2065 words (8 minute read)

Someone Forgotten

Candelabras and chandeliers of crystal scattered light to all corners of the palace halls. The crowds of nobility, guards, and servants churned like a storm within the towering walls. Daven leaned heavily on one arm of his throne. His eyes glazed over the masses. Tugging at the rigid collar of his formal jacket, he sighed and gave gracious nods to those who would deign to acknowledge him. Another boring night, bowing and smiling to vapid aristocrats. He leaned back, slouching in rebellion.

Among the sea of people stood a strikingly beautiful maiden with whom he was unfamiliar. Her raven colored hair flowed behind her freely. He rose from his seat to catch a better glimpse of her. She stared bewildered and awestruck at the colors and commotion. Her brilliant violet eyes traced the arched windows and followed the lines of the room toward the array of thrones that crowned it.

There she beheld him. He stood tall. His dark golden hair neatly combed into place and his stern hazel eyes staring back at her. The cut of his coal gray slacks and dark olive jacket conveyed an air of dignity. Gold and silver twists of rope trimmed the outfit. He ignored all else and stared at her. Casting her eyes down she searched for answers to the host of questions that raced through her mind. Turning her gaze upward once again she saw him, unwavering in his focus. She inhaled sharply and ducked into the crowd, trying to loose herself among the sway and swirl of the gentry.

Instinctively he reached out toward her, as if to beckon her to stay, but it was too late. She vanished from sight. Frantically his eyes scanned for the slightest clue to enable his pursuit. He sauntered down the steps to the main floor and began to push through the crowd. A flash of deep purple velvet and black satin passed from the room onto the exterior walkway. He followed with curious determination.

Her shoes clicked against to marble mezzanine. Cautiously she paused. Still he searched. She pivoted on the ball of her foot. Clutching the front of her skirt she raised it clear of her stride and broke into a run down the row of towering windows. The echo of her foot steps drew his attention as he broke free of the ballroom. “Wait! Please!” he shouted after her. Her fingertips caught the edge of a far door jam. Gracefully she swung against it, pausing only for a second to lock eyes with him.

It’s her. It has to be her. Who is she? He raced behind her. Turning off the mezzanine he entered the hallway and stopped abruptly. His eyes scoured the hall as he looked back and forth for any sign. She was quick. He had to give her that. The gentle groan of a door at the far end of the hall garnered his attention as it swung wide. He smiled. Perhaps this was his chance to talk to her.

With renewed haste he grasped the top of his scabbard to steady it and traversed the distance to the door. His boots stopped at the portal. With cautious confidence he composed himself. Softly he stepped forward. This room was one of the smaller ones on the upper floors. The conservatory was lined with instruments of many different shapes and sizes. The far wall opened up into a private balcony that overlooked much of the palace grounds under a glittering blanket of stars.

She leaned onto the railing and stared up at the night’s sky. There was a soft shuffle as he stepped out of the room into the crisp, cool air. She tilted her head down, “I don’t understand it.”

“What do you mean? Who are you?” He asked, his voice wrought with confusion.

“Someone to be forgotten.” She turned and leaned back against the stone railing. Her hands rested neatly cupped together against her lap. She looked upon his handsome features with quiet curiosity. He saw an earnestness in her sorrowful words.

He shook his head, “I could not forget you even if the moons fell from the sky.” Stepping toward her he extended a gentle hand and brushed a hair from her face. “But why are you here? And why were you at Bright Glade? I thought I had seen a ghost … or an echo.” He studied her face as her expression shifted. Where once was guarded sorrow now there was shock. Her eyes widened, He saw me. How is this possible? She turned her head away, her thoughts a disorienting inferno of theories.

He reached for her cheek, gently brushing it with his glove, “Please.” The stars glittered in her violet eyes as she looked up toward him. The moments crept by. Slowly her eyes closed as she felt his touch. Silent tears poured down her face.

Suddenly she pulled away. “I shouldn’t be here!” she cried out painfully. The flutter of her dress as she spun away transformed into a shower of shadowy feathers. Where once she had stood, a raven sprung forth and took to the sky, vanishing into the evening.

A sudden breeze whipped toward the balcony carrying a single feather. It came to rest upon the railing, teetering precariously in the wind. He caught it and rolled it over in his fingers. Encasing the core shaft of the feather was the glint of precious metals woven into a filigree of extraordinary detail and craftsmanship. It descended into the sharp point of a quill. He held it in one hand lightly tracing his fingers up the outsides. As his fingers left the end there was a flash.

He sprung upright from his bedroll and looked around. The embers of the fire grew dim. The chill of night bit at him as he realized where he was. Arrovel and Shoni lay steadfast asleep encircling the fire pit in their blankets and bedrolls. Thunder rumbled in the distance. A few seconds more and another flash lit up the sky.

He shook his head, A nightmare? A dream? He sighed and flopped backward into his bedroll. His eyes traced the lines of the rocky overhang that sheltered them. Slowly his focus waned until he could see little beyond the glittering ward spell that protected the campsite. Sleep reclaimed his mind at long last; but with a dreamless quiet this time, he finally found rest.

The storm passed with the night, giving way to a fresh stillness. Raindrops delicately collected in shimmering puddles. There was a soft rustling as Raelia descended through the barrier, landing upon Arrovel’s pack. She watched Daven stir before letting out her morning cry. Daven groaned, “Ugh. Morning to you too.” He stretched and stared up at the rocks once again. With a heavy sigh he tilted his head toward Arrovel who now sat up in alarm. “What?”

Arrovel’s eyes traced the area surrounding them. He said nothing as he quickly rose, grabbing and donning his armor. Daven’s brow furrowed as he too sat up curiously to look around. Immediately he realized what Arrovel had. Shoni was missing. Her bedroll lay open lazily. Across it were strewn the contents of her bag as if shuffled through in a desperate search.

Instinctively Daven reached down beside his bedroll for his sword but his hand found nothing but dirt and pebbles. He drew back and surveyed his own space. His tunic and mail armor were also gone. “What the … damn and blast it!” He muttered in frustration as he hurried to slip his boots on. He leapt to his feet, “My armor and sword are gone too!” A troubling thought crept into his mind. With the phantoms he had seen, was she lured away? Did she try to protect herself against whatever may have come to threaten them? “Servants of light! You don’t think …”

Arrovel crouched beside the girl’s bedroll and studied the tracks, “There doesn’t seem the be any signs of distress or hurried movement.” He recreated the motion in his head. “It seems she slipped out earlier.” He paused and crept toward the edge of the barrier, “She tried to come back.” He stood tall as Daven deactivated the sigil, “but her footsteps wander off again.”

Arrovel gave a suspicious glance to Raelia who carefully groomed her feathers as they spoke. Arrovel clicked at her in code. She bobbed her head in response. She spread her wings, gracefully taking flight. She soared around him and into the woods. The two men broke into a run after the avian guide.

They raced through the trees. Their boots stuck ever so slightly in the mud and muck with each step. The branches whipped against their bodies leaving streaks of water that soaked into their clothing. Daven caught the sound of rushing water.

Raelia broke past the treeline at the river and curved sharply to the right, coming to rest on a high branch. They emerged behind her. Their long strides halted as a bewildered child looked up from her seat toward them. Around her laid Daven’s belongings and a handful of tools. In her hands was Daven’s tunic. She froze, her needle protruding half its length from the fabric.

Daven leaned down and placed his hands on his knees to catch his breath. He shook his head, “Don’t … do that … again.” He stood upright moving his hands to the sides of his belt. “We thought perhaps something ill had befallen you.” He scowled.

Shoni cast her eyes down, “I’m sorry my lord. I did not mean to give you a fright.” She fidgeted nervously. “I woke early and did not wish to disturb you. So I gathered a few things and tried to make myself useful.” She lifted the fabric of the tunic and looked up toward him. “I thought I could fix it.”

For the first time Daven examined his belongings. The armor was neatly laid out on a log beside her, its bluish-black links gleaming. On the other side of her his sword and scabbard rested. The leather strapping of the scabbard was trimmed and neatly patched where it had worn down. His sword shone with the same brilliance as the mail, every inch cleaned and polished. The tunic in her hands, while still in the midst of repair was also considerably improved.

Arrovel broke into a hearty laugh. Daven glanced to him questioningly. Arrovel’s laughter continued, “Ah, this is too good!” He grinned. “Have I not told you that you should attend better to your gear?!”

Daven sighed in defeat. He had a point. “Yeah, yeah,” he retorted dismissively.

Arrovel shot a brotherly jab at the prince, “Perhaps if you kept better care she wouldn’t have had to abscond with them in the first place.”

Daven approached the mail armor, lifting it from the log. He carefully studied it, “How did you …?” Shoni pointed around him to the shoal of the river. There in the shallow waters churned up sand slowly drifted away with the current. “You used the sandbar to scrub and rinse the links.” He smiled, “I’ll have to remember that.” He draped the mail over his shoulder and gently patted Shoni on the back, “Come on. Let’s return to camp and get some breakfast. You’ve earned more than trail rations but I’ll try to make it extra tasty.”

Arrovel sheathed Daven’s sword then tossed it into his waiting hand. They quickly gathered Shoni’s tools. Arrovel looked to the trees and whistled sharply. With a swift grace Raelia glided off her branch, coming to rest on her master’s arm. The two men took to stride on either side of Shoni, laughing and teasing each other as they walked leisurely back to campsite. Listening eagerly to their antics, Shoni smiled. The weight of the world eased as the travelers prepared for the rest of their day.