Chapter 31:


The Scorned

The sound of a large number of horses approaching brought me back to my senses. I slowly opened my eyes and saw Selene smiling down at me. I returned the smile and tried to push myself into a sitting position, but my arm refused to comply. Selene could see I was struggling and asked worriedly, "What's going on? Are you still hurting?" I hoisted myself up with my good arm and replied, "Surprisingly, yes, though not that much. I just can't seem to use that arm right now."

Selene stared at my arm, then replied, "I guess that makes sense, almost as if your body is punishing you for using that power." I nodded my head in agreement and asked, "Do you know what all of that noise was just now?"

Selene responded with a sigh, "That should be the Prince who will fearlessly lead us into battle. I guess we should go see what wisdom he can bestow upon us." I raised an eyebrow at her words and asked, "Just another dumb human, am I right?" Selene responded with a snort, "Please. I don't hate every human."

I stared at her incredulously and said, "All you have ever done is complain about humans. I will bet that you can't name a single person that you don't hate, who isn't the princess." I was extremely confident that I had Selene trapped, but she replied with a smirk, "What are we betting?" I was a little thrown off by her confidence but eventually said, "If you win, I will let you take the lead on this whole Deadly Desert trip, no matter how long it takes."

Apparently, that was good enough for Selene. With a smug expression, she stated confidently, "If we were attacked right now, I would rush and do everything in my power to save the cook. He gave me a very nice compliment and amazing food. I can honestly say that I like him."

I opened my mouth to try and prove her wrong but closed it when I couldn't think of anything to say. Selene began to laugh, knowing she had me trapped, which caused me to grow more frustrated. Not willing to admit that she had won the bet, I got to my feet and growled out, "Let's go see what the Prince is doing."

Selene walked next to me with an exaggerated skip in her step. Talking loudly so I could hear, Selene asked herself, "Now that I am in charge, what should we do?" I stopped walking, turned to Selene, and asked, "Am I going to be hearing this all day?" With a huge smile, Selene replied, "No. You are going to be hearing this every day until the whole adventure is done." Hearing this, I let out a groan, which sent her into a fit of giggles.

Eventually, the two of us found the area where the Prince was. Though it was early in the morning, there was already a massive gathering of people. Looking to the middle of the crowd, I got my first glimpse of the Prince. He was a young man, maybe a little older than myself. My first impression was of someone who was very privileged. His skin, especially his hands, looked soft and smooth, with no signs of any sort of hardship in his life. The clothes he wore were brightly colored and overly extravagant.

With an uninspiring voice, he called out, "Soldiers! I thank you for taking up your arms and joining me in my cause. You will all be handsomely rewarded for your time. For those of you that are uninformed, we are going to war because I have been greatly wronged. I asked for a chance to court the King's daughter, and he had the nerve to tell me no! Now we must go and teach that old man some manners."

"With the help of you mighty soldiers, we will attack the castle and teach them all a lesson. Crossing the desert will be tough, but I am confident that while the weather will be harsh, the journey will not be long. Once we breach the castle walls, you are free to take whatever you want. Now let's begin our journey together to teach the King how wrong he was!"

For some reason, all the soldiers thrust their weapons into the air and yelled at the end of his speech.

The crowd slowly began to disperse, so Selene and I went back to our tree to wait for our impending march. Once we were alone, I asked, "So are you really okay with following a guy like that? I would have guessed that you would be more likely to kill him, not follow his lead."

Selene only shrugged and responded, "Well, I did say that he was an idiot. We also have nothing else to do. And who knows, maybe someone at the castle will know something about my friend. Though I have no interest in helping these soldiers, I am merely going to travel with them. I don't plan on taking up their fight." I only shrugged my understanding; what Selene said was fine with me.

The two of us were quiet as we watched everyone get ready for their journey. Tuning to Selene, I asked, "Do you know why it's called the Deadly Desert?" Selene shook her head and answered, "I have no idea, but I would assume it is just temperature. From what I gathered, the castle isn't particularly far away. The desert will just be rough for humans to traverse."

I nodded my head in agreement and got lost in thought. Eventually, I looked at Selene and said, "I know that you can take care of yourself, but I don't want to see you get hurt. Can you tell me what can actually hurt you? I think the two of us are in better standings than last time I asked."

I wasn't sure if Selene was going to answer, but she began to laugh and asked, "What did I tell you? We had just met, so I am sure I just made up something to shut you up." I stared at her for a moment then began to laugh myself. With a smile, I replied, "You told me you were resistant to disease, poison, and bodily harm."

Selene just shrugged and responded, "I guess that was close enough at the time. To give you the correct answer, I'm mostly resistant to poisons and sicknesses, but I can still get sick. The other part about bodily harm was a total lie. Blades and arrows will hurt me as much as the average human. I just recover much faster."

I stayed quiet, thinking about what Selene had just said. If we were going to jump into a war, the last thing I would want would be for Selene to get struck with a stray arrow. As if sensing my hesitation, Selene grabbed my bad arm and said, "Don't worry about anything. It's not like a human can hurt me. And if I were to somehow get into trouble, I know how protective you are. I am confident you will keep me safe."

I was pleased with Selene's admitted confidence in me. With a smile on my face, I felt the remainder of the pain dissipate from my arm. Letting out a happy sigh, I stretched my arm out and enjoyed the full movement again.

Still smiling, I turned to Selene and asked, "So what's the plan?"