A Royal View
By Caitlin Jackson
Stumbling across a small clearing, I spot a tall woman standing by her dapple grey horse. In her calloused palm she grips a severed hand, encrusted with blood. A feeling of foreboding washes over me, and I slowly creep back into the forest. This is no place for a country girl to be. Suddenly, I stop. On the severed hand’s finger I see a red stone catch the light. I would recognize that stone anywhere; it is what I have been seeking.
Staring through the branches, I size-up my opponent. This is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill woman; she wears the uniform of a soldier, and her hair is caked in dirt and blood. At her side is a simple, long sword, and two daggers show above the tops of her boots. Still, I must try; the fate of my kingdom depends on me getting the Stone of Meerth back.
To most, the Stone is nothing more then an ornament on a ring; a few wizards may have heard how the Stone of Meerth amplifies their powers, but almost no one knows how the Stone really works, or who is trapped inside.
Crouching low, I prepare to charge, when I accidentally snap a twig beneath my bare foot. Instantly, the warrior turns around and hurls her dagger in my direction. Quickly, stopping the dagger with my mind, I narrowly avoid being killed. Realizing her training far surpasses my own, I decide I have no choice, but to use my magic to incapacitate her and take back the Stone.
With haste, I draw several runes in the air, causing her sword to disintegrate. Calling upon the magic of the earth, I raise several pebbles, and shoot them toward her. The soldier is unable to protect herself from the impact. The force of the pebbles knocks the wind out of her as she steps back gasping for air. Using this as a distraction, I gather the surrounding leaves and turn them into a vortex centered around her. My auburn locks escape from their braid and whip in every direction as the vortex spins faster. A stray leaf cuts my pale cheek bone as it flies by. Dispersing the leaves, I allow the now stunned woman to collapse.
Running toward her horse, I pick up the severed hand and remove the Stone of Meerth from its finger. The incantations etched on the band are still intact and its contents still preserved. Filled with relief I let my guard down. I am about to head back to camp when I feel the coldness of metal press into the flesh of my throat.
“Who are you?” I hear the woman demand with a growl as she holds the dagger closer.
I step on her toes and ram my elbow into her stomach, trying to throw her off balance. To my dismay it does not work, and in one fluid motion she hurls me to the ground. In a heart beat she pounces to my side, and holds the dagger to my throat once again.
“Stop!” I desperately cry, “I’m not trying to hurt you!”
“Who are you?” she repeats; what little patience she has dissipating from her vibrant, green eyes.
“I am your Queen. You must give me the Stone, and let me proceed back to the Capital...”
* * *
My eye lashes flutter as I wake up, speckled in morning dew. As I sit up I try to remember my dream, or rather, premonition of my encounter with the warrior and the stone. The gift of Sight is something I inherited from my mother.
“So the Stone is close by”, I think to myself, “but it is being guarded by a soldier who does not know what she possesses.”
Standing up, I shake off the forest’s debris, and prepare to meet my destiny.
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I currently go to school and write for the Phoenix Dance Examiner. This story is part of a series: Remember the Dead (July 4th), Hand of Time (August 15th), and most recently In Their Honor (September 13th).
Labels: Caitlin Jackson