Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rudolph and Isadora, Part 66

In the Drinking Bear, Isadora awoke with a start. The posters had made her situation even more precarious. She was beginning to think that she had no choice but to go back to her old life, but she knew that if she did, Rudolph would be punished far more severely than she, if he was ever found. And if she went back with Quin.... she didn't even want to think of what the punishment would be for either of them.
     She got out of bed, but stopped herself before she had washed up too much. This is what she had been reduced to - from a princess to no more than a beggar, living off of other people, not even able to wash the dirt off her face. This wasn't what she had wanted when she left the palace. She had imagined running off with Rudolph, buying some pretty little house in a far-off land, and... no. She couldn't even think the words "living happily ever after." This is shy she had clung to Rudolph. Yes, she had loved him, but what she had really wanted was the ideas that fell from his lips of a life where the two of them could live together. But then Rudolph had been carried off by that awful dragon, and she had been alone again. She hadn't known what to do - her dreams had been snatched away just as Rudolph had.
    And then she had met Quin, and saw that her dream could still be realized; she had wanted to live in the forest house with Quin, who admired... or maybe even loved her? She had dropped Rudolph like a broken toy, and now she hated herself for it. What a selfish, naive person she was, expecting the world to submit to her every whim as the servants had in the palace. She knew now that if she wanted that kind of power, she would have to give up her freedom for it.
     Thinking back, she hadn't had that hard a time. She had nearly always been accompanied by Rudolph or Quin, except for the week in the forest before she reached Quin's house, and the day and night since she left Lilia's. Still, compared to her life of palace comforts, Isadora did not realize how well-off she really was.
     The princess looked at herself in the grimy, spotted mirror. She hardly recognized herself. She had gone from a beautiful prize, to be envied and coveted, to... some awful creature of the gutters of the city. Other than her hands and face, she was filthy, and her blond hair had turned to brown. Once perfectly styled at every occasion, it hung limp in its tie down her back. She was thin, thinner than any corset could have made her seem a month ago. The only part of her that she took comfort in were were her bright green eyes. Although they looked older and sadder, she could still stare her mirror-self down with the gaze of royalty.
     And in that gaze, she saw what she had to do. And she made up her mind to do it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Part 65

The horse galloped steadily towards the woods. Isadora was bending low over the horse, and Rudolph held her waist tightly, terrified of falling off.
They entered the trees and now Rudolph understood Isadora's hunched stance. She was low enough to avoid the scratching branches, the ones that now smacked Rudolph repeatedly in the face.
There approached a low hanging thick brach from a heavy-set tree.
Rudolph was knocked off the horse, and lay there on the ground, unconscious.
Isadora reined in the horse abruptly. His hands were gone from her waist and he was gone from the horse. She turned, and upon seeing him lying crumpled over roots, she scrambled over to him, after tying Dandelion, her horse, to the nearest tree.
"Rudolph!" He did not open his eyes. She panicked. She licked her finger and placed it in front of his nose to see if he was breathing. There was barely any air tickling her finger. So she pressed her mouth to his and blew air into his lungs for him. That was the first time they kissed.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rudolph and Isadora, Part 64

Rudolph watched the princess mount. It doesn't look too hard, he thought. I suppose I could learn to ride. "I'll just get another horse ready, then. Be right back." As if I could get a horse ready by myself. Oh well, I suppose it's worth a try. I could always ask another stablehand if I need. 
     "No need," said Isadora. "You can ride behind me." Rudolph blinked. He didn't move. Ride with the princess? "Come on," she urged. "Just hop up." She led the horse to a group of steps where Rudolph could easily mount and looked at him expectantly.
     Rudolph stepped forward cautiously.
     "Rudolph, I didn't think you'd be the type to shy away from a new adventure. Get on the horse."
     "Okay, I.... I'm coming." Slowly, Rudolph made his way to the large animal and stepped up. He made his way up the steps and realized that from the top step, he was near enough to the top of the horse's back that he would not have to throw himself over like Isadora had done. Relived, he let out a breath that he hadn't known he was holding. Mounting, he looked for a place to hold on. There was none.
     "We might be going a bit faster than you're expecting. You'll just have to hang on to me," Isadora called over her shoulder.
     Rudolph cautiously placed his hands around her waist.
     "You ready, then? Let's go!" The horse took off across the stableyard and into the fields surrounding the palace, with Rudolph holding on to Isadora for dear life.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Part 63

Rudolph sat nervously. The bench was short and narrow, and so his hand, placed near his thighs, were very close to those of Isadora. He was conscious of how close they were, and he tried not to look at her. He couldn't resist though, and took a sideways glance in her direction. She was looking right at him.
"You have really pretty hair."
Isadora laughed and stood up to walk over to her horse.
"Come ride with me," she said.
"Yes. Alright." Rudolph was red with embarrassment from his random comment. Of course he would ride with her though. he wanted to. And after-all, she had commanded her to...and she was the princess.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rudolph and Isadora, Part 62

The next morning, Isadora went out early for her daily ride. At the stable, she found Rudolph, looking slightly worn out, but with a grin that could have stretched around the castle. He noticed her and waved, before stopping halfway through, realizing he should be bowing instead. He blushed, bowed, and walked up to her.
     "Good morning, Rudolph. Are you enjoying your new job?"
     "Yes, thank you, Your Majesty."
     "Isadora." She noticed her lack of interest in proper court etiquette made the edges of his mouth turn up in amusement. "My name is Isadora."
     "Yes... Isadora. Would you like me to prepare your horse for you?" Rudolph was determined not to let his ignorance show in front of the royal he admired so much.
     "In... In a minute. I think I'd like to talk a bit first. Do you mind?"
     "No- no, not at all. What would you like to talk about, Your- Isadora?"
     Isadora sat on a wooden bench outside the stable and shook her hair back over her shoulders. "Oh, anything really. It's so refreshing to talk to someone not from the castle. Come, sit by me."

Part 61

(This is for yesterday, so there will be another post later today I gander *cluck* from Pica....We shall see)

Isadora closed her door firmly. She crossed the huge room, settling down onto her soft and tall bed. She had shown Rudolph to the stable-master and now he was settled in the long wooden servants house.
Now she lay there on her bed and thought furiously.
I have no friends here. None that I can really talk to, anyways. Lotti and Geri are alright, I guess. But they are royals. And actually enjoy being royals. I want a real friend.
Rudolph, to Isadora, seemed to be a nice boy who was capable of talking about things other than clothes and handsome lords. However, this was due to the poor boy's background. For all she knew he could end up filling their meetings with long drawn-out stories about chickens and what they eat.
Meetings. I do think I will have meetings with him. He seems nice. And I really do need a friend. Perhaps he will be my friend. 
And now I have to go meet Geri for her fitting. I have to hold her hand and tell her she looks marvelous. She looks like a frog!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rudolph and Isadora, Part 60

Rudolph gaped at the girl. She looked back from her horse and smiled at him. "Follow me," she said.
     Rudolph did follow her, and when the odd pair of peasant-turned-stableboy and dainty princess reached the stables, he realized he probably would have been willing to follow her off of a cliff had she asked. She dismounted with the grace of a bird lowering itself to earth.
     "Why did you let me in, your Highness?" Rudolph stuttered with an awkward bow. 
     Isadora shrugged and laughed gently. "I don't know. I was curious. Why would a young man like you come running at me from the fields? You don't seem like you'd hurt me, and I needed a new stableboy anyway. Do you need a job?"
     "Yes, your Highness."
     "Good." She handed him the reins of her horse, and Rudolph realized he was nearly as happy to be next to the animal as the princess. What luck to get this job! "Come on," she continued, "I'll introduce you to the stablemaster. Have you had any experience with horses?"
     Rudolph shook his head.
     "No? Oh well, I'm sure you'll learn quickly. No matter." She took him by the wrist and made for the stable door. Rudolph looked at her in shock, but she didn't seem to notice. Surely there was some rule against touching peasants. With a smile, Rudolph realized that Isadora didn't seem to care much for such rules in any case. Had she been a rule-follower, she would have never let him in the gate. 
     When they had almost reached the door, Isadora seemed to realize Rudolph still had a hold of the horse. She waved at another stablehand and said, "You-- stableboy. Will you please take my horse from...."
     "Rudolph," said Rudolph quickly.
     "from Rudolph, and take care of him? Thank you." The boy darted forward, and Rudolph reluctantly let go of the reins. "Now, come on," said the princess, and led him through the door to meet the stablemaster.

Note to readers (and The Politick):
This is not insta-love, so please don't read it that way. I realized a few days ago that so many things I disliked reading about in other stories I was incorporating into this one (insta-love, romance driven plot, characters who just make the strangest decisions, love triangle, pointless drama) so I'm making a conscious effort to change that, and I want to get it out of the beginning of the story as much as possible when we start rewrites (or when I start rewrites; I know the Politick doesn't like editing, but I love it, so I'll do it for both of us if she wants). Thank you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Part 59

So I' m at a writing camp: CSSSA. That is such a lame excuse, but I am exhausted and have sooo much to do. So i have to make this short O_O. Then I will sleep.

Rudolph followed Isadora  up to the gates that firmly guarded the palace. Guards were lined up, and when Rudolph tried to slip past the gate as it opened for Isadora's horse, he was stopped by hands pressed onto his chest. The princess turned, and looked at Rudolph curiously.
"Let him in", she called to the guards. "He has the new position as my stableboy. Let him pass."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rudolph and Isadora, Part 58

He had grown up in the Capital, not among the mansions of the wealthy, but in a small brick house on the outskirts of town, one in a row of small brick houses practically indistinguishable from one another to those unfamiliar with the neighborhood. He had many friends, but unlike his classmates, he was not very good at any one skill. He was hopeless at crafts, and not particularly talented in school. He had resigned himself to a job as a servant to one of the wealthy people in the center of town, with their stuck-up manners and fancy clothes, when a chance encounter changed his life.
     He had been on a picnic with some friends; the day was warm and sunny, a wonderful change from the proceeding weeks, which had been overcast, damp, and generally miserable, with tempers running short and all eyes weary. When the weather finally changed, Rudolph's best friend Jared had gathered up a small group of their friends and decided that they would have a picnic on that very day.
     The six of them had walked through town cheerfully, chatting and laughing, and in what seemed no time at all, they had reached the edge of the city and the beginning of the palace lands. Rudolph and Jared had begun searching for a place to spread out the picnic blanket, but Josen, another of the group, had taken one of the picnic baskets and run out further into the fields, shouting, "Come on! No one uses this land anyway, it's just a way for the royals to separate themselves from us common folk."
     The girls quickly followed him further and further into the royal land. Rudolph had felt vaguely uneasy, but followed them, simply happy for the nice day and the chance to be with his friends. They set up on the top of a grassy hill, and began to eat the lunches they had packed. They ended up sitting in a circle of sorts, so when the horse appeared, Rudolph was the first to see it. The horse was chestnut-colored, with long legs that seemed to barely touch the ground. And then it got closer and Rudolph cold see the girl riding it.
     Her hair was the color of bottled sunlight from the first moments of dawn. Her dress, flowing behind her as the horse galloped, was the color of a fresh, creamy piece of paper. Her cloak was all the hues of a twilight sky. Rudolph, in the middle of a story about his mother and an annoyingly persistent chipmunk, stopped dead to look at both the horse and rider, entranced by the sight.
     Everyone else in the party turned to look. Jared whispered, "I wonder who she is."
     "That's obvious, isn't it? Who else could it be? That's the princess Isadora," replied Josen. "The question really is, what is she going to do about us?"
     "Do you think she'll mind that we're on her land?"
     "No," said Rudolph eyes still following the beautiful girl. "She couldn't possibly." Not even thinking, he stood up, oblivious to the protests of his companions. "I'll be right back," he said, and took off running toward the horse, and the princess Isadora.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Part 57

Rudolph cried, he couldn't help it. The tears soaked his pillow and his cheeks. He turned so he could see the slit between the curtains, where morning light was glinting through. He sadly recalled how Quin had referred to Isadora as his own. He had done that. back when he had worked his meager job as stableboy.
What pained Rudolph the most, was that he had continued to nurse his love for me, even as Alisen lived beside him. Alisen, who Rudolph felt so good around, so happy and confident.
And now he had found out that she had been with this Quin boy for weeks. Exactly how close were they?
To distract himself from the girls and from negative thoughts about Quin, Rudolph thought back to when he had first gotten his job as stableboy at the palace.
He had not started out at the palace tending to the horses. In fact, that was his second job. Now Rudolph brought back to life all the details that had led him work at the palace..

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Rudolph and Isadora, Part 56

    "Oh, didn't you know?" Alisen hated herself for how cruel she knew she was being in that instant. "Your Isadora is the lost princess. Didn't she tell you?"
     "You must be joking. Isadora, the princess?"
     "Oh, yes. She seems to be stealing hearts all across the kingdom, starting with yours and Rudolph's. He's looking for her as well."
     "This is just too ridiculous. There's no way Isa is the lost princess. Why would she leave the Capital unless to be with her precious stablehand? She wouldn't be spending weeks with the likes of me." Quin, in his denial, began to laugh.
     "It's true, you know. You must have guessed it. Apparently she acts like the perfect princess all the time."
     Quin quieted, but didn't respond. Rudolph came out onto the landing.
     "What's going on, Alisen? What are you two laughing about?" Bleary-eyed with sleep, he stood next to Alisen. Alisen wanted him to leave; she was ashamed of how she was acting, but she couldn't seem to stop.
     "Alisen here was telling me that my Isa is the lost princess. It was just so absurd. Sorry for waking you."
     "What is this? You know Isadora?" Rudolph was instantly alert. Quin was about to respond, but Alisen cut him off, not even sure why. At this point, she was no longer thinking through her actions, letting her sleep-deprived brain take over.
     "It's nothing, Rudolph. Go back to sleep. We can discuss this in the morning."
     "Wait a second, Alisen." Rudolph was in no mood to go back to sleep. "What is this, Quin?"
     "According to this girl, my Isa is Princess Isadora. But it doesn't make any sense for Isa to be the princess. I wouldn't worry about it, Rudolph."
     "Why doesn't it make sense? When did you meet her?"
     "I found her in the forest a few weeks ago, and she's been living with my sister and I since that time. We've become.... quite close."
     "It must be Isadora! Where is she?"
     "She's gone missing. She disappeared yesterday, when I was out looking for my mother and found you two."
     "Seems like you have a talent for losing people," Alisen remarked drily.
     "It really isn't my fault," Quin protested. "When I came back, she was gone."
     "I don't blame you for losing her," Rudolph reliplied, "but I can't believe she would.... How close is 'quite close,' anyway? No, don't tell me. I don't even want to know. I just wouldn't trust her Quin. I thought I could, but I've just been proven so wrong, I can't even think what to do."
     "Come get some rest," said Alisen, taking his arm and leading him to the door. "It'll be better in the morning. You too, Quin. And don't kill each other while I'm gone, okay?"
     With that, she turned, walked into Lilia's room, and closed the door in their dumbfounded faces. the boys glanced at each other, then walked into Quin's room and crawled into their beds, knowing neither of them would get any sleep with Isadora racing around their brains.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Part 55

Alisen stayed downstairs for a very long time after Rudolph had left. The dark sky was beginning to fade, a light pink smearing across the clouds.
I know I am nothing to Rudolph. Isadora is all there is for him, all that he sees. I...I know I am something to him though. That is the problem. I know that he cares so much about is just that he doesn't care about me in...that way. Oh, how I miss Willem. If Willem were here beside me, I would lean my head upon his shoulder and he would put his arm around me and I would feel so safe. 
Alisen wiped a stray tear from her cheek with her index finger, before stretching hugely and tiptoeing upstairs to Lilia's room. Passing by the room Rudolph was sharing with Quin, she hear a faint noise, and her breath caught. It had been very quiet in the house and this sudden noise, although it was very quiet, was enough to startle Alisen to bits. With her heart thudding, she pushed lightly on the door to the boys' room. It was dark in the room, as the shades were drawn tightly over the single window, and Alisen was barely able to make out the sleeping figure of Rudolph. He was in the bed nearest to her and she could see his blonde hair glimmering in the faint light. There was another sound, and Alisen feared her heart would skip right out of her chest. She turned towards the far bed, and saw Quin sitting on its edge, head in his hands, weeping.
Alisen moved closer to Quin, hands shaking. She barely knew this boy, who had rescued her and Rudolph from a plight of hunger and extreme discomfort in the forest. She timidly lay a hand on his shoulder, and he whipped backwards, striking her with the back of his hand. Alisen pulled her own hand to her face in shock, and could feel her cheek was wet from not her own, but Quin's tears.
Neither of them spoke, and for this Rudolph continued in his slumber. Quin stared at his hands, and at Alisen. His chest rose and fell quickly, and Alisen saw that he had been frightened by her sudden interruption. He had struck out in surprise, not anger.
She kept her right hand on her burning cheek, and with her left, she beckoned Quin out of the room. With great surprise to Alisen, Quin followed her out onto the landing, and then down the staries and out the front door onto the chilly porch.
"Quin. Isn't it?" Alisen regretted that her voice sounded scratchy from the long sleepless night, and slightly choked from the surprising encounter.
"Yes. And you are Alisen." Quin's voice was strangled, as he swept away the remaining tears from his face that was red with shame from the slap.
"Please, talk to me. Please tell me why you are upset. Is this all about Isadora? Seems everything is about her these days..."
"Yes. And like her?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I really do like her."
"Impressive. You and Rudolph in love with the royal." Alisen didn't even try to keep the scorn from poisoning her words. However, she noticed that her words had registered as confusion on Quin's face.
"What? Why do you refer to her as 'royal'?" Quin looked at Alisen sideways, and she understood that he did not know about Isadora's origins. Do I tell him? Is it my place to tell him? I do not owe her anything...She has taken the heart of Rudolph, and it seems she has also enchanted Quin. Alisen felt bitter. She felt hatred towards this girl who had what she wanted. And what did she do? She ran away. Ungrateful brat. Alisen made up her mind. She opened her mouth to speak.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rudolph and Isadora, Part 54

Rudolph looked out at the night sky. The boy who had rescued Alisen and him had been kind enough to offer a room for them to stay, although from the looks of it, the small house was already overflowing with people. He'd been greeted at the door by a young woman, Lilia, and her brother Arin. In the kitchen a man named Darin had been finishing off a drink before retiring for the evening. Quin and Lilia had talked for several minutes in hushed and worried tones about some missing people, but Rudolph hadn't paid much attention other than to take in that Quin had gone looking for someone called Ros, and had come back to find someone else gone. He felt safe with these people, and with Alisen, and had focused more on dinner than whatever they were worrying about.
     Quin had shown them upstairs, and blushing, explained that they only had one extra bed. Alisen had volunteered to sleep on the floor, so Quin had given her some blankets and led her to Lilia's room. It was clean and cheerful, with ruffles on the bedspread and a nightgown draped over a chair back, but Alisen had protested a little, saying she didn't want to bother anyone and would be just as happy downstairs. Quin  insisted, and then proceeded down the hall with Rudolph.
     When Rudolph woke, the sky was still dark, so he slipped out of the room without waking Quin. He crept down the stairs, and seeing exactly what he had expected, let a smile creep onto his face. Alisen was sitting on the couch, looking beautiful in her borrowed nightgown and with her hair falling across her face. He approached her and put an arm around her shoulders. He looked into her dark brown eyes, and was shocked to see them filled with unshed tears.
     "Alisen, what's wrong?" His voice seemed too loud in the stillness of the night, but he felt he had to say something.
     Alisen just shook her head. After a moment, she seemed to come to a decision and looked up at him, whispering, "Rudolph, what are we doing? Why are we wandering around like this?"
    Rudolph couldn't voice the words running through his head: I need to find Isadora. Nonetheless, Alisen could read his face as well as if he'd spoken aloud.
    "And when you find your princess, what will happen to me, Rudolph? To us? Will you just shove me aside like a broken toy? I understand you can't love me Rudolph - I can't love you either, not now and not as long as Willem is fresh in my heart. But I do think of you as more than just a traveling companion. I think of you as.... not as a love, but perhaps something more than a friend."
     She rose, taking Rudolph with her. He felt an odd sensation in his gut, one that he didn't know what to do about. She placed a hand on his shoulder, and for an instant he had the mad urge to take her around the waist and start dancing about the room.
     "Rudolph, whether or not we find your Isadora, I hope I can stay with you." She leaned in and kissed his cheek, feather-light, before turning and climbing the stairs to Lilia's room, leaving Rudolph standing stunned in the moonlight, one hand pressed to his cheek.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Part 53

Isadora smiled up at the woman, who in return pushed a large bowl with a tasty aroma towards her.
"Eat up, my dear. From the looks of you you haven't had a square meal in days. What's your name, my sweet? I'm Vera." Vera sat on the edge of Isadora's bed, and handed her a spoon from the pocket in her apron. "
Oh. Um. Hi, thank you so much for helping me...I'm Isadora." As soon as she said it she was overcome with the feeling of foolishness. She had just given her name to this woman, this innkeeper, who probably near about all the going-abouts of the royal family. And of course her family must have been living for her since she had gone. Isadora rushed to cover her mistake.
"Well. People at least call me that. They think my hair is the same color as the princesses' hair, at least. My real name is Carolina. I' prefer if you called me that, I think it is much nicer, not to be rude at all towards the princess or anything..." She trailed off, taking a large swallow of the thick barely soup in front of her.
"Ah, yes. The princess. There's a lot going on nowadays concerning that girl. Did you know she has gone off eloping with some stableboy? The king and queen have been frantic, sending their people all over in search of them. There is also a reward of 5000 coins for the lucky bugger who finds them. THat notice was posted yesterday, in all the inns. Seems they were not able to find her for weeks, and have resorted to us commons, ha-ha."
"This notice...does it have pictures on it?"
"Of the girl yes, not of the by though. They didn't have a picture of him. All they can supply is his description and hope that he'll be with her. not that they are to eager to get him back, I hear. Makes sense, after-all, him going off with their daughter."
Isadora paled and sank deep into the bed, glad for the first time, to look so dirty.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rudolph and Isadora, Part 52

Isadora awoke to loud voices. Her head hurt and her entire body ached with soreness. She couldn't quite figure out where she was. She tried to open her eyes, and had to squint to protect her eyes from the noonday sun. A rather large woman came in through the door, and Isadora winced as the voices got louder, than became muted again as the door closed.
     "Well, we've been getting all sorts of you bedraggled travelers lately. Feeling a bit better, dear? I brought you some soup. You looked a fright when my Lowan brought you in. He said to me, 'Mum, I found her in the forest,' he did, and so I said, 'bring her in, for goodness sakes. Now I don't want to know what happened, but you can stay here for a few days. I've got George just about convinced that we can spare the room and whatnot. Now, I'll be back in a jiffy - don't move."
     Isadora didn't think she could have moved even had she wanted to, but she was busy trying to soak in what the woman had said. A boy named Lowan - the woman's son, she assumed - had brought her in from the forest, and she was now once again in someone else's bed, living entirely off their generosity. Oh, why on earth had she ever let Quin go off alone?
     The woman came in again, and Isadora asked timidly, "Excuse me, madam. Where am I, exactly?"
     "Why you're at the Drinking Bear, of course! Only the best inn in town!"

Monday, July 4, 2011

Part 51

Isadora stayed up all night waiting for Quin's return. By dawn she was utterly exhausted, drained from the lack of sleep as well as from worry. As soon as the sun began to peek over the mountain tops that circled the forest, she forced her groggy self to make its way out of the house quietly. She entered the forest at a brisk pace, scanning the damp leaves below for footprints.
 There were some heavy prints that marked a steady path towards the center of the trees, and having no other alternative, Isadora chose to follow these. The sky gradually lightened, and Isadora grew more and more drowsy, until she was practically nodding off as she walked, bumping into trees and tripping over the uneven terrain.
Isadora tried to stay awake, she continuously pinched her arm to keep herself alert enough to not plunge face-down onto the rough roots beneath her boots. Alas, as the day wore on, she began to stumble blindly, bent over with exhaustion.
Suddenly, her boot slipped on a moss patch and she tumbled down onto the leaves shed by the trees so high above her form. She lay there, barely conscious, not even feeling the wet of the soil bleeding into her clothes.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Rudolph and Isadora, Part 50

The night was cool and clear, and Quin made good time through the forest. He was walking quickly, hoping to get back to Isadora as soon as possible. He had stopped scanning to forest for any hint of Ros's trail, but soon he came across an unmistakable path, carved through the brush by someone not experienced with walking through forests. He sighed. As much as he wanted to go back to the warm house and see Isadora again, he knew he should follow this trail. It had to be the one he was looking for.
     Quin turned onto the new path, and picked his way carefully through the trampled underbrush. This trail was obviously not new, but still fairly easy to follow. He was about to go around a large tree when he heard muffled voices ahead. He stopped dead. He couldn't make out words, but there were definitely people. Listening harder, Quin realized that they were gagged. He hurried forward cautiously to see who it was.
     He found a boy and a girl expertly tied up next to one another and gagged. They were both extremely dirty and skinny, and it seemed they'd been trampling thorough the forest for some time. Their wrists and ankles were red where the bindings had rubbed against them. It seemed they had been trying to untie one another, without any success.
     Quin stepped into the clearing slowly and raised his hands, so as not to startle the couple.
     "I don't know who you are, but I'm not here to hurt you," he said. The boy nodded, and the girl turned around and offered Quin her tied wrists. She tried to say something through the gag, but Quin couldn't understand what it was.
     "If I untie you, will you promise not to hurt me?" Quin asked warily.
    She responded with an emphatic "Mmph!" and nodded her head. Quin took out his pocket knife and cut the cloth binding her wrists. She immediately reached up to untie her gag, but he said,
     "If you stop moving, I'll cut it off. I don't want to cut you by accident." She immediately stood stock-still, and when the gag fell from her face, she couldn't seem to speak but simply pointed at the boy.
     Quin cut his bindings as well, and the boy wiped his mouth, then his forehead, and finally spoke in a surprisingly refined accent - from the Capital, Quin recognized, like Isadora.
     "Thank you so much." He put an arm around the girl and stuck out his other hand to shake Quin's. "My name is Rudolph, and this is Alisen. I think you've just saved our lives."

Note: This was no coincidence. The Politick and I had planned for a few weeks to do something special for our fiftieth part of Rudolph and Isadora, and the opportunity was just too perfect not to take. Congrats, Politick - We made it to 50!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Part 49

Quin stalked into the forest, fueled by a deep rage that growled within his belly. It had softened a little though, the mad desire to run and get away, when Isadora had come after him into the dark. Now he knew that she really did love him, and this thought alone was what began to diffuse his energy. He walked carefully now, edging around the thick trunks of the tall trees, and easing around the snaking roots. He knew he had to find his mother, he knew that he had to be the one to find her. But he did not want to leave Isadora alone in that house. No, no. She is not alone. She is with Lilia and Daril. She will be safe enough with those two in the house, and there will be no need for her to think of me or anything, because she told me she would wait for me. And Arin. Arin was there too, brother of Lilia, clever young man who was apprentice to the town's goldsmith.
Quin continued to walk, to weave through the night in search of his mother, and trying in vain to walk away from thoughts of Isadora. But it was no use, he could not leave her, regardless that she had told him she would wait. He discovered that he really did need her.
Quin stopped walking and pulled in a long full breath of the night air. Then he turned around.