Private Tales The Lost Princess and The Exiled Prince

Maeve

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Run, Run, Little Rabbit.

Quick before the Farmer comes.


Maeve crashed headless through the undergrowth, her arms coming up to shield her face as much as possible from thorns, nettles and the rough scrape of bark. She couldn't care about it until she was as far away from the camp as possible. As far away form the elves who had held her captive. They would be after her, she knew it. That woman had promised it would be so if she had even tried, but Maeve had never listened to caution. Her father had said it was unbecoming of a Princess but so far it had been the only thing that had kept her alive and, most importantly, free.

The voices above her laughed as she wriggled her way through a particularly narrow path and it blew her trail from existence. She wasn't entirely sure if she could be comforted by the fact her invisible benefactor suddenly wanted her to move on after weeks of starvation and beating, or if she should be concerned that it was pushing her now into greater torments. She asked it where they were going but she got nothing but the impression of a smile, a gentle caress down the side of her cheek like a mother would a babe.

And then she was alone.

Maeve could never explain how she knew when the presence was there and when it was not but she knew it now like she knew her own skin. She could hear the sounds of running water nearby and realised how thirsty she was. The Lost Princess had been running for a good three days now. Every time she had collapsed against a tree with exhaustion the Wind had hurled her onward. Her legs trembled as she crunched over the smooth pebbles. Her foot twisted when she put it down wrong and it sent her to the ground with a hushed groan. She needed water. Through stubborn iron will she crawled the rest of the way to the streams edge and with shaking hands spooned it into her chapped lips like a woman starved. Only when she felt sick from drinking so much too fast did she splash some on her face and catch her own reflection.

Bruises littered her skin from beatings, whip welts burned into her skin. Her red hair lay like straw plastered to her sweaty grimy skin which looked pale and malnourished. She looked... tired. Beyond tired. Her head swam and even though she knew she should move on, knew that stopping here was stupidity itself, she couldn't help it. She lay herself down next to the stream and simply slipped into oblivion.
 
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"Humans." Arun said with a shake of his head as he squatted down besides Maeve and gently poked her sickly face.

He had never really liked humans.

They were disgusting little creatures who hardly bathed and with little respect for those that had come before them. He wasn't so hard-line as the Fal'Errun, wanting the poor little idiots to be exterminated, but...well he wouldn't really mind if they all went away.

This one was, at least, was pleasing to look at. That wasn't something that could be said about most of them in his experience, and that alone made him curious enough not to just leave her here to die on the riverbank.

A frown touched his face as he noticed something, a mar on her flesh. Lips thinned slightly as he noticed the marks of torture upon her flesh. Old wounds and new that had to have been made recently. His gaze flickered up to her face. "Oh."

Arun said with a frown.

"The Barbarity of mankind knows no bounds it seems." He said quietly, completely unaware that this had not been wrought by the hands of man.

Without another thought the Prince knelt low, scooping Maeve off the ground and heading away from the river.
 
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Maeve

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I wish I was in Indigo, far, far away
Over and beyond the waves
Like a mid--nights dream


The Wind swirled about the elf who carried her and perhaps, if he listened carefully, he might hear the tune too. Sickly sweet the song whispered on then petered out into music bell like laughter that was snatched away by the currents of the spring breeze.

Maeve could hear it deep within her dreams and it stirred her briefly. Her eyes opened briefly once revealing eyes so green they looked like they were carved from the richest emeralds, before they whispered shut again. Her head was lolled against his chest beneath his chin so she had only been able to make out that she was moving. Being moved. By someone who hadn't bound her so it couldn't have been them.

"Thank... you...."

Her words were like no human dialect that belonged to the continents. But she spoke no more. The winds song whispered in her ears and she slipped back under on the sound of the Old Lullaby.
 
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Arun

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His ears twitched with a song, and for a brief second Arun came to a complete stop. His fingers tightened on her for a second, and she poke.

The language flittered against his mind, sticking there for a moment. The frown on his lips deepened, and his head cocked. "Well, maybe not so human after all."

He was no fool. Arun had lived his life long enough to recognize the Fae things when he saw them. Such magics were not exactly common in Fal'Addas, but he'd seen them before. A prickle of something ran over his skin, and he wondered if he should not just leave her there on the ground.

The last century had been peaceful, calm.

His father had left him alone, his brother had inherited his positions, and even his mother had decided to finally let him be. Did he really want to invite trouble into his life? Fingers pressed into her skin as he looked down at her, a scowl pulling at his lips.

"Your story best be good, little Faeling." Arun said as he let out a sigh and continued down the road, jumping up high onto the branches as he made his way home.
 
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Maeve

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Maeve wasn't sure how long she was out for but she didn't feel rested when she felt the soft caress of something on her head. A wet cloth perhaps? Or maybe it was the Wind again. Her eyes felt heavy with sleep as she pried them open and tried to make a sense of where she was. Her back was pressed against something soft and there was a numbness where there had been pain before on several wounds that had been inflicted more recently.

When she glanced down she noticed someone had bound open cuts and slathered on creams to those in more awkward positions. The most important thing was that she wasn't bound anymore. The deep red welts around her wrists where her iron cuffs had seared into her skin for weeks were wrapped instead in soft linen. Mae breathed out a sigh and tried to turn onto her side and inspect the room. She was on her own.

Thoughts of the arms that had carried her filtered back to her. It had definitely been male whatever he had been. The wind had not hindered him but then neither had it hindered the elven witch who had captured her in the first place so there was no knowing whether he was good or bad merely that the Fates wanted her here.

She pushed herself to her feet wearily and began to look around for some sort of weapon.
 
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The room was a simple sort of thing, seemingly sung from wood itself. As she peered around she would note only two rooms, both separated by a single wall that likewise seemed to have been grown rather than built.

It was clear that the room she was in was some sort of bedroom. Where she had found herself laying was Arun's bed, a feathered thing sitting atop a frame of beautifully crafted wood. Besides it was a long Mirror, and opposite that upon the wall sat two long knife like blades that curved in upon themselves.

As Maeve caught sight of them and took a step, a voice would speak to her from the doorway. "Why is it you humans are so fascinated with weapon"

The condescension in his tone was so demonstrably clear that it was hard not to draw eyes to him. In his hand was a tray of food along with a steaming cup of tea, as well as a pot. All of it seemed rather neatly made, though the annoyance on his face was clear.

"Go on then." He jerked his head. "Just take one."

Arun seemed almost annoyed at the prospect as he walked behind her and placed his tray on the table besides the bed.
 
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Maeve

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The voice made her flinch and whirl around sending a shooting pain up through her broken ribs but she did put herself between him and the weapons. The last time she had not been so smart she had found herself in a work camp for little over a month; she would not be so stupid a second time. But as her eyes drifted to his ears a look of pure fear crept over her face. There was no disgust in it like perhaps other humans felt for his kind, no annoyance, nothing but undulated fear. She quickly took a series of steps back to press herself on the opposite side of the small space from him, nearly tripping over a rug in her hasty retreat.

And she did snatch up a blade in trembling hands. But hands that had held a blade before.

"I'm not going back to your camp," she bit out in quite well spoken Common Tongue. "Fool me once shame on you, Fool me twice shame on me," her eyes flickered to the food. Last time it had been laced with drugs. Things to make her compliant and easy to manage. She would not be drawn into it this time, she would not trust like she had before.
 

Arun

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Arun blinked for a second, somewhat confused by what she meant. "Well that would be impressive."

He told her bluntly.

"Since you're already in my Camp." This place had been his home for nearly five decades. He had made a bargain with a druid to sing it for him from the trunk or a tree. It had not been cheap, the bastard had made him clear out a nest of Vrakghouls that was sitting on top of some sort of mushroom he wanted.

Still, it worked for his purposes. High up and private, even the Rangers usually didn't trail this way. Unless they were hunting someone anyway, and that was when an extra touch of magic helped.

Sitting himself down on the bed Arun picked up one of the small loaves of bread and began to chew on it. He'd been learning to bake over the last decade, though he hadn't quite nailed it yet.

"Who tortured you?" He asked, clearly not concerned. "Anirians? They don't really like things they don't understand, and I doubt they understood you."

He pointed at his face. "Your extra pretty face and all."
 
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Maeve

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Maeve's breathing was as erratic as a frightened birds when he said she was already in a camp. Her eyes flicked up and around the room slowly, a mar of confusion crossing her features. No, this looked nothing like the camp she had come from. That had all been tipis and canvas. Had she escaped the frying pan to end up in an even greater fire? Her arm shook but she continued to hold the blade point towards him, tracking him with her eyes as he sat down on the bed.

"I do not know these... An-ee-ree-ahns," she said the word slowly, wincing at her own pronunciation. "Your people did this," she waved the sword towards his ears with an accusatory tone. Of course she had no way to tell the difference between the nomadic tribe of elves she had been enslaved to and another. They had that same otherworldly beauty that could become quite ugly when they hit you.

Her arm wavered again as her muscles screamed in protest but stubbornness twisted her lips and kept her from dropping it.

"They lied and said I would be safe. Then the bound me and forced me to work," tears were pricking at the backs of her eyes turning her eyes to crushed gems. She didn't need to say what they had done when she hadn't been able to, her body was an open book.
 
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Arun

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Elves had done this? His brow furrowed, his lips thinning to a line.

What sort of savages lowered themselves to this sort of barbarity? She'd practically been on her last leg when he'd found her. Surely this was not the work of those he knew. It couldn't be. Even Errun didn't work humans to death, at worst they executed them as soon as they could.

His expression darkened as he gazed at her. "Did they bare any markings?"

It was clear that he did not feel too threatened by the blade in her hand, in fact it was almost like he was ignoring it on purpose. His focus was far more on her words than anything else.

From the way her arms struggled he could have taken the blade from her with the effort of a child.

"What did they call themselves?" He didn't get up, but he looked more serious now.

Arun might have been a wastrel, he might have been exiled, but he would not stand for anyone dealing out such barbarity in his lands. His father might turn his eye, but Arun would not.
 
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Maeve

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When he didn't seem to know who she was talking about, Maeve's resolve wobbled. Had she truly... escaped?

The blade clattered to the floor when she could no longer hold it and her body slumped against the wall, though she refused to sit and brought her arm to her chest to try and massage some life into it. She didn't take her eyes off of him though, there was still a hint of mistrust there and a warning she would fight tooth and nail should he even attempt to come near her.

"I do not know," she tried to think about what stood out about them but then everything stood out about them. She had never seen an elf before. "They were... a nomadic group," she hesitated over the word nomadic as if trying to remember it and when she said it it was with care, like someone attempting to remember how it was written on a page. "There were others. Like me. Humans and elves and... others..." she did not know what they were just that they were as stuck as she had been and so had been in a sense family for a time.

"This was their language," she switched from Common into an offshoot of the Elvish Tongues, more primal and basic sounding.
 
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Arun

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Tribals.

Of course it was those savage fools. The remnants of rebels that had detached themselves from Fal'addas and decided they could live better lives like a bunch of humans. They were barely Elves, using fel magics and broken beings as their way to survive.

Almost as bad as the Drow.

A scowl pulled at his lips, his gaze casting away from the girl for a few seconds. Briefly he considered just contacting his father. He might have actually done something if he knew the tribals we're using slaves.

After a moment though he decided against it. It would be pointless. "What is your name?"

He asked curtly, looking back at her for a moment before he stopped himself.

"I am Arun." No point in using titles, but he tried to soften his features some at least.
 
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Maeve

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"Meave," she sounded as tired as she looked and after a moment she picked the blade off the floor and returned it to where she had picked it up from. Her father had always taught her never to leave fine steel lying around and it was almost a second nature thing to do. Then she returned to her position against the wall, sliding a little towards the small window so she could peak outside at where she was to confirm in her mind she was no longer with the creatures who had beat her so.

Her eyes flickered back to him every few seconds even as she looked. It was obvious she was terrified of him. The way he spoke didn't help matters for it felt like he might try to strike her at any moment. Or that he was simply irritated she existed at all.

"Why did you help me?" she shifted once more so her full attention was on him, her hands absentmindedly trailing patterns over the wall at her back where they rested by her sides. "It seems very clear you do not like me already."
 
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Arun

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Once she looked out the window Maeve would see that they were nearly a hundred feet in the air, clearly sitting well within the canopy of the forest.

"Don't take it personally I don't like a lot of people generally speaking." His voice was still cool, but he did try to offer her a smile as though he were just joking.

Of course the statement was more or less true, but he sensed that right now was not the time to hang on to that.

Instead he leaned back on the bed.

"I would have rescued you I'd you were a deer." He told her. "Just because I might not like you does not believe I think you deserve to die."

He had been exiled because he didn't care, but that was not entirely true. He just didn't care about the right things. At least the right things in his father's mind.

Life should be lived. Unless you were...well, it was a laundry list.
 
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Maeve

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The forest was so far removed from the steppes and open plains of her home and tribe. She felt a little queasy looking down out of the window and instead focused her attention instead on the room, taking it in a little more now she were not as convinced he was going to shackle her in irons. Subconsciously she rubbed at her wrists as her gaze drifted around the small home. It was... homely. It reminded her of her grandfathers hut on the Southern shores.

"I shan't stay to bother you then," Maeve's eyes finally returned to him. She would rather take her chances in the wilds than impose on anyone. Yet no sooner were the words out of her lips than the wind howled through the window and wrapped itself around her in a tight circle, chiding in its sing-song voice. Her Friends clearly disagreed with her sentiment but she said something sharply in her native tongue and it died out before it could wreck the room.

If anything it seemed to cement in her mind the need to leave.

"Thank you for your assistance," the bow was that of a Court of some kind, the elegant sweep not that of a soldiers, before she shakily made her way towards the door she presumed was the way out.
 
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Arun

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Arun watched her attempt to walk like a newborn duckling.

It would have been extremely amusing if it wasn't so sad. As she reached the doorway the Elf slowly stood up from the bed, his lips thinning as he considered her for a few seconds. "You understand they will continue to hunt you?"

He very much doubted she needed to be told that much.

"And that in your current state, you're more likely to fall to the forest floor and die than you are to make it...wherever it is you're going?" He had patched her up, but he was hardly a healer of any sort. Salves and bandages could really only do so much. She needed a week of rest at least, plus food.

Standing now, Arun walked over towards her, reaching her in just a few long strides.

"If you wish to leave, be my guest." He told her with a shrug. "But staying might yet be to your benefit."

The Elf said cryptically as he slipped passed her into the rest of his home.
 
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Maeve

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Maeve visibly flinched when he stood up and she took several steps back from the door to put distance between them.

Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly at his words. He spoke to her as if she were a child, though it slowly occurred to her that she most definitely was that. From what little she had learnt about the elves it was that they could live for hundreds of years much like the Fae. So far they had proven themselves to be as cruel and as fickle as them too.

For a few beats she hesitated and watched him go through the door and beyond. He hadn't shut the door behind him or barred her way out and there was a clawing need inside of her to prove to herself she wasn't stuck in another cage even if it was more lovely than the mud fields and cold floors she had had before.

"How so?" the young girl couldn't help herself asking and slowly trotted out the room after him. Curiosity had always been her biggest downfall.
 

Arun

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The next room was much larger than the first. It seemed to be a combination of a living room, kitchen, and general living area. A sofa was in one corner, an odd stove like contraption in another. The room appeared...surprisingly cozy.

"You are wounded." He said as though it were a simple matter of fact because, well it was. "Even if I helped you down, It's likely you won't make it another day without falling down."

Arun slowly walked over to the Kitchen area, grabbing himself a cup and pouring some of the tea he had made for her earlier.

Which she'd rudely ignored. "You can stay here."

He told her simply.

"And when you are well you will show me your captors." He spoke almost casually. "Then I will kill them."
 
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Maeve

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A spike of anger rose within her as he called into question her ability to survive. She would have been fine, she thought bitterly. If the Wind had not wanted her to find him then she would have been safe. But she didn't say so out loud and instead ground her teeth harshly to keep her quip to herself.

"I don't think I can," she hated to admit it but she wasn't sure she could even remember her way back there. It had been a blur her escape and in the dead of night. She had barely even tried to remember her surroundings she had merely run and not looked back. Forces beyond her control had covered her tracks and she would be impressed if anything could uncover them.

She watched him quietly for a moment as he took his own tea and it was only when he drank it that she nipped back into the room to collect her own. Even then she only took the smallest of sips until she had seen him drink more.

"Why does it matter to you? Are these not your people?"
 
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Arun

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"No." He said the word in such a sudden rebuke that it almost seemed like the very suggestion had insulted him.

Tribals were...well they were little more than amateurish copies of him and his own kin. People who had chosen dark paths.

"The Tribals are..." How could he put this so she would understand him. "They are a people...lost to mine."

He frowned. "My people dwell in Fal'Addas, city of trees and the very center of the Old World."

Arun was exiled from Fal'Addas, but he still spoke of the city with more pride than he'd thought possible.

"I'm afraid your encounter with them may reflect...poorly upon what my people really stand for." In truth, he was not entirely sure why he was singing the praises of those who had chased him away, but he did anyway.
 
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Maeve

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Mae flinched at the tone and took a step back, expecting a hand to follow his rebuke.

When it didn't come she took another shaky sip of her tea and tried not to down it all in one go to sooth her parched throat. She tried to understand what he was saying but it was hard to fathom. It sounded beyond a difference in opinion the way he spoke like it was amongst the tribes of her people. Despite all their fighting over the centuries none of them would subject another of their kind to slavery or do something so horrific as what she had witnessed in that camp.

"I... see..." she said slowly and then perched herself on a window ledge on the opposite side of the room. "I still do not think I would be able to lead you to them. It was night when I left and there have been three sunrises since then," her eyes slid away from his and she stared at the wall mutely. Even if she could would she? She didn't want to go anywhere near them again.
 

Arun

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For some reason Arun did not think that would be a problem. He doubted that the Tribals would let any of their prisoners escape, and there was no doubt in his mind that they would eventually come looking for her.

Saying that though...seemed like a bad idea. "Well, so be it."

Arun tried to soften his voice. It was not an easy task. He had spent the last century almost entirely by himself, and before that most of what he'd done was argue with every person in a hundred miles. being nice...did not come naturally.

"You may stay here if you wish." He told her. "I suggest you do."

Her wounds really still were rather dire. "But If you insist on leaving I will at least help you to the forest floor."

Of course, if she did leave Arun would follow her.

The Tribals would catch up eventually, and slaughtering them would bring him a distinct type of glee.
 
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Maeve

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Maeve watched him quietly as she finished her tea little by little. She could see his eyes drifted to the bandages and marks across her skin, her emaciated state. It hadn't been a good image when she had seen it in the reflection of the river she had no doubt it was worse in person. She tried to think about what Liath would say and the rebuke he would give her if he discovered she had tried to attempt the journey back to him in such a state.

She at least needed to be fit enough to defend herself again when she tried to find him again.

"Thank you," Mae said after what felt like an age, having made up her mind. "I will stay until I can make it another day without falling down," she echoed his words back to him and offered a wary smile. It had been a while since she had attempted to use humour. She glanced down to the empty mug in her hands and then after a fashion worked up the courage to speak again.

"Is there somewhere to bathe?" she wanted to get the feeling of... them off her skin. As well as the grime and blood still sticking to her skin.
 
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Arun

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"Excellent." He said with a smile. "You can have the bed or the sofa, I'm not very fussed either way."

The truth was he didn't really sleep all that much anyway nowadays.

Most elves did not really require sleep except for every now and again. Meditation was usually enough for them to make it through the day, and even then a short while was usually more than good for the amount of rest.

"There is." He said with a gesture outside.

Once she followed him through the doorway she would find that the rooms she'd been in had quite literally been part of a massive tree. A porch wrapped around the strange little treehouse, and on one end looked to be a gigantic bath tub. "There."

He pointed to it. "Just tug on the little leaf."
 
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Her eyes drifted back to the bedroom and then to the sofa as if it truly were a difficult decision. Either was going to be better than a cold and wet floor. She simply didn't want to be in the way. As he stood and motioned to the outside she stiffened a little then slowly set her mug down on the windowsill.

Maeve followed with all the reluctance of an abused dog who was waiting for the shoe to drop. Her eyes flicked around the new surroundings as they walked taking in every little detail with eyes trained to scout and hunt in the most difficult of settings. Not much escaped her attention.

"The... leaf..." she wondered if she was translating that wrong in her head and she looked at him in confusion for a moment before hesitatingly reaching out and pulling on the leaf he had pointed to.
 
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