Richelle Mead owns these characters.

Part Two.

'Do you think it's a boy?' She rubbed her swollen belly and smiled gently at it, turning her eyes to me after.

'Oh, no, she is very much a girl.' We both smile at her gentle tone.

We were sitting in the warmth of a fire as we waited for it to die out. It was late and I couldn't sleep but everyone else in the house was snoring softly. Rhea had also found trouble sleeping but I think it was due to the little creature she was hauling around. I sat with a curious expression and wondered what she had meant. 'You sound so sure. How do you know?'

'I can feel it, sense it in a way.' Sense it? 'It's like when you first arrived here, I knew you would come. I kept smelling the flowers your mother used to always pick from our garden throughout the day. It's almost as a dream. I dream of you often, Rosemarie.' She knew I would come?

It didn't make any sense to me and too afraid to ask for her to explain these senses, I thought to ask something else instead. 'What else happens in these... dreams?'

She smiles at my skeptic look but continued to rub her stomach affectionately and then closed her eyes as if she was watching something within them. 'It's hard to tell but you always triumph. You are destined for great things, my Rose. For great adventure and a great love, your life will mean something important someday.' I smile small at the details, thinking maybe she was right; maybe I would do great things.

'And what of you and Lissa, and everyone else? What is your life destined for?' The smile from her face seems to drop into a curious frown. Her eyes opened and focused solely on me but I felt she wasn't exactly looking at me. 'Well, my Rose, this is where the dreams seem to... fade. It's unknown our destiny but we shall stay with you and all that you endure.'

The memory fades as I wait for Ivan outside his tent. All the soldiers move across the camp gathering their belongings and preparing their horses. I watch silently as they never meet my eyes, as they exist as if I'm not even standing there. The sun is bright and the wind calm but something still clouds the day. Rhea was wrong, the Dragomir's have all died and no one lives besides me.

If I was to live for great things then why have bad things seem to happen so rapidly? The attack, Lissa's death and now I have no one and nothing. Just a bunch of soldiers to follow as they guide me to safety but what comes after that? Where's this triumphant destiny I was supposed to live? The so called great love Rhea had spoken of?

'Is everything alright, Miss Rose?' I turn at his voice and nod a yes but keep my troubles held back. 'Do you need anything?' he questions.

I take a deep breath and release it before speaking, 'My sister has passed this morning.' His face becomes sad and he looks to the ground in disappointment.

'My sincerest apologies-' he begins, but I interrupt before he can get out the sorrowful speech.

'It's fine. This happens, people die and people move on.' It takes him awhile to nod back in understanding but he seemed to be searching my eyes before doing so. I sigh lightly at the looks of pity and apologies I'd receive once word made it around camp about Lissa. Even though they were elite soldiers, confident and skilled in what they do, they still felt loss and sadness.

'Well, Miss Rose, if there's anything you require during our travel please let me or Mikhail know.' I nod at his gesture but before he could walk away the words spill from my mouth in a rush.

'Actually there is something I do need to trouble you for...' He turned to face me and wore an expression of curiosity as I took my time to say the words. 'I'm aware of the consequences that come with traveling with your camp and as I've said, I can defend myself.' He waits for me to finish, the silence heavy as we stand before each other. 'You and your men are skilled fighters and the prince is a great warrior himself but I can be of purpose. I know I can hold my own if you would train me.'

He stood before me, not blinking and what look to be not breathing. I stepped closer to him slowly and lightly touched his arm, 'Ivan?' His eyes snapped into action and his body became stiff, the look he wore was of disbelief.

'Excuse me?' he asks in disbelief.

'It will be a lot easier now and there's no one injured traveling with us, I can keep up! I know it and I can help you.' This stopped him, the black metal armor enclosed tight on his body stood before me still as a statue. I hear him sigh deep tiredly, then he turns around slowly. I had been trying to convince him since he stood dumbfounded by his tent. I kept up with his heavy quick footsteps and followed him around the camp.

He and the rest of the soldiers packed up in preparation to leave and were now getting ready to route the trail we would be taking. The prince was quite careful with his men and being prepared for any possible attacks among them, but that was the last thing on my mind as I continued to chase after Ivan. I was going to convince him and I wouldn't stop until he gave in or became so irritated he chopped my head off before I could mumble the next plea. 'You could help? I'm not so sure of that, Miss Rose.'

I sigh becoming frustrated at the lack of faith he had in the idea, 'Yes, I told you, I know how to defend myself but I could use work. You could teach me! I learn fairly quickly and I'll be no problem teaching.' For a moment his eyes stayed on mine and in them I seen only one thing; intrigue. It was a fair small amount but it was there.

He stood tall and quiet for a moment before shaking his head of all the emotions and thoughts. He turns back around to walk away but I follow him closely. 'No. It isn't right, a woman fighting with a bunch of men- men who have been in war- a war like this one! Where there is no- No! It won't end well and I'm not going to carry the guilt if anything happens to you, Miss Rose.' So much for the intrigue, of course, that didn't mean I was just going to give up.

I wouldn't and couldn't follow them like some burden or some poor damsel in distress. I was useful and I would prove it to him, to all of them. 'Ivan, please! I beg of you! Just give me one chance and-'

'Miss Rose, I admire your courage and determination to help in any way you can but not fighting. It isn't even allowed, we both know that.' He stopped once again and turned around to look at me. He felt sorry for me, he mourned for me because I had just lost the last of family I had. I could see the pity in his eyes before he blinked it away. 'The prince has been very kind to you with giving aid and taking you along to safety but if he were to find out of what you're asking... We would all be in a tremendous amount of trouble.'

He takes a deep breath before speaking again, 'Miss Rose, take these words I'm about to share with you to heart. No man would take mercy on a woman fighting in battle. You're better off keeping yourself scarce until we get to safe ground.' The hope or intrigue or whatever that small hint in his eyes is now gone. Ivan walks off leaving me standing in the same spot to take in his words.

And I did, I thought about the trouble I was asking of him and the trouble we could get into if the royals found out. Unfortunately, I didn't find a reason to change my mind about what I was asking.

I wanted to fight and I would whether they gave me the permission to or not. However, the constant rejection was beginning to take its toll and becoming very frustrating. I followed to where Ivan was laying out the map we were to follow. None of the men had gone into the tent yet, so I walked in a little after him ready to beg on my knees at this point. 'Ivan, please! You have to understand I have no one, not one person left. I have nothing to lose at this point.' His eyes turned hard and his frustration showed as he looked down to the table shaking his head.

I knew I still didn't reach him but I had to make him see that I wasn't going to give up. 'Miss Rose-' 'Please! This is the only way I can avenge my family!'

At my words his head snapped up to meet my eyes and he glares. 'Avenge? You think this a time to take revenge on those men? In this war Miss Rose, they fight meaning to kill. You're talking out of grief and anger-'

'They deserve some kind of justice!' I scream.

'You cannot fight out of vengeance!' Ivan yelled as he slammed his fist into the table and a quiet eerie silence graced us after his words.

I felt like crying at this very moment. Why couldn't he understand? Why couldn't I just fight and do something? I most likely would have cried if it wasn't for the calm deep voice that spoke breaking all the tension. 'She cannot fight at all.'

He stood there, in the doorway of the tent; his dark armor shined a glare reflecting the light of the sun. His eyes brown and deep squinting at us both but showing no emotion at all. His blank expression and the way some light brown strands of hair surrounded his face didn't deter from his words though. I will admit that he was very handsome, his height and chiseled jaw, his lean frame it only made him more appealing. His eyes though, they were a deep endless pool of brown, eyes you could get lost in.

And I almost did, except his words seem to still be floating in my mind. 'Who died and made you God?'

Those eyes, which were focused on Ivan for a small second shot to me as I spoke. 'No one. These are my men and this is my camp. You're just here until we've reached Omsk.' His voice sounded in a calm collected way but didn't stop me from- wait! Omsk?

'You said you would take me to Baia, to where it's safe?' He looked back to Ivan before walking to the table where the map we would follow laid and spoke again. 'I said I would take you as far as I can; Omsk.'

Now even though he was a very attractive man and honorable and royal, he only infuriated me. 'That's not even halfway to Baia! You said you would take me-'

'Then you'll have to make the rest of the way by yourself.' After cutting me off with his firm strong voice and glaring at Ivan, the prince grabbed the map and began making his way over to where some soldiers stood outside.

I followed, irritated and angry with these men and their egos. It wasn't going to stop me from confronting him. 'That's the end of it? Take me not even half way and then leave me to travel alone! What about the Moroi, what if they come back?' He just kept walking away from me and ignoring me as if I was never there. I moved faster to catch up to him before he could get anywhere else and spoke firmly knowing his men were standing a few feet watching our exchange. 'You're no better than the Moroi.'

He turned to glare at me, his face wasn't scarred or covered in the blood it was yesterday and the scruff on his cheeks cast a demeaning shadow onto his face. He looked god-like standing there in the rays of the sun. From where I stood, his presence alone assured power; royalty. It seemed the whole camp had frozen at my words though and all their attention had focused on us, or rather, him. He stood tall and looked at me as I stood to the side of him.

I spoke as calmly as I could when I said that but it didn't matter. I knew I had said something wrong, very wrong, but I didn't care at the moment. His eyes shifted and became a deeper brown, as if they shifted with every emotion he went through. A hard still glare unsettled me as I knew that maybe I did finally cross the line. I had insulted a royal and in front of his own men no less.

'No, the Moroi beat you, made you watch as they raped your sister and killed your family... I helped you, I fed you and healed you, given you supplies that I need for my men to make it back home and I'm no better than those filthy worthless Moroi?' I felt incredibly small as his deep voice sounded in a calm rage.

Like a small misbehaved child being scolded by their parent. It was still quiet as the prince stood before me, his tall shadow covering me in darkness as I took in his words. 'Your men helped me and you were convinced to drag me along. I've heard the soldiers talking; all you did was agree… You never wanted to help us. I'm too much of a risk and that bothers you.' His glare seem to grow harder as I spoke, no one said anything as we stood face to face and challenged each other.

He looked as though he wanted to say something. I'm sure it was something bad and most likely he wanted me to find my own way to anywhere now. I was sure at any moment he was about behead me or maybe take a limb for disrespecting a royal figure publicly. In the Moroi kingdom, when I lived with my father and mother, an action like the one I just did was sentenced by torture or death. I didn't know what the penalty in the Dhampir kingdom was but I didn't want to find out.

I swallowed heavily as he leaned closer to me, glaring and stirring the tension even more. My stomach knotted up in a deep sinking twist of fear as I anticipated what would happen next. He opened his mouth to speak but instead of words coming out of his mouth, it was more of a groan. An unfamiliar groan neither of us had made but as I turned my head toward the sound, I quickly figured out who it was.



The swift almost silent sound of arrows racing into the day lit air drove themselves straight into the chest of Ivan. It cut off the battle I was currently fighting with Rose and raised the tension even more throughout the camp. At that precise moment where Ivan groaned and fell to his knees, my men snapped into action. The shouts of buria sounded from voices I couldn't make out, clanks of swords and arrows swishing by my head blurring all together. I watched as Ivan spit up blood and reached for his chest where the two sticks were sticking out.

This wasn't real; this couldn't be happening but clearly it was. The way he had fallen, almost forward as if to block something or rather someone; Rose. She kneeled down next to him as the men surrounded us in a protective circle, their shields enclosing us as Ivan bled on the ground, Rose's hands and out of his mouth. She held pressure to his wounds and screamed something at me as I struggled to concentrate. I couldn't make out her words but her expression was frantic.

It wasn't until Mikhail physically turned me to face him that I had snapped into action. 'There's only a few this time, we should get him to safety before the damage gets worse.' I nod and help Rose lift Ivan and we struggle dragging him in order to get him hidden. We move behind his still set up tent and I leave a soldier there to aid Rose. I draw my sword and head back to my fighting men.

The Moroi taunt us, riding their horses only as close as they shoot arrows and then others attack with swords as we take cover. It was an ambush; we had stayed in one spot too long. We should have left first thing in the morning. I dodge and duck swinging my sword as the horseman passes by and connect with the sword he holds. Our swords clang, more arrows fly over my head and men are fighting left and right.

I can't keep the worry for Ivan away and the fear drives me to attack anything unfamiliar. We were on the ground as they attacked the horses all ready and waiting as we were supposed to be moving along by now. I think to make it to one and quick. 'Castile, the horses!' I shout to the third in command and he nods knowing I'm going to need cover. Once I'm on a horse, I'm unstoppable and nothing gets passed my sword.

I move fast and run through attacking Moroi, swinging any chance I get and colliding with other metal or bodies. I run as fast as I can to get to a horse. Once I'm on one, I turn back and ride through the camp looking out for Ivan and for any chance to strike the enemy. The screams and noise of battle tear at my ears as I fight my way through the chaos. I spot Edison on Ivan's horse and the feeling of calm starts to spread within me.

He's taking out Moroi left and right, his hair cutting in the wind caused by how quick he's moving. The sword in his hand strikes anything that's unfamiliar; it's the quickest I've seen him fight. Wait, his hair? Once I turn to look again in his direction I'm baffled; Rose? She moves with quick stealth and she looked deadly.

She moves like the waves of the ocean as they wash away the sand on the shore. It happens so fast you can't blink or you'll miss it. The yells and groans she makes as she picks up the heavy sword and swings it with all her might, erupt from her throat and sound before the forest. Her sword meets with others and sometimes with just air but she's wounding them and taking them down one by one. She was beautiful in battle, like an avenging angel come to deliver the justice of heaven.

She was breathtakingly beautiful but extremely reckless. An arrow passing only inches from my face snaps me out of the daze and I turn to face Mikhail loading another onto his bow. He gives a nod of recognition and moves on as I turn to the direction where the arrow flew straight into the throat of a Moroi soldier about to attack me. I shake my head and put my focus back into the fight, I ride through the forest fierce with eyes open, searching for danger. The men have moved the Moroi back a few feet and now as most of us are on horseback, it's an all-out chase to kill as many as possible before they get away.

My mind quickly wonders to Rose and if she is okay, then to Ivan and if I will get to bring him back home alive. The worry only grows and then turns into anger as I fear the loss of my brother. What would I do if he was gone? How would I explain to Karolina and my family that I couldn't keep my word and bring him back to his children? What would Paul think of this, his hero gone? No. I couldn't think that way; Ivan is strong and will live. He had to there's too much to lose.


The silence was settling. We moved along in quiet sorrow as we followed the path to wherever it was we were going. Safe ground seemed so far away though. The men were quiet, the sounds of the forest seem to fade and we were covered in blood mixed with sadness. The aftermath of war, I guessed.

It wasn't long for the soldiers and prince to get things in gear. We killed every Moroi who decided to cowardly attack us. We were blindsided, left vulnerable and the prince had hated that very fact. "We should have been long gone from here!" "We should have made camp deeper in to the forest. Now were eight men less and have to bring along a weakness!" His vice roared as his soldiers gathered the eight brave souls together and buried them, Ivan being one of them.

He was trying to protect me, seeing the archer before anyone else and throwing his body in front of mine. I had no idea why or what possessed him to do that but I was thankful. Then those words Ivan spoke before I had left him, the very words that still ring in my ears now as I follow the men ahead of me,'Go. Fight. My horse is prepared, take it, Miss Rose.' At first it shocked me he was finally giving in and I was unsure of him. 'Help them and honor your family... prove yourself worthy. It's all we can do; when we have nothing left; fight.'

Then that weak grip of his hand fell light and he was gone. He bled to death; the arrows were too deep to pull out and punctured his lung. All I could do was close my eyes and whisper a soft promise to this kind stranger and kiss his forehead, telling him goodbye. The next second I was on horseback swinging the heaviest of swords at anything in my way. I was good with a sword, a champion with a bow and arrow, but these soldiers were artist with their weapons.

They created masterpieces with their skills and fearless knowledge of the battlefield. I felt like one of them. As if I was among peers and the brotherhood they carried shined out in the forest. It was like they had eyes everywhere, they protected each other and the enemy stood no chance. I helped all I could, I only wounded a few, but it made it a lot easier for the soldiers to kill them.

I even received a few nods and pads on the back for my bravery from a few of the soldiers. Mikhail especially, who said Ivan would've been honored for me to carry his sword. Only I didn't feel honorable using it or riding his horse, especially since the prince has just been glaring at me since we left. As Mikhail helped me back onto the horse and into the gear of Ivan's there was no kind subtle nod or pad on the back from him; nothing. Mikhail sighs as we ride next to each other in the silent line of soldiers.

The night graces upon us and we follow the path in tired quiet tension. 'Is it always like this after... something like that?' I didn't know exactly how to ask the question but Mikhail still understood. He nods and keeps his eyes moving around us in search for something with potential danger.

'The silence is supposed to be soothing, like calm after a storm, but for me it's just a small break before the next wave of danger.' I nod in understanding.

These men have continuously put their lives on the line for a country and people that have been good to them. It made me respect them even more. They had no order or reason to save me and Lissa but they still did. They did the right thing to do at a time like this but I still wondered. 'Why did the prince save us? If he doesn't like taking unnecessary risks then why did he agree to bring me along?'

I turn to face Mikhail and watch as his rugged scarred face frowns with sadness. 'He didn't want to... Ivan had the most to do with that. He could get the prince to look at things in another way and change his mind about things.'

'They were close.' Mikhail nods again as I turn my head to look straight to where the prince and two soldiers on each side of him lead us.

'They were like brothers; Ivan had always been there by the Prince's side.' It made sense; I had known that Ivan was married to the oldest of the Belikov siblings. What I didn't know was that they had trusted each other with their lives and I understood a bond like that; I had it with Lissa.

'Is that why he keeps glaring at my very existence? He blames me doesn't he?' I ask quietly, Mikhail just stares ahead not answering but his silence spoke loudly; yes.


I watched as he sat a ways from the rest of the camp. We had stopped in a deep part of the forest as most of the men needed the break. The rest of that walk I was quiet as I thought about what Mikhail had said or didn't say. I had never asked for Ivan to risk his life for me, I simply asked to be taken to safety and then to fight back. However, what if that was asking too much?

I knew what it felt like to lose someone you loved, a sister, a brother, a whole family so I understood his pain. I sighed heavily as I slowly made my way to where he sat. A grim look graced his handsome face and the dim lighting of the forest fit the mood perfectly. When I finally was a little closer to him, he already knew I was there and looked to me with that all familiar glare. I froze at the very spot I stood and for once my fear of him showed.

Although I would have immediately tried to hide it, I couldn't at this particular moment. I knew exactly what was going on in those eyes of his and the want to hide my fear faded. He was good at shifting his emotions and hiding his feelings but I'm not one to back off from confrontation. 'Why are you here?' His words came out harshly and gave off the impression he wanted to scare me away but nothing he could say would work at this moment.

'Just for a friendly chat.' He moved his eyes up and down my body, catching the end of my dress as it stood out from under cloak Mikhail covered me with. Under that cloak and over my chest lay the metal chained armor of Ivan.

It was the only thing that fit me and it was a little big but Mikhail thought it would offer some kind of protection at the least. It felt like fire burning my skin as he stared at it though and I wanted to rip it right off. 'Go back to Mikhail and if you ever put yourself in the middle of danger like that again, I'll make it a point that none of my men waste their lives on yours.' That stung but it only made me more determined.

'So it's true then, you blame me for Ivan's death.' I say.

He released a deep long breath and turned away to face the fire the soldiers started. 'You intrude my mission with a wounded girl. You put us in a vulnerable position. You've been nothing but an unnecessary distraction, you're exactly to blame.' Those words only fueled me within to drop the nice approach and snap into the reckless angry person I was.

'I'm not the one who shot the arrows into Ivan's chest! I had nothing to do with his dea-' my words strike and he rises to speak before I finish.

'He was trying to protect you' he says with an even glare pointed right at me. 'He took an unnecessary risk and it cost him his life! You have no right to wear his armor, ride his horse or carry his sword. You impose on us and cost me eight men!' It was harsh and mean and all these other things but he had a point.

A point I didn't think of until now. My voice came out softer as I realized this and my anger weighed down some. 'I never asked for that sort of protection from your men.' He sighed heavily and walked a few steps in front of me, his fists clenched, stance tall and his glare now completely blank. 'You didn't have to. It comes with the duty and honor of being a soldier. You put your life behind others.'

Then why was he giving me such a hard time about it? As if he heard the silent question, he began to walk closer toward me, and he looked at me again this time his eyes showed what looked to be sincere curiosity. 'You said you learned to fight from watching trainings?' I nod as his voice isn't so firm and angry anymore. He let a few quiet moments occur between us and it was like Mikhail said; a calm after the storm.


'I apologize for my anger earlier.' I shake my head no as we sit a ways in back of the few soldiers who sat in front of the fire.

'It's fine. I understand what it's like when you lose someone close to you. I would've reacted the same.' He stared at the fire in front of us and then quickly glanced to me before looking away. 'You seem fine after the passing of your sister.'

The memory of Lissa almost chokes me up but I resist the urge to cry and just nod. 'She was suffering and it needed to end. Also I was only calm for a little while, until I asked Ivan for training...' I shake my head at the disappointing outcome of what I had asked. I never intended for things to go this way but I couldn't do anything about it now.

It was quiet for a long while as we both sat next to each other. I couldn't exactly read him, he was very back and forth with himself but it only interested me more. There were a lot of wonderful things about him. The way he carried himself like the powerful figure he was and the way he took everything so personally. I knew what he was feeling, a loss like that could take its toll and I should know I have lost plenty.

'You miss him.' His gaze went from the fire to the ground and the smallest of nods answered me.

For someone who knew of losing people I had no clue of what to say to comfort him and I don't think anything I could would make him feel better. 'I won't use his things anymore. I won't fight either... If that would make things easier on you to get us where were going then I'll do it.' I stood to walk away, as much as I wanted to find out more about him, I felt leaving him to grieve was the best thing to do.

'Your sword is too heavy. It was made for a man, a man of Ivan's strength, but you did well.' I stop before leaving him and wait for his eyes to meet mine.

When they do, there's a slight gentleness in them and he smiles small. 'Thank you.' He nods and looks down the dirt again but his voice keeps me standing there. 'My grandmother was right after all.'

'What do you mean?' I question. He sighs lingeringly and looks up ahead to the fire again. 'She said a great challenge awaited me and that I should give in to the needs of others. She said it would not disappoint me but it would be giving in to what I fear most.' I quietly sat back down on the side of him and waited as he took his time to speak again. 'It wouldn't be wise to keep you away if you can help.'

I wasn't sure what he was saying exactly but it caused a small ounce of hope within me. 'My grandmother, she saw things, sensed them… She must have seen you.'

At first it took a minute to come to the realization but when I did I immediately knew what he was saying. 'That sounds like Rhea.'

He turns his head to the side as he faced me curiously. 'Who is Rhea?' he asks. It was my turn to look to the ground in that sad familiar memory this time. 'She was Lissa's mother; she raised me as her own. She saw things as well.' We look to each other now and as our eyes meet, it was hard to break away from his entrancing gaze. 'We should start first thing; the best time to train would be when we rest and as we travel.'

I nod slightly excited at his words as he rises to his feet. 'We will begin with the sword.'