Marking of the Daysby Sincline Koutaishi
Inside the castle the Princess was feeling woozy from renewed loss of blood and a new dose of pain medication. The King had just stormed off after another altercation with her captain, who remained beside her along with the minister after she had sent her other three guardians off to look after his safety.
“Why did you kiss him?” The captain shot at her verbally at last, frustration overcoming his dutiful respect.
“Hmm?... Oh, that.” She mumbled.
“Stop looking so mad.” Her eyes drowsed.
“We were trying to shoot him down two years ago!! And you think I shouldn't be mad that you're kissing this psycho who tried to kidnap you and destroy your world? He has destroyed hundreds of worlds probably!! Including his own!! WHY??? What did he do to you??”
“He saved my life... He's not like he was.. He was doing his duty as you were doing yours... and now his duty is over. His father is dead and he is the King and he is ruling as he sees fit.” And with that she fell asleep, overcome by the medication.
“Captain... I am not sure that your being angry with our Princess is the best course of action at the moment.” The minister suggested quite firmly.
“You're right... I'm sorry. I just don't understand what's going on.” He shook his head and sat down heavily in an armchair nearby, watching her sleep.
“Things seems to be changing... Look after her. I have things to see to. Excuse me.”
He sighed and just sat there, going over things in his mind... Shortly he was surprised by the return of his three comrades and the blue King. He was wearing his flight uniform and looking as though a million things were going on in his mind. He fixed his eyes on the captain, “Please leave us to speak to one another.” He asked the group and they left him with the captain and the sleeping Princess.
“What?” The Captain asked coldly, face locked in a frown, eyes glaring back at this creature.
“You are correct.” He said, “I do not belong here... and so I am leaving. Will you at least do me the courtesy of ensuring that she receives this note when she wakes?” He handed it over. “On your honor, pledge you will give it to her unread.”
He fumed, felt like he would boil over that this man was asking anything of him, especially to do with honor! And then he relented... It would mean he would be gone. He took the paper from his gloved hand, “I will make sure she reads it before anyone else does.”
“Thank you... Take good care of her.”
And with one last glance upon the Princess, he was gone. The Captain watched his craft lift off and leave their world. He felt incredibly relieved, and then worried for how she would react when she woke and found him gone.
The Princess woke herself half way from her medicated sleep, from her dream of her new love. Her dream of kissing him—their kiss that had been years in the making. Of being held by him. Being close to him. She sighed and nestled into the cushions with a smile. She could hardly wait to wake up all the way and see him again, talk to him again, find out what their future might hold. She urged her mind to fight the medication so that she could be with him again.
When she woke she only found the captain keeping watch over her. She yawned and stretched, sitting up wearily, her hand over her reopened and re-bandaged wound which was quite sore.
“Captain?” She asked and he turned to her.
“Princess... Are you feeling all right?”
“I'm as well as I can be.” She said, “Where is the King?”
He seemed to become pale and looked away from her, “He's gone.”
“What do you mean—gone?” She asked, her face draining of color too. “He went somewhere and is coming back?” She felt like her heart had stopped.
“No... He just left.” The Captain felt an enormous guilt wash over him.
The Princess struggled to her feet, going to the balcony to look down the side of the castle toward the landing pads. His cruiser was indeed gone and there were three other smaller Imperial vessels there instead, “But... what are those??” She gulped, feeling her heart in her throat and her tears rising.
“They came down shortly after he left. Their lead commander said that he wanted to be sure you were safe before he and his men left for home.” He took the note out of his pocket, “He left this for you...”
She turned around to face him, eyes overflowing with tears and driving that guilt further through him. She took the note with shaking hands and unfolded it, praying that he had simply written a note stating he had to go but would return to her soon.
“My Princess, your captain is correct, though I wish he were not. I do not belong here. I never will belong here, much as this time with you has made me wish otherwise. It is time for me to wake from this dream and come back to my reality. To do what it is that I must with my life. For you to do the same with yours. I wish you every happiness and safety. I pledge you my troops and protection, should you ever need them, and I will miss you more than you can imagine.”
“Oh... no...” Her legs gave out and she fell to the ground, weeping and clutching the note to her, “Oh no... No no no!” This pain... It was the worst she had ever felt. Her heart was breaking, her mind on fire with helplessness and longing. Please no... Come back to me.
“Princess... Can I... get you anything?” He couldn't think of anything else to say.
“Leave me alone...” She wailed, “Just go away!!”
He hesitated only for a moment and then left her there to cry. For the entire day she wouldn't take any visitors and wouldn't acknowledge any knock at her door. The Imperial pilots that had come down to the tarmac simply sat together atop one of the ships, patiently waiting. In the morning that followed they were the only people she allowed to see her. Their commander went into her chamber, leaving the other two to stand guard outside.
Shilne was saddened by the expression on her face. She looked horribly upset rather than just injured and she was shaking all over. He bowed to her.
“Ashio ka nai, Princess.”
“Hello...” She gulped, sniffling.
“Are you all right?” He asked gently.
“No...” She couldn't even look directly at him. He watched her lip quiver as she fought back her tears. “Where... did he go?”
“I could not know. There is one thing that he keeps well to himself and that is where he goes for his time alone. All he would say was that he was going on his vacation and then he ordered us to return home... What happened, Princess? You are looking as poorly as my King sounded when he left... Please do not take offense.”
She nodded, “I don't.” She hugged herself. “He... I...” She stopped.
“Shhtt...” He took her back to the sofa to sit down and brought her a glass of water from the pitcher on the room's console.
“Thank you.” She took a long drink, “Please sit.”
He settled beside her after removing his sword and resting it nearby. “Did he do something improper?” He asked. “Is that why everyone is so upset?”
She shook her head, “No. Not at all... It's all my fault, Shilne.” Her one hand clutched a kerchief and she brought it to her eye, “All my fault...”
“I cannot believe that.”
She took a moment to compose herself before continuing, “I told him that... I love him... and he said he loved me too.” She drew a hard breath. “And I kissed him...”
“Nnh?? That should have made him rather happy I would think!”
“It seemed to... but my defense team was spying and thought he was doing something to me that he shouldn't and... the captain shot him, knocked him out...” She gulped again, “And I had my wound open again when I tried to protect him so they sedated me... When I woke up he was gone... I didn't want him to go, Shilne. I wanted him to stay.” Her tears came back again, “Can't you find him?”
“I cannot. I wish I could do that for you. He made it quite clear that this was none of my business. Believe me, that has never stopped me before! That is why I am still here. I wanted to be sure you were all right before we left... There is not much that I can do other than to try and deal with what he is going through when he returns home. It may be one of your months before that happens though... What did he write to you, if I may ask?”
“That he didn't belong here even though he wished that he did. That he had to stop living in a dream and live in reality... and that he would miss me.”
“You think this is your fault? I suspect that it is the fault of your captain who has been berating him since his arrival and a good amount of confusion that he must be suffering from all the emotion that came up so suddenly. My king may not seem it, but he does have a great depth of emotion. He has struggled with this over the years.”
She nodded. “You seem to know him well.” She had another long drink and wiped a few more tears from her red eyes.
“I should. I have been with him since I was ten universal cycles. He raised me.”
“Really?” She looked up to him now.
“Please will you try to contact him? Just try?” She was desperate to reach him before he married.
“I will do my best.”
“If he does decide he will never see me again... please take care of him.”
“Of course, highness... For not only is he the one who raised me and who is my commander... He is also my best friend in life. He is like an older brother.”
She sighed and nodded, “I am sorry to get you involved in this.”
“Ehnn... It is not any difficulty. I am glad to be part of it. I am just sorry that it is becoming rougher for you.” He sighed, “If I may be so bold, you look like you are in need of a hug, highness.”
“I am.” She came and settled into his arms, hugging him and crying all over again. “I miss him so much...” She wept.
Shilne sighed and held her, his heart sore for this girl's pain. At least he knew now what was happening. His king had been given the edge of everything he had always so deeply wished for and then was confronted with a harsh dose of reality. And this little Princess that he had terrorized over the years was now able to see beyond that, was in love with him and wanted him back. His friend and king must be in a horrible state. He started to think of how he might find him and let him know that the Princess wanted him to come back to her.
She calmed in a while and had the castle staff bring them lunch. She was a charming young woman though battered both physically and emotionally. He wondered what he could do about this, but knew it was not going to be much. Perhaps his king would come to his senses soon and come back to gather his hard-won Princess.
The captain came by shortly, not very happy that the Imperial King had been replaced by the Imperial High Commander in his Princess' chamber. Shilne scowled at his entry and rose to meet him, hand on the hilt of his sword.
“What do you want?” He asked.
“To talk to the Princess. What business is it of yours? Are you her new self-appointed bodyguard? Kinda a strange thing for a blue to be doing.”
“She did not invite you to enter and is too kind to tell you of your rudeness. You should mind your manners.”
“It's all right Shilne.” She sighed, “I don't want any more arguing. What is on your mind, Kirin?”
“I'm trying to find out when they're all leaving.”
“They will stay as long as they like.” She frowned, “Please stop being so hostile. Shilne and his men are just trying to be sure I'm okay before they go.”
“It's none of their business.”
“It's not business... It's kindness. Stop it right now!” She fumed at him and surprised Shilne with her sudden anger. He smiled proudly for her and watched the insolent young captain take note of her tone.
“Fine... I'll be happy when the last of you goes back to your own side of the galaxy.”
“Granted. And I will look forward to speaking with less abrasive people.” He smiled and was glad to see the captain leave. “Princess... I will do what I can to find my king for you. I know him well and I believe that this is not what he wants of things between the two of you. Wherever he is now, he is certainly deeply wounded by this separation. He must believe that this is best for you somehow. I have my hopes that he will come to his senses and return to you. Trust the gods to make the right thing come of all this.”
She nodded, “In a way I do. I just hope that the right thing is the thing that I want.”
He laid a hand on her little shoulder, “Keep your courage.”
“Mmh hmm... Thank you for staying.”
“I was glad to. If you will excuse me, highness.” He took his hand off her and bowed.
“Goodbye, Shilne. Safe journey.”
“Gods keep you, Princess.” He stood again, bowed, then turned heel and departed.
For two more days she was desolate—wouldn't speak to anyone but Shilne when he would contact the minister to reach her. He had no luck in finding his friend the King and had a look of great remorse upon his face at telling her this.
“I will keep trying.” He assured.
Her friends and those who had come to work around her and care for her feared that the king's note contained some threat of renewed attack on the planet, but she wouldn't release it to them. She would just read it over again and again. It seemed that she was trying to find something in the words there.
For a week she felt that she would die, for how horribly she felt inside. Her heart ached with loneliness for him. She felt as though he had been torn from her. Her friends tried their best to cheer her, but it was no use. Every moment he was in her mind, in her heart. Every moment she thought of their kiss, of the warmth of being in his arms, how gentle he had been and how wonderful she had felt... How much she loved him... The sound of his deep voice as he spoke of his love for her.
“Vikoa...” She sighed and looked up to the blue skies above her, praying that he would return, that he would take her up in his arms and ask her to marry him. “I love you so much. Come back... Please come back.”
Sergeant Pailo came and brought cards to try and get her to play for a while. He was trying so hard that she relented and sat down to play with him even though she didn't really feel like being around anyone.
“So... Ummm... How's your leg?” He asked.
“It stings a little bit now and then.”
“At least it's getting better, right?”
“Yes. It is.”
“Pailo, you don't have to try and talk to me. I'm really not very good company right now.” She sighed and lay down her cards.
“I know... But I want to make you feel better.” He shrugged. “Princess?”
“Did you really kiss him?”
“Yes.” She nodded and felt that lump rising in her throat again.
“Do you... love him?”
“Yes.” She sniffled and wiped a tear from her cheek.
“Is he coming back?”
“I don't know. I don't think so... He's going to get married.” She put a hand to her mouth to keep from sobbing.
“I don't think he will.” He offered.
“Oh no? Why not?” She picked up her glass of water and took a gulp.
“He loves you.”
“I... I don't know if that matters.”
“I think that's all that matters really.” He put his cards down, “Sometimes you just have to trust what you feel.”
“You're not going to sit here and tell me how stupid I'm being?” She sniffled.
“No... I don't think you're being stupid. I think there are just some things that people don't want to see.”
“Like the fact that he has changed. You see it.”
“I do. Do you? Really?”
“Mmh hmm.” He nodded.
“But Kirin just says that-”
“Don't listen to him.” He interjected, waving his hand in dismissal, “He has your best interest at heart but... Well... He sees things in a very black and white way. Kirin only sees that he was our enemy and all of that. My guess is that the couple years without his father around gave him enough room to make a change for the better. I mean, we all sat around a table together, he was very calm and open to talking. Nothing like any of us remember... and he could have done just about anything he wanted while he was here including kidnapping you... His people haven't even said word one to us for all that time. If it's a hoax, it's an awfully long running one.” He smiled a little.
“Do you think he'll come back?”
“I dunno... I saw him leave...”
“He gave Kirin the note and ran off to his ship... The look on his face...”
“What was it?” She leaned forward.
“Lets just say he was reallllly upset.”
“No... Sad upset... Did you tell him how you feel?”
“Yes.” She nodded.
“What did he say?”
“That he loves me too. But that's all we got to say before Kirin shot him.”
“Well, see? Everything will be fine. I bet after he cools off he'll be back. There's no way he's gonna go through with that arranged marriage. The guy's been love sick over you for years in one way or another.”
She bit her lip, thinking hard about what to do. “Thank you for telling me this. I feel like everyone has been afraid to talk to me. And the Alliance just wants to yell at me and tell me what to do.”
He nodded, “It's my job to say things other people should.” And again he smiled. “Just be patient.”
“How did you ever get to be so wise?” She smiled at last.
“Well... Lets just say that the past few years here have been a learning experience.” He rolled his eyes and laughed.
“Do you miss Balta? Do you want to go back?”
“I miss it there a little… but I'm happy here. Hope you don't mind my sticking around.”
“Not at all. I've always been grateful that you came here to help.”
“Yes... It is.”
That evening she made her way slowly up behind the castle to the cemetery on the little hill there. The path was lit by solar powered lights which were just enough to guide the way. She came to the place where her parents were laid to rest beside one another and looked at the marker there with a sob rising in her throat.
“Mama, papa... I wish you were here to give me your advice…” She knelt down clumsily to say her prayers for them.
I miss you both so much... I hope you know I'm all right now. That I'm safe. You'd never believe it, daddy. He saved my life. He's so changed now... and I love him so much. I think you know that though. I think you probably know all of this. I hope I'm not boring you.
She smiled a little despite her broken heart for their being gone from her, “Just tell me what to do... What should I do?”
Suddenly she remembered standing on the balcony with him, watching the sun rise on the morning of the day he had left... She had looked at him for a long while, her heart overflowing as she watched his calm expression, enjoying the beauty that nature was showing them. She remembered being afraid of letting him go, and how her heart felt at peace with him there. How everything had changed so completely… Well, at least in many ways, if not all…
How do you tell someone you've been fighting for years that you truly love them? How do you say that to someone who you've said horrible things to? Who has said horrible things to you too, in the past... How do you tell everyone that cares about you that you are in love with your enemy? That you want more than anything to be his wife? To feel him holding you in his arms... And what would he say? He doesn't need me. He's going to marry some Princess from a world I've never heard of. They're probably a wealthy kingdom. And she's very pretty... I wish you would ask me just once more. I would say yes. I would, I would... I love you so much.
She pressed her hands over her heart, biting her lip as she thought there in the dark.
I never really knew you before. All of the Princes that they've been trying to pair me with are nothing compared to you. You care so much about your people. I would have never imagined it. You care so much about me. I care so much about you. So what should I do?
She sighed and opened her eyes, looking upon the words etched into the stone before her. There was her answer.
“Follow your dreams, follow your heart, for untold wonders await you.” She said it aloud, “That's right... Our people would have never gotten anywhere otherwise. It may be hard, but the reward can be great. That's what they always said.”
She managed to get up with a little help from her parents' headstone, leaning on it as she clumsily rose to her feet again. She sighed, brushing a few stray bits of grass off her dress before turning to walk back to the castle. She looked back over her shoulder.
“Good night. I love you both... Wish me luck!”
She couldn't live with not knowing how he truly felt, what he really wanted... and so that very night, she decided she had to do something foolish again... She stole a cruiser, piloting it away from her home world. She had no idea of how she would find him but knew deep inside of herself that she would if she tried... if she wanted to badly enough. She headed back toward Kyerst, thinking and thinking how she might reach him. He really had given her plenty of the information that she needed to find him. In their talks he had told her so many things that he had told no one else. Vidon... She had to find it.
Once inside of the Imperial borders she hailed anyone who would listen to her shaky trade language, asking for Shilne. He appeared before her on the monitor within minutes.
“Princess. What is this?” He smiled, “You are dressed as one of us again! Shouldn't you be sleeping instead?”
“I can't sleep now... Shilne... Can I ask a favor of you?”
“Of course, of course. What is it?”
“Can you please make sure that I have safe passage through your territory? It's the fastest way...I know this is out of the ordinary, that you don't allow our vessels in your borders but...”
“Say no more. I will advise the military to let you pass safely. You have an idea of where to search?”
“Yes, I think I do.” She nodded.
“Good. Then let me help you a little on your journey, if you will.”
“I will gladly take any help I can get.” She smiled.
“Firstly, you do not have enough fuel to make this journey. I suggest that you take on supplies at Kyerst. I will inform them to expect you and supply you adequately for a long journey. Secondly, I will make that journey shorter by passing you the coordinates and passes to several skip points. Thirdly, I will pass you the coordinates that I have tracked down today of where he left our range. He may be cloaked for privacy... but I have my own little trick to keep track of him just in case. Unfortunately it's not quite so quick to track especially at such a range... If you tell him that I gave you this information I will deny it with my last breath!” He grinned.
“I understand.” She smiled back, “Your secret is safe with me.”
“I feel better now. I am transmitting this information now.”
“Thank you, Shilne. I am so grateful.”
“Ah, you will just make my ego grow... I am sending a small flight group out to escort you since this first skip point is close to our eastern port. It would not be good for you to go there unescorted, even with my instruction to the military to let you pass. Please do not be upset by their assistance.”
“I wish you much luck, Princess. You may yet make the uniform you wear into the truth.”
“You do not know. That uniform ranks you as an imperial queen.”
“My prayers go with you... but for now, I must go elsewhere! Excuse me.”
“Excused. Be safe, Shilne.”
“Ashio ka nai, Princess.”
The data started coming in to her console. In a few hours, her escort arrived and hailed her to follow them closely. They sent her through the first skip point and on to a new escort that asked her to get some sleep. They would lock on to her and take her along. She was deeply grateful for the rest and company on her trip. Back at Kyerst she was greeted by Shilne's men who stuffed her ship with fuel cells, food and water.
“You are now ready to make your best attempt at this journey. We will not be able to help you from here.” The lead commander told her quite seriously.
“I understand and I am so grateful for your assistance.”
“Ashio ka nai, Princess.”
“Ashio ka nai, Commander.”
He smiled approvingly on her before yanking the hatch down so she could seal herself in and start to make her way out to the uncharted territories of the Northern Arm. From there on, she would only have that last point to guide her and trajectory. When she finally reached that place she said a short prayer before changing out fuel cells and continuing onward into the unknown.On to 34