Chapter 32:


The Scorned

"Did I tell you that this Prince is an idiot? What could we possibly gain by starting our journey during the hottest part of the day? God, I would give anything to be you and not feel this heat. This sucks!"

I didn't bother to give Selene a response. That had to be at least the fourth time she said that.

While I ignored her pouting, I couldn't help but agree with her. Looking around, everyone was beginning to show signs of fatigue, and we had just started. While our numbers were massive, it was just as Selene had stated. That did nothing to help with the heat.

The more we walked, the less there was to see. All the trees were behind us now, and the only thing that changed was the sand underneath our feet.

When we were at camp, the sand was hard and easy to walk on. But, now, it was soft, and every step was a struggle. Looking around, I noticed that horses were already struggling to pull carts. It wouldn't be long until soldiers had to start pushing and exhaust themselves further.

Selene let out a frustrated sigh and exclaimed, "This is the worst! I can't believe this is the Deadly Desert. The only thing I am going to die of is boredom." As she said this, she flopped onto the sand and stared at the sky. I waited for her to move, but she continued to be dramatic and stare at nothing. Letting out a sigh of my own, I laid down next to her and asked, "So let me see if I understand correctly. I give you the power to make all the decisions this trip, and you decide to do nothing. Interesting choice, but I am lazy, so I approve. Looks like I am rubbing off on you."

Frowning at me, Selene replied, "I think what your saying is true. The more I am with you, the lazier I become. I refuse to let that happen, so let's get moving."

I got back to my feet with a smile, happy that my plan had worked and we were moving again.

The two of us talked about nothing for a while, not paying attention to the group around us. Finally glancing around, I noticed that we were near the end of the army. Selene noticed this also and asked, "Should we try to catch up to everyone else?" I just shrugged and replied, "I thought this was your adventure, but if you want, I can take over." Selene quickly backtracked and replied, "Nevermind that. I am happy to stay in the back, fewer people staring at us." With a laugh, I replied, "I don't think these men are staring at me." Selene shook her head and mumbled out, "Don't get me started."

The two of us continued walking in silence, but eventually, I asked, "I don't need to drink water. Do you want any of my portions?" Everyone had been handed two canteens before we started our march. That served as our daily water ration. Selene eagerly nodded her head and snatched a canteen from my hand. With a happy sigh, she poured the water all over herself instead of drinking it. With a big smile, Selene said, "Much better." I heard a couple soldiers whine at her blatant waste of precious water, but no one mentioned anything to us.

Suddenly multiple bells began to ring simultaneously, and everyone dropped to the ground with a groan. I look to Selene, who said, "Not sure if we are stopping for a break or for the day, but the soldiers sure look out of it." Scanning our party, I couldn't help but agree. We had walked maybe half a day, and most looked like they were about to drop dead. Even the horses pulling all of the supplies looked like they couldn't last another day of the Prince's brilliance.

Looking to Selene, I asked, "So what's our plan? You are the leader. What's next?" Selene was silent for a moment, then said, "Let's keep moving. It is starting to cool down, so I assume the Prince will want to stop for the night. Personally, I would like to walk at night when it is cool and rest during the day." With an exaggerated bow, I replied, "Whatever you wish, my master. I am only here to serve."

Selene laughed at me, and the two of us began to walk through the exhausted soldiers attempting to put up their tents. Selene suddenly stopped and said, "We might as well fill up our canteens before we leave. It can't hurt anything for us to play it safe." I gave her a nod of agreement as we slowly searched the camp for water.

Eventually, we found a large group of people arguing. Two began to shove each other, and soon they were throwing punches. I heard one mention something about the waterline, so I knew that we were in the right place. I grabbed Selene's hand and began to roughly shove my way to the front.

Approaching the group's front, I saw the old man Selene and I had talked to the day we joined the army, standing next to the Prince. The old man stared at the two of us with an annoyed expression, but he quickly became nervous when we removed our hoods.

Before anyone could say anything, the Prince noticed Selene and said, "My dear, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Someone like you shouldn't be on the battlefield. Come with me, and I can make sure you stay safe."

I was going to say something to the Prince, but Selene gave my hand a squeeze. Turning to the Prince, she said, "You must have a very high opinion of yourself to go after a married woman in front of her husband." Hearing this, the Prince looked me over and scoffed in my direction. With a smirk, he asked, "This is your husband? I never thought a beautiful woman like you would settle for average."

I felt no anger towards the Prince for his words. To me, he was just a spoiled kid who was pouting. I wanted to say a few things, but I knew this was Selene's adventure, so I bit my tongue. Selene slowly looked the Prince over and replied, "Excuse my bluntness, but you don't look like someone who could keep me safe. You look more like someone who will cringe at the first sign of danger." The Prince was taken aback by her words and asked, "You mean to tell me that you would choose this brute over me?" With a fake smile, Selene said, "It's not that I would choose him over you, I did choose him over you, and it will always be him over you."

Before the Prince could continue his pouting, Selene said with a smile, "I think you should talk to the man next to you. He doesn't seem too happy with what you have been saying."

Turning my attention to the older man, I smiled at how nervous he was. The Prince stared at him and asked, "What's wrong? Why are you so nervous?" The old man fumbled over his words but eventually stammered out, "Your highness, I think it would be best not to pick a fight with these two. They very well may be the strongest in our whole army." The Prince looked at the man, then slowly turned his gaze back to us. Looking Selene and I over again, he replied, "I don't believe you, but we can talk about that later. We are busy now. What did you two want anyway?"

I could sense Selene's anger with how rude the Prince was because she had turned him down, but with a calm voice, she said, "We are going to keep moving forward to scout ahead. We came to fill up our canteens before we set off." Before the Prince could respond, an idea hit me, and I added, "We also want a tent." The older man grabbed our four canteens and quickly scurried off to fill them.

Hearing this, the Prince scoffed, "You think I will just give you a horse to pull a tent. Of course not." Growing tired of this man, I replied bluntly, "We don't need a horse. I will carry it. Now give us a tent."

The Prince began to laugh and said, "Well, if you will carry it, you can have mine." With that, he pointed to a massive tent on the floor that four men were struggling to pick up.

When the four men noticed me approaching, they quickly backed away.

Staring directly at the Prince, I grabbed the massive tent with one arm and effortlessly threw it over my shoulder. The Prince's face instantly lost all color when he saw my display of strength. The older man reappeared and handed Selene the canteens, which she happily accepted. While she was distracted, I stepped towards the Prince and hissed, "If you ever try and take her away from me again, I will kill you. This is your one warning. Don't forget it." I couldn't help but smile as I noticed the Prince's legs slightly tremble.

Selene walked up to me and said, "You know that smile makes you look pretty mean. I like it. You should do it more." Keeping the smile, I nodded my head, and the two of us set off towards the setting sun.