The Perilous Journey – Part II

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. Click for Part I.

Annabelle knew that if the knights saw her, they would certainly stop her and ask her why a peasant girl her age was riding on this trail in the middle of the night. That would waste valuable time. And if they were enemies, she might be captured. Thinking quickly, she slid off of Star and led her into the small clump of trees on her right. Hoping that Star wouldn’t make any noise, she guided her along the side of the road, pausing behind the trees to listen and try to locate the knights. Finally, she was alongside them. She listened closely.

“We’ll sneak up on the castle tonight,” one of the knights, who had a rough voice, suggested. “We could figure out which window is his, and climb through and kill him while he’s sleeping. They’ll never know we were there.”

“Yes,” another added, “they may even think that it was one of his workers.”

“No,” a third man replied. “It won’t work. It’s too risky.”

When she realized what was going on, Annabelle caught her breath. These were enemy knights, and they were planning to kill the king! She quickly led Star past the soldiers, being careful not to make any noise. Miraculously, they made it past. She remounted Star, and urged her to gallop on the grassy side of the path, where she figured they wouldn’t make as much noise. With the help of the moonlight, she quickly made it to King’s Tavern. She slid off of Star and tied her up, then ran inside.

The sweaty barkeeper looked up as she dashed in. “May I help you, miss?”

“Yes,” Annabelle cried. “There are some enemy knights down the road, and they are planning to kill the king tonight!” Several men at the tables leapt to their feet and volunteered to go help round them up. The barkeeper organized a team of men to capture the knights.

Annabelle galloped Star down the path next to the tavern. It was a short way to the cottage, and when she got there, an elderly lady, who had heard Star’s hoof beats, rushed out of the cottage.

“What’s wrong, my dear?” she asked.

“My mother has the fever,” Annabelle panted. “Do you have a remedy I could take her?”

“Yes, my dear,” she replied, rushing into the house and returning a few seconds later with a small glass bottle of liquid. Grinning, she handed it to Annabelle, who peered at it. Frowning, Annabelle tried to identify the liquid, but could not.

“What is this?” Annabelle asked curiously. Wondering how it could help her mother, she sloshed the liquid in the bottle around. Slyly, the old lady grinned. Annabelle noticed that it was a toothless grin.

“They are Tears,” she replied.

“What?”

“Every time someone comes to me while they’re crying, I give them a hankie. Then, later, I wring the Tears out of the hankie. I save the Tears. If you rub it on the bottom of your mother’s feet, the fever will go away,” the old lady, who was still grinning, explained.

Under the cover of the darkness, Annabelle grimaced. At least Mother doesn’t have to drink it, she pondered. She thanked the old lady for the Tears and galloped back up the path. At the head of the trail, a dark figure stepped into her path. Star stopped. When the figure stepped into view, Annabelle realized that it was the barkeeper.

“The men are fighting up ahead. I’ll lead you to a short cut. We need you to warn the king’s guard about the knights. I don’t doubt that they’ll beat our men. Our men are pretending to be thieves,” he said as he mounted his horse.

They galloped to a small path next to the barkeeper’s cottage. The barkeeper stopped and Annabelle continued on her way. Eventually, the king’s castle came into view. She stopped at the gate where the drawbridge was down. She yelled at the top of her lungs until a guard noticed. She quickly told him to pull up the drawbridge and told him what the knights had said. She galloped back down the street, Star’s hooves thundering on the cobblestones.

Finally she was home. She took off Star’s bridle and put her in her stall. Star immediately dozed off, tired from the long ride. Annabelle quietly slipped into the cottage, where she found her mother sound asleep. She rubbed the Tears on the bottoms of her mother’s feet, slid into bed, and fell asleep immediately.

Happily, the next day, her mother was completely well. To her mother’s delight, the grateful king came by and thanked Annabelle for saving his life. She blushed modestly. When the king offered to give her anything in his kingdom in thanks for her services, she suggested only one thing as she smiled at her mother. Grinning in delight, she asked that he marry her mother, whose husband had died when Annabelle was a baby, and he agreed. And, of course, they all lived happily ever after.

The End

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