Ch 1-6 ~ A New Friend
This time she could not help but wince in pain as she braved to test the extent of the damage to her ankle.
Whilst annoyed at the inconvenience of being confined to her bedroom until the injury recuperated, she felt more so at the fuss she would likely receive from her Governess. Though normally the keeper of a naturally stern demeanour, she would watch her hard features melt away like cold ice administered to those regular cuts and bruises. They would abate, become soft in their betrayal of a mother’s care cultivated under a lifetime of service to the Regal Family who she had nursed since before the sea had swallowed the continents, before she had been born into this New World, before even the Evergreens and the Mountain People came to be.
Aurelia re-focused, checked her surroundings, brushed back a nest of long golden tangles from which a leaf fell here and there.
Stroking through her hair with small, delicate fingers, setting is as best she knew, she pulled her mother’s old vine headband back into place – feeling it was still complete with each golden leaf – before checking for the sea-blue daisy, one of the many her father would make appear each morning with theatrically skilled sleight of hand. It amazed her how every day he seemed to spring a new colour, placing it behind her ear with a kiss and playful whisper to lose herself in the ‘lost forest winds, but not’, he never failed to add, ‘further than the mountain pass’ beyond the palace grounds. The weight of such “warnings” were lost in his jesting tone, alluding less to deter than to encouragement – a dare even – to mischievousness beyond even her own intentions.
Annoyed in her own helplessness and the dawning of a particularly difficult situation, she wondered whether, this time, she had taken a step too far. The forest had fallen almost silent, the thick canopy of the mountain pass casting cold shadows which crept through the thin cotton of her summer dress as her heart beat slowed; noiseless.
She looked again; listened. Only her own, soft, weary breathes. It had all become strange.
And then, from close behind, came the single crack of a twig snapping from underfoot.