Drip. Drip. Drip. It had been raining for a few days now and the roof of a small cottage started to leak in several places.
"Elion!" Kate called for her brother in a panic. "There's another one over here!" She pointed accusingly at the new intruding water droplets.
"Got it," Elion said as he placed the last available cooking pot under the new leak. "Don't worry, Kate, all this rain means our vegetable garden may finally start growing." He gave his sister a smile and ruffled her shoulder-length chestnut hair. "We'll soon be so full to care about the leaky roof."
Kate's expression lightened and she threw her arms around her brother's waist. There was nothing but unconditional love for her brother reflecting in her hazel gaze. "We'll really have that much food?"
"More than we could ever eat." He would tell her anything to keep her hopes up even if he wasn't so sure. Times were hard but as long as they had a roof over their head and the will to live, he was sure they could do it.
"Mom and Dad would be proud of you, Elion," Kate said as she pulled from her brother and went to look out the window. "They've been gone half a year already but you're still taking care of us just fine."
Elion smiled again and went to stand next to his sister by the window. "That's what big brothers are for." He wrapped his arm around Kate's shoulders and together they watched the rainfall over the garden.
~ * ~
"Elion! Elion, get up!" Kate was excited this morning as she bounced on Elion's bed. "The rain has stopped and the sun is out! Let's go see if the plants grew!" Without even waiting for a response, she was out the front door leaving it to slam shut on its own.
With a yawn and a bit of a chuckle, Elion got up, dressed and followed his sister out. "Well?" he asked as he approached the garden. "Do you see any..." His words caught in his throat and his cool blue eyes widened at the scene before him.
"Oh, Elion! Look! The garden is destroyed!" Kate covered her face and began to cry.
Elion stood there in disbelief until he noticed a pair of boys his age peeking out from the corner of the house. "I think I have a pretty good idea who did it." He said with an undertone of anger in his voice. "I'll kill 'em."
Blinded by the rage building within him for the destruction of what was now their only source of food, Elion picked up the garden hoe and ran towards the laughing idiots. To his surprise, their fathers were waiting for him.
One had stuck his foot out to trip Elion while the second took the garden hoe from his hands to disarm him. "So the son of a peasant dares to attack those of noble birth? You know, some might consider that a treasonous act."
"Even a peasant brat like you should understand the penalty of committing treason." The two noble lords laughed as they stared down at Elion. It was pretty obvious they had encouraged their sons to harass him like this.
"Elion!" Kate had followed her brother over and was worried about him. Tears were still streaming down her face as she watched the conversation with an uncertainty of what they would do to her brother. Would they really have him killed?
"Everything is alright, Kate." Elion finally spoke as he got to his feet and motioned for her to stand back. "If these rich bastards wanted to kill me, they'd have done it already." The anger he felt towards them for destroying the garden was only growing. "State your business and get the hell out of here." He snapped at them.
His words were answered with a punch to his jaw causing him to stumble back a few steps. "Watch your tone, brat, we wouldn't want your actions to affect your sweet looking sister over there would we?" The more gruff looking nobleman stated.
"Yeah." Chimmed in the second. "This Kingdom isn't kind to little girls left alone to fend for themselves."
"You leave her out of this." Elion shot back and took a protective stance in front of his sister. "Whatever it is you want, I'll do it, just leave her alone." No matter what he had promised to protect his sister.
"Very well. Allow our sons to beat you to their heart's content without you lifting a finger to protect yourself. Do that and we'll forget you attacking them before. Fail and we'll let them see what it's like to lay with a woman." The man's eyes moved over to Kate for a moment.
"These bastards." Elion thought to himself as he gritted his teeth and clenched his fists but if that was the only way to protect Kate, fine. He knew he was no match to take on all four of them even if he refused. "I'll do it."
"No! Elion!" Kate wrapped her arms around her brother's waist and held him tightly. "Don't do it."
"Let go, Kate," Elion stated firmly and removed her arms from around himself. He turned to face her with a faint smile and ruffled her hair as he had done the day before. "Go in the house, I'll be there soon."
She was reluctant to leave him knowing what was about to happen but she also didn't want to watch either. Without another word, she turned and ran back to the house.
Slowly Elion turned to look at the two boys. They were about his height and build, perhaps a little more muscle being the sons of noble knights. He supposed they had been trained well in preparation for this moment. "Alright, do your worst." He dared.
~ * ~
The pain was indescribable for Elion but somehow it was fading almost as quickly as he noticed it was there. His eyes opened slowly to stare at the local healer sitting beside his bed. So, he had blacked out and ended up in the infirmary. "Kate!?" He called for his sister as if afraid something had happened to her while he had been out.
"He's awake! He's awake!" The old healer exclaimed just before he hobbled out of the room quickly.
Shortly after, Kate entered and came to the side of his bed. "Elion, you'll be fine now, the healer fixed you right up. But that's not the best news, wait till you hear!" Even she was overly excited for some reason.
"You're not making any sense." The worst of his wounds may have been healed but he still felt like he had a splitting headache with everyone shouting around him in glee. "How long have I been out?"
"A few hours, Your Highness." A man dressed in fancy armor answered as he entered the room. Once he got to the side of Elion's bed, he took to a knee and bowed his head. "Just long enough for the local healer to contact me with good news."
"Why are you acting like I'm some sort of royal? I must be dreaming." He rose a hand to his head and raked his fingers through his short mop of blonde hair for a moment.
"It is no dream, Your Highness. You and your sister were abducted over ten years ago from the castle. The king has never given up hope that you were out there but I fear some of us had begun to." He finally lifted his head to look at Elion. "I am General Scion Calister of His Majesty's Army and you and your sister are Prince Aeldes and Princess Celeste of the Kingdom of Aro. I am to bring you back to the capital city at once."