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.