The Perilous Journey – Part I

I wrote this story a couple of years ago for a creative writing class, and I still consider it one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know what you think. 🙂

Annabelle pulled her cloak tighter around her as she made her way to the tiny stable. The chill of the wind seeped through her thick wool cloak. Struggling against the wind, she slowly tugged the door open. Finally, she was able to slip inside. A copper colored mare, who had been munching her hay, lifted her head and stared at Annabelle in surprise.
“Easy, Star,” Annabelle murmured soothingly to the high strung mare. As Annabelle slipped the bridle over her ears, Star snorted and tossed her head. Annabelle led the mare out of the barn into the icy sleet. Annabelle urged her to the small cottage where she and her mother lived. In a flash, she tied the horse and dashed inside. She walked quickly to where her mother lay on the bed made of homespun cloth stuffed with straw, which was next to the blazing fire. She knelt down and caressed her mother’s sweaty hand. Her mother moaned.
“Don’t worry, Mother,” Annabelle told the feverish form softly. “I won’t be gone long. I’ll just go to the cottage where the woman who makes the remedies lives. I’ll be back soon with your medicine.”
“Ride past the castle,” her mother told her. “Turn to the right by Thick Pine. Turn left at the Dragon Inn. Follow the path until you get to King’s Tavern, then go on the side path. It leads to her cottage. Please hurry, daughter. The fever is worsening.”
“I will,” Annabelle promised. She quickly went outside and mounted Star. She and her mother were poor and they were lucky to own a horse as fast as Star. She nudged Star with her heel, and galloped off into the wintry darkness.
Quite soon, the tall castle loomed ahead. The dirt road changed to cobblestones. Finally she was able to see the medieval city that she had always wanted to travel to, but she took no notice of the lovely dresses and supplies that the stores advertised. She was soon past the castle and galloping on toward Dark Forest.
When Annabelle reached the edge of the gloomy forest, she halted Star, who was breathing heavily, dismounted, and let her catch her breath as she studied the path she was leading Star down. Since the path was old and rutted, and was strewn with rocks, Annabelle knew that she would have to let Star go slowly. Sighing, she realized that she was not looking forward to the trip through the forest.
They picked their way slowly along the path. In the darkness, Annabelle pushed Star as fast as she dared. The going was slow, but finally they made it to the other side of the forest. Annabelle urged Star forward again. Star responded with a burst of speed. Soon they were galloping at full speed again.
Finally, Annabelle spotted Thick Pine towering above the tiny trees that lined the trail. She slowed Star, prepared to let her catch her breath, but Star plowed forward, turning right at Thick Pine when Annabelle commanded her. She seemed to sense that something was wrong, that she was on an important mission.
Annabelle slowed Star to a trot, letting her catch her breath while still making progress. After a while, she spotted the small village where the Dragon Inn was located. She quickly found the inn, and turned left onto the small path next to it. Star sped up, seeming to sense her rider’s urgency.
They continued galloping up the path. Suddenly, Star stopped, her head high, her eyes rolling. Annabelle sat quietly, listening for any noises that might show what had scared Star. She heard the thud of hoof beats. Straining her ears, she struggled to pick up the telltale sound she was listening for. The clanking of armor reached her ears.
“Knights!” she whispered.

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