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Lies and Deceptions
Not everything is what it seems
Slowly mingling in the crowded streets, my little brother weaved through the vendor's stands with his best friends, Jared and Evan, at his heels.
I shooked my head at them. Heather, Jared and Evan’s older sister and my best friend, laughed. “I guess boys will be boys.” I nodded in agreement. I shifted my basket of food and flowers to my other arm. “Ugg!,” I hissed in frustration, “I can’t believe I’m running my stepmother’s errands. You know I don’t mind babysitting Kyle, but to do her shopping..” Heather rolled her eyes, “you have too much of your father’s trait in you.” I hipped checked her, “you have to admit that my talent with a bow and knives are pretty useful for defending ourselves if we end up in a fight.” “Right.. like we land ourselves in fights often. But who needs weapons when we have tall, strong and handsome men to protect us,” Heather countered. I stopped and looked at her. “You are too feminine to think masculinely,” I shot back. Heather started laughing. “Tsk. Tsk. Watch what you say to the lady, girl,” she teased. We broke down into laughing fits.
I hadn’t realize how much time had passed by when a man with curly blond hair cleared his throat. Heather quickly covered her mouth with her hand and passed me a look. I took a couple of deep, calming breaths before I manage to pull myself together. “Sir,” Heather asked politely, “what can we do for you?” He studied us for a few more seconds. I shifted uncomfortably under his scrutinizing gaze. “I couldn’t help but overhear your conversations,” he answered in a low voice. I raised my eyebrows, “and what exactly did you hear, sir, that you may have been interested in?” Heather gave me a critical look, “Fiana! Must you be so rude? Please excuse my friend’s attitude, sire.” The man gave a curt nod.
“Apology accepted. Now as I was saying, before I was rudely interrupted..,” he leveled me with a judgemental look. I met his challenge straight on. “.. was that your friend here has a talent in archery?” Heather nodded. “Then,” he continued, “she wouldn’t mind performing at my arena for the Rangers?” My back straightened suddenly. “Faina?” I looked at the man with new respect. “Yes. I would love to,” I answered seriously. Heather grinned at me before turning back to the man, “I guess the decision is made. Now we haven’t properly introduced ourselves. My name is Heather Lowery and this is my best friend Faina Lumeer.” The man nodded in acknowledgement, before introducing himself, “ I am Jason Michaels. Very nice to meet you ladies.” Heather nodded. I just watched him. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I am late for a meeting,” Jason said with a bow.
After Jason left, Heather turned to me and said in an excited whisper, “oh my gosh! You get to perform for the Rangers! I bet you that if they’re satisfied with your performance that they will ask you to be a member of their team. I mean you’re very good. I’ve seen you shoot. You’ve hit every target when you’re competing against Malik.” I rolled my eyes, “that’s because Malik says that I won’t be able to live down the fact that me, a lady, lost to a former archer of the Rangers Squads, and you know me. I like a little challenge.” Heather laughed, “a little? Really? I thought that any challenge you would be all in.” I nudged her. I grabbed her hand and began pulling her across the street to the weapons shop.
“What are we doing here,” Heather asked nervously looking over her shoulders. I just said, “come on. I just want to check out a few arrows that Burt made just yesterday.” “Faina, I don’t want to be seen here. You know how Lady Sophia is like and she’s always looking for anything for a juicy gossip,” Heather insisted. “I released her hand and turned towards her, “okay. I’ll meet you at the Madame Shirley's Tea Shop. I’ll be here for only a few minutes.” Heather looked relieved, “okay. Thank you. I’ll see you there. Oh and I’ll have Madame Shirley save you some rosemary for your mother before it’s gone.”
“Howdy Faina. How are you on this fine afternoon and how is Lady Heather,” Blacksmith Burt greeted me. I grinned at him, “running Elaina’s errands. Can you show me those arrows?” He gave a low chuckle, “Of course, sweetheart. Come over here.” I bound from the doorway to the shelves filled with newly made weapons before Burt could even get up. He shooked his head, “how has your training been going?” I stopped poking around in the shelves and looked over my shoulders, “you mean how hard Malik has been training me?” Burt looked down at me before unlocking a secret panel in the shelf, “now, how about that arrow?” Eagerly I peeked over his shoulders and gasped when I saw the beauty of the arrows. Burt gently handed them to me. “Wow! Burt these are amazing! The texture is so smooth! Look at these patterns! They would be invisible in the forests! No one would be able to see it when it’s being released because they have the perfect patterns for it to blend in the forests. Can I buy a couple early?” Burt smiled. He turned and went behind his metal desk, “I have already made a pill of them and I was hoping if you could maybe test them out?” “Really? Yes, of course I’ll test them. Thank you so much Burt,” I gave him a quick hug. He gave me a bear hug back, “take your time and oh, by the way, I don’t want you to pay for testing out my creations. After all, I do want them to work and who better than you to test them out.” I laughed as Burt secured the bundle and handed it to me.
Making my way to Madame Shirley’s Tea Shop, I was so excited that I completely forgot to look both ways before crossing the street. I opened the fancy double doors of the Tea Shop to hear Heather laughing with Madame Shirley. “Hi Madame Shirley. How has business been this afternoon,” I greeted them. Madame Shirley stood up and gave me a gentle hug, “my dear, Faina. How have you been? Business has been perfect. Not too busy and not too slow. Heather here was just telling me about your run in with a Sir Jason Michaels.” I sat down and accepted her offer of cinnamon coffee cake, “yeah. He obviously knows the Ranger Assembly and he gave me a chance to perform in front of them.” Shirley set her cup of tea down, “hmm, for you that’s a great opportunity but since I’m a lady, that’s not how a lady would act.” Heather exchanged a look with me over the rim of her china cup. I finished the cake and sighed. Heather avoided my eyes. I stood up and said softly, “Heather I think we should go. Elaina probably wants these food soon. Have a good day Madame Shirley.”
Heather and I walked in tensed silence for a long time when Kyle shot past us, with his friends right at his heels. I suddenly took off after him. “Hey, Faina! Wait up,” Heather yelled before taking off in an unlady fashion. The boys sped up after realizing that we were right behind them. I laughed as I slowed down so that Heather could catch up to me. She was breathing hard. I raised my eyebrow, “so much for being a lady.” She straightened and started to brush imaginary specs on her sundress. I gave a manly laugh. Heather looked at me like I had grown another eye.
Suddenly I felt someone watching me. I turned my head to the right and saw a figure in a dark cloak. I couldn’t tell if the figure was a man or lady. “Who are you looking at,” Heather asked as she followed my gaze. My eyes flicked to her and back to the stranger but only to find another person had taken the figure’s place. “I don’t know,” I said, “come on let’s go.” I caught Kyler as he past me again and slung him over my shoulders. He began laughing hysterically, “Faina, I’m not a sack of potatoes. Heh, heh. I’m a big boy now.” I just kept walking, “yes, but you’re still my baby brother. Bye Heather. I’ll meet you at the waterfall tomorrow,” and made my way home.
“Thank.. Faina! Put your brother down this instant. He isn’t something that you can just throw over your shoulders and besides, that is not how a lady is suppose to be acting! Now get yourself cleaned up and prepare for your father’s arrival,” Elaina commanded angrily. I gently set Kyle down and huffed upstairs to my room and began to dress for my father’s arrival. “Fai, mother says that she wants you to hunt for more meat..” Kyle whispered through my closed door. I sighed, “okay. Thanks for telling me, Kyle.”
Who is my father you may be asking. My father is the Captain of the Guards for the King’s army. He pledged himself to protect the Royal family and the people of Golden Cove. When the King and my father were younger, they had been childhood best friend. They had done everything together when they were both younger. But now they both have duties to attend but they have remained inseparable. My stepmother, Elaina Franz, married my father when I was about seven years old. Elaina already had four other children with her ex-husband. Her children are all girls, so she’s used to raising girly girls. That’s probably why she hates me. When I was five I remembered my father and the King’s doctors trying in vain to keep my mother, Alexia Lumeer, alive. But the sickness that she had for a very long time finally had a good hold of her life line. She died at midnight just as she gave birth to my baby brother, Kyle. That was the night that I knew that my life would change.
I was just strapping on my quiver of arrows when a knock came at my door again. “Fai,” Kyle whispered, “can I come in?” Quickly strapping on my weapons I opened my door and let Kyle in. He watched me as I checked my knife blade. “Are you hunting for squirrels,” Kyle asked. I nodded. “Can I come?” I lowered my knife, “if I’m going to get enough stuff on the table on time tonight then I’m going to need to hunt by myself. But I promise tomorrow that we’ll go together.” He nods eagerly, “alright, but don’t forget.” I ruffled his stringy blond hair, “I won’t.” I grabbed the rest of the weapons on my desk before exiting my room. I gave Kyle a peck on the cheek before rushing out of the house.
As I silently hunted, the trees around me whispered their secrets to me. I had been hunting for about three minutes, when I heard a twig snap. I c***ed an arrow into my bow. I saw a pair of reflective eyes staring at me. I released the arrow. Before the squirrel could turn tail, my arrow pierced it’s heart. It laid there, twitching as life slowly gave out of its small body. Skinning the creature, I threw it my hunting bag. Ten more minutes I had gathered seven squirrels, eleven quails, five pheasants, some edible berries and some tea leaves.
Heading home, I thought about the stranger that I had seen before disappearing from my sight when I had looked away. How was the stranger? What was the figure doing wearing a black cloak under the hot sun? Was the stranger a man or woman? Why was the stranger watching only me?
I stopped at the edge of the forest. From my view I saw Elaina through the kitchen window… with a figure in a dark cloak. Setting down the hunting bag, I nocked an arrow in my bow before sprinting silently to the back door. Gently I opened the glass door and I stepped lightly inside.
“Please, my husband will be here soon. Talk to him when he gets here,” Elaina begged. My blood froze when I heard Kyle’s pained voice. “What do you want,” Kyle screamed. “Where is the necklace that Alexia had,” a gruff and angry voice demanded. My hands flew to my neck where the silver crystal hung on a delicate chain that my mother had given to my on my first birthday. “It’s not here,” Elaina whispered. “Search the house! It has to be here somewhere.” I heard seven heavy footsteps as the intruders separated to search the entire house. Seeing the first figure in my view, I sent a poison dart his way. On my way to the kitchen I quietly and stealthily killed four of the strangers and three I poisoned.
I pressed my back against the side of the kitchen doorway and watched the two intruders as one in a gray cloak walked in a circle around their tied up captives and the leader standing with his back towards me. I remained crouching. I drew my bow back and released. It hit the look out square on the small of the stranger’s back.
The figure silently fell to the ground, revealing its face to be a man with red hair. “Stewart, what do you this I should do with this woman,” the same gruff voice questioned. I stepped into the kitchen with my bow ready and aimed at the remaining man. “Stewart! I asked you a question!” The man whirled around only to see my arrow pointed at him. Quick as a serpent he whipped his dagger out and held it at Kyle’s exposed throat. My brother’s eyes grew wide with fear. “No,” Elaina begged. “Who are you? You looked just like her,” the man ordered. “I am Alexia Lumeer’s daughter. Now release my brother,” I hissed. He narrowed his eyes, “you’re bluffing. No girl can shoot well enough to hit her target point blank.” I shrugged, “then how come Stewart is dead? If you know me or my mother at all then you would know that we are not like other ladies out there. If you know who my father is, then you would also know that I am more than capable of handling a bow such as this.” The man gave an ugly laugh, “you can’t shoot without hitting your brother.” You have three seconds to step away from my family.” “Or what?” “One… two.. three..” I released the arrow. “FAINA NO,” Elaina screamed.
My arrow.. pierced the man’s chest. He fell with his eyes and mouth opened in surprise. Kyle, who had shut his eyes, slowly opened them. I quickly untied them. Elaina sagged against me and Kyle buried his face against my stomach. They were both shaking really bad. I just held them close.
Hearing footsteps rapidly approaching the kitchen, I pushed Elaina and Kyle behind me and drew my bow. My father appeared with some of his men and the Royal family right behind them. Kyle and Elaina were on my father in a flash. I lowered my bow as I watched my father’s men form a circle around the Royal family. That’s when it hit me that I may be dangerous to them. “Faina, what’s going on,” my father asked pulling away from Kyle and Elaina. Elaina burst into tears, so that left Kyle to explain everything from the moment I left to the moment I arrived.
As the Royal family made themselves comfortable with my father and his men hovering over them protectively, Kyle began his story. I turned my back towards to avoid the scrutinizing looks of the guards and listened to Kyle.
“Faina had just gone out to hunt for tonight’s feast when nine cloaked strangers forced themselves inside. Mom and I were captured right away. The leader, who I heard was called Shadow, threatened to hurt us if we screamed for help. So we remained quite. Mom began asking questions and Shadow didn’t like the questions that she was asking. So he slapped her. Then Shadow asked about a necklace that mommy had when she was still alive. When mom didn’t give him the answer that he wanted he told his men to search the whole house. When the rest of the men had left the only people who remained was Shadow’s first in command, Stewart. A few minutes later Faina appeared and shot Stewart dead… that’s him over there with the red hair and that’s Shadow there. Shadow asked Stewart a question and when he didn’t answer, Shadow turned around to see Fai. Fast as lightning he had a dagger pressed against my throat. Shadow began mocking Fai. Fai told him to release me, but he wouldn’t budge. Then Fai began counting to three before firing. I shut my eyes afraid that she would hit me instead. After awhile I felt no pain, so I opened my eyes to see Fai stand up and Shadow lying slumped against me dead, with the dagger a few feet away from his grasp. Faina released us and that’s when you guys appeared.
There was a moment of stunned silence. Then Prince Charles Koren the III spoke, “what happened to the other strangers who were searching the house?” I felt eyes turn to me. I took a deep breath, “four are dead but three are only unconscious.I knew that once you arrive that you would want to some answers so I only knocked them out and tied them up.”
Suddenly I heard a whizzing sound. My head whipped to the sound to see a poison dart heading for the King. In a flash I had whipped my last weapon across the room before anyone could react. My knife intercepted the dart, cutting it neatly in two.
My father was up and sprinting after the intruder. I took off after him to see him in hand to hand combat with the stranger. I rushed back to the kitchen and snatched up the nearest dagger. Instantly the owner of the weapon was on my heels. “Hey,” the guard yelled, “that’s mine.” I sprinted back to where my father was exchanging blows. I saw my father stagger under the intruder’s powerful kick. I brought my arm back and threw the dagger. Everyone who was watching held their breath as it spun end over end. My aim was true. It hit the intruder dagger end hand on the back of the head. The stranger fell without a sound.
I stood up and rushed to my father’s side. Helping him up I grabbed the dagger and handed it back to the guard. “Here. Sorry for taking it,” I said. He just stared at me with disbelieve in his eyes. There was a moment of awkward silence before everyone began speaking at once. Kyle flung his arms around me. I held him tightly. The Princesses curties before me. The King and Queen thanked me by shaking my hand over and over again. Then suddenly the King knelt down and one by one everyone bowed down at my feet. “Lady Faina, do you accept the offer of you being trained by your father,” the King asked.
I let that sink in. I looked down at Kyle. He was nervously biting his lip. “Yes, but I have three requests,” I answered thoughtfully. “And they are what, my lady,” the Queen asked expectedly. “My brother gets trained along with me, Lady Heather Lowery gets trained as one of the Ladies in Waiting and I get to still live here.” The Royal family exchanged looks. My brother gave a gasp of delight. Then the King nodded. I relaxed. “When do you want to start,” the Queen asked. “A week from now..” I answered right away. Your Majesties, it is time to head back,” my father proclaimed.
I looked over at Elaina. She was shaking hard as she clutched my father’s arm. I watched as my father whispered something to her that made her eyes grow wide before he turned towards me, “Faina, your mother is going to be living at the Palace from now on and Kyle..” “NO,” Kyle screamed as he flung himself to me. I gently pried him off me. I knelt in front of him so that I was eye level to his tear stained face. Gently I said, “maybe it’s best for you to go with father.” “Please Faina, don’t make me go. I want to stay here with you,” Kyle begged. I sighed. I stood up and took my father aside. “He wants to stay here. I can’t force him to leave. Let him stay here,” I whispered. My father cupped my face in his large and calloused hands, “are you sure?” I nodded, “I’m sure. I can take care of him myself.” “Alright then,” he said. My father enveloped me in a bear hug, “Oh, you’ve grown up to be a beautiful, strong and capable young lady. Have I ever told you how much you look like your mother? She would be so proud of you and Kyle.” I gave a teary laugh. We headed for the waiting group. Pulling Kyle into my arms, I said, “you can stay.” “Yes!”
When everyone had left I gave a huge sigh of relief as I began preparing for supper. With the house cleared out of intruders, I suddenly remembered that I had left my hunting bag at the forest. I retrieved it. “What did you get,” Kyle asked excitedly. I laughed, “hold your horses kiddo.” “Yay! You got some squirrels,” Kyle exclaimed.
After supper was done I tucked Kyle into bed and headed back downstairs to clean up. Just as I was drying the last of the dishes, a knock came at the door. I opened it to see a figure in a dark cloak. I gasp and quickly whipped out my knife. The figure froze. “Who are you? Don’t come any further,”I threatened.
The figure brought his hood down slowly. I relaxed right away when I saw a familiar face. “Faina… it’s me,” Malik, my boyfriend and trainer answered looking very confused. I sheathed my knife and pulled him inside. “I’m sorry for my action. We had an encounter with some strangers in gray cloaks like yours,”I answered. “Oh, is everyone okay?” I nodded, “Kyle is in bed and Elaina is now living at the Palace with father.” “So it’s just you and Kyle,” Malik questioned, “I also heard that you’re training with your father now.” I froze, “how?” “It’s all over the village.” “But it’s only have been a couple hours.” “Really.. well it’s all over the village. There are posters and signs all over the streets and alleys.” “Arg! I guess being the daughter of the Captain of the Guards I get all of the attention. Sometimes it’s kind of frustrating.” Malik gave a hollow laugh. I spun my knife by its handle with frustration. Malik brought his arms around my waist. I pulled away from him and grabbed my bow and quiver.
Slipping on my cloak, Malik went still. “Hold the fort down for me, will you? I’m going to do some target practice,” I said. “What, late at night,” Malik complained. I didn’t say anything and walked outside. “Faina, you can’t be serious. Be careful out there, please,” Malik said taking my hand. I turned towards him, “do you want to come with?” Malik looked over his shoulders and moved aside for me to see Kyle standing at the last step, watching me. “Can I come too,” he asked. Malik c***ed his head to the right. I smiled and pretended to think about it. “Please, please, can I?” I laughed, “alright. Run up and grab your weapons and meet us at the edge of the woods.” Kyle sprinted back into the house.
Malik laughed and draped an arm around my shoulders as we headed towards the woods. I let myself melt into him as I breathe in the cool and refreshing night breeze. The quietness was interrupted by running footsteps. I looked over my shoulders to see Kyle running ahead of five cloaked figures. I dropped to a crouch beside Malik. I readied my bow. Malik drew his sword and silently shifted on his toes.
“Kyle duck,” I commanded. Kyle’s eyes were wide with fright and I knew that his mind wouldn’t be able to command his body. “DIVE” Malik bellowed.