There was a lot of activity on the Tronin border. Erik and Marko huddled concealed in the safety of the dense undergrowth at the side of the road. Usually the border to the Tronin kingdom was not particularly well guarded. It had been well known that all were welcome under the old regime. Apparently the new King did not take as kindly to strangers as the old one.
This was the fourth area that the two men had tried to cross, but as with the three before it, it was too well guarded to slip across un-noticed.
"Well, that seems to be that. No one comes in no one goes out." Marko sighed, hoping that the futility of the situation would make the prince abandon this fruitless quest.
"Something's going on here." Erik peered through the underbrush at the bustling soldiers.
"Maybe it's a drill. You know the cease fire is almost up." Marko pointed out.
"I don't like this." Erik shook his head.
"Of course you don't. No one likes being stood up." Marko replied, not liking where he could sense this conversation was going.
"I was not stood up." Erik protested, again. His companion just looked at him. The prince heaved a sigh. "Look, I know you think that the Princess is just getting back at me, but I tell you, Marko that just feels wrong. She's not like that."
"How would you know what she's like? Until a few weeks ago you hardly knew she existed and since then she's been avoiding you like a bad rash. It's not inconceivable that she took off or that this is her sense of justice." Marko was rapidly running out of patience.
"I can't explain it." Erik responded softly, remembering looking into her eyes in the meadow while they danced, how she trembled in his arms, the joy on her face when he asked her to dinner. "You just have to trust me."
"Erik," Marko snapped. "She got back at you and then ran home to brother dearest. What's so hard to believe about that?"
The prince looked at his companion, his mouth set.
"What about the blood? What about the signs of a struggle?"
"You don't know the blood was hers, and you don't know it was her struggle." Marko pointed out, wishing his friend would see reason.
Erik went on as if Marko had never spoken.
"And now all this activity..."
The other man heaved a long-suffering sigh.
"You're not going to give up on this are you?"
Erik shook his head. Marko sighed again.
"Fine. I think you're wrong and all this is going to do is hurt you more, but fine. Just remember that I told you so, when she tells you I was right."
Erik grinned at his friend, his eyes twinkling.
"You're not right, but O.K."
They went back to watching the activity for a moment, the soldiers doing maneuvers, until an all too familiar sound reached their ears. They turned their heads to look at the top of a hill not too far away. Marko's eyes widened and Erik swore softly.
Two large horses crested the hill slowly, pulling a large cannon behind them.
"I knew something wasn't right." Erik growled, then turned to his companion. "You go back and tell King Edwin and my father what is going on here."
"And what are you going to do?" Marko asked, already knowing the answer, but hoping he was wrong.
"I'm going to find a way in there and rescue the princess. Hopefully get some information while I'm at it." Erik replied, inching back into the protective cover of the forest.
"The only thing that will accomplish is getting yourself killed." Marko grumbled under his breath, but knew that nothing could change Erik's mind once he had made it up. So, he slid into the trees with the prince, and prepared to ride back to Baaldorf while Erik snuck into the Tronin kingdom.
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