What lies beyond freedom
When I got to the capital things were busy. The servants and maids were busy and everyone was rushing around the place in circles.
“Excuse me, I'm here for the meeting. Can you point me to King Lot?” I tried asking one of the maids but she kept walking.
“Hello, I need someone to take me to Lot.” No one answered so I became short-tempered.
“HEY! I'M HERE TO SEE LOT WHERE THE HELL IS HE!” I think I scared the hell out of them because everyone froze. That's when I heard a familiar voice.
“You're the same as always huh Eric? Power over? Well, just power.”
“I should've known this chaos was your doing Adams.” He was the new head of the royal guard and my replacement. He was the son of one of our representatives so the spot was always open for him. It was only a matter of interest.
“It's so good to see you after all these years. I hope that I can impress you with my skills as the head of the royal guard since you are still my senior. If you didn't hear about it, I was assigned to be Clover’s personal guard until she received her own.”
“Yeah, I did. Congratulations on your new position.”
“I wouldn't congratulate myself if I was you. If anything she's more mischievous than a green fox in the forest. Always running off early in the mornings and the evenings. As if she’s hunting like a fox. Anyway, I will escort you to King Lot myself.”
When we arrived at his office he was speaking with one of his maids.
“Sir, there is a man outside yelling your name and he doesn't seem like a diplomat from the north providence.”
“We're too busy right now. Tell him to screw himself until tomorrow. We still have to prepare their rooms and tighten security around Clover’s room. Who knows what might happen every time we open our gates. Just because they are devils doesn’t mean we can trust them.”
“Lot is that any way to treat an old friend? I expected roses at my feet and wine in my hand.” He turned his head and met me with the smile of a teenage delinquent pushing 40.
“You finally took off from that dirty hunting party to come back to the capital? For you Eric I can fulfill one of those requests. Ask your wife for the other.”
He left his desk to greet me and led me out of the room.
“Adams makes sure everything runs smoothly in my absence.”
“Sir are you sure you need to be drinking before the diplomats get here.”
“Yeah, I got a feeling they're gonna send the young one again. If I don't get a little drunk I might knock the cocky bastard's head off.”
We went to his office and he took a couple of drinks off the shelves. We were reminiscing on the days that I was part of his guard and the missions outside of the providence that we embarked on. After a few glasses of wine, he spoke of Adams out of nowhere.
“Eric, why do you think less of Adams? He’s a strong kid with a good head on his shoulders.”
“I cannot bring myself to respect a man I can't trust.” His eyes widened as if he saw a ghost.
“Eric, for as long as I’ve known you there was no one you distrusted without just cause. What was it to make you distrust him?”
“If I see it then you should be as far as creating a solution. Clover has a certain amount of influence as she should for being the daughter of the wisest man in the providence. Not even you can turn a blind eye to some of her requests. They’re not the words of a young girl her age.”
“So that's the reason. I'm afraid you have it backward. Believe me when I say those are not requests of Adams. Nor were they influenced by him. The reason why the way she acts is so strange is that,”
“Sir the delegates have arrived and are waiting for your audience.
“What was the name of their leader?”
“He said it was Nix. He looked too young to be the leader though. So he may have been in training.”
“I wish that was the case. I’ll be there shortly.” He took a new bottle off of the shelf and went to meet with them.
“Adams I need you to go up to Clover’s room to confirm that she is still in there. You will be assigned to her for the night. We can finish this conversation and that bottle too.”
When I got to her room I knocked to confirm she was in there and she knocked back sarcastically.
“Hello, Princess Clover, my name is Eric. I am an old member of the guard assigned to protect you until the delegates leave.”
“I know who you are. Thank you for your hard work.”
“May I come in?”
“Sure but there's not much in here for you.”
She was right. When I went in there wasn’t much. A bed, a chest, and a desk. I would assume that there were some handmade dolls or toys but in their place, it was training equipment. There was also a hunting knife on her bed that looked as if it was in the middle of being sharpened.
“What does a girl like you need all of this training equipment for?”
“I won’t have Adams protecting me forever. Even if I get a royal guard I should still be able to protect myself. Isn’t that common sense?”
“I suppose that’s a good reason. So how are you coming along with your training?”
“I'm making progress every day. Why are you so interested?”
“Simply because I have a kid of my own who just sparked interest in training, that's all. I was surprised that you had an interest in it.”
“Would you care to spar? Then you could better understand my dedication.”
“I'm ok for today but thank you for seeing me as a worthy opponent.”
I had my reasons why I didn't spar with her. If I did and hurt her, Lot would kill me. Plus her room wasn’t large enough, to begin with. She began walking to her bed and started sharpening the hunting knife.
“It’s too bad I didn't give you an option.”
She threw the knife right between my eyes with incredible speed. If it was a normal person they would’ve been killed right here. Thankfully I was on Lot’s guard. I caught the knife and threw it to the ground. It had a symbol of what looked like a burning leaf on the handle.
“Princess Clover please refrain from throwing sharp objects at me!”
“Ok, then I won’t.”
She dashed to the side with amazing speed and began to circle me. She leaped into the air as if she was an animal and delivered a kick to my throat. Her attacks felt serious so I decided to go on defense. With the way she was fighting it was like she was a small animal hunting one much bigger with no fear. Her speed was amazing and the force behind her attacks wasn’t anything to laugh at. I was beginning to get excited when I realized that it's possible Ash could reach this height. Then she went for a right hook to my eye. I got a little too excited so when I deflected the strike I accidentally countered. Then she surprised me. For a brief moment, her eyes flashed red and she evaded my attack. She looked surprised as if she didn't expect me to retaliate. She sat there in front of me with a star-struck face.
“Sorry if I got a little carried away. It was a reflex. Don’t worry though after sparring with you I see why you proposed it. You are stronger than you look.” I was speaking fast because I didn't know what she thought so it made me nervous.
“So it was involuntary?”
“Well, I guess my attack wasn’t really planned so yeah it was.” She started walking around the room excited with a shine in her eye.
“Can I ask what you’re excited about?” She stared at me like I was a fish riding a boat.
“Actually, can you guard the door for the rest of the day? I have something to finish.”
I walked back to the door and a couple of hours later Lot walked past with an empty bottle of wine.
“Was it a meeting or a banquet?”
“The damn kid drank himself silly. We still have to finish our conversation from earlier.”
2 days later
I was walking to the stream ready for training today. I was still sore from training with Forge but I knew what would come out of training.
“Oh, you came. Sorry, I didn't tell you that I wasn’t going to be here. It slipped my mind.”
“No, it’s fine. Should we start with sword training or hand to hand?”
“You sound eager to start today. I'm guessing you want to go with the hunting party on their little trip tomorrow?”
“What are you talking about? They already left the day you weren’t here. They should be on their way back now. Two days out and two days coming back.”
She looked surprised as if she was going too.
“No training today, I have somewhere to be.”
She bolted towards the capital and left me at the stream. Since I had nothing better to do I just went to get ready for training with forge.