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“Yun! Come back!!” The guards cried, but it did nothing to slow her. Faster and faster Yun ran, the forest slowly enveloping her with dark greens and bright yellows. Hours and hours and hours of maintaining the same nimble pace lead her to a clearing of sorts, with pine trees making a dome sealing with a hole spanning about 10 yards in diameter, lending some light to her surroundings. The scraggly green grass created a muffling affect to her feet as she slowed her pace to a more reasonable jog. There hasn’t been much rainfall, so we must be in one of the rare dry spells. The moss is still dry enough to be good kindling for a fire, and those rocks are flat enough to strike with my knife for spark. Those trees look as if they could bend enough to make a lean-to. All these judgments Yun made in a fraction of a second, knowing there were only a few hours of daylight left.
Yun, the daughter of King Turner, had just received news of her fate. Well, received wouldn’t exactly describe it. She had overheard her dad speaking with a philosopher:
“Your highness, I believe your daughter will die of poisoning” said the philosopher, Gabriel.
“Are you sure?” the king said frantically. “Could you be mistaken?”
“I’m afraid not, my lord. The stars have spoken.”
Not believing the obviously insane philosopher, King Turner sent him out the door, but not before he heard the all-too familiar footsteps of his beloved fourteen year old daughter, fleeing from the castle – so he sent his guards after her. Though he knew his efforts were in vain; for Yun was a fierce runner who could keep up a fast gaite for hours before tiring. The last he saw of her was her dark brown braid bouncing away in the distance.
Contrary to popular belief, not all princesses needed a full staff of servants to survive. Yun had a fire made in seconds, and a reasonable lean-to built within the hour. She had just started gathering root vegetables and wild onions, planning to make a stew with the pot she had managed to swipe, when she heard a rustling. Her knife was out of her reach back at the lean-to, so all she had was the partial bow she had started crafting and some short-staffed arrows made for small game. As the rustling approached she nocked an arrow and pulled to half draw in one fluid motion, quickly realizing, with a small little chuckle, that the rustling was just a rabbit, attracted to the carrots she had been pulling. That night she had quite a delicious rabbit stew.
The King tried desperately for days to find Yun, but to no avail. Only one person knew where she was hiding, though he didn’t know she was hiding there yet. He was only going about his normal hunting route, when he had a sudden urge to push forward, past what he had deemed the end of his trail. Knowing that these urges usually led him to good game, he pressed on. But after hours of trudging through the fallen leaves, what he found was not exactly classified as ‘game’.
Yun was aroused by heavy footsteps, about 45 yards away, she judged absent mindedly. Not nearly as soft as the light tread of the dear or the practically silent hops of the rabbits she had been hunting the past weeks. Her bow was notched and at full draw before she could think, but when she saw who was approaching, she regretted letting the arrow fly. It was a dead hit, straight to the knee. She ran full throttle and was next to him in a matter of milliseconds.
“Gared, Gared, are you okay?” Yun asked her one and only friend, knowing it was a foolish question indeed. This was actually quite similar to the first time she and Gared had met, she reselected, though that time the wound was hers, inflicted by him…
He was hunting and heard a rustling in a nearby bush, and, being the natural hunter was, prodded lightly in the bush with his long knife, a blow that would have demobilized most small prey. So when he heard a shrieking cry of pain, he was quite taken aback. He pried apart the branches of the bush, finding a small, but well built, girl of about his age. He hastily lifted her out, ignoring her thrashing and bighting at his hands. She was only nine while he was eleven, but he still held her strongly in his well muscled arms before placing her on the grass. He had examined the wound, finding it to be almost an inch deep. Then, after cleaning and sealing the wound, he disappeared into the darkness to give her enough time to reclaim her senses before speaking.
“What a pleasant way to greet an old pal,” he said through gritted teeth as she pulled the arrow out of his rapidly bleeding knee.
“I’m sorry… I… how… what do I…?” she stammered, struggling to keep tears from pouring down her face. Realizing that Yun was probably in more pain from shooting him than he was from being shot, Gared quieted her down and fixed his own wound as Yun sucked down her sobs as best she could; though they only came out as more of gulps for air than actually weeping.
But instead of calming down and examining her wound as Gared had expected, she completely ignored the wound and cried on and on, first sharp wails but then just a silent flow of tears. She got up and walked towards him, unable to speak, so in all her princess glory, she went up on her tiptoes and kissed him lightly, just once, on the cheek. His face turned a bright red as she stared at him; a smile almost coming to her face, then fading to return to a solemn pout. Her sniffling had quieted enough for her to speak, but when she did Gared was even more shocked than when pecked on the cheek.
“I am Princess Yun, daughter of the great King Turner, and I arrest you for assaulting a member of the royal family”. He stood aghast, appalled at the thought of being under such high charges.
He immediately hugged her in his friendliest and most reassuring matter, but like their first meeting, her tears only flowed harder as all the thoughts of home filled her head. She sat herself down in her lean-to and waited for her tears to subside before speaking. “I was scared… you came… my fate is to be killed so I—”
“Wait, hold up. You’re going to be killed? That’s not happening” Gared said in a matter-of-fact sort of way that almost always calmed her. “Let’s get you to the castle and sort this whole thing—“
“I can’t go back there… I ran… Father’s looking… I can’t go back.” Yun said amidst short, shallow breaths.
“I’m staying here with you then,” Gared said. “I won’t leave you to sulk all alone again.”
“But because you aided an injured member of the royal family, your sentence in evoked”. Then, before Gared could fit in a single syllable, Yun broke down into tears once more, while Gared finally figured out why she had been crying for a good two hours. The Queen of Urik had died sick in bed, according to rumors. He embraced her, whispering ‘I’m so sorry’, ‘It’s okay’ and all the useless mombo-jumbo other people say.
So it was settled. Yun and Gared stayed together in the clearing—after some adjustments were made to the one-person lean-to. Gared insisted on doing all the hunting (of course), so Yun did the jobs of collecting firewood and edible plants and such, tasks only taking up a meager portion of her days. To pass the time she would carve her bow to a better shape, smoothing the roughest edges by soaking it in a nearby stream then widling away with her knife. Soon it was smooth as the river stones, and her ‘borrowed’ bow string was always strung taught; her arrows (again ‘borrowed’) in a hand stitched dear-skin quiver she’d crafted herself. Gared’s sword was also ready at hand, sharpened and put loosely in his scabbard before nightfall.
“Gared,” Yun said in an almost inaudible whisper. “Someone’s in the clearing.” Gared’s sword was unsheathed within seconds, but the sound of it was almost deafening to Yun’s ears. Surely whoever’s there must have heard that. She thought to herself as she noiselessly notched an arrow and pulled to full draw. Knowing that Gared would protest to what she was planning, she made no attempt to tell him what was going through her head. Stealthily, she stepped out of the lean-to and blended into the shadows of late night. Unfortunately ‘almost instantly’ wasn’t quick enough for her not to be seen by the mysterious stranger. They started a forward approach and, to Yun’s surprise, when she fired the arrow straight to the heart, they only quickened they’re pace.
Within seconds they’re sword had made a clumsy cut to Yun’s arm before its wielder fell flat. An excruciating pain aroused from Yun’s arm as she saw blood pouring down her elbow. The last thing she saw was Gared moving swiftly to her side, mumbling what were meant to be words but only coming to her as faint vowels. Not to her knowing, the next thing that happened was she was lifted in Gared’s hefty arms and carried to the lean-to for further examination.
“Move out of the way! I have Princess Yun! No I do not want you to take her off my hands!” Gared bellowed as only someone in an upmost hurry could. In only two hours he had carried her from the remote clearing that had taken him six hours to reach. Yun tried to grumble a protest, but it just came out as “grnible.” Unsure of what part of the castle to bring Yun to, Gared decided that the best place to bring her would be to see King Turner himself. After persuading the guards that it was of the upmost importance that Yun should see her father before being properly healed, Yun was plopped down right on the King’s lap whilst a panting Gared awaited a response.
After what seemed like hours of pure silence, Gared grew impatient. “Well hurry up and say something before your daughter faints again!” The King was almost dumbfounded at how disrespectfully he was being addressed, until he realized he was being addressed by someone who had just saved his daughter’s life.
“Welcome home, sweetie—“ said an overly happy King. But Yun didn’t quite here the rest for, being still a bit loopy from the rapid blood loss, she had fallen slowly out of her chair and into unconsciousness.
With further examination into the clearing that Yun had found herself in, the body of her attacker proclaimed to be the same philosopher that had prophesized her fate. It was later deduced that the clearing was indeed a death trap; where Gabriel had planned to kill her himself and tell the king she was poisoned as he had said.