That night, I met up with Elena at the same tunnel. I shake my head. "No, it's not close enough," I tell her and dart to a different tunnel. She follows. I duck into the tunnel and scamper through to lead into a room with about five bunkbeds on each wall and one on the far wall. That made eleven bunkbeds and twenty-two grimy, exhausted, hurt slaves in all. I searched the beds and found Seth in the fourth one, on the bottom. A light blanket was on him and he had a peaceful look on his face as he was in a deep sleep. I hated to ruin it. I took a deep breath and gently shook his shoulder, whispering, "Seth, you gotta get up." Surprisingly, he bolted up, sweating and saying, "I'm up, I'm getting to work!" Then he sighed in relief and said, "Oh, it's just you." That kind of hurt. 'Oh, it's just you'? What kind of a greeting was that!? "C'mon, we gotta go," I told him. He nodded and swung over the side of the bed and cracked his back and neck. It was freaky. "All right," he said and winced when he stood up, "Let's go." I led them back through the tunnel and through another passage that led outside. "All right. The next time I expect to see you, I expect to see you in a rebellion," I told Elena then darted back from where I came.
I shook my head, trying to completely wake myself up. "Come on, Elena," I told her and started running. Or, jogging was more like it. I had learned to run fast. I jogged so that Elena could keep up with me. We did so for about five minutes when we got past the borders. I started walking, panting a little and her gasping. I slowed the walk down and waited for her to catch her breath. Then we walked to the forest. I speed-walked through for a few minutes before finally reaching the spot.
I hid behind a tree, bow at the ready. "Aidan! I found the princess," a boy called out. I peeked behind the tree and saw Seth with a young girl. I walked slowly out of the tree, knuckles tightening over the wood of the bow. I nodded to Seth. "Who's this?" "Elena. She claims to be the princess," he says. "I am the princess," the girl says stubbornly. I looked over her, studying her. I got an apple out of a bag I brought with me. "Thank you, Seth," I said and threw him the fruit. He caught it and looked at it hungrily. "Thanks," he said and then left. I looked back at Elena, my gaze hardening, threatening even. "Do you know how to fight?" "What do you mean?" "A rebellion isn't just strategic planning and sabotaging people and plans. A rebellion ends in a fight. And only one side comes out alive. And I need to make sure it's us," I say. "I need to make sure that it's us," she corrected me. "Listen, girl, I've been planning this since I was eleven. I've been working on this for seven years. I do not take orders from anyone but myself," I told her. "What about when I'm queen?" "You better be a good queen, girl, or I'm taking you down next." Her gaze went cold. "I know first-hand how bad the King and the prince is. And you still didn't answer my question." "If you're a good queen, I'll leave you alone. You won't hear from me ever again. I'll stay in the woods for the rest of my life." "You won't come into the kingdom?" she asked, confused. I shook my head. "No. I'm never going back there again. Permanently, that is. And the forest is... calmer. More in order," I said, getting a thoughtful expression. We stood there in silence for a little bit. I snapped out of it. I put my arrow back into it's quiver along with my bow. "Come with me. You need to get some sleep. I'm testing you at first light," I said and walked deeper into the forest. "For what?" "To see what you know. If you can do hand-to-hand combat, if you can sword-fight, if you can do archery, knife-throwing, the like," I explained. A minute or so later, I came to my encampment. An un-lit pile of wood was in the center, and a tent-type-thing was on the side. A strange arrangement of things -pots, pans, eating utensils, clothe pins, arrows, more wood for the fire- was underneath a tree. I led her to the tent-thing and she went in. "There's only one bed," she said, confused. "Yeah, it's your bed tonight. I'll sleep in the tree," I said, pointing to the tree where the odds and ends were. She opened her mouth, but I cut her off, saying, "I've done it before. It's not new to me. Now get some sleep, you'll need all your energy for tomorrow." Then, I placed my bag and and quiver with the pile and climbed up the tree where I had a special spot where I would keep look-out or sleep. I looked down and saw Elena duck into the tent. With that, I stared at the few visible stars through the leaves and slowly drifted into a troublesome sleep, like I do every night.