A/N: And by "working title," I mean most DEFINITELY not the real title. Noooo. I need something much better. A majority of the names are probably going to be working names as well. While I am pretty satisfied with Aliama and Taanin, Desdin I'm not particularly fond of, so he will possibly be renamed. (When thinking up stories, names are usually the LAST thing to come, generally while I'm in the process of writing, when I NEED something there, haha!)
Anyway, this is the (possible) beginning of the story in the second excerpt in the Demonstration thread (http://apforums.net/showthread.php?t=28042). I'm not sure if this is the ACTUAL beginning, or just a flashback. Either way, it's a necessary scene, so there ya go.
“Did you hear? The Third Calvary leaves today.”
“Returning to the Valley of the Hirotok, then?”
“Yes. Back to war.”
“That’s too bad. I really wish this silly war were over…”
“Silly! It’s not silly at all. Would you really see the Hirotok given to those Asernan jackals? They already have the sea; why should they have the most fertile river on Angrata as well?”
“Calm down, noisy girl! I only said I wished it were over… with us as the victors, of course!”
“Oh, of course!”
“Victory for Sornolla! Down with Aserna!”
There was a chorus of cheering from the gossiping servants, a few of whom whirled their washing above their heads, like banners.
“But still, how do you think Princess Aliama will take it?”
“Milady? Well, I’m sure she worries about the welfare of her subjects…”
There was a giggle from one of the younger maids. “Oh, yes; especially the welfare of one soldier in particular…”
“You mean a certain Captain Corthos?” another of about the same age chimed in.
“Oh, yes! I believe she rather fancies him.”
“Ladies, still your tongues!” cried the eldest of the servants, a middle-aged, homely woman. “The very thought of it; one of our princesses, taking up with a common soldier. What a scandal!”
“Oh, I don’t know… He’s already a captain, and at such a young age; he’s barely twenty! He could be a general before we know it. And then it would not be that unheard of.”
“And haven’t you seen the way she looks at him during supper?”
“With those big, moony eyes?”
“Yes! I think-”
The maids fell abruptly silent as the doorway’s curtain was suddenly flung open. A girl, clothed in an elegant, blue silk dress, stood there, neck held high as she glared down her nose at the women. A simple silver ring crowned her head, glittering in the hot desert sunlight.
“And what would we be discussing so avidly out here?” she demanded, eyes narrowed dangerously.
“Nothing, Milady,” chorused the girls quickly.
“Oh? I heard an awful lot of chat.”
“We were just talking about how the Third Calvary’s leaving today,” explained one of the younger maids, receiving angry looks from the others.
The hand still holding the curtain back clutched it harder. “Do not speak of their departure in my presence,” she snapped.
“Yes, Milady,” the girls chorused again, heads bowing in obedience.
She glared at them a moment longer, then sniffed in disdain and swept back into her inner chamber.
The servants looked at each other, and the youngest began to giggle. The old maid sighed and pressed the back of her hand to her forehead tragically.
“What a scandal!”
Captain Corthos had just rolled up his bedroll when a gust of wind slipped under the bottom of his tent and flew up, jingling the wind chimes he had hanging from the ceiling. He looked up at the sound, then frowned toward the tent flap. He hadn’t been expecting that signal today.
Still, he stood up and dusted off the knees of his pants, then walked out of the tent and made his way through camp toward the trees. He waved off any questions from lower ranking men and entered the shadows.
He followed a well known path until he found himself among the reeds at the oasis’ shore. He had only a minute to wait before he heard rustling behind him, and he turned toward it with a smile.
The hood was brought down to reveal a girl, scarcely fifteen, with thick black hair pinned back from her face and characteristically Sornollan eyes, though the brown was just a bit more like sand wet from a good rain than normal, the green band around the pupil just a bit brighter than the usual emerald. She had beautiful eyes, he had always thought.
She smiled at him as she waded through the reeds, carrying an air of dignity even out here, three miles from the palace walls. But beneath that dignity was a certain shyness, a childlike nervousness. Over a month of meeting like this, and she was still just a giddy little girl who was trying to find womanhood.
“Desdin,” she greeted. “I was worried you would be too busy to see me today.”
“Don’t be silly; I always have time for you, Princess.”
Her smile broadened, and she closed the last of the gap between them, looking up at him. The top of her head barely reached his shoulders.
“Don’t call me that. You know I hate it.”
He chuckled. “I’m sorry, Aliama.”
“Much better. Isn’t it better to not be formal?”
“Yes. Much better,” he agreed.
“Mmm…” She wrapped her arms around his torso and laid her head on his chest. “Is it true?”
“That you’re leaving today.”
“Those are our orders…”
She pouted into his shirt. “Can’t you stay?”
“Of course not. I’m a captain; it wouldn’t do for a captain to send his men away without him.”
She took a step back and looked into his eyes earnestly. “I could get you reassigned, you know. I could get you a position here, so you could be with me…”
She trailed off when he began shaking his head. “You know me. I wouldn’t be content here. I want to help defeat those disgusting Asernans.”
She sighed heavily. “I know… but I wish we didn’t have to be separated for you to do it.”
He chuckled again. “Well, it certainly wouldn’t be right for one of the country’s princesses to accompany me to war, would it?”
Her eyes darted out to the water. “I’m plenty strong enough,” she muttered, more to herself than Desdin.
“But Sornolla needs you here, watching over the people. You have duties that you need to attend to.”
“Ugh! Duty!” She whirled away from him and stamped her foot. “Duty is ridiculous. What’s the good of being a princess if you always have to do what everyone else wants of you?”
“I don’t want to stay here. I want to go with you!” she whined suddenly, turning back to him and looking at him with pleading eyes.
He sighed wearily. “You can’t.”
“Hmph.” She turned away and stared back out at the glittering oasis. “Fine then. Have it your way, Captain Corthos. I hope you are very happy doing your duty while I do mine.”
“Aliama, please don’t be that way.”
She didn’t turn around.
He stared at her a moment, frustrated, then grabbed her arm and turned her around. She cried out in protest, but then gasped when she saw what he was holding out to her.
“A ring, obviously.”
And it was a ring, a beautiful, solid silver band. Simple, yet elegant.
“What’s it for?” she asked, voice childlike.
He took her right hand and slipped it onto her ring finger. She stared at it, wide-eyed and silent.
“This is just a little promise,” he explained. “A promise to return to you one day.”
She blinked, then tears welled in her eyes for the briefest of instants. “Truly?”
“Truly.” He smiled.
She smiled back. “Then… I guess I can let you go now.”
He nodded. “I’ll be back before you miss me.”
“Impossible; I’ll miss you the second you’re out of sight.” She sighed, then gave him a cheerful grin. “Floresu selloton mitos,” she said in the old tongue. God be with you. And then, for good measure, she added, “And may the sandstorms flee before you,” in native Sornollan.
“Floresu selloton mitos,” he answered back. “And may good rains come your way.”
“Until to the oasis you return.”
“Until the oasis receives me again,” he completed. And then, as though to finalize it, he leaned down and kissed her lips, softly.
Aliama’s eyes fell closed, all her being flowing into the kiss.
When they opened again, he was gone, nothing left to prove his existence save a stirring in the reeds and the ring on her finger.
A/N: I decided part way through this that Aliama has a very formal way of speaking when being a princess, a relaxed way when talking to people she's close to (in this case, Desdin), and a more contemporary speech with people she doesn't like much, i.e. Taanin. Aww, poor Taanin. T_T XD