A small girl lay on her bed, clutching her doll, staring at the ceiling one night. Her lamp burned brightly next to her. Thunder boomed outside, the girl started and held her doll tighter. Lightning flashed through the crack in her shutters. The girl leaped from her bed, grabbed her lamp, still holding her doll. She burst out of her room and ran down the hall, her little feet pattering across the wood floor. She hurtled into her parents' bedroom and jumped onto their large bed where they laid, fast asleep.
Her mother woke almost instantaneously. Her father woke a split second later and smiled, then took the girl's lamp and set it on an end table next to the bed. Her mother took the girl in her arms, cooing softly.
"Darling, what's wrong?" she asked softly.
The girl sniffed and hugged her doll. "The storm scared me."
Her mother stroked the girl's silky black hair lovingly. Her father took the girl's tiny hand in his and kissed it lightly. Then they all laid down, the girl safely nestled between her parents. Her father blew out the lamp and they fell asleep.
As the sun rose it peeked through the think curtains covering the windows. The ray of sunlight fell on a small, peaceful face nestled between her parents. The girl's vibrant blue eyes snapped open. A smile crossed her golden face and she wriggled out of her parent's hold. She scampered over to the window and threw the curtains open letting sunlight pour in.
Her parents groaned and turned over, drawing the covers over their faces. The girl skipped over and with a mischievous grin grasped the covers tightly and threw them aside.
"Luna!" her mother exclaimed, rubbing her eyes.
"Mama, you promised we'd go riding," Luna reminded her.
"It's only dawn," her mother protested.
"If the sun's awake you should be awake," Luna retorted.
Her mother groaned and glared at her husband. "You had to teach her that saying didn't you?"
Her father grinned and sat up, stretching. "I could have just taught her the one my teacher screamed at me every morning," he said mischievously.
Her mother paled. "Heavens no, that man was vile!" she exclaimed.
Her father chuckled and got out of bed. He went over to the window and peered outside. The sunlight glittered on the beads of water on the grass below. "It's going to be a beautiful day," he proclaimed.
He turned to see Luna still pestering her mother. He grinned and strode over. He wrapped his arm around the girl's small body. Luna squealed happily as her father lifted her up and spun her around. Her mother watched them, smiling. She sat up, brushing her long black hair from her face. Her brown eyes twinkled with laughter.
When Luna was placed back on the ground she raced over to her mother's side. "Mama, when is you baby going to come out?" she asked, putting a small hand on her mother's bulging stomach.
"A few more months, darling," she replied.
Luna's father's face grew serious. "Nienna, you can't go riding," he said.
"But she promised!" Luna protested.
Nienna's face fell sadly. "I did, didn't I? I don't know what I was thinking…"
"You can ride in the carriage," her husband suggested.
"But-" Luna began.
Her father interrupted. "You don't want Mama's baby to get hurt do you?"
Luna shook her head sadly.
"Alright then. Go get dressed and we'll meet you downstairs for breakfast," her father said.
As they went down one of the country roads Luna and her father rode side by side. Luna atop her young chestnut mare, Elena, and her father on his prized black stallion. A piebald horse led the carriage holding Nienna and her driver. The trial entered the woods surrounding the city. As they rode down the trial her father noticed how eerily silent the woods were. The horses' ears flicked back and forth nervously. Suddenly and arrow shot out of the woods and embedded in the black stallion's flank. The horse neighed frantically and reared spilling its rider. The horse took off and galloped away.
"Avan!" Nienna cried.
He grabbed Elena's reins, who had been nervously backing up. The young mare, crazed by the arrows whizzing dangerously by, bit Avan's hand. Startled, Avan let go of the reins and Luna's horse took off.
"Luna!" her father yelled.
Luna pulled on her horse's reins frantically, trying to stop her. Luna finally gathered the reins in her hands tightly, and pulled back as hard as she could. Luna somehow managed to stay on Elena, she turned her horse and looked back.
Raiders swarmed from the woods and Luna watched in horror as they cut down her defenseless father. Her mother screamed and called her father's name. The coach driver begged that their lives be spared.
"Please! My lady is pregnant, spare her!" he pleaded before they pulled him off the carriage and ran him through.
The raiders tied up the sobbing Nienna. Before they blindfolded her she looked up and saw Luna.
"Run!" she yelled, and then the raiders gagged her and blindfolded her.
Tears ran down Luna's face she was frozen in shock of horror. The raiders reached for arrows from their quivers and drew their bows. An arrow whizzed by precariously close and Luna's mare, agitated, reared and sped away. All Luna could do was hang on as her horse galloped from the petrifying scene.