“Thee realizes the consequences of thy actions, correct? I take away thy memories and must serve thee for the rest of thy life.” The shadow’s voice was just above a whisper, like wind softly sighing through the trees. Sorrel nodded. She knew the price. A brief flash of light illuminated the murky twilight. Sorrell fell to the ground, unconscious. The shadow blended into its brethren under the trees until its new master awoke.
The sun rose, illuminating Sorrel’s limp form. She groaned and rolled to her knees. The shadow came forth.
“Need thee anything, Mistress?”
“Water. And food. Hurry.” Sorrell tried to rise to her feet. The shadow returned holding a basket of food and a pouch of water. The shadow placed it at Sorrell’s feet.
“What is your mane?”
“I have many names, but to find my true name, thee would have to go back to the beginning of time. However, thee can call me whatever names thy wishes.”
“From now on, your name will be Miltrae. Miltrae, saddle the horse.” Sorrel grabbed a skin of water and drank. Miltrae moved quickly to the black stallion. Sorrel ate quickly, starving, but reminded herself to save some for later. Even eternal shadow servants had their undoing. Sorrel tried to take a step, and then fell to the grey-green grass.
Sorrel gritted her teeth. “Miltrae, carry me to my horse.”
Shadowy arms surrounded the elf mage and gently set her in the saddle.
“How close dost thee wish I remain, Mistress?”
Sorrel wrapped the leather reigns tight around her fist. “Close. But become my horse’s shadow. We’re going through a town where they don’t appreciate magic or creatures like us.”
Miltrae’s black form flew to the ground and mixed with the proud horse’s shadow. Sorrel pulled the hood on her black cloak up, covering her pointed ears. Sorrel took one last look around the glen, wishing her business didn’t require her to leave a safe haven and nudged her horse towards the trail leading to the town.
A cloaked figure leapt onto a windowsill of a tall house that rose above the rest. A small flash of silver and the window opened, granting the mysterious figure entrance to the room.
There was a rustle of silk and a tall fey walked into view. The fey had tan skin, a sign she was of the summer court. Her long, summer golden hair fell to her waist. Grass green eyes looked at the cloaked figure. The cloaked figure pulled back his hood, revealing his identity.
Esmeralda ran into his arms. “Bran. I though you weren’t coming. My father, he…”
Bran lifted a finger to her lips. “Esmeralda, do not worry about your father. I have come to make amends.”
Esmeralda looked up at the elf who had claimed her heart. “Bran, you know that cannot be so. He will kill you if he finds you anywhere near here again.”
Bran pulled a red rose out of a hidden pocket in his cloak and lovingly traced her face. “Esmeralda, you know I cannot leave my heart behind. You and I, we have a destiny. To restore the Elfaen Empire.”
Esmeralda pulled back and looked at the hem of her dark blue dress. “Bran, that dream, like our love, won’t last long. You’re a gypsy, and I’ve seen how they are when they’re in one place too long. Bran, even if you do manage to restore the Empire, how long will you last as its emperor?”
Bran took a step forward and enveloped Esmeralda in his arms. “Esmeralda, with you as my empress, you know that nothing can stand against us,” he whispered into her hair. “Creatures like us have been enslaved by the human race too long. You may not remember, as you were but a babe, but I remember the prosperous times when the Mythicals ruled. The Council was all we needed for justice. Esmeralda, you and I, we can restore those times, we can bring back the glory days of the Elfaen Empire.”
Footsteps sounded on the stone stairs outside Esmeralda’s room.
She looked up into Bran’s black eyes. “Bran, take me with you. Together we shall leave and fulfill our destiny. Please, I know that I cannot bear another day not being by your side. Every time you leave, so does my heart.”
Bran looked at the door, knowing their time was short. “Esmeralda, come. We will leave now.”
The footsteps came closer to the door. Esmeralda nodded. Bran took her hand and led her to the window. If anyone had looked out the windows that clear night, they would have seen two figures leaping across the rooftops in the pearly light of the full moon.