Roses and Thorns

opposites attract
dare to love and hate
magical world
enimies to lovers

‘look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent underneath it’

What would you do to save your people? For Rosie, it is to join the Nightbornes, fearsome creatures of the darkness. They are beings that dress in furs over scant clothing and wear animal skulls for masks.

Rosie is given a choice to be true to her birthright as a Sunwalker, vibrant creatures of the forest known to frolic in the woods in flowy clothing decorated with flowers or... embrace the delicious temptation of darkness with Thorne, ruler of the Nightbornes.

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Chapter 1
The tension and animosity between Nightbornes and Sunwalkers has been around for centuries. We’re polar opposites in both beliefs and lifestyles. Nightbornes are fearsome and dangerous creatures of the night. They roam the world in the darkness and lavish in the moon’s powers. They are commonly dubbed as heathens by my people.  In contrast, we Sunwalkers -or treehuggers as per the Nightbornes- are pleasant and vibrant creatures that frolic the woods during the day. We are well known for our love of life and nature.  To keep the peace, an agreement between the two has been made. Every Blood Moon, both Nightborne and Sunwalker will send a tribute coming from a noble bloodline. It will signify that both sides are willing to sacrifice for the peace of our lands.  Today is the Blood Moon. And today, we will find out who will be chosen to be sent to heathens as sacrifice. “Will you sit still?” Daphne, my beautiful best friend, kindly demanded with bared teeth. She was nervous. I can see it in her lush wide green eyes and the way she hid behind her straight golden hair.  I nod before getting lightly smacked at the side of my head. “Aw!” “Don’t move.” She sighs dispassionately brushing- well more accurately- pulling my hair back. Daphne has this connotation that if I’m presentable and dignified enough, the King won’t choose me for the sacrifice.  I’m of noble blood, a dying bloodline due to the Blood Moon that has the Sunwalkers send us away. So far, I’ve been saved twice from being chosen.  I don’t really know how the King chooses the sacrifice. There was a rumor the King likes to choose the weakest nobles because he has no use for them but then last Blood Moon he chose his own son. One of the Princes who happens to be a very powerful warrior. They say that the King and the Prince had a fight which made him send away his own son but no one really knows.  The Prince was one of my best friends. I still mourn for him every day.  There’s a lot of mystery shrouded by this choosing. The nobles we get from the Nighbornes vary as well. Some are too weak and frail that they’re tossed to be servants in the palace while some are so intelligent that they work for our elders. I hardly see any of them as they prefer to work in the shadows. On the rare occasion that I do, they’re always so tall, lanky and decorated with glowing tattoos.  I often wonder and feel frightened for the nobles that get chosen for the Nightbornes. We treat them fairly here but the question is did they treat our people well?  The stories circulating this is enough to put me in bed for days. I heard they’re either killed for fun, made into slaves or placed in brothels to be bed companions.  Daphne is fortunate enough not to be from a noble bloodline. I’m glad she never has to worry about leaving here. Daphne absolutely loves the sunlight, nature and the animals.  “Remember to smile.” She finally says pulling away to take a good look at me from the reflection of the mirror.  A truly talented girl, Daphne managed to tame my auburn hair into beautiful soft curls that bounced in my every move. She wove pink roses into it as well making her favorite flower crown. My makeup is done a little more dramatically than usual but it did make my blue eyes pop which I liked. Daphne painted my lips a ruby red color to compliment my hair.  I have to admit, Daphne made me look extremely gorgeous at least just for today. Honestly, anyone Daphne works on becomes gorgeous. She had tears in her eyes at this point as she hugs me from the back. “It won’t be you. There are plenty of other nobles to choose from.” Plenty? I wanted to laugh if it wasn’t going to hurt her feelings. I’ve been saved in the past because I’m always obedient to the King and I was a good companion and choice for the eldest Prince.  However, the Prince is no more. The seemingly untouchable Prince that was told to be the favorite was sacrificed for the greater good of our lands. We really couldn’t handle another war. Too much blood has already been spilled.  “I’ll be okay, Daph.” I tell her, wrapping my own arms around my best friend. I wasn’t sure who I was trying to convince. Was it her or was it me? Daphne’s lower lip trembles as she pulls away. “Enough of this. I’ll see you in a few hours when you’re safely back at home. Please don’t ruin your dress.”  “I won’t.” I look down at the said dress. It’s in a beautiful light blue color. The kind of blue that a clear afternoon sky would be. It’s embroidered with dozens of white flowers. The skirt becomes translucent and falls a few inches above my knees.  She places a mesh blindfold decorated with colorful flowers on my hand. “Don’t forget this.”  It was tradition that we covered our eyes during the choosing. Before, it was so the King wouldn’t be able to identify us as easily and everyone would be given an equal chance in being chosen.  That was before.  Now with a handful of us left, I’m sure the King could easily name us even with the blindfold on.  Daphne takes one last lingering look my way before exiting my room. I saw several tears fall from her eyes as my door closed.  Most Sunwalkers live in trees. The grand palace itself is built around a treetop. It’s beautiful, elegant and always lit very well. Everyone else lives in the surrounding area in quaint sophisticated tree houses.  My own house has a beautiful architecture that was modeled after the palace with intricate wooden detailing and graceful structures.  The Nightbornes live underground or was it in caves? I don’t really know. There’s a reason why they’re called heathens. Sunwalkers live by beauty and finesse while they live in dark shadowy places like brutes.  There’s really no wonder why we never get along. We were just too different and the hate is embedded deep down in our hearts to ever make things better.  I close the door to my house and with one last final shaky breath, I head for the palace. By the position of the sun it’s an hour away from setting which gave me exactly an hour to gather myself.   My parents passed on a long time ago. My father from a skirmish during one of his patrols at night and my mother due to a sickness. I have an older brother but he was chosen a few years ago. It was only myself left. Life as a Sunwalker hasn’t been the best but it’s all I’ve ever known.  I’m a healer for the Sunwalkers. My mentor often mentions that I’m one of the good ones which I suppose is the reason the King has kept me around. Through the years, I’ve kept his army alive and well but the dwindling numbers of the nobility is a cause for concern. I won’t continue to be as lucky anymore.  I don’t pass by anyone on my way to the palace. The Blood Moon has everyone solemn and in their homes before sundown. Usually, the bridges through and from the palace would be lively with vibrant colors of the Sunwalkers making the most out of the last light.  Nervously, I walk towards the palace with the wind blowing my dress softly. It was getting colder. Sunwalkers are more powerful during Spring and Summer while the Nightbornes favor Fall and Winter.  I pass several patrolling guards who respectfully bow and smile at the sight of me. Many have been my patients and many more are my friends.  “It won’t be you.” They whisper in hushed tones.  By the time I make it to the entrance of the palace, I’m sweaty despite the cold breeze. Try as I may to look unbothered, I was extremely anxious.  No Blood Moon has ever been kind. Each time I’d feel my body go on autopilot as I tune out the world and pray that it won’t be me or anyone I know. Each time, my prayers are never answered. It’s always been someone I’m close with or cared about.  I remember the Blood Moon where my brother and I would walk hand in hand towards the palace. He would ruffle my already messy hair and flick my nose. “It won’t be us.” He would say confidently. He’s a general. They wouldn’t choose him.  Yet, he was chosen.  I remember the moment we locked eyes before he was taken away.  “Rosie.” I look up in surprise. I didn’t even notice that I was already inside the palace. The bright enchanting lights, thick white columns and the high ceiling assured me that I was in fact in the right place. I was right outside the throne room. Finn, a fellow noble and a dear friend, smiled down at me encouragingly. He, like Daphne must have gotten the same idea that if dressed properly, you wouldn’t get chosen. Finn is in a crisp cream button up shirt and light brown tight pants. The stark green hair that he’s known for is pushed back neatly. “Ready for this?” “Are we ever?” I say with a forced laugh.  He points to my hand that’s currently clutching my blindfold. “Let me help you.”  “Okay. Thanks.” In the previous years, either my brother or the prince would put it on for me. This year, I had neither of them.  I turned around and handed him the mesh material that would cover my eyes. It wouldn’t obstruct my eyesight too much. It was mesh and slightly see through. The flowers were the only real hindrance.  When the blindfold is snuggling tied, I face him and smile. “Thanks, Finn. Let me put yours on.”  He nods appreciatively. “I’ve lost my sister too. She’s usually here to do it for me.”  “I know. It’s okay. It won’t be you.” I say hoping it’s true. Finn has too much at stake to leave. He has five other younger sisters that rely on him.  Finn’s blindfold is also mesh but decorated more manly with leaves and vines.  We hold hands once I’m done and with yet another shaky breath, we enter the throne room.

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