Chapter One – Celeste
The sky was a menacing shade of pitch black. It was clear, shady clouds and night stars scarce. The ground beneath my feet was hard and rocky, unstable and dangerous.
My breath manifested before me, wisp after wisp. The icy wind bombarded me at every angle, but I kept my stance, ignoring as the tiny hairs on my arms began to bristle. A gust of wind tousled the cloak that shrouded my figure, sending it into a frenzy as it whipped and billowed around me. The chilly air bit up my spine, but I ignored it. I had only one focus.
A cluster of trees stood not too far from where I was. They shuddered slightly, a rustling noise vibrating through the still air. A shadow breaking through the branches and leaves appeared. I immediately focused on them as they rose. My eyes narrowed at once.
“So nice of you to come,” Francesca said, a wicked smile turning up the corners of her lips. Blond curls tumbled carelessly over her shoulders, and her blue eyes, a shocking color of aqua stared back at me. My gaze slowly moved down, taking in her elegant gold gown that hugged her curves. It looked like the same Francesca, but it wasn't the same Francesca I had known.
“I don't really care for pleasantries, it's just an amount of talk that's a waste of time, and I especially won't have it with you, Francesca. Oh wait, that's not really your name, now is it?” I asked. Her jaw clenched and her hand tightened. I glanced down and saw the sword in her hand that she now revealed as it had been hidden behind her back before. I clutched my own sword, the familiar touch of metal soothing and comforting, giving me strength.
“ Francesca has been and always will be my name. I'm still the same person I was, just a different person than you know.”
“You are different,” I replied, “because you're not Francesca La Rosetta. You're Francesca Lockheart, princess of Radeskian. Oh, and while you were pretending to be princess of Serenia, the real princess was killed by your own country. An innocent girl had died because Radeskian wanted to take over the other surrounding countries. Now that I think about it, a lot of innocent people are dying because of your doing.” I shook my head. “I don't know how you live with yourself.”
Francesca snarled, a sound I didn't know she possessed. She glared daggers at me, her hands clenched into fists at her sides. Francesca closed her eyes for a moment, trying to calm down.
“Your cloak, it's so red.” She smiled icily. “A blood red color to be exact. That's very fitting actually, for you to be wearing that when you're about to die.” Francesca lifted her sword and admired the sharp tip. “You will die by my hand, here and now. I will see to it.”
I gritted my teeth, and pulled out my sword. “I'm not going to die. Or maybe I will. All I know is I'll fight you to the death if I have to. If we both die, then I will have accomplished what I had set out to do.”
Francesca opened her mouth to speak, but then closed it. Something caught my eye. It was a small white dove, and it flew onto a branch of a tree, ignorant of our presence. It pecked at the branch and the twigs that surrounded it. A smile suddenly appeared on her face, and she sheathed her sword. I stared at her in confusion.
Slowly, Francesca walked toward the dove, and stopped when she was within arms reach of the branch it sat upon.
“You know, dove's are a symbol of peace and love,” Francesca whispered. And then her face completely transformed.
A devilish grin sat upon her face, her eyes twinkling with mischief. It was shocking, since I had never seen her look so evil. I mean I knew she was, but I had never...
Francesca slowly reached up and patted the back of the dove, the tips of her fingers grazing the soft angelic looking wings. Unlike most birds that flew away from human contact or interaction, this one seemed to melt dreamily at her touch.”Let this dove do it's job and represent what is between us.”
And then she pulled out a match. I'm not sure where it came from, but it was suddenly in her hands. Lighting the match, she slowly lifted it to the tree, and then set the branch on fire.