Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Witch and The Twin Princesses : Part 1

"The next time both of you sneak out into the forest again, I'll make sure you will never have another trip to Samuel's palace-- ever again!"
And he sent them away.

Taking the stairs to their bedroom chamber, Aurora took off her earplugs hidden beneath her long hair. Astrid did as well. "I'm so glad we have long hair! This time he really has a lot to say, don't you think?" said Aurora. "Yes. I didn't even expect he would bring up Sam's name." Astrid smiles and opened the door for her twin sister. Earplugs couldn’t fully block their father’s voice, and the sound of their brother’s name being spoken of was clearly articulated anyway.
"But do you think he would really do it?" Aurora asked, looking out the window, viewing the scene of greenery, thinking of their brother, Samuel, and his wife as well as their little prince, far away from them.
"If he'd do it, I guess we have no other choice other but to bring him here." Astrid replied, already sitting on the bed, stares at a portrait hanging on the wall. Aurora, her, and  Sam together.  She misses Sam. Both of them do. They exchange letters often, but it is never the same. Samuel was the one who taught them to hunt, to defend themselves, to know the dangers. And she's pretty much sure Samuel misses them too.

Realizing Astrid's longing expression, Aurora sits next to her, takes her hand, and suggests; "Let's place banana skins in front of father's chamber this time."

The midnight wind brushes against his skin, making him shiver and sat closer to the fire. His friend, also a soldier, looked around, aware of any creatures that might run into them in the forest. “I really don’t understand why our King won’t let the princesses go out to hunt,” said he. His friend looked at him, replied, “The exact same reason why we’re here guarding the castle’s nearby surroundings.”
“I don’t understand that either.”
Sighing, the friend sat down close to the fire. “Don’t you see something’s wrong lately? ”
Earning a shook from his friend’s head, he continued while looking around. “Hear anything?”
“” The other one looked around as well.
“That’s exactly the point. It’s awfully silent in the forest, man. You can’t hear the animals. Only the trees.”
Realizing the truth in what his friend said, he looked up. “You reckon something’s happening?”
“I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure they stopped making sounds because they’re afraid. Two days ago I heard a growl, a loud, scary, ugly growl coming from further inside of the forest. It scared the hell out of me.”
His friend looked up again.
Noticing the silence between them, he continued, “I felt as if whatever it was, the thing that made that sound knew that I was there and I heard it, and it felt like as if it wanted to eat me.”

“No, I’m really telling you the truth, man.  I ran as fast as I can but I could still feel like that thing’s behind me. It was scary.. I couldn’t forget that feeling..”

“That fear…I couldn’t even scream. I just wanted to find a place to hide—“

“What is it, man??”
“, damn it!!”

The man ran away quick, leaving him speechless. What was that all about? He looked up where his friend looked at before. Trembling before the creature before his eyes, he was nailed to the ground as fear consumes him.

 And the same growl  from two days ago was heard again.

And this time, he failed to escape.


 "Aurora, wake up!" Astrid shook her twin sister awake as bells were rung non-stop, replacing the usual sound of birds chirping in the morning. "It's so loud!! Astrid, what's happening?!" Aurora protested in annoyance, but her question wasn't answered. She followed Astrid to the window and heard soldiers shouting;

"Find the beast!"
"Take your weapons, men! This ain't going to be pretty!"
"Make sure no one leaves the forest until we kill the beast!!!"

One shout after another, sending signs of a mixture of excitement, eagerness and fear big enough to reach the twins. "Astrid...what's going on..? It looks like..."

"War." Astrid said coldly.

"They mentioned beast, Astrid. What beast?"
Astrid shook her head. Slowly she walked towards the bed, her fingers tracing the carved wooden footboard.  Aurora understood the silence.
"Is that why the forest became so quiet and all the animals disappeared?" 
Astrid turned around to face her sister. "Maybe. We can't ask father about this. He'll surely send us back to this room. This is really strange. I feel...something..uneasy."

Aurora smirked. "It is called curiosity, dear sister. Sam taught us so many things about the forest and the creatures inside it, but he never mentioned any beast. It's natural for us to be curious. After all, the forest IS our forbidden playground."
Smiling back in agreement, Astrid spoke. "We need to sneak out. But how? I'm pretty much sure father ordered some of his soldiers to look for any sign of us trying to interfere."
Silence fills the air for a moment, until Aurora walks towards the door in a calm manner with a sly smile plastered on her face.
"Where are you going?"

"Astrid, we're going to play dress-up."

"Astrid, you walk like a girl!" Aurora nudged her sister using the hilt of Sam's sword. "Shut up, Aurora! I can't believe we're wearing Sam's clothes! They smell really old!" Astrid protested beneath the black hooded cloak that Samuel used to wear for hunting. "It's because they are old, Astrid. Now try to walk like a man before someone notices that we're both holding the Royal Sword!" Aurora whispered. Sam left three swords at the castle after he got married, and luckily, the swords are still as sharp as before and his armors fit the twins just nicely to deceive the soldiers who are busy running here and there.
Aurora enjoyed herself, wearing armors, holding a sword, stepping on the dirt and not having to mind her posture when she walks. Her boyish attitude often got her scolded by their tutors, but also often enough for her to play pranks on them. Placing banana peels is only one of her "kindest" pranks.

"Hurry up, men! We'll start hunting by sundown!" the general shouted.
Astrid looked around, amazed by the rare sight of chaos in the castle compound. What caused this chaos is not something light. Noticing something, she pulled Aurora; "Come here for a moment."
Both of them hide behind a huge stack of straw before Astrid earns a questioning look from Aurora. "Listen."

The men standing nearby were chatting.
"It was huge. He said he heard him scream but he was too afraid to go back. The creature was hideous and huge."
"And fast."
"It probably have eaten many more before last night."
"I heard the beast attacked one of the villages in the west road and it was horrible. It might come here next."
"That beast might harm the people in the castle."

"What if it knows we're going to kill it tonight?"

Astrid listened attentively for any details about the occurrence.  She pulled her hood lower and turned to Aurora. "The beast killed one of our men last night, and probably a lot of people before that."
"What beast? What kind of beast??"
Astrid shook her head. "I don't know. But if it can attack a village and kill a lot of people, then it must be something big and fast. There were no traces found, however. I wonder why.."

"You're welcomed to stay here like a rock while I prefer to go and find out about it myself." Aurora walks away in excitement, too fast for Astrid to catch her. They reach the stable and prepare their horses, ready to sneak out through the secret gate surrounded by thick bushes. They have Sam to thank for that. "Ooh.. I wish I have my arrows. This sword is heavy." Astrid sighed. Aurora chuckled. "Not a problem." She walked into one corner where stacks of straw are placed, and she buries her hand in it, trying to find something. Astrid watches her with a strange, questioning look on her face.
Aurora paused for a while and broke the silence. "Oi, you might as well help me over here."
"What in the world are you looking for??" Astrid asked, trying to search whatever her sister was searching for in the stacks of straw. Suddenly her hand found something hard, and she pulled it out. Bow and arrows. New. Lots of arrows.
"A-ha! You found them! And so did I!" Aurora pulled out another set.
"When did you--"
"They have been here for two months. I had them made and hid them here just in case father takes away our weapons. I asked the blacksmith to design arrows that have a longer range of travel. I tried one of these arrows. They're really, really fast and look---"
Aurora took one of the arrows, and slightly turned the silver metal below the tip. The tip opened up into a lotus form where each tip is sharp enough for the arrow to rip the skin and muscles. One may be enough to kill, and they have a lot of them.
"Wounds caused by these little guys takes a very long time to heal. I planned to present them to you on our birthday, behind father's back of course."
Astonished at the cruelty that the arrows possess, Astrid stared at her twin. "We look the same..but Aurora, you are one hell of a barbaric princess, you know that."

Smiling, Aurora settled down on her horse and replied, "Yeah, I've known that since my first kill in the forest . Now let's go before father finds out that the ones sleeping on our bed are pillows and clothes."

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