrior
Ocean shoved off the cliff and spread her wings, taking a much quicker route. The king’s guard grabbed their weapons as she dropped out of the sky into their midst. “Hello boys,” she chuckled as they fidgeted in embarrassment. “Miss me?”
“Cousin,” Hemlock said, only mildly surprised even as his wife and daughter jumped back in alarm. “Quite the entrance.”
He looked tired, his golden hair mottled with silver, his eyes shadowed with dark circles. What could send a king running from a palace bristling with guards to a small village in the northern mountains? The messenger had said only that Hem was bringing his daughter for the summer, and Ocean was to be her personal guard.
“King Hemlock,” She bowed, wings straight up in salute. “Queen Alyssa. Princess.”
He grabbed her arms and stood her up. “Please don’t bow to me here. I’m not the King of Fie Eoin.”
“Indeed.” She glanced at the small group. “Huh. I don’t see your twin here to welcome you.”
Hemlock’s shoulders tightened. “He must be busy.”
“He didn’t mention having anything to do today.”
Hemlock looked to the sky as if asking Aleda for patience, then turned to his daughter. “Kindra,” every Aledan within earshot winced at the sacrilegious name, “you remember your cousin, Ocean.”
The princess curtsied, the silk of her skirt shining in the sunlight. “You’re to be my new guard,” she said as she stood. A faint white scar broke the dark skin on her chin—she’d been born in battle, which is why her father named her after the Warrior Goddess.
“I am,” Ocean nodded. “You’ll be living with me for the summer.”
Hemlock squeezed his daughter’s shoulder. “Ocean is one of the best warriors I’ve ever met. You’ll be safe with her. I promise.”
The princess’ gaze slid to the village. Dark curls highlighted with gold framed her hazel eyes. Aledan eyes. Wary eyes. “Where’s the palace?”
She hadn’t been to Fie Eoin since she was born and Ocean knew the hide tents must be a disappointment compared to the stone buildings in the capital city. A few stone structures dotted Fie Eoin now—the temple, the chief’s house—but the majority of the Aledans still lived in tents. She preferred the warm softness of the hides to the cold, hard stone.
“There is no palace—Fie Eoin has no king.” Ocean cut her gaze to Hemlock, but his face remained emotionless at the jab. “Come on, Curls,” she used the nickname she’d given the princess last summer. “I’ll show you where you’ll sleep.”
She turned her back on the royal family. Ocean had fought for Hemlock, but only because if his enemies won they would come after Fie Eoin next.
“Ocean,” Curls said as she followed behind. “Can we go to the temple first?”
“Because she was my great-grandmother.”
Ocean stopped and looked at the princess. She’d grown since last summer—they were almost of a height. The girl’s dark skin and wild hair may be Known, but she was undeniably Aledan as well. “As you wish, Princess.” Ocean turned on her heel and led the way to the temple in the center of the village.
The stone structure stood on the old fire circle, nine feet by nine, with a hide doorflap that faced the High Priestess’ tent. Inside, candles burned day and night, illuminating the carved rock altar and the blue sword that sat upon it. They also illuminated her cousin, Bar, who stared at the blade with his arms crossed.
“Barracuda,” Ocean nodded and stepped aside so the princess could enter.
“Ocean,” he nodded in return, “Princess.” His hair had gone completely silver with the strain of his twin-bond. The twins in their family could use their bond to manipulate the earth’s energy much like the priestesses, but the farther apart they were, the bigger the strain. “I suppose that means Hem is here.”
He squared his shoulders. “I’ll leave you the temple then. See you at the feast.”
When he was gone Curls turned to Ocean. “He doesn’t like me much.”
“Bar doesn’t like himself much, either. Not anymore.” Ocean turned to the blue blade, the amethyst jewels in the hilt shining in the candlelight. It belonged to her father now, but he hadn’t touched it since he took it from his twin sister’s dead hand and gave it to the High Priestess. He wouldn’t use it, not even as Chief of Fie Eoin.
The sword that had saved the tribe from their enemies sat on a carved rock, in a building of carved rock, useless until the day it would become Ocean’s.
“Can I touch it?” The princess whispered, her voice filled with awe.
Ocean nodded. Curls ran her fingers over the hilt, carved and jeweled to resemble wisteria. “It’s beautiful.”
“And deadly.” Ocean had watched from the cliffs as this sword cut down numerous Known soldiers. Felt the energy of the land drained by the twins in her family. Was thrown back as the energy exploded out of them, doing more damage than a blade alone ever could.
Her hands folded into fists as she remembered the destruction. Yule was right—even if she learned to fly in armor she could never win against that raw power.