Dantega:Volume 2 Chapter 2
Chapter 12: Her and the King
“Damn this stupid forest!” exclaims Ash.
The two of them are walking through this labyrinth of gigantic trees, it has been close to six hours since they left base camp. After the time it took for them to change into darker and more camouflage clothing, and gather proper supplies suitable for a stealth mission, the sun is just about set.
With an already low visibility level becoming darker with each passing second, this mission's difficulty is about showing its face; in order to not be seen by the enemy they cannot light a torch, thus making this trek all the more treacherous.
“The perfect way to end this side of the war is to just burn this whole forest continent to the ground.” said Ash while she threw a rock at a tree out of frustration.
“You know we can't do that.” Zurvick replies.
The reason for this is that throughout the years of war, both La'Juune and Troy had thought of committing this very act in order to defeat Eiyalazo. The problem is the aftermath of the burning; to put out the fire the Eiyalazonians would most likely be forced to use their entire water supply to suppress as much of the flame as possible in order to protect its cities and citizens.
This tactic would have affected Troy, because at that time, a great drought hit this part of Earth and water was of a minimal supply. Another downside to an epic fire is pollution; this problem could affect La'Juune much more than Troy. La'Juune sits directly to the west of Eiyalazo, there is a trade wind that constantly blows from the eastern ocean to the western plains, thus making the smoke from the continent wide fire flow right over La'Juune for its inhabitants of its most populous cities to inhale .
Troy, which sits to the north of the other two countries and separated by two seas, would avoid the health hazard of the smoke because the populous regions are mostly situated on higher elevation levels,which are protected by a series of large mountain ranges. The problem for Troy however, is that its most fertile farmland and the very center of all of its agricultural production is at the most southern tip of the country, connected to both La’Juune and Eiyalazo; the pollution damage could wreak havoc of their food supply and potentially starve most of the empire.
All in all, a fire on this scale would leave an unrecoverable scar on the face of the planet in many different ways. So in order to prevent such a disaster, the three countries signed a treaty stating that no intentional destruction fires will ever be set on Eiyalazonian soil.
Ash waves her hand in an annoyed manner and says, “Yeah yeah, because of that stupid treaty thing right? Who's bright idea was it to write something as stupid as that anyways!?”
Zurvick nervously smiles, raises his hand like a school child and softly says, “Um...that was my idea actually.”
Ash looks at his childlike appearance and begins to laugh. “You’re kidding right? Wasn't it the Queen's idea?”
Zurvick scratches his head and replies, “If you knew my wife, you'd never believe that she'd even care for something like that. I remember the instance when this topic came up at a meeting and she said, 'Oh? So that's what would happen huh? We might be able to take out both of their countries by doing this, I like our chances... burn that wretched place to the ground.' That's where I came in to put a halt to it.” He starts to laugh aloud, “I guess this worthless King of Troy has to do something every once in a while!”
Ash walks behind him, and she's wondering why he seems so happy when she realizes this was probably one of his proudest moments as a King. Throughout the history of Troy, the King has usually been nothing but a political tool, much like a Queen would be in a normal monarchy, his job is to support his spouse in any which way.
Ash smiles, pats him on the back and says, “Good job.”
Zurvick smiles and about to say his thanks when he walks face first into a tree.
Once again he overreacts and drops to the ground like a sack of rocks, it's as if someone had just shot him with an arrow.
Ash bursts into an uncontrollable laugh. “Hahahaha what an idiot! How the hell do you walk into a tre- waaaahhh!”
She is interrupted by a banyan tree root tangling on her foot, she trips and falls belly down to the floor.
“Ouch, stupid freakin' roots.”
Ash lands on something other than the ground, she assumes it's more roots until she looks down at a sight that makes her face instantly glow red. She is laying on top of Zurvick, his knee is pressing right between her legs and their faces are so close they can feel the warmth of each other's breath.
Zurvick smiles and tries to help her off of him, so he grabs her waist line to lift her.
“Kyaah! W-What the hell do you think you're doing you idiot!”
He jolts back in surprise at her reaction, and with a scared voice replies, “I'm helping you up.”
“I never said that I needed help! So watch where you put your hands!”
Zurvick can sense that she's flustered and tries to turn the tides by teasing her. “Ooh? Perhaps the strict Captain Ash is a bit ticklish?”
Ash replies, “No I'm not ticklish at all.”
The bad part about answering this question is that even if your answer is yes or no, the one asking the question will tickle you anyways just to see your reaction, and that's exactly what Zurvick intends to do.
He grabs her waist again and begins to tickle her with all his might.
“Ahhh~~ W-Wait! Stop! Stop!” Ash shouts desperately.
She tries to get away but he pulls her closer to him, in the struggle she feels his knee that was pressed between her legs rise up and rub against her groin area. Instead of laughing, she let's out a moan that a grown man would recognize immediately, and Zurvick instantly stops his tickling assault.
They both lay in silence as he listens to her breathing rather hard; she looks at him with eyes he's never seen her have as she and grabs his face.
She moves her face so close to his that their noses are almost touching, she opens her mouth and softly says, “I told you, I'm not ticklish... Idiot”
Zurvick shows his usual nervous smile and says, “I'm sorry, I got carried away.”
Ash lifts her face away from his and throws her open hand straight down on his forehead.
“I'm not a little kid that you can just get 'carried away' with! I-I'm a woman you know.”
Though she is nineteen, she has the looks of somebody who could be even younger, this makes it very difficult to treat her as an adult. Zurvick ponders her statement, he looks at her and instead of seeing her as a young girl who reminds him of his daughter, he sees a woman capable of doing anything an adult can do such as his wife.
In a flash of lightning he realizes the sexual tension that goes along with this type of situation.
“Okay okay! I get it! I'm sorry! If you would get off of me it'd be great. I mean like right now!” he yelps while closing his eyes.
“Fine then! Geez it's not like I have the freakin' plague!”
Ash hurriedly tries to get off when she feels her feet sink into an even deeper tangle on the roots, unable to move she loses her footing and falls back on him.
“Uh... I'm stuck.”
It took her at least five minutes to get herself untangled, and now the two are standing awkwardly in silence. Zurvick looks at her and she puffs her nose and quickly looks away.
He sighs and looks at their surroundings. It has almost become completely dark as the sun is just a few minutes away from setting; Zurvick walks under a banyan tree with overhanging leaves and says, “It's getting really hard to see out here, if we keep moving there's a higher chance that we can get stuck or lost. I think it'd be best if we set up camp for the night under this tree.”
Ash nods in agreement as she watches him pitch a small one person tent. Made from a light cloth, this tent can easily be carried in a small waist band pouch, it only takes two sturdy willow tree sticks to set it up and is decent enough to be called a shelter, thus making it perfect for missions such as this where the weather isn't too harsh.
“Wait a second... where the hell am I supposed to sleep?” Ash asks.
Zurvick looks at her and tilts his head in reply, “Don't you have a tent?”
She tucks her face in her forearm in embarrassment. “I forgot to bring one.”
Zurvick shrugs his shoulders and says, “Well you’re welcome to sleep in this tent with me if you'd like.”
Ash jumps back in shock. “B-But wouldn't that be a little too cramped?”
He nonchalantly replies, “Not at all, there's plenty of room.”
Ash pauses, drops her head and clenches her fists. “You're doing it again.”
She lifts her head up to show a face full of displeasure and shouts, “You're treating me like a kid!”
Zurvick hops in his finished tent and looks at her with comforting eyes. “No, I'm treating you like a comrade. So are you gonna get in or not?”
Ash's heart skips a beat, if he puts it that way there's no way she can refuse. She shyly starts walking towards him and replies, “Y-Yeah.”
Under her breath she softly says, “As a comrade huh? Hmph, I guess it's a start.”
Lelaine is once again standing on the same balcony, it is close to midnight and a full moon shines down on her long blond hair. She's smoking her pipe and blows the smoke into the sky, she sighs and thinks back on past moments with Trojia and Zurvick while looking out in the distance at the lights of the beautiful city of Troy.
She starts laughing loudly when she recollects the memory of when she first met Zurvick back when she was eleven years old.
She remembers being accompanied by Sturgess while looking out of the window from her room and seeing the Archbishop's caravan entering the gate of the castle grounds, excitement began brewing in her belly at the sight of something new.
She grabs Sturgess's hand and rushes out of her room to run outside and greet them. The Archbishop named Ludvig steps out of the carriage and says, “You must be princess Lelaine?”
She lifts the edges of her dress and politely bows. “Yes sir.”
“Hahaha! No need to be so formal princess, you are the future Queen. Allow me to do the honors.” Ludvig bows to her and gestures toward the horse drawn carriage. “I'd like to introduce you to my son.... Zurvick! You can come out now.”
The cabin door slowly cracks open, and out of the slightly opened door comes the peeking face of a young Zurvick, he takes one glance at her and blushes while jumping back. He's nervously shaking as he attempts to step down to the floor.
Much to Lelaine's and everyone else's surprise; he slips on the cabin's step and falls flat on his face.
It seems like he completely overreacts when yells, "Ooooouuuuuuuuuucccchhhh!!!” and lays on the ground for a few agonizingly long seconds in silence.
Everyone stands awkwardly until he gets up, with teary eyes either from embarrassment or from the hit on his nose, he shows a face full of panic and shouts in a cracked voice, “M-My name is Zurvick! N-N-N-Nice to meet you!”
He immediately bows extremely low with his butt hanging high in the air. Lelaine looks at this idiot who had just given her the worst introduction she's ever seen and, “Pfft.... hahahahahahaha!”
Lelaine begins to laugh so hard that she is in tears. Zurvick looks at her with a sour face; after listening to her laugh for a few seconds he thinks back on how ridiculous and pathetic he probably had just looked and can't help but make fun of himself as well.
He rubs his nose and begins to join her in laughter, at this moment, the two of them are both thrown into a life long relationship that will never falter.
The current Lelaine is looking at her city when tears begin to fall from her eyes, she takes a final drag from her pipe and says, “Damn am I lonely.”
She tips her pipe over and watches the red hot ashes fall until they burn out and disappear into the night sky. She then rests her head on her arms over the balcony rail and wonders what Zurvick is doing at this exact moment in time.
“Hey... are you still awake?” Ash says quietly as she nudges Zurvick.
They are both huddled together in a one person tent. When he doesn't reply, she knows that he is in a deep sleep. She is glaring at him and is impressed by how pretty his sleeping face is; with the tip of her index finger she gently strokes his light beard and says quietly, "Did you know I was nine years old when I first met you?"
She starts to blush and smile as she softly continues, "Back in Troy, I got separated from my parents during a festival celebrating your return from the battle of La'Juune. Even when the festivities ended I was still lost and I was beginning to panic, the only place I knew how to get to was the castle so I hopelessly walked to the front gate..."
She rests her head on his chest and closes her eyes to reminisce.
"The guards didn't want to help me and just shooed me away, and that's when I started crying, I didn't know what to do and I was so afraid... I remember specifically hearing a man's tender voice asking me if I was alright, that man... it was you... I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the King of Troy looking at me with such a caring face. I was in even more shock when you offered to help me find my way home... It took us hours until we finally found it; but I was so happy I couldn't contain myself, the King... the one and only King of Troy was kind enough to take the time to help a lowly little girl like me... I realized then that the only thing I wanted to do in life was to protect that beautiful and kind King, so I trained as hard as I could to join the military... never would I have thought that you'd end up as my underling... never would I have thought that the one and only man I have ever loved would be sleeping so vulnerably right next to me."
Ash postures up and leans her head downwards towards his face, she readies to kiss him but stops as soon as she feels her nose rub against his.
"Can I not actually do this?"
She tries once more but something in her gut tells her to stop again.
"C'mon Ash he's right in front of me, this could be your only chance!"
She grits her teeth and forcefully abandons her position on top of him.
She turns away from him and takes a deep breath, she feels like her heart is beating a million times a second. "I guess I can't do something as cowardly as kissing you while you're sleeping. But I promise you Zurvick... I'll make you see me as a woman soon."
Ash smiles and gently drifts away into slumber.
Ash wakes up to find herself alone in the one person tent; she wonders where Zurvick is and pokes her head out of the tent, only to find him doing some ridiculous looking stretches.
She rubs her eyes and coldly asks, "What the hell kind of stretch is that?"
Zurvick has his back towards her and his butt is hanging in the air due to this awkward looking stretch. He looks in between his legs at her and with an enthusiastic smile says, "Oh you're awake! Come and join me for morning stretches, It does wonders for your back!"
Ash looks at him with a face full of disgust. "Haah? There's no way I'd do a stretch that looks like I'm giving birth!"
"Okay then! If not that one, why not try this one instead!?"
Zurvick begins to do some funky looking jumping jacks that can best be described as the sight of an octopus falling out of a tree.
"Forget it! That one is even worse!!!"
Zurvick starts to laugh, another merrily morning spent in the middle of enemy territory.
(Oh that's right!) he suddenly thinks to himself.
He stops his exercise and runs to one of his nap sacks that lay on the ground, out of it he pulls the map given to him by the spy.
After scanning it for a minute or two his face turns intense.
Ash sees this and asks, "What is it?"
Zurvick frowns and says, "Shit."
"Shit we traveled too far on our first day!"
She tilts her head and raises her eyebrow as if implying she wants more specifics. Zurvick answers her gesture and replies, "We are less than a mile away from the enemy base camp, we are supposed to be no less than three."
Ash lets a big exhale out in relief. "Huaaaa, I thought you were gonna say that we're lost. If we are that close to their base, Isn't that a good thing?"
Zurvick's eyebrow twitches in angst. "These kinds of missions need to be dealt with in a precise timeline, there's a reason why we weren't planned to be in this position at this exact time of day."
He quickly shifts his attention toward the enemy base camp, and much to his dismay, through one of the light spots he sees a flash off of something metal.
"GET DOWN!" he shouts as he shoves Ash to the floor and ducks.
"Hey that hurt you jerk! Why'd you do that!?" she shouts.
Zurvick looks back at her with a look in his eyes telling her to shut up. She backs up away from him in surprise and bumps into something sticking out of the ground, she turns to look and sees a three foot arrow protruding from the forest floor.
Ash's face turns blue when she realizes what had just happened, with a quivering brow she stares at the back of Zurvick.
He turns to her with a nonchalant smile and says, "Well then, let's get this mission started."
He pulls out his sword and begins to run into the forest towards the direction of the arrow that was just shot at them.
Ash is stiff with shock and her legs won't budge, she has never been in an actual battle so naturally she is scared. But she is completely frightened to death at the thought of watching Zurvick rush into danger alone.
She clenches her fists and thinks to herself, (I didn't come here to be afraid! I came to protect the King! I came here to fight alongside the man I love!)
With these thoughts running through her head, she rustles up the strength to stand and rushes to his side.
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