The Jewel of Anonian (part two) - A story of love, courage and friendship.
The next day, I awoke late. I sat up, unaware of where I was. Then I felt the excruciating pain in my arm, and slowly everything came back to me from the previous day. But I wish I hadn't awakened. With it came a pounding headache. I massaged my temples before sliding out of the comforts of my bed. I had been taking back to the palace, but I did not remember how and when. After being helped by a maid in making myself presentable, I stepped lightly onto the balcony. I looked out over the lands, golden in the sun. But the lands beyond the city were covered in bodies of dead horses and men. The armies of the enemy were camped not far from the battle site, and I then remembered my appointment. With a sigh, I exited my room, and headed for breakfast. My arm was placed in a sling, and it was very odd. I was not accustomed to it, and it was very hard to pick up things with my left hand. I would often drop my silver wear, or the food on my fork would somehow miss my mouth and fall on my lap. I have to admit I felt helpless and like a child first using her utensils. After eating my fill, I quickly left the palace and to where Matthias was. Neither of us spoke, but rode out along side with Henry to where the enemy is camped. As I thought about it, I did not know his name, or where he lived, why he attacked us and what his purpose was. I felt silly then, when entering the tent not long after.
He stood from his desk, and offered me the wooden chair. I smiled, and sat. He looked at my arm in the sling, and I could tell he seemed troubled, but quickly looked away.
"As you may know, I have asked to come to terms of agreement. I have come up with many of things that will satisfy me to leave."
"Go on." I nodded.
"I have decided I would not again attack you if you would offer me one thing,"
"Anything." I said defiantly.
"your kingdom." He finished. My jaw dropped, but I quickly clamped it shut.
"Anything.... But that."
"I thought you would say so. So I thought of another alternative. Give me half of the gold you own, a third of the silver, and half of the gems. Also, I would like ten thousand of your men."
"I cannot give you the kingdom... and neither can I give you my men. Think about their lives; they have families, jobs and children! I can not make them go, that would be terrible."
"Then force them too. If you're as great as queen as you claim, they would listen to you." He chuckled slightly.
"No, I will not do so." I then sighed greatly. "I will agree, in giving you one part of my kingdom."
"Ahh, I knew you would come to my terms. But I would like to request the part I get."
I glared at him. "Fine, what?"
"The Eastern part... near the mountains."
"No!" I shouted, standing.
"Because I grew up in the forest in those mountains. It's my past, my childhood, and my peace. I will not see it come to ruins in your dirty hands!" I shouted still, my voice had an edged tone. He looked rather startled, and troubled, but did not back down.
"Let me have it or die."
"Fine!" I didn't realize I was still shouting, or that my hands (one hand, pardon me) was clenched, and raised in his face. I backed away slowly, looking sheepishly at him.
"Good, good! Now, if you would be so kind as to sign on this line...." He handed me a paper. I read over it carefully, making sure it was nothing to trick me about. I did think it was odd that it was so thick, but I did not know his culture, and shrugged off the warnings in my head. I started to sign, but stopped, and looked up at him. He raised an eyebrow.
"I never did get your name."
At this, he laughed, a good, wholehearted laugh.
"I am sorry, my dear lady. I did forget amongst all this troubles. I am Gervaise, of Rhodes."
"And I am Gwenllian... of these lands of course." He chuckled slightly, but seemed rather fidgety. I smiled, and then took the pen to the paper again. As before, I sighed and began to sign. I finished, and handed it to him. He gave a smirk/smile, and I suddenly felt nervous. I did not know why, but soon I was to. He studied the signature, and then pulled out a knife. I straightened up, but it was not meant for me. He took it, and slit the back of the paper. More of it fell from the bottom, and more paragraphs came out. I quickly took it from him again, and read over it carefully but quickly. I let it fall from my hands once done, a look of shock across my face.
"You... you tricked me!" I gasped, just standing there, astonished. He picked it up, and did not look at me.
"I trusted you!"
"Sorry, but I needed your kingdom... and your services."
"But why?" I sat back down abruptly.
"You live here, and you know the legends. There is a jewel hidden in those mountains, and I want it."
"You wont find it!" I shouted.
"Oh?" He said with a smirk, and eyebrow rose. "And how would you know?"
I was silent. He looked over the paper, and then to me again.
"You read it, and you know I have the power over you. I demand you to tell me everything you know!"
I shook my head, glaring at him. He walked up to me, and kneeled so we were the same eyelevel.
"And that means I could kill you with a snap of my finger."
I nodded `yes', but said nothing.
He stood back up, and rolled his eyes. He exited, and I heard him whisper to a guard. I shook a little, but stopped as he came back in, and straightened up again. He was silent, but smirked as a guard brought Henry into the tent. I got wide-eyed, afraid of what he was going to do with my friend.
He knew he was a good friend of mine, and said directly to me.
"If you don't tell me where it is, I will kill him."
I looked over to Henry, my eyes beginning to well up with tears.
"I am sorry Henry... but we all took the oath, and you know what must be done."
He nodded, and hung his head. With a sigh, Gervaise nodded to the guard. Henry bent on a knee, and the guard slit his throat. I gulped as a tear trickled down my face. I said a silent prayer for him as I looked down at his dead form.
"Now, will you tell me, or will I have to kill more of your friends."
"I am not telling." I said, my voice was shaky. He glared angrily at me, and crossed him arms.
"Fine, you are going with us to find it. If we die, you die. If we get lost, so will you. We battle, you battle.... Anything we do you are to do also."
I nodded, not able to say much. I knew that things were going to get only tougher from then on out.
The Fourth Chapter
A month later, I was mounted upon my trusty gray stallion, and was forced along with three hundred other men. We set off on a journey that would take a long time, patients, and for me to put my acting to use. From the beginning, I began to talk away, and would not shut up. I could tell those in hearing range of me were getting fed up with it by the third day. I told him stories of my childhood, and things that I knew about different kingdoms. Most of the time he was silent, but if he spoke, it was a
`Be quiet', `shut up', or `I don't care.'
I learned to ignore the looks and comments, and I was always off in my own little world. I acted as strange as possible, and learned to purposely get annoying. It worked.
After many uncountable months of traveling, we came to a major fork in the road. We had followed an old abandoned dirt road threw the forest which I had been raised in. I knew what either way led too, and couldn't deicide which one to take. Should I lead them to the jewel? Or should I take them the other way... the way that lead to death? I had seen the jewel only once in my day, and once was enough to make you lust for it. It was so beautiful, it was almost indescribable. And the powers of it were that to control the sun, the moon, the stars, the day, the night and all of weather. I shuddered to think of what Gervaise may use it for. I would have rather died then to see the jewel in the hands of an enemy... but something held me back from the path.
"Well, which way is it?" Gervaise said impatiently after a while of silence. I took a deep breath, and steered my horse left. The followed. He looked down the other path, and then to the one where we were going.
"Are you sure this is the right way?"
"Why wouldn't I be?" I said, a little agitated.
"Well, the other way looks like it goes more towards the mountains, and this way seems to be heading away from them.
"Fine, do you want to take the other path? If you say so, we will follow." I mocked. He glared at me, and stopped again. He thought for a while, before turning around again. I was hesitant, but with a sigh, also went. Then we were off again, but only on the wrong path. In a way, I was relieved on going further from the gem, but I was also frightened. I knew what lived in these mountains. I knew what we would end up in. But even on the right path, we would have ended up meeting them. After a few hours of heading on that path, the trees began to grow thicker. The path seemed rockier, and the air seemed thicker. Because of the trees blocking out the sun, it got darker and darker. It also grew colder, not only in temperature, but also within. Because of not wanting to admit he was wrong, we pressed on. By the time we were 3 hours way in, you could not tell whether it was day or night, nor the hour. Whenever we were tired is when we were to stop. But sleep came to no one that night, for though the silence was great, it was deafening. I was so put up with feeling actual fear, I had crept over to where Gervaise's tent was, and listened to see if he was awake. There was no sound. I breathed out, and decided if he could sleep threw it, I also could. I started feeling my ways back towards were I was sleeping, but I ran straight into something. It became still, and did not move a muscle; not even breathing. I heard a familiar sound... that of which a sword being drawn from its sheath. I faintly saw the metal of the sword, and began silently crawling backwards. But the sword was to my neck, and I lay on the ground, trembling greatly.
"I advise you not to move if you value your life." Came a whisper.
"I'm not." I shook, and my voice did too. There was more silence then.
"Gwenllian?" Said a questioning voice.
"It tis me." I said, still frightened. But I felt more relaxed hearing my name.
"I apologize! I did not realize it was you. It is I, Gervaise."
I breathed a sigh of relief, and sat up as I heard his sword being put away.
"I shouldn't have been sneaky about. I am sorry also."
There were a few moments of silence, both of us realizing that we were apologizing to each other. Gervaise broke the uneasy silence then.
"Do you need help back to your tent?"
I suddenly put on my act again.
"Why would I need your help? If I got here by myself, I could get back as well."
"Fine, I was just trying to help." He said bitterly.
"Well... don't!" I crossed my arms, but remember he couldn't see me.
"Um... goodnight then." He said, and we both left.
When everyone was accounted for the next day (or at least we thought it was) we were once again off. I found something to talk about, even though I told enough stories to last a lifetime. Everything other then that was silent. After about an hour of traveling, I was silent. I do not know why, but I just couldn't speak. It was like something was out there, watching, and you couldn't let it know you were there, although it already did know. Shuttering, I moved my horse closer to Gervaise, feeling safer. But I couldn't stop looking over to the side on which was open to my view. Although nothing was in the trees, I still felt like I was being watched. I supposed everyone felt the same, but I forgot about everyone else then. You felt like you were singled out as a target, and at any moment, would be shot down. Suddenly, my faithful steed reared, and I unexpectedly fell off. I rubbed my head, and stood back up. The horse trembled, but stayed put. Gervaise's horse also refused to go on. He handed the reins of my horse and his to a guard, and along with 10 others, we marched ahead. We saw why the horses did not go. It grew somewhat lighter, enough to see a few feet around you. Ahead, were three statues. They were of deformed, unreal, supernatural looking gods. On one, live snakes slithered about them. By the looks of their patterns, they were deadly. But only on the statue they were; nowhere else they were to be seen. On another, were live human parts. Around its neck were fingers and toes. Hands and feet that were finger and toeless lay strewn about. Although seemingly rotted, the blood was still fresh, and was dripping from the statue. One the third, there were birds. They were giant birds of the purest black, and they screeched, flying at you. We all hurried back to where the others were waiting.
"We shall turn back, and try the other way." Gervaise announced. I nodded in agreement. My stomach was turning from what I had just witnessed, but I knew what those statues were for. I knew who made them, and who worshiped them. Gervaise would not admit that I would have led them correctly, and I did not press the matter... yet. We had just wasted two days of time for nothing, and it was not blamed on me for once. Once back to the fork, and heading towards the right path, I began my taunting.
"This looks oddly familiar."
Gervaise didn't even look at me.
"Now, if we would all just trust me for once, I think we would be a bit happier."
"If we did trust you, I think we would all have our ears falling off our heads... if that's not happening already."
"You would all be miserable, depressed and utterly lost if I wasn't along."
Gervaise again didn't say anything.
"And then you would regret ever even coming, cause you would be dyeing somewhere in the wilderness."
"I do not really feel like it." I scoffed.
"Don't you have a hoarse throat by now? Is not your voice spent already?"
"Rarely does it. But I bet you would be so bored when it does."
"Hardly." He mumbled.
We continued on, and the path began getting harder, steeper and narrower. Some of the horses were struggling, but not Gwenllian's or Gervaise's. They just plunged upwards, always finding the right foothold. But soon, it was to the point where horses would become useless. But how would you leave them?
By the time they decided that they were to go on foot, they also decided to set up camp for the night. The horses were to be lead back by 100 precious men. It was hard to loose them, but we decided it was for the best. I knew it was going to happen, but I didn't want to tell Gervaise. I did not really know how I felt about him. He was the one who was my slave master after all. But even though he tricked me, I could tell he was still sad about it. He was kind, and could be sweet; but kept his military hardness about him.
"Well, now we get to go climbing. I also liked rock climbing. I can run about the rocks as well as a mountain goat!" Exclaimed Gwenllian.
"I am sure you can." Gervaise said mockingly. I just glared at him, but began climbing. I laughed at those who wore armor, for it only weighed them down. I too had to carry my belongings, but it didn't weigh me down. After a while, I began getting further and further from everyone else. I turned, and stuck my tongue out at Gervaise.
"I told you so!" I smirked. He grumbled, and said nothing. As I turned my head forwards, I stumbled over a rock, and rolled to Gervaise's feet. I groaned, and looked up at him. He laughed aloud.
"The mountain goat lost her footing?" He laughed, and triumphantly stepped over me and kept on walking. I pouted, and slowly stood up. The rocks really hurt, and I had torn my shirt and pants. Not only was I bruised, but skinned and bleeding. I decided to stay nearer to everyone else then.
Hours later, we came to valley; a very green valley. There were trees and a stream that sprung from a spring in the rocks. I knew we would rest there, and all the men were relieved. It was lush, and beautiful. I immediately set camp beside the stream. Then I sat on the rocks, letting my bare feet dangle in the cooling water. Gervaise walked by, and chuckled,
"Better not do that, or the water will be too foul for any of us to drink."
I glared at him, and cupped my hands in the water. After gathering it in my hands, I splashed it up at Gervaise. He looked shocked, and mad. He made a rush for me, and shoved me into the stream. The water was freezing cold, but refreshing. I had fallen to a kneeling position in the water, and started throwing the water up at him. He grinned, and kicked it in my face. I kicked his legs out from under him, and he fell with a splash. Then we splashed water up at each other quickly, each trying to out splash the other. I was the first to give up, and he too ceased. We were both dripping in water. I laughed at him, and he at me.
"You look like a drowned rat." He said.
"Well, you look like a cat caught in a rainstorm!" I teased and laughed. We both laughed again. Right then, I realized that he was not all hard, but fun loving. I knew I had to lighten up more for him too, but I couldn't let down my guard and act. I just couldn't. We sat in silence for a few minutes, but he then coughed and said,
"It is getting dark... It best for us to be getting warm."
"Care if I join you by the fire?"
He smiled. "You may if you wish."
"I do." I nodded, and stood from the water. We both then left for our tents.
After changing to dry clothing, I made my way over to where Gervaise and a few others sat by a fire. I sat down also, and rubbed my hands together in front of the flames.
"It sure is getting colder the higher we get." I said. A few mumbled in agreement.
"I believe we are getting closer to the jewel."
At this, I straightened. "Possibly."
"Please Gwenllian, just tell me where it is. It would be so much easier for everyone. Because of you the others are suffering."
"Well, I am sorry for that." I said sadly. "But you must understand, I absolutely cannot tell you. I would on a normal condition, but I took the oath. And since that, I will lose my life if I do tell."
"But no one will kill you if you do." Gervaise said begging.
"I would kill myself." I said defiantly. He looked surprise, and all grew quiet.
"We can't let that happen then." Said Gervaise softly. "That would be no good indeed."