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Undaunted

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The woods were no place for a princess, certainly not a special one like Kara. She would have no need to be here, if it weren't for her current predicament. On foot her heels sank into the wet soil and her long cloak snagged on bushes, it's pearly color dirtied on the bottom by the mess she was running through. More like being tugged through. A gloved hand with a vice like grip was steering her away from the shouts coming behind them, from the snapping of bushes and canine jaws. The back of the person guiding her was tall and taunt- taunt with nerves and anxiety even if they did not show it.

“How much further?” Kara rasped, out of breath. She had lost all sense of direction in the woods. Woods dark because of the over cast sky, dimmed even more by the branches blocking the light's feeble gray rays.

“Here,” the woman in front of her breathed, as a strong wind swept past them and dragged their scent to the dogs. It rippled the woman's black hair, gathered into a long ponytail that whipped around her like dark mist. Kara's rippled like waves, blonde and catching even the faintest hints of light. It was like a glowing beacon, and it often attracted others to her. Often times she liked it, but now she wished she had thought to put a hat on.

Here was a cave and Kara blanched at it. Surely she was not expected to be safe there? They would be found by the dogs and the men who led them.

“You do not think-”

“You will stay there. And I will protect you.”

“By yourself?”

The woman chuckled. “Have you no faith in my skills, despite the legends, despite the truths you have seen before your eyes?” She placed a hand softly on the hilt of her blade to remind Kara what dangers lay there. “Beside, they ruined our wonderful picnic in the woods, and they seek to put you in danger. That is the one thing I shall not abide,” the woman approached Kara steadily,a good two inches taller than Kara. Her gloved hand touched Kara's cheek lightly, hard green eyes softening an inch for the blonde.

“I know you are formidable, yet I worry still-”

“You are the future mother of my child, and nothing will keep me from returning to you,” the woman breathed out harshly and Kara's heart tightened at that, her heart swimming deliriously at that declaration of ardor.

“I will always worry over you, Lena,” she replied with, unspoken sentiments flavoring her tongue. She would save them for later; she already showered Lena continuously with them to the point of madness for that was how she expressed emotions best.

“Have a little worry for those men on the end of my receiving sword,” Lena chuckled darkly and then swiveling on her heel, went to seek out the source of the noise that had now come closer. Kara obeyed the woman's orders and hunkered down in the cave, wishing not for the first time that she could be of somewhat more use.

Yet, she obediently waited and strained her ears for any sounds. All that came was the increased yipping of the dogs, some pained grunts, the clang of swords and then nothing.

When a dark figure strode up to her she did not cower back for she knew who it was. “Lena, you are safe!” she jumped from her spot and hugged her knight to her, Lena making haste to sheath her sword first. She returned the hug.

“You must not worry over ever little spat I get into. It'll premature you greatly,” she teased and Kara pulled away to touch foreheads with her while her arms rested around Lena's waist. They stood like this, relishing in each other's physical form, in the way they peered so relentlessly into each other's eyes. Kara's were bright and sparkling with innocence while Lena's were dark and dull with all the horrors she had seen. Yet, when she looked on at Kara, all that reflected in her eyes was the woman before her, pupils and iris dedicated to capturing the alluring visage.

“Now, shall we head back to our blanket and try to see if our feast has not be entirely ruined?” Lena suggested and holding out her arm chivalrously, she lead Kara back, making sure to avoid the path where several slain corpses laid.

 

15 months prior

 

“You ordered who? ” King Danvers bellowed, face red with rage.

“I had to. I had no choice!” Queen Danvers pleaded with her husband to understand as he paced around the throne room fuming with violences.

“But them? The Black Knights? They're disreputable! All killers and heathens with no moral code,” he spat and Kara flinched as she watched her parents argue. Her parents rarely did so, but recently it had become more often and all because of her. Because of her body.

“But their loyalty and skills can be bought with coin. And right now it is something we need. Something Kara needs,” Queen Danvers pointed out.

“And none of our men are good enough?”

“No, you know that they are not. Even the toughest has fallen for Kara's charms and tried to take her for their own. We cannot afford that.” The queen spoke more lowly here, sharp needles pricking her heart when she thought of how her most precious had almost been defiled before a suitable marriage could be arranged. She also did not want to remind Kara of what had befallen her too many times and in too close frequency. Their daughter had been shook more than words could proclaim.

“But you would trust her life to those we do not know?”

“We need all the help we can get. The fairy godmother said this condition would only worsen and magical barriers can only protect Kara so far. She needs someone by her side. Someone who will be unaffected.”

“And the Black Knights can do this?”

“You've heard the rumors. That they do not have hearts for they were magically taken away. And that they are able to even take on entire armies and fell them. Please, Danvers, let us give them a chance,” Queen Danvers begged, hands clasped in front of her high and tasteful decolletage.

“They are heathens! You want to let such scum into our lands?” he raised his voice, his compassion not garnered towards them.

“Then do you have a better plan?”

He shook his head, sighing lowly and in a rumpled defeated manner that aged him far too quickly. “Zor-El must have something to help Kara.”

“We cannot owe another debt to him. His magic comes at too high a price. And for all we know he may be trying to cultivate her magic for himself.” Zor-El was a powerful sorcerer but he could not be trusted. He was as sly as a snake and twice as likely to bite as one. They had turned to him only once, and the price had been almost too steep to bare. Even now it brought up occasional swings of misery onto their mood, and made the hairline crack between their love all that more glaring. Threatening to make it bigger.

King Danvers sighed once more and turned to look on at Kara who was silently sitting at the dining table, head down and attempting to continue on her meal peaceably.

“Kara, what do you think?”

Kara jumped in her chair slightly, for she was not expecting them to ask her. They rarely considered her words, thinking they knew best what to do with her life. She had trouble formulating words and rushed to speak her mind, though she didn't have much to speak on it, for she hadn't expected to be called upon.

“I want to be safe,” was her simple answer.

The Queen looked sadly upon her daughter, soothing back the curls from her face lovingly.

“You hear that, my king,” she said to Danvers. “Our daughter does not feel safe.”

“And she would so with those Black Knights?” he spat but with less vitriol.

“We won't know until we try. I hear they even have women in their ranks. Perhaps they won't be affected by Kara.”

The King shook his head, airing grievances in another heavy sigh. He pinched his brows. “Very well. We shall try. But if anything goes wrong be it on your head and not mine,” he warned and walked off.

 

 

The Queen, King, and Princess Kara all waited outside the castle gate for the Knights arrival. The castle's own guards stood by them, in two rows leading to the gate so as to blare trumpets for the appearance of the guests. Also, ready to jump to arms if the meeting did not go well.

Snow looked unsettled and she held tightly to her husband's hands. Kara too was nervous and she kept her head bowed down, and her arms clasped in front.

All three had dressed in their fineries so as to make a solid impression. King Danvers in bright purples and golds and with a long red cape on his back that partly covered the gilded sword by his side. His crown gleamed in the evening light.

Queen Danvers too wore a splendid dress of cream with a high collar, while a trail trailed behind her and had to be held up by two young servants, both boys and both blonde and dressed in outfits with high collars and tight trousers. Her hair was done up so her delicate crown could rest upon it lightly, and heavy jewels adorned her neck and ears.

Kara was wearing a light colored dress with pearls sewn into it and with a modest decolletage. It was simply yet elegant and it highlighted her innocence. While she had no crown to bear, her hair was swept back and plaited, long golden locks shining brightly.

“Do you know when they shall arrive?” the King asked, stiff with worry and apprehension at the Knights arrival.

“The messenger sent word they should be here soon, by the time the clock struck six,” Queen Danvers answered and she too was wary. The Knights were one of their last resorts. One of their last hopes. But they would call upon them if only to protect their treasure, Kara.

She did not deserve vile advances on her and until the good fairies could figure out what troubles truly plagued her and caused this curse, than they would need to seek proper aid.

Rapidly the sky above them began to darken.

They knew by the speeds with which it happened, it was not natural. But magical in nature.

The clouds darkened and growled with thunder as bright streaks of light flashed through them. They roiled like hungry beasts, spinning over head as if they were battling each other.

“What is the meaning of this,” King Danvers hissed, grabbing his weapon. Ahead of them, in front of the open palace golden gates, which had been opened for acceptance, a most ominous purple mist rolled up.

In it dark shadows could be made out. And the steady thud of hooves and heavy armor rattling.

“It must be them,” gasped out the Queen, in a mixture of excitement and dread.

Danvers did not relax, only stiffened more and he held out his arm, stepping forward to protect both his wife and daughter.

The cloud rolled up to the palace fence but did not progress further, finally revealing the new arrivals. At the head of the crowd rode the captain of the Black Knights, a proud and menacing figure on top of an all black horse, so dark, it rivaled the color of tar.

And it looked like no other horse Kara had ever seen before did. It's eyes shone a ghostly white under it's silver armor, and it's body was constructed of skin that was tight like leather, with all it's teeth exposed to give it a horrific look.

It sent shudders down Kara's spine.

And the person on top of the it wore heavy looking armor in the shades of black, silver, and gray. It was form fitting and was polished to brilliance. The spikes on the shoulders and wrist guards looked menacing, but the most terrifying thing was the helmet on which the skull of a human head was made from black metal with the teeth set in silver. Between the gap of the jaw, only a sliver of the human inside it could be seen.

Behind the captain, rode others in a triangle formation, and so evenly placed it was a sight to see. They pulled to a stop three feet behind their captain who had stopped roughly a spears length in front of the Danvers family.

They dismounted, the king watching with cautious eyes. During this, silence reigned with the exception of the occasional crack of thunder above their heads.

“Are you the leader of the Black Knights? The so called Black Death?” King Danvers barked out as the figure silently stood there. The sword at their side was massive, with a wicked curl at the end.

They didn't say anything, dragging the tension out. At last they relented and took off their helmet. Kara was astounded at who she saw underneath the horrid helmet. A woman of unrivaled beauty stood before them, nothing like the terrifying man Kara expected. Her skin was pale white though porcelain like in appearance and long black hair was tied back in a high ponytail leaving the noble and sharp planes of her face on display. Her lips looked as if they were stained permanently by a deep red wine, almost burgundy in nature. And her eyes, were a deep lush green like a vibrant forest.

“I am indeed the knight of which you speak of,” she answered, thunder rumbling above her in punctuation of this point. Her voice was gravelly and low, sending shivers of something unidentifiable down the princess's back.

Quite frankly, she was enamored by the knight captain at first sight and nothing could save her. She could feel her chest swell with hot emotion as did the spot between her legs. It left her almost shaking, unstable on her legs. The emotion was so strong she could not make heads or tails of it, for she had never felt this way before.

She did not even have the words to understand it.

“You beckoned for my aid and paid handsomely for it, thus I could not resist the call,” the knight captain spoke.

“Good. You are one of our last resorts. Our princess-”

“Spare me the details. I already know of them. Your princess's curse is not exactly well hidden and rumors and gossip travel far. I do care naught for them, only for doing my job. Thus, if you will allow us to attend to our stations, the faster we can get this ordeal over,” she said coolly, and briskly.

King Danvers seemed almost at a loss at how quickly this was proceeding, and for how rude the woman was to the royals. “If I demand for you to discuss this with me, than you shall-”

“With utmost honor, King,” she sneered on his name, utterly mad in how she dared to mock a royal, and in how she indeed cared no honor for him though she claimed she was in this sentiment. Did she have no self preservation? Danvers may be mild manner but even he would not stand for such an open insult. “You are in no position to order me or my knights around.”

Danvers's face turned red. “Why you-”

At this she stepped closer to him, eyes cold and cruel and body language intimidating. She stopped when she was only in front of his face. “You and your wife came crawling to me, begging me for my help and I could have ignored the pleas. I could have helped anyone I wanted to, and for quite a better sum I might add. Yet, I chose to help you, so when I say we are going to partake in things in my manner, we very well will. Do you understand?” she said, canines bared at him.

He swallowed heavily but knew to retort would be ill advised. This woman had taken down entire kingdoms before. It truly was a miracle she had even agreed to help them.

The woman smiled, something frightening and yet so bold that Kara felt a bit feverish at the sight of it. Oh Gods, was what happening to her? Why did she feel this way? Instead of being scared her body was feeling very welcoming to this strange and dangerous woman. “Now that we are understood,” she said as she took a step or two back, “my knights and I shall do what we do best.” She turned swiftly on her heel and clambered back onto her horse in one smooth motion. With a whistle, she turned the horse to the left, heading to where the stables were. Her knights followed after her, ignoring the royals entirely.

When they had all gone, Danvers was able to vent openly. “Who does she think she is! To be so mocking of us! I should have her head.”

“Dear, please do not. If we want her help we have to abide by her measures,” the Queen soothed.

“So we are to turn over and show her our belly?”

“No, we do not have to. We simply must work with them and not against them.”

Noticing Kara's quiet state and her slightly shaking figure, they turned to her. “Sweetie, how are you faring? I hope the knights did not scare you too much.” Queen Danvers approached her and touched her forehand. “You're burning up. Are you alright?”

Kara nodded her head numbly. “I am...I am just a bit overwhelmed. I think I may need to rest.”

“Let us go up then. Your father and I have much to oversee regarding the knights. You take a nap so you may regain your strengths.”

Kara did as told, but even as she lay on her bed she could not rest, images of the knight running through her head. There was something so enthralling about her. So much more than human though she looked like any other person.

May perhaps it was the pure power that radiated off of her. Her stance was strong, confident, and the way she talked made it clear she did not apologize for anything even if she was wrong. Her body was lean and shaped and trained into becoming a perfect weapon. And she did not hide that fact.

Kara wanted to know so much more about her. There was almost an air of mystery around her and though Kara knew well the reputation and tales that accompanied these knights, she wanted to know more about the captain as a person. What colors she favored, what foods she fancied, and perhaps, if her lips were not as cutting as her tongue.

A heavy blush settled on Kara's cheeks and she hated how weak and sappy she had become over a woman. She felt like one of those blushing maidens in story books and she hated that. She liked to think of herself as not as susceptible to looks. But it seemed her heart was taken.

She shook her head. Perhaps this infatuation was only a thing of the moment and it would pass shortly. Kara would try not to worry about it now, for she had grander things to worry about, like her health.

So she busied herself with reading a book to get her thoughts in order. But if she had thought that she would stop thinking on the mysterious woman in the future, she was sorely wrong.