'Oh, he wasn't watching me, but it still doesn't explain why he was there at that moment.' She thought again. 'Is he hiding something from me?'
"I was already on my way when I recalled you had little or no food left with you and I had all the fruits from the forest peak in my bag. Without much thought, I ran back to give them to you. That was when I heard your voice and I got there just in time to see her throw you two into the mist."
He stood up and walked to the entrance of the cave and fixed his gaze on the valley's entrance far away.
"I fought with her, but ended up with the same fate as you did."
"I am sorry, Jareth," she apologized, not because she had doubted his sudden appearance but for the trouble his concern for her had caused him.
"What are you sorry for?"
"I not only risked your life, but dragged you with me. It would take several days for you to head back to your kingdom now. I have put you through so much stress."
"Do I look like I am complaining? Besides, who said anything about going back?"
At that very moment when he turned around to face her, Astrid raised her head up to look at him. Their Eyes met and he let out a smile.
"This just proved to me how risky it is for you to travel on your own. Who knows what dangers laid waiting in front? At the very least, I can ensure you would be okay this way."
Her lips parted, opening a fraction so the depths of her mouth could be seen. She did not know what to say at this moment, she could not believe he was willing to risk this journey with her.
"Don't look so surprised. How do you expect me to sleep, knowing fully well that you are not out of danger and that lady could pop up from anywhere and attack you?"
"Huh, master, you look stupefied right now, close your mouth before a bug enters."
Snow's voice came into her mind, reminding her to speak.
"Jareth," she finally found her lost voice as her lips curled up for another smile. "Thank you, but do you know what you are asking?"
"Yes, please enlighten me if you think I do not."
"My journey would be a hard one, even I myself I am not so sure about it and you would be journeying far from your people and family. Are you sure you want that?" she asked him, her smile completely gone and now replaced with a straight face.
"You said so yourself, I have been branded a traitor and they may not listen. I might as well give it sometime before I return and just take this chance to go on an adventure and explore the world, while still making sure you are safe of course."
He left the entrance of the cave and moved closer to where she was and squatted down in front of her.
"Hahaha, are you sure it is not the thought of exploring the world that you are after and not protecting me?" she teased him. "Not that I need protecting," Astrid added, rolling her eyes at him.
"But if you do not want me tagging along. I can very well just, journey on my own and won't offer any help when you are in need."
"Pff, I have got Snow with me, you, on the other hand, you would be lonely."
"Is that so?" Jareth asked, his brows raising up a t her confidence.
"Very much so," Astrid replied, looking straight in the eyes.
'Someone is getting so confident these days huh. Okay let's see how long that confidence would last.' He thought to himself and got up, heading for his bag and the wood and knife he was using earlier on.
All through, Astrid's eyes followed his every movement but she didn't once utter a word as to what he was doing or where he was going to.
Rather, she let her gaze follow him till he got to the entrance of the cave.
"And where do you think you are going?" Astrid sweet and melodious, mischievous voice suddenly rang out,asking Jareth stop in his tracks.
"Venture the realm on my own, why?"
"It's nothing. Goodluck."
She turned her head away to the side, behaving as though she wasn't going to be affected even if he left.
Jareth looked at her one last time and smirked to himself, before turning around and walking away, leaving them behind.
About three minutes later, Astrid sighed and liked at Snow.
The little white tiger phoenix beast stared back at her with a brow arched up and its paws supporting his jaw.
"Don't what me, master. What was that for?"
"What do you mean what was that for? He wants to journey on his own, why not let him?"
Astrid shrugged and got up from her seat. "Besides, he was only bluffing, he would be back soon."
Snow ignored her and jumped on Jareth's now empty seat to relax.
Minutes later, Astrid moved towards the cave entrance with hands crossed in front of her chest as she did.
Her gaze wandered off into the distance hoping to see Jareth's fading figure but she didn't.
Rather, it was the bare land with sparsely spaced trees that she saw.
Astrid gasped and turned her heard to Snow.
"Where is he? Why isn't he coming back?" She asked, the panic evident in her voice even though she tried to mask it on her face.
"Seriously, master. You just said... "
"I know what I just said, Snow. I didn't expect him to take it so seriously."
"So you are missing him already?" Snow asked her, raising his upper body a bit so he could see his master clearly.
"Stop sprouting nonsense, Snow. Who is? I am only concerned that he would be lonely on his journey," she lied, turning her eyes away and avoiding the little beast's questioning gaze.
"Is that what you really think or it is that you are the one who os going to be lonely without him?"
"I've got you, why do I need him?" She asked again, feigning ignorance.
"Oh really, master? Until when would you keep denying it? You would not miss his kisses on your body? Okay then if you won't, I can just go get him so he can rub my fur or journey with him. Don't be jealous later on."
Snow got up from Jareth's seat, jumping down and heading towards her.
Astrid immediately blocked its part with both her arms stretched out.
"Where do you think you are going? Do not move a muscle out of here. Sit down and watch my things, I would go get him. If anything happens, mind communicate with me."
After she finished speaking she let out an exasperated sigh and lowered her eyes.
'That stupid Jareth. He knows exactly what he is doing. How dare he leave us?' She thought and jumped down from the cave's entrance, venturing into the unknown.
Deep in the water, Coralia and Naida swam at a fast rate, heading straight ahead and not stopping one bit as their fins flapped hard and strong against the water current.
In a few minutes they cane to a stop and swam to the surface letting their head break the top of the water and revealing their peerless beauty.
Not far from where they stopped, they saw a two other mermaids guarding at a corner, carved in by big rocks like mountains and swam forward to meet them.
Upon noticing the two figures, the other two mermaids, dressed in a warrior's outfit with spears in their hands moved forward to intercept them.
"Halt!" One of the mermaids called out.
Naida and Coralia stopped as they were told to and waited for the mermaids to approach.
"State your business here," the second mermaid said to them, her face straight and cold as she did.
"We need to speak with her highness, Princess Marin," Coralia informed them, swimming forwards a bit but was stopped when the second mermaid pointed her spear at her chest.
"Hold your tail, where do you think you are going?"
"This is important, let us through. We have no time to waste." Nadia spoke up before placing a hand on Coralia's shoulders to pull her back.
"And who are you to tell me what to do?" The second maid asked again, her voice rising and anger clearly laced in her tone.
"We mean no harm. I have something to report to her highness. You can check in with her." Coralia said more calmly now, trying her best not to annoy the angry mermaid further.
She quickly spread her left hand to the side, preventing Naida from retaliating.
She knew her friend had a short temper and was no respecter for anyone.
"What are your names?"