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Lost and Found

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Clarke stood frozen in place as her eyes scanned around the dining hall, consuming the finality of her decision at Mount Weather to pull back the lever and snuff out the light in the eyes of its inhabitants.

Mothers, fathers and children she saw not more than fifteen minutes ago on the monitors in the control room, all talking and going on about their lives and oblivious about what was about to happen in their home. What she witnessed now were a people burnt and blistered. Even the children wore the agony of pain that was unexpectedly thrust into their souls and Clarke could see it in each of them.  

When the grounders attacked the drop ship, she did not see all the faces. It was not lost on her-the impact of their actions against Anya and her people, but they were there to kill them. It was self defence and they all understood they faced warriors, and  warriors were battle-hardened and prepared for what could happen.

This was different.

She knew some of these people and they had helped her protect her people. They were more like her people than the grounders. The memory of what she had done here would be her punishment and she swore she hold it within herself for the rest of her life.

The lighting in the room was warm which was in contrast to the cold look of the concrete and metal facility. It reminded her of her first interaction with Dante Wallace. He had a kind face with pleasant words which spoke of peace and protection,  hiding their facade behind walls and in cages. The rich tapestries that hung in the hall reminded her of the art she drew in her cell while she was on the Arc.  Clarke wondered if she was  really so different.

She understood they were only trying to escape from their own prison. They were doing what they had to for their people but there was no chance Clarke was going to let her friends and family suffer.

Clarke was unaware of how long she had been standing there. She kept telling herself  it was Dante and Cage who brought this down on the mountain, but Clarke all she could see was her hand on the lever.

"I had to..." she mumbled to herself as her emotions began to get the better of her once again. Her eyes were still red from earlier but  hey began again to fill with water when they rested on Maya.

The last to leave from this room was Jasper. The loss of Maya was clearly evident in the tears that ran freely on his face. Clarke understood he would likely become consumed by hate for what she was forced to do, even if it was currently not present in his eyes.

Not yet, but soon.  she thought to herself.

A voice from behind startled her mind from future concerns to the present.

"Clarke, we have to go."

The sound of Bellamy's voice broke the nearly perfect silence of the room. Clarke brought her hands to her face and rubbed her eyes before she turned to face him. When she turned, he studied her and what he saw was the summation of all her decisions since they made it to earth— The 300 Warriors of the drop ship, Finn, Tondc, the betrayal by the Commander.

It was when she realized he was observing her, Clarke took in a deep, steadying breath. She readied the mask she wore when she lifted the gun to Dante's chest and fired. She was not done saving her people.

She saw the sympathy in his eyes. He carried the weight of their actions as well, but it was her plan to kill the people of the mountain. It was her idea to flood the facility with radiation that would destroy a civilization, the innocent alongside the guilty.

Her decision.

Clarke frowned, forcing the thought from her mind. She knew she made the right decision for her people and that gave her renewed strength. Steeling her jaw and forcing her shoulders back, her eyes took on a focus as she turned and headed toward the door and said, "Let's get our people home."

The pair moved quickly through the concrete hallways and metal bulkheads arriving at the large entryway for Mount Weather. Clarke slowed as she approached the large metal door of the entrance and before taking her first step outside she took in a deep breath, exhaling slowly. Bellamy was equally as interested in leaving the mountain and putting this chapter of their lives behind them.

Clarke wondered if she could ever forgive herself for all she had done to bring them to where they are now but deep inside, she knew there was something else she had to before she would feel like she had done all she could.

The duo emerged door and their senses seemed to erupt. The complete stillness within the bunker gave way to the sounds and smells of nature, the vibrant colours of the forest  and wild flowers around them made it seem like they entered walked on to another world. 

The slight breeze carried with it the voices of their people who celebrated their freedom and reunification with loved ones, there was also the moans from those still injured, who had managed to survive. Seeing her people alive should have comforted Clarke.

The pair surveyed those who sat on the ground or were leaning against trees and it did not take long before Clarke saw her mother with Kane leaning over her. His hands occupied in trying to bandage some of her wounds. She also noticed they had taken some stretchers from the medical facility in Mount Weather.

Good. Clarke said to herself. This will help them return to the safety of Camp Jaha much faster.

It was clear on all her people that this place has left more than the physical scars that come with fighting. None more so than on Jasper who sat at the base of a tree and refusing all attempts at consoling from others, including Monty.

Brushing her hair from her face, Clarke straightened her back, lifted her chin and addressed her people, "Everyone," Clarke yelled loudly to gather the attention of her people.

"We must get back to Camp Jaha as quickly as possible. There are still dangers in the forests and our injured need medical attention."

Everyone turned to look at Clarke and although their focus had been on the injured or their loved ones, they understood what Clarke was saying. Some presumed it was due to the Commanders betrayal and worry that grounders might take this opportunity to attack them while they were vulnerable, some because of the animals that might hunt them.

Clarke could not say it aloud but it was the proximity to this place of death that she wanted to escape from, hoping distance would somehow help ease the pain of what she had done.

From her seat on the rocky ground, Abby watched her daughter as she spoke to them all. Her memory picturing the strong blonde girl who at Camp Jaha, freed Emerson and told her mother that she was in charge. She hated that this world forced such tough decisions on her daughter and how it had changed her from the young blonde girl she knew on the Ark.

When Abby looked past Clarke to Bellamy, their eyes met. He saw the concern in her eyes for her daughter. It was only when Kane and Monty began to move Abby on to her stretcher did she stop looking at Bellamy, squeezing her eyes closed in reaction to the pain that coursed through her.

 

~*~*~*~*~

They left Mount Weather early that morning and the weather had been cooperative which was a relief to the weary Skaikru. Many of them  feared a confrontation with the Grounders would occur but Clarke believed that if Lexa and her people were going to attack, they would have been attacked coming from the mountain when their people were tending to the wounded.

They had been hiking for the better part of the morning when Markus approached Clarke. She kept a rigorous pace and never took her eyes off the path in front of her, rifle in her hands as she kept her eyes to the tree line. When he reached her side he glanced over, appraising her.

"Clarke, we need to rest."

"We will rest when we reach the gates of Camp Jaha." she said firmly.

"It doesn't do any good if our people die of exhaustion on the way home."

Clarke stopped and looked up to the sky. The sun was at its highest point in the day and she realized that they had been hiking for more than four hours without a break.

"Fifteen minutes and we continue." It was an order, not a request.

"Thirty. There is a stream near here and we need to refill our canteens." Marcus knew Clarke would not cause harm to her people and when her shoulders dropped, he smiled.

"Thirty minutes." Was the last thing she said. Clarke had yet to look at Marcus when they spoke. Her voice was tired and she looked like she wanted to fall over

"Thirty minutes and you rest as well." he amended. "You are pushing yourself too har.."

Clarke's head quickly swung in his direction and addressed his concern, her eyes were tired but firm.

"I'm fine. Go back and look after everyone. I'm going to make sure the path is clear ahead."

Marcus nodded and held out his canteen to her. "I am sure we will be fine."

He had the same belief Clarke had when they were not attacked by warriors outside of Mount Weather. The path home was likely clear.

He had the same belief Clarke had when they were not attacked by warriors outside of Mount Weather. The path home was likely clear, though, it didn't stop his eyes from carefully watching the environment around them.

Clarke accepted his water and opened the canteen, taking a couple large sips. She couldn't hide that she was thirsty and the cool water rolling over her lips was welcome. She didn't remember the last time she had something to eat or drink. Perhaps it was before, with Lexa. Before she was standing alone.

Clarke knew the breaks were necessary. She was being selfish in forcing her people to march behind her at such a heavy pace. She feared that every time they may stop for rest, her mind would return her back to the memory of the control room, the smoke slowly climbing from the barrel of her gun and Dante with a growing red mark in his chest. She needed to keep moving.

 She didn't know who she was anymore. She attempted to reconcile her actions with the safety of her people, but that was always her excuse.

No matter the enemy. No matter the cost.

Is that all there is to life on the ground?  she wondered.

"Clarke," called Raven, pulling her attention back toward the group.

Clarke was standing 30 feet further down the path when she heard Raven call to her. She turned to see Raven with Lincoln, Octavia, Monty, Bellamy, and Harper. They were on the ground eating some dried meat and sipping water from bottles. Raven waved at her to come over and join them.

Clarke forced a smile and raised her hand in refusal.

She didn't want their thanks or to answer questions about the decisions she was forced to make which was always something that happened when they were together. Before she could turn away from the group, her eyes fell downward and she took a deep breath.

Bellamy saw she was not going to come over and started rise. It was Lincoln who reached forward and placed his hand lightly on Bellamy's shoulder, ceasing his attempt to stand.

"She requires time." he stated simply and calmly.

Bellamy looked back at him and the others who were resting on the ground. Bellamy wanted, no needed to help but when he took another look toward Clarke, her back was now to the group and she was slowly moving down the path.

"Let her have her space, Bell." Octavia added.

Raven continued to watch Clarke as the others began to converse about the events  in the Mountain and speculated on what would happen between their people and the Grounders. She cursed her body for being too sore for her being unable to go after Clarke.

 Since they left the underground facility, Raven had been watching her. With every step they all took toward Camp Jaha, the further Clarke seemed to be moving away and everyone was just letting it happen.

Clarke wandered further down the path and the conversations behind her had begun to mute in her ears. After deciding she had gone far enough, she fell against a log next to the path that was covered in a soft green moss.

Her mind brought her back to when they crashed on the Earth and they all emerged from the drop ship. They were in awe of the tall green trees, the rick brown dirt beneath their feet and moss that enveloped much of the forest. She looked up to where the sun hid behind large trees and recalled the first time the sun danced through the canopy when the slight breeze coaxed the leaves from remaining still.

Everything looked different.

They had no idea what their future had in store for them. They saw promise and a future on the ground that was limitless in potential. It was their world and nothing could go wrong.

"But it did." she whispered quietly.

The group behind her started to pack up as Marcus gave the order to ready themselves for resuming their journey to Camp Jaha. Clarke did not hear the group until they had  begun to walk past her, trapped in her thoughts and unaware until they already walking past her, everyone glancing at her with understanding as she sat with the weight of her actions holding her down.

She stood up slowly from the log she was sitting on and took one last look into the forest around her. Not so long ago all she saw was wonderment when they landed. Now she no longer saw the beauty, only the shadows where those who would do her people harm hid and tried to listen for the possible snapping of a twig announcing they were being watched. The forest did not share its secrets.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

The group slowly arrived near the edge of the clearing that led to Camp Jaha. She walked behind them at a slight distance since their last rest stop, stating to Markus it to keep watch for anyone or anything that might be watching them. She knew at some point Lexa would have ordered scouts to watch them.

She was meticulous in the regard of collecting information and Clarke knew her green eyes would not stray long from her or her people.

Throughout the last leg of the journey, her friends would slow their pace and allow Clarke to catch up to them, offering her a drink from their canteen. They tried to speak to her, but Clarke would only accept the water with a nod. She did not speak and offered no optimism for conversation. It wasn't that she didn't want to talk to her friends, it was she had no idea how to talk to them.

Entering the clearing, exhaustion and relief flowed like waves over them all. They had been running on adrenalin and being so close to home, the events and the journey of the last day wore on them all. Relief and anguish seemed to envelop all who made the exhaustive trek back to their home and commotion could be heard at the gates from as far as the tree line.

Once it was found to be their own who were returning, people rushed forth from the open gate and started to help carry the wounded, taking the strain off those who were exhausted.

Water was readily passed around  and silent celebration sat in everyone's eyes for those who were fortunate enough to return. It was only when they reached the gate and took their first steps through that a small sense of relief poured over them.

It was a feeling of safety they had not known in what seemed like ages.

Bellamy stood at the gate watching everyone walk through. He led the group through the clearing and yelled for them to open the gate. He took position at the entrance and waited for the one person he knew would enter last. He knew she couldn't come in until everyone was safe.

As Kane And Abby entered, he reached down and took Abby's hand. They looked at each other and found what comfort they could in hope that the worst was behind them all.

Almost everyone had entered and Raven spoke for the first time since she had left Mount Weather in an almost whisper, "Jasper," causing him to stop and walk over to her. Reaching behind Wick she produced his goggles and extended them toward him, "You almost forgot."

Speaking with a subdued tone, "My goggles, thank you." was all he could reply. He didn't smile, he simply continued into the camp with the rest of the group.

Bellamy turned his head saw Clarke standing about twenty feet from the entrance to the camp. She was talking with Monty and when it seemed like they were done talking, she pulled Monty in for an embrace.

After the hug, Monty stepped back and looked down as he walked away from Clarke, momentarily glancing at Bellamy which caused Bellamy to study him. Something was wrong. Monty pulled his sweater tight to his chest and continued past Bellamy trying his best to avoid his eyes.

He approached Clarke with concern. He could see her hesitation.

"I think we deserve a drink" he remarked, trying to cut the tension he felt build up in his approach to Clarke.

She fought the idea of entering the camp and having that drink with Bellamy and her friends. The entire journey from the mountain, she argued with herself. She questioned who it was she had become in her mind.

"Have one for me." she suggested.

"Hey. We can get through this." Bellamy said.

"I'm not going in".

Bellamy turned to Clarke and fought with his words. "Clarke, if you need forgiveness, I'll give that to you."

A moment passed as they stared at each other. Clarke fortified herself against his appeal. She didn't know what she wanted, but whatever it was, it was not inside the camp.

"You are forgiven" he continued. Clarke looked at him and her eyes returned to the camp. Bellamy saw his words affected her. He fought harder. "Please come inside."

"Take care of them for me".

Bellamy pleaded with her, "Clarke,"

"Seeing their faces every day, It is just going to remind me of what I did to get them here"

He countered, "What we did. You don't have to do this alone."

Looking back at the people in the camp. The wounded were laying on the ground and people were helping everyone who returned from Mount weather. Turning back to Bellamy, she shook her head, fighting back the memory of Finn, the drop ship, Tondc and Mount Weather; all things that took parts of her and made her into what stood before Camp Jaha.

"I bear it so they don't have to."

"Where are you gonna go?"

"I don't know."

Bellamy fought the tears that were trying to form. She was leaving and he could do nothing to stop her.

Clarke moved forward and kissed him on the cheek and pulled him into a hug that he embraced. Her voice was strained when she spoke, her chin on his shoulder, "May we meet again".

After a moment she pulled back and looked him in the eyes, nodded and walked back to the tree line they had walked from to return to the camp. Bellamy couldn't watch her go. He knew if he did, he would leave with her and he had to stay.

Staring straight forward into the clearing, he stood between the only two things he cared about. Clarke who was moving farther and farther from him, and his sister Octavia who he swore to always protect.

Swallowing hard, he whispered,  "May we meet again."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Clarke continued into the forest and found herself running. She ran from the surge of feelings that rumbled forth in her chest and threatened to consume her. Her eyes were red and tears were freely flowing. She didn't know how long she had been running, but it was only when exhaustion forced her to her knees did she stop.

Her grief wanted to consume her the moment she stopped, but Clarke withstood the urge to indulge in her sorrow and forced herself to focus on the here and now. The nights were getting colder and she had to get to shelter.

She decided her first stop would be to the drop ship before they had reached Camp Jaha. There were rations there and fresh water that she made sure were stowed away for emergencies. Clarke figured this was an acceptable one. Once she would gather what she could from there, it would be on to find a safer shelter that would give her privacy.

Clarke stood up from the ground and brushed the dirt off her pants. She glanced around, recognizing some of the tree and realized she had been running in the direction of the drop ship. Wiping her eyes with her fingers, she focused on getting where she needed to go.

Clarke was unaware three figures had been following Skaikru since they had left the Mountain since the grounder army had left. They had been ordered to remain with Skaikru until they were relieved, but  knew they should inform Polis of what had they had witnessed.

The largest of the three walked out from where he had been watching from and over to one of camouflaged scouts nearest him, giving what sounded like an order.

"Kamp raun emo tri. Ai op Skaikru."

"Sha, Koma." The man replied, making his way over to a tree and climbing up the solid branches to get a better view of the Skaikru camp and the happenings within its walls.

He turned to the other scout and directed him to approach. When he was close, Koma spoke to the smaller man after placing his hand on his shoulder.

"Mafta em op."  he ordered, pointing to Clarke who was now out of sight but moving quickly enough to leave a clear trail in the direction she was moving.

"Sha, Fos." was the simple reply, the voice not as stout as the man barking the orders, turned and walked off into the forest after the blonde girl. 

Koma waited until he was sure the Skaikru girl was far enough away, he whistled for his horse. It appeared in moments and with a graceful jump, he was atop his horse and quickly moving quickly in the direction of Polis.

As he rode he found himself thinking on the events he witnessed that day. He knew All the clans wished for Maun-de to be beaten  but there were few who could truly believe that the day would ever come. Their weapons were too powerful an obstacle to overcome and always had been. It seemed fated they would live in fear of Maunon forever but if Skaikru could defeat Maun-de in less than a day? He was certain that it was a concern for all twelve clans.

Understanding that he would be able to reach Polis by nightfall if he rode hard, he urged his horse on quickly to inform the Commander of what has transpired in her lands.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

 "Kamp raun emo tri." - Take the trees.

"Mafta em op." - Follow her.

"Sha, Fos" - Yes, First.

"Maun-de" - Mount Weather

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

The room was a flurry of words as the ambassadors of the Kongeda argued among themselves. It was easy to convince most of the representatives that in breaking the treaty with Skaikru, all her people that were imprisoned were set free. The two she did not expect dissension from surprised her. Tenin kom Sangedakru and Arden kom Floukru.

She accepted the deal to free her people with the knowledge that it may cost Skaikru their lives. She had made harder decisions than this one before, her frustration lay in the blue eyes of the one who took the betrayal personally.

She played the scenario over and over in her head but only remembered staring into Clarkes spirit hoping she would understand the decision she had to make for her people. 

The mutterings and arguing of the ambassadors in front of her had grown into a raucous state and they had clearly moved from debating to posturing,Having heard enough she twirled the brown-handled dagger in er fingers and stabbed it down forcefully into the arm of her wooden throne.

"Em pleni!" she Lexa, bringing the group to heel.

"I have done what was best for our people. ALL of our people."

Looking into the eyes of the ambassadors who disagreed with her actions and saw she had not convinced them with her words..

"Heda, may I speak?"

"Sha, Tenin kom Sangedakru. Speak."

She stared into his eyes and he swallowed hard, informing him that he choose his next words with care.

"I remain in disagreement with the actions taken at Maun-de. We had an alliance with Skaikru and regardless of why, in allowing one enemy to live we may now have two. Both of these enemies have weapons and technology that has been used to enslave and torture our people."

Lexa lifted her hand signalling she would now address his concern.

"In leaving them to fight with each other, we allow them to weaken themselves." Lexa cut him off. "Our people and their protection will always be my priority. Should one prevail against the other, we have more than enough warriors to able to handle such a situation."

The certainty in her voice muted further objection from the remaining ambassadors. She glanced at Arden but he simply nodded once to his Heda. She could see he had the same mind as Tenin regarding the matter yet  he would not press her further.

Lexa decided they had discussed the matter enough. She stood up from her throne and placed her hand over the hilt of her sword, a powerful image reminding then of her authority and continued, "I need not ask permission of this council for matters regarding war.

"I have brought you all here as a courtesy to inform you of the actions I have taken and why I did as I chose to." emphasizing the word chose, reminding them of her authority in these matters.

"Scouts watch Skaikru and Maun-de. If anything happens, we will know immediately as to deal with any possible threats that may arise." Looking around the room into the eyes of each of the ambassadors, she glances at Titus who remained silent at her side.

"Inform me when the scouts arrive with news. Ambassadors, I will let you know if we receive word regarding Skaikru and the Maun-on."

Titus nodded at her order, "Sha, Heda". 

She stared straight forward and with a swift stride, walked toward the large doors across the room. She decided she was done with the meeting as nothing further could be gained from staying to hear the ambassadors bicker with one another. Her decision was abrupt and caused the ambassadors to quickly rise from their seats and bow their heads in respect.

~~

Leaning on the balcony outside her bedroom, Lexa looked over the City of Polis.

The people below were preparing for the evening by taking down their merchandise and closing their shops. She could hear the laughter and smell the fires being lit throughout the city to illuminate the streets as the sun quickly moved to the horizon.

There were times Lexa wished that she could have the life of one of her citizens and never more than after today. Although they had their burdens, they would never know what lengths she would go to in order to ensure their safety and she envied them for those moments when they returned to their homes to be with their families.

Tenin kom Sangedakru and Arden kom Floukru both disagreed with her choice and stated by working with Maunon the repercussions that might befall the Kongeda should either side prevail. An even greater concern is if they decide to combine their forces but Lexa was certain Clarke would never work with Maun-de against her coalition after what they had done to her people.

Fears of retaliation did come to her mind, but by a single person in particular. She was unsure she could protect herself from anything were it by a particular blonde haired girls hand.

Since returning to Polis, she was constantly confronted with doubt regarding her actions at Maun-de but always affirmed in her mind that her decision was the best for her people

A knock at her door brought Lexa back to her balcony. She knew who it was. She had not seen Deni all day and she welcomed the distraction from her thoughts.

"Min op." Lexa called out.

The door opened and her servant Deni entered the room. This brunette has been her trusted servant for many years and as she walked in the room, looked immediately toward the balcony expecting Lexa would be trying to clear her mind after a day with the ambassadors.

"Heda," she bowed slightly when Looked back at her. "Have you eaten?"

"No." was her simple reply.

Lexa strode back into her room and had begun to remove her armour. She had been wearing it since returning from the Mountain and as she began to unbuckle the straps on it, the release of tension throughout her stiff body caused a sigh to escape her lips.

Deni then walked toward the round table in the room, one hand holding a plate of bread, dried meat and cheese, the other some hot tea which filled the room with a sweet aroma. Lightly placing the food and tea on the table, she filled a cup and looked at Lexa expectantly.

"You must eat. Heda's strength is the peoples strength."

Deni knew Lexa had not been served food by any of the other servants in the tower and by the growl that originated from the Commander's stomach as the smell of the food touched her senses. She let her lip curl up a bit and Lexa nodded with a smile showing on her face.

"Mochof, Deni." Lexa finished opening the buckles on her coat she was still wearing and laid it on a bench at the end of her bed before making her way over to the table with the food and tea.

"Have any scouts returned to Polis?" Lexa asked.

"No. No one has returned yet."

Lexa frowned at the answer. "I expect to hear from them soon. When they arrive, I want to know immediately. Send for Titus upon their arrival."

As Lexa sipped at her tea, Deni nodded her understanding."I will return to prepare a bath for you after you have eaten."

Lexa sighed as she sipped at her tea. She did not feel an urge to sleep and her mind was clouded. She did not like the feeling of turmoil within her and decided to find clarity the best way she knew how.

"Deni, I am going out and will be gone for a while. Perhaps we can wait for the bath until I return."

"Sha, Heda."

Deni already knew where she was headed. She looked over to the shelf that had bandages and salves for what was to come.

Lexa stood from her seat at the table, grabbed a handful of the meat and moved quickly to and through her bedroom door. The guards were taken by surprise at her pace and caught up with her as she signaled for the lift, joining her at her side. She directed the lift to the main floor and didn't say another word as she made her way down the stairs of the tower, across the courtyard and toward the warriors training yard.

She entered the building and walked through to the center of the training yard which caught the attention of all the warriors who were done training and preparing to leave for the night. Lexa inspected the weapons that rested on or against the wooden tables, running her fingers seductively over them, her eyes getting hungrier and hungrier by the moment. 

She became transfixed on a wooden staff that leaned against the table/ It was a battered stick, but a solid one and she picked it up, twirling it in her hands and smiled. The warriors that were watching occasionally glanced at one another with curious eyes. After having decided she had warmed up enough, she glanced around at her warriors and spoke with confidence mixed with a challenge;

"Who of you would like to show me what they can do?"

Not a single warrior would refuse this honour from their Heda. From her right, a challenger moved forward, picking up a staff of his own. In a blur of movement, he swung at her right shoulder. The crack of the wooden staves as she blocked the incoming strike rang like music in her ears.

The warrior reset his position and quickly lunged at her, but she saw it coming and stepped to the side avoiding the blow. Tilting her head and giving an approving nod, Lexa grinned and began to stalk her opponent, her mind occupied with only the warrior before her.

~~

After three hours of training which went well into the night and well through many of her warriors, Lexa lightly limped as she returned to the tower. The lift took her up to her floor, she made her way to her quarters with more bruises than she cared to count.

The guards opened her door and informed her that Deni was inside.

"Heda," she said with a slight bow and furrowed eyebrows as she saw Lexa limping.

"Your bath is ready for you and I will apply salves for you when you are done eating."

Lexa smiled and had a feeling Deni would be busy trying to make sure she was comfortable after such a long session with her warriors. "

Mochof, Deni." was all Lexa said, walking with a slightly more pronounced limp once the door to her room was closed.

She knew Deni was surveying the damage on her body as she undressed for her bath. She also knew she was going to get an earful while she applied the salves to the various bruises and cuts that now resided on her hands and face.

After removing her clothes on her way to the bath, Lexa slowly lowered herself in the basin of hot water which caused her to tilt her head back and sigh. The sparring session partially accomplished her aim to block Clarke from her mind. The cuts on her lip and over her eye were the moments when the blonde fought past the guard.

During her bath, Deni had replaced the partially eaten food from earlier in the night with a proper dinner of stew and bread. The smell reminded Lexa that she had only eaten a small amount of the food from earlier and that she was still quite hungry.

The bath water cooling, she decided she was finished. Standing, her joints cried in frustration and she exited the water. Deni handed her a towel to dry off with and she headed over to the same table from earlier that had her food waiting.

She ate her dinner and though Deni showed her frustration with her eyes, she did not call her out on her rigorous evening of training. Lexa was working something out, and she would remain silent unless it was needed.

After eating most of the food and enjoying a couple cups of tea, Lexa was exhausted. She had barely finished her meal when her eyes began of force themselves closed which prompted Deni to led her over to her bed.

"Perhaps the rest will solve what troubles your mind, Heda." she said and Lexa glanced at Deni.

"Mmmph." she groaned in reply, lifting her shoulders in a shrug while her eyes fought against sleep.

It had quickly become a fight she could win and sleep came quickly. For a moment, Deni stood staring at the Commander. It had been a long time since she had seen her this way.

"Reshop, Heda." she whispered.

Resuming her duties, Deni walked around the room and blowing out most of the candles she had lit before Lexa arrived.

She cleared the remainder of the dinner Lexa did not finish and quietly left the room for the night as the moonlight peeked through the curtains of Lexa's bedroom thanks to a light breeze that blew through the window.

The tired body of the commander lay under her furs, a cold sweat had enveloped her body and her muscles involuntarily twitched due to her rigorous training session from not more than an hour ago. Her sore joints giving her little solace as she slept.

~~

Her dreams returned her to the Mountain, Clarke standing in front of her facing ahead toward the large metal door in the hard rock wall. Feeling unsure about what was happening, Lexa looked at the forest around her and lifted her arms to see herself dressed in her armour once again.

The feeling she had just taken it off lingered in her thoughts and she believed the girl standing in front of her might know what was going on.

She swallowed and asked, "Clarke? What are we doing here?"

Clarke turned around and smiled at her, whispering, "Lexa." causing Lexa's breath to catch in her chest. and her mouth hung slightly open.

Clarke's penetrating eyes gazed upon hers and in that moment felt all her problems lift away replaced with a yearning within her body. Clarke was moving forward and with every step Lexa's heart beat faster.

Clarke suddenly stopped a foot of space between them and she winced. The smile faded from her face, her eyes telling a story of pain and disbelief to the green ones that stared back at her.

Lexa choked trying to get air into her body as she realized something was terribly wrong. "Clarke?"

She had seen a similar look before. Both on her warriors and on the faces of enemies she laid to rest. Her green eyes opened wide and horror draped across Lexa's face, She didn't know what was happening or what to do.

Clarke gasped "Lexa, why?" and her eyes pleaded for help.

Blood began to trickle from the side of her mouth and after a moment, Clarke glanced down, giving Lexa the ability to look at something other than her blue eyes. Looking down into Lexa's hand, she held her dagger firmly inside Clarke's abdomen.

Lexa's mouth opened and closed,a scream was trapped in her throat.

Withdrawing the dagger slowly, she brought her eyes back up to Clarke's. Clarke started to slowly fall backward. Lexa dropped the dagger she was holding, quickly moving to stop her from falling hard, wrapping her arms around her back.

She laid Clarke on the rocky ground below their feet and, frantically pawed at the wound in her stomach. Tears began to fall from her eyes as she saw the blue light slowly fading from within the girl from the stars. "Clarke, I'm sorry! Stay with me Clarke."

"I never left you." she replied. Clarke coughed and Lexa brought her hand up, wiping the blood from her lips.

"I didn't mean to! Clarke! No. No. No!" Lexa shook with dread as she watched Clarke, her life ebbing away.

She screamed for someone to help her save Clarke but there was nobody to help. There were no Skaikru, no Trikru and no Maunon. Only Clarke, dying in her arms.

"I needed you..." Clarke said causing Lexa to break and tears flooded her eyes.

"I need you!" was all Lexa could reply, her pleading eyes begging Clarke to stay with her.

Clarke raised her hand to Lexa's face and looked apologetically at the crying brunette which only forced the tears to flow faster.

"Ai gonplei, ste odon." Clarke whispered, with forgiving smile on her face just before her eyes closed for the last time. Lexa lifted her body to her and squeezed her body tightly in grief. After a short moment, she tilted her head back, looked up to the stars above and took in a deep breath and...

~~

Lexa awoke with a scream in her bedroom and squeezed one of her pillows tightly in her arms, unaware for several moments it was a dream. As she opened her eyes and realizing she was holding a pillow, she threw it across the room and began to frantically search the immediate area of her bed for Clarke.

Her guards pushed on the door and rushed into the room with their swords drawn, eyes searching for an intruder who somehow managed to get by them.

Lexa was having a panic attack. Just after the guards entered, Deni came running from her quarters on the floor and into Lexa's room, a knife in her hand. After the guards had made sure that the commander was not in danger, she ordered them out of the room with a fiery glare.

Deni dropped her knife on the floor and moved swiftly to Lexa's bed. She reached out and pulled her into her arms, rubbing her back and repeating "Nou get yu daun." and "Chil au." in her soothing voice. Her concern peaked as Lexa's whole body began to shake in her arms.

"I will call for Titus" Deni said, about to call to the guards.

"No!" Lexa sobbed.

Lexa tried to fight her tears but to no avail. She buried her head in Deni's shoulder and fought against the tide of emotions that cascaded against her by wrapping her arms around her and squeezing as tightly as she could.

It was roughly an hour after Lexa began to regain her composure. She realized she might be hurting Deni by squeezing her so hard. Deni hadn't said anything other than her soothing words to bring Lexa back to the present but she doubted she would even if that were the case.

Deni could tell Lexa had calmed enough so she let go and pulled back, staring into her tear-soaked eyes. She reached forward, offering a cloth in her hand to Lexa.

"Mochof, Deni." Lexa tried to smile but only managed to with her lips. Her eyes and her mind were still elsewhere, 'in the dream' Deni thought.

"Otaim, Heda."

~~

There would be no more sleep for Lexa this night.

She remained on her bed for some time but felt little change in the tightness of her chest. Rather than remain laying restless in her bed, she decided it would be better if her mind was directed to other pursuits than her nightmare.

Walking over to a shelf and grabbing a couple candles, she lit them with one that was already burning in her bedroom. She would usually spar with her warriors but her body still fresh with the scars from training earlier in the day, believed it best she try a more passive way to pass the time.

At this time of the night, the wind was dead-calm and the sounds from the forest could be heard all the way up in the tower. She took a deep, steady breath to calm herself more. She could feel the emotions from earlier just below the surface of her thoughts and focused on the task of clearing her mind.

Lexa set the candles on a small table and was about to sit on the floor when she saw the pillow she threw earlier on the ground in front of her. Reaching forward, she tugged on it and placed it between her and the hard surface. She took in one more deep breath, she placed her hands in her lap and closed her eyes.

She had been that way for some time and although she knew it was still night, she was unaware of how much time had passed. A knock at her door brought her back to her balcony and one of her guards spoke.

"Heda, a scout has arrived with a message regarding Skaikru."

Lexa opened her eyes and glanced over at the candles she brought with her. By her estimation, it had been two hours and she returned her attention to the more pressing matters,

"Bring the scout to the small meeting room immediately. Inform Titus his presence is required."

"Sha, Heda." he replied.

She heard the guard relay the order to the messenger who arrived with the news. She closed her eyes again and tried to find the calm place she was in earlier, but knowing news was waiting for her regarding Skaikru, more specifically Clarke, her mind was cluttered with possibilities of what could have happened.

Lexa pushed herself up from the cushioned floor and blew out the candles on the table. She entered the room and made her way towards her bedroom door curious to hear why the scout had news already.

Moments from grabbing the handle on the door, she realized she was still wearing a thin top and short shorts. She frowned at herself and turned back into her room to change her clothes into something a little more acceptable.

~~

Lexa sat in a solid wooden chair at the head of the table that bore each symbol of her Kongeda. She studied them all, her eyes falling upon the Trikru symbol causing her to smile. Titus stood to her right and though he had been roused from sleep, it could not be seen in his eyes.

She wondered what news she would hear in regard to Skaikru and as always, she thought of Clarke. Maun-de was something that all her people feared and had been victim of for nearly a hundred years.

It only took a moment but the dark thought that her dream was a foreshadow to the news Clarke was dead caused her heart to race but she kept her breathing slow and steady to combat the feeling of panic rising within her. She sat straighter and Titus glanced at her with curious regard.

Moments later, Lexa and Titus both saw shadows move on the floor under the door to the room and Lexa gave her command to Titus.

"Bring him in."

Titus made his way over to the door and pulled the handle. As the scout entered the room, she recognized him as one of Deni's relatives, Koma. Deni never talked about her family often, but when she spoke of Koma she spoke with pride. Lexa watched as he moved to the other end of the table dropped to his knee bowing, waiting for permission from his Heda to speak.

"Heda." He stated, staring at the floor.

"Rise. Tell me your news regarding Skaikru."

"Skaikru attacked the mountain as you predicted. After three hours, they left the mountain with their wounded and did not return. I remained and entered the mountain to see. They all... they had burned alive. All of them dead."

Lexa fought the surprise from overtaking her expression at the news. She glanced up at Titus who himself was having a hard time processing the news.

'Burned' Lexa thought. 'Burned like my 300 warriors I sent to attack the invaders who fell from the sky. It seems Maun-de underestimated Klark as well.' She smiled at the knowledge the enemy of the twelve clans has been defeated sank in.

Immediately her mind began processing the ramifications of betraying Skaikru and making the deal with the Maunon. 

"What of their leader, Klark kom Skaikru?" she questioned.

"Klark kom Skaikru is alive. She was the last to leave the mountain and brought her people back to their village."

Lexa remained stoic but she had to fight harder than ever to work to keep her outward appearance steady. The news filled with relief to hear that Clarke was safe, her heart racing for another reason.

"Koma, thank you for bringing this to Heda's attention as quickly as you have." stated Titus.

"It is my duty." Koma replied. "There is more. After Skaikru returned to their village, Klark kom Skaikru remained outside the walls and never entered. She spoke to some of her people, turned and left in the direction of the first sky ship."

Lexa was perplexed. What was at the drop ship that Clarke needed? Was there a weapon there? Did she intend on getting revenge on her for leaving her to deal with the Maunon herself? Whatever the reason Clark left for the drop ship, Lexa decided would need to know more.

She felt the urge to leave the tower, jump on her horse and ride it straight to where Clarke was heading. Her heart had resumed racing and it was all she could do to remain calm as she pictured the young blonde girl, alone in the forest.

"Thank you, Koma kom Trikru. You have done well." She nodded at him.

"After you rest and eat here in the tower, I want you to discover where Clarke kom Skaikru has traveled to and watch her. She is not to be harmed by anyone. She cannot know she is being observed."

"Sha, Heda." was his curt reply.

He did not expect this hospitality and he was unsure as to what to do next. He had never set foot in the tower and his eyes shifted to Titus.

Titus looked to Lexa and she nodded that they were done. Titus and Koma left the room leaving her alone with her mind spinning in regard to what has just occurred in her lands.

The mountain was defeated, Skaikru is no longer an ally, and with the ability to defeat the Maunon so quickly, the Kongeda will likely see Skaikru as the new threat to the land with technology and resources to defeat them all.  

A world of uncertainty opened up before Lexa's eyes as she had spent all her life as Heda working toward peace now the possible agent of its destruction.

Lexa rose from the table and made her way to the lift-her guards close behind her. The lift taking her back to her quarters.

The moment the lift doors closed, her mind focused on a single blonde haired, blue eyed girl who defied all odds and brought down Maun-de. It brought a smile to her face and she was confident that she would cross paths again with Clarke kom Skaikru. She only hoped it would be on peaceful terms.

 

Kongeda - Coalition

Em Pleni - Enough!

Maunon - Mountain Men

Maun-de - Mount Weather

Ai gonplei, ste odon. - My fight is over.

Nou get yu daun. - Don't worry.

Chil au. - Calm down.

"Otaim, Heda." - Always, Commander.

Chapter Text

Camp Jaha sits in a metal jungle amidst among the dark green canopy of trees and rocky foothills that surround the fallen space craft that brought them to the ground. The inhabitants of the fallen Ark and those who remained of the original 100 attempted to resume their regular daily activities within Camp Jaha in an effort to forget the events of recent days.

They had been working hard trying to create a home from the fallen metal ship. Much of it was uninhabitable, but the parts salvaged were a treasure-trove of machinery for Raven who spent every minute possible trying to create some miracle of engineering to make their lives easier on the ground.

Many of the wounded were still in medical and Jackson was handling the situation with relative ease, making sure that everyone was getting enough to eat and drink as well as getting rest. This was particularly difficult with one, Raven Reyes.

Raven felt her time would be better spent in her engineering shop working on ways to make Camp Jaha safer and giving them an edge when the grounders inevitably attack. She was healing fast, and told her she could leave if she could pass a physical.

The test put her through hell, but she decided if she could survive a fall from space and slam into the ground, get shot in the leg, repeatedly cut by an evil bitch of a Commander AND defeat Mount Weather, there wasn't anything Jackson could do to her she couldn't overcome.

His only other difficult patient was Abby, who continually tried to get out of bed to help with patients. Were it not for how her body resisted all attempts to rise from her bed, he believed she would be running all over the room trying to help the other survivors of Mount Weather.

"Abby, we have gone over this." sighed Jackson as he saw her trying to get up once more. "You need to rest and heal. I don't want to see you trying to get out of that bed until I determine your body can handle it."

She frowned but understood Jackson was right.

Her body needed time to rest but she had no interest in staying in medical. Inwardly, she cursed the youthful healing ability of Raven that freed her from medical.

Her attention turned to the familiar scratching of the door hinge that informed her someone was coming into the room. Marcus stepped through the doorway and looked around the room at the survivors, finishing with his look toward Abby.

"Marcus," Jackson called to him, intercepting him before he reached Abby.

"What can I do for you?" he asked Jackson.

Jackson leaned in and spoke quietly to Marcus. Abby was sure they were talking about her but they were just far enough away for her to not overhear the conversation. Her suspicions were confirmed when Marcus looked in her direction, frowned slightly and nodded while placing his hand on Jackson's shoulder.

"I'll try..." he said to Jackson, just loud enough for her to hear. He turned and headed in Abby's direction and locked eyes with her with a slight grin finishing his statement, "...but she is as stubborn as her daughter."

"Very funny, Marcus" Abby smirked then winced, lifting herself up to her elbows.

Marcus moved quickly to her side with worry she may fall backward, pulling her pillows behind her in an attempt to help ease the obvious strain on her back and shoulders.

"Easy, Abby. We can't let you vacation in here too much longer." Marcus teased, trying to lighten the mood.

Abby pursed her lips him and sighed a reply. They both knew there were things she would rather be doing and her eyes searched his for an answer to an unasked question.

"I haven't seen her since we got back." he answered. "I need to know she is doing ok. The last time I saw her she seemed... she seemed so lost."

"I am sure when she can, you will be the first person she comes to see." Marcus stated confidently.

"You saw her. We all did. Something happened to her in Mount Weather and it only got heavier as we made our way home Marcus. She won't be able to handle it on her own. She needs me. She needs us all." Abby stated.

Marcus saw her sharp intake of breath. Not wanting to injure her, he cautiously reached out and pulled her forward from her shoulders so she was sitting up. Seeing she was ok, his arms wrapped around her for a soft embrace, enabling her do the same in reply.

Tears formed in Abby's tired and frustrated eyes. Kane could feel her fight from breaking down and began to rub her back with his hand.

"Bellamy is checking on her and says she is tired, but doing fine. I am sure he is helping her with what they have both been through." offered Kane.

Having not seen Clarke, he had to trust Bellamy knew what he was doing in giving the young blonde woman space.

"I just want to see her and know she is going to be alright." sighed Abby.

"Both of you are healing right now and like you, she needs her rest. She may not be suffering the same physical pain but the stress she put on herself may take even longer than a few days to overcome."

"We have to be there for her." Abby declared as she pulled back, looking into Marcus' eyes. "Can you make sure she knows she can come to me?"

"I will. I believe She will come to us when she can. She has been through so much in such a short amount of time, I doubt any of us could have done what she has been able to do."

Marcus removed his hand from her back and lifted it to Abby's face, wiping a tear from her cheek with his thumb.

"Your daughter is strong, Abby. Stronger than all of us. I have no doubt she will overcome this."

Abby smiled. It was the first smile in many weeks that Marcus had seen on her face that wasn't forced.

"Now. Jackson tells me you need to get some rest, Chancellor." he stated.

Abby looked over at Jackson who turned quickly away from the two of them and started to tend the patient nearest to him.

"He did, did he?" Abby tried to state coldly, yet failing miserably.

"He did," he replied.

Taking on a serious tone, he continued, "Unfortunately, I'm afraid there are some things I need to look into regarding the defenses of the camp. I'd like your permission to try to reinforce the walls and develop a plan in case the Commander decides our living in these lands is no longer in their best interest."

Helping her lay back down on her bed, Abby winced in pain once more. She placed her hand on Marcus' forearm informing him to wait a moment until she could gather her thoughts.

"Do you think they will attack?" she asked.

"I don't believe so, but I would rather be ready if that time comes than be caught unprepared." he suggested.

"Do what you can. Make sure nobody comes in or goes out of camp unless it is a hunting party for food. Maybe then we can find out whether it is safe for us to travel into the forest."

Marcus nodded his understanding and asked, "Should we send someone to try to talk to the Commander regarding our ceasefire?"

"I think we take care of ourselves first. Make sure we can defend ourselves, then we gather the council to determine what our next step will be."

"That sounds like a good start." he said. "Get some rest, Abby. I'll make sure Bellamy informs Clarke that you are looking forward to seeing her as soon as possible."

Marcus rose from her bed, looked at Jackson and nodded. Abby had already closed her eyes and was trying to sleep. The pain persisted, but it was no match for the fatigue in her body which forced her into sleep.

 

~~

 

In the dining hall, the food was as bland as it always had been on the Ark. Bellamy sat at the one table furthest from prying eyes and inquiring minds trying to fight the realization that covering for Clarke was something he never should have done.

He was tired and clearly unaware of how long he had been spinning his fork in the grey-green mush that sat cold on his plate while his jaw lay in the cup of his other hand. The angry voice of the dark haired someone stood over him with daggers being directed at him with her eyes.

"Out with it Bel." Raven demanded.

He didn't have to look up to know who it was. His fingertip grip on his fork tightened and he stopped spinning it in his dinner rations.

"Out with what, Raven?" he asked, unconvincingly trying to act casual.

"You know damn well what I am talking about! What is going on with Clarke?"

Heads in the make-shift dinner hall turned in their direction, the privacy he believed he had now shattered. Bellamy glanced up at her then quickly around the room observing all the eyes on them and their ears on their conversation.

"She just wants to be left alone, Raven. Right now, that makes two of us." he snidely remarked.

Raven swung her leg over the bench seat and sat directly across from Bellamy staring at his eyes which refused to look back at her. She decided to ignore his comment, leaned forward and lowered her voice. It was clear being angry wouldn't get her answers. Time for a different tact.

"I know she isn't in her room Bellamy. There something going on..."

His expression changed to a frown and he looked up at Raven. "Maybe she went out for some air." he said.

"She didn't go out for air." she rebuffed his words.

"How do you know? Maybe she went to go see Abby." he suggested.

"Because I went looking for her when I saw she wasn't in her room. She hasn't been to see Abby, Marcus, Monty, me or anyone else she would after what happened."

"Maybe she is avoiding people on purpose. You ever think of that, Raven?" his voice started to take on an edge. "You know what she had to do to get our people out of there. Maybe she went outside the camp."

"Bullshit, Bellamy. I know there is more to what you are trying to hide. Something is up with you two."

Her persistence was paying off. When she looked at him and could see she was wearing him down. This wasn't going to be as hard as she thought.

"I am going to figure out what is going on. You can have me with you on whatever it is you guys are up to. Is Kane in on it? I can go and ask..." she suggests, starting to rise from the table.

"Raven," he said with a sigh, his shoulders falling forward. "Wait."

Bellamy knew she wouldn't let it go. Raven would work the problem like a puzzle until she had all the answers she needed. He didn't have the energy to play games with her as the opponent. Sitting back down, she was proud of herself. She thought it would take more to get him to talk but the last couple days had been just as hard on him as they had for everyone in the camp.

"All of it." she stated, expectantly.

"She left." he said flatly, his eyes studying her face to get a reading on how she will react to his confession.

"When will she get back?" Raven asked with her brown eyes filling with curiosity mixed with confusion. 'Why would Clarke leave?' she wondered.

Leaning forward, he locked eyes with her and put down his fork. He slid his dinner plate to the edge of the table and rested his arms on the table.

"Raven. She is gone. She left after everyone made it through the gates." He looked into her eyes trying to further emphasize his meaning.

Raven's mouth opened slightly, her eyebrows rolled downward in frustration and her head leaned to the side. She thought back to the trip back to Camp Jaha and the stress that seemed to hang over Clarke like a dark cloud.

Everyone was consumed with the events in and around Mount Weather that nobody recognized how much Clarke had given to all of her people.

Bellamy could see Raven's mind was spinning trying to understand what was happening and why. He didn't speak, watching her play through her mind everything that he himself had over the last couple days since Clarke's departure.

Clarke had gone from crisis to crisis, never having time to come to terms with many of the actions she took to keep her people safe, the trip back from Mount Weather was the first time she had since their first interaction with the Grounders that there was no fight to win, no enemy to defeat.

They were safe. Clarke got them home. There was no fight left for her to move on to and nobody left of her people to save.

Raven's eyes started to glaze over causing Bellamy to reach forward to take her hand. "Rae." he said in the most sincere of tones.

"You just let her go. After all that, you knew and you just let her go?" she growled. S

he was half angry at Bellamy, half at herself for missing what she should have seen within her friend as she was falling apart in front of them. The tears that flowed from her eyes evidence of her shame.

"It isn't that simple. Rae, you know Clarke. What could I do?" he asked with pleading eyes. He wanted to do more, but he couldn't ask her for more. They had all asked so much of her, he couldn't ask her to stay more than he had.

Swinging her hand and knocking Bellamy's plate off the table, Raven shot up from her seat.

"You could have hit her over her damn blonde head and dragged her in."

Everyone was staring wide-eyed at the outburst from Raven. They were even more surprised to see the tears on her face.

"Rae, sit down for a second." he asked in an almost whisper.

"This is something you should be used to. Watch me walk away Bellamy." she quipped, fighting back her anger and wiping her eyes with her hands.as she turned and left.

Raven walked as quickly as she could toward the door and as she approached, Octavia and Lincoln entered. They saw the state Raven was in and stopped in their tracks.

"Rae? What's up?" asked Octavia.

Raven didn't stop, continuing to move as quickly as she could out of the dinner hall but looked at both as she passed them saying,

"You might want to ask your brother that question."

Octavia looked at Lincoln and they exchanged a puzzled look. All the people in the hall were silent but the majority were now looking at Bellamy after Raven had exited.

Octavia easily found her brother as he was the subject of many curious stares and asked Lincoln to get their food and meet her over by Bellamy. Agreeing, he walked toward the counter to get their rations.

Octavia sat in front of Bellamy and sighed, observing her brother trying to hide his face in his hands.

"What did you do this time, big brother?" she inquired.

"O, I messed up." he mumbled behind his hands.

"You are going to let me know what is going on if we are going to get you out of this mess. What did you do, start a war with Trikru?" she laughed, trying to break the tension that was pouring off her brother.

"Worse. Clarke isn't here." he admitted, still not showing his face.

Octavia looked around the dining hall and could not see Clarke.

"So? She is in her room. She is probably pretty stressed out. You said she wanted to be left alone." Octavia replied.

"No, O." He recognized that she was not processing what he is trying to explain. With a sigh, he took his face out of his hands and looked at his sister in the same manner he as he did with Raven. "Clarke is gone. She didn't come in after everyone got back."

Octavia's eyes shot open and she simply stared forward. "Does Abby know?" she asked as Lincoln sat down, sliding her tray in front of her.

"No." he said.

"Mochof." she said to Lincoln.

"Pro." he replied.

Octavia dug her fork into the food on her tray and lifted it toward her mouth. Moments before she started to eat she shrugged and said, "You should have started a war. It would have been less painful than what Abby is going to do to you when she finds out."

 

~~

 

As Clarke approached the drop ship, the ground beneath her feet changed from a soft, lush green forest to scarred, burnt soil. This too had been the result of one of her many defining moments since her arrival to the ground.

Slowly walking through the front entrance to of their former camp, the smell of burnt Earth and charred wood gone, the smell was forever burned into her senses. She reached out and ran her hand over a tree stump. The surface of it was as black as coal and dust coated her finger tips as she rubbed them together.

Her mind returned her to when they first landed on the planet, the large metal door opening for the first time. Octavia was the first to step out from the ship while the rest simply stared in awe of the forest. It

was so different than the existence they knew in space. The sun touched everything, like fingers from above. Life was everywhere and it danced on all their senses. There were no steel bulkheads here, only trees that reached far into the sky above.

Yet, while everyone ran through the trees laughing and cheering, she fought back that rebellious spirit. She held firmly to the map that led the way to Mount Weather and walked over to a ridge to find the way to their new home.

They needed her.

They were all so naive in their understanding of the world around them and the dangers that sat in the trees observing them. They didn't know it at the time, and neither did she.

It was only after the spear was thrown into Jasper's chest on their trip to Mount Weather that she made her choice to do whatever she had to in order make sure her people survived. She just didn't know the lengths she would be forced to go to in order to give them that safety.

As she paused for a moment to looking around the drop site now, everything had changed.

Wooden walls that they built to protect themselves from the Grounders were half burned or torn down and the remnants of bodies still lay charred on the ground from when they fought against the 300 Lexa sent to kill her and her people. The free spirit they had was gone.

The ferns that once grew were long gone, as was the mossy ground they first walked on. Everything was so different now.

"This is my legacy." she commented as a look of sadness took hold on her face.

Remembering why she was here, Clarke gritted her teeth and shook the thought from her mind. Pulling her pistol from the holster, she walked toward entrance of the drop ship. After taking a moment to listen, she could only hear the now steady drops of light rain that fell from above tap the surfaces around her.

There was nobody here now, but when she entered the ship it was clear someone had been in here recently. Many items that were not bolted to the structure had been removed.

The ship felt strange. Though she had only been on the ground this short a time, the metal walls and the sound of her feet as she walked on the cold floor felt uncomfortable to her. It reminded her of being inside Mount Weather and the thought forced a shiver up her spine that extended all the way to her fingertips.

She climbed the ladder in the middle of the ship, nervous that someone may have been in the up in the second room but relief set in after she peeked through the hatch at the top of the ladder and saw that the room was empty. Nothing remained of the beds or the blankets that were left behind. 

Throwing her backpack into the room from the ladder, she ascended the final few rungs and turned the hatch over to keep herself safe while she gathered her things.

The last time she climbed that ladder, she brought Lexa here to try to secure peace for her people with the Grounders. She walked over to where Lincoln laid on the ground, and for a time was dead before they managed to resuscitate him.

She could almost see Lincoln's body and her heart rate increased, feeling the fear and panic set in as she did when they were all in the room. All of their lives in the balance with Lexa giving the nod to Indra to have them all killed.

It was as if they were all there with her again.

'I'm not here for that' she scolded herself. "Now. Where did we put those extra rations?" she asked herself, saying it aloud to try to distract herself.

Walking around the perimeter of the room she kicked at the lower panels on the wall. The first four she tapped all made the same sound. The fifth was different and her eyes lit up with victory as she dropped to her knees and lifted the panel off the wall.

After pulling the ten ration packs from the wall, she stuffed nine of them into her pack and opened the tenth after leaning her back against the cold metal surface of the wall. It did not take her long, but the contents of the pouch were eaten quickly yet her stomach growled for more. She tried to ignore her hunger in order to ration the little food she now had.

She had to take care of herself. She closed her eyes and thought of the bright colours of the forest as she first saw them. Her body relaxed from the barrage of constant hiking she had done over two days and her breath relaxed taking her to sleep. 

Outside the drop ship, the wind howled causing the trees to sway heavily until a loud crack was heard of a branch breaking free.

Clarke's eyes flared open, the sudden sound pulling her from sleep. She was unaware of exactly when she fell asleep, and she cursed herself for not leaving the drop ship. The longer she stayed, the better chance they had of following her.

Her heart was racing from the sound outside and she didn't realize how long she held the gun aimed in the direction of the hatch in the floor. Although she could see it was still closed, she didn't trust it. She only had herself now, and she was determined to survive.

She focused on the arm holding the gun. It had begun to shake with fatigue causing her to place the gun on the floor next to her. Before she laid down using her backpack as a pillow. She could hear the rain falling heavily outside.

It would be useless for her to try to travel now. She would get sick from the cold brought on by the wind and the rain because of inadequate shelter. Shelter she currently had which kept her warm and dry.

Clarke accepted that she would be here for the night and was likely safe from people from Camp Jaha finding her. They would avoid going out into the forest out of fear of Trikru, and likely getting sick themselves. She got up and headed over to the hatch, spinning the wheel and deciding to lock herself in for the night.

After laying back down, she pulled her backpack under her head trying to adjust it for the most amount of comfort she could find and listened to the taping of the rain drops upon the metal exterior of the ship.

Her body was still exhausted from recent days and it wasn't long before the steady rhythm of the rain lulled her back to sleep leaving her last thoughts on her friends back at Camp Jaha, hoping they were still safe.

She Jumped awake again, but this time to the sound of someone clearing their throat. Clarke scrambled for the gun she put on the floor next to her and dug the small flashlight from a pocket of her jacket.

"Who's there?" she demanded.

She clicked her light on and scanned around the room quickly, coming to rest in the direction of the hatch. She gasped in shock and dropped her gun.

The dark brown eyes that looked back at her forced a cry to erupt from Clarke.

"You aren't supposed to be here. You can't be here!"

He sat still across from her  while Clarke fought back everything within her that wanted to get up and hold him.

She knew it wasn't him. It couldn't be. He died on the pole in front of Camp Jaha.

"I'm right where I need to be, Princess. Can you say the same?" he asked in an even tone, perhaps with some sympathy mixed in.

"You died. I.. I killed you." she dropped her arms to hang limply at her side, the flashlight rolling away but still illuminating the room enough to see Finn who remained on the hatch door.

"You didn't kill me. You saved me."

"Every time I try to help people, people end up dead. You, Tondc, Mount Weather. I just want it to stop." she moaned.

"You saved everyone at Mount Weather." he stated.

"I killed everyone at Mount Weather." she scoffed. 

She could see the faces when she closed her eyes, the pain that took their lives would be her burden. She was responsible for killing them all and at the time she had accepted that. It was just another decision she made to save her people. They had to die, or her people would die. There was no other choice.

"Sometimes there is no choice." he said in agreement.

The tears that now fell from her eyes told her she felt she failed both the people who lived in Mount Weather and hers.

"I did what I had to. We all did." Clarke whispered.

"So what are you going to do now?"

"I don't know!" she yelled, squeezing her eyes tightly.

When Clarke opened her eyes, she was lying with her head still on her backpack. Her eyes were swollen with tears, but she recognized it for what it was. She had dreamed of Finn.

Grimacing and wiping her eyes, she sat up. The rain had stopped falling if the silence was any indication. Waiting for a while as she did when she entered the drop ship, she wanted to make sure she was safe before unlocking and opening the hatch.

This place had nothing for her any more but the ghosts of regrets. She wanted to be free of it as quickly as she could. She collected her things from the floor and threw her backpack over her shoulders. Flipping the hatch open and she slid down the railings on the ladder to the floor below.

With a grunt, her feet touched down and caught a glimpse of morning light as it broke through the entryway. She took out her gun and walked cautiously out of the drop ship. When she made it to the entrance of the drop ship camp, she turned and took one last look.

'I started all started right here' she thought.

Clarke knew that the future wasn't written, but she was determined that her future was going to be different from her past. Flipping the safety off, she squeezed the handle of her gun to reinforce her decision to keep going.

Her feet led her forward and into the forest away from the drop ship, her mind organizing what she needed to do before nightfall. She picked up her pace to try to put as much distance between herself and the drop ship as possible.

After walking for three hours Clarke stopped and removed her backpack. She dropped it to the ground and rubbed her hand over her sore shoulder. This was her second day hiking like this and she was pushing her body hard.

Pulling her water container from the side of her bag. She shook it and the quiet splash inside informed her she was very low on water. She came to the quick realization that water needed to become her number one priority.

Sipping back the remainder of her water, Clarke eyed the rations in her pack.

"Have to save them." she scolded her stomach.

She decided to take a short break and listened to the birds in the forest. She wondered if she was being watched and attempted to scan the trees for signs of Grounders. She was certain Lexa would be keeping tabs on her people, but was she concerned about Clarke? What danger did one girl pose to the Commander?

After roughly fifteen minutes, Clarke decided she probably knew where she was in relation to the river Octavia was attacked at by the water creature. she decided her first stop should be that river in order to fill her bottle and eat a half ration.

She packed her bottle back on her bag and hoisted her pack over her opposite shoulder. As she began to walk with her back to the sun and toward the river, she did notice that the birds who were quite active moments ago had stopped their singing.

Her suspicions were confirmed that she was indeed being watched by Trikru. She was after all, in their lands. They hadn't captured or killed her, so perhaps they are just letting her pass through.

Wheels began to spin in Clarke's mind and she allowed herself a small grin as her steady paced resumed away from where she heard the bird calls, and toward the river to the north.

Chapter Text

"That was the last petitioner?" Lexa asked Titus, who stood to the right of his Commander.

"It was, Heda. Perhaps next time I will screen the less important petitions so you will not have to put up with such trivial matters. I could handle many myself to save you the trouble."

Leaning back in her wooden throne, she knew what she did to Titus today was cruel. There was no reason for her to deal with the majority of the petitions put forward but he stood there, as was his duty. Many were simple requests such as having a road fixed, or the problem of chickens being too loud too early. It had been a long thirteen hours.

She wanted to take her mind off Clarke by dealing with her people's problems, but with every other petitioner who entered, they all wanted to know form their Heda if the rumors were true. Her plan had the exact opposite effect of what she had hoped. Every time she said her name, it was a cut. She felt as though she was suffering death by a thousand cuts and she believed she rightfully deserved them all.

"I like to hear from my people and it had been too long since I made their concerns, no matter how mundane they seem to be, are important to them. That will always make them important to me. " Lexa scolded him.

There were also many who just wished to hear from their Heda that Maun-de had fallen, and that it was safe for their loved ones in the forest. Lexa was quick to make sure they knew Clarke kom Skaikru was responsible for removing the threat of Maun-de. She decided she would have to address this with her people.

Titus suggested withholding that detail could be left out as to benefit Lexa, she frowned at him stating, "If I were to claim victory when I had no hand in it, I have no right to call myself Heda."

"You elevate Klark. Why?" Titus asks. He had stood in place most of the day and the fatigue has made him daring with his words. Lexa let her fingers dance on the hardwood arm of the chair, running her index finger in tiny circles.

"Klark elevates herself." Lexa's mind flashed back to the brazen blonde girl who showed no fear of the mighty Heda, Commander of the twelve clans. Not even after Gustus threatened to cut her throat before she entered her tent, or the constant aggression from Indra, did Clarke allow her composure falter. Clarke was strong.

"She is special" Lexa added, almost in a whisper.

After a minute of Lexa staring off toward the door in a day dream, she snapped back into herself and looked up to Titus.

"It was a long day and I have no doubt you would like to retire for the evening. Tomorrow I will train with the Natblida at first light."

"Sha, Heda. They will be ready for your arrival."

It took Titus a moment for his sore joints to loosen up for his movement down the steps of the dais but by the time he had made it to the door he seemed fine. He turned and bowed before exiting. Lexa smiled slightly and nodded to him in reply.

Sighing, Lexa decided it was time for her to retire for the evening. Her body still wore the marks of her training the previous night. She also wore her face paint for the petitions. Titus had said it would serve to draw respect from her people, but Lexa wore it to hide her darkened eyes. She had not slept since her nightmare, and she had no interest in revisiting the torment that she believed was awaiting her but sleep pulled at her worn and tired body.

Rising from her throne, she thought back to how Titus looked and she imagined herself much the same. Her back was stiff and she fought from leaning forward. Instead she forced herself upright, pulled her head back and strode down the dais, to the exit and out the door. Outside, Deni was approaching the throne room door.

"Deni," Lexa looked at her, a little surprised.

"Heda," she bowed. "I was coming to tell you I have drawn the bath and will have your meal ready for when you are."

"Mochof, Deni."

Turning, Deni moved to the lift and stepped on. Lexa and her two guards followed and they turned around. Lexa's body fought to slump forward but she refused to grant herself that moment of relaxation.

After a moment, the lift door opened and everyone stepped out. The two guards exited and made their way into Lexa's quarters and when they were happy there was no cause for concern, exited and took up positions outside the door. Lexa strode in, followed by Deni who closed the door behind her.

"Deni, I would like spiced tea tonight" she stated. Make sure there is enough for two."

"Sha, Heda. I will prepare it now." Deni said, bowing and leaving the room for the kitchens.

Lexa walked over to her desk and pulled the handle on the middle drawer to reveal small pieces of paper and some sticks of chalk that were sharpened into writing tools. Taking one of each, she placed them on top of the desk and slid the drawer closed and took a seat in the chair that was in front of her.

Glancing back at the door and at the dark corners of the room which were few, thanks to the candles that burned brightly throughout, she turned back to the paper, picked up the chalk and began to write.

After a short time, she folded the piece of paper in half then rolled it up tightly. It was not a big and she looked up to the shelf in front of her to grab a piece of string to keep the tightly rolled up paper as it now was. She took another glance at her door and decided to stand from her seat, and head toward her balcony.

She savored the cool breeze as she took a deep breath. 'It will not be long before the change of season' she thought to herself, then her mind jumping to the image of a certain blonde haired, blue-eyed girl sitting in the snow, freezing to death.

'I will not let that happen' she told herself. Why was it every time she thought of Clarke, did it end up with her in some sort of trouble?

She frowned at herself and focused on the task she set herself. After she was done, she returned into her room and headed to the adjacent room with the bath.

She slipped her shirt up over her head and scanned her body to observe the damage from the other night. Smiling, she saw most had already started to heal and the pain was only located in a couple places rather than the entirety of her body.

She removed the rest of her clothing and surveyed the remaining damage, but aside from bruises which would heal with time, she was pleased she had so few serious wounds. She did feel bad for some of her warriors, and was certain they would be compensated for the throttling she gave them.

Lexa climbed into the hot bath and closed her eyes, groaning at how comforting the water felt as it enveloped her. She laid back and submerged herself to her neck, letting the feeling of tranquility wash over her. It was so comfortable, that her closed eyes and the soothing heat of the water had lulled her into sleep.

 

~~

 

Lexa woke up to the sound of swords clashing and across from her was Luna. She pressed an attack on Lexa and seemed to be coming in at all angles with her blades. Lexa blocked and blocked but there was no avenue for her to try to take the lead in their deadly dance.

"L... Luna?" Lexa asked.

"You were thinking it would be someone else?" Luna laughed, swinging both her blades at once and knocking one of the two Lexa was holding out of her hands.

"Why. You? I thought you didn't want this!" Lexa challenged her, gathering her wits and focusing on her opponent who had the advantage in their fight.

Luna simply laughed "I guess it is clear I made a mistake in letting you lead. Oh. Mighty. Heda" Luna smirked, her words dripping with sarcasm as she renewed her attack. "A decision I plan on rectifying now!"

Lexa side stepped and brought the hilt of her sword toward the face of Luna, striking hard and giving a crunch from the cartilage in her nose, drawing blood. Luna had moved past her and spun to face Lexa, shaking her head to re-orient herself.

"What's the matter little Heda? Titus' favourite Natblida finally given in? I thought you were different Lexa. It was why I let you live." Luna mocked her and swung her swords once more with deadly intent.

Dodging and deflecting, Lexa played to her strengths and decided to let Luna wear herself out. Luna was well aware and began to slow the pace of her attack.

"Lexa, Lexa, Lexa. Always letting others do the work for you?"

"I have no idea what you are talking about" stated Lexa, lunging with her sword to provoke an attack from her opponent and catch her off guard.

"Of course you don't." Luna lunged with a sword and Lexa spun so quickly in an attempt to slash down across Luna's back.Luna was prepared and had her second sword come up to block. The metal clang rang out denying Lexa her strike.

With her back still to Lexa, Luna knew she wouldn't attack. Luna turned slowly around, a cocky grin across her face and began to stalk Lexa and moving to her left. Lexa mirrored her movements to keep at distance.

"At least you remember some of what I taught you."

"I've picked up a few new things on my own" Lexa grinned and stepped forward, surprising Luna with her movement. With a flick of her wrist, she sliced the back of Luna's right hand, and blood immediately fell from it, alongside the sword which was now on the ground.

"Not bad. Where was that killer instinct when the people from the Sky needed you?" Luna gave Lexa a cut of her own, only the wound wasn't visible.

"My people are my priority." Lexa said, furious that Luna had wounded her with words, not her swords. Lexa attacked recklessly. Luna took advantage and brought the sword that remained down across the thigh of Lexa. The black blood was evident on this cut, unlike the last.

"You know what is happening is your fault. Clarke in the forest, alone."

"She is not as weak as you think." Their swords ring together again as Luna sweeps her blade. It wasn't an attack, merely carefree movement in their dance.

"You know as well as I do people will be looking for her."

Luna's words hit a nerve. She knew who the people were that she was referring to and it forced a shiver to coarse through her.

"I've taken precautions." Lexa frowned and pressed an attack only to step back after having her attempt stifled. "Klark is not in danger."

"Like her people were when you left them to their possible death at Maun-on? Like Cos..."

Lexa jumped forward and the sound of metal on metal interrupted Luna who realized she had struck a mortal wound.

"That will not happen to Klark. I won't let it happen. Not to her" "

So the Lexa I knew is in there after all." Luna pushed back with her sword to create space, smiled, and threw her sword to the side causing Lexa to become confused.

"You still have time, but if you let it rest too long, it will be gone and you'll lose it forever. To be honest, I thought it was already gone." Luna approached Lexa and pulled her into a hug, Lexa dropped her sword and returned the embrace after a moment, closing her eyes and remembering her childhood friend.

Luna turned so she could whisper into Lexa's ear,"They will oppose it so you must prepare yourself."

Pulling back from the hug, Lexa opened her eyes and she was sitting in her tub. Deni sat off to the side and was readying Lexa's spiced tea. Sitting up in her tub, Lexa wore a puzzled look.

"You fell asleep. I'm not surprised the smell of your favourite tea work you up." Deni smiled.

"You have enough for two?" Lexa asked as she stood up out of the water, reaching for a tower from the table.

"Sha, Heda."

"Pour us each one in the other room at the table. I'd like to ask you about what the people are saying about Skaikru and their leader Klark."

With a nod, Deni moved into the central room and prepared the tea at the table, and beside it a tray of meats, cheese and bread for the Lexa to enjoy.

Lexa entered the room wearing a light blue t-shirt and a short pair of shorts. She sat down across from Deni at the table and suggested she enjoy some of the food she brought as Lexa couldn't finish it herself.

"So, what do the people say about Klark and her people?" Lexa asked, her mind trying to focus on the words Deni was saying instead of the a pair of eyes that matched the colour of her shirt.

Her favourite shirt.

 

"Natblida" - Nightblood

"Maunon" - Mountain men

"Maun-de" - Mount Weather

"Heda" - Commander

Chapter Text

Bellamy stood next to the bed she was lying in a moment ago, explaining to Abby what he told Raven. Her silence terrified him more than her yelling at him.

There were times where Clarke would glare at him when they argued about how best to take care of the delinquents when they came down from space, but it was clear that she merely wielded a fraction of the fury that her mother could summon in her eyes. If Abby's eyes could throw fire, Bellamy was sure she would have incinerated him where he stood.

Abby bit back the pain in her body as she fought to stand, her mind fueling her urgency with scenarios of her daughter being all alone in the forest for two days. Had the Grounders caught her? Had they imprisoned and tortured her? What if her daughter was dead? All these questions taunted her mind now that she knew her daughter had vanished into the unknown lands around them, putting herself in all kinds of danger.

Bellamy wished she would yell at him rather than utilize silence as her weapon. He had prepared himself to handle the yelling. Her silence was torture. "Abby..." he started to speak in an attempt to cut the tension that filled the room, but was cut off abruptly by the furious mother before him.

"How dare you keep something like this from me! Don't you understand the danger you put her in?" she raged, moving forward and only leaving precious few inches between her and Bellamy. He wanted to step back, but he knew he deserved everything she wanted to inflict on him for keeping this to himself.

Everyone heard Clarke's name and were curious to know what had happened to the girl who saved them from Mount Weather. Whispers were passing between people in medical, reminding Bellamy of his earlier attempt in the dining hall letting Raven know Clarke was gone.

"It is my fault if anything happens to her. I'll find her. I'll bring her back." he offered, eyes begging her for the chance to make amends for failing Clarke when they returned to Camp Jaha.

"You have done enough in doing nothing, Bellamy. You are restricted to camp and your duties in the guard will be restricted. to securing the Ark."

"Chancellor," he pleaded but the look she gave him forced him to avert his eyes to the side. He knew he screwed up, but he wanted the opportunity to make things right.

"You should be happy I am only restricting your duties. Are you going to give me a reason to confine you to quarters or throw you in lock-up?" she yelled, forcing a Bellamy back a step out of fear.

Walking past Bellamy with a noticeable limp, Jackson had been standing silent but observed the interaction between the two. As she tried to leave medical, Jackson attempted to step in front of Abby trying to stop her. "

Abby, you know you can't leave yet. I haven't..."

"I'm fine, Jackson." she growled. "I've got to find my daughter."

Abby continued walking without pause out the door and turned her head to the guard who was posted outside the door. "Where is Marcus?" she asked.

"Not sure, ma'am." the guard said.

Abby furrowed her brows at his response. She raised her hand to the guard and relayed an order, "Give me your radio."

Without a word, he reached to his hip and unclipped the radio from his belt, handing it over to Abby who turned and walked down the grey steel corridor. Raising the radio, she clicked the button on the side of the tech as her feet carried her swiftly to the council chamber located in the center of the Ark.

"Marcus," she stated. She managed to hold back some of the anger that threatened to boil over in her mind and she waited for a reply. A soft hum from the handset informed her that a reply was coming.

"Abby. What can I do for you? Tired of medical already?" Marcus replied with a tone of levity.

"Meet me in the council room." Abby said commandingly.

"Abby?" he inquired curiously.

"Council room. Two minutes."

"On my way." he informed her.

The curt tone of the conversation told Raven all she needed to about the subject Abby wanted to discuss and she felt blood rush to her face. Marcus placed the radio back down in front of Raven who had tiled her head down during the short conversation, trying to avoid the gaze of the man who was standing on the other side of her work table. He looked at her suspiciously, lifting the hand that placed the radio on the table to scratch at his pepper-coloured beard.

"I have a feeling you know more about this than I do." he suggested.

Raven's hand which was usually steady seemed to slip while tightening a screw on one of the projects she was working on, forcing a grunt of frustration. After a moment she looked up at him and sighed.

"Clarke didn't come back with us from Mount Weather." A mix of hurt and anger was present in Raven's eyes as she talked to him.

Lifting his eyebrows and his eyes opening in surprise, he was taken aback with the news. Marcus believed Clarke's actions would be something that she could come to terms with over time and with the help of her friends. He was confident in his assessment of Clarke when he told her mother that she would be fine but clearly he had underestimated the struggle that was waging war between her heart and mind.

He glanced at Raven who remained staring at him, knowing beforehand what Abby would intend to do.

"We will be putting a team together to find her," he stated. "I'll make sure you are on it."

Raven was buoyed by the thought of bringing Clarke back, and a small smile formed as the corner of her lips turned upward. She knew Clarke would likely head to the drop ship first, but they would have to be fast.

She put the electrical component she was working on down and the screw driver alongside it then reached for the radio in front of her. She looked around her workshop then her fingers turned the channel dial on the radio and she clicked the talk button three times. Moments later her radio buzzed three times.

"Are you alone?" Octavia asked in a very quiet tone.

"Yep. Are you?" Raven whispered.

"Lincoln is here." Octavia informed her.

"Ok. Kane just told me they will be sending out a team to look for our princess and yours truly will be going. Are you and Lincoln in?" Raven asked.

"We are. Abby is probably furious with Bellamy right now so I'd think it is safe to say he is out."

"I know a way we can get Bel outside the fence line and he can meet up with us. Leave that to me." Raven said confidently.

"Let us know when." Octavia requested.

"Will do. Keep your radio charged."

 

~~

 

Clarke's body had been challenging her need to constantly be on the move since she left the drop ship and the break earlier did her aching joints no favours. She refused to stop to stretch her limbs, only to continue hiking through the forest. Her mouth had been parched for the last two hours and she could feel exhaustion bearing down on her. It was evident as she climbed the last hill, she found her feet struggling to lift themselves, dragging them through fallen leaves from the trees above. She had to keep pushing herself.

She was beginning to doubt she knew where she was. She had only ever been this way once, on the way to Mount Weather and she was trying to follow the landmarks she saw on the way. A fallen tree, a small clearing. Everything was starting to look the same to her tired soul. "Where are you gonna go?" she heard his voice again and turned quickly in surprise, expecting to see Bellamy.

Spinning her on feet, she whipped around ready to tell him to leave her alone and go back to Camp Jaha but as she glanced around, there was nothing but the brown wood of the frees and the green of the forest to greet her eyes.

Clarke sighed loudly and brought her hands up to her face. She first pulled brushed her blonde locks of hair back to rest over her ears, then rubbed her eyes with her hands. She felt exhaustion setting in but knew she was pushing herself too hard. "This is nothing compared to what others have gone through because of me" she mumbled, scolding herself for thinking of Bellamy.

She could not understand how they all did it, walking into camp after all they had been through and going about their lives, pretending like none of it happened to go on living life as they had. She wanted to walk through the gate, to be with her friends, her mother and her people yet the thought of them praising her and ignoring her actions made the bile rise in her throat. No. She could not be celebrated for what she did.

Clarke thought back to after Tondc, the brutal truth of her choices laid to rest in front of her after the missile slammed into the village as they prepared for their assault on Mount Weather that evening. Clarke saw herself laying on the ground after the explosion just after convincing her mother they couldn't remain in the village.

"You knew." Abby spit the accusation. "You knew and you let this happen?"

"We had no choice." Clarke pleaded to her mother, for her to understand.

"So many people. Our people." Abby whispered.

Clarke could remember herself making excuses for allowing so many people to die and then her mother's words that slammed into her chest like the missile moments ago in the village.

"You crossed a line." Abby stared at her like she didn't know her own daughter. "Their blood is on your hands, and even if we win, I'm afraid you won't be able to wash it off this time."

She swayed on her feet, standing there in the forest looking back in the direction of the drop ship yet not focused on one particular object. She was trapped in the daydream, remembering the hurt and shock her mother carried in her eyes at what Clarke had done. That look she couldn't face when they returned to Camp Jaha after she murdered three hundred people.

Her people were put through hell because of her decisions and though she rescued them from Mount Weather, their faces were not ones of relief, but pain. There was no sense of joy like after other successes. There was only pain she believed she caused them. Pain that was forced into their bodies at the tip of a drill and understanding that was etched in their eyes that they may have survived this circumstance but will they survive the next one or the one after that? This line of questioning only strengthened her decision that leaving was in her and her people's best interest. If she wasn't there, she couldn't put them in further danger.

Clarke realized she had been standing there for some time. As a reflex she glanced down at her father's watch on her wrist. She took her opposite hand and rubbed it over the watch, feeling a sense of calm wash over her mind. It was as if Jake was with her when she ran her finger over the polished face of the timepiece and along the length of the leather band that held it to her wrist.

She turned and  resumed her trek up the hill she was climbing and it wasn't long before she felt a spike in her heart rate. She remembered the small hill in front of her. She was certain that over this hill she would find the refreshing cool water of a river and as she crested the top, a smile grew on her face.

"Finally." she said aloud, her tired body finding the energy to take her down the hill without falling due to the large steps she was taking.

She waded into the shallow part of the stream and dropped to her knees so the water came up to her thigh, relaxing her aching muscles allowing her to bend forward and dip her dry lips into the cool water.

After taking several small sips and dipping her face in to try to cool herself down, she brought her hands up to her now wet hair and slicked it back as best she could. She grabbed her bottle from her pack and after she filled it up, she moved to sit on the opposite side of the rocky stream so she could see back from where she came.

She tried to sneak glances into the tree line as she produced a ration pack from her bag and set aside a one-half portion for her midday meal before sealing it back up and stowing it in the bag. If she was being followed, she hoped to see how her guests were faring after following her all morning and she was sure they were aware of her suspicions.

Working out her plan many times in her head, she was certain they would stop for water giving her time to separate herself from them. She may have been tired, but she was being deliberately clumsy. At times she had to force herself to try to not make it so obvious that she wanted to be followed.

She ate her lunch at a casual pace and once she was ready, topped off her water bottle in the cold stream allowing her to resume her hike. She slid the bottle back on her bag, lifted it over her shoulder and headed into the forest to resume her hike, appearing to move as slowly as she did on the previous side of the stream.

After a couple minutes, two figures emerged from the tree line as if out of thin air.

They stopped at the edge of the water and both removed containers for water from their belts. They were the same two who had followed Skaikru from Mount Weather. As Koma kneeled down to the stream he motioned for the younger man to give him his container to fill. He did not want Clarke to get too much distance from them.

"Mafta em op, ai op weron em hos op." Koma said in a low voice.

He figured with the many glances Klark kom Skaikru had thrown into the forest in their general direction that she knew she was being followed and was curious to learn what game she intended to play.

One thing he was certain of is that if this young woman was able to bring down Maun-de in less than a day after his people had tried for three generations, he could not underestimate her.

"Sha." the young man returned, standing and handing him his container. He slowly walked across the stream to hide the sound of his crossing. Moments later he soundlessly entered the forest and picked up the trail of the Skaikru girl. It was not as clear as it was before the stream and after fifty meters her tracks had all but vanished.

Clarke waited in the tree as still as she could, the only exception being the pounding in her chest which she was certain could be heard all the way back at Camp Jaha. She fought to keep her breath steady and even as she waited, eyes locked on her prey as he tried to find her tracks with little success.

The scout kneeled to the ground for clues as to where she had gone but was having no luck. He walked forward in the hopes he could find her trail once more. A low rustle above in the tree gave away her position and the man turned in surprise to see such blonde hair and blue-eyed fury as Clarke launched herself from a tree, large rock in hand. She brought it crashing down with a grunt of exertion on top the figure below her, both falling to the ground hard.

Her knee struck the ground producing a sharp pain in her knee. She ignored the pain as best she could, scrambling to stand and ready her rock for another swing. Sighing in relief as he remained motionless on the ground, she kicked at him hard with her foot to make sure he wasn't going to get up and attempting to hear him grunt if he was playing possum.

Her knee voiced it's pain by sending a shock through her leg. Clarke winced and hoped her knee wasn't seriously hurt. She leaned over the man and checked to see if he was alive, placing two fingers over his neck. There was a pulse and she determined the wound on his head was not life threatening.

He would survive.

Relieving him of his sword and his knife, Clarke paid careful attention to her foot placement as she walked away. The buried camper where Finn, Wells and she found was not far and if she could avoid leaving a trail she would be safe to stay there for a couple days.

Whoever was following her would likely leave while she hid there and she would use the opportunity to get as far away from Camp Jaha and Lexa's prying eyes as she could. She just needed Lexa's scouts to think she was heading elsewhere, digging her foot into the ground and starting an obvious track that led back to Camp Jaha.

 

~~

 

Koma rose from where he was crouched at the river and listened as carefully as he could to the area. He thought he heard something ahead of him and he quietly placed the water container on the ground next to his feet while drawing his sword from his back with his other hand.

He stealthily crept across the stream staying low and entered the wooded area beyond. It only took him moments to see that his seken, Reko, was laying on the ground next to a large tree and not moving and he cautiously approached him keeping his eyes on both the trees above and the ground around him.

As he stood over Reko, he used his free hand and placed it hand over the fallen boy's mouth, feeling short breaths that warmed his fingers and was troubled by the decision thrust on him.

He knew Klark was as far as her feet would carry her from the area and studied the ground seeing a direction of what appeared to be obvious footprints heading off to the north-west and smirked. He understood the game she was playing and left him with one of two moves. Risk the life of Reko, or take him the days travel back to Tondc to get him help which would result in losing tack of his target.

His decision made, Koma stood and slid his sword back in to his scabbard, reached down and stood Reko up. A groan came from the young man, trying to force his legs under him to carry his own weight. His eyes fluttered open slightly, stinging from the bright light from the sun that often occurred after an impact to the head and he looked around through foggy eyes.

"Weron Wanheda... kamp raun?" the wounded warrior asked, trying to ignore the feeling of sharp needles stabbing into his brain.

"Ron of." he said, simply,

He had to quickly move to catch Reko as his body fell limp in his arms and back into unconsciousness. Lifting his seken from the ground to carry him, he was aware that both his weapons had been removed by the Skai gada.

"Wanheda." he repeated the word his seken spoke, feeling a tightness in his chest with the meaning of it, and even a slight chill run up his back causing him to shiver.

She chose to spare Reko's life when she could have easily killed him. He had come to believe it as an act of showing she could have killed them but allowed him to live, a message that their life was in her hands.

He wished that was the case. He now had to go explain to Indra why Clarke kom Skaikru was able to slip away from his watchful eyes, let alone why they had come in contact with her when the Commander had explicitly told them not to.

 

~~

"Mafta em op, ai op weron em hos op." - Follow her, see where she goes.

"Maun-de" - Mount Weather

"Seken" - Second

"Sha" - Yeah/Yes

"Fisa" - Healer

"Weron Wanheda camp raun?" - Where's the commander of death?

"Ron of" - Escaped

"Skai gada" - Sky girl

Chapter Text

Stepping through the door of engineering and into the open yard of Camp Jaha, Marcus felt a tightness pull at the muscles in his shoulders. He stopped and attempted to alleviate some of the stress by tilting his head back, closing his eyes and taking a deep, lung-filling breath of cool evening air. Fresh air mixed with the scent of pine trees and tall grass that surrounded the camp.

Unfortunately it did not have the desired effect and the tension only grew, rising from his shoulders and into his neck causing his head to tilt the side as he slowly exhaled. When he opened his eyes, he still stood in front of the door, looking around at the people in that area of the camp.

Many stole looks in his direction and he wondered if they knew that Clarke was no longer at the camp. News travels fast in a small camp like theirs just as it did on the Ark. Rather than stand there and give any validation to their concerns by answering with silent eyes, he started walking casually across the camp to the main structure of the remaining Ark to meet Abby in the council room, occasionally smiling a greeting to people as they passed by.

Once inside the building, his feet moved at a quicker pace across the metal floor and toward his destination. In mere moments, he arrived and entered through the open doorway of the council chamber seeing Abby in her seat and across from her, Octavia and Lincoln.

"Close the door Marcus." Abby instructed him. His eyes jumping between the three in the room.

The metal door swung easily on the hinges and the familiar click of the latch fell into place letting them know the door was fully closed. Marcus turned back to the three and appraised Abby. She sat leaning forward in her chair and her forearms rested on the table in front of her. Her body looked tired to his eyes, telling him she should be in medical but her eyes told another story. In them anyone could see there was nothing–not an injury, not a Commander of the 12 clans¬–that could keep her laying on a medical bed while her daughter was in danger.

"Marcus, she is gone." she said, her voice rose levels higher than when she told him to close the door.

He walked forward and took his seat next to Abby who had tears in her eyes. He reached over and placed his hand, moving it in small circles trying to calm her down.

"Abby. Clarke knows her way around out there. If anyone here will be fine, it would be her." he remarked, trying to console her. She reached over with her hand and took his free hand which sat on the table.

"We have to find her, Marcus." Abby almost begged. "She needs us and we just let her go. I let her go."

"We will send out the guard and they will bring her back. I am sure Octavia and her friends know where she may have gone. We can start with what they know and start from there. We will look for her for as long as it takes." he said, looking from Abby to Octavia and Lincoln expecting their cooperation. After a moment of looking at the two others who had been silent, Octavia spoke first.

"That might not be as easy as we all hope." she said, looking at Marcus then resting her eyes on Abby who seemed to glare at her. As a way to avoid that hard stare from Abby, Octavia turned to look at Lincoln and gave him the floor.

"Before your order to keep those inside the camp from leaving, I left to speak with a friend who lives near Tondc. Shortly after leaving Maun-de..." he paused for a second but quickly resumed speaking avoiding the use of Trigedasleng, "after leaving Mount Weather, the Commander ordered that if any Skaikru warriors travelled into surrounding territories, they were to be caught and held until they it was decided they were not a threat."

Abby and Marcus both sat up upon hearing the news, Marcus removed his hand from Abby's back but she still held his hand. Abby spoke before Marcus had an opportunity.

"Lexa has made us prisoners in our camp? We have to find Clarke and no order from that young girl is going to decide whether or not we have the right to look for her." Abby declared.

"Maybe we should listen to him for a moment Abby." Marcus suggested, "He knows what is going on outside our camp." Lincoln took that as his cue to resume speaking.

"News of Mount Weather has likely reached the ears of the Commander. Her concern of what Skaikru may do next will force her to be cautious with your people."

"She fears we may want revenge." Marcus stated, he knew the answer before he spoke. "In defeating the mountain men, she believes we are now the threat."

"It might not be her, but there will be those in the Commander's coalition who will feel that way. She will do what she believes she must to keep the coalition together. She has done much to secure peace and will not let it fracture easily." Lincoln advised.

"So we are at war with the Commander?" Abby asked, trying to formulate a plan so they can move forward and find Clarke. "If we sent out a force large enough, maybe that would solve the problem."

Marcus turned to look at Abby and saw her searching for any way to justify sending out a force to look for her daughter.

"Abby," he half-whispered. "We can't risk a war with the Commander. We don't have enough food to be able to stay in camp and they could just keep us trapped in here until we starve."

"We don't have enough food to just remain in camp, period." Abby stated. "We have to send people out to hunt. That means guns in the hands of people who go into the forest." Abby glared at Lincoln, "Does the Commander have a problem with us hunting? Or will she take that as an act of war?"

Lincoln winced, feeling her heat behind the words.

"My friend says that they have no intention on stopping hunting parties that are reasonable in number but if numbers of Skaikru increase greater than they have in past hunts, they will do as the Commander orders."

"Prisoners." Abby spit, angry that they were the ones betrayed by the young brunette girl, yet subject to the conditions they now faced by the one who abandoned them. The one who abandoned Clarke.

"There are others, like my friend." he said. "Others who believe that Skaikru have done a great thing in ridding the land of the threat Mount Weather and they are the ones who allow the hunting parties."

"Would these people let us search for Clarke?" Marcus asked, optimism in his voice. "Clarke left which means she likely does not want to be found. Scouts from Polis have been seen in Tondc, but I am sure they are looking for Clarke." Lincoln answered.

"We have to find Clarke and none of this conversation is helping." Abby reminded them. "We have to find a way to bring her back."

"I don't think Clarke is in danger." Lincoln said.

"Clarke doesn't know how to survive off the land." Abby said firmly.

"None of us knew how to when you sent us down here to die." Octavia remarked.

Abby shot her a disapproving look.

"Look," Octavia said flatly, "Clarke walked away from us and I'm sure she will do everything she can to keep us from finding her. It isn't going to help anything to send out the guard to bring her back if she doesn't want to come back."

Rising from her seat and pulling her hand swiftly from Marcus', she leaned over the table and put her glare on the younger Blake.

"What would you have me do, Octavia? The only thing those people respect is strength and we have technology. We can make them respect us." Abby was losing herself to her emotions and Marcus reached up to her shoulder trying to get her to calm down.

"Abby, maybe there is something we can do." Marcus suggested.

"We need to do something, Marcus!" she said, fighting to keep her anger present but the rising feeling of losing her daughter welled up as a pit her stomach as it did when Clarke removed her metal bracelet they used to monitor their health from space.

"We could send a few. Three or four to go and look for her. I don't want to speak for these two, but they would be invaluable out there." he nodded in the direction of Octavia and Lincoln.

"I'm sure Raven and Bellamy would go." Octavia suggested.

Abby thought about this for a moment and looked at Marcus who had begun to scratch at his beard.

"I want Raven here to monitor the radio. Find Monty and I want you on a separate channel. I want to hear you check in every four hours. As for Bellamy, he won't be leaving the camp." Abby stated with anger.

He had kept the secret of her daughter from her and he wouldn't leave the camp again if she had her say. Octavia looked at Abby then at Marcus.

"Bellamy won't be going? I think he could..." Octavia stated, but was interrupted by Marcus, who slightly shook his head at her to stop, his eyes suggested that he was planning something.

"I think it is best the group stay as small as possible. Abby is right. Bellamy should stay here." he said with a knowing look on his face which suggested otherwise.

"Alright." Octavia agreed as she got up from her chair, followed by Lincoln and then Marcus. "We will leave right away. Besides..." Octavia looked at Lincoln and smiled, "we have the best tracker we could ever need in Lincoln."

Lincoln smiled reassuringly at Abby, but he knew that what they were asking of him was something that wasn't going to take his skill, it was going to take luck. Clarke had been gone for days and they will have to move quietly in order to avoid Trikru patrols.

"Get everyone together and meet me in engineering in thirty minutes." Marcus ordered, looking at Octavia.

A nod was all he got in reply and both Lincoln and Octavia rose from their seats and quickly left the room. Marcus turned to look at Abby who was behind her chair and resting her hands against the back of it, her shoulders slumped over. He just watched her for a moment and then she turned to meet his gaze.

"Those kids will do everything they can to find Clarke. If she can be found, they will be the ones to do it." he said, trying to give her confidence in the plan.

"What if the Commander has her already, Marcus? What if these kids get caught? Is this the right thing to do? I don't want them to die because I sent them out there." Abby fired off the words in rapid succession.

Marcus moved over to her and raised his hands to her shoulders and spoke with certainty.

"Abby, I have learnt to trust that these kids can find their way out of just about anything they get themselves into. They have been relying on each other since they came to the ground."

"I just want my daughter to come home and be safe, Marcus."

"Her friends will be the best chance we have at that." he stated confidently.

Abby looked worn down thanks to the stress of finding out her daughter was gone being coupled with the trauma of Mount Weather. Her body was still feeling the effects and Marcus decided that she has had enough for now.

"What do we say you get some rest in your own bed tonight instead of that make-shift bed you were using in medical?" he suggested.

He saw her starting to object to resting but before she could say she wanted to see the kids off and wait by the radio, he spoke again. "I'll make sure the kids are off safe and I will make sure when they radio that you are there for it. Now, time to get some rest, Abby."

The adrenaline of finding out Clarke was missing was fading and she was feeling exhausted. She knew she was fighting the sleep that threatened to consume her recovering body. Relenting, she nodded and let Marcus lead her from the room and walk her back to her quarters.

~~

The group of Raven, Octavia, Lincoln, Bellamy and Monty were assembled in engineering and were waiting for Marcus to arrive.

Monty was easy to find as he would almost always be near engineering working some tech and trying to get station systems up and running properly. Much to his credit, were it not for him many of the systems from the Ark would still be offline. It was slow work, but he was doing all he could. Even at the expense of sleep.

Octavia found Bellamy laying on his bunk, sulking in his quarters after the incident with Abby.

"O. This is all my fault. I should have convinced her to come back. What are we going to do?" he asked, his face staring at the ceiling above his bed.

"I tell you what you are going to do. You are going to get up off your ass, get out there and find Clarke." she stated, frowning at his defeated posture as he lay on his back.

"We can't leave the camp, O. Abby has put me on guard duty in the Ark." he complained.

"Then you are just going to have to find a way to sneak out to join my search party that is leaving in thirty minutes to find her." she smirked.

Bellamy turned to look at her and threw his legs over the side of his bed, sitting up straight.

"You are going to look for Clarke?" he questioned. "Why would she pick you to go looking for Clarke?"

"Because Lincoln and I are the best chance she has at being brought back here to camp. You are coming so you can talk princess down and convince her to come back."

He pushed himself from his bed and grabbed his black jacket.

"What are we waiting for? Let's go."

Raising her hand to his shoulder to stop him from walking past her, she said, "There is a bit of a problem. You still aren't allowed to leave the Camp. Abby's order.".

"We can stow me in the rover before we go." Bellamy suggested.

"There is more you need to know. I'll explain when we get to engineering and I can tell you, Raven and Monty at the same time." Octavia stated, turning to walk from Bellamy's quarters and meet their friends.

Bellamy quickly rushed to catch up with her after closing the door to his quarters. He had put his pistol and his rifle back in the armory after his shift had completed. He struggled to keep up with Octavia who had kept a brisk walking pace. As they exited the living quarter section of what remained of the Ark, the sky above had begun to darken as the sun started to set for the evening.

~~

Octavia and Lincoln explained the order by Lexa and what could happen if they were to be caught. Monty seemed the most unpleased at the prospect of being caught by Trikru, knowing what they were capable of, but he swallowed his fears and made sure they knew he was there for Clarke.

Raven cursed her injured leg for rendering her physically incapable of moving as quickly or as quietly as they needed to be while travelling through the forest. She wasn't happy with Abby's decision, but she understood after hearing the consequences of possibly being caught by the grounders.

"Being tied to a tree once was more than enough for me, thanks. I don't need that crazy bitch cutting me any more than she already has." Raven joked, but shivered when she recalled the blade of Lexa's brown-handled knife cutting into her flesh after Gustus tried to destroy their alliance.

Moments later Marcus entered the room, turned and closed the door behind himself. He turned back to the group and read all their expressions. There was uncertainty in regard to what awaited them beyond the gates of Camp Jaha, but there was also courage in their eyes.

"I assume you all know what is going on." he stated, rather than asked.

"They know." Octavia informed him.

"I want you all to come back safe so whatever you do, do not try to fight the grounders. Find Clarke."

He looked at them all and waited for them to nod in understanding. Once they did he resumed, looking at Raven.

"Raven, we need you to make sure we can keep in touch with them. They need two radios, keep one off so that you don't use up both batteries. If we have to come get you all, we need to know where we are going."

"I have two charged up and I have..." Raven got off her stool and limped around the table, walking toward a small shelf that was covered in miscellaneous parts she picked up a small solar pack with some cables attached to it, "...this little toy here that will let you guys charge those radios in the day. Don't lose it because it is the only one I have at the moment." she stated, walking slowly back to the table and placing it next to two hand-held radios on the table in front of them all.

"Great thinking, Raven" Marcus smiled. "Now, we have to assume Lexa has scouts watching he camp so you will all have to find another way out of here. You can't take the Rover so you will have to go through the fence like you always do when you think nobody is watching." Marcus' smile quickly changed into a grin. All of the other eyes in the room glanced nervously at each other.

"That won't be a problem." said Bellamy, his voice laced with seriousness.

"We should wait until dark." offered Lincoln. I'll go first and make sure that we can get out unseen. Once I return, I'll signal everyone when to leave the camp."

Marcus nodded at Lincoln and looked at the group that was sitting around the table.

"What happens if we get caught?" Monty asked, looking at Lincoln.

"We don't." was his stiff reply, "Or we will be made to wish we hadn't."

Marcus lifted his hands which caught the attention of the group, and opened his jacket. From within, he produced two hand guns and two clips for each of them from interior pockets.

"These weapons are last resort." he said firmly. "If you use these, it is likely to start a war and I don't want to have to explain how and why it started to Abby. I'm already going to have to explain this, I don't want to be fighting one on two fronts." he smiled, trying to break the tension that had been rising in the room but his smile disappeared when they didn't return it with their own.

'They have been through too much. Too much to ask them to do this' he thought to himself. "I want everyone to know they don't have to..."

"We will find Clarke" Bellamy objected to what he believed was an offer to walk away. "Clarke has always been there for us, we will be there for her."

Bellamy walked up to the table, picked up one of the hand guns, loaded one of the two clips into the pistol and tugged the slide back, loading a bullet into the chamber.

Marcus watched Bellamy expertly load the gun, check to make sure the safety was set on, then slid it into his own jacket. Monty did the same, but with much less expertise, some colour rising in his cheeks as everyone watched him struggle a little with the clip as he inserted it.

"Four hours starts now." Mrcus stated as he looked at the digital clock on the wall behind Raven.

Bellamy and Octavia both grabbed a radio, clipping it to their belts leaving Monty to grab the solar charger. He couldn't clip it to his belt as it was too large, so he scanned the room, his eyes landing on a small pack in the corner he grabbed to carry it.

As they all began to file from the room, Marcus called out to them,

"Bring Clarke home."

Chapter Text

The three sat impatiently in the dark confines of a small shack at the far side of the camp awaiting Lincoln to signal it was safe to leave the camp and begin their search for Clarke. Raven sat impatiently still in engineering as she waited for their signal to drop the power to the fence so they could start the journey to find Clarke.

Though it was dark in the shack and the look that Octavia wore on her face may have been a model of determination, but concern had worked its way into the edges of her eyes. Lincoln had been gone for the better part of thirty minutes and she tried to ignore the concerned looks that her friends were throwing her way, sure that Lincoln was safe.

After another ten minutes, relief washed over her and she saw him. He signaled from the tree line that it was safe to climb through their improvised exit through the electrified fence. Octavia took a calming breath, lifting the radio and engaged the button to speak.

"Shut it down. We'll let you know when we are through." she told Raven.

Single-file they moved, crouched as they all ran to the small opening in the fence and climbed through. Bellamy separated the cables wider with his hands after a moment of hesitation, allowing them to squeeze through easier. Once they were all safe on the other side and in to the trees, Bellamy nodded to Octavia.

"We are through. Turn it back on." Octavia said, returning the radio back to her belt. As they stepped across the small grass and rock clearing before the trees, Raven's voice came through the speaker.

"Stay safe and find her fast."

Octavia reached down and clicked the power switch on the radio off. It wouldn't do them any good if they were caught because they left one of the radios on and caught a scouting parties attention. As they reached Lincoln's position, they remained in the similar crouched position he had taken.

"We won't have any problems in the forest around the camp, and we will only have to avoid one scouting party on the way to the drop ship." Lincoln informed them.

"You know something we don't?" Bellamy frowned at Lincoln.

"The ones watching this part of the forest are friends. Many who are in the immediate area won't interfere with us finding Clarke, but the farther into the forest we go we will have to be careful. Many of the scouts are from Tondc and harbour ill will for most Skaikru."

"So, we don't get caught. Sounds simple enough." Bellamy remarked.

"We're wasting time." she scolded, glaring at Bellamy.

Lincoln led them off in the direction of the drop ship and Octavia moved quickly to walk behind him, the others falling in line behind them. One by one they moved farther and farther from Camp Jaha, disappearing in the darkness of the forest before them.

~~

The small group made quick time and approximately four hours into the eight hour trip to the drop ship, Lincoln raised his hand and quickly dropped in a crouch behind a tree, prompting others to mimic his actions. They could only hear their collective breaths until a moment later, the crunch of foliage could be heard not far in the distance.

Ahead of them at approximately fifty meters, a single figure slowly walked forward, travelling perpendicular to their direction. Lincoln's focus moved from the lone figure to the forest from which he came. Moments later, his intuition was rewarded and he made out the form of two men pressed up against trees with bows at the ready, their eyes scanning the forest for intruders.

Octavia drew in an almost inaudible sniffle and Lincoln gave his head the slightest shake in reply to her query. Both Bellamy and Monty picked up on their near-silent conversation and remained crouched, almost laying on the ground to avoid being discovered.

Lincoln and Octavia were communicating between themselves about how many people were ahead of them through small nods or head shakes and Bellamy grew frustrated with being left out of the conversation. He was smart enough to not speak, but one of his boots shifted restlessly beneath him and Lincoln stiffened.

One of the rear scouts froze and turned his masked face in the direction of the group, his bow string drawn back which signaled for the attention of his compatriots. Lincoln, unbeknownst to the rest of the group had his hand on the hilt of his sword and in his other hand a dagger, ready to release the moment a scout caught sight of them.

The lead scout turned his attention on their vicinity and slowly turned in their direction, stepping cautiously forward, eyes straining as he searched for anything out of place.

Everyone's attention but Lincoln's shifted to the right and they saw a rabbit jump from a bush and run in the direction of Camp Jaha. The Trikru scouts all saw the rabbit dart from the bush away from where they stood and the lead scout laughed aloud. The scouts that hid among the trees stepped out and moved in the direction of the lead scout while lessening the tension his bow string.

"Yu laik fir in kom thompa?" the lead scout asked.

"Shof op, Reigen." the man replied, joining the others to continue their patrol as they teased him for being afraid of the rabbit.

"Strik pauna! Ron we!" they all laughed, walking away from the four and resuming their search for anything or anyone who is unwelcome in their lands.

Lincoln's shoulders eased down and his hand slowly released the grip on his sword. Turning his head he stared at Bellamy and his glare told him his carelessness had almost gotten them discovered. They remained as they were for a while, crouched low and making sure the scouts weren't waiting to see if there were any more surprises in the area before moving on.

Lincoln stood up and the others took his cue to do the same. Monty and Bellamy stood up straight, groaning at their joints which were suffering from stiffness that took hold as they remained perfectly still.

Monty noticed neither Lincoln nor Octavia seemed to suffer from the same affliction and decided that when he got back to Camp Jaha, he would start exercising more. His mind went to Harper and his decision was reinforced by the idea that she too may also enjoy the benefits of a fitter Monty Green.

The second leg of the trip to the drop ship were like the first, arriving as the morning sun began to enter the sky. They kept a fair pace and had not run into any scouts. His friend had been true to his word regarding where and when the patrols would move through the area and they made it to the drop ship.

None of them enjoyed being here, and Lincoln seemed hesitant to even walk into the charred remains of the former Skaikru camp. His memory of this place was dark after having been tortured at the hand of Bellamy Blake and knowing that 300 of his people had been killed. It took everything in his power to not give in to the anger he felt.

Thinking of the girl who was looking at him now, he turned to Octavia and saw in her eyes the sympathy of knowing how hard this must be for him. The fire that threatened to consume him was quickly doused by her calm green eyes. He gave her a slight smile of reassurance, and in his heart he was certain that he would go through it all again if it meant that she would look at him as lovingly as she did at this moment.

"It looks like she has already been here. That or some grounder scavengers took all the rations we put in there." Bellamy stated, his hand on his gun.

"Where do you think she would have gone?" Monty asked.

"Away from Camp Jaha." Bellamy replied quickly.

"I'll see what I can find." Lincoln said, moving to walk the perimeter of the camp in an attempt to find any clue as to what direction the Skaikru leader could have gone.

"See if there is anything in there we might be able to use." Octavia suggested to Monty and Bellamy.

Once the two boys turned to enter the drop ship she hurried to follow Lincoln.

"Do you think you will be able to find something?" she asked quietly once she caught up to him.

"Clarke has been working on walking light on her feet and trying not being followed." he stated. "I heard she has spent some time with the Commander in the forest so that is where she probably picked it up. Clarke seems to learn quickly."

Lincoln was impressed with how long it took him to find her trail, and even then had it not been for one particular identifier, he may not have seen her path at all.

"I think she came through this way." he pointed at almost invisible marks on the dirt floor of the forest. "She was being followed." he added, pointing to a set of tracks almost as hidden as Clarke's. "Two men."

"How do you know that is Clarke's track?" Octavia wondered aloud.

He smiled and explained, motioning for Octavia to join him as he kneeled on the ground, pointing at a slight indentation. "Skaikru all have the same shoes with this line in the pattern. It has been many days since your people have been back to the drop ship and these appear to be the most fresh."

Octavia glanced down at her own feet. "Aside from the ones that were leading into the drop ship." he added.

"Remind me to get some new boots when we are allowed in Tondc. That or when you bring me to Polis like you promised." she grinned at him.

"I think the best chance we have of ever being allowed in Polis is to find Clarke. The Commander favours her and hopefully if Clarke doesn't try to kill her for what happened at Maun-de, they will find some way to renegotiate a peace between our people." he stated, optimism laced throughout his words. 

"I expect her to help us as well." Octavia added. "It is the least she can do after we find her and bring her back."

Lincoln smiled, but it was difficult to think of how his own people looked at him. His status as "Natrona" can be reversed by the Commander, but there would be many who will always view him as such. Lincoln chose to change the subject and discuss his thoughts for the rest of the day.

"We should let Monty and Bellamy rest for a short while. I have a thought as to where Clarke was headed and it will take us the remainder of the day to reach it."

"We can get there today even with the patrols?" Octavia wondered, knowing that Lincoln would make them travel slower now that they were more visible to Trikru patrols.

"Sha. We will have to be careful. The direction she is travelling would take her near a river."

"I think I know what river you are talking about." she said, thinking back to when they first arrived back on Earth not so long ago and her run in with the water snake. 'Has it only been a couple months?' she asked herself, the memory of what happened in the river causing a shiver to ripple through her body.

"We'll give them fifteen minutes." Octavia suggested, to which Lincoln nodded in agreement. The less time they sat in one place, the better their odds were of not being discovered by Lexa's scouts. The drop ship has already been visited multiple times if the tracks in the area were any indication.

The two walked back into the former camp and saw Bellamy and Monty sitting on the ramp of the drop ship eating some rations they had with them when they left Camp Jaha. They offered their pouches to Octavia and Lincoln who accepted, reaching into the bags and pulling out some of the dried meat.

"Fifteen minutes." Octavia said to which both agreed.

"Figure out where she was going?" Monty asked.

"The river we found when we first arrived. She probably needed water and that is where she would have gone. Lincoln found a couple tracks and we can follow them." Octavia explained.

"What are we going to do if she doesn't want to come back?" Monty inquired. It was a question none of them wanted to ask.

"I'll convince her." Bellamy stated. "It isn't safe out here for her or any of us. If the grounders have taught us anything, it is that we can't trust them and we have to look out for our own."

"Give it up Bel. Nobody here wants to hear one of your speeches here." Octavia glowered at him. "Looks like lunch is over. Let's get moving and stay quiet."

Octavia walked off quickly in the direction of where they saw Clarke's footprint. Monty and Bellamy  threw their rations in their backpacks and followed along. Monty just shook his head at Bellamy for causing Octavia to cut their break short. His legs were quite tired and as he hurried to catch up, they took a while to work through the stiffness from the hike they walked nearly non-stop the night before.

Lincoln was unsure what they would do if they came across any Trikru and he believed his best bet would be to try to have any they come across chase him so the remaining three could either continue the search for Clarke or return home to Camp Jaha. Either way, he was certain he would likely end up a prisoner of his people.

They had been fortunate in avoiding patrols, and made it to the hill that led down to the river. Lincoln studied the ground and saw where he believed Clarke had shuffled her feet as if she stopped and turned back to look at something. There was no signs of struggle and Clarke's trail continued over the hill and toward the river which gave him hope that she was aware someone was following her.

He signaled the others to come up the hill but to stay low. Octavia came first, followed by Monty and Bellamy bringing up the rear. Their eyes all scanned around them and when they were a few feet from Lincoln, he motioned for them to stop. He moved slowly to a tree that stood just before the crest of the hill that gave him a vantage of both the river banks.

After spending a considerable amount of time watching the two sides of the river banks and only when he believed it was safe did he signal the others to join him as he walked down the other side of the hill. The sight of water was a relief for the Skaikru search party.Octavia had used hers sparingly, but even her bottle was getting low. Both Monty and Bellamy had finished theirs hours ago and after they filled their bottles, they cupped water and splashed their faces to try to cool themselves down in the afternoon heat.

"Everyone stay calm and don't move." Lincoln stated.

Octavia looked up and couldn't see anything so she decided to follow Lincolns eyes. To the right, her eyes caught sight of a camouflaged man leaning against a tree, perfectly motionless with a bow aimed at Lincoln. Octavia glanced to the left to see three other men emerge from the edge of the trees, one with another bow and two others with swords in hand.

Bellamy started to move his hand to the pistol on his hip and moments before he could draw it to defend everyone, an arrow lodged itself into his bicep causing him to grunt in pain and drop to a knee.

"Wer'n ya go'ner yu say'en, natrona?" asked a man who walked casually down the hill behind them.

Turning to look at the man, Lincoln kept his hands out to not provoke the men any further, he answered, "We are looking for a missing Skaikru girl."

The man continued down the hill and drew his sword, looking at them all as he walked by them. He stopped in front of Lincoln and spit at his feet. Lincoln did not respond to the provocation, nor did he flinch when the leader of the group lifted his blade to his throat, sliding the cold steel lightly on the skin and drawing blood as he walked behind Lincoln.

"Seinteim em seimbeda sieng kom baga." he laughed, joined by the others in their mockery of the former Trikru brother.

Octavia looked as though she wanted to protest his treatment, but Lincoln's calm eyes gave her strength to remain silent.

Bellamy was grunting with pain as his hand rested over the arrow that was lodged in his arm while Monty stood frozen in place.

Monty had been busy scanning the forest and he was aware there were more out there which gave his a sense of helplessness. Running was not an option for any of them, nor was fighting their way out. They were at the mercy of these grounders.

Octavia felt helpless with being forced to watch their leader cut a thin line with the edge of his blade around Lincoln's neck, unable to protect him. Anger flared in her green eyes and when the grounder leader lifted his eyes from his blade and toward her, he grinned. She realized it wasn't Lincoln that they were trying to provoke, but her.She fought back her need to lunge forward to protect her to the back as she saw his crimson blood slowly start to fall from the wound.

Antagonizing her further, the leader lifted his foot and kicked the back of Lincolns knee, driving him in to the pebble surface of the river bank with a grunt of pain which caused Octavia to move one of her feet forward. The sound of bow strings being pulled taut forced her to rethink her decision and she stopped moving instantly.

"Your niron isn't as stupid as I thought. I guess we will be taking you all back with us. I'm sure Heda will have something special planned for all of you." he informed them as he lifted his sword in the air behind Lincoln.

"Beja," Octavia pleaded, but it was too late. The man brought the hilt of his sword down on the back of Lincolns head, forcing his body to fall limply to the ground. "He told you the truth."

Before the world went dark to Octavia's eyes, she saw four new men charge from the forest, two heading toward Bellamy and two toward Monty.

Two swung their fists at Monty who declared he would go peacefully but his plea fell on deaf ears, the blows forcing him to double over in pain and gasping for air. Bellamy tried to protest as well only to receive the same treatment as Lincoln, a solid blow to his head which seemed to render him unconscious. He fell limply on his side that had the arrow protruding from it.

Octavia was so focused on what was happening in front of her, she did not hear whoever approached her from behind. A solid blow struck her from behind and she fell forward, crashing hard on to the ground.

As she sensed her consciousness ebbing away she managed to say "Lincoln..." as a plea for them to not harm him any further, she closed her eyes and gave in to the darkness that surrounded them all.

Chapter Text

Looking across the table at Deni, Lexa was deep in thought. "Mochof, Deni. You have given me much to consider."

"I'm always here for you." Deni stated, reaching across the table and giving Lexa's hand a soft squeeze in comfort. Lexa broke from her thoughts at the touch, giving a soft smile to the gesture but her mind was clearly resumed spinning with the conversation she just had. Deni rose from her seat and gave a slight bow. "Reshop, Heda", leaving the Commander at the table..

Noticing that Deni was leaving the room, Lexa called out, "Reshop" as Deni nodded as Lexa bid her farewell for the night and watched her slip through the door.

 Lexa's finger nails restlessly tapped the table in a frustrated rhythm. She wasn't angry with the world and the events that were occurring around her, she was troubled that they were events that she no longer had control of. Last year at this time, she was in firm control of her Kongeda, the only real threat her people faced was the Maunon.

Yes, Nia was a concern, but her plotting and scheming was always dealt with swiftly and never allowed to pose a serious threat. Discontent amongst the Ambassadors was more their own concern, with them fighting among themselves for her attention in petty attempts to secure power for themselves. her decision to limit Ambassadors time in Polis to two years as their as their clan representatives tempered some of that ambition, though initially met with fierce resistance.

Lexa rose from her chair and picked up her half filled cup of tea. It was cold now but she didn't mind it that way, it always seemed to give it a sweetness that the hot tea did not offer. Lifting the cup to her lips to take a sip, her feet began to move under her and she paced in her room as she normally did when trying to make decisions that impacted her people.  

Her thoughts wandered back to the conversation just moments ago. She was surprised that word of Maun-de has spread so fast. It had only fallen two days ago but her people had already begun to sing the praises of Skaikru for destroying the greatest threat they had ever faced. Deni explained that while not the majority, some of Trikru still do not trust Skaikru and fear they will enter Maun-de and demand her people be subservient to their demands or risk being destroyed.

Lexa understood their concerns. There are those among Skaikru such as Bellamy Blake who did not trust nor wish to trust her people. They would suffer the same tyranny under people like him as they have under the last residents of Maun-de.

'I must send a party to Camp Jaha.' she thought to herself. Lexa determined the likelihood of them occupying Maun-de while in negotiations for peace were slim as she could demand they never set foot in there for any reason during the negotiations or it would be seen as an act of war against her people. In return, they could be given lands but it would require agreement from whichever of the twelve clans would be willing to share.

Most importantly she believed that these negotiations must be done quickly and it would be best if Skaikru had their leader to negotiate. Klark might be angry with her, but she will also be predictable. She will want what is best for her people as she always does.

Lexa  walked over to the black couch in the corner of the room that was covered in furs and sat down, placing her tea cup on the table in front of her. Lifting her hands to her hair, she started to remove the braids and let it fall loosely over her shoulders.

After completing her hair, she picked up her tea once more and leaned back against the soft furs. She smiled inwardly. She would take control of her lands once more removing any uncertainty among her people, and she would do it one step at a time and Clarke would help her.

Having concerned herself with what she believed to be the most pressing matter for her people, she wondered of Klark. She figured it would not be long before she returned to her people. The leaves had begun to turn with the change of seasons and the colder air rolled down from the hills settling in the valleys which would make hunting for food difficult.

Skaikru had what they called 'packets' that held terrible tasting food, but Klark had sworn to her they "met all the requirements of any food they could find on Earth" but after trying a bite, she informed Klark that "how good food tasted was just as much a requirement as the quality of a food".

That memory created a warm sensation in her chest and it grew until she smiled, remembering how Klark enjoyed eating the rabbit she had caught, forgoing the little silver food package she swore was all she needed, admitting that on occasion the Commander could be right, and talking about a broken clock, refusing to explain what she meant about it being correct twice.

She enjoyed it when Klark treated her as though she was just any other. She had not had many moments where she was treated as an equal, not since her conclave. People listened to her. They took orders from her. People died for her. Nobody, short of Titus could say they have ever challenged her as Klark has, yet he remains respectful of her authority. Even Deni, the closest thing to a friend she could allow herself still understood that she is Heda.

Initially, Lexa  did not give a moment of thought to these invaders from the sky. It was only when her three hundred warriors suffered defeat at the hands of some "Tiny and weak yellow-haired  branwada" as Anya described, did she commit the name Klark to memory. Defeating her Fos and her 300 warriors was no simple thing. She decided it was time to meet this Klark and her people.

When they first met, the passion she showed in wanting to protect her people forced Lexa to respect her but what tempered her interest in killing the Skaikru girl and her people was when she gave her Anya's braid. Anya must have respected her enough to tell her of their tradition and that is what saved Klark's life that morning in her tent. Her stubbornness at the drop ship in bringing Lincoln back is what saved it a second time.

The length Klark was willing to go through for her people that day and beyond was a bond Lexa believed they both shared as leaders but Lexa had been groomed for her role, taught about leadership, responsibility and the expectations of her role. Klark had been rejected by her people and sent to die on the ground, then thrust into conflict. Conflict she was able to overcome, but was ill prepared for.

Klark let her emotions rule her decisions and it was too easy to get caught up in them. They ignited passion in all those around her and even the great Heda was threatened by her tide. Indra had warned her, Gustus had warned her and Titus constantly reminded her that her duty to her people must supersede all other desires.

'Maybe life should be about more than just surviving. Don't we deserve better than that?'

The words were burned into her heart. "We". She knew Klark meant their people, but all she remembered she could feel was the increasing rhythm of her heart in her chest, and that "we" could be something more.

Her mind became a scramble of thoughts. Titus reminding her that love is weakness. Costia's sweet laughter when Lexa made a silly joke. Indra warning her that Klark was a threat to all her people. Standing before Klark in her tent and deciding to kiss the girl from the sky, her heart racing in her chest.

Walking away from Maun-de with her people alive and safe. Seeing her people celebrate the release of their people and bringing them home. Seeing the weight of betrayal in the blue eyes of someone who had it within her to destroy her, and wanting it more than anything in her entire life.

"Ungh!" Lexa grunted, throwing her cup across the room and seeing it crash to pieces against the wall.

This time nobody entered her room immediately to see what happened.

Getting up from the couch, Lexa walked over to where her cup hit the wall then down at the pieces as she bent over to pick them up and as she finished picking up the smallest of pieces, a knock was heard at the door followed by a familiar voice.

"Heda?" Deni asked.

"I just dropped a cup." Lexa lied as she carried the broken shards she was holding in a small box by the door. Lexa pulled her door open and saw Deni standing before her. "Inform Titus I wish to speak to the Ambassadors tomorrow morning in the throne room."

"Sha, Heda. Should I summon him for you tonight?" Deni questioned.

"No." Lexa answered. "I will inform them tomorrow of my decisions. I am not to be disturbed for the rest of the night." she declared, the latter being directed at the two large guards who stood next to her doorway."

"As you wish, Heda." Deni looked at both guards as Lexa turned and shut the door, they both nodded their understanding.

 

~~

 

"All Heda stated was that  wants yourself and the ambassadors to see her in her throne room tomorrow morning" Deni stated to Titus, her hands folded neatly together as she stood in his chambers.

"She must have informed you of her intention for the meeting." Titus stated, knowing the often spoke on any sort of topic.

"Heda doesn't seek my council on how she governs her people." Deni stated flatly. "I bring her meals and offer her my support. Not guidance."

"We both know that is untrue." Titus scoffed. "Lexa..."

Deni frowned at his use of Heda's name.

"Heda," he corrected himself, "often seeks your advice on any number of topics. I only ask you to help me make certain she is doing what is best..."

Deni raised an eyebrow at his argument.

"...for our people."

 She glared at him coldly then turned to walk out of the room, having given him the Commander's orders to assemble the ambassadors. She couldn't hear what he said after he closed his door but it seemed like frustration was getting the better of him.

The last two days had been very troubling for Titus. He had to watch his star pupil fall into a world of uncertainty. It was not the world she belonged to and he was certain it had everything to do with Skaikru and their leader Klark.

He threw on his robe over his pants and shirt and exited his quarters to inform the ambassadors they are to be present for the morning meeting. Knowing they would press him on the reason for the meeting, he could only declare that it was Heda who reserves the right to share that information at a time of her choosing.

As he waited for the lift to take him to each of the ambassadors floors to share the order from Lexa, he realized this would be the first time he would be unaware of the reason for a meeting in all the time Lexa had been Commander. She had always relied on his advice but now she kept him in the dark. Her behaviour since returning with her people had been worrisome and he swore he would find out why.

 

~~

 

The stabbing pain in Clarke's knee that earlier had only stung when she placed her full weight on it was now a consistent reminder that jumping from trees, no matter how successful it had been, was something she would never choose to do again.

She had been moving as quickly as her knee would let her while trying to reduce the impact she had on the ground below. Periodically she would turn and see a clear path from where she walked but for now, she decided it was more important to produce distance over stealth. When her body forced her to move slower she would place more importance on hiding her tracks.

When the pain in her knee became too difficult, she decided it was time to rest and have see how badly she hurt it. She looked around her immediate area and saw a tree with a large bush at  the base of it and decided she would use it to hide herself from the dangers of the forest and those who seemed to be looking for her.

She tried to clear her tracks as best as she could and once she decided it was sufficient, she hobbled over to the spot she chose and put her pack next to the tree. She knew there was some swelling, but as she leaned against that tree, she slid herself down to the ground and removed the pressure on her knee. Immediately  the injured knee thanked her by simply throbbing rather than sending sharp spikes of pain up and down her leg as it had when she was running through the forest.

She took her gun from her belt and placed it on the ground next to her, easily within reach if she was forced to use it. Unbuckling her belt and unzipping the zipper so she could slide her pants down far enough to inspect her injury, she took a deep breath as she saw the bruising and swelling that was far worse than she hoped to see. Clarke let out with a frustrated sigh and threw her head back in anger resulting in a solid 'thud', forgetting momentarily the tree was behind her.

"Owwww" she groaned, slowly letting herself tip over on her side and squeezing her eyes tightly together while she reached to touch the back of her head that made contact with the bark. "More swelling. Great. Just great." she mumbled, the impact point immediately puffing up below her fingers.

Clarke indulged in a moment of self-pity then sat herself back up to resume the inspection of her knee. She adjusted her knee cap and gave it some poking and prodding but determined that even though it was injured, as long as she could find a safe place to stay for a week or two and avoid using it much, she would be able to resume regular activities.

She listened to the forest around her while her eyes scanned for anything she might consider out of place for the better part of thirty minutes. Once she decided it was safe, she retrieved a wrap from her pack for her knee. She carefully and tightly wrapped the cloth around her swollen knee and once she was content with how it was wrapped, she pulled her pant legs back up, zipped up the zipper and buckled the belt once more thinking she could rest a little longer and eat some of one of the rations packs.

Clicking the belt buckle closed as quietly as she could, her attention was drawn to the sound of something crack in the distance but off to the right of the direction she was travelling. 'Looks like I'll eat later' she thought to herself, but she did take her bottle from the pack and take a small sip of the water she collected back at the river. She only had half a bottle left and she didn't know this area so she decided she needed to get to higher ground and find a water source.

Looking up at the tall trees, the thought crossed her mind that she might be able to see if she made it to the top but dashed that notion immediately as she stood and her knee protested.

Clarke threw her pack over her shoulder securing the first strap and then second. She wanted to rest longer but knew nightfall was coming soon. It had been cold in the drop ship the night before, and unless she could find a safe place to rest this night, she would have to start a fire and stay near it for warmth. Fire draws attention.

After picking up her gun and tucking it into her jacket pocket, set herself on task of resuming her hike. The remainder of the day and made it into the hills and she was thankful she crossed a couple small streams. Clarke determined the both streams were clean enough to drink from after dipping her hand in and drawing some water to her lips. Her body thanked her by renewing her energy after she drank her fill, and each time she refilled her bottle.

A familiar feeling crept over her that there was someone in the woods following her again. This one wasn't as quiet as the one she got the drop on before, but they remained hidden well enough that Clarke couldn't find them. Clarke doubted she would be so lucky as to get the drop on another one of Lexa's scouts.

Her hike lasted a couple more hours through the forest, the sun had hidden itself behind the horizon. The sky above had begun to show the first sign of stars which signalled that the temperature was going to drop quickly. Clarke found a spot that was relatively protected from wind and put her pack down, placing the gun next to it.  She set herself to the task of starting a fire to keep herself warm and began to walk around the area to gather dried moss and small branches to get a fire started.

Bending over to pick up a small branch she intended to snap into pieces of kindling, she heard the unmistakable sound of something growling directly ahead of her. When she looked up, she saw the source of the noise and stumbled back, dropping all the wood but the last branch she picked up.
Her eyes were wide with fear as she slowly crawled backward in the direction of her pack on her heels and her palms.

Ahead of her, two steel-grey eyes above rows of growling teeth focused their intent on Clarke and moved forward at the same speed as she crawled back. The animal was stalking her. She recognized the animal from classes on the Ark. It was a wolf. There was something about wolves she was forgetting, but as long as she could get to her pack and her gun, she could try to fight it off.

She felt relief in the form of a gun when she felt back and her hand brushed the gun. Moments after Clarke stopped crawling backward, the wolf lunged at her, sinking its teeth in her ankle and forcing a scream from Clarke as it shook it's head violently to try to tear the foot from her body.

Clarke frantically swung the gun around and flicked the safety off, pulling the trigger once as the barrel pointed at the body of the animal. It yelped and  limped back in an attempt to escape the pain that appeared in its side. Clarke was still afraid, but at least the animal no longer held her foot in its mouth. A foot she could see that blood had begun to flow freely from.

She attempted to take a few calm breaths to steady her nerves but she didn't have the time. On her left, two more wolves appeared. They were both growling, but not charging. She wondered what was keeping them from charging and when she swung her gun around, they stalked off in opposite directions but continued to stare at her. They could smell the blood dripping from her shoe and that drove driving their pursuit. They feared the gun, not Clarke she realized.

Clarke fired a shot at the two wolves but missed. They danced around just far enough away that taking a shot at them would be difficult. The pain in her foot continued to throb, much like her knee was. She didn't have many bullets so until they got close enough for her to be sure she could hit them, she decided to use the branch she held with her other hand to keep lull them in. Every time they seemed to want to advance and she drew her gun, they scattered only to return a moment later growling and yelping.

Clarke was growing tired of their game and lifted her gun and closed one eye to aim her shot. She didn't hear it but another wolf had arrived, or had been there the entire time but was waiting. It jumped at her back and sunk its teeth into the shoulder of the arm holding the gun.

An errant shot rang out but this time the wolf on her arm refused to let go out of fear, twisting and yanking at Clarke and forcing her to drop her gun. She could hear the feet of the other wolves and their growls getting closer as she swung her fists at the wolf that had hold of her. Her other arm felt a familiar pinch and the only sounds she could hear was the growls from the wolves and her scream.

Clarke fought as hard as she could to free herself from the wolves but her strength was abandoning her. It felt as though they had pinned her to the ground and there wasn't anything more she could do. She knew she had to fight. She just had to get to the gun. They were afraid of the gun.

Lying there, her body was exhausted from days of travel but she also felt a sense of calm wash over her. She couldn't even feel her knee any more.

She fought the grounders. She fought the mountain men. She fought for her people. She didn't want to fight any more. She wanted to stop worrying about what danger came next.

Her eyes closed and she smiled, "Ai gonplei ste odon."  welcoming the peace those words gave her.

 

~~

 

Walking nearby, a brown-haired young hand heard a gunshot ring out through the forest and moments later a second. His first instinct was to run, but knowing the Maunon were defeated, he ran in the direction of the gun shots.

In the darkness he sped over the roots and around the trees with expert balance, gliding in the direction he heard the sound. As he got closer, the familiar sound caught his ears and his bow was drawn in seconds with an arrow nocked.

Coming upon the pack, he saw one down, shot in the side and unmoving and four others tearing at a body on the ground. His arrow was away immediately, killing one and a second and third were away before they knew what had come upon them as their focus was on their prize. The fourth barely had time to look in his direction before his arrow plunged into its chest and through its heart due to his silent footsteps giving no indication until he was almost upon it.

He yanked the animals off the young girl who lay on the ground beneath them aware her lungs were fighting to keep her alive with shallow breaths.

He was amazed this girl was still alive, but looking at her blood soaked clothes and the pile of twigs she appeared to be trying to start a fire with, it was not likely she would survive the night if left here.

"You are Skaikru." he said, trying to get her to open her eyes.

Clarke coughed up blood and pain reignited all her senses, sending fire to the very tips of her fingers.

"Wolves..." she groaned.

"They are gone. Where are your people?" the young man asked, leaning over Clarke.

Clarke had to fight to reopen her eyes but when she did she saw a blurry figure above her. She squinted to try to get the blood out of her eyes because she couldn't lift either of her arms. Through the blurry haze she saw dark hair and whispered a name. He leaned in closer and when she saw them she managed to force one of her hands off the ground a couple inches. Green eyes. She knew those eyes.

"Lexa..." she pleaded, trying to sit up but falling back to the ground and closing her eyes once again.

"I've been called a lot of things, but never that one." He answered to the girl who laid still beneath him. "I think we should be on our way." he stated, scooping his arms under Clarke and lifting her easily from the ground.

Clarke remained unmoving for the trip and when the young man entered the very small clearing in front of his cabin he felt relief wash over him, his arms straining with Clarke remaining motionless. The girls breathing was staggered and he was forced to jog with her in his arms to get her to shelter.

He slid the latch with great difficulty and carried Clarke over to single bed in the corner. Embers remained lit in the fireplace and he quickly threw some wood on it to reignite the fire and heat up the small home.

He turned his focus on the blonde and moved over to her, stripping the torn and blood soaked garments from the girl. He had never seen anything like it. Her arms and legs were victim to countless puncture wounds and cuts from the teeth of the wolves. How she could lay there, still drawing breath after having lost so much blood amazed him, let alone the trauma she suffered.

"Yu gonplei nou ste odon" he said, placing his hand over hers, saying it confidently to provoke her spirit into fighting any chance of giving up.

He got up quickly and scooped a bucket of water from a large basin, carrying it back to the bed and placing it  floor. He next rushed to the metal chest at the end of his bed, unlocked it and flipped the lid open, he reached in and pulled out a couple bundles of cloth and a pile red seaweed-like plant, placing them on the end of the bed.

"Now we will see what we can do about all this" he sighed, taking a look at the girl. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to get rid of those to help you." referring to the clothes she wore. They were shredded to pieces and was certain she would not want them if she was by some miracle able to survive the next few days. He could find her new clothes.

Once her clothes were removed, the true extent of the damage was clear. The wolves had been at her for quite some time and this time of the year, they are more aggressive thanks to the colder weather approaching. How she was alive, was anyone's guess. He readied the poultice then wiped her skin clean of the crimson that covered almost every inch of skin she has.

After two hours of work, The young man fell back in one of his two chairs. He was exhausted but he would never complain. Not in front of someone who was in a fight for their life. She was nearly covered from head to toe in fresh cloth in order to keep each poultice in place. He would certainly need more.

"I've done what I can. It is your job to do the rest Skai-gada".  Looking at her with concerned eyes regarding her continued shallow breaths. He got up and retrieved one of the blankets he had and laid it over her body.

Having had enough excitement for one night, he flipped the latch on his door and braced it with a stout piece of timber. He grabbed another blanket and laid it on the floor a few feet from the fireplace. He threw another log on the fire to make sure the cabin stayed hot then stole a look at the at the nearly dead girl in his bed, wondering just before he fell asleep if she would be strong enough to make it through the night.

 

 

"Reshop" - Goodnight

"Ai gonplei ste odon." - My fight is over.

"Yu gonplei nou ste odon" - Your fight is not over.

"Skai-gada" - Sky-girl

Chapter Text

Titus stepped from the lift and turned in the direction of Lexa's quarters. He decided he would ask Lexa her plans and only press her for details if he believed that she was keeping him in the dark.

Unsurprisingly, the door opened and he saw Deni step through the door holding an empty tray, she slid past him, mumbling a greeting but expecting no response in return. She didn't even make eye contact. His gaze followed her down the hall to the lift where she managed to jump in before the doors closed and move downward in the direction toward the kitchen. His attention returned to the reason he was in front of Lexa's door.

"Heda."

"Come in, Titus." was the confident voice from the other side of the door.

Entering the room, Titus saw her getting prepared for the meeting with the ambassadors and how bowed his head, acknowledging her.

"The meeting isn't for another two hours Titus."

"I know. I just wish to be as prepared as possible for what to expect from the ambassadors."

Lexa had begun to walk around her room now, gathering some papers and placing them on her desk next to a small plate of dried meat. She did not pay much attention to the arrival of Titus but this was not unusual, as when Lexa was focused on a task she would always work it through to completion.

"I have no time for games. "Ron ai ridiyo op"(Speak True), Lexa sighed in irritation.

"I am wondering why Heda has summoned the ambassadors again."

"I summoned them because I wish to inform them of what my plans are in regard to Skaikru." she stated simply, continuing to move about her room, walking over to a shelf and removing small pieces of parchment and taking them to her desk.

Titus smiled. War focused the commander and he was pleased to see that her focus was on the more important affairs of her people. Lexa continued,

"I am going to invite the leaders of Skaikru to Polis." Lexa said matter-of-factly, taking a seat in her chair. Titus' eyes opened wide and his mouth fell slightly agape.

"Heda," Titus said, displeased. "Skaikru are a threat. Their ways are too different from our own. They will always been a threat."

"If they get to know our people and see our ways, we might be able to find peace, Titus."

"They have been killing out people since they arrived."

Lexa sat silently in her chair and picked up some sharpened coal. Her attention on one of the small pieces of parchment. She expected Titus to be frustrated.

"My plan is to prevent any future casualties on both sides of this conflict."

"How could inviting them here stop those in their clan who want war? They have no real leadership. Not since Klark abandoned her people."

Upon hearing that name, Lexa's head rose from her activity with the parchment.

"Skaikru value survival above all else and we would have do no different in their place. As for leadership, I believe that Marcus kom Skaikru will be the one to lead his people."

"What if Wanheda returns and seeks revenge for her people for what you did to her?" Titus questioned.

The stick of coal in her hand snapped and Titus wanted to step back as a reflex. It was his responsibility to make sure that Heda focused on her responsibilities and he was determined to make sure she saw all angles and he stood fast.

Taking a couple calming breaths, "Then I will deal with that if or when it becomes something I must."

Titus felt comfort in his chest. He could tell she had thought about the possibility and he had expected her to react much with much more anger than the snapping of her writing tool.

"Would you like me to arrange for your message to be delivered to Skaikru?"

"No. I have not finalized my decision about the message I wish to send but I will decide after I speak to the ambassadors. Thank you, Titus."

"Heda."

Lexa lifted her hand in dismissal and Titus turned and left the room after a slight bow. In her other hand, the coal she was using was now in a few pieces. She relaxed her grip and the remnants fell on to the table top.

She took the sharpest out of the pile and quickly finished her writing. Content that she was done, she rolled it up and tied a small string around it tightly to prevent it from unrolling. She reached over to the plate of dried meat and snatched the largest piece. Taking the meat and the rolled up parchment she walked out on her balcony and enjoyed the way the morning sun washed over her. She decided that barring any interruptions, she would spend the rest of the morning before her meeting in meditation out in the fresh air.

 

~~

 

"O?" Bellamy asked in a quiet and concerned voice.

"Ooooooowww..." she groaned in reply, lifting her hand to her skull which was currently throbbing in pain. She felt herself lying on a cold floor and her body ached all over. Of the group, she was the last to wake up and they had all been concerned that she was hit much harder than they were. "Bel?"

"We're all right here." he assured her.

They all watched Octavia right herself from the laying position she was in moments ago and pressed her palm over her eye in reflex to the pain. That is when she noticed the chain attached to her wrist.

"What. Where are we?" She whispered.

"We are in Tondc." Lincoln offered. "The scouts brought us here."

"What do they want?"

"We don't know. We haven't talked to anyone since we woke up in here." Bellamy stated.

Yanking on the chain attached to her wrist she quipped, "I guess we aren't guests."

Through the bars, they listened as a new voice entered the conversation. All their eyes watched a familiar face walk from one side of their barred cell to the door, accompanied by two large guards.

"You all should be dead, Octavia kom Skaikru. If not for the Commander's protection you would have been killed in the forest before you knew you were being watched." It was not lost on Lincoln that she had been staring at him during the entirety of her comment.

"Indra, please." Octavia pleaded.

"Shof op." Indra glared at the young girl, forcing her to choke on her plea. "As for you, natrona?" her glare turning into a smirk as she looked at Lincoln, "You should not have led these people into our forest. The commander made clear what was to happen to you should you return."

Lincoln looked at Octavia who was now looking back and forth between her former Fos and her love.

Indra looked to the guards that had accompanied her and waved her hand in Lincolns direction. "Sis em op."(Take him).  

"Indra!" Octavia shouted, but it fell on deaf ears. "Please..."

The two guards moved to Lincoln and one stuck him in the jaw with his fist. Lincoln did not fall which drew a grunt from the guard who threw two more punches which forced Lincoln to the stone floor with a grunt. Octavia could see blood beginning to pool where his head lay on the ground and it drew a helpless whimper from her.

The second guard had released the lock from the wall and wrapped Lincoln's chain around his forearm.  After being sure there would be no resistance from Lincoln, the guard who inflicted the damage to Lincoln's face yanked him off the ground and dragged him out of the cell.

Bellamy and Monty had been silent the entire time and after Indra left with the guards and Lincoln in tow, they glanced at Octavia who stared at the door to the room with an angry glare.

"The commander doesn't want us dead?" Monty asked.

"Maybe they want to ransom us." Bellamy suggested.

"We have to get out of here and save Lincoln." Octavia stated. It wasn't a suggestion.

Bellamy lifted his arm with the chain attached. "How are we going to get out of here, O?"

"We break our way out. She said it. They won't kill us because Lexa won't let them." Octavia rose to her feet but staggered slightly when her head began to spin.

"You need to rest, O." Bellamy declared but he could see his suggestion would do no good.  Octavia had begun to inspect the chain that was attached to the wall.

"I'll rest when Lincoln is back safe at Camp Jaha." she replied.

Monty coughed, "Maybe this will help?"

The Blake siblings both turned to look at Monty who had a smile on his face as he slid a small knife down his sleeve and caught it in his hand. Octavia sighed.

"They weren't as thorough as they could have been." he smiled and threw the blade in Octavia's direction.

"That's great, but even if we get out of here, where are we going to go and how long do you think it would be before their scouts find us again? We can't make it back to Camp Jaha before they would find us and you heard Indra. They can't kill us." Octavia leaned back against the wall behind her.

"Besides I'm not leaving here without Lincoln," her attention turned to the Indra walked through and she began to yell, "And if they kill Lincoln, they are going to have to kill me! You hear me? You'll have to kill me!"

 

~~~

 

"Gyon op gon Heda!"(Rise for your Commander!) Titus called out from his place next to the Lexa's throne which signalled for all of the people in the room to stand. As they rose, they turned their heads in the direction of the large wooden doors that swung upon She chose not to wear her armour or her paint but kept one of her swords on her hip and her favourite wooden-handled dagger on the other.

Lexa walked straight forward in her room exuding greater confidence with each step she took forward, staring at her throne ahead of her and not at the people in the room who stared at her as she walked in. Steps up the dais and moving in front of her throne she turned and nodded at the ambassadors, taking her seat in the ornate wooden chair.

"Beja, set Daun."(Please, sit down.) Titus spoke again.

Lexa took a moment for them all to take their seats and after they appeared comfortable, she addressed them.  "Ambassadors, I thank you for joining me on such short notice." Their eyes all lifting to the thrones owner.

 "As you know, Maun-de has fallen and Skaikru has returned to their camp. I've brought you all here to inform you of my plan for their people."

Lexa heard some whispers but allowed a moment for them to end.

"With their medical technology and knowing they have worked to help save our people from being Reapers, I believe they would further be useful as allies for all clans. I need not remind everyone that they were able to destroy our greatest enemy."

The Sankru member stood and Lexa nodded at him to speak.

"The people within Maun-de may be dead, but their technology must not have been destroyed. With Skaikru being more like maunon than us, do they not threaten us with the possibility of taking it over?"

Lexa saw a chorus of nods from other ambassadors and smiled.

"I will be inviting the leaders of Skaikru to Polis to discuss terms for another alliance. Each of you will have an opportunity to speak to them and address your concerns."

Seeing Tenin kom Sankru still standing, she questioned asked, "You have more concerns?"

"Many of us..." Tenin looked around at the other ambassadors then back to Lexa, "...have a hard time believing that, Wanheda, wishes to renegotiate for peace so quickly after what happened at Maun-de."

Lexa leaned her elbow on the arm of the throne, and rested her chin on her hand. "You have a question to be answered or do you just want to hear yourself speak, Ambassador?" she asked impatiently.

"What we are all likely wondering is if Skaikru declares war upon our people, who is to stop them from entering Maun-de and resuming the activities of Maunon?"

"This is precisely the reason I wish to invite their leaders here to Polis and  discuss a peace between our people. I'm aware that Skaikru is a dangerous enemy, and I am sure they would make far better allies than they would enemies." she replied but noticed he had not taken his seat but not resumed speaking.

"I will assume with your declaration that you have in mind the concerns of your fellow Ambassadors, that you have more to say?" Lexa lifted her head from her hand, crossed her legs and leaned back in her chair.

Tenin seemed a little hesitant but he had to finish what he started. "As a condition of your negotiation with them, they must agree to never take possession of Maun-de."

Lexa's eyebrows raised and her head tilted slightly.

Titus spoke authoritatively, "You do NOT dictate to Heda terms and conditions of treaties that..."

Raising her hand informing Titus to stop speaking, Lexa grins at Tenin and rises from her throne, her hand tapping the hilt of her sword. She wanders down the dais and moves slowly forward as if pondering his words carefully. Tap. Tenin uncomfortably sat back down unable to even blink as his eyes fell to her finger on her sword. Tap.

"I thank the ambassador of Sankru for his suggestion. When my invitation arrives at the Skaikru camp it will include the condition for peace will be dependent on their guarantee they will not seek to reside in Maun-de, nor attempt to take weapons from it."

"We. We only ask it be considered, Heda." he stammered, turning his gaze to Titus and continuing "I meant no offence." He bowed his head and remained that way.

Lexa spoke again. "They will be invited to arrive in one weeks time. If you have further concerns, feel free to bring them to my attention. I am willing to hear concerns and take them under advisement when discussing the terms with Skaikru."

One of the two large doors into the room opened and a messenger slid in and stood waiting without a sound. Lexa looked back at Titus with a questioning look but was met with an unknowing response.

Having played with an ambassador and informing them of her intentions, she turned back to them all and brought the meeting to a close. "Unless urgency requires it, I will see you all here in one weeks time."

She approached the young man and he raised his hand to give her the letter.

"From Tondc, Heda." he stated.

"Mochof." she said, and dismissed him.

Looking at the letter, she decided to take it somewhere a little less public and dismissed the messenger from the throne room. After a small nod, the messenger disappeared back through the door.

The sound of the ambassadors and their attendants voices began to fill the room. She had no interest in remaining in the room any longer as new concerns had been presented to her in the form of a letter. Lexa scanned the room for Titus and noticed he was held up by some ambassadors and seemed to be hearing their concerns. She decided she would speak to him later and leaned forward, speaking to a guard.

"Inform Titus I wish to discuss matters with him this evening. He may come to my quarters after he has eaten his dinner."

"Sha, Heda." the guard nodded and moved in Titus' direction informing him of Lexa's order. He glanced to where she stood moments then around the room but could see Lexa was no longer in the room.

"Titus, as I was saying..." the ambassador of Delfikru continued.

 

~~~

Lexa entered her room with the letter in her hand and walked straight over to the couch, twisting as she got to the edge and falling back on the comfortable cushions.

She was happy with how the meeting with the ambassadors went and nothing surprised her, though the outburst by the member of Sankru would not be permitted again. Titus will likely discuss the matter with the ambassador personally, allowing Lexa to occupy her time with more important issues.

Opening the letter, she began to read Indra's hand writing.

Heda. I am informing you that Klark kom Skaikru has evaded her scouts. Reko sustained injuries in his pursuit of Klark and Koma was force to bring his Seken to Tondc for a healer. He has returned to try to track her but believes she has learned how to hide her tracks well enough that she will likely not be followed.

I have sent trackers in many directions and they will find her.

'So Klark evaded her trackers. Impressive, Klark.' she thought to herself.

A small smile rolled across her lips thinking about how Klark had somehow eluded a Fos and his Seken. She taught Klark how to move in the forest so she could better conceal herself from being tracked. She was inwardly proud of how quickly the blonde picked up the skill she showed her. Especially seeing as how she could evade seasoned trackers.

Lexa's pride melted away when it morphed into concern. Especially when her imagination thought of Klark in the forest by herself. She may be capable enough to elude some trackers, but she had never spent time in the forest alone and the longer she remains there, the greater danger she puts herself in. She would have to order more trackers into the Trikru forests to find Klark.

Our scouting parties have found a Skaikru group near a small river and they have been brought to Tondc for questing. Among the group is Linkon. The Skaikru will remain our prisoners until you send word regarding what we are to do with them. The natrona will be executed in a day's time for his aiding of Skaikru through our lands.

- Indra

Lexa sat up on the couch and she dropped the letter. If they harmed or injured the Skaikru prisoners, the likelihood of peace with Skaikru drastically decreased. Having Linkon executed would likely lead to further conflict. Dropping her face into her hands, she tried to hide her frustration. "Why must everything be so difficult?" she sighed into her palms trying to decide what to do until a voice broke the silence.

"Heda".

"Titus." Lexa said, lifting her head rising from her couch as he entered the room.

"You wished to see me?" he asked.

"I had planned on your visit coming later, but now is as good a time as any. Tell the stables to prepare horses. We are going to Tondc."

"Heda?"

"Yes, I am. Now go and prepare. I imagine three, possibly four days will be a suitable amount of time for the trip." Lexa had been moving around the room sorting things and throwing them into bags.

Titus watched her in the flurry of movement and had no idea what was going on.

"We are leaving in thirty minutes Titus." Lexa stopped and addressed him. "We are going to Tondc, and then you are going to the Skaikru camp. Prepare your things. I will tell you what needs to be done when we reach Tondc."

Titus was completely unaware of what was happening but he was certain it had something to do with the letter than sat on the floor next to the couch Lexa was seated in moments ago. Before she had the change to raise her voice, Titus turned and left her room. As he made his way to his quarters he told a messenger to prepare horses for the journey to Tondc.

Titus found himself both confused and frustrated while he packed his belongings for the journey. Confusion in what was happening in Tondc that required Heda's personal attention and frustration in why he was going to go to the Skaikru camp. He did not trust them and would be happy had they all been killed the day they landed in their metal ship.

Moments after they had all mounted their horses, Lexa ordered them off and kept a stiff pace through the entirety of their ride. She rode with purpose and Titus wished he knew the reason for such a pace. He knew better than to try to ask, his only focus to keep up which was difficult. Lexa rode the horse as though it were the wind itself.

Chapter Text

The ground was a littered landscape of yellow and red leaves that were fresh from falling off the forest that surrounded her. The ground was uneven but she urged her horse forward at a breakneck speed, it's hooves keeping a  of the horse that carried Lexa toward Tondc. Her memory knew each and every root that reached from the dirt which allowed her to keep herself at her pace and avoid any unwanted entanglements.

Periodically she glanced behind herself and while her guards were able to keep a somewhat steady pace with her, Titus struggled to keep up and had fallen back. His duties in Polis as Flamekeeper kept him busy and she was certain he was not accustomed to riding at such a sustained pace.

She used this time of her ride to Tondc to make some decisions about what message she would send with Titus after she sent him to offer her invitation to Polis. She was certain Titus would deliver her message but  nothing more.

Lexa needed them to understand she was genuinely interested in peace and although Indra and Marcus seemed to have developed respect for one another, it was Abby that was her concern. Abby would be the key to peace but it would be very difficult to convince her with either Titus or Indra that she wanted peace.

If she wanted her words to have weight, it couldn't come from anyone else. It would have to come from her.  She was going to Camp Jaha.

Quickly, Lexa ducked her head under a low hanging branch and glanced back to see her guards expertly follow her action. Titus managed as well, but with much less precision. Lexa grinned and focused her eyes back to the path ahead. She was enjoying this ride and as she felt the wind in her hair, she felt free in the moment and cleared her mind of the business that awaited her in Tondc.

She looked up through the half-filled trees and the amber sky above  was signalling the coming end to another day and her mind wandered as it often did when she looked out over Polis from her balcony. 'I wonder if Klark is looking at the same sky?' she wondered.

Lexa hoped that Clarke was safe. The woods can be dangerous this time of year and she frowned at the knowledge that her being out there, alone, was as a result of her actions. If anything happened to Clarke, she wasn't sure what she would do if she never got to look into what she knew to be perfect blue eyes that could pierce her soul in ways that Costia never could.

Lexa could feel the surge of emotion build in her chest. She had built a wall around her heart for the memory that was Costia, swearing to heed Titus' teachings that "Love is weakness" and never allow it to rule her again. He was never more proud of his star pupil when she swore to make her Kongeda her only focus, swearing off any other interests that did not pertain to those of her people.

At the time, she meant it.

That was before the arrival of the blonde-haired Skaikru girl with the piercingly blue eyes that refused to remain behind the walls she tried to build around her heart, breaking them down moments after she erected them. Lexa smiled, knowing that Clarke was unaware of how much of her she possessed in such a small amount of time and it still caused concern for Lexa.

It was easy for her to get swept up in Clarke's passion. She was so certain. So strong and the way Lexa always felt around her seemed to temper the conflict within her heart. What gave her the ambition to confess her feelings in her tent the day she confessed she wanted Clarke was the promise of what they could have. Lexa wanted Klark consume her with that passion.

 Lexa's horse turned left and followed the path, almost throwing Lexa from her saddle as her daydream had taken hold of her. Her guards called out at her but she composed herself quickly and waved off their concern, digging in harder and pushing them all to ride faster the rest of the way.

Lexa wasn't aware, but the sun had almost completely set and stars had begun to make their appearance in the sky above. Clarke had that way with her, taking over of her thoughts until she felt herself losing control and forcing herself to pull back from the precipice that was surrendering completely.

Lexa frowned at herself. If she didn't focus, she might not even make it to Tondc in one piece. She had to stop thinking about Klark, but no matter what she tried, the Skai-gada was with her, for better or worse. When she thought about the last time she saw Clarke, she hoped it wouldn't be the latter. She just wasn't sure how to make that happen.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Lincoln stood as straight as he could, his tired and battered body was littered with bruises . He remembers being dragged from the cell in front of his friends and Octavia, but the time between being hit by the men Indra ordered to take him from the cell and his wrists bound above his head to the large wooden pole was missing.

He glanced around the village and was met with varied looks from onlookers. Some were of hatred from people who believed he was the traitor who aided in the death of Anya and 300 of their brothers and sisters. The others of were of  concern for the man they had come to know as a caring friend and fellow Trikru warrior, unwilling to believe the lies suggested by his accusers. It did not matter what any of them believed as their Heda had declared him Natrona.

Fires had been lit to illuminate the area around Lincoln, giving him a menacing look which was only accentuated by his tattoos and defiant glare. He hadn't spoken a word since he woke up, only observed those around him. Numbers had begun to grow in the vicinity and he knew what was coming. He tilted his chin upward and took in a deep breath as murmurs began to spill from the onlookers.

"Traitor."

"Natrona."

"Betrayer."

He understood the silence from those who he knew believed he was innocent of what he had been accused of. Had they voiced support for him, they would likely be the subject of similar words and actions for supporting his actions.

Closing his eyes, he could see a dark haired, green eyed girl staring back at him. She showed no fear when she walked from that metal drop ship that came crashing down to the Earth. He didn't know her story, he only saw a fearless girl who demanded respect from Trikru warriors when she fearlessly brought Nyko before Indra and demanded he be released.

The thought that she would be in a cell while he would receive his punishment for  aiding Skaikru evade Trikru scouts filled him with sorrow. He wished for one more moment of their lips touching, her hands running over his chest, pressing her body against his with a want he had never known until this girl, a want that could only be matched by his own for her.

His fantasy was interrupted by the sound of boots walking toward him with purpose. He opened his eyes and saw Indra walking with intent toward him, flanked by two of her warriors.

"I'm awed someone as weak as you would be awake, natrona." Indra spat out the words and winced in disgust as she looked at him.

Lincoln remained standing and kept his gaze on Indra, remaining quiet as she spoke.

"Linkon, natrona!" Indra declared loudly so that the those who gathered could hear her proclamation. "You are guilty of aiding an enemy of Trikru and being complicit in the death of 300 of those who were once your people."

The words hit him almost as hard as the physical punches from the guards earlier in the day. He felt remorse for what happened to his people, but they refused to even contemplate the possibility that the flares which burned one of their villages could have been an accident. He was one of the few who believed that the flares fired from the strangers were not meant as an attack but that didn't matter anymore. Not as he waited for his punishment for his actions from that day and beyond.

"Tomorrow at sunrise you will face the consequences for betraying your people and pay the blood debt you owe to all Trikru!" Indra always glared daggers but he was certain that the glare she offered now would bring out the fear of a Pauna. "Your death will serve as an example to those who willingly turn on their own and refuse to respect the generosity of the Commander."

He could see her hand on the hilt of her sword, her knuckles white with rage from the pressure she squeezed onto it. She wanted nothing more than to plunge her sword into his chest now and be done with the entire affair but there were protocols. Her rage was only tempered by laws created by the Heda herself.

Indra walked forward, not removing her stare from his eyes. Not even to blink. She leaned in and with a scowl on her face whispered, "She will know you died with honour."

Lincoln's expression changed for the first time and it turned into one of shock then immediately into sadness. His eyes no longer looked into Indra's, instead they fell to the ground as his head fell forward.

Lincoln had seen a future with Octavia. She was the first who had ever been able to draw that vision from his heart and it fed his mind with possibilities of what that future could contain. Octavia would always have a warriors heart, but that had become her way of trying to find her own path.

He knew Octavia was so, so much more.

Lifting his head he looked back at Indra and nodded, his vision moved in the direction of where he knew Octavia was being held.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Inside their cell, Bellamy, Octavia and Monty could only partially hear Indra through the barred windows that faced the center of town due to the jeers that accompanied her words.

"...blood debt,"  Octavia winced, understanding what was to come. "...your death," Octavia forcefully squeezed her eyes closed, feeling a knot forming in her chest and futilely attempted to fight back the tears that now ran down her cheeks.

"O. We'll find a way out of this." Bellamy suggested weakly. We haven't made radio contact with Raven so they know by now something has happened. They will come for us. At the very least we need to get word to them."

"Yeah? And how do you suggest we do that, Bell?" Her sadness was quickly replaced by anger, an anger she aimed at Bellamy with her words. "We use Monty's little knife? Then what? You run out and save Lincoln? You get us all out of here with hundreds of Trikru to chase after us? Tell me, Bellamy, How do we save everyone?"

Bellamy didn't reply, he just looked at his little sister, sitting with her arms wrapped around her legs and her face pressed into knees. He knew he had to do something but he couldn't figure out what.

"Give me the knife." Bellamy said, looking at Monty.

"You know this won't do much." Monty replied, throwing the small blade over at Bellamy's feet so he could drag it back to himself.

"It could get us out of here, maybe cause a distraction." Bellamy suggested, trying to rally courage from his fellow prisoners.

"Octavia knows these people better than we do. If she thinks we don't stand a chance, she is probably right. I don't want to end up with the same..." Monty gulped down his words and looked at Octavia apologetically.

"Look." Bellamy stated. "They were told not to kill us by the Commander herself, so that means if we can get away, we can at least try to get back home. We just have to get horses or move quickly."

"If we kill one of them trying to get away, we are as good as dead." Octavia mumbled. She decided to take what solace she could from Indra's speech to suggest Lincoln still had a chance to survive this for at least the next ten hours. "As for horses? You've never ridden one. You and Monty would be caught before you could figure out how to get up in the saddle."

"I'm the only one trying to come up with something to save your grounder boyfriend." Bellamy said, upset that the two in the room seemed to have given up without trying.

Octavia slowly raised her head and her red-rimmed eyes were filled with loathing. "Maybe if Clarke was here she could pull our assed out of another fire. Oh wait, you let her just fucking walk away and get us in this mess in the first place. Now she is going to get Lincoln killed!"

"That isn't fair, O."

"I was there. I was there JUST like you were."

"Not like I was." Bellamy closed his eyes and took a shaky breath in. "Not like she was."

Bellamy turned his face from Monty and Octavia. He tried to steady his breathing and fought to keep the memory that haunted him  away.

His memory of her holding the gun, pointing it at Dante Wallace and the pained look on her face as her eyes filled with tears. Something changed in that moment with Clarke when she pulled that trigger. Her face became resolute and something took over the girl they all knew.

He may have helped her pull the lever that killed the residents of Mount Weather, but he believed he was the one who  let her sacrifice what was left of herself in that moment. She understood better than he did what needed to be done and he let her carry that weight and by the time he was able to help her, it was too late.

The group of Skaikru  didn't speak another word for the next couple hours and nightfall had clearly settled on Tondc. They all shivered due to the cold air that rolled in through broken windows and settled on the ground around them and into their bones.

None of them spoke after their verbal altercation earlier, and Bellamy realized using the small knife to try to gain freedom was a truly futile endeavour as Octavia reasoned when Monty first informed them of the blade.

Monty perked up from his spot on the floor and strained to hear something he thought he heard through the broken window above him. In moments, the silent night was interrupted with the sound of horses and people talking in low tones.

"Do you hear that?" Monty asked.

"Hear what?" Bellamy started but was quickly shushed by Octavia.

"There is someone outside." Monty whispered.

"Probably just a guard change" Octavia suggested, placing her head on her hands like a pillow and shifting to get comfortable as she lay on her side.

"Skaikru?" Bellamy hoped aloud, sitting up.

"They are speaking grounder. I don't understand. The horses have stopped, though. I think they are all on the ground now." Monty said. He was closest to the window where the voices were coming from. He glanced at Octavia and wished he could trade places.

In moments, keys could be heard and the door slowly opened. A hooded figure walked into the room and glanced at the three who were staring straight at the visitor. Everyone took in a slight breath when the figure pulled back her hood and the Commander of the twelve clans was looking at them and appeared to be deciding what to do with them.

"Breik eim ou."(Release them). Lexa ordered the guard who stood at the door.

"Sha, Heda." he nodded, then proceeded to unlock and open the large metal door. He entered and shot a glare at each of the Skaikru prisoners to make them aware he was ready to incapacitate them if they tried anything while he unlocked the braces on each of their wrists.

For a moment, they all simply watched each other but it was Lexa that broke the silence.

"Are there more Skaikru in my forests?"

"We wouldn't tell you if there were." Bellamy challenged.

"It would make things easier if you told me.  It could prevent more of your people from ending up in a cell like this. Or worse." she suggested.

"Where is Lincoln?" Octavia demanded of her.

"Linkon is being taken care of." Lexa answered, but gave very few details which only stoked the fire in Octavia.

"If anything happens to Lincoln, I swear..."

"Let me save you from yourself, Oktavia kom Skaikru. You are alive now because of my order and if you finish that thought aloud, the law states that a threat to kill a Commander is subject to the penalty of death."

Octavia scowled at Lexa but didn't finish her threat.

"It is unfortunate you felt the need to sneak through the forests. I assume you were out in search of Klark?"

"We wouldn't have had to if you didn't abandon her and all our people at Mount Weather." Bellamy said with bite in his tone.

"It helps no one to dwell on the past, and that's not why I am here. You are all being released to go back to your people. You may leave tonight but I suggest leaving tomorrow and you will be given horses to ride as well as a place to sleep that offers much more comfort than a prison cell floor."

"Can we get some food?" Monty asked in an almost whisper which caused Lexa to have to fight back a small smile.

"You will be given food and new clothes if you wish it." Lexa confirmed "Everything you were found with at the river except for your weapons are awaiting you in a house you can get rest in before the morning."

She looked directly at Bellamy and stated "You may keep your knife if you feel more comfortable with it but I warn you that my protection can't save you if you choose to use it."

Lexa turned and walked over to the guard who freed the three and instructed him to take them to the house that had been prepared for them. He bowed and instructed the three to follow him.

Octavia was the first out of the make-shift prison and she looked at the spot where Lincoln had been chained to. She was met with conflicting emotions. The first wanted to drop her to her knees and release a torrent of tears in fear she would never hold him in her arms again. The other was that Lincoln was waiting for them in the house they were being escorted to and she could wrap her arms around her and feel the security of his around her.

Lexa watched Octavia with understanding.

"Linkon is with a fisa." she said, watching relief take over Octavia's expression. "Once he is able, he will join you." Lexa said to Octavia.

"I want to see him." Octavia stated.

"He said the same about you. I am sure he will not be long and you can enjoy a dinner together."

Both Monty and Bellamy looked curiously at Lexa. They have gone from prisoners to guests in mere moments and were being set free. Even Lincoln was a recipient of her generosity.

"Why are you letting us go?" Bellamy asked.

Lexa didn't answer his question which frustrated him, but he was certain she would want something for her troubles. For the Commander to travel to Tondc and deal with the matter herself? Bellamy couldn't reason why but it didn't stop his mind from trying to work it out.

They left Lexa to follow the guard who was charged with taking them to their quarters. He opened the door to a small home and they walked in.

Octavia shrieked with worry and excitement as her eyes found the only thing she hoped to see. Rushing to stand beside Lincoln who laid on one of the beds, he smiling through the bruises and cuts on his face. She wanted to press her lips to his but decided against it. She put her hand in his and squeezed lightly letting him know they are going to be ok.

Monty and Bellamy saw all their possessions on the single table in the room along with various dried meats, bread, and jugs that they quickly discovered contained water after quickly filling cups and consuming them.

Monty cleared his throat while he looked at Bellamy. He then glanced at Octavia.

Bellamy smiled at him with a knowing nod, then glanced at Octavia himself. She had run directly to Lincoln, ignoring the food and the drink on the table. It was clear she cared for him and although he didn't trust any grounder, Lincoln gained some respect from Bellamy on this day. He had no idea the risk he was willing to take in helping them find Clarke.

He filled up a glass with water, he carried it over to Octavia.

"Drink, O." he said.

She looked up and nodded at him as she took the cup, then a few sips. "Thanks."

It was clear her focus wasn't on her own wellbeing. Bellamy walked back over to the table and grabbed a chair for her to sit in, rather than stand next to Lincoln. He then put some of the meat in a bowl and placed it on the table next to her. As he did, he noticed the cup he filled for her was empty and he filled it after grabbing the pitcher. He smiled when he realized the familiar feeling of taking care of his sister.

"Hey, guys?" Monty asked, trying to get their attention. Bellamy turned in his direction and Octavia did after a second more. "Should we let them know what is going on?"

Bellamy walked over and reached his hand out for the radio. After clicking the power on, he pressed and held the talk button.

"This is Bellamy. Raven, are you there?"

After a moment of silence, there was some static and a voice came back over the handset.

"Jesus, Bellamy. Where have you guys been? Is everything all right?"

It was Raven's voice over the radio and there was definite concern behind her words.

"We're ok. We ran into some trouble but are safe for the moment."

"For the moment? What the hell does that mean?"

"It means we are not in any danger right now. Are Abby and Marcus there?"

"No, but I will go get them. They are going to be pissed you guys haven't been using the radio."

"I'm using it now, Rae."

"I gave you the radios to keep in contact. Not to use when you felt it was convenient. What happened to you guys?"

"Rae. Abby and Kane?"

"Fine. Give me a couple minutes. I will radio when we are all here."

Monty was moving things around on the table and seemed to be looking for something.

"Everything there?" Bellamy asked as he picked up another piece of meat and popped it in his mouth and took a seat waiting to hear back from Raven.

"Everything but our second radio." he replied.

"Maybe it got broken at the river and they just left it there." Bellamy suggested.

They both shrugged and went on eating the food sitting on the table as they waited.

"Bellamy?" a voice came through the handset. It was Abby.

"I'm here."

"What happened to all of you?" she asked.

Bellamy looked at everyone in the room and took a deep breath before explaining to Abby what had happened to them after leaving Camp Jaha.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

In her residence across Tondc, Lexa sat in her chair with the other small radio handset on the table in front of her. She had listened to Bellamy tell his story to Abby and was impressed with how far they had gotten before being caught. She was less than pleased on their treatment but Indra had sworn that she had not treated them harshly.  Though, for Indra she understood that could mean simply more bruises than cuts.

Lexa switched the power off on the radio. Her interest  had been peaked with the knowledge that Lincoln had a way to track Clarke. She stood up from her chair she was sitting in and walked over to her bed to sleep for the night. As she crawled under the furs on her bed, the seed of a plan began to sprout in her mind. She yawned and stretched beneath her furs, tired from her ride to Tondc and fell asleep deciding her course of action in the morning before she left to the Skaikru camp.

Chapter Text

She felt herself squeezing her eyes tightly together and trying to anchor her attention to the world around her, pulling herself from the blackness of sleep. Inside her head she became acutely aware feel  a rhythmic throbbing which matched the similar chorus throughout her body.  At least I am not dead", she joked to herself.

After a few minutes of trying to convince her mind that the pain was manageable that she realized the comfort of the bed she was occupying. She was no longer outside, but she had no idea how she managed to make her way into such a comfortable place. Clarke began to retrace what had happened and after a moment her eyes shot wide in panic.

It was almost as if she could still feel the wolves eyes on her and the accompanying understanding that she was their prey.

Clarke tried to sit up and though her mind was willing, but her body met the attempt with resistance, only permitting her to lift her head with a stiff grunt from the exertion. Her reward for the effort was a renewed feeling of intense pain, stabbing up the right side of her body from her toes all the way to the tips of her hair. She wasn't sure how that was possible, but Clarke understood that the ground was full of surprises - both kinds.

Her head fell back on the pillow beneath her and she closed her eyes again. This time it was half in frustration and the other half in trying to block out the pain as she did moments ago. This time she tried to focus on things that were around her.

She took in a deep breath and the first thing she focused on was the smell in the room. The smell of a fire that was crackling away in the building she was in. The occasional pop from the wood and how warm it was suggested that wood had been placed in the fire recently. Clarke deduced someone was here, or had been here recently. Likely it was the person who saved her from what she had gotten herself into.

There was another smell that caught her attention. It was some type of stew that tickled her taste buds. When she came to that realization, her mouth watered and she unknowingly licked her parched lips with curiosity as to how it would taste. Clarke had been rationing her food and with the exertion  of hiking for nearly two days, she was quickly understanding how famished she had become.

Clarke opened her eyes once more and rather than stand, she decided to turn her head slowly. At first, she felt stiffness in the joint, but no real pain other than the headache that reminded her in thumping intervals that it wasn't going anywhere.

The room wasn't brightly illuminated as the fire from the fireplace across the room was the only source of light. Clarke decided she liked it this way, not because the bright light would likely cause her head to throb to a greater degree, but it made the space feel warmer. After her eyes adjusted to the low level of light, she began to let them roam throughout the space as best she could from her laying position.

The first thing she realized is that it wasn't a very big house. She could see there was a small kitchen to the left of the fireplace that had a counter with various sized containers upon it. Some had lids, others seemed to have cutlery or other utensils related to cooking or eating.  Not far from it sat a table with two chairs pushed beneath it.

What interested Clarke more was her bag that sat on top of the table along with what seemed to be all the items she had packed from the drop ship spread out around it. Her heart rate heightened when she tried to see her gun but she couldn't see the silver of the gun from her line of sight.

What fascinated her above all else was the wood frame and how almost every inch of the supporting frame had scrollwork etched in it. From what she could make out, It seemed like vines and flowers were running the length of the solid wood beams throughout the  entire cabin.

Clarke realized everything about this place was perfect. The soft light from the heath that gently lit the small space, the now distracting smell of the food which she did notice hanging near the fire, close enough to keep it warm but far enough to prevent it from burning(yet too far away from where she was for her liking), and the warm bed she currently resided in all combined to give her a sense of comfort she hadn't known in a very, very long time.

It wasn't long after Clarke awoke that the door to the cabin clicked and a lever shifted to unlock the door. As he walked into his cabin the man's eyes immediately glanced over the bundle of cut lumber in his arms, to look at the stranger that was laying in his bed, unmoving as she was when he left earlier.

He watched the rise and fall of the furs on her chest and felt comfort in knowing that she was doing well despite her condition. Her strong breathing was a good sign she was going to survive the injuries. Perhaps then he could find out what brought a single Skaikru girl into the woods by herself at night.

As he placed the wood on the ground next to the door, he turned to see Clarke stir in the bed. Stir referring to being able to turn her head slightly and look at the person making noise at the door. He could see panic registering in her crystal blue eyes. He chose to stand up and turn so she could have a look at him.

"You are awake." he stated, smiling at her condition.

As Clarke watched him, she tried to ascertain whether or not he was a danger. He had saved her life, but she knew nothing of him and her faith in the charity and honour of grounders was fractured to say the least.

He stood roughly six feet tall with dark brown hair that fell to his shoulders. It appeared he had a solid frame to Clarke, strong but not overpoweringly so. He was a young man, a little older but not by much she believed. His jaw-line was sharp, making the slight smirk he wore startlingly disarming to Clarke.

What held her attention most were the two green orbs that looks back into blue. She thought of Lexa, causing her to bite down in anger and her hands curling into fists under the furs. If she could, she would get up from the bed and walk out.

The young man cleared his throat causing Clarke to relax slightly and brought her back to the present.

"You've been sleeping for some time." He said. "I had to give you something for the pain."

"Thank... thank-you." Clarke croaked. Her throat was raw and it pained her to speak.

The man smiled and Clarke watched him make his way over to the kitchen and retrieve a cup. He filled it with water from a pitcher and looked at her for permission to approach her. Clarke nodded which gave cause for a smile on her host.

"I'm going to try to help you sit up." he stated quietly with a hit of an apology mixed in. "This might hurt."

"Ok" was all Clarke could say, awaiting the coming pain she knew would fill her body.

She felt his arm slide under her back beneath the furs and slowly and excruciatingly helped her sit upright and slide back against the headboard of the bed. After making sure she could sit up under her own power, she accepted the cup of water and sipped at it.

"What happened to... there were wolves." Clarke asked, he voice was shaking as she remembered.

He nodded at her.

 "There were. They had managed to get you pinned down. You killed one, and I was lucky enough to hear the commotion from where I was. I managed to get rid of the others and hurried you here to try to stop your wounds from bleeding further. You've been asleep for nearly three days now."

"Three days?" Clarke's face gave clear indication of shock. "I can't stay here. I have to go."

"I think your body disagrees. You are recovering, but both your knee and ankle were swollen when I brought you back and any time I tried to touch the wound to clean it while you were awake, you threatened to, I believe the words were 'float me'. "

Clark groaned. It certainly sounded like something she would say. She glanced at her fur covering her leg and pulled it to the side with her usable arm. There were some bandages covering her  as well as new clothing that the man had apparently changed her into. She had to fight to stop the spread of red colour from taking over her cheeks.  When she couldn't reach the bandages to remove them so she looked at the young man before her.

"Could you?" she asked, slightly embarrassment.

He reached down and removed the bandages from her injured knee and ankle with very steady and delicate hands and when Clarke saw the various bruises and puncture wounds, she understood why it hurt so much.

Her knee was not as swollen as she thought it would be which was a relief, but the amount of bruising told her to be careful trying to put any weight on it. It would take time but she believed it would heal. Her ankle was another story. She remembered twisting it before she fell to the ground, then the horrifying feeling of teeth biting into the sinew in her ankle. At minimum it was broken, at worst she needed surgery to repair the damage that  had been done to set the bone properly. The puncture wounds which littered her foot, the similar ones on her leg and on her arms were red but the man had done good work in preventing infection. She could see similar wounds on her shoulder and right arm. Clarke was feeling very thankful he arrived when he did.

He replaced the bandages that he took off with clean ones and once he and Clarke were both satisfied with how they looked, Clarke let all her weight lean back into the headboard again and sighed in frustration. After placing a small wooden table over her lap, he walked toward his small kitchen and said, "I'll make you some tea which will help you relax. In the mean time, I think you should try some of my stew."

He filled a bowl and returned to her side after a minute and placed the bowl on the small table. He handed her a spoon and for a moment, all she did was stare into the stew.

"I'd be dead if you didn't find me."

"Probably," he stated. "But many others would have given themselves to death long before I happened upon you."

Clarke didn't have the heart to tell him she had given up. She did let go and try escape. She wanted to be free from everything.

After a short time, her stomach growled in impatience at the stew that remained untouched in front of her. She dipped the spoon to taste it and before she knew it, the bowl was empty and she was licking the gravy off the spoon.

As she ate, her new friend had set a pot of water above a small stove, got himself a bowl of stew and sat down at the table so he could face the blonde stranger. He was happy she devoured the contents of the bowl he had just given her. She would regain her strength quickly with an appetite like that. All Clarke could think was she couldn't remember the last time she tasted food so good. It was even better than she imagination led her to believe.

"You know, there is more stew." he jokingly pointing to the pot that hung next to the fireplace. "You might try to chew next time."

"I'll be back to eating those in no time..." Clarke joked, her eyes looking at the silver-packaged ration packets that sat on the table next to her pack. "...so I will enjoy as much of this as I can."

He appreciated her compliment but wore a puzzled look on his face. "Those are food?"

"They taste, well, they don't really taste like anything but they have everything the body needs."

"How good food tastes is just as much a requirement as its quality."

Clarke laughed aloud, causing her chest to rise and fall a little too quickly, sending sharp pain through some of the wounds in her shoulder and arm. After a moment of calming herself her laughter turned to chuckling and a slight shake of her head. Her host watched her with curiosity while he retrieved her bowl to get the hungry girl more. Her eyes thanked him for the food as well as the moment of levity.

"You aren't the first person I've met who has said that." Clarke sighed and tilted her head back on the wood behind it. As quickly as the moment of light-hearted joking lifted her mood, it dissipated just as fast.

"Then that person clearly has their head on right" he smiled, taking her bowl from the table in front of her and walking back over to the pot with the stew.

"I wouldn't say that." Clarke said in an almost whisper.

"Pardon?" he asked as he refilled her bowl and walked it back to her.

"Nothing. I just wanted to say thank-you. This is really good."

He smiled at Clarke as he gave her a second helping. He returned to his seat and continued to eat, watching Clarke as she played with her food.  He wasn't sure what changed but whatever it could be, seemed to nearly drown the girl in sorrow.

They spent the next hour in silence, his eyes glanced at her from time to time, trying to decipher the puzzle that presented itself in the form of a blonde stranger who was clearly running from something but he left her to try to work through it.

After the young man cleared and cleaned the dishes they used, he stoked the fire and prepared the tea he promised Clarke earlier. She felt like she was being rude by not talking.

She sat silent and allowed him to place the steaming cup in front of her on the tray and he warned her that it was very hot. Clarke nodded her understanding and before blowing on it to cool it down, took in the smell of the spiced tea with a deep breath.

"You want to ask me a question." Clarke said, not opening her eyes as she sipped the hot drink.

"I do." he replied.

Clarke took a generous sip of the beverage and placed it on the table in front of her, opened her eyes and looked in his direction, waiting for it.

"Do you like the tea?"

Clarke was dumbfounded at the question as it was not what she expected. She wondered if perhaps he wanted to leave well enough alone. That her business like his, is their own and that was one quality about the grounders she liked. They could keep to themselves.Realizing she hadn't answered, she looked at him and smiled.

"I really like it."

She felt both a bit relieved and a bit frustrated. She owed him something for all he had done for her and answers were all she had to give but she was quite happy to not have to answer anything that would force her to share everything. 

She looked down into the amber-coloured drink and could feel her body starting to get tired. It wasn't as hot as it was a minute ago and she was able to finish it as Levai finished cleaning up in the kitchen. 

"My name is Clarke." she stated. She wasn't sure why she said it, but it was a small payment. A first of what she hoped would be many if she felt she could trust him. She wanted to trust him, but something held her back. She had a good idea of what it was, but she didn't want to speak her name. If she did, she would remember her. 

"A pleasure to meet you, Clarke. I'm Levai." he smiled at her as he made his way from the kitchen to a large wooden chest at the foot of the bed.

Clarke hazily watched him withdraw a pillow and an old blanket out of it and tucked them under his arm. He then walked over to the door and placed a metal rod across the back of it, sliding it until it reached across both sides of the wood frame ending with a clicking sound Clarke assumed was a locking mechanism of some sort but her ability to focus had begun to wane. 

"What do you say we get some sleep? Levai suggested, taking her empty cup and after making sure it was empty he placing it on the ground with the small wooden table she had been using.

"I'm afraid this might be a little uncomfortable for a minute, Clarke."

Clarke simply yawned and although she tried to help him slide her down under the furs, she felt like putty in his arms, unable to get her muscles to coordinate in any useful manner. It didn't even really hurt which confused her. It should have hurt. Clarke looked at Levai and It dawned on her that he must have put something in her tea to put her to sleep and although she wanted to protest, she could feel sleep trying to pull her into the darkness. 

"Reshop, Clarke." he said as he pulled the furs back up over her, his green eyes watching her blue eyes close slowly with care, brushing away stray hair that had fallen over her face. Clarke lifted her good hand to his cheek, mumbling something about emeralds while a tear rolled down her cheek. He looked at her curiously and realized that any question he truly wanted to ask her would have been the wrong one. There seemed to be so much going on in her head that she was being tortured by, he hoped it would start heal along with her body in the coming days and weeks. 

Levai laid down on his make-shift bed and Just as he closed his eyes, finally feeling comfortable enough to sleep he could have sworn he heard Clarke mumble the words,

"Good night, Lexa."

Chapter Text

The cold of the late fall morning seeped into everything in and around Tondc, including Octavia who felt a shiver start at the base of her spine and climb up her back and forcing her shoulders to shake involuntarily in protest. Lincoln leaned in closer to her to try to her warm and was met with a pleased but concerned smile.

Octavia insisted she help Lincoln across the village square to meet the Commander who had summoned the pair to her residence. He tried to convince her that he could manage on his own but Octavia refused to yield. The first frost of the year gave the ground a crisp, white coat and if it weren't for her shivering she might have enjoyed it, but she chose to focus on helping Lincoln instead.

"Thank you for coming." Lexa said.

"Like we had a choice." Octavia growled, her green eyes locked on the pair opposite. Lincoln instinctively placed his hand on her in an attempt to dampen the fire behind her words.

Lexa was standing off to the side of the main room and was putting the last of her armour on, yanking the buckles until it was tight, but not too tight. After feeling content  everything was how it should be, she turned to face her visitors.

"You are not prisoners here." Lexa shrugged indifference at her words. "You could be back with your people by noon if you ride with me to your camp."

"If?" Octavia questioned. "I thought that was the plan."

Lexa's attention moved to Lincoln who straightened under her gaze. She was appraising him and when she seemed content with what she saw, she looked back at Octavia.

"There is something I would ask of you. Both of you"

Octavia opened her mouth as if to say something but she felt the strong hand of Lincoln send her a message through a light squeeze. She looked up at him and his eyes remained on the Commander.

"What do you want?" Octavia asked.

"I want you to help me find Clarke."

Silence fell over the room and Octavia wasn't sure what was going on. If Lexa wanted them to find Clarke, why did she have her people attack them and stick them in cells?

"I'm aware that you have a way to track her and I'm concerned the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be for you to do so. I'm afraid I need your answer now."

"We will find Clarke, Heda." Lincoln stated for the both of them.

"We will find her, but I want you to allow Lincoln to be able to live with his people again." Octavia added. "This isn't negotiable."

Lexa fixed her with a glare which caused Octavia to shrink back under its weight. As for Lexa, this was not how she was used to being addressed and was something uniquely done by Skaikru. Lexa had come to understand it as a trait of Clarke's people but it was one she did not overly enjoy. Knowing her anger would not help here, eventually that glare flipped over to Lincoln who saw the anger in her eyes.

"if you find her, then you will be permitted to return to these lands as Trikru." Lexa stated.

Lincoln's expression turned to one of astonishment. It would not be an easy thing to do, both finding Clarke and to return to his people after being accused of betraying them. He wasn't sure if he would ever truly be welcome here again. After all,  It wasn't more than half a day ago they had prepared to kill him for simply returning to Trikru forests.

"Is that satisfactory, Octavia kom Skaikru?"

Octavia nodded and looked to the shocked man she loved next to her. She could feel the emotion roll off Lincoln. She saw hope in his eyes and that hope gave her a reason to go in search of Clarke other than to make sure no harm came to Lincoln. She realized when she saw him dragged out of the cell just a day before, she failed that silent promise to herself.

She nodded, her eyes never leaving Lincoln.  "Yes."

She swore that she would find Clarke for him. To give Lincoln what he lost when they met, when he protected her. This promise she swore she would die to keep.

"I am leaving with Bellamy and Monty shortly for your camp. Please let them know you will not be joining them on the return. Your leaders listen to Bellamy and I will need him there to make sure I can speak to whoever is in charge."

"Abby. Abby is in charge." Octavia explained.

"Clarke's mother." Lexa said quietly.

"Yes. Her mother. It might make things more difficult."

"Perhaps, but peace is something we all want. I am sure she understands that."

"You don't know her mother..." Octavia mumbled.

"We will inform them." Lincoln informed Lexa regarding her message, turning and directing Octavia to the door.

"Bell isn't going to like this." Octavia suggested as they walked from the small building. "I'm not sure Clarke's mother will, either."

Lincoln grinned and walked beside Octavia. As they walked back to their given quarters, he glanced around Tondc and his eyes came to rest on Octavia. He took her hand and raised it to his lips, pressing a kiss which caused  her to blush slightly. A side of her only he got to see.

They returned quickly to their small house and Octavia was happy with how Lincoln was able to put all  his weight on his legs. His balance seemed to be much better than when he first woke up. She was concerned his ability to walk would be an issue when they went in search for Clarke, but there was a renewed purpose in his step that wasn't there in the morning.

When they walked in the door, they saw Monty and Bellamy were sitting and enjoying a breakfast of fresh fruit.

"Welcome back." Bellamy said. "What did she want?"

Octavia glanced at Lincoln and took in a breath. "You aren't going to like it."

Octavia explained what Lexa wanted and what they had agreed to and immediately Bellamy was on his feet and his voice raised to match.

"You're right. I don't like it." Bellamy growled. "I'm going with you."

"I'll be fine, Bellamy." Octavia groaned. "I have Lincoln and Skaikru are allowed in the forests. We can find her and we'll bring her home. Everyone wins."

"But what does Lexa get in all this? Why did she stop us from looking for Clarke in the first place?"

"I know Clarke sure as hell didn't tell us everything when she was running things Bell, and she and Lexa are damn near the same if you ask me. All you need to do is get her there to speak to Abby. Leave Clarke to us."

Bellamy looked at her with a puzzled look on his face, "Clarke isn't like Lexa, O."

"They are more alike than you think." she scoffed.

"Guys!" Monty interjected, "Why don't you two go off in search of Clarke, Bellamy and I will go with Lexa back to Camp Jaha, then we convince Kane that we should send out another search party?"

"It is a good plan." Lincoln stated. The faster we get more people to look the better our odds."

Bellamy looked upset but he grudgingly accepted the idea he follow Lexa back to their camp.

"Let's get going, then." Bellamy growled, slinging his pack up over his shoulder and thrusting Monty's in his chest.

As they walked single-file through the doorway, Lexa sat atop a horse not more than fifteen feet away with Titus just behind her and her guards waiting behind him. They were surprised to see them all waiting.

"If you are ready, we can leave now." Lexa suggested, lifting her hand and directing them to two horses that had been prepared for them.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The ride to Camp Jaha wasn't as quick as Lexa had hoped for. The inexperience of both Bellamy and Monty on horseback was frustrating for all the Trikru who were making the journey. Titus seemed to be the most agitated simply by their presence, never mind their inability to ride their horses. After Monty fell from his horse and injured his arm, it was decided that they would have both Monty and Bellamy ride with two of the accompanying warriors in Lexa's guard. They were both offended, but once the speed of their travels increased, they understood.

The familiar clearing that led to Camp Jaha appeared before them and Lexa ordered them all to slow their pace.

"This is where you go by foot and inform Abby we are here." She turned her head and looked directly at Bellamy who was being helped down from the horse by its rider, as was Monty.

"Afraid to walk up to the gate yourself, Commander?" Bellamy bit at her with his words, then fell the remaining few feet roughly after being dropped by a grinning warrior. He glanced up with a glare.

"If anything were to happen to me, my people would declare war. I certainly don't want your people to make a mistake that could put your people in danger." she stated with not so much an ounce of emotion displayed on her face.

"It could take some time." he suggested to Lexa.

"We will wait."

Titus frowned at Lexa's words. He firmly believed she should not be waiting for invaders to invite her in to their camp. These were her lands and it was her right to go wherever she pleased. Of course, Lexa would like nothing more than to do what Titus was thinking, and in the past she would have. Things were different now.

Lexa and her people had long since dismounted their horses and waited word from anyone from the Skaikru camp. Even Lexa started to become angry at the delay that kept her waiting outside the gates so long.

Lexa had been leaning against a tree and enjoying an apple just outside of view of the camp when she heard a commotion at the gate and the sound of the Skaikru gate moving. As she walked in the direction of the gate she flipped the nearly eaten apple to the ground and clapped her hands. 'Finally' she thought.

The first person out of the gate was Marcus Kane. A familiar face and one she respected, likely sent out by Abby because of that fact.

Marcus was walking with a look of hesitation mixed with hopefulness as he approached but her guards stepped forward and intercepted him before he was able to come within fifty feet of Lexa.

"Sen em auda."(Let him through) Lexa ordered, watching two of her guards step aside to reveal Marcus.

"Commander. Always a pleasure." he smiled at her.

"Likewise, Marcus kom Skaikru. I believe you already know the reason for my visit?" Lexa wasted no time getting to the point and Marcus didn't seem surprised.

"Bellamy mentioned it, yes. Please forgive the delay, but it took considerable convincing to make this happen." Marcus sighed and Lexa nodded. She expected some hesitation on the part of Skaikru to be willing to discuss terms of peace so soon after.

Lexa signalled her entourage to join her and they walked toward the camp and Marcus looked back at her guard. It looked like he was going to say something but he simply turned his attention on the young girl beside him and continued their conversation.

"I do want peace with you and your people. I consider the peace that Clarke and I agreed as one that is still intact."

"I'm afraid Abby might not see things the same way as they once were. As you know, Clarke is no longer here and the group we sent to find them wound up in a cell, one of which was shot with an arrow."

"My people tell me that he was reaching for his gun. They took care not to hit him in any vital area that could have killed him."

"Then there is the matter of Lincoln..." Marcus trailed off.

"He is one of my people and subject to our laws. I am certain should one of your people break your laws, you would deal with the matter according to your punishments. Would you not?" Titus suggested, testing the waters of diplomacy.

"We would and we have." Marcus' voice betrayed him with a note of disappointment, his eyes downcast as changed the subject. "This way. It isn't much farther."

Lexa recalled what Clarke told her of justice on the Ark, and what happened to those under or over the age of eighteen. Children forced to live in little metal boxes, prisoners until their fate is decided by their leaders which would likely end up with them being "floated" as Clarke put it.

Lexa felt anger rise, thinking of a young blond-haired, blue-eyed girl sitting in one of the metal boxes and waiting for the day they would decide to kill her. They tried. Lexa tried. Maunon(Mountain men) tried. Clarke wasn't someone who would let that happen. 'Clarke is special' she thought, a small smile breaking on her face.

"Many of its systems still work. It took our best considerable effort to make it happen but if you would like a tour, I can arrange it." Marcus offered, assuming Lexa was impressed with the ship. Although it was impressive, it was also frustrating. It was a maze of cold metal and bright lights, hallways leading every which way.

"Perhaps another time." Lexa suggested which drew an understanding nod from Marcus.

They walked down a long curved corridor and approached an open hatchway.

"Abby is in here. Please make sure your guards remain in the hall. The door can be left open if you would like."

"This is Titus, my advisor. He will be joining me." Lexa stated, watching concern grow in his eyes.  "Do not concern yourself. He is a scholar, not a warrior."

"I suppose that won't be a problem, but I've got to ask you both to leave your weapons outside. You can give them to your people to take care of while we speak."

Titus frowned at Lexa but the look she gave him while removing her many weapons, hidden and not, instructed him to follow suit. After a moment, they walked into the room where Abby sat, her eyebrows pointed aimed in a frown and eyes with daggers as sharp as the ones they just gave to Lexa's guards.

"Abby." Lexa stated.

"Lexa." Abby replied.

It was a sparring match between the two leaders with Lexa on the defensive for the most part. Lexa suggested they strengthen the framework of the previous agreement between her people and Skaikru and Abby continued to question the ability to trust her word if she could decide to reneg any agreement they make because it suited her.

They had been at it for hours and both Marcus and Titus could only watch them spar. Lexa attempted to placate her demands but short of giving the 12 clans to Abby, it seemed there was nothing she could do to win any ground from the chancellor.

"Then I am afraid there is nothing more that can be done." Lexa stated, standing from the table, looking at Titus.

"I will ready the men and we will return to Polis immediately." he stated, turning and heading toward the almost closed hatch to leave.

"Now, I'm sure we can find something to start with." Marcus implored. His eyes begged Abby to find some way to work toward peace. After a long pause, Abby sighed and let her shoulders fall forward slightly.

"We can offer her the same thing as the others." she suggested.

Lexa looked at Marcus and then back to Abby with confusion.

"Others?"

Abby nodded at Marcus to explain what she was referring to. Titus who had not left the room yet, spun around quickly at the mention of another group having spoken on what seemed to be her behalf.

"A couple days ago a delegation from the Ice Nation, Azgeda, came though and offered their support for the winter months to come. They gave us food and furs, suggesting that you might use such things as bargaining chips for our technology and weapons."

Lexa sat back down in the chair.

"You mentioned an offer?" Lexa asked. Her outward appearance was one of control and calm, but inside she was seething. How dare Nia make an offer to people in her lands that were not in the Kongeda. It took every bit of restraint for her to not get up form that chair, ride straight for Toron and cut the head clean off her rival.

"Thanks to you, Clarke left us after you abandoned her and our people." Lexa winced at the words and Abby seemed happy with the cut she gave her and continued, "She is somewhere out there. I know it. So I made them an offer. Find Clarke, bring her to me and we can negotiate."

Lexa's eyes shot wide open and her jaw dropped.

"You don't know what you have done..." Lexa stated, leaning forward in her chair and fighting to keep herself in check. "Nia isn't interested in peace, Abby. She only wants power and if you give her Clarke, you give her the chance to destroy us all. There will be war."

Abby sat back in her chair and crossed her arms. She stared directly across the table at Lexa.

"I guess you had better get moving if you are going to find her first."

 

Chapter Text

"Niylah." Levai  greeted the blonde haired, hazel-eyed woman who seemed to be in the process of walking around her shop wiping the dust from shelves in the room as he entered.

She spied over her shoulder knowing by his voice who the patron was. She finished wiping the shelf and turned to walk to her usual spot behind the counter whenever a customer entered the trading post. Before looking across at him, she he reached up and tied her hair backin an effort to make herself more presentable.

"Levai, this is a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting you for another couple weeks.”

“Hoping to get a little more prepared for this winter than the last one. That big storm kept me held up and things were rough.”

“You could always move closer and you could come in any time you needed anything.” She offered. She always offered, but he would always change the subject or just smile that smile of his that melted her heart. Taking a deep breath and releasing it in a playful but frustrated sigh, she looked at the crate in his hands with resignation.

“Looking for the same as last time?" She asked as he lifted his crate of goods onto her counter top.

"As always. And a couple other things if you can spare them. Cloth for bandages. Possibly a change of clothes. I made sure to add in a little extra to compensate. I think there will be a couple things your customers might like in there."

Niylah glanced at him curiously and then turned her attention to the crate of items he placed in front of her. She let out a 'hum' as she took a look into the crate. One by one she began to slowly remove its contents and place them on the table. She didn't need to, but it prolonged his visit and she enjoyed his company. It didn't matter what he brought, he always left with what they agreed upon long ago. When she neared the bottom, she glanced back up at him.

"You've been holding out on me, Levai." she stated, pursing her lips. Reaching into the crate, she extracted a cloth bag and lifted it to her nose to inhale the sweet scent within. "You know how long my best customer has been waiting for more of these?"

Niylah untied the string at the top of the bag and placed the green candles side by side next to the wooden box, each one made with a blended scent from plants in the Trikru forests.

"Then those ones should definitely fetch you more." he suggested she should examine the box contents with greater scrutiny by nodding his head at it.

Niylah's lip turned up in a playful grin and her eyes seemed to light up with curiosity. This was an unexpected visit and the conversation had already surpassed most of the others they have ever had. She eagerly lifted a small pile of furs to see a second bag with what she had already surmised were more scented candles. Lifting them to her face she inhaled the bouquet of scents andimprinted the blend in her memory.

"They will be more than happy! I'm certain I'll be able to stay open for the winter thanks to these. Nobody is able to make these the way you do."

Levai traded her a smile for the compliment and watched her as she unpacked the remaining items in the crate.

"This is your second trip in a week. If I didn't know better, I'd say you miss my company." She teasingly suggested, but only partially so.  

Niylah had always respected his privacy and she never questioned why or what it was he did with the items he traded for. He couldn't deny he was attracted to her. More and more he looked forward to his visits but always managed to keep himself in control and his priorities in check. He agreed to this life and he swore he would do all he could to keep it that way.

Niylah though, she never asked him where he was going or when he would be back. She treated him like any other and left well enough, alone and having gotten to know her over the past few years and he knew could trust her, making her one of the very few who were alive to this day.  

He had stood there listening to her playful words and he wondered how she couldn’t feel the pounding in his chest, or hear it in the silence between the pause in her words. It was in that moment he made the decision. He didn't know what came over him, but the words escaped his lips before his mind could restrain them.

"There is more truth in that than you know." he replied.

Her hand stopped moving the contents of the crate and she glanced up, wondering if his words were real or if she just made them up in some wishful daydream. Her hazel eyes searching his for acknowledgement and when she saw it reflecting back at her, her breath hitchedand her heart felt as though it would explode.

Levai lifted his hand to her cheek and she hadn’t even realized it until she felt the soft touch of his fingertips brush along her cheek, the sensation forcing her eyes closed and her hand up to cover his.

Each leaned toward the other as if gravity gave them no other choice. Contact. After what felt like an eternity of quickened breathing, their lips met and elation put their rapidly pounding hearts into sync . The soft kiss quickly turned impassioned and they had little idea how long they had been leaning over the counter into the lustful abyss before the front door swung open quickly, nearly breaking the hinges that it rested upon.

Two large men entered the room and one of the two began to roam around to appear like he was interested in trading. Niylah and Levai both quickly deduced they have the look of traders, and the weapons that hung from their leather belts only confirmed their mutual suspicion. Niylah quickly gathered herself and ran her hands through her hair to try to straighten it as best she could and exchanged a look of concern with Levai. When they pulled back their hoods, the distinctive markings of Azgeda warriors were on full display.

Niylah cleared her throat and addressed the newcomers. "Is there anything you are looking for?"  

One of the two had been watching Levai and Niylah since he and his friend entered the shop and the other walked around the perimeter had been studying the room. Levai gauged their concern about his presence and though he had knives on his belt, they didn't seem to consider him much of a threat.

"What is back there?" Asked the one who had been standing near the entrance, his voice rough and expectant as he pointed toward the back of the shop toward a door. Niylah's private quarters.   

"Nothing that is any of your concern." she replied.

The second man looked to the first and received a nod informing him to proceed. He pushed on the door and  it opened to show a modest living quarters that he likely assumed belonged to the two in the shop.  He left the door open and turned and shook his head.

"This isn't Azgeda territory. You can't just walk in here and..."

"Have you seen this girl?" the first man asked, ignoring her protest as he walking up to stand next to Levai, nudging into him and forcing him to stumble sideways. The urge to let his hand slide on to his knife rose in his imagination but a quick glance over his shoulder at the second Azgeda who was approaching from behind forced him to expunge the thought from his mind.

He placed a drawing of Clarke on the table between and Niylah shrugged.

"Never seen her before."

"What about you?" asked the second man, shoving Levai to emphasize who he directed his question toward. The action drew a glare from Niylah and conflicted restraint from Levai.

"No." he answered simply, frowning at the two intruders. He had, of course, seen her. He knows exactly where she is. He bit back the urge to ask why they were looking for her. Any questions he could ask might raise suspicions of the two men and that was the last thing he wanted.

"Emo sta branwada."(They are worthless.) stated the man who had been roaming the shop.

The one who seemed to be calling the shots laughed and folded the picture, tucking it into his jacket and signalling they were done here. As the second he walked past Levai, he attempted to shove his shoulder into Levai as a parting gift but Levai expertly dodged the contact and parried by landing a small smirk at the larger mans attempt. The warrior took offence and reached for his blade, drawing Levai into a defensive stance. Niylah's eyes widened at the scene unfolding before her and she slowly began to reach under the counter for a concealed blade.

"Ban op emo."(Leave them.) Growled the one who seemed to be in charge, reducing the tension that filled the room to an almost inescapable threshold.

With an unsatisfied grunt, the second let his hand fall from his sword, turned away from Levai and stormed out of the building. The leader watched him leave and he turned back to Levai, studying him for a moment before he turned to follow the other Ice Nation warrior.

"They are becoming a problem." Niylah said, trying to break the tension that held the room ransom since the two strangers entered.  Levai looked at her and frowned.

"These two have been here before?"

"No. Not these two, but others. They always ask the same thing and then usually leave."

"Usually?" Levai's tone took on a concerned note that brought a small smile to Niylah's lips.

"Occasionally they take things like dried meat or clothing. It is why the room is so empty. I don't keep much out for them to take anymore."

"How long have they been coming around?"

"A week? Perhaps more. I've been hearing from travellers that they have been walking the trading routes looking for this girl but nobody knows who or where she is." Niylah explained.

"I think you should close your shop for a while." he suggested."If you have family or friends in Polis, you should head there. Ice Nation is trouble and if they are in Trikru territory it only means things will likely get worse for everyone. You aren't protected here."

"I could stay with you?" she suggested in an almost whisper.

Levai wanted to protect her more than anything he believed possible but he couldn't draw her into whatever Nia was planning. He to the north and it concerned him that Ice Nation was as far south as Niylah's trading post. He knew he was taking a chance leaving Clarke alone but these supplies were needed to replace the ones he used helping the wounded girl recover.

"I would like nothing more, but it is not safe for you to come with me. Heda will make sure that Tondc and Polis are protected but I would feel better if you were safe in Polis."

"I can't leave. My father needs me here and the people on the trade route depend on what I can trade so they can make it through the winter. My family has never closed this shop."

"So you won't consider Polis? I will make sure everything in here is replaced should anything happen. You have my word. Everything in here is replaceable. Everything but you."

The room fell to silence and Niylah smiled bigger than Levai thought would be possible. After a few moments she leaned  forward and let her face fall in her hands hiding her smile and the rose colour that she adorned.

"I will talk to my father."

"I just want you to be safe."

Niylah lifted her face from her hands and reached across the counter placing his hand in hers. Leaning forward, she kissed the back of it then placed it on her cheek as he had done when he caressed her earlier.

She then looked up at him and he saw her  eyes were filled with lust, driving his heart rate through the roof of the small trading shop. She let go of his hand and walked around the counter, past him to the front door. Levai watched her slide a wood brace across the frame to secure it from any unwanted visitors. She walked back toward him with those eyes, taking his hand once more and leading him to the back of the shop.

Niylah was laying on top of the bed, a sheen of sweat draped over her body and a contented sigh escaped her lips. Her body was tingling from head to toe as she watched Levai begin to gather his clothes from around the room. She rolled over to her side and directed him to one of his shoes that had been kicked under her dresser.

"I wish I could stay."

"You could."  

Levai wanted to tell her about Clarke, but he was trying to protect her from whatever those men wanted her for. The less she knew, the safer she would be. He knew Clarke was well enough to be on her own and although the door was secured, it wouldn't prevent anyone who was determined from getting into the cabin. With the Azgeda in Trikru lands, it likely wouldn't be long before they happened upon his cabin.

Niylah watched his mind working and said, "I'm just glad we finally took the chance." she said.

Levai stopped putting on his clothes and walked over to her as she rolled on to her side in a seductive pose. He bent forward over her and pressed a kiss on her swollen red lips. She reached to the back of his head and pulled him in, biting his bottom lip which eliciting a groan from him. Reluctantly, he pulled back out of the embrace, but only slightly.

"I will be back soon." he said in a whisper, their faces only inches apart. She kept lunging forward and peppering his lips with little kisses all the while she pouting at his soon to be absence.

"A week." he said, drawing a cheerful smile from Niylah. "Please consider what I said about Polis."

Niylah fell onto her back into the bed and continued to watch Levai dress now that he was free from her embrace.

"I'll talk to my father but if he refuses, I will have to stay with him."

Levai nodded as he put his shoes, smiling at her for at least considering his suggestion.

"Levai?" Niylah asked in a whisper.

"Yes?"

"Do you know the girl they are looking for?"

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Clarke woke up coughing in a confused panic as she choked on the thick, soot filled air in the cabin. The light from the fireplace was muted by the dark smoke and it contributed to obscuring her vision by making her eyes close tightly in an attempt to avoid the stinging pain.

 Her body was racked with pain due to her sudden movements but she bit back the urge to fall back into the bed. Groaning, she rolled out of the bed with a thud on to the wooden floor and she realized the chimney must be plugged. The only way to survive this was to get to the door.

She slowly pulled herself along the floor toward her destination while trying not to take too deep a breath. Every time she did, it felt like hands were tightening around her throat and liquid fire being poured into her lungs.

After what felt like an eternity, her hand made contact with the solid wooden door. She got as close as she could and turned to pres her back against the door while trying to stay under the smoke as best she could.

Clarke tried to open  her eyes but they had filled with stinging tears to protect themselves from the irritation forced her to snap them closed again. She would have to get out without seeing what she was doing.

Relaxing her body by focusing on the task of getting the door open, she visualized the latch she had to open and the wooden brace she would have to move in order to escape. Clarke pulled as large a breath as she could into her lungs as her body permitted without coughing, she then braced herself as best she could with her back against the door. She put all her weight on her working leg and forced her posture upright.She had to fight back the urge to expel the oxygen in her lungs as her hands worked around the frame freeing the latches and sliding the wooden brace that secured the door.

Before she could pull the door open, she coughed and the reflex forced the contaminated air into her lungs. Her hand dropped to the handle and the moment her fingers wrapped around it, she yanked the door open and lunged with all the strength her body had toward the clean, crisp air beyond the threshold of the cabin.

She spent a fair amount of time coughing as her body worked to evict the smoke from her lungs. The acrid taste of carbon filled her mouth and she spit as much of it as she could on to the ground next to her until her coughing fit ended. She felt the relief of clean air but groaned and winced as the pain in her lungs was replaced by the pain in her numerous injuries which had not fully healed..

"Well, Look at what we have here."

Clarke's red-rimmed and cloudy eyes opened quickly hearing the strangers voice and she was shocked to see two people standing above her, looking back down at her. She wanted to run away and for a moment tried to roll so she could get up but fell back on to her back, closed her eyes and audibly groaned in pain.

"I told you there was someone in there." the man gloated.

"Yeah. You were right. This her?"

"I don't know. I've never seen Wanheda before. All I know is she seems about the right height and has blonde hair. She looks a little beat up to be who we are looking for."

"Ask Echo. She'd know. She was there when the Commander got them out." the man suggested.

"Alright. Echo, Come look at this."

Clarke laid on the ground listening to their conversation and watched the two men standing above her in conversation. When she heard the name Echo, she was reminded of something Bellamy said about a girl that was imprisoned in the cages of Mount Weather with Bellamy.

"This isn't her." Echo stated, interrupting her thoughts. Clarke looked at her with confusion, still trying to blink away the smoke in her eyes but if she was right, Echo gave her the faintest flash of a glare. Clarke closed her eyes and tried to block out the pain she was experiencing as best she could.

"You sure? She looks just like the description we were given."

"I think I would know what Wanheda looks like and whoever this is, she isn't worth our time. We should keep moving."

Clark brought her functional arm up to her face and tried to rub the pain from her eyes as best she could while listening on as Echo tried to dissuade her allies from taking her to whoever it was that wanted her. The argument seemed to become rather heated when one of the men insisted that they at least take her captive just in case Echo was mistaken.

"We need to keep looking for Clarke kom Skaikru and not waster our time with these weak Trikru farmers." Echo stated, emphasizing the name.

Clarke didn't have to work too hard in order to prevent a look of worry from crossing her face because it was currently covered in a grimace due to a level of pain she had previously would have believed to be impossible. She wanted so badly to get up and run but everything was currently working against her to keep her affixed to the ground.

"We'll send her back with Barek. I think you might have forgotten what she looked like, seeing as you were weak from what they did to you. Perhaps being in Maun-de made your stomach a little softer than it used to be, Echo. " Stated one of the men.

"We can't just keep taking people. If it gets back to the Commander, she might ready her armies and Nia isn't prepared for that. She has a plan." Echo argued.

"I have made my decision and I won't hear anything more about this. Get her up." The man's words were an order and he glared at Echo. "Barek, you take her back to camp and we can verify what you are saying is true. Killing her here or killing her there, it makes no difference if she isn't the one we are looking for. She isn't the first and won't be the last."

Clarke's eyes opened and she started to crawl backwards as best she could to get away. "I'm not who you are looking for. Just leave me be!" Clarke acted as best she could, but it was no use.

Barek approached Clarke and before she could pick her up, she landed a solid blow to his jaw that she was happy to see, left a visible mark and started swelling almost immediately. He reached down and with a fistful of her blonde hair, yanked her off the ground and threw her over his shoulder as if she was nothing. Nothing but a body that ached with pain at the sudden jerking and twisting of her frame.

"You are making a mistake." Clarke heard Echo state as she was being carried away. Clarke lifted her head in time to see the man bring his fist to her face with a blow that knocked her to the to the ground she was just laying on.

"I told you I didn't want to hear any more."

Echo managed to maneuver herself  onto her knees, taking the opportunity to spit a mouthful of blood at the man before her. With his free hand, he wiped the blood from his face and smirked as he twirled his sword in the other.

"It is a shame, Echo. You were one of my favourites. It looks like Maun- de made one of Nia's most promising into one of her weakest." Before Clarke was carried into the forest, she saw the man draw his sword and a prone Echo kneeled on the ground before him, accepting what was coming. "Consider this a favour from one warrior to another."

Echo felt a warm trickle of blood run down the side of her cheek and she closing her eyes and waiting for what was to come.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Levai could smell the smoke for the last couple miles and his pace quickened and he seemed to fly over the ground that was covered in leaves, ignoring the roots that reached up to grab the feet of those less experienced in the woods. He was well aware that the only thing that could be burning around here was his home. The closer he got, the clearer voices became and before he made it into the small clearing in front of his home, he slowed his forward progress until he was just on the perimeter and hidden behind the trunk of a solid tree.

He noticed his house wasn't on fire which was a good thing, but the chimney seemed as though it had been plugged and the smoke was forced back into the cabin. What concerned him more was that Clarke was there on the ground between the four strangers, strangers who upon closer inspection appeared to be Azgeda warriors who seemed to be having an argument. He couldn't hear the specifics, but the man seemed to be the one who was giving orders and the woman was not inclined to agree with them.

 Levai lifted his bow in the direction of the group and slowly drew a couple arrows from his quiver, his breathing calm and measured as he began to ready a plan of attack until he saw a man reach down and pick up Clarke be her hair, but not before she landed a solid blow to his head. Levai grinned at that. He nocked the arrow as the man in the forest began to walk away, training his sight on the thigh of the man leaving with Clarke. He stilled his breathing and readied his shot.

Only seconds from release, his attention returned to the man and the woman. He had struck her and knocked her to the ground, drawing his sword just after landing the blow. Levai struggled with what to do. Clarke was being carried away but this girl was clearly in trouble. His eyes jumped back and forth between the two women and he grit his teeth as he saw the woman get back on her knees spit a mouthful of what he assumed was blood at the man who stood before her.

The man lifted his sword and before Levai could even process it, he loosed an arrow that dug into the Azgeda mans side. He watched him fall over and came running from the tree line toward the second Azgeda who seemed shocked, but not too shocked that he couldn't yell out a warning to Jurin to run. The warning ceased after Levai fired his second arrowand it landed, taking the man down as quickly as the first.

"Where did they go?" Levai shouted at her as he approached the kneeling Azgeda woman.

Echo opened her eyes and just stared at him, wondering where he came from, then down to the man who now lay in front of her with an arrow protruding from his side. She should be dead.

"Listen to me." He stated, now standing in front of her. He placed his hands on her shoulders and attempting have her to focus on his voice. "Where are they going?"

"To the camp. North East. They will figure out who she is." Echo fell back on ground, lifting her hand to her head which was throbbing, her hair matted with blood.

Levai glanced at the woman state then quickly ran off in the direction she told him they were going. Personal experience told him they would not get far if he had to carry Clarke the entire way.

As he made his way in the direction he saw the large man carry Clarke off in, Levai was easily able to find the trail. It wasn't long before he could tell he had nearly caught up to them and his suspicions were confirmed when he heard a quiet moan from the injured Skaikru girl. Dropping into a crouch, he continued to move in the direction of her voice.

Waiting for a few minutes, he scanned the tree line for any sign of the Azgeda. If he was there, he was waiting for Levai to show himself first. The only relief he felt was in knowing the warrior did not have a bow.  He would have to throw a knife and that would mean he would have to move to throw it. It wasn't the greatest odds to survive the situation, but it was something.

The moment Levai began to move in Clarke's direction, what he was expecting occurred  and a small knife embedded itself in his shoulder. Levai grunted in pain but managed to lift his bow and launch the arrow he was holding at the attacker who was running at him while trying to produce another small knife to throw. Levai followed the arrow with his eyes as it flew true, burying itself in the man's throat. Before the man fell to the ground, Levai yanked the dagger out of his shoulder and smelled the blade, frowning with the information he gleaned about the blade.

It was poison.

He quickly ran to Clarke, bending down to look at her body. She wasn't bleeding from any of her wounds but he could tell she was in pain. Not as bad as it was when they met, but considerable none the less.

"Are you able to move?" he asked.

Nodding, Clarke was able to stand with Levai's help and although the one leg that helped her get up when she fled the cabin was willing, the stabbing pain within the ankle of her other leg was not as accommodating. Clarke gave Levai an apologetic look that showed signs of frustration.

"It is alright. We need to get back to my home. I have to grab some things then I am afraid we will have leave the area."

"Who are those people?" Clarke asked as she put her arm over his shoulders so they could get back to his cabin.

"Azgeda." he stated, as if that was all the explanation that was required.

"There was a girl, she tried to help me."

"She was back at the cabin. I don't know is she is still there, but I'm really hoping she will be." Levai suggested. "It would be good to understand why those people wanted to take you prisoner."

"They are looking for Wanheda." Clarke stated as they walked back into the small clearing.

Echo was no longer in the small clearing, rather on a ladder next to the chimney, climbing down with what they used to block the smoke from escaping the chimney. She was them and threw the small sheet of metal to the side.

"Sorry about your home." she said. "I tried to get them to keep moving but they saw the house and wouldn't leave without trying to smoke someone out."

Levai glanced at her and then his cabin. The smoke was no longer coming out in waves through the front door and he seemed a little relieved. He looked back at her and asked, "There are more of you in the area?".

"Yes." she answered. "I'd be more concerned about that cut on your shoulder. Has the burning begun?"

Clarke took a moment and realized that there was a not-so-small wound that had been bleeding the entire time he helped her back to the cabin.

"Let me have a look." Clarke offered, turning Levai so she could look at the cut. I can clean it and close it, but I need my pack. What do you mean by burning?" Clarke asked Echo.

"Barek loves..." Echo corrected herself when she realized he was likely dead with both Clarke and the Trikru man standing in front of her. "He loved, to coat his knives in a particularly nasty poison. It takes some time to work in to the system rather than the quicker poisons that work quickly. This one basically gives the feeling of burning the patient from the inside out before they die. Until Nia, nobody was allowed to use it."

"Your queen is a piece of work." He looked at his cabin and at the bodies that lay on the ground. "We can't stay here." he stated.

"We need a place to stay for a few days. I'm afraid the condition she is in," Echo pointed to Clarke "she will make it rather easy for Nia's people to find you. and once the poison works its way through you, we will need time for you to recover."

"Aren't you Nia's people?" Levai asked, unable to conceal the anger from his voice.

"I t seems I am a free agent now." she waved her hands at her former leader and ally. "If they don't find my body here and if I don't turn up back at the camp with an explanation, I'll be declared natrona. I have seen what she does to..." Echo shivered at the thought and stopped talking, her face losing a bit of colour at the same time.

"You said we can't stay. Do you have somewhere we can go to take care of your shoulder?" Clarke asked.

"I have a place we can go." he glanced at Echo, "You can treat the poison?"

"I can." she said, patting a small pouch that hung from her hip.

"We should get moving. It is close to Tondc but we will be safe. I just want to grab some things from inside the cabin."

"We won't make it to Tondc. We will need somewhere closer." Echo stated.

Levai frowned and grunted his displeasure. The longer they waited to reach Tondc, the more likely they would run into more Azgeda when they did try.

"I know a place we can stay. Come with me. We'll need to get a few more things from inside the cabin." Levai motioned to Echo to follow him after helping Clarke sit on the ground.

Clarke watched the two enter the house and although she heard some coughing, they had reappeared rather quickly, both carrying a pack each over their shoulders.

"We need to get moving. You will be OK?" Levai asked Clarke as he and Echo helped her up from the ground and letting her put the weight of her injured side on him.

"I'll be fine. We need to treat your shoulder so the faster we get wherever it is we are going, the better." she stated.

"Where are we going?" Echo asked.

"Where we are least expected to be found." he smiled, leading them into the forest and away from his cabin.

Chapter Text

Lexa's ride from Camp Jaha to Tondc was a fast and quiet journey. She knew where Clarke was and that was one obstacle that she was happy to not have to fight. The true battle will come when she stands across from those blue eyes. Clarke would respect her decision as a leader, but as whatever they... she will be angry at the very least.

Clarke needed time and she had every intention of letting her take as much as she needed, but now things had changed. Lexa made a promise to herself that she would keep Clarke safe, and she would do whatever it took to make it happen. She wouldn't let Nia get a hold of her.

"Heda, you are back quickly." Indra stated after she hurried forward upon sight of her Commander, taking the reins of her horse while Lexa jumped down to the ground.

"Yes. Have Lincoln and Octavia left yet?"

"They were just preparing to leave."

"Very good. Have them come see me at my quarters. We will leave in an hour."

"You are going with them Commander?" Indra seemed concerned.

"Yes. I have information that indicates where she may be." Lexa stared at Indra a moment and paused her thoughts on what she would say when she found Clarke. "There is a problem, Indra?"

"Koma has returned from his search early. He found a group of Azgeda in Trikru lands, then another group a half a day's journey from their territory."

Lexa remained stoic and prevented anger from overtaking her appearance, though she did clench her fists. She was concerned about Clarke but now she had Azgeda wandering the forests looking for Clarke. This would make things more complicated. Nothing was going as she planned.

"They attacked him as he tried to find out why they were in Trikru territory, Commander." Indra added.

"Is he well enough to travel?"

"He suffered a few minor wounds. They are only Azgeda." Indra boasted.

Lexa grinned as heard the hooves of horses approaching from behind. She rode faster than the others with a goal of gathering supplies before they arrived to speed her along on the upcoming journey.

Titus was about to jump down from his horse when he saw his Commander raise a hand, motioning for him to stop. He looked at her curiously but righted himself back atop the horse. "Heda?"

"Titus. I want you to return to Polis immediately and my guard will escort you. There are Azgeda in Trikru territory and they have attacked scouts. I need you to return safely and protect the Natblida. Inform the ambassadors of Nia's actions and that her men attacked one of my scouts. Nia will be held to account for her actions against the Kongeda by sending her warriors into lands beyond her borders."

"Sha, Heda." Titus nodded a farewell and signalled her guard they were leaving. Her eyes momentarily looked for Bellamy but she remembered he was asked to remain behind by Kane and Abby. Likely it had something to do with them wanting him to keep an eye on her, but she wasn't concerned. She knew Bellamy was close with Clarke and she was his best chance at finding her.

"Indra, I want you and Koma to join me in my residence as well. We will need four days worth of supplies."

Indra nodded and sent one of her guards to gather what was needed then turned back to face Lexa.

"We must move quickly. Five minutes."

"Commander." Indra bowed and turned away to walk in the direction of the building where Octavia and Lincoln were staying.

Lexa walked off in the direction of her quarters and opened the door. After closing it a little harder than she should have, she fell back against the wood and exhaled a frustrated breath. Things had suddenly become much too complicated.

She tried to clear her mind by closing her eyes and when she managed to organize her thoughts, there was a slight knot form in her stomach at the realization that Bellamy and Clarke were close. It made sense, but she found herself more concerned about the relationship Bellamy had with Clarke than the Azgeda that were freely walking around the Trikru forests.

It wasn't long before the guards posted outside her house announced Indra had arrived and Lexa granted them entry. She watched them enter but her attention was on Koma and Lincoln and how they were moving with their injuries. She was satisfied with how both were not visibly impaired and walking with ease. Lincoln still sported bruises on his injuries, but bruises he could not hide.

"Where is Bellamy?" Octavia asked as she looked around for her brother.

"Your Chancellor and Marcus Kane wished for him to remain behind for a few moments and discuss something. He will be brought here by your people in one of your machines." Lexa explained.

Octavia frowned at her explanation but accepted it.

"I've been made aware Azgeda are in the lands." Lexa turned her attention to Koma.

"Sha, Heda." he bowed his head at his Commander. "I came across two groups of their warriors. The first I tried to speak to and was attacked. The first group I was forced to kill but my injuries would have made it difficult to fight the second group and return to warn our people."

Lexa nodded. "You made the right decision. We cannot afford to lose our best warriors." Koma's eyes widened in surprise at the praise from his Commander.

"Unfortunately, the news of Azgeda means we will leave now to find Clarke. We can't wait for Bellamy before setting out."

"What do you mean we can't wait? How will Bellamy find us when he gets here?" Octavia challenged.

"Koma. You will stay in Tondc and await his arrival and then together you will have to move quickly to join us, but I will explain where we are heading..."

Koma nodded but again, Octavia interjected.

"You know where we are going? That means you know where Clarke is." Octavia growled. "Why didn't you send someone to get her before this could happen?"

Lexa was angry at the interruption, but more-so at the knowledge that Octavia was right. She might have been able to prevent everything that was happening. She slammed her hands down on the table in front of her, glaring at Octavia. Both Indra and Lincoln cast concerned eyes toward Octavia.

"I wasn't aware that YOUR people entered into negotiations with Azgeda behind my back. I am aware that YOUR leader chose to walk away from her people and it was YOUR leader that endangers herself." Lexa growled and her eyes contained molten jade that caused Octavia to step back slightly and her chest constrict when she took a breath.

Lexa's chest rose and fell with deep breaths in an attempt to relax herself. She went too far. After a moment, her stare into the depths of Octavia seemed to ease. Octavia swore she could feel a weight being lifted from her chest as her anger that erupted from Lexa lessened. They all did.

"My scouts have given me a possible location and that is where we will start our search." She lied, but she had to establish control of the situation as much as within herself.

Indra stepped forward and spoke, "Our supplies are ready, Commander. We can go whenever you are ready."

"You will be remaining behind, Indra. Prepare Tondc for a possible attack from Azgeda forces and all scouts who return will stay in Tondc to ready it's defence."

Indra frowned her displeasure at not being able to accompany with Lexa to find Clarke, but she understood her duty with a nod.

"Koma," Lexa waved at him to step forward to the table and she pointed at a rough drawing of the area she planned on going toward and circled a small but general area with her finger. "This is the area we are heading. When Bellamy arrives, bring him as quickly as you can. Do whatever you must if you are confronted by any Azgeda. Explain that to Bellamy when he arrives. His life is in your care."

Lexa's eyes quickly flashed to Octavia then back to the table where her map rested. Octavia just listened to the conversation between Lexa and Koma, not interested in raising the ire of the Commander any further than she already had. The warning look Indra shot her reinforced that sense of self-preservation.

"We should go." Lexa stated. "We will be travelling on foot."

Indra and Koma wished Lexa their allies a safe trip, Koma stated he would be at his Commanders side as quickly as he could with Bellamy kom Skaikru.

Lexa spent a moment discussing matters with Indra after she dismissed the others, telling them to wait with their supplies at the north-western entrance to Tondc. She would meet them there.

Lincoln threw a pack over his shoulder and checked his belt to make sure he had all his knives and that his sword was firmly secured, only to be double checked by Octavia moments after to make sure. He held up her pack and her attention seemed occupied all the while grabbing the pack and throwing it over her shoulder.

"You need to be more careful when you address the commander." Lincoln warned her.

"I'll be more careful when she stops keeping things to herself."

"Octavia..." he warned, 

"I get it." she grunted back at him then she saw his shoulders drop slightly. When she looked up at his eyes, she saw worry in them. "I hear you love. I don't like it, but I get it."

"We will find Clarke." He said, thinking that was her concern.

"It isn't finding Clarke I'm worried about. It is what she is going to do to Lexa once we do."

Lincoln grinned and pulled Octavia into a hug, leaning down so when Octavia looked up, their lips connected and made the world around them disappear for a few moments only to be interrupted by a stoic Commander's clearing throat. Lincoln and Octavia pulled themselves apart.

Lexa smirked and walking right past them into the forest beyond but not before saying, "Save some energy for the journey. It is a tough four day hike to where we are going."

Lincoln looked at Octavia and he had an embarrassed  look on his face if the slight reddening of his cheeks were any indication but Octavia's eyes were filled with amusement at the glib comment and Lincoln's reaction to it.

"Come on, handsome. Let's get moving." she said as she nudged Lincoln with her forearm, urging him forward. Lincoln smiled and put his arm across Octavia's shoulder. 

Lexa who kept a rigorous pace, expertly avoiding roots underfoot while keeping her eyes trained on the forest around them. Lincoln and Octavia followed Lexa's example, remaining as silent as they could be with the sound of dried or drying leaves crunching beneath their feet. The lack of leaves on trees and bushes made it easier for the trio to see the area around them, but that meant it was easier to be seen. This close to Tondc Lexa wasn't as concerned about coming across any Azgeda, but the sun was dropping and they had been on the move for hours, taking very short breaks to drink water.

She expected there to be surprise when she got there. It was rare she ever made her way this far from Polis by herself unless it was on a personal retreat and with the arrival of Skaikru, she had little to no time to herself to be able to slip away from Polis, let alone the good week of travel that the journey would take.

"We are coming upon a place we can stay for a few hours, you can rest." Lexa stated quietly but it drew a frustrated grunt from of one of the three.

"We should keep going." Octavia replied quietly.

Lexa stopped and the two behind her did the same before they ran into her. Lexa turned and studied her, raising her eyebrows and appraising the brunette before her.

"If we go, we don't stop." Lexa's face betrayed no emotion and her eyes were hard. "We will leave you behind if we must."

Lexa was planning on stopping as a courtesy to Octavia but she was arguably impressed with her will to keep moving. Lexa glanced to Lincoln and gave a slight nod before Octavia had a chance to see his slight nod.

"Then we eat, drink and rest for thirty minutes. We will go until the morning."

Both Lincoln and Octavia tilted their heads in understanding.

Lexa sat a few feet away from Lincoln and Octavia to give them some privacy and her thoughts went to Clarke and what would happen if she couldn't convince her to go back to her people and abandon the overtures of the Ice Queen.

Clarke understood peace and she was relying on that to be Clarke's chief concern. Many people were at risk of dying in a conflict with Nia and her army if Skaikru were to unify their forces with Nia. The only other option would be to fight Skaikru, which would leave her vulnerable to Nia and she'd played that scenario out in her mind numerous times through the day. She was aware that was never an option.

Her eyes still scanned the forest around the three of them and she realized she could no longer hear the whispers between Lincoln and Octavia. This would be the only time they speak to the other until they rest in the morning so their silence and her surprise when Octavia sat next to her was surprising. Lexa, short a slight increase in heart rate, showed no sign of her sudden arrival.

"You know where we are going." Octavia stated bluntly but in a whisper, staring in another direction of forest in front of them, matching Lexa who was transfixed on the environment around them.

"I have an idea of where we are going."

"That is a lie, Lexa." Octavia hissed. "You know where we are going because you know where Clarke is." This isn't Tondc. If I'm going to help you and help Clarke, I want to know."

Lexa turned her head and looked at Octavia, then back out into the part of the forest she was looking at moments ago.

"I know where she went." Lexa admitted, but offered no more. Her eyes remained on the forest around them.

"You know what you are going to say to her?"

"No."

Octavia placed her hand on the hilt of her dagger when she heard a rustle in the leaves off to their left and her attention shifted to the spot. Lexa and Lincoln instinctively looked in other directions. Octavia did not draw her weapon and after a few moments, the three unwound slightly but did not remove their hands from their weapons once they were not in any danger.

"She is going to hate you." Octavia suggested, continuing their conversation.

Lexa took a deep breath and slowly released it, her eyes betraying her rigid frame and her hard stare with something that resembled regret and swallowed. They fell to the ground for the first time since they left Tondc and her reply was a barely audible whisper.

"I know."

Octavia pulled her shoulders back and furrowed her eyebrows trying to decipher what she just witnessed from Lexa but Lexa was up on her feet and suggesting they should be on the move. Lincoln exchanged a confused look at Octavia who shrugged her understanding of why they were leaving so quickly.

"Keep your focus on the forest. Watch your feet." That was the that was said between the trio for the rest of the night, the only sounds they heard were their feet on the ground and the struggle in their lungs as they maintained a solid pace.

Lexa was happy their pace was not as impaired by the darkness as she had believed it would be. Octavia had great balance and she was able to keep up most of the journey. There were times where she had to alter her speed when she could hear Octavia's laboured breathing, but she didn't have to stop any more than she would with her own people.

Lexa called a break a few minutes before the sky began to brighten and Octavia fell on to her knees then rolled on to her side. She was exhausted and although their pace had slowed to a walk for the last hour, she wasn't sure how much farther she could go without a considerable rest.

"Octavia, you need to sit up." Lexa instructed and she watched Lincoln help her sit upright, leaning her small frame against his solid one and wrapping his arms around her.

"You did well, Hodnes." Lincoln whispered after he pressed his lips to her temple.

"Next time, I'll choose rest first." Octavia groaned while trying to smile.

Offering the worn out Skaikru girl her water, Lexa offered held out her container of water to Octavia which she happily accepted, taking a few small sips, then passing the container to Lincoln at Lexa's direction. She observed her two compatriots and made a decision.

"There is a place we can get some rest just over the hill. We will go after a small rest here and regain our strength. It is a little more walking, but it will be worth it." Lexa informed them.

"Is she serious?" Octavia asked Lincoln.

"Heda is always serious." Lincoln answered as he handed Lexa her water container. If he didn't know better, she seemed to be fighting back a smirk.

"I think we should go now." Octavia suggested, trying to stand but her legs were uncooperative.

Lincoln scooped her up off the ground with an arm around her back and the other under her legs and his strength startled her momentarily but she was soon grinning at him.

"If I knew you had so much energy I would have had you carry me two hours ago."

"This way, children."

Lexa had started to walk up the small hill just as the sun broke over the horizon. She stood atop the hill and waited for Lincoln and Octavia to join her. When she heard Octavia gasp, she knew they were right behind her. Lexa smiled as she watched Octavia's reaction to the view before, barely containing herself. She motioned to Lincoln, having him let her down so her stand on her own two feet and take in the experience.

On top of the hill they had a view of a crystal blue lake. that in itself impressed Octavia but what rendered her speechless was the gentle breeze in combination with the sun that rolled through the valley causing slight ripples in the lake, making the lake sparkle as if it were made of millions of tiny white stars.  

The forest around the lake had leaves of every imaginable colour, or so Octavia believed. They all danced together in the breeze, making a tapestry that wound itself completely around the lake. Octavia's eyes began to form tears and Lincoln pulled her into his chest and wrapping his arms around her, only to have Octavia respond in kind.

Lexa saw the awe in her eyes and she wondered what Clarke would think of this place. Clarke had told her that perhaps life should be about more than surviving, this is what she envisioned. That one day she could show Clarke this place and perhaps...

"We should keep moving." Lexa said, her voice catching as she spoke. She didn't have time for those thoughts. She had to get to Clark before Nia did and Octavia needed rest before they could continue.

"We are headed there." Lexa explained, pointing to spot on the other side of the lake.

Lincoln and Octavia nodded and followed Lexa who resumed her scanning of the forest around them. Both of them found a pocket of energy within themselves to continue the journey to their destination.

They all smelled it as they approached.

Smoke.

Lexa turned and glanced at Octavia and Lincoln. She motioned for them to stay and she crouched down, moving in the direction of the smoke. They had not seen it on the hilltop so Lexa assumed the fire had been started recently.

She slowly drew one of her swords from its sheath and a familiar, wooden-handled dagger from her belt to hold in the other as she moved stealthily toward her target. The closer she got, the easier it was to hear their voices – she counted five. She couldn't make out the conversation which forced her to try and get closer to see what she was dealing with.

They were all sitting around a small, clean burning fire. Three were facing away from her and two who could see her the moment she emerged. She figured she could take three before they could properly react to her sudden presence. None of them seemed ready for a fight as they seem to have just woken from a restful night's sleep. Lexa took a steadying breath and slowly stood, readying her body for what was to come.

The first one fell backward without so much an understanding of what happened, only the sound of bone being broken by the slice of a dagger entering his eye, sending him into the next world.

The one to his right, the only other who could see Lexa emerge from the woods froze with horror on his face. His heart could have stopped on its own as he watched her emerge from the forest as if she appeared from thin air. Her cloak floated behind her as if she were surrounded by the essence of death, which was elevated by the black paint on her face that gave the impression her eyes were deadlier than the swords that now resided in her hands.  

The second warrior hadn't even seen the dagger she threw. Only as he fell over he glanced down at his chest to see a brown handles knife that had imbedded itself, choking on blood as the first had.

The remaining three reacted differently until Lexa was upon them. Lexa launched herself in the air and spun toward them. Steel met steel and her second sword found purchase in the side of one of the remaining three and he groaned. It was a mortal wound. He dropped to his knees only to meet Lexa's driving upward with a sickening crunch of cartilage breaking in his nose. Two left.

She had to side step a fast vertical swing which she did by spinning to her right and while doing so she slashed the thighs of the other warrior who thought he could try to remove Lexa's head with one clean swing. She spun past him and because of her cuts to his legs he couldn't turn fast enough, and Lexa made short work of him by thrusting her sword into his back and driving the tip through his abdomen. One left.

She let him fall with her sword in him and she smirked at the man who stood there watching her spin her remaining sword.

"You have a chance to survive this. How many of you did Nia send?" Lexa asked, almost looking bored as she addressed the man which.

He looked at his allies and then back at Lexa put the feeling of being prey that was cornered be a rather hungry, and clearly deadly predator.

"More than enough." the man declared, his decision made to try and become the predator and lunged at Lexa.

She deflected his blow and side stepped, allowing him to rush past while slapping him in the back of the head with the flat of her blade. He stumbled slightly then recovered, spinning to see Lexa looking back at him with a smirk.

"I thought Nia trained her warriors. I must be mistaken." Lexa mocked.

The man chose a different tact and began to train slashing cuts at Lexa rather than try to finish it quickly but each swing was deflected by Lexa as if she was training a child. He had begun to tire and Lexa seemed to never tire, moving with boundless energy and agility.

Lincoln and Octavia had emerged as Lexa dispatched the second warrior. They approached but kept a respectful distance. Octavia had wanted to rush in to help but Lincoln held her back by placing his hand on her shoulder.

"I might let you live if you answer my questions." Lexa suggested as she easily sidestepped a swing while bringing her blade across the back of his hand, causing him to curse and drop his sword, falling forward on his knees in exhaustion from the game that he had been playing with Lexa.

"Either you kill me or Nia does. Either way, I'm dead." he stated. "Better by your sword than in one of her cells." Lexa walked along-side him and placed the tip of her blade on his collarbone.

"You could save a lot of lives." She tried. One last attempt.

"So could you." he replied, using his good hand to free a dagger on his belt on the side opposite.

"Very well." Lexa sighed and lifted her sword in preparation for her killing stoke.

The warrior used what he had left and the knife was in his hand quickly and driving upward toward the exposed abdomen of Lexa. She had expected it, and she brought her sword down, timing it perfectly so she could remove the offending hand from his arm. It hit the ground with a thud and the knife danced on some rocks as it fell free from lifeless fingers.

The man screamed in pain and held what remained of his arm but only for a moment as Lexa spun, her blade slicing horizontally to the ground and silencing the man with one clean strike that put his head alongside his hand on the earth.

Lexa took a calming breath and closed her eyes as her sword hung limply at her side.

"Yu gonplei ste odon."(Your fight is over.) she whispered.

Octavia walked up and though she was amazed at the skill of Lexa, she could not say anything about it. It was clear Lexa was skilled, and while she fought she was fearless but now she looked at the one who brought down these five men, there was remorse that she wore for the men and a respect for the fallen. When she opened her eyes, she was staring at Octavia and she nodded at the smaller woman as if she could hear her thoughts.

Lexa glanced around and removed her weapons from the corpses.

"It isn't much farther and then we can rest." Lexa said, wiping the blood from her swords on the clothes of the Azgeda.

"Is it safe?" Octavia asked.

"As safe as any place when Azgeda are roaming the forest." Lexa shrugged. "If we rest through the day and make good time through the evening and night, we can be where we need to be by tomorrow morning."

After thirty more minutes of hiking, they came to the side of hill. Lexa had been focused on making sure there were no Azgeda around and both Lincoln and Octavia became alarmed when she removed her sword. Shaking her head, Lexa told them everything was fine and began to tap it along the hill. Octavia looked at Lincoln and he just shrugged in response. After a few moments, the sound of sword hitting solid ground was replaced by a dampened and hollow sound.

"We are here." Lexa stated with relief.

She felt around and she lifted a mat of moss that hid an entrance to a cave beneath.

Octavia and Lincoln grinned at each other at this surprise and walked forward into the entrance, followed by Lexa after securing the mat.

It was clear that the cave had not been well maintained but it would suffice for what they required. They would not be able to start a fire, but Lexa figured their warmth and that of the sun would be enough for them to be comfortable.

"We should eat then sleep. Lincoln, you can take first watch and I will take second."

"I am capable of sitting in the dark and looking at the entrance." Octavia stated, displeased she was being excluded.

"If I recall, you stated that you would choose rest first." Lexa replied to her objection then bit down on some dried meat then taking a drink of her water.

Octavia looked over to Lincoln who was preparing a spot to sit facing the entrance. After picking up some of the rations and water, she carried them over to Lincoln so they could eat together.  Once she had finished, she gave him what she could not eat and laid down so her head was in his lap. She picked up his hand and rested it on her stomach, interlacing their fingers.

"I thought you said she never jokes?" Octavia whispered to Lincoln who looked at her and smiled as he combed his hand through her hair with his free hand.

"Heda is full of surprises." he said, bending forward and kissing her forehead. "You should sleep now. Your body will thank you later."

"Mhm." she said, already on the way out of consciousness. She was exhausted and she had to fight her body to make it to the cave, but she made it. It had not gone unnoticed by Lexa who still remained impressed with the young girl. She could see first-hand why Indra is impressed with her.

As Lexa leaned back against the dirt wall behind her, she could feel the weight of the day and night on her eye lids. she wanted to keep moving and had considered leaving Lincoln and Octavia behind but it would mean leaving them in lands where Azgeda were traveling in groups. Groups that were looking for Clarke.

Before she fell asleep, she tried to think about what she could say to Clarke to say her to trust her once more and the only thing that she believed might work is to explain Costia. The notion of such a thing felt as if she had driven a dagger in her own heart and she abandoned the thought immediately. There had to be another way.

She threw her head back in frustration and when it connected with a root she groaned, forgetting she was not alone. Lincoln looked over in her direction and though it wasn't bright in the small cave, he could see Lexa with her hand rubbing the back of her head.

Octavia on the other hand, remained with her eyes closed beneath him. She was sleeping restfully after pushing her body further than she ever had before, and it wasn't over yet. Lexa let herself lean over on her side in an effort to become more comfortable.

She didn't intend on sleeping but Lexa was betrayed with a yawn by her tired body. She fell asleep thinking how much the colour of the lake reminded her of Clarke's beautiful blue eyes and how much she would give to have them look at her without a reminder of her betrayal once more.

Chapter Text

Clarke, Levai and Echo hiked their way through the forests in a northerly direction for the better part of the day. They had stopped for short breaks at Levai's insistence but Clarke wanted to get to their destination so Levai could be taken care of. Echo explained to them both that the antidote was just as painful as the poison and would take a day to clear his system so it was important they find somewhere safe.

A familiar throbbing in her ankle told her that she would not be able to continue for much longer without suffering serious injury of her own. It was numb for most of the day's journey which allowed them to travel at a fairly quick pace but with the sensations returning in the ankle, she could feel it start to slow her down. She was concerned that the next time they stop for a rest, she would be unable to proceed without help.

Clarke had spent most of the day watching Levai and noticing his body become increasingly fatigued thanks to the poison. It impressed her that he was able to fight through it but his eyes evidenced the fatigue of his body, even though they had never stopped looking around in the forest for any sign of Azgeda.

She saw Levai's breath catch from time to time and though he wouldn't wince, his movement had become much more rigid and he paid more attention to where his feet were as they went on. Clark figured the poison had worked its way through the rest of his body thanks to the many hours they had been travelling and she moved up beside him to help him along.

"Are we close?" Clarke asked as she continued to watch him, hoping for good news.

"Maybe an hour. We have to make it over that ridge and then..."

Half way through his explanation, an arrow lodged itself into the tree directly in front of them and they froze when they heard the order.

"Stop, and throw your weapons on the ground."

Levai dropped his weapons and lifted his hands, obeying the order and informing Clarke to follow suit. She frowned, but did as he requested. When she turned her head not hearing Echo drop hers, she was gone. The woman was nowhere to be seen and Clarke looked around in confusion mixed with anger. 'That bitch.' Clarke thought to herself.

When she turned toward Levai, she saw a model of calm as three large figures approached them from the north east. Levai was angry with himself for letting them be discovered, but it was getting difficult to travel in the woods with so little coverage thanks to the change in season.

"You look like her." he said as he held out a familiar paper alongside Clarke's face. Levai had seen a similar image before but these weren't the same men as he had seen at Niylah's trading post.

Levai watched as the Azgeda warrior reached out with his other hand and squeezed Clarke's bicep tightly with his rough hand, drawing a wince to appear on her face.

"No!" Clarke shouted. She watching Levai try to take the man down but was met with a resounding blow to his chest that ejected all the air from his lungs and knocked him hard to the ground, struggling for breath.

"You shouldn't travel with such frail company, Wanheda. You are lucky we came along to protect you from these pathetic Trikru. You expected to make it all the way to Toron with that branwada as your protection?" the man laughed.

Clarke looked down at Levai, a mix of concern and anger. She had to do something to protect him and her mind scrambled for a way to keep them both from any further attacks and an idea came to mind.

"He has to come with us." Clarke stated as twisted herself so she was no longer in the warriors grasp and stopping with a limp a few feet away, she glared at him defiantly. If they wanted her to go with them, they will help her friend or she would make it a very difficult journey. "Help him up and we can get back on our way."

"You don't give us orders." stated one of the warriors who laughed at the small blonde girl's audacity. Clarke shrugged it off and kept her attention on the one who had grabbed her.

"You know your Queen will be angry if she hears I've been mistreated and that includes those who are escorting me to Toron." Clarke summoned up her most angry glare and threw it at the trio, hoping they would believe it.

She almost grinned when she saw it. Uncertainty. She pressed her attack by continuing to dictate how things were going to be. If they wanted her, Clarke decided it would be on her terms and then she would figure out some way to get them out of this. She just needed time to figure it out.

"He is injured so one of you will have to help him."

"He was taking you to the Azplana?" The tall man asked and his posture shifted to less aggressive  one. There was disbelief in his voice, but it was laced with hesitancy because their orders were to not harm Clarke. They weren't told she would be escorted.

The two warriors looked to the one in charge with bewilderment at being ordered by the stranger. A stranger whose blue eyes turned to ice before them, eyes that were a startling similar to those of their Queen. The sight brought a shiver that ran up and down each of their spines with the understanding of what would happen to them or worse should Nia be angry with their treatment of the Skaikru leader.

"Get him up." the Azgeda leader spoke after a moment of contemplation. "Take their weapons. You are under our protection now."

Clarke nodded in understanding and hid her frustration. It would be much harder to get away from them if they didn't have weapons. She might have been able to convince the warriors not to harm them but not having their weapons would make any escape difficult.

She watched the Azgeda warrior yank Levai up off the ground so he could stand. Between the pain he felt from the poison and the most recent impact to his chest, Clarke's mind scrambled for a way out of this situation. It crossed her mind to tell them he had been poisoned but the they would likely leave him behind to die and that wasn't something she could accept.

"We have a camp not far from here. You and your..." The man paused, looking down at Levai with a disdain. "...escort, can rest." "The prince will decide what will happen to both of you. I expect you'll inform him that we have been more than accommodating."

He didn't wait for a response from Clarke after his words and with long steps, he marched forward in the direction that Levai and Clarke had been hiking.

Clarke took a moment and looked to Levai. When their eyes met, it seemed he was almost amused at the change in their circumstance. She had quite possibly saved his life with her plan but now they had another problem to overcome. Clarke gave him a reassuring nod and turned to walk in the direction of the leaving Azgeda warrior.

"I say we just kill'em. By how he looks, he won't make the trip back to camp." one of the Azgeda stated.

"You heard. We help him along. If he dies, it isn't our fault."

Levai was frowning at the two men openly discussing the possibility of his death and he fought the urge to say anything. It would do him little good in his state to try to start something he couldn't finish get away from the two men so he just tuned and started walking in the direction Clarke and the Azgeda went. He had to trust that whatever Clarke was doing, she had a plan to get them out of this.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Clarke was determined to walk alongside the warrior for as long as she could with his quick pace. Levai was assisted by the warriors that trailed them and although she was concerned about the poison in his system, she needed to find out where they were going and how long it would take.

She was about to ask him but through the trees she could see their destination. A short distance away, a group of Azgeda sat around a fire and were picking at the body of some cooked animal over a fire while others were about their own business moving around the area. Clarke noticed that sentries were stationed around the perimeter that was visible to her. When they got closer, the man who led her to the camp spoke in a celebratory tone.

"Looks like we all get to go home for a while, boys and girls." The warrior shouted as he slowed to let Clarke overtake him and walk toward the group near the fire.

As she walked past him to get a better look at how many were there she counted at least twenty she could see, feeling the slight hope in her body extinguish itself with doubt. No weapons and severely outnumbered, her heart raced in her chest. Her look of concern must have overtaken her because the large man placed his hand on her shoulder.

"No need to worry, Wanheda. If we can't get you safely to Toron, there isn't anyone who can."

The group around the fire laughed and cheered at the words they heard from their comrade, and Clarke picked up the sound of one voice in particular. The one who hadn't looked at her unlike all the others around the fire.

Echo.

Clarke ran as best she could at the girl and when she felt she was close enough she lunged, tackling her through the fire and sending the burning embers in every direction. Clark threw punch after punch at her, betrayal fuelling each of them. Clarke had the upper hand but Echo's training quickly turned the tables and Clarke was suddenly the one on her back with Echo raining down her anger in the form of fists.

Everyone who had been eating were now cheering the entertainment that suddenly broke out for their amusement. Some cheered the actions of the newcomer for being able to blindside Echo, while others cheered for Echo to represent all of Azgeda.

Clarke grabbed Echo and tried to flip her back over by taking a fistful of her brown hair and yanking it, resulting in them rolling around in the dirt for position until a loud voice boomed over the group, drawing disappointed groans from the onlookers.

"Break them up."

In seconds, the spectators broke the two apart but not before Clarke landed a solid kick to the side of Echo which made her grimace at the contact before there was enough distance to separate the two.  

" Echo, you should know better. Nobody is to harm her."

"She attacked me, Roan."

"I don't care. You are Azgeda and you knew your Queen's orders. Put her in shackles. Nia will decide what to do with her when we get back to Toron.

Roan said and directed his attention to the one who captured her. "Put in the tent next to mine. She knows what will happen to her if she tries anything."

The warrior nodded to the prince and directed Echo to start moving with a tilt of his head in the direction of Roan's tent. Echo who was throwing fire at Roan with her eyes, growled as she turned and marched off in the expected direction.

Both Clarke and Roan turned their attention on the Levai who came hobbling into camp, escorted by two of his warriors. She felt relief in seeing that he was unharmed beyond the injuries he had already sustained but the poison had worked itself deeper into his system. Clarke did notice he was standing taller, likely as defiance due to being surrounded by Azgeda warriors.

"And who might this be?" Roan asked.

"He was with her." the warrior pointed at Clarke who was still brushing dirt off her clothes while trying to avoid putting weight on her ankle.

Roan turned and looked at Clarke for an explanation.

"He is escorting me to Toron to meet your Queen." Clarke stated matter-of-factly.

"He was, was he?"

Clarke frowned at his choice of words.

"Put him in the tent with Echo and chain him up as well. Nia can have both." he said to one of the men helping Levai.

"He has been poisoned. Nia won't be pleased if you let him die." she repeated as she did earlier, trying to intimidate him by staring a hole through him.

"You clearly don't know my mother very well if you think she would reprimand her son for letting a Trikru farmer die. I think she would be more upset if I killed him and spared him the pain he will feel just before the poison takes him." he said as he walked up to Clarke with a smirk on his face, offering her his arm for balance.

Clarke looked past him toward the tent Levai was being taken to, concern on her face.

"Don't worry, I don't plan on letting him die. Not yet. He has answers to questions I and my mother haven't thought up yet."

Clarke looked up at him and let her eyebrows slant to show her displeasure with his plans.

"He is a friend. I don't want to see him killed or harmed." Clarke said again, but with less confidence in her voice.

"As long as he is in my protection, no harm will come to him unless he goes looking for it first. I will send our healer to him with an antidote. I trust this pleases the great Wanheda?" Roan asked with mockery in his tone.

Clarke nodded her acceptance of the offer. She was relieved Levai would be safe and they might be able to have to an opportunity to escape from these people. Clarke resolved to gain their trust and she decided the only way to do that was to get on prince Roan's good side. If this first meeting is an indication, it was not going to be easy. Roan didn't seem to be the trusting type and he was loyal to his mother, the Queen. She snapped herself from her thoughts to see Roan watching her. Both of them had been trying to decide something but Clarke broke her silence.

 "And Echo?"

"What about her?"

"What will happen to her?"

"She'll get what she deserves. Nia gave very specific orders and she knows what happens to those who disobey them. Your concern is touching seeing as moments ago you tackled her through a fire and kicked her in the ribs."

Clarke shakes her head and looks up at Roan as she takes his still offered arm.

"Not concern, I'm wondering if you have any more of that poison."

Roan let his eyebrows rise after hearing the unexpected words that came from Clarke and laughed so loud it caught the attention of his warriors who looked at him with a look of concern.

"You certainly live up to your reputation, Clarke kom Skaikru." he said, trying to collect himself. "As much as I would enjoy continuing this conversation right now, I think you would prefer I take you to our healer. You haven't put weight on that foot since you were pulled apart from Echo. He will give you something for the pain."

"Thank you."

Roan gave a very regal bow but then lifted his head and smirked at Clarke. "Afterward you can join me in my tent for dinner. We can continue our conversation. I think you'll find  we have a lot to discuss about the future."

"I agree." Clarke said.

She was exhausted, but he led her to where their healers tent was set up. After they entered, he ordered the man who was sitting in the chair to help Clarke with her ankle.

"Bring her to my tent when you are done then help the Trikru in the tent beside it. He was poisoned and will need an antidote. Stay with him and make sure he gets through the worst of it."

He turned his attention to Clarke but continued to direct his conversation at the healer. "And if you can, bring something to clean the cuts on Echo's face. It seems she got in a disagreement with someone and they got the better of her."

Chapter Text

"Time to move." Lexa stated, her voice just above a whisper.

Lincoln raised his hand to his eyes and Octavia mimicked his actions, rubbing the sleep from their eyes. It took a short moment for their eyes to adjust due to the minimal amount of light that entered the small cave. Octavia rose first and offered a hand to Lincoln to help him off the dirt floor and after putting their water containers in their packs, they joined Lexa near the covered entrance.

"Two groups passed by. One in the direction of Tondc, and another returning toward Azgeda territory." Lexa whispered, now that they were next to her.

"We will travel faster tonight and the risk of being seen will increase." Lexa looked to Octavia as she spoke. Octavia was determined to not show any of the physical strain that coursed through her legs and managed a stiff nod of understanding. She looked at Lincoln and he offered a similar nod.

Lexa propped the entrance open enough that they could squeeze out sideways through the narrow passage and once they were outside she recovered the entrance to hide the hidden entrance. She turned and joined the pair in a crouched position to observe their surroundings. Lexa looked up to the sky and figured it to be after midnight. The clouds in the sky above dampened the brightness of the moon. She was happy that would help hide their movement, but also hide those anyone who might be looking for Clarke as well. Once she was certain it was safe, she stood from her crouching position and inclined her head to the north, directing them to follow.

Lincoln looked at Octavia and she reassuringly squeezed his shoulder and flashed him a quick grin then whispered "Try to keep up!", taking off in a dash after the Commander who had transitioned from walking into a quick jog away from the two.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Their progress was quick and although Octavia had to push through physical strain that constantly threatened to pull her to the ground via tired legs and clumsy feet, she didn't fall once. She did notice, however, that Lincoln always seemed be nearby when the fatigue threatened to overwhelm her and it would not be long after that Lexa would call for a rest.

They managed to avoid patrols which was a relief to Lexa. Confrontation would create unwanted attention from the patrols Nia had sent into the territory. She knew it was reckless of her to have attacked the Azgeda the day before and she let her anger with Nia's actions override her better judgement and was determined to avoid that situation again if she could.

Lexa raised her had to slow their pace and they all dropped to a familiar crouching position. Even with the lack of leaves on the bushes and trees, they were still rather difficult to spot unless anyone happened to look in their direction. Lexa and Lincoln could smell the smoke that coated the trees and bushes in the area. Octavia looked at Lincoln with a puzzled look.

"What is going on?"

"There was a fire here. Could be Azgeda, could have been Clarke." he kept his voice low.

"How can you tell?"

Lincoln reached forward and pulled a branch of a bush closer to Octavia. "Smell this." he suggested.

Octavia leaned forward and quickly took a deep breath and all she could smell was the forest around her.

"Try it slower. Try to see if you can smell the smoke."

Lexa watched Octavia close her eyes and lean closer into the branch so it rested right below her nose and inhaled as she was instructed. When Octavia's eyes shot open, she knew why their two souls had come together. Lexa lifted her finger to her lips reminding then to remain quiet. She could leave them some time together while she went ahead and scouted the area she believed the smoke originated.

"Remain here." She whispered to the pair.

They both nodded their understanding but Lexa did not see it. She had already begun forward through the trees into a small clearing and walked toward a small cabin with a small stream of smoke coming through the chimney stack.

"Where are we?" Octavia queried as she tried to stretch out her sore muscles as best she could.

"Near the Azgeda border. The people who live closer to the border tend to have friendlier relations and trade quite often. I imagine she is going by herself to seem less threatening and get information." He turned his attention from the forest around them to Octavia and continued, "That or she's going to kill everyone again."

Octavia's face filled with amusement and she had to fight back a laugh at the flippant addition to his explanation, giving his a shove in the shoulder and earning her a grin from the big man.

Lexa continued forward with her hood up concealing her features and her cloak hung over her back similarly to hiding her weapons. stepping softly she moved around the rear of the cabin. She could hear gruff voices inside laughing and carrying on which elevated her blood pressure and quickened her breathing.

"Azgeda." She muttered with disdain.

She strained to hear what they were discussing and focused on the voices inside. She couldn't hear much of their conversation and decided to move closer in an effort to learn more but as she did, her muscles tensed at the sound of a foot stepping on grass a few feet away from her and around the corner of the cabin. It was moving in her direction. Lexa was caught in the open and she cursed her situation. She knew better.

Lexa moved slowly to the wall of the cabin, pressing her back into the dark wood while her hand found the familiar wooden handle of her favourite dagger. She gave it the slight turn to unlock it from the sheath and slowly drew it as the footfalls got closer.

Her heart rate was dead calm as the face of an Azgeda man sauntered past the corner unaware that Lexa was waiting for him in the darkness. He took two steps further and before he could say a word, he was abruptly struggling to choke down a breath of air as Lexa took position behind him, placed her hand under his chin to expose his neck and plunged her dagger into the exposed flesh.

The man's large hands clutched at his throat in a futile bid to prevent the blood from escaping the wound. Lexa caught his weight as he fell and slowly lowered him to the ground then placing her hand over his mouth while the remainder of his life ebbed from the fresh wound.

Lexa turned her attention back on the cabin once she could no longer feel life in him. The conversation seemed to go on uninterrupted and they weren't aware of what just happened. Trying to determine the numbers they were facing, she moved back into position against the wall and pressed her ear against it. Three voices, All male.

She looked at the body laying on the ground and she decided she would have to drag him into the tree line and out of sight of the cabin before she rejoined Lincoln and Octavia. She snuck up on them and Octavia clumsily reached for her sword after Lexa poked her with the rip of her blade from behind. Lincoln snickered quietly sharing a knowing glance at Lexa then an apologetic one to Octavia who looked back and forth between them, upset at their collusion. Lexa gave her a grin then whispered "Better me than Azgeda. Your ears must be as important as your nose."

Octavia nodded at the lesson, waiting for Lexa's instructions.

"There are three in the cabin. Azgeda. I took care of one of them but they will be suspicious when he doesn't return. Move to the sides of the door and I will stand in front of it. Once they come out for their friend, we will kill those who leave the cabin then move quickly inside to deal with the remaining Azgeda."

Lincoln and Octavia agreed , rising from their crouching positions and started off toward the cabin.

"Wait." Lexa said, grinning.

"Heda?" Lincoln asked.

"Lincoln, I've decided you are Azgeda."

Octavia and Lincoln looked at the other then back to the Commander with curiosity.

"Come with me." Lexa said, hopping up from where she crouched and jogged off in the direction she first walked when she told them to wait for her.

Lincoln stood there in the clearing in his newly acquired Azgeda furs and stood about fifteen feet from the front of the cabin. He had an axe in his hand and began chopping wood. Lexa and Octavia took position at either side of the door waiting for someone to exit the cabin.

"What the hell is he doing?" a voice inside the cabin asked loudly, which was followed by heavy footsteps on the wooden floor. Lexa motioned to Octavia who stood across the door to attack the moment the man appeared. She would enter the cabin and deal with the two inside.

The door opened swiftly and the Azgeda warrior shouted at the man he believed to be his friend, taking steps forward through the door and toward the steps leading down.

"What the hell are you doing making so much noise? We don't need more wood. We are leaving shortl..."

His words were cut short by Octavia who lunged forward, thrusting her blade into and through the back of the man. He had seen her sudden movement out of the corner of his vision but wasn't fast enough to do more than fall forward with her blade in him, pulling it from her hands. Lexa was through the door and moving on the men who had risen from their seats drawing their own weapons before the man Octavia had killed had hit the ground.

"Kill the bitch!" one of the Azgeda shouted, as he threw a cup across the room at another man who was laying in bed, slowly waking from the haze of sleep he just managed to fall into and trying to figure out what was happening.

In a slashing arc, one of the warriors brought his sword down which Lexa easily deflected. The second warrior followed quickly after with a similar swing that Lexa was unable to completely avoid, taking a blow that deflected off the armour on her shoulder but not before removing a piece of it.

Lincoln was running toward the cabin and Octavia was busy pulling her sword from the man on the ground while Lexa was busy with the men in the cabin. She had believed they would catch them unaware but these men were more seasoned than the men the day before.

Her body had moved to avoid the second blow and she used that momentum to spin and throw a kick into the abdomen of the first attacker which dropped him to a knee, gasping for breath. Her kick removed one from the fight for a moment but she had to swing her sword to the right side of her body, barely blocking the second swing from the warrior who landed his first strike.

She grimaced at the strength behind the blow and he pressed his weight forward through the contact, driving Lexa back against the wall, effectively pinning the arm that held her sword against her side. He pressed his face forward and a sickening grin revealed twisted and broken teeth. "Give up now and I'll make your end a lot more pleasurable than the one I gave the previous owner of this place."

Everything stopped.

Everything but the resounding thud of her heart pounding in her chest. The world around her had muted and she only saw the man in front of her, that sickeningly toothy grin and the words that replayed in her mind that made his life forfeit the moment he uttered them.

He believed he had Lexa at disadvantage but his cockiness turned to bewilderment and he winced in agony as Lexa drove her knee upward into his groin. That was followed by Lexa driving her forehead into the bridge of his nose, bringing a torrent of blood immediately down over his lips and over his chin. He staggered back which allowed Lexa to launch herself forward, screaming as she drove the man back in a tackle over the table they were sitting at when she entered.

Lincoln stepped through the door to see Lexa flailing fists downward onto one of the men's face that she had just forced over the table. There was another man on the ground trying to recover his breath and another who was running with a sword toward Lexa whose attention was solely focused on the man beneath her fists.

The sound of metal clashing next to her head wasn't enough to break her focus on the man below her. Lincoln blocked the Azgeda blow then quickly landed a strike of his own that killed the Azgeda man who didn't see Lincoln coming. Lincoln turned to see Octavia had entered behind him and plunged her steel into leg of the man the floor, not enough to kill him but to keep him from causing any problems if he tried to get away.

Lexa remained focused on the man below her, lost in the need to continue to make the man feel pain. He had long since stopped being able to protect himself nd his body lay limp on the floor when Lexa felt her hands begin to ache. She decided this would be an appropriate time to try something else, feeling for the dagger that hung at her hip. She drew it, lifting it over her head to slam it down into the man but was stopped before her downward thrust.

"Heda. He is dead." Lincoln stated as if it was obvious to them all.

Lexa's chest heaved at her lungs took deep breaths. She looked at Lincolns hand then up at him, the fire remaining in her eyes. His hand was still around her wrist which led to his quickly releasing of her wrist and stepping back apologetically.

"What do we do with this one?" Octavia asked, trying to draw Lexa's attention from Lincoln and on to the Azgeda who was still breathing.  

 Lexa's head snapped in her direction then down to the Azgeda beneath Octavia's blade.  The rage that had consumed her before had been replaced by something else and then she spoke.

"Leave him with me. Lincoln, take Octavia and make sure we are not interrupted." Lexa's voice was so calm it was unnerving.

"Sha, Heda." Lincoln accepted the order and directed Octavia to leave with him.

"If he knows anything about Clarke, I want to hear it." Octavia stated defiantly, refusing to move her feet.

"Octavia." Lincoln warned her, looking at Lexa's hands which were covered in blood. "You will not want to see what comes next."

She looked at Lincoln and then back to Lexa who was staring at the man on the floor. Her eyes weren't filled with anger. They didn't seem filled with anything and it forced Octavia to shiver. Lexa was looking at the man as if he didn't exist –like he was dead and his last breath was a mere formality.

Octavia and Lincoln walked out of the cabin and when Octavia turned to look back at the door, she took in a deep breath. When Lincoln took in a similar breath beside her and they exchanged a glance, she understood they saw something in the Commander they never wished to see again.

They could see Lexa walk up to the door and she looked out in the distance past them both as she closed the door. The man on the floor sat wide-eyed and wordless as Lexa turned around to face him.

She looked at the dagger in her hand then back to the man in front of her.

"We both know you are already dead. How you choose to leave this life will be determined by how you answer two questions."

The man looked at his sword which sat between the pair and it drew a sickening grin from Lexa. leading the man to abandon any notion of being his own hero. He looked up at Lexa and swallowed hard.

"What... what do you want to know?"

Chapter Text

Hey everyone!

I know I have been AWOL for a couple weeks and I'm terribly sorry for everyone who is waiting patiently for the next chapter. I feel like I owe you an explanation.

In the last two weeks after midterms my family had two members pass away and my focus hasn't been on the story. Things have been pretty chaotic and I haven't been able to keep things straight enough in my head to get words on screen.  I am setting a goal of having the next chapter done and out for the 29th of April.

Again, I am sorry for the long delay. I wish I could have gotten something down for you all but I just couldn't keep my thoughts straight. Thanks for waiting patiently!