You couldn’t sleep the entire night. Frederick had respected your space (or something to that effect), and hadn’t wrapped you up in his arms like he did every night before. It felt...really lonely. Then again, you had kind of blocked him out when you pretended to fall asleep while facing away from him. But in your defense, he did kind of spend the entire day laughing and smiling with Cordelia.
You sighed softly, scrunching up tighter as you thought about the man sleeping next to you. Cordelia and Sumia were hanging around him more and more often, it seemed. And it would’ve been alright, if Frederick wasn’t so openly friendly with them both. At one point you’d overheard him calling Cordelia “brilliant”, and Sumia…”beautiful”. They might have just been compliments, but they felt like so much more.
Especially considering such commentary was extremely rare, even if it could possibly be directed at you from Frederick.
You mentally slapped yourself. What were you thinking?! Snapping out of the thoughts, you huffed, slipping out of bed in search of your clothes. You were overreacting, surely.
Frederick was the last person anyone would expect to cheat on a lady, or his wife, for that matter. He was the most gentlemanly person you’d ever met, to be honest. Not only that, but he was your husband. Your husband.
For all you knew, he could just be treating them with kindness. They’d all known each other for such a long time, it was only natural he’d approached them with extraordinary appreciation. But after what Maribelle had said, you couldn’t help but still feel doubtful. Because what if she was right? What if they were deliberately going after your husband?
With another heavy sigh, you left the tent, careful not to wake Frederick. You needed to get out, get some space, and try to figure things out. And perhaps talk with Maribelle later.
The air was a lot cooler than you realized, and that was probably because Frederick had yet to set the campfires up. Not only that, but the sun hadn’t even peeked up over the hills. The sky was a dark gray at best.
You shivered against the cold, beginning to shuffle out towards the open field. A hand came up and twirled a long strand of hair thoughtlessly, your expression dazed. You’d never been in a situation like this, before. On the one hand, whether it was a situation or not was the first issue, and the other, you weren’t sure how you were supposed to deal with it if it was a legitimate, marital issue.
’...Ugh, this is all Maribelle’s fault.. If I hadn’t let her tell me her little “thoughts”, maybe I wouldn’t be so suspicious of Frederick and… the other two.’ You thought to yourself with a frown, blinking slowly against the breeze running across your face.
It was a little windy that morning. But what made it strange was that it was suddenly so. Pushing some of your hair out of your face, you squinted in the distance. There was someone standing out there. The wind picked up even more, making your brow furrow.
“This doesn’t feel normal.” You whispered to yourself, feeling something stir in your chest. You were suddenly uneasy. The wind began to grow stronger, to the point that you were fighting to stay in place. It was almost as if it was trying to push you forwards. Towards the figure in the field.
And that’s what tipped you off that it wasn’t a friend.
“What are you doing?!” You suddenly cried, searching for something to use as a weapon. All that remained in your clothes was a small dagger, poorly made from Vaike as a “wedding gift” of sorts. Not entirely sure what it was supposed to be used for, but you appreciated the thought all the same.
At least now you were thankful you had it with you.
The figure didn’t respond. Instead, you just kept getting closer and closer. You grit your teeth, heart beginning to pound in your ears, the wind roaring around you, forcing you to come up towards the person. The ground was being dug up around you as you buried your feet into it, trying to anchor yourself.
The person was mere meters away, and you weren’t sure what you were more terrified of; who it was, or what they were going to do with you. You hid the knife in your sleeve, clutching onto it like your life depended on it.
But suddenly, the wind.. stopped.
“Whoa!” You cried, losing your balance. You would’ve gone tumbling forward, but something caught you.
“..Hello, little sister.”
Your heart clenched at the sound of the person’s voice. Deep, and gravelly, and hoarse. Unpleasant by all means, and..
“W-Who are you?!” You managed to ask, struggling to get away from them. From him.
The man laughed, his grip on you tightening, your body completely immobilized by his hands. He hoisted you up so you could look him in the eye. They were dark, and black, like a shark’s. And he looked hungry.
“I’m no friend, that’s for certain.” He replied, and you growled, pulling at his hold. His hands tightened on your body and you squirmed. You couldn’t move your arm enough to flex the knife, let alone use it to attack.
“Yeah, I kind of put that together.” You spat, making him chuckle. His grip loosened ever so slightly.
“You’re a pretty bright one. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. Aversa spoke rather eh.. rather fondly of you while I was on my way here.”
“‘Aversa?’” You repeated, and your eyes widened with realization. “You’re working with Validar??”
“Ah ha, so she was right, it seems. Though I’m not just working, you know. I’m a part of him. Just like you.” He said lowly, leaning in and staring straight through you. He wore a cowl, one that shielded the rest of his face from identification. His entire body was hidden in armor and cloth, making it impossible to recognize him.
Though recognition wasn’t something you were concerned about.
Without a second to lose you smashed your head against his, and he cringed, his hands gone from you for only a moment. That was all you needed.
“SOMEONE, HELP!!” You screamed at the top of your lungs, swerving and sprinting away from him as fast as you could, hair flying behind you as you tried to get away. The man growled and gave chase, ripping you back by your hair and pulling you back to him.
And then, something strange happened.
The ground beneath you began to rumble and shake, and you gasped, feeling something huge erupt from the ground.
Your eyes widened in horror and you tried to move, tried to get away from them, but to no avail. They stared up at you hungrily, and as if you had blinked they disappeared, slithering up to your legs. And then they struck you, right at the center of your calves.
And you felt them snap your bones in half.
You cried out in pain, unable to walk or even move. Fire burned from your legs all through your body and you withheld a sob, the man forcing you to remain standing. His legs had moved, and he was breathing heavily. As if he had broken them himself.
“What’s the matter, little sister? It’s as if you’ve seen something horrible. Snakes, perhaps?” He guessed, cackling madly. You couldn’t speak, only yelped in pain every time he jostled you, tugging at your hair cruelly. Hot tears began to spill from your eyes and you tried to reach up, tried to fight him, but every time, he’d shove you down on your legs. It was agony, and you didn’t know how to get out.
“No need to cry, sis. Looks like the calvary’s coming.” He muttered to you with a dark chuckle. You couldn’t open your eyes. Or rather, you wouldn’t. It was too soon. The grip on your knife was so hard you felt blood trickle from your fingers. You’d only have one shot at this. Though with broken shins, your chances of success were looking extremely minimal.
“Let her go!!” You heard someone roar, and you felt him move, looking up at whomever had spoken. He grinned, holding you up again, and you yelped, the shockwaves from your legs near unbearable. Still, you managed to crack your eyes open, enough to see some of your friends riding up to where the man was holding onto you. Panne, Cordelia, Sumia, Libra, and Frederick. Leading them all with blinding fury in his eyes.
“Oh? And who might you be?” The man asked as they approached, all of them ready to fight, and Panne looking ready to pounce on him in her beast form. The glowing eyes were especially dangerous. However Frederick, he looked as if he was ready to tear the man apart.
“The man who’s going to rip your limbs from your body if you do not release her right. Now.” Frederick glowered, his glare sending a chill down your spine. The man only scoffed, yanking you up higher by your hair. Your cry of pain made Frederick’s face flicker, if only for a moment. But that was all the man needed to make the connection.
“Ohhh, so she’s connected to you somehow, is she?” He mused, grabbing your left hand and inspecting it. “It uh, it wouldn’t have anything to do with this little ring, would it?” He asked, but Frederick’s scowl only worsened, urging Hebert forward.
“It doesn’t matter! You will release her immediately, or else you will suffer the ultimate consequence!” He threatened. The man couldn’t have been more amused.
“What? And give up my hostage? Unfortunately, I need her to come with me. She’s a little more important than most of you realize. Besides, I get the feeling that even if I did let her go, you’d still kill me. Seeing as she’s in a bit of a pinch, and that was sort of my fault, yeah?” He pointed out, nudging one of your legs with a heavy boot. You bit down on your lip to withhold another scream. You were almost there.. Frederick just needed to come a little bit closer.
“Touch her again, and I will end you!” Frederick yelled, but this only made the man laugh louder.
“You seriously think you can tell the great Orvald what to do? You’re absolutely hilarious, sir!” He cackled, holding you up again. White hot fury exploded across Frederick’s face, and he came ever closer. Orvald wouldn’t have it.
“Let her go!!”
“Take another step closer and you’re not going to see her aga--”
Suddenly your hand flew up from your coat and you slashed above your head, feeling the twinge of pain as your hair was shorn from your head.
Everything after was a blur.
Your body hit the ground with a thud and you grunted, stars flickering across your eyesight. Orvald cursed above you, and you knew he was going to get you back. But just before he reached for you, a lance crossed over you, and went straight through his side.
He howled in agony, Hebert whinnying above you. Frederick had gotten him. Orvald inhaled with shaky breaths, and the sound of skin and muscle tearing over you signaled that he had pulled the lance out.
He pulled the lance out of his body.
“Y-You… You’re going to pay for that!!” She heard him declare, and the wind suddenly picked up again, roaring around the team of Shepherds. You hid your face in the ground, feeling Hebert stand between you and Orvald as he backed away with the wind.
And just like that, the gusts were gone. And so was Orvald.
“That was.. much too intense for a morning scouting.” You heard Cordelia comment, sounding rather off put by what had just happened. Though it sounded like nothing short of static to you, the pain racking your body as you felt someone lifting you up from the ground. Your legs were definitely not supposed to twist that way.
“(Name), are you alright?? What happened??” You heard Frederick say over you worriedly, but all you could focus on was the white noise pounding in your ears as your legs were forced to move again. Having to stand on broken ones was bad enough, and being lifted from the ground and moving them definitely wasn’t any better.
“AGH!! F-Frederick, t-that hurts!!” You yelped, clutching onto his armor with tears streaming down your face again. You heard his breath hitch.
“Forgive me, (Name). J-Just hold on a moment longer, we’re going to get you to the healing tent as soon as possible. Just hold on!” He reassured you. He tried to lift you as gently as he could, mounting you on Hebert and heading back towards the camp. You could practically feel the anxiety on his face as he rode, taking you back. You could hear your friends clambering around you, trying to make sure you were alright.
But none of it mattered. Not to you, or to Frederick. His heart pounded in your ears, you could hear it as he galloped back to the Shepherds, over his shouts for help.
“(Name), we’re almost there. You’re going to be alright, milady, I promise!”
That was the last thing you remembered before you blacked out.
~To Be Continued~