She recognized me instantly. I guess I should've expected it; she always was one for memory.

I pulled back my hood and tried to hide my awe at the graceful woman she had grown up to be, "I'll help any way possible, Princess."

"Please," she smiled, "Call me Odael. I think you've known me long enough to grant me that, Jevin."

I was struck by her words. Sure maybe I was favored by her parents, but after ruthlessly turning my back on them and supporting their enemy... I shook my head, once again amazed at the woman she was now. I was about to say as much when some clown of a shapeshifter took his human form and landed between us.

"Princess," he took a step towards her and bowed dramatically, hiding me furhter from her view, "I am the solution to your problem."

I rolled my eyes. We'd see about that.

"I'm Valour, the shapeshifter."

I interuppted what I thought might turn into a speech all about himself and just as tall when he tripped me.

"Why you little..." I growled, pushing myself back to my feet. Though he had me by at least two years and half a foot, little was the perfect title; I'd never seen anyone more immature.

The princess was summoned to the courtyard, leaving us--a disaster just waiting to happen.

"So, what are you supposed to be?" he asked, searching me up and down, "A goblin or something?"

I hid my face with my hood, "Or something."

"Aw c'mon," he nudged me, "I told you who I was."

I didn't respond, not in the mood for wasting my time.

"Well," he interwined his fingers and stretched his arms, "No offense or anything, but I don't think the Princess needs someone like you. You don't even have any special skills. What are you going to do, glare him to death? That's all you've been doing to me this whole time. Besides, you're, well, you're just...grey."

I bit my pointed tongue and clenched my fists, trying hard to fight down the rapidly increasing anger and knowing that the last time I let it go it didn't get me anywhere.

"You can't hide in that cloak of yours forever you know."

That did it. I'm not sure why, but it did it. With a cry of fury I flung myself at the insolent self-proclaimed hero, deciding I'd show him just what I could do.

He yelped in surprise when I tackled him to the ground but still managed to jam a palm into my sore jaw, forcing my head upwards. We rolled over and he gained the upperhand for a moment before I jammed a knee into his stomach and took his place. Sheathed weapons clinked against the smooth palace floor, mixing in with our heavy breath and grunts of exertion as the fight continued. Wet sweat was just beginning to trickle down my face when we heard the desperate cry of,

"Both of you stop!" She hurried over to us and pryed us apart by our respect more than her strength. I straightened and turned to see the new arrival, a nice-looking girl armed with a bow and a sling of arrows; a good addition--better than him at least.

The End

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