[An excerpt from Alchemic Maiden for all of you! I am still behind on my word count, but only by one day. I have resigned myself to the fact that I’ll most likely stay behind until Thanksgiving Break when I’ll be able to write without constantly worrying about upcoming tests, even though I’ll still be studying during that week. I should finish the next chapter soon!]
Step. Drag. Step. Drag. My good leg was son beginning to send waves of soreness and pain rushing to my spine.
Step. Drag. Step. Drag. Every time my body screamed at me to stop, I thought of Arven fending off the horde of guards and heard his scream echo inside my head. Step. Drag. Step. Drag.
Oddly enough, the woods had a sort of beauty I never truly expected. It was entirely different than the bright colors and lovely discrete fragrances. Only once did I accompany my Father on a hunt in the woods immediately beyond the walls. I remember hours of sitting on a horse on the rough saddle, wishing I could just get back to the palace and sit in front of a fire, playing chess with my Mother or reading a book. I paid no attention to the rustle of the wind through the branches or the unique woodsy smell in the air—something between the natural aroma of wind mixed with spices and pine needles. I remember being cold and bored, wishing I had never asked to join the hunt. All I did was sit on my horse and follow the dogs; I wasn’t even allowed to actually kill any of the animals we were chasing.
“How many creatures do we have to slaughter to have a successful hunt?” I had asked my father after he added another hare to his growing array hanging on a string on his red embroidered saddle.
He laughed at me. “Not one for the hunt, my dear?”
I had shook my head. Arven and Fage were ahead of us, intimately involved with whatever beast’s scent the dogs caught and followed. Father was more along for the ride and as a symbol than an actual participant. “It is cold and I’m growing hungry.”
“Traditionally, the hunt does not cease until a boar is caught and killed. But worry not, I believe the dogs are on the trail as we speak.”
I remember being joyous at the thought of not spending another moment in the woods.
But now, with no fire to return to and no one to play chess with or book to read, I finally realized just how magnificent the woods could be. Every sound seemed to have a purpose as it echoed off of the blooming trees and the peeling shades of bark. The smell I remembered was more complex with several undertones of indescribable pleasantries. The wind was alive, is touch caressing and caring for me instead of the harsh nonliving being I remembered. Even the muted colors that surrounded me, colors that I knew would brighten and expand in the coming months told of the variety of life that constituted every single day within the wood. Thinking about the resilience of nature, even after all the trees we cut down for wood and shelter, after all the spaces we claimed as our own, inspired hope within me and helped me to continue walking.
Step. Drag. Step. Drag. What I wouldn’t give for a hard horse’s saddle now. Step. Drag. Step. Drag.