Eravest was convinced that all the best things happened after midnight, during the summer when school was out she often stayed up the entire night, and caught a nap during the day. She didn’t seem to need to sleep quite as much as everyone else, especially during the full moon, in fact she loved the full moon more than anything. During its peak she would stay up all night running, and still have energy enough to be awake during the day. This always fascinated her, she had never heard of anyone else not needing sleep…but she didn’t dare bring it up to her parents. They had no idea she went sneaking out of the house at night and down to the woods and by the river, if they ever found out, they’d put bars on her windows for sure! She was supposed to be the ‘good girl’ who always did what she was told, and although her parents had never specifically told her she couldn’t go running around in the middle of the night, she was sure it was implied.
She was after all supposed to be ‘refined’ a girl of ‘good quality’, she was in line for the throne after all, of course she was a good 20 people away, but her parents never let her forget that she was royalty. They always expected her to behave in a certain way, it was almost as if they wanted her to act better than her peers. They insisted on meeting all of her friends, and if they didn’t like them, she ‘officially’ wasn’t allowed to see them anymore. She did it anyway though, she was tired of being told what to do.
It was time, she got out of her bed slowly, she had been pretending to sleep, and listened quietly for the sounds of her parents breathing, it was soft and rhythmic, they were asleep. She grabbed a box out from under her bed, it contained her ‘night running’ clothes, the clothes her Mom would die if she ever say. Not a single designer label among them. Tonight’s choice was a pair of cut off jean shorts, and a white silk camisole top, comfortable and moderately elegant in her opinion.
She dressed quickly, and pulled her long blond hair back into a pony tail, she needed it out of the way, and glanced in the mirror on the way out. The moon light seemed to dance on her skin, and she almost seemed unreal…unhuman even. She brushed off the thought as quickly as it had come to her. She grabbed her mp3 player and slide open the screen on her window. She was on the second story, but because there was an upstairs porch she was able to just walk out onto it, being careful not to make a sound yet. She climbed down the lattice on the side (it always surprised her that it held up her weight so well) of the porch and jumped the last foot to the ground, landing as quietly as she could.
Once she was down she looked up at the house, it was 3 stories tall, with a two story porch. It had huge white columns, and large bay windows. The entire house was almost blindingly white during the daytime sun. It had been in her family for years upon measure. She loved the house, something about it always spoke to her inner self.
She shook herself back to reality, and turned on her heel, she was barefoot, she liked it best that way, she felt closer to the ground, the very earth that way. She headed south, for some reason she always ran exactly the same direction, taking the same path. One time she tried to run the other direction, heading north, and it just didn’t feel right. In fact, she would go so far as to say it felt wrong. Deep down inside she knew she was supposed to be going South.
Once she started the music and began running, she wouldn’t stop till she was in the woods, by the river and the water falls, it was well over a mile from her house, at the same time it was still a part of their families property. Which always made her grin, she felt as if the little clearing were her own, almost as if it had been made for her. When she was younger she liked to pretend as if the woods had been made just for her, that they were her very own woods. Now that she was older she still felt that way at times.
The area in which she was headed was overgrown on all sides, but inside the overgrowth was a seemingly perfect circle, as if someone had cleared it out ages ago, and nothing had dared to grow there again except the soft sweet grass and a few shade trees. The little pool under the waterfall was deep enough to go swimming in during the summer, and after it left the pool it joined into the river headed for, what Eravest could only assume, was the ocean.
It was certainly warm enough for swimming, and when Eravest got to ‘her’ clearing she left her mp3 player by the rock with the hole where she hid her belongings…and slipping off the shorts she dove in. The water was cool against her skin, hot from the run, and the moon was amazingly bright. She never had a problem seeing in the clearing, the moonlight danced off the water making even the trees themselves look silver. Eravest was certain it was the most magical place on earth…and it was hers.
She was staring at the reflection of the moon on the pool when she saw it, something moving in the shadows just beyond her vision. She glanced up quickly, but she didn’t see anything there, she brushed it off thinking it must have been an owl flying between her and the moon. After a few laps around the pool she climbed out, and walked to the hole in the rock across the path, it too seemed to have been made just for her. She kept a towel in there, a book or two, and her journal. As the clearing was her only private place, the only place she could ever be alone in, it seemed only fitting she leave it there. She leaned against the rock and closed her eyes, and opened her mind.
She never told anyone about this either, she knew they’d think she was crazy, and having a crazy royal wasn’t a good thing, she’d be locked up somewhere for sure. When she closed her eyes, and opened her mind, it was almost as if she could feel the water fall, the pool, even the tree’s around her. Like the forest itself had a heart beat…only tonight something was different. There was another heart beat there besides her own, and she wasn’t sure that it was entirely human, she had never felt anything like it in her life. Her eyes snapped open immediately and she practically jumped up and began to look around her.
Just as she was beginning to think she had imagined it, something stepped out of the shadows across the pond, and headed around the ponds towards her. She placed her back to the rock behind her and waited, whatever it was it was careful to walk in the shadows so she couldn’t get a good look at it. It almost seemed to fear the moon, if that was even possible…and when it stopped 10 feet from her she was able to make out that it wasn’t an it, it was a man.
She gasped at the sight of him, he was the palest man she had ever seen, he seemed even paler than her. He was tall too, she could tell he would easily be taller than her 5 foot 6 frame, and he wasn’t just skin and bones either. He seemed well muscled…she shook her head in an attempt to clear her mind. He seemed to be staring at her as well, with what she could only describe as reverence. Which was just absurd, there was no way he could know she was royalty, she didn’t wear anything to mention it.
Finally finding her voice she spoke as loudly and forcefully as she could, “You are trespassing on private property, who are you, and what is your business here?” She hoped she had sounded brave and commanding, but it was hard to tell when one was a little afraid…
He tilted his head and continued to stare at her for several moments, she was just fixing to speak again when he sank to one knee and bowed his head, he didn’t look up when he spoke, and she was glad of it, for his voice was shocking enough, it was unnaturally soft, almost melodic, it sounded a lot like the river near her. And at the same time she had no trouble hearing what he said next, and she knew she would never forget it as long as she lived.
“My most beautiful Queen, I have been sent to fetch you and protect you, to take you back to your palace so that you may rule over your kingdom. It has been a great honor to do this service for my kingdom.”
Now I was sure he was nuts, I wasn’t Queen, sure I was close to the throne, but I’d never be Queen, not unless 20 people died! I had only one option I felt, I turned as quickly as I could, and I ran, I ran north…against all the warnings my brain was giving me I ran in the wrong direction, towards home. As I left the clearing I heard him cry out, almost too faint to hear, “Wait my Lady, It’s not safe out there! You need to be protected!” I shook my head almost like I was trying to remove his very existence from my mind, and I just ran….listening for footsteps behind me, I was focusing so hard on trying to hear them, I didn’t even see him. I ran right into him, and as soon as I did, I knew I was in trouble.
He was the other guys complete opposite, where the other guy was light and seemed to radiate warmth, this guy was dark, he had skin the color of the tree’s around me, or even the red dirt under my bare feet. His hair was long and jet black, and when he grinned my heart stopped cold. He reached out impossibly fast and grabbed my wrist tight. I was certain he could have broken it if he had wanted too.
“What do we have here? The Queen just running into me like this? It must be destined to be…” he reached out with his other hand and tilted my head up so that I had to look at him, his eyes were as black as a night when the moon was hiding, and I shuddered at the sight of them.
Trying to remain calm I breathed in as deeply as I could, and when I spoke I hoped I put enough force in my voice to cover the fear I was feeling. “Who do you think you are? Don’t you know who I am? Unhand me or I shall have you arrested!”
At this he laughed, first he was a soft laugh, but it rose into a loud laugh that seemed to bounce off the very tree’s around us. Nothing about this man felt right, and everything in my was telling me to run, run as fast as I could, back to my clearing, back to my sanctuary…it was almost as if he could read my thoughts because he grabbed my other wrist and tightened his gripe to the point I had to fight tears, I had never been treated like this, I’d never had someone lay a hand on me, and I had no idea what to do, I was certain he was going to kill me now…
“Let her go, or I will kill you.” I turned my head as far as I could to see him behind me, it was the man from my clearing, at this point I was glad to see him, even if he was a crazy loon at least he would be able to get help right?
The moon was beginning to set, and I could see the faintest hints of the coming dawn on the horizon through a small gap in the tree’s, I really needed to get home before my parents noticed I was gone, otherwise I’d never get out again. But there was a crazy lunatic holding me in place…
“I’ve got her, she’s mine now, what are you going to do about it? You aren’t a full-fledged protector, you’re just in training! Why on earth did they send a boy to do a man’s job anyway?”
I could tell that the darker man, who did in fact appear to be older, had struck a nerve with his last comment for the younger lighter boy was growing angrier by the minute, I knew there was a fight coming, and I hoped I could escape while they sorted this out on their own!
The lighter haired boy lunged at the darker haired man who threw me to the ground and headed towards him, I must have hit my head on something, because they next thing I knew I was sitting up wincing, in the bright sunlight, with the strange light haired boy hovering over me looking very worried. I knew that things could only get harder from here, because I was sure by now my parents knew I was late. And to make matters worse I had an awful headache, I felt as though my head were going to explode, and the fact that it was at least 90 degree’s didn’t help matters at all!
I said the first thing that came to my mind “Who in the world are you? And what do you want with me!?” I was angry now, I had been having a perfectly good night until he showed up!! As I sat up I noticed I was back in my clearing, he had laid me down with my head on the towel, and I quickly noticed my headache seemed to be fading away. But I didn’t care about that, at the moment what I wanted were answers! Why were there for the first time every people in MY woods, Why were two complete strangers fighting over me, and most importantly, why had they referred to me as their Queen when I most certainly was not!
This man, too, almost seemed to be listening to my thoughts, his head was cocked to the side again as if he was listening to someone talk very intently, this part creped me out the most, and almost as if heard me he sat up and looked away almost embarrassed. “Well, explain!” , I shouted, at this point I was past politeness.
“Yes, I can read your thoughts to some extent, and you’d be able to read mine if you tried hard enough, and with practice you can do it without trying.” He said this quickly staring at the forest floor “I’m sorry if it offends you my Queen, I won’t do it again, or I’ll try not to, I’ve never not done it…It’s part of my training, to protect you.” Then he glanced up at me and it felt like his eyes sliced through to my very soul. “But you are my Queen, and I am your protector, and your people desperately need you right now, you are not just a human mortal, you are a farie, and since our Queen has died you are next in line to rule…”
At this my jaw dropped, and I said the first thing that came to mind, and then I remembered I was technically a lady and said “You have got to be kidding me, I’m completely human! I’m freaking royal!”