I actually think this has the potential of turning into something longer one day! I haven’t really written anything in a fantasy land in a while, but Ahava makes me want to tell her story.
The wind tugs at my hair, undoing the curls that had taken me hours to perfect.
I always hated fancy curls though.
“Tchah!” Shefar snaps the reins against the horse’s flanks. The horse, a beautiful chocolate mare, spurs forward.
“Please do not strike her,” I say, calmly.
“We are late, my lady.” Shefar’s voice is sharp although his words are polite.
Snow whips around us and I blink hard to clear my vision. “She does not need you to hit her like a-”
“A what, my lady? A horse? She is a beast and not a person. Although I would whip a man too.”
“Stop the sleigh.”
Shefar’s eyes dart toward me from under his cap. “What?”
“You heard me, stop the sleigh.”
“My lady, your father requires you to reach the ball in a timely manner,” Shefar glowers at me.
“I no longer require your services, Shefar. And my father only wants me there because I’m getting married.”
Shefar jerks the reins and the poor mare skids through the snow until she comes to a stop, sides heaving. He turns and glares down at me. “I was sent to retrieve you and to bring you to your father’s estate. I do not care about the details, but I will not have you order me about like a-”
“Like a what, Shefar?” I parrot his words back to him. “Like a hired henchmen? Am I not Princess Ahava, first of her name, daughter of the king of Liekki?” I raise my chin in defiance.
Shefar’s eyes darken and he leans toward me, releasing the reins. “Listen to me, Princess, I make the rules! Your father pays me.”
Now. In one swift move, I stand and knock Shefar back with a practiced strike to his too-thin chin. (I will have to write my cousin a letter and thank him for teaching me basic self-defense.)
With a shout of surprise, Shefar tips back. Using his falling momentum, I shove him and he tumbles out of my father’s ridiculous sleigh. He lands with a muffled thump in the snow.
Snatching up the reins, I flick them lightly across the mare’s back. “Run!”
On cue, she leaps forward. Shefar’s shouts fade into the woods as I and the mare escape. It’s once we’ve traveled nearly a mile when I slow my newfound companion to a walk and then finally a stop. Climbing out of the sleigh, I hurry to unhitch the mare. Once she’s loose, I fling myself onto her back.
“Now, my beautiful girl, shall we find our new home?” I turn her to double back a little. No need to give Shefar an easy chase.
The snow begins to fall harder as we journey. I thank God for this as it covers our tracks.
I have six hours, and then I am free.
It was nearly nineteen years ago that my father made a foolish bargain with someone who claimed to be a witch. She would aid him in conquering the nations surrounding Liekki if I was to marry her boarish son by my nineteenth birthday. Which is today.
Has the witch helped conquer our neighbors? No. She claims she is waiting for my wedding to her son. Fortunately for me, I have avoided this for as long as possible. I had even run away three times in the past year, but each time my father’s lapdog Shefar found me. Not tonight.
Tonight I will be free and able to marry the man I truly love. Father banished him two years ago when it became apparent that what we had wasn’t an idle romance. As if I’m an idle woman.
I look down at my mare, who I decide looks like a Dulcie. “Come now, Dulcie. Take me to my love.”
Soft hoofbeats muffled by clean snow is the only noise in the forest. It sounds a lot like happiness.