Bright and early the next morning, despite the letter that had been sent, Trevor and Jub headed off into the forest at dawn as they had previously agreed to do.
Neither of the boys had ever been outside the walls of the town once before, let alone into the forest of their rivals.
They hiked for a long while taking in the trees, birds, bushes, endless miles of grass.
They came to the edge of a small clearing with a lake in the middle of it. Both boys ducked out of sight as from the other end three people came out.
“I can’t believe you convinced us to do this.” They heard the brown haired boy say.
“Come on, Colis.” The girl said, “I feel filthy, and I’m not about to do this alone.”
“Why don’t you bath like the other girls do?” He hissed at her.
The girl wasn’t fazed, “Because if I did I wouldn’t be me.” He retorted, “Besides what’s the fun in sitting on the side of the lake and cleaning with a cloth?”
“Come on, Colis.” The blond said, “Everyone knows you wanted to see her naked for years.”
“I have not.” He argued.
“Whatever you say.” The girl said and went behind some rocks.
“Crys, you’re crazy sometimes.” The blond said.
Luckily for Trevor and Jub the wind was blowing away from them.
“Why thank you.” She said and giggled.
“What’s up with you lately anyway?” Colis asked her.
“I don’t know.” She said, “I guess I’m a little ants.”
“About the war that’s about to happen?” Myrth asked her.
The boys couldn’t help but listen intently.
“Exactly.” She said, “Close your eyes.”
They did as they were told, and heard a loud splash seconds later.
“You can open if you want.” She told them pulling her long dark brown hair back.
“Oh, come on, Crysalys.” Myrth said, “You love fights.”
“That’s just it.” She said scratching Silver’s ear, “I don’t think this war can be solved with a war.”
“How do you figure?” Colis asked.
“Think about it.” She told them, “Why on earth would it be a beast princess and not a beast prince? I think it might be because she is supposed to bring peace, not kill everything.”
“But that’s what the legend says.” Myrth told her.
“Do you not think I don’t know that, Myrth?” She asked, “But no one alive has the slightest idea of what a beast princess is supposed to act like. Maybe they were all just really good in battle, but the truth of the matter is, we’re actually supposed to marry one of the gunners or something to keep the peace.”
“Why the hell would it be that?” Colis asked.
She shrugged, “It’s just a thought.” She said, “I mean it’s always boys who are beast masters, warriors, thiefs, necromancers, gunners, brawlers, guardians, alchemists, rangers. The only true places for women are as bards, healers, and black mages.”
“You forgetting witches.” Myrth told her.
She rolled her eyes, “How could I forget.”
They laughed lightly.
“I just think I’m supposed to be a little something more than just killing our enemies.” She told them, “I know exactly what happened in out history. But that’s ancient, can’t we put it all behind us?”
“There’s something else on your mind.” Myrth said.
She nodded, “When I grow up, I know I’m gonna get a marriage request from everyone. But the thing is, I don’t want to have kids with anyone, I don’t care how amazing he really is, until this war is over, and there’s peace, and we don’t have this constant fighting anymore. I want them to grow up looking at each other as equals. I know no matter what we’ll have differences, but I don’t want the word savage to exist.”
“It always will.” Myrth told her.
“I know.” She said, “But I can dream, can’t I?”
“We’re all allowed those.” Colis said.
They laughed again.
covered by the forest at the edge of the clearing, Trevor never thought he’d hear someone with the same thoughts as he. She was perfect. She didn’t want a war anymore, she looked like a lot of fun, she knew there was something more to her then she was told, and she doesn’t want to fight with them anymore. To Trevor, she was perfect.
“Crysalys?” He asked himself speaking her name that one of the boys had said earlier, “Beautiful.”
“You are not falling for her?” Jub asked his friend.
“She’s exactly what I want.” He told him, “She doesn’t want a fight between the two sides, she doesn’t want her children to grow up hating people they don’t know. And Jub, take a good look at her, she’s beautiful.”
“Kinda scrawny and muscular to me.” He said.
“How can someone be scrawny and muscular?” He asked.
“She doesn’t have a whole lot of meat on her bones.” He explained, “But the meat she does have, it’s pure mussle.”
Trevor thought for a second, “Okay, she’s more muscular then we’re used to.” He admitted, “But she’s my kind of beautiful.”
“Yeah?” Jub asked.
“Yeah.” He said, “I want her to marry me.”
“That’s nice.” Jub said, then it registered just what he said, “Wait! You what?!” he yelled.
“Idiot!” Trevor pulled him back down, but not before being seen by them.
Crysalys was already out of the water and half dressed, Silver and Romona were on high alert.
“Look what you did.” He hissed, “Let’s go.”
They hadn’t even taken two steps when Crysalys dropped down in front of them. She was in a crouch low to the ground, her eyes piercing into theirs like a knife.
“And you want to marry that?” Jub asked scared out of his mind.
“You’re out of your territory.” She hissed.
“I say we kill them.” Colis said catching up with her, Myrth at his heels.
“Wait a minute.” Trevor said, “You got it all wrong.”
“So, you weren’t peeping on me while I was in the lake, fantisising about marrying me one day, and having me bear your children in a world where neither of our sides fights with the other?” She asked.
“He was.” Jub said, “I came along because he asked.”
“Cowards.” She said and cracked her whip, landing it around their ankles, she tossed the other end up over a branch then pulled it so they came up to her level.
“I’m only gonna ask this once, what the hell are a gunner and an alchemist doing in our forest?” She almost hissed.
“Wondering how I never met a girl like you before.” Trevor said to her.
“Flattery gets you no where.” She told him.
“But you were flattered.” He said.
“I do not deny or admit to anything.” She said.
“Your name’s Crysalys, right?” He asked, she narrowed her eyes at him as he spun by slowly again, “I’m Trevor, and this is Jub.”
“Why bother with introductions.” Colis said, “Let’s kill them.”
“Why are you introducing yourselves to us?” She asked board.
“I never met anyone with the same view on our situation as me.” He smiled.
She let go of the whip and they fell, landing hard on the ground. She reached forward and grabbed his collar bringing him closer to her.
“What views? And how long have you been watching for?” She asked.
“Since you came in.” He said sheepishly, “And about the war we’re gonna have. About how fighting wont solve anything. Ever since I was little I was taught that people like you, who lived in the forest, and carried whips, and practised magic, they were barely human. You look as human as I do, well, actually a lot prettier from this distance.”
She dropped him and he landed hard. She sat down Indian style across from him.
“We share the same views then.” She said.
He nodded, “I was always told I needed to pick a really special girl to be my bride one day, but I never wanted to get married and have a kid or two until this was settled. I was always told I was stupid for thinking such things.”
“I don’t believe you’re stupid.” She said.
“Really?” He asked.
“For your views on your situation, no.” She said almost smiling, “For looking while I was bathing, I think you’re a hell of a lot stupider then they say.”
“Where’d you get the scar from?” He asked.
“Accident a couple years ago.” She said looking away.
“You sure do ask a lot of questions for someone who’s gonna die soon.” Colis told him.
“Don’t cut his throught just yet.” Crysalys told him, “He may be useful.”
“I don’t appreciate being talked about like I’m not in the room.” He told them.
“Sorry.” She said, “But this is what we’re accustom too.”
“Ummmm,” Jub said trying to get some attention, “Since this was his idea, can you kill him and let me go.”
“Coward.” She hissed, “Your friends and allies in times like these are all you have. You lose them you have nothing. You have to be ashamed with yourself. You’re nothing more than a coward, and if I had kill on of you it’d be you. Scum like you can’t be trusted in times like these.”
“He’s a good person.” Trevor said standing up for his friend, “He just values his life too much.”
“Jub?” She asked.
“Yes?” He replied.
“If you had to choose, who’s life would you save, yours or Trevor’s?” She asked.
“Like, right now?” He asked.
She nodded, “Like if I was going to kill one of you two and let the other go, and I gave you the choice, who would you choose to live?”
“Trevor.” He said without any hesitation.
“Why?” She asked.
“He’s got more to live for.” He said, “His little sisters, his mom, he’s gonna be the next head of the town too.”
She turned her full attention to Trevor.
“The current head of the town is your father?” She asked.
He nodded, “And I know about the history, and I want to apologise and put it behind us, if we can.”
She crossed her arms, “I want to as well.” She admitted, “But it’s the adults, they hold the grudge to violently. I don’t think they’ll ever let us patch things over.”
He nodded, “My father keeps telling me you guys are savages. You don’t seem like it.”
“That’s what we’re told about you.” Myrth said sitting next to Crysalys, “We’ve always been told we couldn’t patch things over because you were all too pig headed to admit what you did to our people was wrong.”
“I’ve heard our side of the story, what’s yours?” He asked.
“You tell it.” Crysalys told Myrth.
“Well, I’d say about a hundred or so years ago a young healer from our cave went down to your town in search of specific medicinal herbs for her sick mother.” He started, “To our understanding she managed to get the herbs, but was killed on her way back home. A former gunner who was exiled for his different views brought her dying body back to the cave and said he was so sorry for what his people did. He also said that he knew where the bastards who did this to such a young innocent girl were. So a few of us followed him down the mountain to the town, there they killed who they thought were responsible for the murder of the girl and left their dead and dying bodies on the steps of the town hall for everyone to see in the morning. Then they a cussed us of starting the war, it was them.”
“That’s not how I knew it.” Jub said, “It was that the girl was caught stealing the herbs, but the head of the town let her go when she explained why she needed them. She left the town completely unharmed. And then the next morning we found the gunners dead on steps of the hall, each of them had a bone knife in them. And it was always beast masters who had them. So we blamed you for it, you killed the girl and blamed us.”
Crysalys shook her head, “She was healed the second she got to the cave by the exiled gunner and he explained his story. but she didn’t make it through the night.”
“I’m sorry.” Trevor said.
“Why are you sorry?” Colis asked, “You didn’t kill her.”
“But it’s my history.” He said.
“Hey,” Crysalys said gaining attention, What ever happened to the exiled gunner?”
“Uhh,” Myrth searched back in the history, “I think he left after they killed them.”
“Trevor,” She asked, “Do you recall if there were any records of exiled gunners around that time?”
He though for a second, “Only one.” He said, “We don’t really have exiles.”
“How come?” Colis asked.
“Gunners go by a code, we either live by it or die by it.” He explained, “But there was this one time, I think his name was Urchur Necroge. He killed a bunch of thiefs and brawlers claiming it was to benefit the town. He was exiled I think that very day.”
“You don’t think?” Crysalys asked Myrth.
They looked into each other’s eyes, and each glowed.
“We have to tell the elders.” They said together.
“What?” Trevor and Jub asked.
“It was that Urchur guy.” Crysalys told them, “He was upset for being exiled, so he killed the girl, but kept her alive long enough to bring him to the cave, he fed us false information to kill those who exiled him, and then he left.”
“That does make sense.” Trevor said, “It was about that time there was a new born beast princess and everyone wanted her to marry one of the gunners for true peace. But then after the incident the war started.”
“It was a gunner that killed her,” Crysalys said, “But it wasn’t one that we had an agreement with.”
“One more question.” Trevor said.
“Shot.” She said.
“Are you, or are you not the new beast princess?” He asked.
She shrugged, “I don’t know if I’m new or not.” She told him, “I know I’m a girl, I know I have no ability to heal what so ever, I can talk to animals, I’m very fast and strong for my age, and for some reason I didn’t kill you but heard you out.”
He smiled, “I’m glad you did.” He told her.
“I need you two to do me a favor.” She said.
“What’s that?” They asked.
“Go to your father and tell him what we figured out.” She said, “We’ll go to our elders and parents, tell them what we’ve learned. Maybe we can work this out without a war.”
He nodded, “I look forward to see you all again then.”
They each nodded and took off in their own direction.
“Crys, Slow down!” They yelled to her.
“I’m going on ahead!” She yelled back, “They need to know before this gets out of hand!”
“We’ll catch up!” Mryth yelled.
“Take care of them for me!” She yelled back referring to Silver and Romona.
Back in the town, Trevor was following exactly what his hopeful bride to be wanted him to do.
“Father!” He yelled running and bursting into his office.
“Where have you been?” He demanded.
“Believe me you don’t want to know.” Jub told him catching his breath.
“We don’t have to fight them.” He told him.
“How do you figure?” He asked his son.
“Urchur Necroge,” He said, “He was mad about being exiled that day, so when the girl came he killed her and brought her back to her cave and told a false story about how some of the gunners who exiled him killed her. They were tricked into killing those he had a grudge against because he could of never seen that new born beast princess.”
“And how do you know this?” He asked.
“Well, you see sir.” Jub said getting up, “We went into the forest to see if we could find this beast princess before she got dangerous. But you see, we did find her.”
“Did you kill her?” He demanded.
“Well, no.” He said.
“Then what was the use of it?” He roared, “You showed yourself to her, you might as well be dead right now!”
“Maybe she isn’t a blood thirsty as we always thought she was!” He yelled back, “We saw her bathing, right now she can’t be any older then ten. She holds the same views as us, she doesn’t want to fight this war but bring peace back to this land. She doesn’t want to get married and have kids to grow up in hate and savagery as we did.”
“They are savages! Face it! They are not human!” He boomed.
“They’re as human as you or I father!” He yelled back, “And you know what.”
“I know who my wife will be.” He seethed, “She will be the beast princess, and when I become head of this town I will marry her, and together we will bring peace to both sides. And we will have and raise many children in that peace, show them no one is better then anyone. That’s what we want father, not a war.”
“If you see the wretch of a bitch again I will smack you so hard your head will spin!”
“You can’t stop me anymore father.” He hissed.
An evil grin spread across Joseph’s face as he knew exactly what to do with his son.
Back in the forest, Crysalys was just coming up to the cave entrance, Myrth, Colis, Silver, and Romona were about a mile or so behind her.
“Mama!” She called.
“What is it dear?” She asked petting Scar.
“I need to call a meeting with everyone there.” She said.
“Everyone?” Issa asked.
She nodded, “Any and everyone who has an idea about the war.” She said.
“That literally is everyone then.” She said, “When do you need them?” She asked.
“Just after dark.” She said, “Preferable before everyone eats. I don’t want them to lose it.”
“Crysalys, you’re hiding something.” She said.
“I’ll tell you everything at the gathering.” She told her and picked up and growing Scar.
“I can’t believe you can still lift that thing.” Issa said.
“Don’t forget,” She said to the older woman, “The older I get the stronger I get.”
In the town Trevor and Jub were chained up and were being dragged down to the dungeons.
“I would have to do this if you two would have just been good little boys and did as I say.” he snarled.
“You can do whatever you want, Father.” Trevor hissed at his father, “I will never fight along side you.”
He threw both of them in to the same cell, the prison guard hung their chains up on the hooks on the stone walls like prisoners.
“Now you two can stay here until you learn to be good little boys.” He said and left.
“I’m sorry I got you into this, Jub.” Trevor apologised.
“Don’t be sorry, man.”He told him, “I had fun meeting them.”
“Really?” He asked, “You seemed scared to death of her.”
“To be honest I still am, any girl who can lift two guys twice her size like that ain’t really all that human.” He said.
“I don’t care if she’s human or not.” Trevor said, “I know I love her.”
He nodded, “The question is does she love you back?”
He nodded knowing the answer, and it was probably no.
It was just after dark in the world outside the dungeons, in the caves the fires were lit and everyone was at the very back with the elders, Crysalys, Colis, and Myrth.
“What, is, this, all, about?” The elder asked.
“Forgive us for short notice sir.” She said, “But there’s something everyone needs to know, and I don’t care if you think I’m crazy for it.”
“Speak child.” The she elder said.
“Thank you.” Crysalys said and turned to everyone, “We don’t need to fight the gunners.”
Gasps and whispers were heard all over.
“The history about the fight, the child being murdered, us killing the gunners.” She said, “It’s all been set up.”
More gasps and whispers.
“An exiled gunner of the day the girl went into town killed her. She was given the herbs for her mother after explaining to the head of the town why she needed them. It was that gunner who was exiled for killing many thiefs and brawlers saying it was best for the town.” She explained, “He killed her, brought her back here pretending that it was those who exiled him who killed her, we then followed him to the town and slaughtered every last one of them because we thought he was telling the truth.”
She waited a minute to allow it all to sink in.
“Every side has it’s story.” She told them, her voice bouncing off every rock in the cave so she could easily be heard, “We have ours, they have theirs. and together we have the entire story of what happened. We can not change what happened in the past.” She paused again, “But we change how things in the future are.” She took a breath, “We will not fight these gunners unless they initiate the battle first. And that does not mean we do something to provoke them to attack us!”
Everyone was staring at her like she lost her mind.
“I was born to bring this land to what it should be.” She said, “What this land should be, is a peace. We cannot go around having these territories anymore. The adults grew up in the war of the two worlds, myself and my comrades have grown up in it as well. But does that mean our children, and our children’s children have to go through the same?”
She paused and turned around, “Think about it. We have an oppertunity to change things for the better. Let’s use it.” She said, “I don’t want to have my children born into a place like this. Were we have to fight all the time, and we can’t mix. A place like this, I don’t want it.”
“And how do you suppose we convince the gunners to have this little truce?” Keshil asked.
“I’m working on that.” She said sweetly, “Colis, Myrth, and myself met a gunner and an alchemist today.”
They gasped and muttered more.
“We talked, they wanted the same things we did. No war, a safe place to have children with those they love. They want the fighting to stop. This war needs to end! It’s history! Put what happened in the past and move on! If you couldn’t save one person, or steal one thing, or master a spell, or tame the ultimate beast, do you hold on to it forever?” She paused again and let them think about it.
“If that happened to me, yeah, I’d still think about it. The things I did wrong.” She admitted, “But I wouldn’t dwell on it. I would realize my mistakes, except I messed up, and move on.” She paused again allowing them to think clearly about this.
“We messed up, we were angry because a daughter, a friend, a sister was killed by people we weren’t sure about. And their man were killed by that mistake.” She told them, “You don’t have to do as I say, but I want you to listen to me. Not all gunners are like that. The one we met was really nice, curious, and polite. But not all of them are like that. No two people are the same, and no one is perfect. We need to except these things and move on. We can’t keep clinging to the past like we’ve been doing for how long? A hundred years? Two hundred? A thousand?”
She looked at everyone, everyone heard her. And because it’s he, they heard it all that much clearer.
“We need to put it behind us. We need to stop this. We need to talk about this like adults.” She paused, “We can’t keep acting like kids because we don’t like something. Now I’m gonna try and make an arrangement to talk to the head of the town, see of we can work it out. But I don’t want anything else negative to come from anyone here. You are better then they claim you are. We need to prove them wrong, but we also need to show that we’re sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry about a misunderstanding, at the same time we need to look at it from the other’s view.”
Crysalys stopped to breathe and look around, “They let our child go, with the herbs, and the next morning a handful of skilled gunners as dead on the steps of town hall with beast master knives stuck in them. I will apologise for that, I will get on my knees and beg for them to forgive each and everyone of us if that is what it takes. And in the end all I will ask for is peace between the two of us.”
“What can we do to help?” Issa asked.
Crysalys grinned, she had gotten through to all of them. All of them were willing to forgive and forget if they were.