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

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.