Victoria had been on the run for five years. Since the day Rowan was born. In spite of her lack of experience, she instantly fell in love with the baby. Though fleeing the castle with a newborn infant may not have been the best option. She found herself in a crazed panic mode as she cradled the baby to her chest with one hand. In the other she held a dagger for the guards she might have to fend off.
Victoria tied a scarf around her head and bought a more simple and practical dress. She sold her prestigious clothing for food. For the first night of Rowan's existence, she slept in a barn, cradled protectively against Victoria. The air was not too frigid, as it was only August but soon it would grow cold. Victoria wept quietly, as Rowan's tiny hand grabbed her finger. The infant's eyes were alert, taking in and memorizing her mother's face. Victoria hated herself, for being so selfish before. How could she trade her child for her reputation? It was preposterous.
Victoria held the child close and hummed an old funeral hymn, within minutes they both had drifted into a deep slumber.
Light crept into the barn. Victoria awoke startled. A scrawny man stood in the doorway. He held a sword in his hand cautiously. Victoria bedded down beneath the hay. The man had not noticed her yet. She glanced at Rowan. The infant was still sleeping.
“Who's there?” The man demanded. He walked closer to the haystack. He held a shovel in his hands. His clothes were loose around his skinny frame. His face and pale blonde hair were spotted with dirt. At the sound of his voice Rowan awoke and began to cry. Sheepishly Victoria stepped out of the hay with Rowan.
“Please,” Victoria pleaded. “Please let me stay with my child. I have no where else to go. If you don't hide me the royals will come. They will take her!” Victoria said hysterically
The man dropped the shovel. He reached for the wailing infant. Victoria gasped as he took the baby away. She thought for sure the man would turn her over to the Royals. Instead he rocked the child soothingly in his arms. Her crying died down instantly. “I do hate those royals,” the man said smiling down at Rowan. “What are your names?”
Victoria brushed hay off of her skirt. “I'm Victoria and this is Rowan.”
He handed Rowan, back to Victoria the child began to cry again. Victoria rolled her eyes. “Your not a nursemaid are you?” She jested.
The man wiped his hands on his pants and extended an arm to Victoria. “Silas Beckingsail. You may stay here with me as long as you earn your keep. My mother is growing old and fragile, she could use a hand in the kitchen.”
Victoria nearly wept with relief....
That was five years ago. Silas had kept good on his word and provided Victoria and Rowan with a home, even after his mother's death, when he could have sold the farm and made a decent profit. Victoria gave up all propriety and threw herself into work around the farm. She tended to the livestock and prepared meals from the rabbits and deer that Silas brought home.
Everything was going well until Victoria saw Grimley in the market on the eve of Rowan's fifth birthday. He was questioning the merchants. Victoria dropped the apple she had picked out back in the crate. She grabbed Rowan's hand and made a mad dash back to the farm.
“Mommy, what is going on?” Rowan demanded.
Victoria slammed the door to the small three room cottage. Silas was throwing wood into the fire place.
“What's the matter?”
“Grimley,” Victoria said breathlessly. Silas nodded, he understood right away. He was Rowan's best friend, there were no secrets between them. He knew her hopes and her fears. Her biggest fear of all; losing Rowan.
“Who is that?” Rowan asked clutching impatiently at Victoria's skirt. Tomorrow was Rowan's fifth birthday. Grimley was here to collect.
Victoria knelt down to Rowan, she tucked a strand of dark hair behind the child's ear. “Nobody you will ever have to worry about,” she pressed a kiss on the child's forehead.
She stood up and addressed Silas. “Take her now, please," Victoria begged.
Silas gave her a hard look. They had agreed that if it came down to this Silas would take Rowan and run. Though Silas was very reluctant to leave Victoria behind, Victoria had promised him she would find them both. She would use her holy magic that she had concealed for five year in fear that it would make her easier to track. Victoria had witnessed Rowan throwing a temper tantrum last week, in which a small sparks ignited on the ground in front of her feet. Could that have given them away? Victoria thought regrettably. Maybe she should have warned Rowan.
Rowan tugged on Victoria's skirt again. “Why am I going with Silas Mommy? I don't want to go?”
Silas took hold of Rowan's hand. “Come on, I have a new mare that needs breaking in. How about a ride through the countryside?” He offered.
Rowan jumped up, delighted to have been asked. She ran to Silas and attached herself onto his leg. Silas picked up the child and swung her carelessly over his shoulder, making her giggle His pale blue eyes met Victoria and they portrayed another emotion; worry.
“Take care of her,” Victoria whispered and then to Rowan. “ I love you,” And in that moment the door to the cottage was thrown open. Victoria’s heart stopped as she stood face to face with Grimley.
“It's almost time,” He said nonchalantly, as if she had never ran away from him.
“No,” Victoria said. “I'm not giving up my child.”
Grimley smiled, “ We had a deal, remember.”
Victoria stepped in front of Rowan and Silas. “Deals off, my priorities have changed,”
Grimley grabbed Rowan's arm and pulled her out of the way. “I'm afraid it doesn't work that way Miss Roslyn.”
“Run Silas!” Victoria shouted. Silas made a move towards the back door, but Grimley was too fast and too powerful. Grimley pointed a finger at Silas. Victoria couldn't see the magic radiating off of Grimley, but she witnessed an invisible force propel Silas and Rownan backwards. Grimley stole the child out of his arms. She screamed for Victoria.
Victoria lunged at Grimley, but before she could reach him he was gone. He had disappeared with her child and left Silas here for dead.
Victoria had little time too weep for Rowan. She marched to the stables and mounted a smaller gray horse. She rode into the village and gave one of her old widowed neighbors strict orders to care for Silas. Then, furiously, she rode out of the village.
The journey was a long one, but Victoria couldn't afford to waste anytime. She sought out a man who she had sworn to kill, only this time she would beg for Harold's help.
Hours later Victoria had found herself in a small unkempt village outside of the Kingdom of Torgus. Victoria's horse grew weary and she was forced to dismount the horse to give him a break. She was tapped her foot impatiently as she leaned against a large brick wall that separated this village from another. Victoria pressed her palms against her eyes. She willed herself not to think of Rowan, otherwise she may not be able to find the courage she needed to save her.
Determined, Victoria bit back the urge to punch the brick wall in front of her. Before she could fight it any longer, she felt a warm hand press on her shoulder. She spun around, with her fist raised. It was a face Victoria could never forget. The man had the same stubborn chin as Victoria and the same color of hair. Victoria let her hand fall to her side. Only then did she realize the Harold wore the rags of peasants. In his eyes were a wild and desperate look.