Chapter 13

Alys ended up in the lead.  She led them off the palace grounds and through the city.  She led them across the borderland country.  Matthew protested multiple times, but she didn't care.  She kept riding, and riding, and riding, until they made it to the small village of Ernest, which was only half a days ride away.  As they rode through the town people stopped and stared at the young royalty, but they ignored them.  

Suddenly Alys stopped, and Matthew barely reigned Buttercup in time.  They were in front of a small cottage on the outskirts of the village.  Alys dismounted, then walked up to the door to the house and pulled.  It wouldn't budge.  She went around to the  back, which was also locked.  She knocked, and no one answered.  Alys finally sat on the ground in front of the door and leaned against it.  

Matthew sat cross legged in front of her and asked, "So... where are we?"

Alys didn't answer.  She stared at the ground and thought about childhood memories.  

"Where could she be?" Alys murmered.

Matthew looked concerned, he took her hand, "Are you okay?"

Alys looked at her lap, seeming to ignore him.  Finally, after a few minutes of silence she squeezed his hand and stood up, walking slowly away.  Matthew jumped up and followed closely behind.  He didn't ask where they were going, but he soon found out.

They were headed into market.  As they got closer Alys' step quickened, her shoulders, which were slumped, lifted, and a smile of familiarity crossed her face.  Once in the market Alys went strait to the first cart in sight, the bread cart. 

"Alleese!" the baker bellowed, waddling quickly around the cart and kissing her on the cheek.  "We've meesed you!  Hahv a sleece ofbreed!"  he whipped out a knife and began sawing at a loaf.  It was peasant bread, but Alys was okay with that.  Once the baker handed the slices of bread to them, she introduced Matthew.  

"This is Matthew,"  Alys said, then, almost as an afterthought, "he's the prince." She turned to the baker, "And this is Mr. Rone, the baker."  

"Pleased to meet you," said Matthew, shaking the bakers hand.

"Da pleesyure is mahn," the baker replied, bowing.  "Now Alleese, what ah yo deeing beck een town?  Ond weeth da preence!"

Alys sighed, "I'm looking for my Nana,"  she looked hopefully at the baker, "have you seen her?"

"Freed I'n haveen't"  Mr. Rone replied, "I'd tree dahn da lohn, ot Mees Jenneh's caht."  Alys nodded enthusiastically, thanked him, and ran down the street, Matthew barely keeping up.

They arrived at another boot, on the other side of the street, near the end. 

"Jenna!" Alys called in greeting.  Jenna waved, and motioned that she would be right over.

"Alys!" she cried gleefully when she made it over to them,  "I didn't know that you were coming back!  You'd think Maria would've told me!"

Alys blushed, and looked at her hands.  "Well..." she said shyly, "Nana doesn't know that I'm here either.  I went to the house, and it was locked, even the back door!"

Jenna laughed, "I know exactly where she is!"

Alys smiled and began hopping up and down like a four year old, "WHERE! WHERE!" 

Jenna pointed behind her.  Alys whipped around and saw, to her delight, Maria running towards her, arms open.  Alys ran into the embrace, tears streaming down her face.  But it was okay, they were happy tears, tears of joy and laughter, tears of memory.  

After a long embrace Maria pushed Alys away, but held both her arms tightly in her grip.  

"What are you doing her?" Maria demanded, trying to b stern.  Then she turned on Matthew, "Why'd you let her come?"  but they could tell that she wasn't mad that they were there at all.  

"I couldn't stand it there anymore!" Alys defended herself, "I wasn't allowed off the palace grounds, I wasn't allowed to be myself, I wasn't allowed to make my own choices!"  

"And I couldn't stop her," Matthew piped in in his own defense.

Maria smiled, waved to Jenna, then led the two teens back the way they came.

"Why was the back door locked?"  Alys inquired to Maria.

"I wasn't expecting you, silly girl!"

"But you've never locked it before!"

"That was because I never knew when you wre going to pop in."  She laughed, "apparently I still don't!" 

"OHHH..." Alys said, nodding, "that makes sense."  

"So you were never a very stationary child?" Matthew asked, an amused smile on his face.

Alys gave him a sheepish grin with a shrug.

The End

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