Chapter 11: A Wee Trot
The day was chilly with the threat of winter upon them. Alcon was the farthest kingdom in the north. Moonstone Castle sat a little less than halfway between the start of Highlands and the south lands; where the king’s court was located. It was the closest territory to the boarders of the palace.
Originally, the palace was located in the highlands, by the sea. It often experienced the sea’s wrath, but was well fortified. As the kingdoms expanded, they had begun trading with one another. It was decided that the entire capital was to be moved, abandoning the land and castle. Making it easier for diplomats to join the King’s court and for trade to prosper. The people left behind gradually became the Nomadic tribes that lived there today.
The highlands took up a good chunk of Alcon. The Nomadic tribes were commonly seen migrating about. Most were friendly, but some were to be avoided. In the months right before winter, they often came down and raided the boarder. Food, clothes, tools, women, etc.. Whatever they could get their hands on to help them last the winter.
Tidas had made it a point to avoid going any more north on their ride than they had to. Skye didn’t seem to care about the direction when they’d been at the stables. The horses were brought to them as soon as the couple had come around the corner. The basket for their picnic was tied to Skye’s horse, Thoth. He was quite busy trying to nip at the basket as the stable boy led him out.
Being very young and very new, the lad tried to hand Thoth’s reins to Tidas. He was the bigger of the two horses; the biggest horse in the stables. The boy had assumed that the beast must’ve been the prince’s.
The horse yanked the reins away, and jaunted over to Skye. He nuzzled her cheek affectionately, making her giggle. Then he looked right at Tidas, and huffed in his general direction.
“This beast be mine, laddie. Best remember it.. He’s feisty like me, and will let no other ride him,” Skye stated to the boy as she climbed up into Thoth’s saddle with his help.
The only thing Skye had her foot down about was stopping at their loch. She thought that if they were to have a picnic, it should be there. So they might reminisce a wee bit. There was one particular memory Tidas was hoping to relive; their first kiss.
The night he had left Skye was the first time they had ever done anything physical. The memory of it had sustained him throughout his training. When he truly did come close to dying; Skye’s promise was what made him pull through. As they rode through the open field, Tidas suddenly couldn’t wait for lunch. He’d decided he would have his meal, followed by a small sample of his future wife’s lips for dessert.
Skye’s motives were not something Prince Tidas would see coming. She really was truly happy.. Happier than she had been in two years. But there was a feeling she just couldn’t shake. Why did he leave when she was fifteen? Training? It shouldn’t have taken him that long, she knew..
‘What would Tidas have done if he hadn’t shown up when he did? If the vows had been spoken? The fact that he has magic probably makes up the majority reasoning behind his original departure..’
‘But I feel like there’s more to it..’
‘With his speed, he could’ve easily came to me. Told me personally that his death was false. That he would never abandon me, like he had promised the last time we’d seen each other..’
Skye knew one question he couldn’t answer. Only one person could: Genie. He knew how much Skye had cared for her prince. And the extent of how badly his false death had affected her. ‘Why did he not tell me before he left that Tidas lived?’
There had only been two people whom Skye had confided in after Tidas’ supposed death: Peggy and Genie. He was more like a doting older brother to her than a tutor. They had shared many secrets together, so why did he not share this pivotal one with her?!
As the questions piled up in her mind, Skye unconsciously kicked Thoth into a run. He was bigger and stronger than Tidas’ horse, but he wasn’t overall faster. The prince funneled some of his magic into his horse so that it could keep pace without straining itself too much. But he couldn’t keep it up for long. No food all day except for one delicious piece of bacon had his magic levels critically low.
Tidas called out to Skye, but she didn’t respond. Between the wind, noise from the horses, and Skye being Skye; Tidas found himself in a hard place. He pushed the last of his power into the horse, running evenly with her.
Noticing Tidas flagging her, Skye slowly yanked back on her reins. Their horses slowed into a canter, then finally a trot. Tidas fought to catch his breathe before saying, “What on Earth possessed you to drive your horse like that?! Now they need a rest before we head to the loch.”
“Sorry! I got lost in me thoughts... Is yer horse alright? Not many can keep pace with Thoth,” Skye questioned, looking at Tidas’ horse who was panting almost as bad as he was.
“Aye; he’ll be fine. I helped him along so he wouldn’t overburden himself. But now my power is drained,” Tidas replied; giving his horse a firm pat well done as they both huffed with exhaustion.
‘Shouldn’t have said what ye did at the fountain’, Skye thought, but didn’t say it. She knew it was her fault that he had to force the pace on the poor creature. Thoth was a monster of a horse when compared to others. But he was completely loyal to her, and her alone.
It wasn’t surprising to Skye when the stable lad had mistaken Thoth as the prince’s. No one would expect such a dainty lady to ride such a beast of a horse. But no one else Could ride him. From the moment he could carry a person, Thoth had only allowed Skye on his back.
They rode in silence for some time. Skye’s head slowly swiveled about her as she took in her surroundings. The grass on the small, rolling hills around them had darkened in their preparations for the winter. The air was crisp, but warmed by the sun. Making it the perfect day for a ride. The trees that lined the Moonstone property were mostly larch and evergreens.
The larches were changing to yellow colors, making a beautiful contrast against their evergreen counterparts. A thick patch of forest stuck out to the East. It stretched south to connect to the Great Alcon Forest that severed the trail to the capital.
The miniature version before them was known as Warrick Forest. Aside for a few skilled huntsman, no one really went in it. Except of course, Skye and Tidas. Fairy stories had only encouraged them to explore, but they never did find the Fae folk..
They had gone far into it one day while exploring and decided to call it their own. They made a small fort out of the largest tree’s hollow, at it’s base by a small stream. Skye had not been out there since Tidas had left. She very much looked forward to seeing what childhood memories would resurface. The young couple smiled at each other over their nostalgia as they approached the outcropping of trees..
As they came into the edge of the small forest, three large men dressed in mostly animal pelts stepped out from the shadows of the trees. Thoth instantly reared, nearly knocking Skye from the saddle. Tidas quickly grabbed the reins near the horse’s mouth; steadying the beast. As big as he was, Thoth was easily spooked.
‘How the bloody hell did they get this far south?! They never come this far down from their highlands.. So why?! Damn it! Skye! I MUST protect Skye!’ Tidas thought in frustration and panic as his head pid about.
Two more men came out; completing a partial circle around Skye and Tidas. Based on their clothes, they all looked like nomads from the highlands. Tidas tensed; realizing their full situation. Any other time, he could wipe the floor with men like them. But this morning’s antics had left him powerless. Without another thought; Tidas jerked Thoth’s reins, forcing him to face the way they’d just come from.
In fluid motion, Tidas smacked Thoth’s backside as he jumped off his horse. As his feet hit the ground, he withdrew his sword and yelled, “RIDE SKYE!”
Thoth broke into an instant gallop; knocking one of the men down as he grabbed for Skye’s leg. She turned back as her hair whipped about her face. Tidas stood alone in the middle of the five men. His features showed determination as he slowly blurred with distance. Skye knew he had no power, and that even if all the men were normal; five on one meant death.
“NOT happening! Get yer arse Back over there Thoth! Or no more extra oats!” Skye screamed to make herself heard over the wind.
Skye yanked on the reins, guiding the animal into a wide turn as he ran. Doing his master’s bidding, Thoth nickered as he turned and ran back. As she rode, Skye reached to the side of her saddle near their picnic basket, and grabbed her water pouch. Her heart pounded as she prayed the prince was alive. It only took a second for a sword to pierce a vital spot..
Tidas’ face contorted with pain and anger upon seeing her. He’d already been cut on his left arm and right leg as the men circled him, mocking him as they took turns randomly attacking him. ‘What the hell is she doing back?!’
Skye slowed, then dismounted Thoth in one smooth motion. Her anger was peaking as she saw Tidas’ state. She was irritated he had spurred her away, but she understood why. If they were to catch her, she would face much worse than just death. Especially based off of how they eyed her now. As she approached the men, her features were stern. She glared at the man that had blood on his blade closest to her.
Resting her hands on her hips with the water pouch still in her right hand; Skye squared her shoulders and said in an almost cheery voice, “Which one of ye fools signed yer death warrant first?”
If you want to read more chapters, please visit AllNovelBook.com to experience faster update speed. You can also log in to your account there.