She saw red. Thick red blood soaking the ground. She saw the life leave her attacker’s eyes, draining into nothingness. Amalia’s eyes were large, her body shaking but not from cold. She was in shock.
Others might have called her weak, but she had never experienced such things before. Watching the life leave someone... watching them die... seeing their life blood soaking the ground... She trembled uncontrollably, staring sightlessly at the dead man before her.
A voice spoke to her. Her sister-bride Onyx. But she could barely understand the words. It took great effort to reply.
“On-nyx,” she stammered, reaching for her when the sound of metal severing flesh was heard again. Amalia put her hands over her ears, not wanting to hear any more of the horrid sounds of death. She closed her eyes, willing it all to go away, to not be real.
Wilhelm’s voice cut through like ice. Her gaze, wide-eyed, went to him. He asked about riding. Riding? “I was... I was never al-lowed,” Amalia answered in a small voice.
Poor kitten Amalia is shaken seeing death for the first time.
”If you would have what is mine, then bare steel and come take it from me.” The way the words were said chilled her to the bone, but also in a strange way made her feel a stirring in her heart. He would fight for them. It wasn’t love, but it was value at least. They must mean something for him to risk his life. Otherwise he would just hand them over and get other brides at a later time.
Amalia’s heart was in her throat as he was surrounded. There was nothing she could do without getting in the way... A dirty hand suddenly shot into the carriage. She had been so focused on Wilhelm that she hadn’t seen the injured man coming towards them. She screamed as his hand latched onto her wrist, trying to pull her from the carriage. He snarled at her, yanking harder as she grabbed on to a piece of the carriage and held on. He yanked her free and spun her to face him, his arm going around her waist to attempt to toss her over his shoulder. In a rush of panic Amalia struck with her other hand, her nails scratching his face.
In more shock than pain, not expecting a Gem to fight back, the man loosened his grip on her wrist to touch his face. Amalia shoved him, trying anything to get away. She scrambled back into the carriage only to have him grab her ankle, jerking her back towards him. “Bitch cunt!” He shouted angrily.
Amalia screamed again, kicking at him, fighting like a wildcat. She managed to land a kick in his injured shoulder, making him howl in pain. Suddenly the man stopped. The only thing that Amalia could register was the blood. So much blood...
Amalia surprisingly fights like a wildcat when one of the goons tries to take her. There is no strategy to it, just nails and kicks and praying she hits something.
It was a while before the door opened again. It was their husband. He did not look happy and, despite his earlier praise, made Amalia nervous. The way was blocked? He suspected treachery? The icy fingers of fear dances down her spine, making her shiver. What if they were attacked and her husband killed? What would become of her and Onyx? She didn’t want to think of such things.
The ride was silent and bumpy. She was half afraid one of the wheels would sink into the marsh and they would be stuck. But the driver was very cautious and trusted the horses’ instincts on where to place their feet.
The smell became worse and Amalia covered her mouth and nose with her sleeve, coughing quietly. She didn’t complain. It wasn’t Wilhelm’s fault they’d come this way. He’d had no choice.
It was eerily quiet. Amalia could feel the nervousness of the horses, wishing she could comfort them. It would have been a comfort to herself as well. She had wished for plants but the trees she saw were black and twisted. Like everything in Drakka. Why was everything in this land so... poisoned? Even the water looked fetid and vile. Her imagination created fearsome creatures that she swore she could see moving under the dark water.
The carriage slowed even more as the horses picked their way over a particularly muddy patch of ground, to the point where it was like they were sitting still. Staring out of the window of the carriage Amalia spotted a quick movement out of the corner of her eye. It was a shadow, but of man or beast? Standing and moving to the door, Amalia opened it and leaned her head out.
“My lord?” She called, her voice questioning. Any reply was cut off but a fast moment by her head. There was a sharp pain as an arrow nicked her ear as it shot past her, embedding itself into the carriage wall behind her. Amalia fell backwards to the floor of the carriage.
Amalia screamed in alarm, feeling her ear and pulling her hand back to show blood.
Amalia was certain her heart stopped when she heard her husband's voice. Thankfully it was quickly shocked back into beating when she felt his firm hand on her back. Her heart thudded hard in her chest. But he was not angry. He was... impressed? She looked up at him, startled. She had been expecting to be yelled at for interfering, but instead he paid her a compliment. The first she had ever had in fact. Heat bloomed in her cheeks at his words, causing a rosy color. She was blushing. Actually blushing. "T-thank you milord," she said, proud of herself for only stammering once. She climbed into the carriage obediently.
Onyx was already inside. Amalia released the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. The spot he had touched on her back was tingling. Her hands shook. At her sister's compliment she shook her head. "It was nothing special, really. I just..." she paused then looked at her sister with wide eyes. "Oh Onyx, I don't know what came over me," she said honestly, touching her cheeks to find them still hot. "I was so afraid but I couldn't stop myself. And he..." she looked towards the window of the carriage. "He wasn't angry." Leaning forward, she lowered her voice to a whisper. "Our lord husband, he hasn't... he hasn't acted as the other Drakken have. He has been civil and last night he didn't..." her blushed, which had been fading, came back full force. "And just now, he didn't punish me for stepping out of turn. Do you think it is possible that he could actually be kind?"
It was a whispered hope, a plea to the fates for such a blessing.
Amalia gets all flustered and blushes with Wilhelm, then inside of the carriage she discusses with Onyx if their husband could actually be not that bad of a guy after all.
Blacked stone and iron. Harsh ice. So there was nothing gentle or comforting in what was to be her new home.
Amalia nodded respectfully to Wilhelm's words, thankful he has answered her questions instead of becoming angry at her for asking them. She stared at her plate, thinking of his words and struggling not to weep. Was it selfish to want something that was soft and gentle and warm? Again the memory of her parent's garden went through her mind. If she closed her eyes she could almost see the green plants, the bright bold flowers, the soft warm soil that held so much life...
If it was a quarry then the ground would be hard and packed tightly, not useful for growing anything but the ore he spoke of. Why did she keep hoping? It was better to just accept the cold tomb that would be her home for as long as she could survive. Who knew if either of the Gems would make it there in one piece? The country was dangerous even for Drakken to travel.
Once breakfast was finished no time was wasted. A carriage stood waiting to carry them away. While supplies were being loaded Amalia wandered towards the horses. They were the largest she had ever seen! All black, including their eyes. One of the Drakken men was trying to subdue one of the horses, who seemed very agitated. "Miserable cur," the Drakken snarled, trying to force its head down. The horse fought, pawing at the ground and bucking his head. It was in pain.. She knew... She could feel it... When the Drakken raised his fist to strike the animal Amalia couldn't stop herself. "Don't!" The Drakken turned on her with a nasty expression. "Get into the carriage woman," he ordered. "No," Amalia said, her voice and body quivering but not backing down. "Don't hurt him! Can't you see he's hurt?" "I have been around these horses my entire life and you presume to tell me what to do?" he snarled, advancing on her now. He would never lay a hand on his master's property, but intended to try and scare her away. "This animal is a nasty son of a bitch who needs to be reminded who owns him." Amalia's heart was thudding in her chest. There was fear in her eyes but she refused to give up. "Please, let me try." The Drakken laughed and waved her on. "You want a kick to that pretty face, be my guest."
Amalia breathed, trying to calm herself before she approached the already agitated animal. His head still bucked up and down. She came from the side, in full view of the large horse, making certain he could see her. "I know. You are angry. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm not going to say it's alright, because it's not is it? " Amalia asked in a quiet, soothing voice. "You are hurting aren't you? Something is causing you pain." She kept speaking in the same gentle tone as she approached. The horse slowly calmed, watching her warily. Amalia came around to the front of the animal, slowly lifting her hand to touch him. He snorted repeatedly, moving out of reach of her touch, but she kept her hand steady until finally he allowed her to touch him. The horse seemed to almost immediately call under her touch. The Drakken stood with his mouth hanging open in shock as this little slip of a woman stroked the beast. She spoke to it like it was a child, reassuring it with soft words and gentle cooing sounds. Her gentle hands moved from the horse's nose to its neck as she stepped closer, placing her head against his shoulder and rubbing gentle circles on his neck.
Amalia listened carefully, closing her eyes and reaching out with her feelings. Earth Gems could not talk to or control animals, but they could feel an empathy towards them and, if they listened hard enough, could get a pretty good idea about an animal's feelings. Dropping to her knees, Amalia ran her hands over his leg and finally reached the hoof. The horse jerked at her touch and she paused a moment, soothing him once more before encouraging him to lift his hoof. There, wedged in between the loose shoe and the hoof itself, was a sharp rock.
"Bloody hell," the Drakken swore, coming down beside her. The horse jerked and whinnied, ready to kick the Drakken. Amalia jumped up and wrapped her arms around the horse's neck, soothing it. "We know what is wrong now. He can fix it. It's going to be okay. Shh," Amalia said, keeping the horse calm while the Drakken removed the rock and tightened the shoe.
Amalia laments Wilhelm's answer and pines for her garden. Outside Amalia makes friends with a horse, realizing he is in pain and calming him as someone fixes the problem.