No moonlight alighted my path to aid me.
Halting to catch my breath, I focused on the night sounds. Branches, with rustling
leaves, creaked in the wind, a screech owl trilled a mournful melody, and midges hummed
past my ear. Upon hearing rushing water, I reasoned that I could follow its course and
escape those who sought my death.
Unless the hounds were sent aft me, the advantage was
mine. Unlike my pursuers, I had been taught to move swiftly and silently
through the forest. Reaching the bank of the stream, I kicked off my
leather shoes, for they were a hindrance. I dipped my toes into the water
and felt the cool and slippery moss-covered rocks. Near me, a fish
splashed. On the path behind me, I heard a familiar voice, hailing me and
assuring me that no harm would come to me.
For a moment, I turned, contemplating whether I should
continue on or turn back. Always steadfast in his devotion, Henry would
not harm me. But was he alone? My back stung from the whip's lashes. Like
spiders waiting in their webs, those close to him could have spun a
He called to me once more. I quivered with irresolution,
when a voice inside me urged me to continue forward. Though my life with
Henry had ne'er been true, I feared what lay ahead.
"Do not fear it. You will be reunited with what once was."
'Twas his voice. So many years had passed that I
had nearly forgotten the sound of it. Unashamedly, tears sprang into my
eyes. Disregarding those who followed me, I called out to him in the
tongue that had been forbidden to me for so long.
"Forward," he urged.
Heeding his advice, I forded the stream. The water churned
around my feet whilst fish kissed my toes. Near the middle, the water
swirled about my waist. I slogged through it and reached the far bank,
when suddenly I was lost.
Trees were everywhere. I stumbled my way through the
gigantic roots. Ne'er having felt confused and alone in a forest, I
cried, "Where, my love? Where am I to go?"
Raging shouts came from the opposite stream bank. My heart
pounded at their nearness. If I did not seek refuge, the mob would be upon
me. I could now see their torches, and my breaths quickened. In the
breeze, my beloved whispered, and I followed his voice 'til an elegant
white hound stood afore me. I now knew what I must do.
The dog's body was made for coursing, but he kept a slower
pace in order to guide the way. Deeper and deeper into the forest we
traveled. I sought shelter in a dark opening within the roots of an
immense oak. Instead of blackness surrounding me, a thick mist engulfed
me. The clammy dampness upon my skin raised the hairs on my arms. The
hound was my salvation, and I latched onto his leather collar.
On and on I faltered through the fog with the dog tracing
a huge circle. I felt the rough, bare wood of a rocking and swaying ship
neath my feet. A wave of nausea overcame me, and I clutched my stomach
with my free hand. The hound failed to break stride. Onwards.
From a nearby branch, a crow cawed. Suddenly, I thought of
a tiny lad vanishing in a similar mist, ne'er to be found again. Assured
that my pursuers would reason that I suffered from the same fate, I
continued walking along the arc.
When my beloved's voice returned, I signaled the hound to
halt. He kept going, and the loving voice faded. With a twinge of remorse,
I thought of Henry. He, too, had loved me. A love that I could ne'er
return, for my heart had always belonged to another.
The mist grew thinner, and he whispered in my ear
for me to follow the light. Up ahead, I spied what looked like thousands
of torches. As I emerged from the fog, the dog vanished. I blinked in
disbelief. How could so much light be possible in the night sky? I scanned
about me. Lights upon lights, swarming with people. And clattering
noise. I pressed my hands to my ears to block the racket. The
thoroughfare had a surface the likes of which I had ne'er seen. Where
am I? Which lights should I follow?
I stepped into the road to escape. More lights chased aft
me, blinding me. I froze in my path, deafened by a piercing sound and
sudden screeching. The earth trembled, and I was flying afore striking the
pavement. I closed my eyes to the pain. Soon, my beloved, I will join
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