Midnight Run

Here is my attempt at writing a book, it is as of yet unfinished and a work in progress so I’ll continue to post updates on my blog as I go along. But I thought it would be so much easier if I posted the whole thing on one page so that everyone could find it!

Please read and review 🙂

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Midnight Run

By: Kristina Ware

Chapter 1

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 does, 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 saw. 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 ponytail; 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 three 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 would not stop until she was in the woods, by the river and the waterfalls, 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 would think she was crazy, and having a crazy royal wasn’t a good thing, she would be locked up somewhere for sure. When she closed her eyes, and opened her mind, it was almost as if she could feel the waterfall, the pool, even the trees around her. As if the forest itself had a heartbeat…only tonight something was different. There was another heartbeat 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.

 

Chapter 2

She gasped at the sight of him, he was the palest man she had ever seen, and he seemed even paler than she did. 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 was not Queen, sure I was close to the throne, but I would 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 trees 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…

Chapter 3

“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 are 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.  However, I didn’t care about that, at the moment what I wanted were answers! Why were there for the first time ever 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…its 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, 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!”

 

Chapter 4

If I was a fainting sort of girl, I am sure I would have at that point; instead, I just looked him straight in the eyes, which was hard to do because he seemed capable of seeing into my very soul, and asked him “What do you expect me to do? If I even believe you, and I’m not saying I do, do you honestly expect me to give up my entire life and follow you to some make-believe world and be a pretend Queen?!?” At this point, I was screaming the words at him, and he flinched away almost as if I had smacked him, and part of me felt a smug satisfaction in all this.  However, at the same time for some reason, I really did not want to hurt him, and I have no idea why, but it almost felt as if I knew him. Like when you meet someone you had played with as a child and had forgotten until you are introduced again when you are older. “What’s your name?” I asked him rather abruptly, he stammered a minute before he replied softly “Kilava, my name is Kilava, it means ancient protector, and I am at your service.”

Glancing down at the watch on my wrist I realized I was in big huge trouble, it was past noon, I had to get home quickly, and come up with a good excuse for where I had been…without letting my Mom see what I was wearing. “Kilava, I don’t know that I believe you about being a queen, but I know I’ll be a dead person if I don’t get home soon, and without my parents noticing me, can you help?”

“Your parents already know we are coming, a messenger has been sent ahead to warn them, and to tell them to pack your things. We’ve been afraid this day would come for many years now…and we’ve been preparing this entire time.”

“You’ve been doing WHAT?!” I screamed at him “This is MY life, I can make my own choices, and I make my OWN path in life! What makes you think that I’m going to just go along with all these ‘plans’ you’ve made for me?!?”

At this point I was just freaking out, I had spent my entire life with people telling me what to do, how to do it, what to wear, even who to be friends with, I had reached my breaking point, I just couldn’t take any more of this at all! I practically jumped up, making myself light headed in the process, and I spun around and began to walk away. I turned my back on him, and I walked away. I didn’t care if he followed me; in fact, I was kind of hoping he was just part of my imagination, that when I left the clearing and got back home this would all be a dream. I didn’t care if my mother yelled at me, if my father looked at me with disappointment; I just wanted to be home. To forget any of this had ever happened. And at that thought, I began to run…faster than I had ever run before I ran towards home and I didn’t look back.

Chapter 5

I slammed open the door and slammed it shut behind me locking it as quickly as I could; I stood in the grand foyer panting, trying to catch my breath and make sense of what was going on around me…it was only then that I realized I was not alone, in fact I was far from alone. The sitting room off the foyer was full of people, and all of them were looking at me as if they had been expecting me, like they knew me, and I knew none of them I was sure of that. And none of them looked human, they were all stunningly gorgeous, and had delicately fine features, high cheekbones and beautifully defined eyes. And if I wasn’t mistaken their ears almost seemed pointed…I’m sure that was a trick of the light. All of them, male and female, had long hair, and porcelain white skin.  I blinked a couple of times to try to clear my eyes, maybe I was just imaging them, but they were still there. And all at once, the entire crowd knelt down on the floor and bowed to ground towards me.

I’m not sure how long I stood there staring at them bowing at me, but after a while, it honestly felt like forever, one of them sat up so that she was kneeling and looked straight into my eyes, it seemed as if she too could see into my very soul, and when she spoke her voice sounded almost musical, like a piano playing. “Long live the Queen, Long live Queen Eravest!” The rest of the crowd joined in, and I just continued to stare at them, they had me confused with someone else I was sure, because I was no Queen to anyone.

Looking around frantically I saw my parents standing to one side in the sitting room, I rushed in past the crowd of people kneeing on the floor and threw myself into my father’s arms. “Please Papa, Please tell me what’s going on here, please tell me this is just a dream…” but when I looked up into his face I could tell it was no dream, he looked sad, almost mournful, and glancing over at my mother I saw shock mixed with pride. I knew then and there my life would never be the same.

 

Chapter 6

My Papa was the first person to speak, it took him a while, he seemed almost unsure about how to proceed; I’d never seen my Papa unsure about anything in my entire life. I just needed him to tell me it was going to be ok, but I had a feeling that was not what he was going to say. He sat me down on the chaise and began to pace back and forth, something he often did before making a speech…

“Eravest, my dear Eravest, the time has come for me to tell you the truth about who we are, and I need you to listen to me without interrupting, for it is a long story, a hard story, and I need you to promise me you will listen in silence till I’m done, can you do that for me?”

He paused long enough for me to nod my head, I seemed to have lost my voice, then he began, my father had always been a good story telling, and this was his best yet…

“Long ago when the world was newer, when there were fewer humans in it, fairies lived alongside humans, helping them and trying to guide them, but humans were violent in nature, and in the end the fairies had to vanish leaving behind just the ‘bedtime’ story memory of themselves as the only evidence they had ever been there, because they could no longer stand to watch the pain humans inflicted upon each other and the earth and her creatures. The fairies believe that everything was connected in a way that we needed the earth just as much as she needs us, and that our job was to take care of her, and her creatures, and especially each other. Some of the fairies, however, had taken human mates, and fairies always mate for life, to leave them would have killed them. So they stayed behind, keeping the secrets of their world, and passing them on only to the children they thought would keep the secret well, and use it to help and not hurt. The humans were naturally drawn to the ‘human’ fairies, and they rose in power and in statue, becoming the royal powers we have today. And every once and awhile a faire human would go back to live with the fairies, or one of them would come to leave here. And this was how I was born, my mother saw my father in the woods one day, and fell in love with him. She was the Queen’s daughter, and was expected to produce and heir, a daughter, to rule someday. But she didn’t, she just had the one son, me, because she died in childbirth, my father raised me up with the knowledge that I would need to produce an heir someday, that I was a faire, which is why when you were born we gave you a faire name, and we raised you to one day become the Queen. Now my Grandmother has passed away, and it is time, time for you to accept the crown, and your destiny. Time for you to grow up now, I had always hoped we’d have more time, but it wasn’t meant to be…I hope you understand that everything we’ve done, we’ve done it out of love…”

Chapter 7

I just stared at him with my mouth hanging open, my whole life had been a life, my parents had been lying to me for 17 years, I wasn’t even human! How was that possible? I felt human, I looked human, how could I be anything but human? It was then that Kilava walked in, he turned to me and bowed very crisply, but without looking at me at all. He turned to my father and inclined his head, “Sir, we need to get moving, Eravest needs to be in the safety of the palace before nightfall.” He was talking about me as if I wasn’t even there! I stared at him in defiance and said, “What do you mean? I’m not going anywhere!” I jumped up ran past everyone to my room and slammed the door shut, locking it behind me. I flung myself on my bed and began to cry. I never cried, I hated crying, but I couldn’t stop. I felt as if my life was over, and in a way it was, the life I had always known was over. I could never be just Eravest again. I didn’t want to believe that I was Queen, but somewhere deep down inside I knew it was true. It felt right, like the last piece of a puzzle making the picture whole. When I could not cry any more tears, I stood up and looked around my room, at all the things I had acquired over the years. Then I looked at myself in the mirror, I looked awful! I picked up my brush and began to work through the knots in my hair. I left it down and tried to ignore the fact that my nose was red and my eyes were puffy. I walked into my closet and picked up one of my backpacks and began to stick my favorite stuff in it, I knew I would have to leave here, I didn’t want too. But some part of me knew that other guy in the woods would be back, and I did not want him hurting my family. The last thing I put into my bag was my stuffed panther, he had been with me since I was little, I couldn’t remember a time not having him, so he was of course going with me. I quickly changed into jeans and a t-shirt and tried to collect my thoughts. I opened the door, and ran right into Kilava…

Chapter 8

“What is with you?” I snarled at him, “Are you stalking me or something?”

“I am your warrior, your guardian; I have to stay with you to keep you safe.” His reply was solemn, almost sad, it threw me off.

“Well, I packed my things, I am allowed to bring stuff right?” I asked not really caring what his answer was, I wasn’t leaving my things behind

“Of course you are my Queen, although you will find that all of your needs will be well provided for.”

He still would not look at me, which bugged me or some reason, I was beginning to think he didn’t like me. And that this was going to be very hard.

“Well, I need to go talk to my parents…” the sentence just seemed to trail off and hand between us. I didn’t know if I should just leave or what, so I just turned and headed down the stairs. I could feel him following behind me, a few paces back.

I walked down the stairs and through the house slowly, I did not know if I would be allowed to come back, I had not asked because I was afraid the answer would be ‘No’. When I got back to my parents, I realized that most of the faieres had left. Only four remained, two woman and two men. They bowed at the waist to me when I entered the room; I didn’t think I’d ever get used to that.

I just stood there, I did not quite know what to do, and I didn’t really want to say Goodbye because that would imply I was not coming back. My Mom was the first person to move, she crossed the room and hugged me tight, I didn’t want her to ever let me go. But I knew that she would have to, and she did. As she was stepping away, I could have sworn I saw tears in her eyes, and my mother never cried.

“What happens now?” I found myself asking, even though I didn’t want to know the answer.

“My Queen, my name is Wind”, one of the two women said with a deep bow, “Kilava and the rest of us will escort you back to your palace to await your coordination. We need to leave soon before it gets dark. I see you have already packed your things, that is very good, but you need to say goodbye to your parents now…”

I just stared at her, she was strikingly beautiful, and I was beginning to think they all were. I also noticed that she was wearing a white sort of tunic, and other female was wearing a red tunic. The two males were wearing brown and blue. “Who are they?” I asked abruptly and probably rudely. I did not care anymore.

“We are your council”, this time the other female spoke, “My name is Fire, he is Earth and he is Water.” She said pointing to the men in the brown and blue tunics who bowed in turn. “Our job is to help you out in any way we can, to assist you, to help guard you when we are needed, and to teach you how to be Queen.”

“Air, Fire, Earth, Water? Aren’t those elements?”

“Yes, they are, for as long as time can remember the council has been made of four members chosen and re-named for each one of the four elements.” Answered Wind

So far, the boys had remained silent, but they watched me with the same soul-piercing gaze. I did not think I would ever get used to it. It made me want to flinch away. I didn’t want to ask my next question, but I knew I had too, I knew I would not be ready to leave until I knew.  But before I could open my mouth to speak, Kilava spoke from behind me.

“You will get to see them again, not as often as you would probably like, but you will still see them, I imagine they will be at your coronation, even though she is human it is tradition for the parents of the new queen to be there. And you can write them, and they you.”

This time, for the first time, I found I wasn’t angry that he had been reading my thoughts, because the question had just been too hard for me to ask. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief; I straighten up trying to draw myself together and went over to where my parents stood together. My Mom was crying, something I didn’t think I had ever seen before, and even my Dad seemed to be fighting back tears. I hurled myself into their arms and tried not to cry again myself.

“Don’t worry dear; we will see you again very soon! And we will write to you, and you can come and visit as often as you can!” I didn’t know who my father was trying to comfort more, me or my Mother who by now was sobbing uncontrollably.

“It’s time.” I heard Kilava say, he was still standing by the door waiting, trying not to intrude.

I gave each of them one last hug separately, and I turned to face my council and my guard, trying to put on my bravest face I said, “Let’s go home then”, and I headed for the door.  I didn’t look back because I knew if I did, I would never be able to leave.

 

 

Chapter 9

As soon as we got outside, I turned and looked at Kilava, “How are we going to get to wherever it is that we are going?” I asked, I honestly had not really thought about it before, but now that we were standing outside on my porch, I was curious. I couldn’t think of where this place would be, I imagined it was decently sized, so I had no idea where they had been hiding it all this time, and I have no idea how far away it was…

“We are going to run of course”, he said as if it was the most obvious answer in the world, “how else would we get there?”

“I don’t know! There was always car or plane, or even horse!” he had kind of hurt my feelings; it’s not as if I had even known the placed existed before today.  So it’s not as if I even knew where it was!

He look ashamed, “I’m sorry, that was very rude of me; we will run there, it’s not very far, and you’ll see how we’ve kept it hidden when you get there. It’s this way…,” he said as he headed towards my pond.

We took off at a decent paced run, not as fast as I normally ran, but not slow, and I was grateful for the pace, I was beginning to feel more than a little worn out.  I hadn’t slept any since the day before, unless you counted passing out, which I didn’t. When we got to my pond we slowed down, I stood in the clearing feeling the peace and calm that always came with it.

“Would you like to gather your other things?” Kilava asked

“Oh, yeah, thanks…” I trailed off, I hadn’t even thought about not being able to go back to my clearing every night. But I guessed now I had a country to run, a whole race of people who would depend on me. I truly had a whole world on my shoulders. Now I knew what that statue guy must have felt like.

I walked over to my hiding place to grab my things, I was happy to see that they were still there; the dark haired man had not found them. I quickly put everything in my bag, my journals, my books, and all my treasures, the hole looked sad and empty now. It was all I could do to hold back the tears; I did not want to cry anymore. I was tired of crying. Trying to put on a brave and happy face I turned around to face them, they had waited patiently for me to say my goodbyes to the one place I had always felt peace. For this, I was grateful.

“Ok, I’m ready. Where to from here? How far is it?” I asked

“Not far now, we keep going in the same direction, we will be there before dusk.” This time Wind answered

I shouldered my bag and followed them out of the clearing, there wasn’t exactly a clearing or a path, but it wasn’t hard to walk at all. It was almost as if the trees and such knew that we belonged there, so they didn’t fight us. After a little while, we reached a tiny clearing, way smaller than mine, and in the middle of it was an arch. There was nothing beside it, nothing at all around it. I was, once again, confused. Fire walked to stand in front of the center of the arch. She bowed her head, lifted her hands, and spoke a word I didn’t understand. And she walked through the archway, but didn’t come out the other side. I gasped and felt my jaw drop; it must have been a trick of the light or something. It had to be! Then Earth and Water walked through the archway as well. I looked over at Kilava, he was smiling at me, “Where did they go?!” I asked

“You will see, take my hand, don’t worry. It’s safe.” He held out his hand to me, and I took it almost without thinking about it. And we walked forward, into the arch, for a second everything seemed to blur around me, it was as if the world was moving around me, I closed my eyes and held onto his hand tightly, leaning into him as I did. I felt his arms wrap around me and he patted me on the back. “It’s ok Eravest, we are here now, open your eyes, look at your kingdom.” He murmured to me

Chapter 10

I opened my eyes, and I had to do a double take, I had never seen anything like it in my entire life. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I didn’t think such beauty had existed in the world. Then again, this was a completely new world, and it looked huge! There were buildings as tall as the tress around them, in fact, the buildings seemed to be a part of the trees, and everything seemed to fit together. Almost as if everything had grown out of the forest, I couldn’t decide if the buildings were made of stone or wood, they looked like a mixture of the two. Then I saw the people, so many people, of all ages, tiny children playing in the street, to adults, to older fairies, although even the older fairies didn’t look that old. I took a step forward onto the street, and that is when they all saw me. All at once, everyone bowed to the ground. I just stood there, I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t remember, a lifetime of training just flew out of my head. I panicked, I griped Kilava’s hand, which I hadn’t realized I was still holding even tighter, and looked to him for guidance.

“Incline your head a little, and wave, don’t be afraid, these are your people, and they all love you.” He whispered to me

I slowly bowed my head, and with the hand that wasn’t holding his I waved, I tried to smile and look happy, but honestly, I felt like I was going to pass out again. I wondered if I could ever get used to this…to being ‘loved by everyone’. To have everyone know me, or to know of me. It was daunting to say the least.

Everyone started to cheer, and clap; the children danced and ran around in circles. I had never seen anything like this before. Not even the King himself received such a welcome at his own home. And they had known him his whole life. They knew him.

Kilava squeezed my hand and indicated that I should follow him, so I did, it was a good thing he was leading me because I couldn’t stop looking at the city, at all the amazingly rich colors, and the people, everything was so beautiful. After a little while we reached a garden gate, he opened it and we stepped inside, the walls hid the rest of the city from view…which was sad, until I saw what was inside the walls, it was a castle. It appeared as if it had grown from the earth itself. It was tall, several stories tall at least, with balconies and turrets, and everything a proper castle should have. I was in love with it from the moment I saw it. I could not wait to see more of it.

Chapter 11

I couldn’t decide what color the walls of the castle were, in fact they almost seemed to change colors as I looked at them. I laughed to myself that was just silly, it had to be my imagination. The garden was immaculate, looking perfectly manicured yet completely natural at the same time. And the smell, I had no idea what kind of flower it was, but it smelled heavenly. It was deep and rich, closing my eyes for a moment I realized it reminded me of chocolate, a kind of warm and soft scent, the kind that made you relax and feel at home. Opening my eyes I saw a brown looking flower, I decided that must be the one, I went over to it, to get a better look. The petals looked like a soft velvet, and were softer than rose petals, it grew on a kind of bush, and there would be three or four of the flowers grouped together, I bent over to smell it. A chocolate scented flower, I had never even considered such a thing, it was amazing.

I turned around and Kilava was standing behind me grinning like the Cheshire cat, or the cat that ate the canary I couldn’t decide, but what I did know was that he looked very cat like, and very smug.

“What are you grinning at?” I asked him

“You,” he said with a smile “You look at everything with amazement, with fresh eyes, you see the tiny little details that we all take for granted because we live here. It’s refreshing, that’s all.” He finished almost embarrassed

“So is this my house?” I asked to break the silence between us; I was determined to make a fresh start…

“This is the royal palace, yes. It has stood for time out of mind, no one knows how long really. Every Queen we’ve ever had has lived here, along with her protector and council. But each Queen adds something different to the palace to make it her own. Your Grandmother added the brown flowers you seem so fond of, she loved the smell of fresh chocolate, it must run in your family.” He ended with a smile

“Did you know her?”

“You’re Grandmother?” I nodded “Yes, I knew her, I grew up here, in this palace and I’ve lived here since I was just 5 year’s old, learning to be your protector. But that was a long time ago. She was an amazing Queen, everyone loved her, and she will be greatly missed. You look a lot like her…” he trailed off glancing towards the palace.

I was grateful for it because I was fighting back tears again, I wasn’t a crying person. But losing your life, your family, your home, and a Grandmother you never knew all in one day would make anyone cry. I felt his arms wrap around me as he patted my back, “It’ll be ok, you didn’t really loose a life you just gained a new one.” I could heart his heart beating; he was so warm and strong. I felt myself relax, he was right, I could still talk to my parents, I had been warned I might be Queen one day, this wasn’t exactly what I had imagined, but in a way it was a million times better. I was so deep in thought I almost didn’t feel his lips brush against my forehead, and I tried to pretend like I hadn’t noticed. I stepped back a little to look up at him, “Shall we go inside?” I asked trying to sound normal and calm, when I was anything but that now.

He let me go rather reluctantly, and took my hand again. I was working very hard to keep my thoughts under control until I had a moment alone, so I tried to focus on my surroundings. The chocolate smelling flowers, the color changing palace, anything but how hard his palm felt against mine, it was hard. Until the Tiger stepped out in front of me, and then I knew I wasn’t thinking of anything else. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t make a sound, I wanted to run, but I couldn’t. I was petrified. There was a full grown tiger standing on the garden path in front of me! I wanted for Kilava to pull me away, to run in the other direction, to do something, anything! But he just stood there next to me trying not to smile. Then the tiger walked up to me, and flopped over onto its back with all four paws up in the air, it looked like a giant kitten. Kilava bent down and began to rub its belly, and the tiger just purred and wiggled on the ground in front of him.

“It’s ok Eravest, she’s quite tame. She was your Grandmothers companion animal. Go ahead, you can pet her. She loves to have her belly rubbed.”

I was still freaking out on the inside, but I bent down and slowly reached out towards the tiger expecting to feel sharp teeth or claws any moment. But I didn’t, I just felt soft tiger fur, I could feel her purring against my hand. I rubbed her belly and her chin and she just purred harder and harder. Then just as suddenly as she had appeared and laid down, she got up, rubbed her head against my palm, and walked away. I sat down on a bench nearby to attempt to regain some kind of composure. “Are there any only wild animals running around I need to know about?” I muttered under my breath

“Well, there are all kinds of animals here. Some are tame; some aren’t, just like in your world. Although most of the dragons aren’t tame, and even the ones that are tame aren’t pets or play things.” He said as he walked away towards the palace. I jumped up and ran to catch up with him.

“Dragons?! There are dragons?”

He just smiled and continued walking towards the palace, before I could insist he explain the doors to the palace opened and I got my first glimpse of the inside of my new home.

Chapter 12

The person who let us in appeared to be a footman of some sort; I made a mental note to ask Kilava about how the house worked later, it would be important to know. He bowed low to me and as I walked into the palace I noticed it seemed the whole house had gathered to greet me. I was mildly surprised to see that all of the servants appeared to be male. They all bowed to the ground as I entered the palace. I was more prepared this time and I bowed my head towards them so that they could rise. I looked around what appeared to be a grand foyer; it had a tall ceiling with a balconied second level above my head. A grand staircase lead up to the second level in front of me, and to my left and right there were doors into what I assumed were other rooms. One of the closest servants walked up to me and bowed low again. “Welcome home Queen Eravest, I am the head of your household staff, please do not hesitate to let us know what we can do for you.” He bowed and backed away

“Thank you, I truly mean that, Thank you. I am sure I will be very happy here.” I found myself replying while trying to smile. They were all so kind. But I was still fighting of the feelings of homesickness.

“Would you like to see your new bedroom?” Kilava asked my softly

I nodded not trusting myself to talk, I seriously had to get over this whole crying thing it was way over rated. I tried to swallow back the tears, “I’d love to see the rest of the palace!” I tried my best to sound perky and happy. I’m not sure how good of a job I did. They all bowed to me in unison and began to disperse; I assumed going back to their various jobs and whatnot.

“Shall we?” Kilava asked extending his hand once more to me; I could only nod my agreement and place my hand in his. I was beginning to enjoy the warmth of his hand, it was almost like a security blanket, and as soon as the thought cross my mind I began to laugh out loud and couldn’t stop. Kilava smiled at me and lead me to the first door on the right hand side of the foyer. What was inside took my breath away!

Chapter 13

He opened the door to the most magnificent library I had ever seen, it was a long room, with a high ceiling with book cases down both walls all the way to the ceiling, with giant bay windows, it had soft looking couches and seats with pillows scattered out around the room. It was a room of my dreams, I walked over and picked up a book, I was relieved to see it was printed in English, and hugged it to my chest. I always felt more at home in a library, I felt then that perhaps I could make this place my home…I spent several minutes browsing the selection, I was pleased to find just as many old ‘classics’ as I did new books.

“Who do these books belong too?” I found myself asking

“Why, you of course my Queen, everything in this palace belongs to you now.” He answered with a smile

“Everything?” I found myself asking him

“Well, most everything, the animals seem to own themselves and the owners…”

I nodded my head, I could understand that, most animals besides dogs couldn’t be owned, they owned you, or they were your partners.

“Do you want to see the rest? The library won’t go anywhere, I promise.” He said with a cocky smirk on his face as he took my hand and led me out of that room and across the foyer to several other rooms, including a sitting room, a dining hall, and a ballroom. We finally headed up the stairs, and down a long corridor, at this point it was dark outside and I could see the moon and stars through the many windows. I had a feeling I would need a map to find my way around this place for a while, it was huge and some of the hallways seemed to never end. Like I literally couldn’t see the end on some of them! This place just radiated power and magic…I could feel it deep down in my soul. It seemed to take forever but we eventually stopped in front of a set of double doors. A man, whom I assume was some kind of footman I really needed to ask, was sitting next to the doors, when he saw us he jumped to his feet and bowed low to the ground before opening the doors to admit us.

We entered into a receiving room of sorts, full of chairs and little alcoves in which to sit, we weren’t alone though, when we walked in 4 girls ranging from several years younger than me to several years older than me bowed at the waist. The oldest one of the group walked forward and Kilava introduced her as the head of my ‘chamber staff’. She was the person who would see to my schedule, my wardrobe, and my needs. So far they were the only female staff I had seen, and I made yet another mental note to ask Kilava about it. There were so many things I didn’t understand yet…

I must have gotten lost in my thoughts because when Kilava cleared his throat to get my attention I jumped, “Don’t do that!” I said as I tried to catch my breath

“I’m sorry your highness, but as I was saying, it’s rather late, you should retire to bed as you have a long day ahead of you tomorrow. Your rooms are through the door to the left, I am across to the right. Your ladies will make sure you have everything you need to sleep well, and I’ll make sure you are well guarded throughout the night.” He bowed lowed and kissed my hand before turning on his heel and walking across the room to the set of doors on the left and quickly going inside of them. I turned back to my ladies, trying not to let the disappointment show on my face.  They lead me into a huge bedroom; it had huge windows, book cases, soft chairs, and a giant four poster canopy bed. Everything I had ever wanted in a room, it was almost as if it had been designed for me. At this point it wouldn’t have surprised me if it had been. I was so tired I couldn’t even see straight, I hadn’t noticed till that moment how tired I truly was. My ladies helped me change something I wasn’t thrilled about, into a soft white nightgown and get into my bed. I must have fallen asleep as soon as I closed my eyes, because the next thing I knew I was having the most awful of nightmares, the black haired man from the day before was chasing me and no matter how fast I ran I couldn’t get away from him. I woke with a start, heart pounding, and sweat dripping off my face, sat bolt upright in my bed and looked around the room. Everything looked dark and foreboding and I had the strangest feeling that I was being watched again. I opened my mouth to call out when the door to my room burst open and Kilava ran in, sword draw looking fierce in the moon light. His hair fell loose around his face, and his chest was bare. He prowled around the room like a panther, making no sound, checking behind the curtains and even under my bed before letting the sword fall to his side. He breathed a sigh of relief and walked over to where I was kneeling on my bed ready to run at any moment, “What happened?” he asked me softly

“I had a very bad dream; it was just a dream…” I trailed off; I didn’t know who I was trying to convince more, me or him. “The man from the woods was chasing me down a hallway, and I couldn’t get away from him…who was he Kilava? What does he want with me?”

“He’s an awful person, but you don’t need to worry about him now, you should sleep. You have a really long day tomorrow. There will be lots to do, lots to learn, you need your rest.” He stood up to go but I grabbed his wrist

“Please, don’t leave just yet; sit with me for just a little while? Till I fall asleep again?”

He pulled a chair from across the room to beside my bed and sat down with the sword laid across his lap. I lay back down and tried not to stare at him, his skin and hair looked even lighter in the moonlight. He was very muscular too I noticed. I tried not to stare; I closed my eyes and tried to sleep again. I could hear him humming a song soft and slow, and before I knew it I was asleep again. This time without dreams of any kind, I was just too tired to even dream.

Chapter 14

I was woken but something standing on my face. At first I thought maybe I had stuck my head under my pillow or something, but then I realized whatever it was, it was warm and soft and heavy! I opened my eyes to find a pair of bright green eyes staring back into mine! Shocked I sat up in bed trying to figure out what was going on. There was a panther in my bed. A tiny baby panther, in my bed! She jumped up in my lap and just sat there staring up at me, as if she were waiting for me to say something to her.

“She’s been sitting there for about an hour now…” I jumped, looking around I realized it was the youngest ladies maid; she was standing at the foot of my bed staring at me too.

“Um, hello….” I trailed off I had been so tired last night I hadn’t caught her name, now I felt bad…

“It’s ok, My name’s really long, but everyone just calls me Lily and since you are the Queen you get to call me Lily too.” She said with a grin on her face

“Does everyone here read minds?” I muttered

“I don’t read minds majesty, I feel emotions…”

“Emotions? You know what other people are feeling?” I asked her, I knew by this point I shouldn’t be surprised by anything, but it seemed everything was going to surprise me. Everything here was so different, so magical, where everything at home was so plain and boring…

“Yes, I read emotions, it’s my gift” she said with a half-smile on her face, “and I think this panther has chosen you as her own.”

“What do you mean ‘chosen’ me?” I asked I looked down at the sweet little panther, well I guess I couldn’t really call her little, even though I knew she was a baby she had to be the size of a fully grown domestic cat. She had lain down in my lap staring up at me with her big green eyes. I looked down into hers and I swear I felt something brush against me, in my mind, I put it off; I had enough to worry about without letting my imagination run wild.

“She’s chosen you to be hers your majesty, she wishes you to be her companion. It’s traditional for every Queen to have a companion. For now she’ll be your ward, and when she grows up she’ll be your friend and even your protector.” She said, sounding far older than she looked…

I heard a knock at the door and looked up, the head of my chambers, who I had met last night walked in. So far she was the only person I had seen that looked over 25; she appeared to be in her later 30s early 40s. I wondered how old she must actually be. I wondered how old any of them must be…and I wondered if I’d be old before Lily even appeared my age. This world was so completely different than my own.

“Your Majesty” she looked like she’d been trying to get my attention for a few moments, I really had to stop spacing out like this

“Yes, I’m sorry, I was just thinking…” I replied

“I have a few dresses here, if you’d like to pick one to wear to breakfast?” she indicated to the two other ladies who were holding four dresses total.

I stood up; keeping the little panther nestled in my arms to get a closer look at the dresses. The first dress was a deep wooden brown, with long flowing sleeves and a beaded bodice, the second was a bright purple cut in the same fashion. The third dress was pink; I barely looked at it before going onto the fourth and last dress. It was the most beautiful shade of blue I had ever seen. I reached out to touch it, and the material felt soft and cool against my fingertips, it was rather warm outside even though it was early morning, it was much shorter than the other two, it looked like it would hit just below my knees.  It had a low cut bodice, and a tight cinched waist, and it seemed to change colors as I looked at it. It was beautiful.

“I think you should wear that one too…” I jumped, I hadn’t even noticed Kilava walk in, he bowed to me and gestured at the blue dress. “I think that one would look best on you, I think you should wear it” he said again

“Ok, I’ll try that one on” I was afraid it wouldn’t fit; I mean it looked like the kind of dress that needed to be tailored to you. Lily held my panther, how strange of a thought was that ‘my panther’, while I stepped into a bathroom/changing room and my ladies maids helped me change into the dress. It fit me perfectly, and I knew then they had probably had it made for me. The dress was so light, and soft, it felt like no material I’d ever known. It didn’t weigh me down, or smother me. It was perfect. They braided my hair, and pulled it back away from my face. And gave me a pair of flat heeled leather boots that went up to my knee. I hardly recognized myself in the mirror as I passed by it. They had done an amazing job.

“It looks perfect.” Kilava said with a smile, he was standing there holding the baby panther; I looked around for Lily “She had to go to breakfast, so I offered to hold her for you.”  He explained. “It’s rare for a Queen to be chosen so quickly, and I can’t remember the last Queen who got chosen before her coronation…”

“When will that be, the coronation?” I asked, the little panther woke up at the sound of my voice and leap out of Kilava’s arms. She pranced over to me and leapt up before I could stop her into my arms. I looked down expecting to find holes in the dress where she had extended her claws, but the material still looked flawless. It appeared brand new…”How?” I exclaimed

“Things are made differently here, you’ll find out soon enough.” He smiled “And as for your coronation, that will happen in a weeks’ time; to give you a chance to become familiar with the ceremony and the people, and to make arrangements and such. Now, I am finding myself rather hungry, and I think your friend is too, perhaps we should go to breakfast?”

He extended his arm out to me and I placed my hand in his, and together we left the room. I had no idea what to expect for breakfast. Or for that matter the next week. But I was ready to learn.

Chapter 15

We walked down the seemingly never ending hallway, down the stairs, and into the dining hall. It had long wooden tables that were full of people. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. Especially after they all stood when I walked in and bowed low, some of them bowing all the way to the ground.  I motioned for them to rise, I’d never get used to that, and followed Kilava to a table set slightly above the rest, on the opposite side of the room. So I had to walk past everyone…I was grateful for the little panther in my arms, she seemed to radiate peace and comfort. As we reached the other end of the room I noticed that while everyone had food, it seemed that no one had eaten anything.

“Have they been waiting on me?” I whispered to Kilava

He nodded, “Yes, they always wait on the Queen to eat, it’s customary.” He whispered back

I didn’t know what to think about that, I hated that these people had to wait on me to eat; I made a note to always try and be earlier in the future. As we reached the table Kilava pulled out the tallest, most ordinate chair for me. It sat right in the middle of the long row of chairs, he sat down on my right side, and since no one was in the chair to my left NoriePan jumped over there. I hadn’t even realized I’d named her, in fact, I didn’t think I did. I looked over, and realized she had somehow managed to tell me her name. She blinked at me slow and lazy like, before turning to face the crowd in front of us.

I shook my head softly and turned to Kilava, I didn’t know what to do now…but everyone seemed to be waiting on me to do something.

“Pick up something, and eat it, then everyone can eat.” He whispered to me

I looked at the food in front of me, and picked up the first thing I recognized, a grape, and quickly put it into my mouth. And everyone began to eat and talk amongst themselves. I heaved a sigh of relief and began to chew my grape. It was the sweetest, juiciest grape I had ever eaten. I picked up a strawberry, it was huge the size of a golf ball at least, and took a bite. The flavors exploded in my mouth, I had never tasted anything so flavorful, so juicy.

I looked over at NoriePan; she seemed to be patiently waiting for me to feed her. Glancing around at the food around me I chose what looked like a steak and cut it up into tiny pieces, I placed it on the plate in front of her. I hoped no one would take offense to a panther eating at the table, but as I glanced around no one seemed to object. And she daintily took one piece at a time from the plate and eat it, until her little tummy was bulging with the food. Then she curled up, laid her tail over her nose, and fell asleep purring hard and loud.

Slowly people started to finish eating; they would stand up, bow, and exit the room. Until it was just the 3 of us left, Kilava, NoriePan and I. I ate quietly, and slowly, just enjoying the different flavors of food. Some of the foods I knew and some of them were entirely new to me. Kilava seemed intent on his food as well, so I didn’t disturb him. I had a million questions running through my head, but they could wait.

Once he finished eating and the servers had cleared away the last of the plates, NoriePan had crawled into my lap to continue her nap. I opened my mouth to ask him one of a million questions, when I noticed he was staring at me. I closed my mouth and looked down at Norie, I couldn’t help but blush. I wasn’t used to being stared at, not the way he did it, he seemed to be looking into my soul.

“What was it you wanted to ask me?”

“Can’t you read my mind?” I replied

“Yes, I could, but you asked me to try and not. So I have been working on only reading what I need to, to keep you safe.” He replied softly

“Thank you, really, I appreciate it. It’s just unnerving to know someone can read your thoughts…”

“So, what did you want to ask?”

“Um, gosh, where do I start? Are there only male servants? What’s with the ‘companion’ animal thing? Are the servants well paid? Well taken care of? How do things work around here? And can I get a map to this place? Because I just know I’m gonna get lost on the way to my own bathroom.”

He laughed at me and shook his head “Since we are a matriarchal society most of your servants are male, the servants are well paid, and well taken care of. That is something you will learn in your classes, and yes I suppose I could get you a map. Although you’ll rarely ever be alone…” he trailed off and paused for a minute “As for the companion animal. Every faire has the ability to be chosen by a companion, but it doesn’t happen for everyone. But it does happen for every Queen, it’s not always a cat, it can be any animal, and on rare occasions it can be more than one animal. You’ll develop an emotion and mental bond with your companion, and it’s different for each person. Have you ‘heard’ her?” he asked me like it was the most normal question in the world.

“Well, I don’t know if I’ve ‘heard’ her per say, but I do know her name, and I think she told me…”

“What’s her name? I’ll have a collar made up for her to wear.”

“Her name is NoriePan” when I said her name her little eyes opened and she looked me in the eyes, I swore I heard her say ‘Hello’. I jumped

“She speaks!”

“Well, yes, some can hear their animals…its polite to talk back you know….”

“Um, Hello NoriePan…” I tried to sound as uncrazy as I possibly could, talking to an animal.

“You aren’t crazy, and I’m a panther not an animal.” I heard as clear as I heard Kilava beside me.

I looked over at him, “Can you understand her?” I asked

“Only if I listen to her from your mind…she isn’t talking to me, she’s talking to you.”

“How, um, How old are you NoriePan?”

“I’m not very old, but we don’t keep up with time like that…I want to meet Kilava.” She said

“Ok, Um. Kilava, this is NoriePan, NoriePan this is Kilava. Kilava is our warrior, our protector. And my first friend in this new life of mine.”

Kilava gave a little bow “It’s very nice to meet your NoriePan.”

Norie hopped up from my lap and onto the table where the stopped in front of Kilava, she stared at him, much like he stared at me, it was like she was looking into the depths of his soul. She tilted her head to one side and twitched her little ears. Then she sneezed in his face and walked back to me. He laughed and smiled while I apologized and scolded.

“Well, are you ready to start our day? It’s going to be a long one.” He asked after he was done laughing.

“I suppose so.” I stood up and was pleasantly surprised to find no wrinkles in my dress, it still looked perfect. I held open my arms and Norie jumped right up. I laced my arm through Kilava’s and followed him outside the dining hall, to begin my first day of my new life.

 

2 thoughts on “Midnight Run”

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