Aaricia and the Noland Army

An epic tale of adventure that features Aaricia; a young woman having being betrayed by a loved one, lost her family and her home, must find a way to raise an elite army to help reclaim all she’s lost. Bestowed with a remarkable gift to communicate with a rare kind of beast, and armed with a handful of mercenaries, she must rise to face the most revered ruler in all the lands; the evil Queen, and swayer of the great kingdom of Azzodonia.


3. Perfidious

The moon has never been as beautiful as it appears, and the perfect solace for a perfect evening is what Aaricia sees of this moment, as she holds within the warm embrace of Gerald. The night couldn’t be any better, save for the sudden bashing of the advancing armed guards, who kick down the front door.    
A fleeing Aaricia and Gerald quickly run through a secret passage leading to a rear exit. The guards persistently chase after them through the thick woods and unto to the cliff.
As the armed guards surround the pair and with no way of escape, fear grips the couple and they know they wouldn’t come off it alive.’
“Do you trust me?” Gerald asks as he turns staring into her eyes.
 The moon radiant shining upon her face.
“You know I do, my love!” she says as she gazes into his eyes, burying her head unto his chest, “You’re my all!” she whispers.
He kisses her, smiles and pushes her off the cliff. As she spirals to a fall, she watches how the armed guards ferociously attack her love, and into a body of water, she plunges, just inches away from a rock and her consciousness dissipates from her as she sinks deep under.
Motionless and still, she desperately tries to breathe as the approaching behemoth of the sea opens wide its jaw for the swallow.
“Aaagh!” Aaricia screamed, swinging her sword in the air, only to discern that the creature was actually Zack, whose throat rest at the sharp end of her steel blade.
It was a dream.
“Don’t you ever sneak up on me like that!” yelled Aaricia.
“You had a nightmare,” he said, “You were screaming, I came to wake you up!”
“Is it just me, or did this situation occur before?” said a curious Karazan, while standing by the entrance to the tent.
Aaricia gently withdrew her sword, “I’m sorry!” she said as she sighed heavily.
“It’s okay,” he said, as he stroked his lucky throat to be sure she didn’t cut him, “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine!” she said in a low tone.
“Ah! Good morning!” Karazan said, “I heard a scream! All is well, it seems! The men are ready, awaiting your command, once you’re done with your lover boy!”
“We’re not lovers!” Zack and Aaricia said in unison.
“Oookay!” Karazan teased, “I’ll be outside with the rest of the men. When you’re done!” Winking at Zack.
“You look worried,” said Zack to Aaricia, “Maybe I should tell them to wait for a while.”
“I said I’m fine,” she exclaimed.
“That symbol on your wrist,” he said, “What is it?”
“I told you it’s nothing,” she replied, “Why do you keep asking.” she gently concealed the mark with the arm of her sleeve.
Zack could tell she didn’t want to talk about it.
Moments later, Aaricia and Zack joined the men as they set out to Ghourak, the land of the gryphons.
As they marched through the woods, some on horses and others on foot. Aaricia was silent and so was Zack, they both walked far from each other, acting unconcerned for each time their eyes met.
They moved through a series of shanty hamlets and villages. The unending sights of filth and disease stricken people. The depth of poverty displayed, made Aaricia’s eyes drown in tears.
No sign of hope in the midst, only the desolate sign of emptiness and despair. To control her spirit, Aaricia would get off her horse and tender a bit of supplies, bread and water to the impoverished children, and to the old, words of comfort and hope.
“Give them all we have, my lady,” said Karazan, “And we shall be left with nothing to take us to our destination!” Shaking his head as he rode his horse.
They kept moving until dusk and got to a valley, where they made camp in order to stay the rest of the night. Many of the men were exhausted. They roasted what they had within their reach, ducklings, rodents and crawling reptiles made for pleasant delicacies.
Aaricia came to the company of Zack, bringing him water and bread.
“I’m sorry with the way I reacted the other time,” she apologized, “I want to thank you for everything.”
“It’s okay, you obviously have gone through a lot” he smiled, “Do you wish to talk about it?”
“Yes, I would,” she said, “But maybe not today.”
“It’s alright,” he responded, “I understand!”
“You’re a good man,” she smiled.
“That’s what I fear the most,” he responded, “Being good enough to be noticed, in a world that only embraces intense ill will and hatred!”
“Yes, you’re right, Zack,” she said, “But we mustn’t give up on the world. As much disheartening as it may appear, if the few good people in the world would join hands, we could make the world a better place!”
“Yes, you’re right about that!” he said, ‘“We mustn’t give up on the world!”’
“Stealing my lines as well,” she teased, “No wonder Karazan calls you a thief!” she smiled.
“If I’d ever been a thief,” he replied holding her hand, “It’d be just for one relic, and one only…to steal your heart! Besides, I’m not the only thief here, for you stole mine first!”
“Hmm!” she blushed, “You won’t just be a thief for that, you’d be a hero for it’s heavily guarded!”
“For that possession, I’d be a conqueror,” he smiled, “I’d die or kill for it!” he said as they stared into each other’s eyes passionately.
Within the warmth range of the fire and under the gaze of a guarding Karazan and Simo.
“Funny how you let a bird slip through your fingers unto a sheep’s watch!” said Simo to Karazan, “Such taste of beauty shouldn’t be shared.”
“I know you didn’t just try to entice me, Dirty Simo,” said Karazan, “For I know you should know better than to lecture me on how to behold beauty.”
“I’m only echoing out what you’re thinking!” Simo responded, “Your charm is miles away from what some of us have to offer. Just thought you should know!”
“Charm like milk, has it potency, Dirty Simo,” Karazan said, “But honour lasts forever. Even amidst the unworthy, though, they are virtues I never expect you to understand.”  He smiled, “you’ve had your own fair share of the lust for life, and while your wretched being rots away, you still clamour for what you will never possess. The lad may be young and inexperienced, but he still has value for love. A pity, not many are that lucky! Goodnight!”
Four armed guards rush through the busy market, one of them hits an old blind beggar, who just got a few coins in his dish.
“Watch it, you crud!” says one of the guards to the beggar.
“My child, help the needy!” The beggar cries.
“Needy, eh?” answers the guard as they halt, “Let me help you.” He plunges his hand into the blind man’s dish, “Vagabond!”
“Please!” the blind man cries again, hearing the sound of his coins being stolen. The old beggar stands to his feet in protest, “What are you doing?”
“Silence, scum!” the guard pushes him to the ground and spits on him. “You lazy old mendicant!”
The rest of the guards laugh, shaking their heads as they share the helpless man’s stolen lot among themselves.
“Hey! Stop that,” Aaricia yells, “This is not right!” rushing to help the old man, “You should be ashamed of yourselves!” she snatches some of the coins from them.
“Woman,” says one of the guards, “The beauty you have should not go untasted. Come and feel the succulence of my tongue!”
“Let her go!” says the second guard, “Not now!” as he stares at her.
She turns to the blind beggar, and reaching to a small wrapped garment, she gives him some alms.
“What is your name, my child?” The beggar asks.
“My name is Aaricia,” she replies, with a warm smile as she helps him up.
“Such kindness,” he says, “Aaricia, Even to the most fiddling of men your beautiful heart stretches down its warm hand!” he manages to stand on his feet with her help, dusting the sand off his person as he wears a smile of gratitude, “Oh, such beauty, even the sun couldn’t wait to spring up once it goes beyond the western mountains just to set its gaze upon thy fairness!”
Aaricia smiles, shying away from the old man’s compliment, “Have you ever heard,” she remarks, “A blind man that speaks as though he sees!" Using her veil to cover half of her face.
“Your beauty cannot be hidden even to the likes of those in the dark,” says the beggar, “Take this, you deserve it,” handing an amulet, “I cannot let such kindness go unrewarded!”
 “No, I can’t accept this. You don’t have to reward me like this, my service was nothing,” she says, “I have all that I need, I only wish I could give more to you such as to restore the sight you’ve lost, but that’s an act for the one who controls all affairs from above, not mortal men!”
“It’s not mine, it belongs to you!” says the beggar as he gently takes her hand, placing the amulet, “Peace shall find thee, and in forgiveness, that which is rightfully yours shall seek thee!” he whispers.
“Is everything okay, my love?” asks Gerald, as Aaricia turns to see him.
He pants as he holds her, “I’m sorry it took this long to get here. Who was the beggar?”
“Was?” she turns but could not see the blind beggar, she looks about wondering where the beggar went, “he gave me an amulet, saying the world will…”
“The world will what?” Gerald asked, holding her hand tenderly.
“Nothing!” she answers as her eyes wander in the busy market place, “Let’s go home, my love!”
The night is cold. Aaricia opened her eyes and realised she just retracted from another phase of a reoccurring dream, but this time, found herself snuggled in a sleeping Zack’s warming arms. She smiled as she moved her cheek to Zack’s warm lips.
“Good morning, Princess!” Zack said.
“Yes!” echoed another voice from above, “Good morning, Princess!”
A startled Zack and Aaricia arose to realise they were surrounded by an array of armed men, pointing spears and arrows at them. They turned and noticed Karazan, Simo and the rest of the men subdued as they lay on the ground.
One of the armed men spoke, “Welcome strangers, to the end of the road!”


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