Ch 1-5 ~ A New Friend
Two small feet in brass-buckled shoes fashioned of fine deer-skin sifted through the forest floor, waltzing with the dirt and dust of dried leaves disturbed from underneath the thick foliage. Aurelia watched, transfixed by their quickening strides kicking up the earth beneath her.
She had become her own audience, seemingly dispossessed from a body which had taken stage in chase of fantasies her Governess had always deemed too childish for her to entertain, those figments which coloured her imagination. But she would not be left behind. She held on tightly, let herself be pulled along to those places her mind alone could not go; the visceral, the real in which stories and tales, even those played by her father’s tongue, became empty and weightless, reduced to wisps dispersed in the wind. It would take her to where courage alone would normally have fallen short and she would go willingly, lost in a hypnotic wash of colours, a river of verdant and earthen greens, the dust of dried browns and moistened mud, sharp reds and blooded maroons; a beautiful patchwork watercolour which dazed her.
And then, as if from the forest itself, came an unfamiliar call.
Though its tone sang a warning which interrupted her trance, before she could survey the surrounding bushes and trees for the owner of the small voice she was foiled by a gathering of gnarled tree-roots which tripped her, grabbing with fingers that reached through the soft soil as if escaping a shallow grave. The tumble beyond the path’s edge was thankfully short and Aurelia performed it with the true theatrics of a young Princess suspecting of an audience. The finale, however, was a much more genuine fall broken by a pile of strategically gathered leaves, barely short of a holly bush whose emerald thorns glinted threateningly in the waning sunlight.
A shin was grazed, that much was clear from the blotch of crimson which had begun swallowing the white of her long, cotton socks, now bloodied as well as muddied. But what surprised her most was the throbbing from her left foot; shoeless, it lay limp and bare beside her. She suspected another broken buckle. Laying on her bed of leaves she shadowed her eyes with a small, dirtied hand to prevent wincing from intermittent shots of glaring sunshine as much as from injury. Searching for the curious voice which had called only too late to warn her of the rogue roots, she returned with a call which sounded strangely common – definitely not one belonging to a Princess – and attributed it to the dull ache which had begun feeling its way through her ankle and the sharp pain from the cut on her shin.