Ekavir tried his best to keep his eyes open as he bounced along on his weary palace horse. The sun beat down on the back of his neck and his body had grown numb from such long distance riding. Trying to keep himself from falling off his saddle and into a deep sleep, he looked up at his surroundings.

He appeared to have traveled out of the forest into some sort of country side. Small fields spotted the land before him as well houses. He perked up slightly--houses. That meant people. That meant real food!

Part of him wanted to urge his steed faster but he knew that would be pushing it too far. The poor animal had alreadly lost most of its palace luster from the journey. It's fur needed cleaning and combing, its ribs needed padding, and its wounds needed doctoring. He'd already been reluctant to ride it today but after that bandit attack in the woods, Ekavir had been left nearly immobile.

"Greetings, traveler."

Ekavir slightly jumped at the sudden voice. He hardly tugged on the reigns to bring his horse to a stop and then looked down. There, peering up at him with a look somewhere between friendliness and wariness, was a small woman.

"What brings you to our villiage?"

"Uh," he rubbed his his head and suddenly became aware of how dirty and greasy his hair felt--let alone how it looked, "Directions. Can you tell me..." his voice faded off. He wanted to sound official somehow and ask for a specific destination but he didn't really have one. His stomach grumbled impatiently and he gave up.

"Can you tell me where I'm at?"

The slight wrinkles on her face were emphasized by her friendly smile, "Of course. But why don't you follow me; you look like you could use a lot more than that."

The week's frustrations and pain easily overrode any mistrust he might've felt towards the stranger and he smiled in turn, "I'd like that. Thank you."

As she led him into the villiage, he attracted many curious eyes. Being a prince, he was suddenly self-concious about his muddy boots and worn clothes. He had a peice of stained fabric wrapped tightly around a gash on his arm and a stick tied to his left leg as a makeshift splint. And he didn't even bother smelling himself. Only on the return of a battle would someone of his standing be caught like this in public.

"Here we are."

Ekavir looked up to see a quaint little house. He caught the scent of seval different herbs and oils from inside mixed with the crops and flowers on the outside.

"We have a small stable in the back for your horse," she said, "Can you get off?"

He smiled. "I think so."

His first leg swung over expertly but he miscalculated the movement and his injured one buckled under the sudden weight.

"Woah!" he cried out. His body twisted with the momentum of swinging his leg and his foot slipped from the stirrup. He landed hard on the ground, causing pain to shoot up from his tail bone and his splint to snap in two. Leg screaming and face flushing, he somehow found himself laughing. There was really nothing else for it. Family, standing, friendships, style, ego--he really couldn't lose much else so why not? Like everything else he'd fallen from this past month, at least he got off.

The End

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