• We are ambushed! We are ambushed!

    Sound the alarm!

    The words rang throughout the whole camp area, waking every single soldier from the solemn slumber. Each rushed to their posts with their assigned weapons, but a sudden moment of silence filled the misty night air.

    “Where are they…?” asked one of them.

    The deafening silence continued, and slowly, they each lowered their guards. There was no other sound to be heard, save their hurried breaths and their drum-beating hearts.

    “This is an ambush, they say? Hah! Wait till I-”

    A bow sang, and an arrow was struck on the soldier’s forehead.

    Another deafening silence, but this time, it was filled with fear.

    “…what in the world?”

    The sound of hooves stomping the ground was clear in the stagnant air. But before the soldiers could ready their weapons once more, the hooves started beating faster.

    And then, clash.

    - - -

    She woke up to the screaming and yelling of the soldiers outside her tent. Her aching head made her wonder whether this was all a dream or not, but seeing her handmaid opening the flap of her tent and begging her to leave the tent, she knew it was no dream.

    “Your Highness, come this way, hurry!” she cried.

    The princess jumped from her bed and, dressed in only her white nightgown, she ran with her handmaid by her side, following the back road to avoid the battle at the front. They ran and ran till they reached the commander’s tent.

    “Your Highness, you must deliver this to the king before they take it from us,” the stern commander shoved something in her hands and looked back at her, “Travel fast and swiftly, and avoid the roads. Travel only in the woods,”

    “But sir-”

    “GO, NOW!”

    “Princess, we must make haste before-” her handmaid stopped short at the sound of something crashing.

    It was too late. The tent fell and before them stood an armoured rider in black with his helm on him, carrying his heavy lance on his one hand while the other held on tightly to the reigns. He raised his lance, aiming for the princess.

    But there was a sudden clanging sound; the commander stepped in and stopped the lance with his heavy sword.

    “Go now, Princess!”

    “A princess, how interesting,” said the black rider, his voice showing interest.

    “Your Highness, let’s go!”

    And they ran, leaving the commander to handle the black rider. They fled into the woods just behind the campsite and watched it burn to the ground. By now, she could tell that the commander didn’t make it.

    It was clearly the doings of the black rider with his other knights under his command, but she knew she couldn’t stay to help. She was entrusted with an important mission from the general, despite her half-sleepy state. It seemed to her like it was just another nightmare, except this one seemed so real.

    “Hurry, Princess! We must- AAH!”

    She blinked and turned to her handmaiden; the woman was already on the ground with an arrow struck directly to her heart. The princess gasped and turned back to the sight of the burning camp, only to see five black riders approaching her fast.

    There was no doubt now; it’s either she runs or dies.

    “You will not take me,” she muttered the oath under her breath and turned to run.

    The riders were closing in to her, but she, with only her nightgown on her, managed to outrun most of them. She went into places were galloping was made harder for the horses, lessening the number of chasers to two.

    “She’s only a little girl!”

    “Get her!”

    Little girl!? I’m eighteen years of age, mind you!

    Ahead of her was a steep slope; this was her chance. Apparently, the riders weren’t aware of the slope ahead of them. She bent her body lower and her speed increased tenfold. As soon as the slope was only inches away from where she was, the princess bent her whole body downwards entirely and rolled herself down the slope, cradling the item that the general entrusted her with. She didn’t know what happened to the two chasers; her mind was already fuzzy by the time she reached the bottom of the slope.

    But the item was still in her hand.

    The princess continued her run, but her legs were almost giving way. She was tired beyond measure, and to top it all up, one of the chasers managed to brave down the steep slope with his horse and was still bent on chasing her.

    She panted, feeling her legs getting all jelly-like and the worst part of it, she was slowly unable to feel her toes. The chaser was getting closer to her. Night was darkening, and the stars no longer filled the skies.

    “I must…hurry…” she murmured helplessly.

    But in the end, she couldn’t. She fell.

    - - -

    A sudden shiver ran up her spine and jolted her from her sleep. She blinked; it was dawn, and everything else in the forest was slowly stirring in wake. The princess tried to get up, but she suddenly felt something stopping her. She looked behind her and saw her legs and wrists were bound tightly. The item was no longer in her hands.

    She glanced around worriedly, looking for that particular item, but saw only a black horse tethered to a tree.

    “Whatever you’re looking for, it’s not there,” said a voice from behind her.

    The princess arched her neck a little to the back to see a man in full black armour approaching her way. She tried to edge away from him, worming her way to the other side. But the man easily caught her by the binds on her back and turned her to him, forcing her to look upon the horrifying black helm he had on him.

    “Where did you hide it?” he demanded.

    It took her a moment to realise that he was talking about the item she held on to before this; the one thing she lost. Looking away, she shook her head softly and disappointingly. “I don’t have it with me either, when I woke up, it was gone,”

    “Lying don't work on me, girl,” he shook her hard and made her look closer to his hideous helm, “I can tell whether you’re lying or not,”

    “I swear, I don’t know. But even if I did,” she shot him a look, defying his intentions, “Would I even tell you even if I was lying?”

    The man threw her roughly on the ground and stood up again, walking back to his horse, “I should never have followed you if I knew this was going to happen,” he unfastened the reigns on his horse from the tree, “Instead of wasting my time with you, I might as well search for a way back,”

    She smirked at him, “And return to your captain empty-handed? Wouldn’t that be embarrassing?”

    “How dare you!” he unsheathed his sword and pointed it at her face, its sharp point almost touching her nose, “Watch what you say, girl, or it’ll be the end of you right here and now,”

    “If you kill me,” her eyes moved from the sword to his face, which, she somehow assumed that it resembles the shape of the helm he wore, “You won’t be able to find that thing. Who knows, I might suffer from some sort of amnesia and forgot where I lost it. And perhaps along the way, I might remember where I put it, no?”

    He stood there, unmoving, trying to swallow the truth of her words.

    The princess smirked, knowing that she has somehow won. She decided to add on; “Also, this forest is full of strange creatures that can easily cast their charms on you,” she noticed his grip on the sword has somewhat weakened, “I know of their lore, and how to avoid such creatures in this forest. After all, the forest is no stranger to me,”

    The man lowered his sword, trying to consider on whether to take her along with him or not.

    He was faced with two choices; on one hand, he could easily leave her, remain lost for a few days before returning back to his captain. But that is if he made it out alive, considering what she had just said about the strange creatures that roam the forest. On the other hand, if he took her with him, he would be able to surpass any evil creatures and come out safely. Perhaps even throughout the way, she might remember where she misplaced that important item. Even though he knew she would never tell him, he could always leave her in the hands of her captain and not be bothered anymore.

    Finally, after much thinking, he gave his answer; “Fine, but be warned,” He sheathed his sword and got to her, pulling her up to her feet, “You are still my prisoner,”

    “Yes, of course, that I understand,” she smiled, but it was more of a sneer than a smile.

    The black knight grumbled and shoved her up his saddle, “Just because you get to come with me, doesn’t mean that I’ll treat you any nicer, girl,”

    “Or so you think,” the princess smirked and watched as he mounted the horse, “I might not warn you of any upcoming dangers later on if you treat me bad. I’m quite dangerous too, you know?”

    He blinked and clicked at his horse to move, “Y-you…you talk too much,” he may not look like but inside the helm, he could feel his cheeks heating up a little.