Miles trod carefully as he made his way through the swampland surrounding his old home of Vale.
The sun had just begun to set and he had been expecting Isabelle back at least an hour ago, but she had yet to return from her ingredient hunting for her alchemy store.
He knew the dangers of the swamps around his home better then anyone, having spent his youth searching every inch of the flooded forests and swampland.
However capable Isabelle was she was still new to the area, even though they had been living there for the last two years.
“I swear I’ll put her over my knee for this…I just got these boots.” while the people of Vale had grown an immunity to the poisons, toxins and deadly swamp gas which covered the whole area, Isabelle did not have the luxury because she had been born in the capital.
He had made quick time though the difficult terrain, his years of being in the army and royal guard had only strengthened his body and mind.
While he had an imposing figure like that of a boxer, shoulder length black and greying hair was tied back, and he had his roguish but rough appearance and charm, but the part of him that stood out the most were his grey eyes.
The only people who had such eyes were the people of Vale, earning them the title of Mist-Watchers, it was the least offensive name his people had been called over the years.
They had nothing but a rich heritage and culture and were remarkable healers, craftsmen and alchemists however because of those very abilities they had been forced to live in the swamps for the last three hundred years, the people of the kingdom had seen their traditional talents as barbaric and not becoming of their people so had forced them away from the main cities and towns of the kingdom.
Miles was snapped out of his thoughts by the muffled cursing of a woman from behind a large cluster of trees and nightshade bushes.
“Isabelle? Is that you?” he called out, “Miles?” she called back her voice muffled, “Damn it you really wonder off at the worst times don’t you?” he teased walking around to meet her.
“I need a hand…” he could barely make it out because she had mumbled it through the breathing mask she had made for her long trips out into the swamp, “What’s wrong?” he asked looking her over; she looked fine but he couldn’t be sure out here and he didn’t want to take any risks.
“I sprained my ankle, couldn’t see a root…”, “Let me look.” he said kneeling down only to be battered away, “I’m fine just help me up.”, “Isabelle, if your skin has been broken I need to know. I’ll have to stop the infection straight away.”, “It hasn’t alright? Look just help me up and grab my bag.” sighing Miles picked up the almost full bag and carefully helped her to her feet.
“I’ll be glad when I can finally loose this thing.” she sighed, tapping the mask on her face, “Well it’s either that or dying a slow horrible death.” Miles chuckled as he helped her climb onto his back, “It’s been two years…only place I don’t have to bloody wear this is in Vale. It’s annoying.”, “Look it usually takes outsiders three years at least to acclimatize to the swamp fumes, but even that doesn’t mean you’ll be completely immune.”.
“I’m not asking to be like you Miles, I just don’t want to wear this damn thing anymore…and stop dipping me down. If my hair touches that water I’ll kill you in your sleep.” she grumbled as she lifted her long black hair up, its strangely coloured white tips standing out in the days fading light. He never knew how she got the tips like that but it just added to her beauty in his opinion.
“Are you sorry you left the capital?” he asked after a few moments of silence between them, only to get a punch in the chest, “Of course not…I had nothing left there. After the order stabbed me in the back where was I going to go? I can’t leave the kingdom or I could end up being labelled as a traitor or get targeted by the damn nobles again.” she said sadly nuzzling as best as she could into his neck.
“I won’t let them…the only way they would get to you is through me.”, “If I didn’t have this mask on I’d kiss you…”, “I’m guessing that would just be the start though.” he chuckled as the lights of Vale came into sight, “You are horrible.” she said joining in on the laughter, it was something that she admired about him. He always tried to keep her happy. He had walked away from his position in the royal guard for her, he would do it again without hesitation.
“Anyway did you get what you wanted?”, “Yes, finally. The new ember blast mixture should be twice as powerful now.”, “You really are my little firebug aren’t you?” craning his head round he pecked her on the cheek, “I don’t belong to anyone…but you are my husband so I guess I could forgive you for that.” she chuckled.
Once they arrived back at Vale, it was a small rustic looking town but everyone looked out for each other, treating them like family. They owned a small store which doubled as their home. It was the house he had grown up in and had been handed to him after his grandfather had passed away.
“I love you…you know that right?” she asked as he pushed the door open, “Every day I wake up…Leaving with you was the best decision I’ve ever made.”, “Miles, I never want to go back there…I’d go anywhere but there. All there is in the capital for me is pain and suffering.”, “I promise we won’t Isabelle, they had their chance with us. We’re through with them…”, “Except Eli and Syn, those two are so much in love with each other they’re clueless to it.”.
Miles thought back to the young man he had pulled off the streets and turned into something more then a piece of scum that people avoided for a reason. He was always rough around the edges, that’s why he reminded him of himself at that age, but he was a loyal and honest man even going as far as to call him ‘boss’ all the time. Syn was much the same rough but honest, a former streetwalker she was the unknown watcher of the working girls, killing clients who harmed them or at least tried to.
“I hope they’re both alright. Syn…she saw me as her father…hell I was more of a father to her then I was to Faye…”, “Don’t bring that up Miles, what Louise did was her own doing. She should have known better.”, “I know…” he sighed gently setting her down next to their oak table, “I just can’t help but think I knew her better then that.”.
“Well…don’t rile yourself up too much. It’s in the past and we’ve got a bright future together. Now, sort out my ankle…” her foot landed on his lap as he looked up and saw her cheeky smile, something that would always make him feel at ease.
Feeling his rough but gentle hands run over her ankle she suppressed the urge to shudder under his touch, gently pressing the skin down and getting a small grunt out of her. “Your lucky it’s a mild sprain. You’ll be back to normal after a few days, doesn’t seem too bad anyway.” Miles said gently rubbing her ankle, “I’ll make something to keep the swelling down.”, “Wait…could you carry me upstairs?”, “Of course my darling.”.
Without any effort she felt him lift her up and carry her bridal style up the wooden staircase to their bedroom, gently laying her on their double bed, “Miles…wait…there was something I wanted to tell you. But I’ve been worried about how you would react.”, “Whatever it is Isabelle it will be fine.”.
Her hands settled over her stomach and she gave him a warm smile, “Well…this is will be a slightly cramped house in about nine months.”, “Your pregnant?”, “Yes. Our child Miles.” her voice hitched slightly, trying to control her bad memories from returning.
Miles didn’t say anything but just leaned in and kissed her, “That is fantastic news…and I will always be at your side Isabelle. I will never leave you alone again.” she started to cry as she kept holding onto Miles, flashes of previous marriage brought her to tears as she remembered the first child she had lost by the hands of her previous husband.
“Isabelle…we’ll be fine. Our child will be fine. The whole village will be behind us, the three of us are safe here.” instead of going to fix up some ointment for her ankle he curled up next to her and just held her as she cried into his chest. ‘The nobles or the royal guard can stay away. Or else…’ he thought as he comforted his wife.