Chapter 2: "Who are you?"
"Who are you?" Anna asked the man with the strung bow.
He remained rigid as he answered,
"One in your position should not be the one to ask questions. You only need know that I am not to be trifled with, fair maiden."
The man was perhaps two or three years older than Anna, and was dressed in fairly clean and well kept common clothes, with a sword at his left hip and a the hilt of a dagger protruding from the top of his right boot. His sandy-blonde hair was shaggy and in moderate disarray. He shifted his stance, moving around the brush into the open.
Anna matched his steps, continuing backward, her arms upraised in a non-threatening gesture.
"What are you doing here?" she ventured, finding the thought that this young man was naught but a hunter strangely suspcious.
"As I said, I shall ask the questions," He answered, "Take a seat." He motioned to the stone slab.
Anna did so, setting her hands in her lap.
The young man proceded to bind her hands behind her back, while she sat calmly, observing this handsome young man cautiously. After finishing, he unstrung his bow and placed it and the unused arrow back in the quiver slung over his back, and instead pulled his sword from it's sheath, holding it at his side, watching Anna carefully. She found several facts about him suspicious, and by these, she knew that he was not who he was trying to appear to be. First off, his clothes were too clean, too new to belong to a poor person, and not everyone owned such beautiful weapons: his bow was made of rich, dark wood, with silver fittings upon the ends and middle; his quiver made of oiled leather, the arrows fleched with white goose feathers; his sword and sheath polished and bright, bearing a familiar symbol which Anna recognized as the crest of the Royal family of Wrouh. What confirmed her suspcions was that the young man's general demeanor was too polite and well mannered, for everytime he addressed Anna, he did so calling her "fair maiden" and he held his weapon with a confident practiced hand, meaning he was well trained. Anna spoke up.
"You are from Wrouh," It was not a question.
He said nothing but looked down at his boots momentarily.
"Why would a hunter, such as yourself," she continued boldly, knowing somehow that this man would not hurt her, no matter what he had said, "venture outside the borders of his own country to search for game?"
He remained silent.
"You want to know what I think? I think that you are not a hunter. For -aside from the leaving of your own country- a hunter would never take a lady hostage, unless his motives weren't of honest intent."
This time, he spoke, an agitated tone to his voice.
"I do not intend to hurt you, fair maiden, not unless you give me cause, as I have already said..."
"So you say, yet you still hold me as hostage. What is your reason for keeping me here? Why do you-"
Before Anna could finish the word "you", the young man had brought his sword up to her neck threatenly.
Anna then took action.
She jumped up, and catching the young man off-guard, turned and sliced the bonds around her wrists on his upheld sword. Then Anna twisted, knocked the sword from his hands, and snatched the dagger from his boot before he could act. She held the young man in front of her with the flat of the blade placed against his neck.
"If the rule is: only the one holding the weapon can ask questions, then I suppose that I will abide by such a sanction."
The young man laughed. "I suppose I was wrong in judging you as the quiet, and passive type."
"I suppose you're right... now, what is your name?"
He shifted his stance slightly. "Miss, I'd feel much more comfortable if you were to question me in a less... dangerous manner; I'd sure hate it if you were to accidently slip if I gave an answer that happened to be unsatisfactory to you..."
After a moment of deliberation, Anna answered, "Yes, I suppose you are right..." She ordered him to sit down and bound both his hands and feet. As she did this, Anna wondered why she would give up such an advantage over the young man, but somehow, oddly, she trusted him, and still knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he would not harm her, even if he got the chance. However, she was troubled by this feeling and resolved not to supply him with such an opportunity. She snatched the sword from the ground and took the young man's bow and quiver, and sat upon the stone slab while the young man sat up against a nearby tree several feet away from her. They sat together in silence for a few moments, then the young man spoke up:
"Miss, would you grant me one small favor?"
"It depends upon the favor."
"I wish to know my captor's name, if only to know who had killed me when I die."
"I do not intend to kill you, sir. And I shall not provide more about myself than you do..."
"Oh, I see. Well, my name is Nathan, if that will allow you to reveal your name, fair maiden."
"Nathan..." Anna contemplated whether she should tell him her own name. "My name is... is Anna."
"Ah," Nathan said, nodding his head slightly, "Anna... A fine name... Espescially for one so fair."
"Do not try to flatter me, 'Nathan', for it shall get you nowhere."
"I do not try to flatter you," He answered with a slight smile, "For your beauty alone does that in full. Besides, where would I get? For I have nothing to fear from you, seeing as you have already stated that you do not intend to harm me..."
Anna was infurited by this young man. She wished that Nathan would stop complimenting her; it was making it very hard to mantain control of both him and the conversation. Anna changed the subject back to information gathering.
"Why are you here in this forest, a place well away from your home country? I know that you are not a common hunter, so explain to me how and why you entered this country and your intentions."
"Ah, very straight forward. Well," He sighed, "Seeing as I'm not going anywhere soon, I suppose that I shall tell you my story. However, You must swear in the most binding of oaths never to reveal my true identity and mission to anyone, for if I am found out, this dreadful great war will wage for many more years to come..."
Anna was curious, and in her gut, she had a strange peace that descended upon her. She knew that she could trust Nathan, although she knew not why. But as a young princess, she had been taught by her parents to trust her feelings as her guide and judgement.
"Fine, I'll swear..." And Anna did.
"Now that you have sworn you secrecy to me, I will reveal all that I must to you. I dare say that this might very well be considered daft of me to do so, but for a reason I cannot explain, I have a certain... trust... for you that I find somewhat disturbing. It is likely we were ment to meet, and it is possible that you might help me in my quest. What think you of this, Anna?"
She wondered if Nathan could read minds for Anna felt the same way and was greatly disturbed by his likeness in feeling the same as she.
"I... I don't know what to say. I have only just met you, and I feel the same. perhaps we share a kinship in something unseen."
"Yes, " Nathan visibly relaxed some, as if he were glad to hear that he was not alone in the strangeness of it all, "It is quite possible that we are very similar in many ways."
"Yes." Anna felt compelled, and, acting upon her heart said: "There is no need discussing in this manner; we can speak like civilized people, without the need of weapons." She set the sword on the ground at her feet and stared placidly at Nathan as he stared even so into her eyes with likewise calm.
Nathan nodded slightly, "How gracious of you, Anna, to lower your weapon. You know that I shall not try anything... However, if it makes you more comfortable, you may leave these bindings upon me and I shall sit here if you wish..."
Anna felt somewhat guilty, and averted her eyes from him, but Nathan continued to speak.
"First of all, dear Anna, I am no commoner. I am Prince Nathan, son of Jamin, High King of Wrouh."
Chapter 2: "Who are you?"