Never Forget Me Again

Nearly two decades ago, a rogue lord formed an army and overthrew the royal family. Ever since, he has had a nagging suspicion that the previous king’s son was still alive. His advisers told him it’s impossible since the boy was only 7, but he can’t bury the thought.

In the northern reach of the kingdom, the Prince lives but has no recollection of his past. All he knows is that he’s one of the best rangers in the north and has a new job; to escort a noble woman to the neighboring kingdom. Something about her seems familiar, as if he’s known her his whole life. The noblewoman feels it too, thinking he reminds her a lot of her childhood friend, the late prince. Her former betrothed.

Will they realize who he is in time? Or will she be doomed to marry another?


1. Reunited

It had been raining all day. A chilling mist rolled in from the passing rainstorm. The simplest breeze brought chills down to her very bones. Soon the sun peeked through the overwhelming clouds only to duck behind the mountains. Slowly but surely the soft light from the sunset brought back warmth and life to the once weeping sky.


There was a smile to her lips, a twinkle to her eyes and a skip in her step, as Ashelin leonine, only princess of Lothaire, jolted in the direction of the forest. There was no hesitation in her fleeting feet. Not even the shadows of the retiring sun that hid her obstacles slowed her speed. Almost instinctively her small, limber legs would twist and turn, avoiding fallen logs and rocks that could not be jumped over and jump over the ones that could. She knew this path better than she knew herself. There was no stopping her now.


Not once did she look back. If Ashelin were to question her actions now, the guards would find her before she reached her destination. He would be waiting…


Finally, her feet slowed to a halt at the edge of a field, looking at the boy before her. He turned to her with such an intensity to his eyes she all but forgot his immaturity and childish form. However, she mustn’t forget. He was no ordinary child. He was the youngest son of King Leon Albois, a prince of Berge. Her betrothed. With a finger to her lips as if to tell him to hush, she whispered. “Watch.”


Slowly, her legs moved once more. Stepping into the fields of grass that grew above her knees. Then it happened. The rustle in the weeds brought a swarm of fireflies into the air in a domino effect. The mass of their blinking lights bleeded the air, setting the sky on fire. Ashelin smiled the brightest of smiles as the bugs danced around them. Her eyes then looked to the boy before bursting into a run through the fields, twirling with her head back and her arms out.


Now out of breath, Ashelin plopped down before looking up at the boy, “Care to join me. You’ve come this far after all.”


They laid there on their back looking up at the blanket of stars when the fireflies lowered in numbers. He turned to his side, lifting on one elbow as he looked down at Ashelin. “Ashe.” It was a wonder how a simple nickname given by a boy could bring such joy.


Curious of his intentions, she spoke. “A coin for your thoughts?”


He spoke again, his voice not his own. “Wake up… Princess!”


Thick eyelashes fluttered open in a panic. Her light brown locks painted the ground like waves of the ocean that ranged to her wide hips. A few strands fell over her slender shoulder flattering her full breasts. Vibrant green eyes locked on to a man in armor standing over her with urgency. It didn’t take long for Ashelin to realize they were under attack by the clatter of swords about. The echo of clashing steel was seemingly early. The sun had get to even awaken and the enemy were already rested and at full strength. This was a planned ambush. The fact that Ashelin did not awaken until now meant she was likely drugged.


Those dirty devils…


There once was a time of peace between the lands, an understanding of their territories and boundaries. Treaties were honored and made through marriage, not dishonor of killing one’s own blood. However, times change. Indeed, times changed when the King of Augustira was murdered by his own brother. Hungry for power, he invaded Berge and dominated the various area through war or forced treaties. However, Lothaire remained independent due to the difficulty of invasion. Not only was their castle defenses impenetrable, the forest that surrounded it was easy to get lost in, and when you were lost, the vicious beasts would show you no mercy.


Once proposed to the youngest prince of Albois and now with the fall of the line of Albois, King Cor Leonine, King of Lothaire, was forced to reconsider other options for Ashelin’s marriage. Her beauty was rumored unheard of and the fact that her marriage would bound their country with Lothaire as well, all factors made the offer for her hand in marriage was greatly desired. However, Ashelin declined offers of all Berge, Merlons, and Arlons over the next two decades for understandable reasons, Soon the Governor of Berge grew impatient and began to take matters into his own hands, hiring a gang of experienced bandits to ambush and kill her father and his right-hand guards on the road to Arlons. However, the Governor of Berge underestimated the power of the Lothaire. Although, he accomplished killing the King of Lothaire, Princess Ashelin and three trusted guards escaped alive.


Even so, Ashelin soon learned how persistent the Governor was. Now, it wasn’t only the Governor. The Duke of Arlons had men after her as well. At this rate, she knew she would be caught and married to one of these monsters.


“Princess! We must leave here, please come with me.” The guard leaning over her spoke again.


Her overworked worn joints screamed in agony as she propped herself up on her elbows. The drug hadn’t completely left her system yet causing her limbs to move in a sluggish demeanor. “My legs feel heavy, I think I was drugged.” Ashelin’s words spilled from her full lips in a slurred murmur.


Without another word or question for permission, the guard cradled her fragile form in his grip and jolted out the cave to where the trees grew thick. He ran as fast as he could but with Ashelin in his arms and being pursued, it wasn’t fast enough. The handful of men soon caught up. The guard set Ashelin down, “Run. Run as fast as you can and don’t look back.”




“Run!” He demanded, before gripping his sword and slashing one of the men. Ashelin inhaled deep before bursting into a run as fast as her heavy legs would allow, never looking back. It was no matter, the drug had done its job and slowed her movements considerably, making it a simple job for the men to reach her. One grasped her wrist. Ashe grabbed a dagger strapped to her thigh and with a swift, practiced grip, she sliced his arm, causing him to release her. Another man grabbed her from behind, creating a scream from Ashe’s gut. Even so, she knew no one was around to help. Even if they were, she wouldn’t blame them for not wanting to risk their life to help a stranger.


This was it… She would now be taken back to marry against her will to a beast who would more than likely abuse her in every way…


Smoke. The scent assaulted his nostrils as the pounding persisted. Where was it coming from? Where was he? The floor was hard and cold but when he looked down, it was the same pathways he had walked the past several years. Nothing made sense. Turning about, a solid, riveted, wooden door stood. The pounded sounded again and he took a step toward it. Coughs tore from his lungs as smoke filled them with each inhale. When he finally reached the door, his hand stretched out, only it was much smaller than he remembered. Just as he was about to grip the handle, it burst open.....

Abel shot up. His chest rose and fell with haste. Sweat beaded on his forehead, trailed down his cheeks, and dripped from his chin to his bare chest. It took him only a moment to realize that his knife was drawn and extended before him. His brown eyes darted about the camp. His fire had burned out. His freshest pelt still hung drying with strips of meat draped over the same line. They had been salted for either sale or later use. His hand wiped over his face as he lowered his blade to his side. His head shook in hopes to help him clear his mind.

"Just another dream, Abel," he told himself as he pushed himself up to his feet. For years he suffered from these horrid nightmares and not once was he able to actually solve them. When he discussed them with his parents, they seemed to avoid the subject or simply brush them off as nightmares that every child suffered. But with them gone now, he had no one to speak to about them. In fact, as he looked about his camp once more, he simply had no one. It was better this way though. People disappointed him. They are cruel, vindictive creatures that only serve themselves.

With a sigh, he slipped into a green shirt and a darker shaded jacket. He was running low on food that he wasn't curing for jerky so a good hunt this morning would help him clear his mind. Turning to a stump he had transformed into a makeshift table, he scooped up six arrows. The shafts were smoothed perfectly and the tips were metals salvaged from any weapons or armor he found laying about the forest that would be of no use to him. After dropping them into his quiver, he slipped both it and his bow over his head. Next, he picked up a sword. It had been a gift from his father. The craftsmanship was beyond anything he had seen before and against the base of the blade was an engraving, To My Prince. It's was what his parents had always called him. After sliding it into its scabbard all that was left was his daggers. One slipped beside his boot while the other two rested against his chest. He was armed for whatever nature would throw at him, whether it be a bear, boar or-

A scream tore through the forest scattering the birds that usually greeted him with song. His brow furrowed as he turned his head in the direction it came from. It wasn't a man who found himself victim to whatever beast he was hunting. No, this was feminine. It was a young woman or child. Pressing his bow against his chest, Abel started off. His feet carried him swiftly down trails he knew by heart and could sprint through blindfolded. It took him only a few moments to reach the outskirts of the scene.

Pressing himself against a tree he simply watched. Three men, well armed, circled a young, small woman. With a firm grip, one wrapped his arms around her midsection and subdued her while another, not far away craddled his arm.

"She cut me!" he called out and raised his hand. It cracked against the side of her face and, though he was in pain, a small satisfied grin presented itself across his ugly mug.

"Careful," the unoccupied man spoke with a heavy accent, "Our orders were to bring her back alive and unharmed."

"What," the man spoke as he began to wrap his arm with a piece of cloth, "she fell against the tree as she ran."

A smile spread across the lips of the free man as he stepped toward her, "No tellin' what exactly could have happened while in these woods," his hand brushed against her cheek, down her neck to her shoulder, "After all, there are monsters out here."

"You talkin," the one holding her grunted as she tried to jerk away. Between the drugs and the strike, she was severely weakened but still quite the fighter it seemed, "You talkin' about that ranger? No one's seen him."

"Aye, but if we were to stumble upon the princess having been spoiled by such a man," he dragged a finger against her collar bone.

Abel had seen enough. His jaw clenched in frustration as he slipped the bow from his neck, drew an arrow and knocked it. He aimed, exhaled and the released. It flew silently through the air and slammed into the neck of the man still wrapping his arm. The impact, followed by the gurgling sound caused his friends to spin about. One still held onto the woman while the other drew his blade. He frantically searched his surroundings for the assailant but Abel would not be found. Knocking back another arrow, he aimed, breathed, and let it fly. A second arrow followed shortly after. The first drove into the captor's thigh causing him to fall to the ground and tossing the woman to the ground not far from him. The second entered the last standing man's shoulder. Placing his bow against the tree, he drew his sword with one hand and walked calmly through the trees.

Once the man saw him, he spoke, "Stop," he pushed out between grunts as he looked back and forth at the arrow and Abel as he approached, "I order you to-" he watched as Abel slipped a dagger from his chest and threw it at the man lying on the ground. It slammed into his chest and the man fell still.

Abel watched as the man swallowed hard and the squared off to fight him. With a shoulder wound, he stood no chance but Abel wasn't going to tell him that. While he tried to stay away from men, mostly because they were always more trouble than not to work with, he would not tolerate such disrespect towards women. It had been something his father had taught him since he could remember. It took little effort to parry the man's weakened, slow attack. He followed it up by severing the man's hand - the one that had been rather touchy. Without that hand and flooded with pain and shock, the man fell to his knees. Anger filled his eyes as he looked up at Abel.

"Others will come looking," he pushed out through the pain as he gripped his arm, "They'll find you."

Abel shook his head as he raised the point of his sword against the man's throat, "No they won't," he said confidently, "I don't exist," he pushed the sword through his neck before withdrawing it. After the man collapsed to the ground, he approached the woman. Kneeling beside her, he scanned the area quickly before speaking, "You alright?"


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