“Maileigh, no. You’re not coming on this raid,” Haylan stepped in front of the tent entrance. In front of him stood a beautiful girl with long blonde hair. She folded her arms, her bright blue eyes filled with defiance. She wore simple clothing. A white shirt and brown pants. Over her shoulder was a quiver full of arrows and a bow.
“Haylan, we’ve already had this conversation. I’m not going to just sit here and do nothing while my people need me. I’m coming and that’s final!” She said steadily. There was no way she was going to get out of this one.
“Think about it. We already have Aram going out. If he were to die then you’re our only-”
“Haylan, I’m coming. If anything happens to me I will be proud to do it in the name of my parents. I have to put my people before me.” Maileigh cut him off and shoved him aside. She stalked out of the tent, Haylan at her heels.
“Maileigh, I promised your brother I would watch out for you,” He pleaded with her.
“Don’t worry Haylan,” Aram’s voice caused the two of them to stop and turn around. Maileigh smirked as he walked over. “I’ve already approved her coming along.”
“But Aram surely-” Aram held up a hand to silence him.
“Haylan, if you haven’t noticed, Mai is one of our best archers. She’s far from just a pretty face.” He winked at his sister. A smirk appeared on her face as she turned back to Haylan. “Quit your worrying, Haylan, I’ll be with her.”
“If it’s alright, I’d like to send my son with you as well. I may be able to feel slightly better if I knew the princess was well protected should you get distracted,” Haylan requested. He was speaking to Aram, but his focus was on Maileigh who sighed.
“Haylan, you know Alston and I don’t exactly get along,” Maileigh whined, her shoulders slumped slightly. Aram raised an eyebrow at her.
“Haylan’s idea is a good one. Maileigh just be nice,” He winked at her which earned him a glare. They stared at each other for a moment before Maileigh sighed in defeat. It was either stay at camp or go out but be forced to deal with the No Nonsense Alston. Maileigh knew which one she’d rather have.
“Fine… I’ll deal with him!” She gave in loudly, throwing her hands in the air. Haylan nodded, some relief came to his expression while Aram chuckled. Maileigh punched him in the shoulder before walking away.
Maileigh crouched behind a large bush. The shape concealed her easily as well as Aram. Alston stood silently behind a nearby tree. He was only two years older than she was. He would’ve been handsome too, if he’d just smile once in a while. Sometimes, Maileigh couldn’t believe this was Haylan’s son. Sure Haylan was a little over protective but at least he was fun. Alston’s personality was the complete opposite.
“Alright, I’m going to go scout ahead,” Aram whispered to both of them. He turned to Alston. “Keep an eye on her,” He nodded at Maileigh. She gave him a flat look.
“I can take care of myself, Aram,” Maileigh said defensively.
“Oh I know you can, but even the best of us need someone to watch our back,” He winked before running off. Maileigh watched him go with a smirk as she shook her head. She looked back at Alston as he crouched down next to her.
“You know, this really isn’t a job for a princess,” Alston said, out of the blue. Maileigh raised an eyebrow at this. Usually they just sat in silence.
“He can speak,” She said with mock surprise. Alston just stared at her, clearly not amused. Maileigh rolled her eyes. Did this guy feel anything?
“I’m being serious, you should’ve stayed back.”
“Are you ever not serious?” Alston stayed silent. “Why did I even ask? Alston, I’m not going to just sit around when my people need help. I think you’d hate me more if I did that.”
“All I’m trying to say is maybe you should find other ways to help instead of flaunting yourself everywhere.”
“Is that concern I hear?” Maileigh gave him a confused look causing Alston to give an annoyed sigh.
They sat in silence for a long time. Alston’s words kept bouncing through her head. They bothered her and she wasn’t sure what to think of them. There was one part of it that bothered her, however.
“I don’t flaunt myself everywhere,” She said softly, staring at the arrow in her hands. She felt him turn to her. Maileigh looked up to meet his eyes. “I’m the princess. Aram and I are the last survivors of the royal family. It’s my duty to protect them. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try to do all I can,” She paused to let him think of this. “Nereza killed almost all of my family. Mother, Father… e-even Kaileigh… my best friend… What do you expect me to do?” She demanded firmly. Alston looked like he wanted to say something but he didn’t get the chance. A faint whistling signaled the approach of the wagons. Time to get ready for action. Alston and Maileigh got their weapons ready. Alston’s sword out and her bow was strung. She peeked through the bushes and found the wagons coming over the hill.
The “Master”, as he called himself, thought this little trip was unknown. However, the rebellion had their ways of discovering information in the unground. He was going to be in for a big surprise after today. Maileigh wished she could see his face herself.
The only people walking with the wagons were the two drivers and four other men walking along side it. All were dressed in simple peasant clothes. It was supposed to look like a small caravan of traders passing through. They saw right through that though.
A quick whistle signaled to them that it was time.
“Ready?” Alston asked.
“Bring it,” Maileigh nodded. They both stood up and ran in front of the first wagon. She pointed her bow at the driver.
“Step away from the wagon if you wish to live!” Alston called out, brandishing his sword. “We’ve got you surrounded!” Slowly, Haylan and the others crept out of the cover of the forest. That’s when the familiar, cold chuckle pierced the air. Maileigh couldn’t figure out where she’d heard it before until a woman dressed all in black rounded the side of the wagon. Her golden hair shimmered in the sun. The image of her shoving that black orb into Kaileigh’s head flashed through Maileigh’s mind. Her sister’s screaming rang in her ears.
“Nereza…” Maileigh breathed. She heard Alston curse under his breath. She wasn’t supposed to be here! If she was here then the Silent Death was probably not far. It was rumored those two rarely went on missions separate. Maileigh had never seen the Silent Death himself but she’d heard enough to give her nightmares.
“Haylan! It’s been too long! Surprised to see me?” Nereza smirked at Haylan, almost flirtatiously. The horror on his face was too obvious. “It seems like you have a security problem you should look into,” Nereza laughed her maniacal laugh before whistling. Another person hopped on top of the second wagon. They were too dressed all in black but their face was hidden by their hood. They spun in a circle, their hand flew out as they threw something. Several men fell dead without another sound. The Silent Death.
“Retreat!” Haylan’s voice cried out. Alston put a hand on Maileigh’s back and the two started running. They crashed through branches, their legs moving as fast as they could. They continued for what seemed like forever before deciding it was probably safe enough to stop. Maileigh leaned against a tree, clutching her side as she gasped for breath.
“Is… Is it just me or… was that escape too easy?” Alston’s panting was skeptical. She glared at him.
“Alston, I swear if you jynx this-”
“It was definitely too easy,” A new voice cut Maileigh off. Panic shot through her as a dark figure dropped down from the trees.
“If we survive this, I’m going to kill you!” Maileigh hissed. The Silent Death chuckled and removed his hood. One look at the face and Maileigh froze. The Silent Death was obviously female but that wasn’t what had Maileigh hypnotized. It was her face staring back at her! Except this one had short, messy, black hair and pale skin. Maileigh found herself taking a step forward against her better judgement.
“Maileigh-” She ignored whatever Alston was trying to say.
“Kaileigh? I-Is that… you?” The girl raised an eyebrow. She had a weird look in her eyes. Almost as if she recognized something but couldn’t recall what exactly. The girl chuckled a little confused.
“I think you’re a little confused dearie.” She said, a couple spikes flashes in her hand.
“Kaileigh, I know it’s you! You have a birthmark of a crescent moon on your right shoulder. Your favorite thing is when you’re stressed or scared is to go outside and look at the stars. You like to hum when you’re in a good mood and you never stand down from a fight,” The girl faltered in her next step as Maileigh pointed at her. The Kaileigh look-a-like almost reached up to touch her shoulder. “I knew Nereza hadn’t lied! She’s only wiped your memory!” Maileigh laughed in triumph. “Haylan and Aram had given up hope but I just knew it! I knew you couldn’t be dead!”
“Maileigh… I don’t know if you forgot but… She’s kind of here to kill us,” Maileigh heard Alston hiss behind her. She ignored him
“Kaileigh, please remember me. It’s Maileigh! I’m your sister! We’re best friends….” Her voice cracked as she said that last word. “Remember?” Maileigh was just about pleading with her. Surely there was someway to get through to her. Nereza couldn’t permanently erase memories… Could she?
“Best…” Kaileigh’s voice seemed a little distant but then she shook her head. “No, I do not know who you are. I know who I am. I am The Master’s most faithful servant. I am here to do my duty to him and that is to destroy the rebels who dare defy him!” She raised her hand with the spikes again. “I am The Silent Death and I must obey my orders!” Maileigh saw a glint of fear spark through Kaileigh’s eyes as she spoke but was too distracted to worry about that now. If she threw those spikes, Maileigh knew she was dead.
“Shut up you insolent-” She was cut off by Alston’s sword running itself through her side. He’d been able to sneak around while she’d been focused on Maileigh. Once again, Maileigh watched her sister’s body fall to the ground.
“Is she… What just… Did you kill her?” Maileigh gave Alston a frantic look as she tried to process the thoughts bombarding her head.
“She was about to kill you! What was I supposed to do? Stand there and do nothing?” Alston said defensively. Maileigh opened her mouth to speak when Nereza’s cackled echoed nearby. Alston’s eye grew wide. “We need to get out of here.”
“What about Kaileigh?” Maileigh demanded’
“We have to go. She’ll slow us down if we take her,” Alston grabbed her arm and began pulling her away. Angry, Maileigh tore away from his grip.
“No! I left her once before I’m not going to do it again!” She gave him a venomous stare and stalked back to her sister. “She is your princess too. You have an obligation to save her if you can.”
“I can’t believe I’m letting you talk me into this. We need to hurry.” Alston ran over to her. They bent down to pick her up but before she did, Maileigh had to make sure of something. Nervously, she tore away the girl’s right sleeve. To Maileigh’s relief, there it was.
The crescent moon.