Another episode in the daily life of Princess Christalina and there's no way she'd leave Prince Mathew, Tom and Monica behind!
Chris began to question the wisdom of this trip. The morning had started out so beautiful and inviting but now the black smudge had become a dark storm. Chris had no doubt it would be on them soon, but her dream had seemed so real, and she could just make out Misty Forest.
“Princess?” Monica brought Chris’s thoughts from the trees to the grassland they rode through. “Don’t you think it would be wise to turn back?”
“It would depend on where we’re going,” Tom spoke up from the horse beside them.
Chris felt her three companions gazing at her.
“Yes, where are we going, Princess Christalina?”
Chris scrunched her nose at Monica’s ‘I’m the oldest’ tone, and nearly didn’t tell. But Tom and Prince Mathew deserved to know.
“Chris...” Monica gasped, tightening her grip.
“Come on.” Chris flashed a smile back at her lady-in-waiting. “We’ve been picnicking at the edge for over a year now. Besides, nothing happened when I had to go traipsing in to get Starlight.”
“We’re closer to Misty Forest than any other shelter,” Tom pointed out. “We might not get soaked if we make it under the trees.”
Chris nodded. “Exactly!”
Urging their horses to a quicker pace, the group continued forth, each occupied with their own thoughts. But the increasing speed of the wind slowed them down. Chris urged her horse faster as lightning flashed through the black clouds. Thunder rolled towards them.
“What’s that?’ Matt shouted over the wind.
Chris glanced up, her heart sinking. She could no longer see Misty Forest.
“Rain,” Monica yelled. “We’re in for a soaking!”
Lightning struck, ripping apart the sky. Their horses bucked and reared. All but Matt managed to stay on.
“Tom, get Matt!” Chris called out.
Another crack of lightning spooked the horses. This time, even Tom didn’t manage to stay on his horse Soaked and muddy, the four regrouped, all of them horseless.
“Now what?” Monica pushed dripping hair from her face.
“We keep going,” Chris stated, looking about her, pretending she knew what she was doing.
“That way.” Water ran down Matt’s arm as he pointed.
Chris smiled. In the distance, she could make out a darker spot on the horizon that had to be the woods. “Come on.”
Slogging her way through the battered wheat, she kept her head down to avoid the rivulets of water from her hair, but now and again Chris would look up to make sure she was heading towards the forest. Only dogged determination kept her going, despite the muttering about wild goose chases from behind her.
“Not much farther,” she told them as soon as she could make out individual trunks.
The rain stopped as quickly as it had begun, their faces now illuminated by the setting sun.
“Mythicals?” Matt whispered.
Peering into the trees, Chris saw a gathering of mythical creatures. She recognized the dragon and the unicorn, but some of them, like the fuzzy balls, she’d never heard of. Chris was about to speak when a shimmering woman glided forward.
“I am Misty, Keeper of the Forest.” She smiled. “You heeded my call and traversed the field of doubt. Please, step into the world of dreams.”
She held out her hand and Chris eagerly strode into the shadows to take it. Matt was next, drawn in by the dragon, then Tom to the unicorn. But Monica stood outside, wavering.
“Come on, Monica.” Chris reached out to her friend. “You believe in me, don’t you?”
Their eyes met and Monica stepped forward. Smiling, Chris grabbed her hand and pulled her inside.