Chapter four

The tallest, nameless man removed his helm to reveal a breath takingly handsome man, and she had to admit that with out the helmet on, he did seem to be an opposing warrior. His midnight hair seemed to be pulled back into a tight braid hidden by the many furs and plates of armor that he wore. He was obviously a man used to giving orders, from the set of his mouth as he looked at her, and his physical appearance was one of carefully built muscle and strength.
His almost elegant brows swept over a firm set though lush mouth, an aristocratic nose, and a pair of haunting blue eyes. His eyes were the kind that many amazons wished for. It was said in their community that anyone with such eyes was an old, powerful soul, one to be respected. She only wanted to drool at this one though. Refusing to show any weakness at all, she was proud of herself when her expression never faltered. She merely paid him an appropriate amount of attention and moved on to the next warrior. Though she would have rather looked at him all day.
'Mother would rip out my spine and beat me with it if she saw the way I was acting right now.'
She mused unhappily, frowning over all the other men. They were all attractive men, and she was beginning to fear the outcome of such a thing. Though to be honest with herself, she really didn't want to look at the other men as much as she wanted to the tall one.
"Well, at least you all have faces now."
She muttered, eying them over with as much criticism as she could muster before she looked to the Balvedarian queen.
"The wedding will be for a joint ruling. I, as Princess Nyala's head guard, will be with her at all times, as will the rest of the royal guard. After the wedding, she will be our queen, not our princess, and personally, I don't trust your men enough to think that they would honestly protect her with their lives. Everything that was originally agreed to still stands, and you have no reason to change it now."
She nodded her head, looking around the clearing as if to make sure that they had everything they had brought with them. She looked back to the flushed queen and king, and caught a look of anger and distaste from the tall warrior. She ignored both and turned on her heel, speaking in their language as she did so.
"We return home. Gather the queen and Princess, and collect the Prince's things. They will be coming with us, as decided."
She looked to Nyala and the queen with the last few phrases spoken, and both nodded before they looked to the Balvedarian rulers.
"It is time we returned. Our people have prepared a great feast to honor you."
The queen announced, taking a step back and to the side and sweeping her hand in front of her; ad open invention for them to follow after Ari. The two hesitated, though their youngest didn't pause for a second before he placed himself next to Nyala and bowed slightly, offering his arm. She looked a little uncomfortable, but she took it with a polite smile and they moved ahead. Ari didn't pay much attention after that, she trusted Ellie, the youngest warrior in the guard, to inform of anything that happened later, or while they were walking. Though she soon became aware that Nyala and Zolan walked directly behind her.
"I know that you think it isn't safe to walk ahead like this, but I know better. Nothing will ever happen to me so long as Ari is near. That's just the way it's always been."
She announced. Ari glanced back at her briefly, a frown in place, until she saw the two guards that flanked Nyala and Zolan. One was the tall one, still scowling at her unpleasantly, and the other was the shortest of the male warriors. She dismissed the small group and returned her attention to the trail ahead. The woods they were in had a reputation for hosting bandits, though she had never run into any stupid enough to actually try robbing a group of Sha'at amazons.
"You put a lot of faith in a single person."
Zolan remarked, speaking for the first time. She could hear the laugh in Nyala's voice when she replied, though she listened with half an ear when her attention caught on several shadows in the trees to her left.
"I have to have faith in her. If I didn't, then I would have been dead a long time ago. That's what the role of the head guard is you know; to be blindly trusted and bear the responsibility that comes with war, death, and all those lovely things."
Despite the pleasantness of her voice, there was an underline bitterness, and Ari shot her a chiding glance over her shoulder before she sped up her step, tracking the shadows in the trees.
"Can I tell you a secret, Prince Zolan?"
She asked, making Ari stiffen. She knew what was coming, had been shushing her friend over it since the negotiations had begun. The shadows sped up, and Ari's eyes sharpened, her hands floating to the bow and arrows that hung from her.
"I would be delighted if you would."
He replied. He somehow reminded Ari of Nyala, the quiet way he spoke and acted. Nyala's next words broke Ari's heart the slightest bit.
"I didn't fight for this marriage because I wanted peace for my people. My people love to fight, we would have been fine should this war have continued. I did this for selfish reasons; I wanted to see Ari smile. To see her spend one day without without having to deliver the news of someones death."
Her voice was so quiet, Ari barely heard her, though she had always known why Nyala did what she did. Zolan was quiet, and Nyala returned to her usual self. Then the shadows made up their mind and moved in for the kill. Ari sent her friend a long, sad look before her bow slipped from her shoulder to her hand and she drew three arrows. She shot the three as one, calling orders all the while, and within moments, the royal families were safely protected in a circle of guards. Ari and her group were at the fore front. Nyala's words drifted through her head, and she again -in the last few months, it had happened many times- felt like crying. But Warriors didn't cry.
When the fight ended, All of their side still stood, and sever of her underlings had managed to keep one of the enemy alive. Ellie was injured, almost mortally, but the royals were safe. She took a deep breath, then made several hand motions to the royal guard. They obligingly surrounded the queens, the king and the prince, and ushered the soon to be couple forward. Ellie kept a tough face, her lip drawn back unhappily, though she seemed to brighten when Ari offered to help her walk.
Ellie declined the offer, her eyes on Ari's bared stomach before her hand flew to her hip where she was injured.It was a similar injury to one that Ari had received when she was young and foolish, and the girl beamed.
"I'm proud to have it."
She announced, her chest puffing out a little. Ari felt her lips twitch slightly, then moved ahead, just a step behind Nyala. Soon, they could see the strong walls of the Sha'at fortress, and something in Ari settled a little. They had lost no one, and returned with allies in a successful grasp at peace. It was then that she dumbly realized that the Balvedarian horses were being lead behind them, and wondered why they hadn't just insisted on riding to the fortress. She shoved it to the back of her mind the closer they got to the city.
"Lady Ari?"
Looking back to Ellie, she gave the girl a quizzical look, and the chit took that as enough incentive to continue.
"After we get back and my mother has finished forcing bandages on me, would you instruct me? The fool that caught me came from my blind side, so I want to try and improve my senses in that area."
Ari paused in thought, briefly, then nodded slowly, catching Kei's eyes. Kei was the top strategist in their guard, and was highly intelligent. Unfortunately, she was also incredibly sadistic.
"While you're at it Ari, why don't you teach her how to shoot?"
Ari did freeze this time, stopping so suddenly Ellie bumped into her. She glared back at Kei, knowing that her old friend new full well that Ari hated giving archery lessons. Mostly because it required patience and standing still for long periods of time, which Nyala was better at. Ari continued moving, irritated when Ellie started at her with wide hopeful eyes. She could do nothing more then mutter a reasonable response before they reached the walls. Then things only seemed to get more hectic.