Chapter 3: A Prince!
Anna could not believe her ears. She stood there dumbly, trying to conprehend the words that Nathan had just spoken. A prince! It explained his more regal attire, his weapons, and his overall practiced demeanor. But not only was he a prince, but he was the prince of Wrouh, sworn enemy of Malthine! Why would he be in the forests of Malthine, so close to the royal castle? She had to find out as much as she could, and she could not let Nathan know that she was princess of Malthine. Not yet. Anna assumed a mildly surprised air.
"Oh, a 'prince'," She half-mocked, "What business would a prince of Wrouh have in Malthine?"
"Actually, I have come to resolve the war between our countries...."
Anna felt a bit relieved that he wasn't insitgating anything, but continued.
"How do you plan to do that, Nathan?"
"Well," he readjusted himself into a more comfortable sitting position, "That is what I made you swear to secrecy about."
"Go on," Anna proded after a moment. She was curious; what could be so important that secrecy was required to assure the success? If he had come to negotiate, why would he come alone? Why did the king himself come? She had to find out. "You know you can trust me."
"I," Nathan hesitated. "I have come to Malthine... to... to kill."
Anna was shocked. Killing would not help the warring! It could only make it worse!
"Who?" She choked. The young man did not seem to be the killing type, but desperation could drive even the most proper people to murder.
Nathan lowered his gaze. "The royal family."
Anna gasped audibly. That was definitely not what she expected. "WHAT?" She roared at him, causing him to start violently. "WHY?"
Nathan looked up at her sheepishly, speaking silently, watching Anna as she grabbed the sword at her feet.
"It was not my idea, but my father's. I did not want to do it!"
She jerked the sword to Nathan's throat. He flinched.
"'Prince Nathan', I suppose you do not know who I am, do you?!" Anna roared.
Nathan said nothing. But looked up at her pleadingly.
"I am princess Anna, daughter of Felloro, high king of Malthine!"
Nathan's eyes widened. "Princess Anna..." He breathed. "I-I did not know!"
"What difference does that make?! Would you have spared me upon entering the castle and killing all of my family?! Would you have?!" She accidentily jerked the sword into his neck slightly, drawing blood.
"Anna! You must understand me!" Nathan wailed, blood trickling down his neck, wetting his tunic gruesomely. "I did not wish for this!"
"Then what did you wish for, Nathan?!"
"I only wished for peace!"
"And you would do anything to attain that peace? Would you kill? I know I would, Nathan. I might kill you if you give me warrant!" Anna screamed this at Nathan, crying in rage at the threat to her family and country.
"No, Anna, you don't understand! Let me explain, and then you can decide if you wish to kill me. I would not blame you if you did, but remember this: It would only cause more pain to everyone!"
Anna considered for a moment, the lowered the weapon. As she already knew, killing would only cause more pain. She decided that it could not hurt if she heard him out. "Explain yourself well, prince."
Nathan sighed, relieved, then started, "All that I wanted was peace. This was has gone on for far too long. I told my father this, and he asked if I wanted to stop the bloodshed. I said yes. He sent me on this mission; to kill all of your family, and though I protested, he wouldn't hear of it. He said I asked, and I was commited. I was on my way to the castle when I met you."
Anna saw such a kindness in Nathan's eyes that struck something in her. A chord that revealed to her what Nathan truely was: not an assassan, but a man who wanted true peace. She knew this somehow, and believed him. After a moment, she looked up, wiping away the tears from her cheeks. She took a steadying breath. "Well, Nathan," She said quietly, "What shall we do?"
"What?" He asked, no doubt surpriseed be her sudden change of mood.
"What shall we do? We cannot stay here. It is nearly dark, and I do not wish to spend the night here. We need to resolve this matter and, quite frankly, I haven't an idea how right now."
Nathan sat for a moment, then said, "Anna, would you meet me here?"
"Would you meet me here tomorrow?"
She was still curious so consented. "Yes... I suppose so. Why?"
"I do not want war and neither do you. I believe that we could resolve this war if only we put our minds to it. And, " He said sheepishly, "I'm rather fond of you... and I wouldn't want this to be our last meeting. That is, if you decide to release me."
Against her grain, Anna smiled inwardly, in spite of her earlier anger. She hated to admit it, but strangely, she was somewhat fond of Nathan too, though they had only known each other for the best part of but a few hours.
"I shall release you, and meet you here tomorrow. We... could discuss a few things about political matters, to see what we can do about this war... But no weapons, bring no weapons here or else I shall run through the forest and you will never see me again." Anna released Nathan and he stood, took Anna's hand in his and kissed it tenderly, looking into her eyes sweetly.
"I promise; no weapons, for I would hate to never see such a lovely lady again."
Part of Anna protested against Nathan's touch, but part of her tingled with anticipation. She pulled back a step and said, "Nathan. How dare you be so bold to treat a princess so?"
"I am a prince. Is it not appropriate, fair Anna?"
Anna smiled lightly. "I may kill you yet."
Chapter 3: A Prince!