How Journeys End by Pineapple | Content Warnings
In all of Camellia’s time away from Siana, it was Cera who was at the princess’ side. It turned out, it was also Cera who continued Siana’s combat training, and it would be Cera who would help Camellia return to active duty.
It had been weeks since the rally. Camellia had been checked by the castle’s doctors, double checked by Yarrow, and was allowed to return to a regiment of practice with the soldiers until she was at her full strength. It was… something to see the princess in action after so long.
Her movements were still elegant—more graceful and effortless than ever. She moved with ease that only came with practice and a reverence that only came with experience. She favored a rapier now—had had her own made. Similar to General Narsi, it had a gem in the pommel. As opposed to the blue of the general’s, however, the princess’ was clear. Camellia wondered in passing if it was just for looks, or if it had the same whisper of magic as the leader of her army. Siana ran through her own routine independently, focused and determined, as Cera watched Camellia with a critical eye.
Camellia tried to keep as focused as Siana was—tried to keep her eyes in front of her instead of on the princess at her side. Siana held her shoulders back, her neck and back straight even in battle. It was an intimidating look of strength—Camellia could tell she would be a force on the battlefield and simultaneously hoped that it would never come to that. Camellia knew part of it was an ingrained royal posture, but she could see that another large part of it was sheer confidence. Pure determination to protect her people.
Camellia heard Cera chuckle, and she snapped her gaze away from the princess. Cera tried to hide his smile and advised some different stretches and new exercises as she ran through her circuit. “Lady Camellia,” he would say, his voice gentle, “I know it’s frustrating. You won’t return to your previous state overnight. Strength is a battle in its own right, and you will win with incremental progress every day. Take a break.”
Then he would hand her a drink of water and the pressure she was putting on herself would lift.
Camellia understood why Viola liked spending time with him.
He had a baby-ish face. He looked younger than he was, but he had an intense look in his eye when he watched Siana or Camellia practice, when he watched the troops spar. He probably even knew that Camellia was watching him—he’d probably always known, she realized, and she’d underestimated him from the beginning. Cera had never kept his guard up around her, and maybe that was why she never noticed before. She had the time now, when she was sitting on the edge of the training field, watching him watch everyone else.
He never had to yell at his comrades, though his voice was loud enough when he was having fun. Camellia had heard that Cera was strongest with a polarm—a lance if he was on horseback, or a spear or even javelins. She knew that he was weak with shorter weapons. Yet she only saw him with a sword, aiding other soldiers with their form and technique. When General Narsi stepped into the picture, everyone became tense except for Lady Via and Chrysan.
Speaking of, she thought, and turned to look at the owner of the voice. There was a twinge in her side as she twisted. “Chrysan,” she answered. “Shouldn’t you be training as well?”
“I was meeting with General Narsi,” he said. “Do you have a moment?”
“I’m taking a break before Cera runs me through another practice round,” Camellia answered.
Chrysan took that as a yes and sat down next to her. “I’ve been in town, checking on the aftermath of the rally. Not too much damage to the village, and no civilians were hurt, thankfully.”
“You went alone?”
He gave a wry smile. “No. Lady Via accompanied me.”
Camellia nodded. “Of course.”
“Of course,” he agreed absently. “I found the knife that was thrown at the leader.”
He lifted it, holding it by the blade. “Look familiar?” he asked, raising a brown as he looked over at her.
It was an unbalanced throwing knife with a sliding weight in the middle of the blade. The weight was unique—it was shaped like a compass, tightened in the middle so it wouldn’t move. Camellia had seen a few knives like it while fighting in the war. Her heart ached.
“It’s Cori’s knife?” Camellia asked, unable to hold back the disappointment in her voice.
Chrysan nodded, dropping it. It fell, sticking up out of the ground between them. “She was there,” he said. “She must have seen us, tipped off the leader that we were there when she threw this.”
“She’ll know we know,” he said. “I’m surprised they haven’t attacked yet.”
“Yeah.” Chrysan hummed. “I got the feeling you might have some ideas about it. Care to tell me why that is?”
“I haven’t told anyone, but… I’d have done anything for him, when I was in Gladiolus. He was… a dear friend. And Day Bellis would try every method before violence.”
“We can’t say the same for Cori.”
“No, but…” Camellia sighed. “He has a way of convincing people.”
“You were wounded by his people,” Chrysan reminded her. “Her Highness gave General Narsi an earful about it.”
Camellia chuckled. “Me, as well. She asked how I would dare abandon her.”
“She is like her mother, hm.” Chrysan leaned back, sighing. “What will you do about the leader—the charming Day Bellis?”
“Will you tell anyone?”
Chrysan rocked his head back and forth, like he was deciding. “I won’t tell anyone you know him if you won’t tell anyone I know where he is.”
Camellia spun to look at him.
A wicked grin spread across his face. “I’d like to speak to him,” he said, “if you think we could.”
“He would talk to me,” she said, nodding with resolution. “When can we go?”
“In a night or two,” he said. “I want to make sure you can fight, should anything happen. Focus on getting your strength back, Cam.”
She nodded again. “I’ll be ready when you come.”
Cera called Camellia back for another match, waving her up. When they finished, he commented on her “renewed passion” for her own recovery.
Lord Denia Pine came for a meeting. The princess said he came as often as he could so they could discuss their plans to offer aid and repair infrastructure in Gladiolus and between the kingdoms. If they could repair not only the physical problems, but also repair the relations between the countries, it would prevent further warfare. It was an ambitious plan. Denia’s father had wished them luck, and when Siana had attempted to ask King William’s advice, he’d scoffed and told her, “nothing would end the suffering of those destined to die.” She’d elected to not share that tidbit with Denia.
After a few days under Cera’s watchful eye, he released Camellia for restricted duty. She was at the princess’ side when the Lord arrived, and he looked between them with a twinkle in his eye.
“Your Highness,” he greeted. “Lady Camellia.”
“Lord Denia.” Siana nodded gracefully, and behind her, Camellia bowed politely.
They went to the sitting room they usually occupied. The princess had demanded privacy between the two of them, with the exception of her knight. The specifics were lost on most people, especially after the proposal so many months ago. Whatever they said didn’t matter, as long as Camellia was by her side.
Denia looked again between them. “Your Highness,” he began, his lips quirking up. “May I just say you’re absolutely glowing today.”
Siana fought down a blush crawling up her neck and across her cheeks. “I’ve just recently returned from the training field,” she said quickly. “Shall I show you what I’ve been practicing?”
His eyes darted over her shoulder, at Camellia, who was nearly as red as the flowers decorating the room. His smile spread knowingly. “I think I know what you’ve been up to.”
“I think it’s about time we get into business!” She decided, tossing her hair over her shoulder.
Lord Denia laughed, and then began explaining all that his little command had done, how his people had been received. The first attempts had been met with resistance. Some smaller units had been able to help, particularly in the most devastated areas. The most difficult areas to connect with were bordering Nastur. The Gladiolus-Drangea border was much more welcoming.
Camellia tapped Siana lightly on the back—so light she almost missed it. She hummed in response, turning to look at her. “Yes, my knight?”
“May I make a suggestion?”
Denia nodded, gesturing for her to speak. “Please do, Lady Camellia.”
“The leader of the rebels always approaches without weapons.” She straightened her back. “I assume you’re sending your units with soldiers?”
“They would be wary. Gladiolus has been attacked by people thought to be allies before,” she explained. “Queen Anne visited often shortly before the war began.”
“It was a point of much contention between the countries,” Denia agreed, nodding. “I remember hearing of her visits and… the controversy surrounding them.”
“Some people described it as offering a hand to hold us in place so they could stab us.”
“I truly want to aid whoever I can, but I don’t want to risk my men.” Denia wrung his fingers together.
“I understand,” she said, nodding. “However, they are risking their lives as well if they trust you. They are putting their lives in your hands. Are you prepared to shoulder that burden?”
He took a deep breath, clapping his hands on his thighs as he exhaled. His face was serious, but the sparkle in his eye didn’t leave when he looked back up at the princess and the knight. “I hope they will stand on my shoulders and rise up,” he said, nodding decisively. “Thank you for your insights, Lady Camellia. I’m glad to see your recovery going well. Her Highness was beside herself with worry.”
Camellia felt a blush coming on again.
2 thoughts on “How Journeys End Chapter Seventeen: Weapons”
I am always so impressed with the way you put so much detail information in your stories. All the weapons had to take a lot of research.
Ha ha thank you! I promise it’s surface level research at best, but I do try to seem like THEY know what they’re talking about, even if I dont! -🍍