Twenty Four

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Arden
•••

   "Arden?" I hear him say again, before coming face to face with the prince. "What are you doing out here?" He asks suspiciously.

   "I thought I heard people." I lie. And a bad one it is. I should've just said I went to the bathroom.

   "You heard people?" He questions. I can tell he wanted to believe me. He was trying to, and that just made me feel guiltier.

   "Yes, I did. Or, well I thought I did."

   "Then why didn't you come get me?" He asks. "Or even talk to me. I gave you the walkie-talkie for a reason Arden. Do you know how stupid that is? For you to just hear people and go off on your own. We are in a middle of a war. You could get hurt, even worse killed." Guilt, that's all I feel. He was worried. And I was the bad guy, the one they all said I was, about to betray him.

   I groan and walk closer to the ledge. "I'm sorry." I start to say. Completely meaning it, but not for what he thinks.

He sighs, "It's fine Arden, I was just..."

"The camp is under attack!" We hear people start to yell. Did my father plan this all along? Did he hear what I told the prince, that I heard people? I look into the trees. Am I being watched right now? It did fully confirm , and make my story convincing...

Suddenly, explosives start to go off. Everywhere. In the trees, nearby, I'm assuming at the camp. They knew that the camp would be settled here. Not exactly where, but approximately here. Just like they knew Will and I would be here too.

I should of expected something like this from my father. But what I wasn't expecting, was for an explosive to be near me.

"Arden!" I hear William shout. Next thing I know, I'm being flown through the air. In only the most inconvenient direction, off the cliff.

I land on the edge, before rolling off. Quickly, I grab onto a smaller ledge, right below the top. "Holy fuck." I breath.

   I could of just died. I would of just died if it weren't for the ledge. I look down to the water below. Rocky and unpredictable. Yet, somewhat calming.

I hear Will running. I almost laugh when I see his worried face pop up. "Arden." He breaths out in relief. "Are you ok?"

I don't answer him. Instead, I look again at the water below. "Arden," he says louder. I look back up at him. He's reaching his hand down. "Grab my hand." He calls out.

Ignoring him again, I look back down at the water below my feet. Icy, probably freezing. I feel my hands start to lose grip. "Grab my fucking hand Arden." He shouts again.

He wants to save me. The hero wants to save the villain. Pretty ironic if you ask me. A hero's whole purpose is to hope the villain fails. I let out a sad laugh. "You really are a hero, huh?"

Always good, too good. I could grab his hand, let him save me. But would he still want to save me if he knew what I have planned?

I could take his hand, or not. Simply let myself fall. Relieve myself of the burden and purpose I have. Then I'd die. I wouldn't have to live with the guilt of what I did and didn't do.

"Stop joking around Arden, this isn't funny. Grab my hand."

He wouldn't want to save me if he knew.

   I was about to betray him.

"Please grab my hand." He begs. I look up, and meet his eyes. Full of helplessness and worry. But most of all, fear. Fear that I will let go, fall into the great abyss of water. "Please." He begs once more.

"Always the hero." I sigh, lifting my hand and grabbing his. He doesn't wait another second before hoisting me up.

"God, you are such a pain in my ass." He sighs in relief grabbing me. I'm surprised when I feel his arms wrapping around me, pulling me in. "You scared the shit out of me."

"Sorry." I mumble into his shoulder. Feeling various emotions.

   Our moment is cut short by the sound of footsteps running towards us.

"Sir, are you ok?" I look up to see three guards all panting, probably worried that their prince could be hurt, even worse dead.

"I'm fine." He says pulling away from me and standing up. "Is everyone ok at the camp? Where's Christian?" He asks a little worried.

"Right here!" The boy himself, shouts jogging up. "Squeaky clean. Apparently can't say the same about you two." He points out looking at me. "What happened?"

"There was an explosive close to where Arden was standing." Will starts to explain.

"Yea, it flew me off the ledge and I had to hang on." I say standing up, "Pretty badass." I joke. This earns a laugh from Christian and a couple of the other guards.

"Right on." He smiles putting out his fist. I gladly bump it with mine. "Badass."

"Dont encourage her Christian."

"Oh be quiet William." I say.

Will scoff and faces the guards. "So many people call me William, and I like it." He says. "But doesn't it sound like an insult when she says it?" He points to me, asking. This earns laughs from all the men.

  "Hate to be a kill joy." One guard says, "But we need to get back to the camp. There's a couple injured."

"How many?" Will asks turning serious. It's crazy to see how fast he can turn from a boy to a prince.

"Two bruised, shaken up. One, we are thinking a couple broken bones. He was on lookout when the explosive started to go off." Another explains.

"Just explosives?" William continues to questions, "They didn't send any men to attack?"

"No, we think the bombs were already in place. Just needed a detonator to be pressed."

William nods, I don't question or pull away when he grabs my hand with his.

   But what I do is remember my father's words. Get close to him, but what if I already was?

•••

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