|Series||Crossfire by Pixichi|
|Previous||Crossfire, Chapter 25|
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The four travellers had made their way from Bower Lake back to Bowerstone Market, and had just started up the cobblestone path through the fancier neighborhood, just outside of Castle Fairfax. After a near death encounter with the balverines the night before, neither Connie nor Reaver were in any mood to stay for the gypsy moon festival. Instead, Connie had suggested that they go and have a look at the castle that was destined to be hers soon.
"You know, its so strange." Connie commented, walking along.
"What is it love?" Reaver asked.
"Well, all I did was save Albion from Lord Lucien. I understand why the people would feel indebted to me, and I know that I'm a great hero, but it still makes no sense as to why I should all of a sudden be their monarch."
"Why not? Its not as if Lucien himself was a king. He was simply an old loon from a well to do family. What's the difference between a nutty old man ruling them verses a heroic champion? Personally, I would feel much better with the hero if I were a poor smelly peasant in need of a ruler-which of course, I am not." Connie smirked at Reaver's comment.
"Still as conceited as ever I see." She nudged him.
"When your as wonderous as I, you have truly earned that right my fair lady." The rogue replied. The couple continued to walk along the road that led up to the fine marble steps of Castle Fairfax. Connie touched one of the tall white pillars with the palm of her hand, taking it all in.
"Its so huge." She marveled.
"Well its intended purpose is to house the most powerful person in Albion." Reaver cooly remarked, glancing down towards the persistent pup at his boots. Troublesome was nipping and growling at a stray leaf, dancing upon the ground in the early summer breeze. The pirate couldn't help but grin. After the recent wolf scare, smuggling Troublesome into the city had proven a difficult task, as Reaver's satchel could more than attest to. The once elegant black leather was now riddled with holes and bite marks. Reaver smiled at the feisty tike, as she turned her attention to an annoyed Lance, playfully chewing at his ears and paws. The older, more mature animal got up with a snort and trotted back towards Connie. Reaver wondered if Troublesome's pack had been the same wolves that everyone was talking about. If his theory was correct, about the killer wolves being rabid, then Troublesome's pack and family were probably dead. A creature could only live so long without being able to drink water. You are one lucky girl. I suppose we never will know just what happened for you to be left behind like that. But at least your alive and healthy. He chuckled warmly at his tender thoughts. When was the last time that he had felt this carefree? When was the last time he had ever owned a pet? It would have been Archer would it not? The memory sliced his heart like a sharp blade. Connie knocked upon the door of Castle Fairfax, the heavy banging rattling him from his painful past.
"Connie? Why on earth are you knocking on the door of your own castle dear?" He asked, annoyed.
"The deed that the sheriff gave me stated that a butler would be living here, and that he would answer the door when I moved in. I would like to take a look around." Reaver shrugged as Connie knocked again to announce her presence. Finally, a short man with jet black hair opened the door.
"Madam Remswood I presume?" Connie nodded, and flashed the deed to the castle. The butler bowed and motioned her inside.
"My name is Jasper. I shall be your attendant from now on. If there is anything that you wish of me, simply let me know." He greeted warmly. Connie entered along with Reaver, Troublesome, and Lance. The man smiled as he stepped aside and bowed before her. Connie was still clearly getting used to the idea of people bowing before her and treating her like royalty.
"Its very nice to meet you Jasper. This is my fiancée' Reaver, and our dogs, Lance and Troublesome." Jasper nodded towards the canines, and graciously bowed before Reaver. Reaver was clearly much more comfortable with the groveling than Connie was.
"Pleasure to meet you Master Reaver. Lance. Troublesome." Connie walked slowly around the gigantic castle, awed by the sheer size of the place. That's when it hit her. I have been in here before, it was just so long ago, I had forgotten just how big it is inside. A small contented smile curved across her lips as she remembered her dear sisters wish. Our wish did come true Rose! I will be living here from now on. Oh how I wish that you could be here too! A tear threatened to drip down her cheek, but Connie shook the feelings of loss and sorrow back down into the recesses of her heart, and continued to look around. Reaver too, was stunned by how large and beautiful the castle was. It hadn't occurred to him before, but with Connie as queen, he too, would be royalty. Somehow, the realization of power did not delight him as much as he had expected. He was just happy to be with Connie. As he continued to walk around, it suddenly occurred to him that Troublesome was no longer lagging behind him. Reaver whirled around, looking for his new pet. He looked over at Lance who was loyalty following Connie, and towards the butler, but the small black wolf was nowhere to be seen. Reaver casually walked over to Connie, before whispering frantically.
"Connie, have you seen Troublesome?" Connie stopped walking and looked at him. His eyes were wide with worry.
"No I haven't. Are you sure that she followed you inside?" Connie asked.
"I'm positive! She hasn't left my side since I found her. But I turned my back on her for two minutes and now she's gone!" He replied. Connie grinned mischievously.
"Maybe she didn't like being stuffed into that satchel of yours." She teased.
"This isn't the time for jokes Connie! Troublesome is missing! What part of that do you find humorous!?" Connie stared at Reaver, surprised by his sudden outburst.
"I was just kidding..." Jasper walked over, distracted by the commotion.
"Pardon the intrusion, but is everything alright?" He asked, confused. Reaver shook his head.
"No, everything is most certainly not! Troublesome is lost somewhere in this bloody castle!" He roared.
"Not a problem master. I shall search for her immediately." The butler bowed and then rushed off to look for the missing pup. Connie continued to look at Reaver. He was acting weird, she gathered that he liked Troublesome, but it had shocked her when he had decided to keep her. Now he was acting crazy because she was lost. That's when she finally realized: Reaver wasn't acting weird at all, he was acting like a normal person! Has he really changed that much? He used to be a heartless killer, now he's actually concerned for the welfare of a tiny wolf cub. Not until later would she realize that it was indeed she, who had transformed the blackened heart of the Hero of Skill. She had nurtured the tiny sprout of light, and unbeknownst to her, it had began to grow and flourish. The man known as Victor, was beginning to live again after almost 300 years.
"Master Reaver, I found her. She's in the kitchen." The butler returned, a flustered look on his face. Reaver wasted no time in darting off towards the castles giant kitchen. Troublesome was downstairs, in the larder, which was in ruins. Purple splatters of blueberry pies decorated the floor and walls, as well as the pups maw and three of her paws. Vegetables lay strewn around her, and broken wine bottles added to the new layer of sticky puddles on the floor. Connie gasped at the mess, as Jasper gave her a bemused look.
"Do not fret Madam, I shall have this place cleaned up in a jiffy." The helpful butler declared. Reaver ran to the messy pups side and picked her up off the wet and sloppy floor. He hesitated, looking lovingly into the little face and the deep wild eyes, before embracing her, dirty paws and all. The little cub grumbled lovingly in her throat, content in her masters arms.
"You gave me a scare Troublesome, you had better not do that again!" Reaver put the baby down and scolded. The black wolf put her tiny tail between her legs and shook at his harsh words. Reaver's frown faded as he reached down and patted the soft fur. "Don't fear me sweet one. I was only worried about you." He crooned. Troublesome yipped happily as Lance walked over and began to lick the pie filling off of her. Connie, Reaver and Jasper all laughed at the sight of the two creatures paw-deep in pies and other food items.
"I guess dinner might take a bit longer than I had originally thought..." Connie remarked.
"Oh have no fear my sweet! I shall go and check my ship. I belive that there are quite a few foodstuffs still on board." Troublesome yipped and looked up at him longingly. Reaver rolled his eyes and picked up the pup.
"I'll be back shortly. Tatty-bye for now." He smiled at her before putting her back down. Reaver turned on his heel and strode out of the room, but the frantic pup let out a tiny howl and trailed after him. Reaver looked back to her and then patted his thigh. "You want to come along? Fine, but do try to keep up will you?" Connie kissed him as he headed back towards the great hall, Troublesome following close behind.
"Bye Reaver." Jasper walked down the steps and into the cluttered larder.
"Once you are moved in m'lady, I would be more than happy to help you with the arrangements." Jasper spoke, reaching for the mop and bucket.
"What for?" Connie asked.
"Well, for your coronation of course! And, if I may be so bold, it would not be a bad idea to start planning for your wedding as well." The young man explained.
"That's true, Jasper. But Reaver and I haven't even gotten around to setting a date for the wedding. We only got engaged yesterday." Connie replied.
"Oh my! I had no idea, congratulations Madam." Connie blushed.
"Thanks. That's really nice of you to say. Your the first person to hear about it actually."
"I am truly honored." The butler smiled gleefully, and went back to mopping the sticky floor. Connie left Jasper to clean up the larder and continued with her personal tour of Castle Fairfax. Lance followed close beside her, grateful to be rid of the small persistent pup for the time being. Connie stopped at the balcony and she caught her breath at the stunning view of Fairfax Gardens. Lance came up behind and butted her arm, squeezing his thick head between her hip and elbow. Connie smiled down at him, his blue eyes glistening with happiness.
"It has been a long time since we were by ourselves hasn't it boy? So much has changed in such a short while." The last of her sentence trailed off as her eyes were again captured by the lush garden, and the setting sun in the distance. Connie stood there, slowly stroking Lance, lost in thought, lost in time. Her mind was racing, but it was a calming feeling. Like she had finally reached the end of her long road of travel. She now understood why the people of Albion wanted her to be their queen. It was more than just pure ability, it was destiny.
"M'lady? Are you alright? You've been standing out here for quite some time, can I get you anything?" Jasper's voice rang from behind her. Connie jumped and looked over her shoulder at the butler.
"What time is it?"
"It is almost midnight Madam." He replied. Connie looked out over the balcony at the darkness that had somehow come while she was lost in her thoughts and memories.
"I think that I'm going to go out and look for Reaver. Its getting really late, and he should have come back hours ago." Jasper bowed.
"Very well, but be careful out there m'lady." Connie nodded and ran down the hallway and out the door of the castle. She knew that something was very wrong.
Connie rushed out into the dark streets of Bowerstone. Lance was still following her, picking up on his mistresses distress. Lance whined as he looked into her eyes.
"Come on boy, we're going to find them." Connie looked around for the nearest town guard. She finally found one and approached him.
"Yes? What seems to be the problem?" The guard asked her.
"My fiancée' went out to get dinner but he hasn't returned yet. His dog is gone too. I need help in finding him." Connie replied. The guard stroked his beard and pondered her plight.
"Ok, what did the bloke look like?"
"He's about this high, he has brown hair and a small patch of hair on his chin. He wore a white and black suit out tonight. His dog is solid black with a moon shaped scar on her forehead." Connie told the guard.
"Wait a second! Is it the same man that I saw with you earlier this week?"
"Yes, that's him!" Connie nodded, growing excited.
"Hmmm, nope. Haven't seen him. But I'm sure that he'll turn up sooner or later. Don't worry. Have yourself a nice evening." He answered her before walking off into the dark alleyway. Connie huffed and walked down towards the docks.
"Lazy town guards...If you want something done right..." She muttered to Lance. The Reaver II was still in the port, and there didn't appear to be anyone on board. Connie decided to take a look around the ship, just in case. The ship rocked as she and Lance jumped aboard. There was a light flickering from the master suite down below, so Connie decided to go and check to see if Reaver was indeed inside. But as she entered the cabin, Connie was greeted by a shocking sight. There was blood all over the walls. The furniture had been broken and the bed was soaked in it. The sight alone made the usually brave heroine want to scream. But strangely, there were no bodies. Connie started to run back to the guards to report a possible murder, but something stopped her. It was a pulling on her gown. Connie looked down and saw Troublesome, and the young woman was relived to see that the blood wasn't coming from her, but she was also terrified that it might be Reaver's. Troublesome whined and growled as she tugged even harder on Connie's gown. Lance jumped between them and nuzzled and licked the youth. The two canines then simultaneously directed their attention to the back of the suite, to the desk. Connie cautiously walked over and saw Reaver's Dragonstomper .48. She knew that he would never leave it just laying around. Troublesome began to whimper again uncontrollably. Lance nuzzled her to try and calm her. Then, the small black pup ran out of the suite with an aggervated woof, Lance trailing followed after them, as quickly as her legs could carry her. She had to find Reaver.