tagSci-Fi & FantasyShalandra's Peace Ch. 02

Shalandra's Peace Ch. 02

byjester4932©

Again I'd like to acknowledge my coauthor and editor MissElf1. She took this idea and helped me make it a story. Thank You MissElf1 :)

All people involved in sex are 18 or older. Don't forget to vote and comment.


******************

Jin had been searching for a week and was getting close. She kept running into subtle little clues that she was sure Gerald left for her to find. Little things that only she would notice like two diamonds interlocked. It was the symbol they used to pass private messages to each other. He was leading her to him.

She wondered what she would do when she found him. Would she attack him, hug him, or drag him back to the Rogue King? At the very least a punch in the face was in his future. She was scared for him though. She knew he had his reasons for being this stupid and they had better be monumental. If they were going up against the Rogue King it had better be for something more than money or power.

Money and power they already had in abundance and to get greedy now was just dumb. But she knew Gerald didn't crave these things so it had to be something that changed his view on life. As she got to her room in the inn, she let her mind wander back to the orphanage when Gerald arrived.

Her nose was already bleeding and her left arm was throbbing, but she wouldn't back down. Billy punched her again. He laughed at her poor attempt to fight back. He was older, bigger and stronger than her. He felt that entitled him to take her food any time he wanted. When he was done with her, he was going to let the new kid, Jerry or was it Jimmy, know who the boss was.

Gerald watched as the bully hit the young girl. He kept saying to himself, "Don't get involved. It's known of your business." This philosophy kept him alive on the streets. But the young girl wouldn't back down, even though she was badly outmatched. The bully punched her again and she went down in a heap. Gerald rushed over and pushed him before he could land the kick he was sending her way.

Billy turned on his would be attacker and saw the new kid standing between him and that brat girl. The other kids started to gather around. He had to put this Jerry or whatever the hell his name was in his place. No one took what was his and everything in the orphanage was his. He smiled and advanced on the new guy.

Gerald saw the predatory smile. He knew the bully was overly confident. Gerald had sized him up as soon as he got put in the orphanage. He was all muscle but no brains to be able to put that muscle to good use. Living on the streets had given Gerald survival skills not normally found in a nine year old.

Billy walked up and threw a wild punch at Gerald meant to knock him senseless. Gerald easily sidestepped it and landed a swift but hard punch in his left ribs. The wind left Billy's body and he staggered back a step. He growled and stepped up and started swinging wildly. Gerald easily deflected or dodged the blows allowing Billy to tire himself out. When Billy started to tire and slow down, Gerald made his move. With precision and power he laid out Billy in three blows.

Since that day Jin never left Gerald's side. He taught her how to defend herself. Jin never forgot that he looked out for her. She owed him her life and more. She decided right then that she would join with him against the Rogue King. It was kind of calming knowing she was going to die fighting next to the only family she ever had known.

***

Gerald had been leaving Jin messages, messages that only Jin would understand. The two of them had their own signs and signals. He had tried to lead her to him without disclosing his location to any bounty hunters that The Rogue King may have sent his way.

Gerald's last few weeks had been some of the most enjoyable of his life. He felt drawn to Shalandra and enjoyed their time together. He was still not permitted to be alone with her, but that was okay. He was with her.

Shalandra had been kind to Gerald. She asked his opinion often of things that didn't just relate to her safety. She included him in conversations about various topics that concerned her and her father. He found himself wanting to please her even with the little things.

When Gerald had first come to the monastery, he had been asked to judge the security of the place. He was shocked to see a ladder going directly to Shalandra's room on the second floor. It was actually a trellis for flowers, but it would serve as a wonderful ladder for any person wanting to enter her room.

He cringed at the idea of an assassin stalking into her room in the middle of the night. That would have been what he would have done if he was still trying to kill her. Gerald had felt a surge of protectiveness at the thought of a stranger doing who knows what to her in the night.

Shalandra was resistant at first not believing that anyone would enter her room in such a manner. So that night, he had done the cruelest of deeds to prove to Shalandra her vulnerability. He needed to show her that she wasn't safe.

He had worn a mask and used the very trellis that

he had warned her of. Then Gerald had crawled up and gently pried her window open. She had locked it, but he had used his dagger to slide between the wood to pry open the clasp. Then he gently opened the window stepping lightly onto her floor.

Gerald heard her soft and steady breathing in the night. The moonlight caused her skin to glow. He felt a knot form in his stomach knowing that he was going to scare this precious woman beyond anything that she had ever known.

He walked to the bed and steadied his nerves. He pounced onto the bed covering her mouth with his gloved hand. As Shalandra's eyes popped open, he threw his body over hers pinning her to the bed. He wanted to ensure that she received the lesson of her weakness and pushed his knees between her legs forcing them open.

"Shhh," he said as he placed the dagger against her neck.

Gerald made sure that his hands did not stray any place that could be construed as improper, but he prevented her from moving in anyway. He forced her to stay still and he eliminated her ability to scream.

His lesson had hit home. Shalandra was so terrified that Gerald could feel her body tremble under his. Her eyes were wide with terror. He dropped his head to her bared neck and kissed her gently. He felt her stiffen.

Gerald kissed his way up her neck, across her jaw, and to her lips. Her tremors were growing and her breathing was ragged. He gave her a final and gentle kiss. Then he pulled his mask from his face and waited for recognition to sink in.

"Now will you remove the trellis, Shalandra, before someone really does use it to do you harm. Now, stand and I will show you how I opened your window." Gerald slowly climbed from the bed.

Shalandra was trying to slow her racing heart. She had been terrified when she felt someone cover her mouth. Then she had grown more frightened after she saw his masked face. His gentle kisses had confused her and she had not known what to think.

Fortunately, the man that removed the mask had been Gerald. She saw his face and felt relief. Then she felt a surge of anger as she thought of how frightened he had made her. Finally, she felt a strange disappointment when he removed himself from her bed.

Shalandra slowly rose from her bed and reached for her dressing gown. Gerald had already turned his back to respect her modesty. He waited for her at the window.

Gerald waited for Shalandra to reach the window. Then he locked it and showed how the blade of his dagger fit between the wood enough to dislodge the lock. She gave a slight gasp as she realized her room had not been as safe as she had previously though.

"Really, Shalandra, I need to know that you will remove the trellis. Had it not been me, your night could have truly been terrifying." Gerald locked eyes with her and she gave a slow nod. He smiled and opened the window to climb back down.

On impulse, he kissed her cheek before left her window. He dropped quickly to the ground and waited for her to close her window again. He thought she smiled before she disappeared from his view. Gerald turned to leave and go to his room. He was pleased with himself and she would be safer now.

***

Jin woke up when she heard the light steps in her room. Her hands were immediately filled with the two daggers she had placed under her pillow. A shadowy figure moved silently through the room toward her gear. Jin got up and moved in behind the person. Moving quickly she placed one dagger at the throat of the intruder and the other pointed at the kidneys.

"May I have this dance?" Jin asked.

The intruder went stiff and a female voice said "Please don't kill me. I was just looking for some food. I'm hungry and haven't eaten in a few days. I've never done this before, I swear. "

Jin furrowed her brow and said, "That is the only lie I'll allow you. Lie again and I'll cut out your tongue. Why are you here?" She tightened her hold on the girl, pressing the dagger harder into her back and throat.

"Ok. I saw the quality of your armor and weapons and thought they would bring a nice price." She squeaked out.

Jin pushed her away. "Turn on a lantern and be quick about it."

With the room lit up Jin noticed the girl was no more than 18 years old. She tossed a medallion at her. "Tell me what you see?"

The girl looked at the medallion and her eyes went wide. "Please forgive me. I had no idea you were an agent of the Rogue King."

"I am no agent. I am General Jin Lazo." She announced.

The girl fell to her knees and wept. "Am I to die now?"

"No. I have use for you. You will deliver a message for me. No worries. You will be in no danger and I will compensate you for your time." She drew out a parchment and wrote a quick note on it. She sealed it with wax and her signet ring. She chanted a quick line of magic words over it. The signet ring was special. It had the ability to seal a message so no one could intercept it. You simply pressed it into wax and said a short chant. The receiver then placed his matching ring in the seal and repeated the chant. If the message was not opened in this way it erased anything written on the parchment.

"Take this to the stables and place it on the fourth beam from the back. You will see two intersecting diamonds there. Make sure no one sees you. That shouldn't be too hard for a trained individual as you." She tossed her a bag of coins and waved her off.

The girl exited the room quickly and ran off into the night toward the stables. Jin shook her head. She remembered being that stupid once.

She had just turned eighteen and wanted to prove to Gerald that she was ready for bigger jobs. As she walked along the rooftop of the mayor's house, she wondered if the Rogue King would be impressed by her score tonight. Surely he would. The mayor was giving him a hard time in securing a foothold in the city. They always wanted a cut of the action and when you gave it to them, they wanted more.

She hung from the roof and dropped quietly down on the balcony. That's when Gerald stepped out of the shadows and scared the hell out of her. She barely suppressed a scream as he stepped forward.

"Not bad but what took you so long?" he asked in hushed tones.

"How did you beat me here? You were still in a meeting with the Rogue King when I left." She said in a whispered huff.

He smiled and pointed down at the trellis. "Built in ladder, makes it easy for me without the hassle of walking on roofs. Now go and get the necklace."

The necklace he spoke of was a gift from the mayor to his spoiled daughter. It had a large diamond surrounded by four of the bluest sapphires. It was rumored to have cost well over five thousand gold pieces. With the necklace the Rogue King could show that the mayor's daughter wasn't as safe as he thought.

Jin crept quietly into the room. She went over to the jewelry box but the necklace was not there. She looked through the drawers to no avail. She moved over to the bed and spotted the necklace. The girl was wearing it.

Luckily she could see the clasp. She reached in and gently undid the clasp. She then bent down and blew gently in her ear while holding one end of the necklace. The girl giggled and rolled away. She gently tugged the necklace away from the girl. Securing it in a pouch she walked out to the balcony.

"Sure did take you long enough. We might as well stay for breakfast." Gerald said will a small

chuckle.

She stuck her tongue out at him and made her way over to the trellis. When she reached the bottom she noticed two guards sprawled out on the ground. She looked at Gerald and motioned with her eyes.

He shrugged and said "You didn't think the mayor's house would be unguarded, did you?"

Her look of surprise said it all. She didn't think there would be guards. She hadn't even seen any.

He pointed to another guard lying on the ground by the back of the house. "He was hiding behind the chimney. You wouldn't have seen him until you passed him, giving him the upper hand. Luckily I'm good with a bow."

She realized how stupid she had been. In her haste to impress the Rogue King she didn't think to do a proper recon. She should be caught or dead right now but like always Gerald was looking out for her. She pulled out the necklace and offered it to Gerald.

He shook his head and said "No. You take it to the Rogue King. He will promote you to commander and give you your own troops."

"But I have shown here that I'm not ready to lead." She almost cried.

"Just remember to take your time and try to see things the way your enemy would. I will help you." He said hoping to sound reassuring.

She hugged him saying, "Thank you. I owe you much."

The Rogue King was definitely impressed by the acquisition of the necklace and promoted her on the spot to commander. She vowed from that moment to make sure she tried her best to make Gerald proud of her.

***

Gerald had watched as the trellis was removed. Basically people were receptive of his ideas to improve safety. The only obstacles that he had encountered were the naiveté of the priest and his daughter. They did not understand how truly vulnerable they were, but he would continue to educate them.

Once convinced, Shalandra and her father were quick to implement the suggestions that Gerald suggested. Last night, he had convinced Shalandra that the pretty trellis full of flowers could be used as a ladder.

He had seen trellises used that way in the past many times. One time had resulted in the daughter of the mayor losing her expensive necklace. He had given Jin the credit, but it was to ensure that she rose in the ranks along with him.

Gerald walked quietly to the garden where he knew that he would find Shalandra. She would be with guards; they were ever present because of him. Her father might be in the garden as well or he might be attending to business.

He moved silently not making a sound. Even though it was daylight, he hid as if it were night. Shadows were his friend. He found a spot where he was able to observe Shalandra and the guards. He would stay in hiding to gather information on the people in his view.

Gerald trusted his instincts immensely. He had gotten a horrible feeling about one of the guards. One of the guards kept looking at Shalandra with an odd look. Gerald had caught the look out of the corner of his eye and had been on the alert ever since.

Gerald had uncovered some information about the guard. His name was Christopher. Christopher had been a recent recruit. He had arrived with written references from nobles that lived far away. He said that he had to leave due to a romance went wrong.

Usually men referred to a romance as going wrong when they were caught with another man's wife. Gerald didn't buy it. He had heard the man speak of his reason for coming to this realm. The guy's story was too good. There were none of those little errors that the mind creates when it forgets events due to time or stress.

Christopher's story had none of those. He remembered everything right down to the color of various signs that hung over shops along the way. The story was researched, rehearsed, or both.

The story didn't matter anymore. It had accomplished what it was created for, to give the guy a credible reason to travel so far from home where no one would know him. The story would be able to deflect any suspicions for a hired assassin or thief.

Gerald believed the man was more local than he let on. He believed the guard was pretending to be from somewhere else. Claiming to have been caught with another man's wife was cleaver. It was nearly impossible to prove. No man would want to admit his wife had strayed. No wife would jeopardize her standing by admitting to straying.

Gerald stiffened as he saw the guard watching Shalandra. Christopher was doing his own recon. Christopher was gathering his own information.

Shalandra wore no expensive jewelry. She carried no items of interest. It was just her. That meant that if Christopher was a hired to steal something, that something was her. If he had been hired to kill someone, then that someone was her.

Gerald had given enough time to his information gathering. He stepped from the shadows startling many in the group, including Christopher and Shalandra. He smiled quickly at Shalandra helping her to relax and gain some composure, but he moved his eyes quickly to Christopher.

Christopher's eyes narrowed. Good, the message had been received thought Gerald. The guard knew that Gerald was going to keep an eye on him. He let the guard know that something went wrong. Christopher had ignited someone's suspicion.

Gerald walked to the group and bowed slightly to Shalandra. She didn't require anyone to bow to her, but he wanted Christopher to know that Gerald's loyalty was to her, not the guards. He maneuvered his body between Shalandra and that of the Christopher.

Gerald felt a light brush against his hand. He ignored it and kept his eyes facing Christopher. He felt it again. Gerald looked down to see Shalandra's fingers brush against his hand. He looked into her eyes and his heart leapt as he realized she had touched him on purpose.

Shalandra's lips moved into a slight smile and she lowered her eyes acting as if she was interested in a flower. Gerald kept his face unreadable. Her discretion proved that she understood there could be consequences of giving a rogue such as himself her attention.

"So, what is your opinion on that, Gerald?" Shalandra asked.

Gerald realized that he had not heard her question. He had been caught off guard and stunned by her gentle touch that he had not heard her.

"I must admit that I did not hear your question, Shalandra. I was distracted by the beauty of a flower." Gerald spoke and knew she understood the underlying message that she was the flower when her cheeks flushed a faint pink.

Shalandra asked her question again, "I asked if you had any other suggestions for improving security."

"I do, but I need to address some concerns before I share the suggestions with you," Gerald said and purposely let his eyes lock with Christopher. If Christopher had an ounce of sense, then he would understand the message in Gerald's subtle glance.

Gerald would pass the afternoon in Shalandra's company. He would enjoy their conversation. He would enjoy her smiles and hidden glances. He wouldn't want it end, but it would have to.

Gerald was waiting for nightfall and then he would check to see if Jin had gotten all of his signs. If she did, there would be a message waiting for him in the stables. He had been checking the stables for a few weeks. He didn't know how long after he had left that she had been sent on his trail.

***

Jin went to the stables three nights later. As suspected Gerald had left her a message to meet. It was a rock formation about two miles out of town called "The Scar." It was a black jagged rock jutted out of the earth about twenty feet long and five feet high.

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