|Series||RECKLESS by Pixichi|
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They say that there's no rest for the wicked. But what they never tell you is that also means that there is no rest for the righteous either. It's a long, uphill battle of cat and mouse, good and evil and it never ends. For every villian you apprehend, for every monster you disembowel, two more seem to take its place. The job of upholding the peace and obeying the law is never over, just as true for the truely wicked and terrible among humans, we are all fighting to come to some sort of conclusion that is no closer to either side now than it was one thousand years ago. The battle of good and evil will never end. Such is the story of Victoria, a young rebel, fighting to learn the truth.
Victoria stood poised in the center of the arena, her pistol drawn and her cutlass ablaze with Archon energy. She stood with her back towards the wall, which in most cases, meant that you where trapped. But Victoria was of a strategic mind, and she was also an extremely skilled fighter. The creature saw her and lunged with a bloodcurdling roar.
"Wait for it. Wait for it..." Victoria whispered quietly to herself. Then, she dodged at that final second before the balverine was upon her. The monster slammed hard into the arena wall, and Victoria seized this oppertunity to pump the creature full of lead. The balverine fell flat on its face, the blood oozing out of its shattered skull. Victoria looked around for more, but when she was sure that there were none, she cockily started to put away her pistol and her cutlass.
"Look out!" A voice cried. Victoria looked around behind her just in time to see a balverine get a bullet square between the eyes. Victoria looked around for the source of her savior, but saw no one.
"Hello? Hello?!" She called out into the darkness of the arena. By chance she just happened to look up and see the figure of a person standing atop the arena, with a pistol in their hand, aimed where the balverine had once been, still smoking. Victoria couldn't make out who it was, but she decided to thank them.
"Thank you for that. You saved my life you know." The figure spoke in a low and almost whisperlike voice.
"Let's hope you make it a life worth saving..." Then the figure dissapated into smoke, and the whole of the darkening arena in which Victoria was standing dissapeared into smoke as well. Victoria stood amongst the smoke and the darkness calling out to the source of the unknown voice.
"No wait! Please come back, heeeyyyy!" Suddenly, the voice returned.
"Torri? Torri? Hello? Are you alright?" But it was a voice she already knew.
Victoria's eyes fluttered open and she saw the face of her traveling maidservent, Andrea. Andrea was speaking to her and looking very concerned.
"Uh...Andrea...I had the dream again..." Victoria sat up and rubbed her head. She took a moment to take in her surroundings. The two girls where in Mistpeak valley on the sunny side, and Victoria had been sleeping on her blanket in her makeshift camp. Andrea was keeping watch for the bandits and wolves that seemed to pop up just about everywhere in the valley. Andrea was still on the alert, even as she spoke to Victoria.
"The dream in which your fighting in an arena?"
"Yes." Victoria nodded, still holding her throbbing head as she did so.
"Who was it again that saved you?"
"I don't know. I can never make out the full picture in my dream. I don't even know if they are a man or a woman. They could be a talking hobbe for all I know." Andrea smiled, and then a laugh forced its way past her lips.
"What's so funny?" Victoria asked annoyed.
"A talking hobbe!? Thats just hilarious Torri. I mean, I could just imagine a little bugger of a hobbe shooting a pistol and saving you from a balverine attack. It would be like that story, the frog prince. Only you'd have to kiss an ugly dirty hobbe to turn him into the noble highwayman of your dreams...It's soooo romantic..."
"Its also a dream. Plus, I didn't say that it was a talking hobbe, Andrea. I said that it could be because I never get a clear look at my rescuer. Besides, what's all that about a hobbe turning into a highwayman. You're weird Andrea." Andrea just smiled at her friend.
"Hmmm, maybe I should become a writer. There's certainly a need for some good books to be written, what with all the rubbish that's being published nowadays." Victoria couldn't argue with her there. Albion was indeed in serious need of talented writers, and a story about a talking hobbe that magically transforms into a highwayman was definitely more interesting and entertaining than a story about the history of toenails, which was the book of the month in the neighboring Brightwall village. Victoria was just glad that she had never joined a book club, even when back at the castle. Victoria was what you would call a rogue. She had run away from her lavish life at Castle Fairfax with only a small sachel, her best friend Andrea, and her wolfdog Daisy. Back home, she had been subjected to the rules and poise of which she was expected to live up to, but she had never wanted that. She had always wanted to be a bandit, or a highwayman, or even a pirate. But all she ever did at the castle was wear dresses and learn to walk with a book on her head. No, Victoria wanted more then that. She dreamed about fighting in the Crucible, out in Westcliff. It was her dream to win and become known as a mighty warrior. She was a girl who wanted to do her own thing, in her own life. Sadly, no one understood that save Andrea. Andrea had always understood her. Victoria started to roll up her mat, her long blonde hair falling in front of her face. She quickly undid the crimson tie from around her wrist, and secured her hair back in the usual ponytail that held it. Andrea continued to be their lookout. The sound of paws on snow made Andrea jump for a second, but she quickly recodnized the black and white figure galloping closer in the distance. It was Daisy.
"Torri! Your dogs back." Andrea called to Victoria, who was still finishing up on clearing camp. Daisy came rushing in towards the girls, a dead rabbit clenched in her jaws. Victoria approached her loyal pet and tassled her long wavey fur.
"Great job Daisy! Ok, drop it!" The dog did so immediatly, which always seemed to surprise Andrea, because the dogs kills always looked so juicy and delicious. Andrea turned away as Victoria proceeded to gut and skin the rabbit.
"This one didn't even know what hit it. Your getting stealthier Daisy, good girl!" When the rabbit was skinned and gutted Andrea looked at her friend and asked.
"What do you think your brothers doing back at the castle? Do you think he's sent out a search party for you yet?" Victoria nodded with a scowl.
"If he paid even half as much attention to the dwellers as he does to me, they wouldn't be starving right now you know?" Andrea nodded agreeance.
"Your a grown woman, why can't he just leave you be and let you do your own thing?" Victoria rammed a stick into the rabbit, impaled it and set it above the campfire.
"When your royalty, being your own person just isn't an option. He's sent out gaurds to find me, and once they do, they'll drag me back to Castle Fairfax and I'll probably get grounded or have to work extra hard at learning French or some crazy childish punishment like that. Honestly I wish he would just hang me sometimes. At least in death I could be my own person." Victoria said and then spat a wad of phlem out onto the snow.
"Yeah, plus then you could haunt him!" Andrea added. Victoria looked up.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure that mothers already doing that for me. Logan hasn't slept well in weeks." Andrea nodded.
"I don't think your mother or your father would-" Andrea stopped when she saw Victoria's face turn pale.
"Torri, I'm sorry I forgot..."
"Please just don't go there Andrea. Please." Victoria sighed and turned her attention back to the cooking rabbit. Daisy plopped down next to Andrea and she started to pet her. Victorias mother had been the first hero queen of Albion, and some said the last, although Victoria had speculated for some time that she might be a hero herself. So had Walter, her teacher and mentor, and he had trained and tested her ceaslessly in the armory back at the castle. As for her father, she had never even met him. Walter had told her nothing about him, except that he was a worthless man, who had abandoned her brother, herself and their mother in their time of greatest need. Logan, her big brother and now king, had never even spoken of him when asked, even though he had known him and had him in his life before Victoria was even born. The crackling fire seared the rabbit and soon the smell of delicious roast meat filled the campsite. Neither Victoria or Andrea had spoken a word for over an hour, and once their meal was in front of them, they continued to eat in silence. Daisy was the only one to make a sound, constantly whining and barking for a handout, despite having been offered a third of the rabbit already. Finnaly Victoria spoke to Andrea.
"One rabbit is not going to be enough for the three of us. We haven't eaten all day."
"Did you check the sachel? There were two apples in their yesterday."
"We ate those for dinner yesterday. We haven't eaten a good meal in almost a week. I have about 40 gold on me, that should be enough for two hot meals and a bed for the night. What do you say?"
"Go to Brightwall? Tonight?! But Torri, the sun is already almost gone. The wolves and bandits are even more of a threat at night. Besides, I'm tired and its your turn to keep watch while I sleep." Andrea disagreed.
"Tell you what. I'm all rested up, your not right? What do you say if when we get to Brightwall, you get to sleep in the bed and I'll sleep on the floor. No one keeps watch, and you get to sleep in a bed for the first time in two weeks. How does that sound?" Andrea pondered the proposition.
"But then you'd be out of gold." Victoria shrugged.
"Then I'll just go get some more from barding. Really Andrea, its not a big deal. And besides, if we continue to sleep outside we'll freeze to death. It just makes sence."
"But Logan's gaurds will find you easier." Andrea argued. Victoria fished into a nearby crate and pulled out two half frozen factory worker outfits.
"Not if we are in disguise." Andrea grabbed one of the overalls and shreiked.
"Who would leave these here? This is perfect!" Victoria nodded as she started to undress.
"Yep. I guess the poor sods who had to carry crates through Mistpeak once used the same campsite. Unfortunatly, they probabaly didn't have a lookout and ended up getting their throats slashed in their sleep is my guess." Victoria pulled the factory overalls up over her long skinny legs. Andrea undressed and followed suit.
"Its freezing out here without dweller clothes!" Victoria just laughed as she finished tucking the last of her blonde ponytail up under the factory worker hat. Andrea chuckled.
"What?" Victoria stared at her.
"Oh nothing, you just look like a boy that way." Andrea smiled. Victoria grinned, and began talking in a fake deep voice.
"Well maybe this way, they won't recodnize us Andy." Andrea couldn't help but laugh.
"That's true-Victor." Victoria play punched her friend. The two girls grabbed the last of their gear and proceeded slowly down the mountain. Mistpeak valley was certainly more trechorous at night, and almost immediatly, a pack of hungrey yellow eyes surrounded them.
"Victoria! Do something, I don't want to die!" Andrea cowered behind Victoria, who was already poised for action with her cutlass. She had purcased it in Brightwall village, using the gold from her bard job. It had left her with only 40 gold left, but the balcksmith had said that it was the best cutlass he had, so Victoria had paid for it without much hesitation. Now it was time to test it. The first wolves began to surround the girls, Daisy was snarling violently at the closer ones, threating to attack, and when they did, Victoria impaled the first one onto her cutlass. Blood splattered everywhere, and Andrea held her eyes super tight and cowered even more. Daisy ensnared another wolf by the throat and ripped it out without any trouble. The remaining wolves seemed to look to one another and then, surprisingly, they raced off into the dark forest. Victoria still stood gaurd for a good five minutes, just in case it was a trick. But thankfully, the wolves didn't return for more. Victoria approached a still cowereing Andrea and touched her shoulder gently. Andrea shook slightly, but then looked up into Victoria's brown eyes.
"Its ok now. The others ran off." She helped Andrea to her feet.
"Are you sure?" Andrea asked shakily. Victoria nodded.
"Yeah. I'm sure. Come on, we're almost to Brightwall." Andrea got to her feet and began following her friend once more and soon the two girls and Daisy where safe and sound in Brightwall village.
Even late into the night, there was activity in the lively Brightwall streets. Mostly drunks, gaurds and last-minute traders packing up their wears for the night. Victoria kept an extra close eye on the gaurds, making sure that they wern't doing the same. Thankfully, they simply nodded and acted as if the two where simply as they appeared, factory workers from Bowerstone. Andrea kept close to Victoria, which made Victoria smile. Andrea had always been the fearful type, and it was Victoria's guess that poor Andrea would have never even thought about leaving the sturdy castle walls if she hadn't been such good friends with her mistress. Daisy likewise loped up and down at Victoria's side. The black and white wolfdog scanned the surroundings as if she could understand what Victoria was thinking about.
"Ok Andy, we're here. Say, why don't we find a spot to sleep for the evening?" Victoria mused in her false voice. Andrea looked at her strangely, wondering if she was joking. Victoria gave her friend a sharp nudge. Andrea got it right away.
"Yes, lets find a suitable place to rest Victor." Andrea said in her own fake male voice. Daisy looked at the two of them and cocked her head, unsure what was going on. But she followed her mistress into the Brightwall Inn. The male innkeeper was polishing some beer bottles and silverware when the two girls approched the bar.
"Can I help you?" The innkeeper asked them. Victoria took charge as was her usual way.
"Yes, my brother and I need a place to sleep and a hot meal. Have you any rooms availible tonight?" The innkeeper nodded, clearly fooled by Victoria's guise.
"Yep. We've got one upstairs that nobodies using. It will be 30 gold for the two meals and use of the bed. Will that be alright?" Victoria nodded approvingly, happy that the price had lowered since last she was in town. She fished out the 30 gold coins one by one and handed them to the innkeeper, who counted and bit into each of them discherningly. When he was good and sure that he wasn't being cheated, he smiled at Victoria and Andrea and handed the former of the two a copper key.
"Dinner tonight is mutton cutlets with roast carrots. You can grab yourselves a plate over yonder from Sally. Just show her that key first ok?" Victoria nodded.
"Thank you sir, have a good evening!"
"You too." The innkeeper replied before going back to polishing the dishes. Sally was waiting for the two at the other bar. She was an older bar wench, with red hair and peircing green eyes. Sally looked up at the girls and Victoria presented the newly aquired copper key. Sally answered by retriving two scrumptious looking mutton dinners from the nearby stove. Victoria handed the first to Andrea, and took the second for herself.
"Will ye be requiring anything else this evenin'?" Sally asked. Victoria leaned in closer.
"Do you have any sausage or jerky luv?" Victoria flirted in her best male voice. Sally blushed and then brought out a sad-looking cut of jerky. Victoria nodded.
"How much?" Sally smiled.
"Fer a handsome lad like you, free!" Victoria was shocked by the answer, but didn't show it. Instead, she playfully winked and took the jerky from a lustful Sally. Andrea whispered to her friend.
"What was that about?" Victoria looked at Andrea.
"For Daisy. She hasn't eaten much either you know." Andrea folded her arms.
"I ment you where flirting with her. Your not a real boy Torri, that was just weird..." Victoria scoffed as she headed outside the inn and fed the jerky to Daisy, who struggled to chew the tough peice of meat.
"Look. I only have 10 gold left and I'll probably need that to restock on some supplies come morning. You have to do what you have to do."
"But you only got that jerky because she thought you were a handsome boy from the city. That's stealing, and in the worst way. What about your bard job?" Andrea asked.
"Not availible until next week I'm afraid. Those fools Lambert and Pinch are in town and all the jobs have been cancled to allow for a maximum audiance and maximum flatuence too." Victora sneered. She hated theater, espessialy when it was performed by people who had absolutly no talent.
"I heard that they where quite popular." Andrea said.
"Who told you that?"
"Walter. Back at the castle. He was telling all the servents about the time he went to Brightwall-"
"How it was bustling with culture...yeah, yeah, yeah, he tells that one all the time. He's going a tad senile and can be very annoying. Did you know that Logan put him in charge of me? I'm the one who babysits him!" Victoria rolled her eyes. Andrea looked up at the starry night sky.
"Look, I'm sorry for my additude Victoria, I'm just exsausted. Can we please go to bed now?" Andrea begged Victoria.
"Yeah, its alright." The two friends walked up the steps to the door of their room for the night. Victoria pulled out the copper key and undid the lock. Andrea scurried in and immediatly dove into the soft warm bed. Victoria locked the door and plopped down on the floor and started to eat her dinner. Andrea remained in the bed.
"Aren't you hungry anymore Andrea?" Victoria asked her friend. Andrea yawned.
"Not really, but I suppose that I had better eat up. We don't know when we'll eat like this again." Andrea reluctently left the bed and moved towards Victoria and plopped down onto the wooden floor as well. The food filled their stomaches but Victoria always preferred the taste of fresh killed game over cheap meats. Andrea was not nearly as picky and she tore through her plate in less than five minutes. When Victoria had finished her own, she shoved the two plates aside and began to unroll her sleeping bag out onto the floor. Andrea climbed into the bed again.
"Torri?" Andrea asked after the candle was out.
"Yes?" Victoria spoke.
"Where do you think we'll end up living? I mean, we've left the castle, but my question is, are we just going to run away forever?"
"We run until Logan gives up on finding me Andrea. When I have my own life, and my own path, and none of these people telling me who I have to be, thats when we can stop running. You should have known that it wasn't going to be a quick fix the night that we ran away." Victoria explained.
"What are you looking for Torri?" Andrea asked. There was a long pause and then Victoria finally spoke.
"I have to make a place for myself in this world. They want me to be a princess, but I want to be who I want to be. I want to be an outlaw." Neither girl made a sound the rest of the night.