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04 of ALCH
Chapter 4
A Man From the Shadows

Freya moved restlessly in her sleep, her back paining her every move. Not only was it her wounds that kept her partially awake, but it was the noise that was flowing in and out of her ears. Shut up! She thought, cursing at the sounds of ruffling leaves and mumbling voices. It continued, despite the silent order that Freya gave, causing her to grumble in her sleep.

She opened her weighted eyelids, and blinked a few times to get a clear view of the trees above her. Footsteps rushed her way, causing her to turn on her side to view what it was that was after her, and gasped when she saw what stood eight feet away from her. The two figures, threatening and powerful, were large and muscular, and the armor that protected them looked as if it were made by the demons of hell themselves.

“Crap, crap, crap,” she mumbled as she scrambled for her wire and dagger, the only defense that she had. I'm so dead.

A deep and commanding voice drew her attention away from the towering beasts that stood above her. “Stop! Touch her and die!”

My hero, she mused jokingly as she observed a man that stood between two trees, away from the scene that she was in. The first thing that she noticed about him was his height for he was almost as tall as the monsters threatening her life; he was just a couple of feet shy. She then viewed his short brown hair and pale skinned features, noting how his lips were identical to Captain Angelo's and how his dark chocolate eyes could pierce through the soul. His defined cheek bones gave his face a statuesque look and his nose was straight like Adonis.

A blue tunic draped over his slightly defined chest and dark gray pants hung over his legs. In his hand he carried a simple bow made of oak and strapped to his back was a quiver filled with ten simplistic arrows.

It was when she saw movement out of the corner of her eye when her attention was brought back to the demons that surrounded her. One was distracted by the man between the trees, but the other was going for her chest, infuriating her beyond imagination.

“Don't you dare touch that!” she shouted as she stood up and rushed forward. She stumbled and tripped over roots, but when she finally got to the chest, she threw herself on top of it and stared into the helm of the beast. Fear coursed through her veins yet she did not back down for the chest was now her life. Her food, her riches, her supplies... everything of importance, everything left, was in that beaten up chest.

All of a sudden, her eyes could not find that of the beast's for he fell to the ground, crushed by the second. Her mouth was slightly opened in surprise while she viewed the arrow stuck in the fallen monster's helm, wondering how a simplistic-looking arrow could have pierced through armor that was so thick.

It caused a musical chuckle to burst forth from her lips while she watched the fight scene, not caring for the danger that the man was in. It looks like he can handle it pretty well, she mused while she watched him pull a dagger from his person and rush forward to the squirming demon who once threatened to take her chest.

She nearly squealed in delight as she viewed the cutting and stabbing that the man ensued on the beast, confirming it's death instantly. It was bloody, it was action-packed, and she loved it for it reminded her of the first times she viewed a pirate fight. The man then put his dagger back into his belt and made his way over to her, kneeling down before her to be at her height level.

“You are very lucky I was following these two. Fallen are the most powerful soldiers in the Dark Prince's army. Be more careful,” he told her in a stern voice, causing her eyes to narrow from the way she was being treated.

She pouted and cleared her throat before retorting, “Even though you just saved my butt from these 'Fallen' things you speak of, doesn't give you the right to treat me like a child. I can take care of myself, and if I can't, like right now, then I'll just die. It's better sooner than later.”

At his next comment, she was prepared to show evidence that she was indeed, NOT a child. “You speak like a child, you look like a child, then you must be a child,” he concluded with a slight chuckle in his voice.
She brought her hands up to the sides of her breasts and pushed them together while she glared at him. “Children don't have these, therefore, I'm not a child,” she bit back, giving him a look that could kill.

His laughter angered her; it was like he was laughing at her, and she never enjoyed that situation. The man stood and moved closer to her and then stated with a smile, “I believe you.” He then stuck out a hand and introduced, “The name is Atticus Strife.”

Freya glanced at his hand with uncertain eyes, deciding on whether to accept his offer to his obvious entrance to friendship or to ignore it. She shrugged and went to stick her right hand in his. Unfortunately, she couldn't even give a handshake correctly for she missed his hand by a few inches, so she reached out with her left and and grasped the back of his offered hand, shaking it from behind.
“Freya Fionn,” she wearily stated as she eyed Atticus suspiciously.

She watched him glance her over, causing her to raise a thin, pierced eyebrow at his actions. “What happened to your eye?” he questioned suddenly. Her face flushed with anger while she remembered her Evil Uncle Donal, but remembered to keep it in check.

I don't want Darkness to pop out at a time like this, she told herself, furrowing her eyebrows and looking down at the ground. Nervously, she kicked around a branch and parted her lips to say, “I'm blind in that eye. It recently occurred actually.”

“Let me take a look at it,” he said in a worried tone as he peered around the clearing for a mysterious item.

Freya's cheeks blushed once again, but this time it was not out of anger, but out of embarrassment. She had no idea how her eye looked at the moment, and she knew that the bruise that was covered by her bandanna wasn't a pretty sight to see. As if her joints were rusted, she slowly moved her arms towards the cloth that covered her useless eye and budged it up that so only the bottom half was barely visible. The non-existent light that made it's way under the cloth caused her to wince, and she could feel the headache coming on again, making a groan of annoyance to make its way up her throat.

“See, it's not that much to look at,” Freya commented, as she looked at him in the eyes, unknowing that the cloth had slid back down to its original place.

A small laugh bubbled past Atticus' thick lips as his eyes sparkled, causing her cheeks to darken. “Well, I need to see more of your eye than that,” he pointed out with a bright smile as he looked her over with his chocolate eyes. “Will you completely uncover it this time?”

“But it's going to look gross,” Freya stated, growing quite conscious of her looks. She looked up at his entrancing eyes for a mere second before sighing in defeat and lifting up her headband all the way. “How's it look?” she asked with her eye closed and her voice shaking.

Freya pushed out her neck that so he would be able to see it clearly and was surprised when she felt his cool fingers peel open her eye. Well I guess that would have been helpful to have it open in the first place, she thought as she mentally hit herself.

“The color is fading out of your eye,” he informed as he examined it with careful eyes. It felt weird not being able to explore his irises when he was searching her blind eye, but she held in the shivers and waited for his upcoming statement. “Let me gather some supplies and I will treat it that so it doesn't cause an infection. I will do the same with the other one,” Atticus commented while he sat back a bit and observed her with a smile.

Freya only sat on her trunk with a frown, not enjoying this 'treatment' that she was receiving. Who cares about infections, she thought with a scowl as she remembered all of those times she was on the pirate ship with infections and diseases. They all used to get health problems and they all dealt with it themselves. Why can't this guy just leave me alone. She sat watching him watching her with slight annoyance until she watched his mouth open to suggest, “I would also like you to come with me until your wounds are completely healed. It is really dangerous out here and even I need help getting through this dreadful place.”

“No,” she simply stated, immediately pouting and crossing her arms across her chest. “I already have a plan set and I intend to follow it,” Freya said, thinking back how to she never went back on any of her conclusions. “Besides, it doesn't seem like you're needing any help. You killed those things in a snap without breaking a sweat; therefore you can surely find your way out of a bunch of stupid trees.”

Freya furrowed her eyebrows at the next part of information that Atticus fed her. “Well I had come through here with a friend a while back and we almost died fighting at each other's backs. It's harder to get through the Black Forest than you think.

“I actually came across an old man not too long ago who got separated from a group of what looked like pirates, and from what I have seen out of him and the group, they were scared out of their wits,” he told her, causing a new flame to ignite in her eyes.

Freya resisted the urge to scream when she heard of the old man and his group. Evil Uncle Donal! Evil Captain Angelo! She screamed inside her head as she tightened her fist and resisted the urge to break the trunk in half with her fists. “Was that man, by any chance, blue-eyed?” she managed to squeeze out between her teeth, ignoring everything else that he had just told her.

“I don't remember,” he recalled as he gave her a gaze of confusion. She shook off his observance and continued to listen in closely, hoping to hear any signs of where her former crew were headed. “I hope you find him though. They were headed to a town just outside of the Black Forest, called Valley Grove.”

“Which way?” she questioned quickly as she pushed down her bandanna with her hand and brushed her hair off of her shoulders.

“South?” he replied in a question, not quite sure of where she was going with this.

As fast as the blink of an eye, Freya whipped out a hidden compass, glanced at it for a second, and quickly stood, facing the direction in which she thought South was. She grasped her trunk handle in her hand and walked away, slightly stumbling for she was starting to black out again from the blood loss.

“Evil. Evil Uncle Donal,” she breathed as she held her opposite hand to her head, trying to stop the dizzying feeling that was paining her vision. “Evil Captain Angelo,” she swayed on her feet, yet continued on, not even pausing to look back at Atticus to thank him for his efforts. “I gotta...I gotta kill 'em.”

She heard footsteps behind her and shouting calling after her. “Wait! You'll never make it past the Black Wolves and Dark Warriors by yourself,” Atticus warned as he caught up to her.

Freya spun around, unaware that that was the exact motion that her body couldn't handle at the moment. She fell to the ground on her back, slightly wincing from the still open wound that was dug there, but got to her knees and struggled to get up again. “I don't care about those stupid things. I don't care about this forest. All I want to do is kill those ******** people and get my life over with, and I'm going to do it while I still have the chance,” Freya mumbled, her voice growing stronger towards the end. “And I don't need your help to get me to them in the first place.”

She stared after him as he made his way towards her and reached into his quiver to pull out a bottle full of colorful liquid. “At least drink this to speed up the healing before you go,” he handed the bottle towards her, and as she was a little out of it, she grabbed the bottle into her tiny, frail hands. “It will help any wound heal... well, except maybe blindness,” he continued while she opened up the bottle and sniffed it with her nose.

Freya scrunched up her nose from the offending smell, but downed it in a single gulp while thinking, If it will get him off my back, then why not. All of a sudden, she began to feel her eyes droop and saw the forest floor coming at her face fast. “s**t,” she cursed when she realized what was going on. “Damn sleeping potion,” she mumbled before closing her eyes and falling into world of dreamless sleep.

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