Alayia tugged on the straps on the saddle of her horse, then brushed at her skirt nervously. She didn't like horses, but she was forced to ride because she couldn't fly yet. Alayia looked around, there were dozens of attendants helping put everything together for the trip.

"Almost ready, Alayia?" The king had come up behind her. Alayia spun around.

"Yes, Father, almost ready." She yelped. Her father nodded.

"Go on dear. We're all counting on you." He said with a warm smile. Alayia hoisted herself into the saddle and settiled herself in for the long trip. Nodding to her father and waving goodbye to her mother and siblings she turned towards the pearly white gates of the palace. Striding out with confidence. She rode on, by herself for several hours, looking back regularly to see if the castle was still in sight. It was. When the sun started to descend Alayia built herself a fire a little ways off the road. She lay out her bedroll next to the fire, it was a clear night, and lay back on it, listening to the cheery crackle of the flames and looking at the stars. If she turned her head a little to the right she could see the glowing spires of her home, but she didn't look to the right, she just looked straight up.

The snapping of a twig nearby startled Alayia out of her doze. She sat up, suddenly, and looked around the site. There was nothing. Everything was dark, except for the fire that was still burning on. Alayia peered into the shadows. Everything was quiet. Alayia lay back down and shut her eyes, but she didn't sleep, her hand strayed near her dagger, and stayed clenched aroung the scabbard for the rest of the night.

The next morning started slowly. Alayia rose with the sun and tidied up her camp slowly. Then checked around the area for any footprints, she couldn't see any.

"Probably just paranoid." She muttered to herself, and she set to saddling her horse. When everything was packed up, she pushed on. Trying to get out from sight of the palace. It seemed to loom over her now, taunting her that home was close enough to see, to turn back now. But she couldn't. The fate of the kingdom now rested on her shoulders.

The End

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