When Araiel awoke, she found herself looking out at daylight. The stranger who had looked after her before was gone, but she noticed garments set out before her on the bed. She felt strange slipping into the breeches and the waist shirt provided for her since she normally wore long gowns or full length skirts. She washed her face with the basin of water and pulled her hair into a low braid and ventured outside of the room which was actually a tent. She found herself within a large camp. Several guards stood surrounding the camp. Few men were there. She wondered if they were hunting. She looked about her noticing they were in the middle of the woods, but the trees were tall, dark, and thin. She also smelled a feint scent of the sea, and she guessed they were in South Gondor near Belfalas.
As Araiel walked into the midst of the camp, she noticed a young man dressed entirely in black speaking with who looked like the commander of the guards. The man in black also wore a black mask that covered his eyes. Though he was unfamiliar to Araiel, why did she feel as though she knew him. He held in his hand a leather pouch. Upon opening it, the young man let the gold coins drop into the guard’s hand. The guard bit the piece and nodded and made a small bow. The man dressed entirely in black turned to the Princess, smiled and approached her. He came to her side and took her hand brushing his lips across her knuckles.
“Glad to see you are doing well. Now for the practice ring.”
He motioned to the right of the camp where a certain number of targets were set up, and many different weapons lined the shelves. Araiel nodded and followed him toward it. He also noticed that her gaze continually followed him, and he carried the memory with a smile.
The practice ring was fairly large. Targets had been set up at many different distances, and many of them were far beyond what a human archer could fire at. But Arial was no normal human. The young man handed her a bow, and she took it fixing an arrow within.
“You have been trained in archery before…” he said when she fixed the arrow towards the target.
She nodded. “I have the bloodline of the elves. Yes I have been trained in archery.”
“You are holding the bow well, but your eyes are unused to the targets. Concentrate. You have all the time you need.”
“They are too far away. I can barely see the bulls eye.”
“Take your time. Adjust your eyes. You will see it.”
Araiel released a sigh and focused. She breathed in the air around, took in the sights and scents around her. The man seemed so close to her though he stood at least a foot away. Araiel made out the black mark on the target, aligned it with the arrow and released. As it met its mark, the young man grinned crookedly.
“What do you mean?” she asked with raised eyebrows. “It didn’t even land in the middle.”
“Do you know how difficult it is to fire at this distance?” he faced her with his hands behind his back. “To even hit that target is a death mark. You quieted your mind your body and that is the first step to archery. You did well.”
She pursed her lips together saying nothing. A feint blush appeared in her cheek. The young man gave her another arrow.
She placed the bow in her hand once again, and this time he placed a hand upon hers, moved in closer and slipped his other hand to where she held the arrow.
“You are too close.”
“Learn to get close. Your enemy at times will be this close to you, but he will not decline when seeing your discomfort.”
She sighed. “But I would never let an enemy get that close if I had a bow in my hand.”
“Be prepared for the unexpected. Enemies can appear at any time. Now concentrate. Close your eyes.”
“How will I see the target then?”
“Don’t think and don’t watch. Listen and feel.”
Araiel softly closed her eyes and then realized something. The touch of his hand was familiar. She felt his breath upon her cheek. She knew that smell. The smell of the fresh wind, the evergreens, and berries. A lock of dark hair fell in front of his brown eyes, and she turned to meet those eyes. He smiled down at her knowing that look in her eyes.
A crooked grin slid across his face, “Hullo, angel.”
And then he kissed her as he once had. A long, sweet, soft kiss that left shivers upon her spine and a tremble upon her lips. She opened her mouth stunned when he had finished. Her expression turned to happiness when he picked her up and spun her around.
“Finally found ye now,” he laughed along with her.
“Aerin! It is so good to see you,” she cradled his face within her hands.
“Miss me much, lass?” he grinned when she pushed the lock of hair away from his eyes.
“Of course I missed you. But what is going on? Why are you here, and who are all these people? The guards?”
“Long story, angel. Much happened when ye left me. Care to hear th’story?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Yes, but this isn’t the proper place for a story. Let’s find a better atmosphere shall we?”
(Sorry if it was kind of short. Wanted to leave all of you on a cliffhanger. And read my new story coming out. A Dragon’s Tale)