Two Princesses are hunted by a hunter who can control ice.
The Hunter of Ice
Warm blood ran down Rydia Velthwithe’s cheek as she wiped the trickle off her face, a cool torrent of rain drenching the earth as her hazel eyes stared down at her fallen opponent. Her long blonde hair flowed with the storm, the harsh winds fighting against her as she pulled the strands away from her face. Mud and splotches of dried blood covered her soft, cream-toned skin seemingly mocking the current situation she currently found herself in. She uttered a soft sigh as her right hand wrapped around the hilt of a combat knife, thrusting downward into her opponent’s heart. Blood splashed on her as she removed the blade, her face emotionless as she watched him take her last breaths. She sighed softly as she shook the blood off the blade.
"Looks like he's the last of them. To think that they would pursue us even a week later." She kept speaking as she turned around and focused her attention on the figure that sat under a nearby tree. "You ok Lydria?" Rydia asked as she walked toward her twin sister.
"Hopefully, these ambushes will ease up at some point." She kneeled on the ground and examined her sister's body. Dried blood covered her body, all the result of wounds that had been inflicted from their constant battles. Physically, both women looked the same except for the markings that covered Lydria's back and the distinctive green color of her hair.
She heard her sister struggle to talk, her voice strained. "Rydia, get out of here and stop worrying about me. My body, it’s reacting to the poison that one of the Nablains used from an earlier battle. If you keep worrying about me, you'll only get us both killed."
Rydia placed her hand on Lydria's shoulders as the tone of her voice grew softer. "No, we're both this close to the border, so there is no reason to abandon you. Besides, we both know the reason why I just can't let you die or leave you to be captured."
"You need to think of Transa’s welfare." Rydia watched her sister lower her head. "This power that’s sealed inside me, it's not worth throwing away everything. The people of Transa need you more than I do."
“And what kind of leader would I be if I abandoned my sister?” Rydia reached for a canteen, pressing it against her lips. “You need to drink this down." Pouring the liquid down her sister’s throat, she stopped when her sister began to gag, resuming only after her sister recovered. “To think we would both be pushed this far. All of this just seems pathetic.” Removing the canteen away from her sister's lips, Rydia shook her head. “If only we had some guards or some form of backup. We’re a target, and yet we have no one to help us.”
“Our guards died trying to keep us safe.” Lydria lowered her head a she looked away from her sister. “More lives that were lost to protect a monster. We can’t keep this going Rydia. This has to stop before more blood is shed.” Lydria’s words began to slur as she drifted off to sleep.
Rydia ran her fingers across the cuts that covered her torso as she looked at her sleeping sister. “The poison must have knocked her out.” The young woman winced in pain as she looked down at her blood-stained shirt. “ We can’t keep doing this. I’m wounded and she’s knocked out by the poison. It’s only a matter of time before our bodies give out.” Grabbing her canteen, she pressed it against her lips as she gulped down a mouthful of water. “Damn it.” She growled as each movement brought a new wave of pain through her body. “I can’t let this bring me down.” She rested her hand on her side as she struggled to move. “For the good of Transa, I must keep moving.”
Her movements were careful and deliberate as she picked her sister up off the ground. “Gods, please grant me strength.” Rydia grimaced as she steadied Lydria on her back.
Adjusting her body to compensate for Lydria's added weight, she began running through the forest. Time passed as Rydia kept at a good pace, her Caryslan physiology well-adjusted to long periods of physical activity. Her mind remained focused before she felt pain radiate from her abdomen. Fresh blood began to soak through the bandages, staining her white shirt. Falling to her knees, she dropped her sister to the ground.
“Damn it...” She growled as she clutched her side. “I can’t hold out for much longer.” Hacking coughs consumed her as she spat out blood. “Curse it all to hell.”
“Well now, you look rather weak for someone who is the Queen of Transa.”
Rydia looked towards the source of the voice. “What in the hell is it now?” Her vision was hazy as she saw a masked figure stand on a tree branch above her. The figure was dressed in a blue robe. “Another enemy?”
“Lady Rydia, hand over the Dark Princess or prepare for death.”
“Dark Princess.” the young woman glanced at Lydria. Anger flashed in her eyes as she stood, pain coursing through her as she stared at the figure. “And who might you be? Another Nablain who has come to meet their death?”
“You talk boldly for a wounded animal that is close to death’s door.” The masked figure held out her left hand. “I suppose a princess of Transa must hold onto her pride even when the odds of battle are clearly against her.” Blue energy surrounded her hand as she formed a sword of ice. “But time is precious, and dragging this out further is pointless for both of us. I will offer you one final chance to save yourself. Hand her over, and you will live for another day.”
Rydia scoffed at her words. “You can have my sister after I have stopped breathing.”
“So, you refuse to do what is best for your people?” The figure said as she tensed her body. “A leader should never put her personal feelings above the common good..”
Rydia raised her knife as she saw the woman jump to the ground.. “Don’t be so arrogant to think you can judge me!” Tensing her body. she dashed forward, aiming the blade for the woman’s heart. “I’ll make damn sure you nurse your regrets in the afterlife!”
Her blow was parried by the woman’s seamless counter, leaving her open to a strike from an ice blade that woman had formed. Pain radiated as the blade dug into her cheek, slicing open her flesh. Blood seeped down the side of Rydia’s face as she fought off the pain and clutched the woman’s arm throwing her to the ground. The pain grew more intense as the action of throwing the woman took its toll on Rydia
The masked figure jumped up off the ground, the throw having little effect on her. Back on her feet, she approached Rydia. “So, the mighty Queen of Transa shows a weakness after all?” Kneeing Rydia in her wound, she watched her struggle to catch her breath. “I hope you understand how it feels to be weak. To have your body and power ground down to nothing.” Clutching Rydia by her hair, she pulled her towards her. “To have your life in the hands of someone else. Wishing, hoping they will grant you mercy.”
“Don...” Rydia said through labored breaths. “Don’t underestimate me!” Raising her knife, she aimed it at the masked figure’s chest.
“A foolish attempt to control your fate.” Said the figure as she caught Rydia’s arm. “Don’t curse the gods for your suffering. Curse yourself for setting these events in motion.” Forcing the knife out of Rydia’s hands, she grabbed the young woman by her throat.
Lifting her off the ground, the masked figure tightened her grip on Rydia’s neck. “Now then, you will stop breathing shortly. And when that moment comes, your sister is mine.”
Coldness gripped Rydia as she felt her strength leave her body, the world becoming a haze as she struggled to fight for not only herself, but her sister. She could only watch as the masked figure raised the ice dagger, aiming it as her head.
Death was coming, but there was nothing she could do to stop it. Each second seemed like an eternity, a painful wait for the end of her life.
But her death never came. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a person slam into the masked figure, knocking her away.
Rydia fell to the ground, her face splashing into a muddy puddle. Blood and mud intermixed on her face and hair as she raised her head. “Lydria!” said the young woman as she saw her sister standing beside her. “How in the hell did you do that? You were knocked out cold.”
“I woke up just in time to see her aiming a dagger at your face.” Lydria clutched her chest as she fell to her knees’ “I did the only thing that I could.” Sweat rolled down Lydria’s face as she vomited on the ground. “But it may have been too much.”
“Damn.” Rydia growled as she clutched her side. “This does not look good.”
“Thanks for pointing out the obvious,” Lydria said as she struggled to her feet. “Without a doubt, we’re both screwed here. As it stands now, she’ll kill both of us rather easily.” The young woman tried to fight off the waves of nausea that washed over her. “I have to use that power. Its the only way we’ll survive this.”
“You can’t, the risks are too great….” Rydia looked at her sister as she spoke. “After what happened, you wanted me to seal away your power. Now, why do you want to unlock it again now of all times?”
Lydria shook her head at her sister’s words. “How much longer do I run? All of this, it's my fault. Maybe now is the time to stop running.”
“Such a noble speech.” The hunter said as she raised her ice dagger. “But your hands are stained with the blood of children. Can you truly face your past and stop running? If you really felt guilt over your actions, you could have stopped this war. Rather than being consumed with revenge.” The figure removed her mask. The piercing blue eyes of the pale-faced woman glared at Lydria. “I have followed you over the past year. I have seen your anger, your hated boil over. You are so consumed by revenge, it eats away at you. Every single day, you want to pay back those who violated you, twisted you. Led you to slaughter innocents.
Lydria kept her attention focused on the hunter. “So, you’ve been spying on me? Which means you have some role in all this. It also means I intend to see you dead at my feet when this over.”
“Lydria!” Rydia grabbed her sister’s shoulder. “Enough! I will not awaken Stavos’ power.”
“Then she kills us both. We both need our full power to stop her. I can't run anymore, I have to face my destiny, even if it is as a monster.” She glared at sister, their eyes meeting. “I have worn a mask for too long, now is the time I face the path fate has laid out for me. You are the Queen of Transa, and the one who will someday us to power. Think about what is best for our homeland, rather than your personal feelings as my sister. I am the Dark Princess…. That is the road that fate decided for me a long time ago when I was born as the younger twin. My heart is tainted in darkness. I am beyond redemption. ”
The hunter laughed at Lydria’s words. “Since we are casting away our masks, then allow me to do the same.” Crushing the mask in her hands, she watched both sisters carefully. There is but one path for you Dark Princess and that is helping revive the Dark God Cronus into this world. Allow me to guide you down that path.”