Chapter One: Just a Girl
On my country there is this city that shines like silver at noon and glows like moonlight at night. Home to the Windam Palace and the Royal Family: Cloud City.
I've never seen such city. Growing up in a farm up in the Northwest end of the Valley, there were very little chances of ever knowing Cloud City by anything else than by reputation.
She said her name was Dionne, and she liked to travel. She was very beautiful with her long auburn hair and mulberry eyes. Outwardly she looked about eighteen, my brother's age, but when you looked into her eyes you could feel there was something else there… something old…
She came one day, draped on a black cape. I don't know how she convinced my brother to let her stay but she did. Ever since, Erik hasn't been himself since he met her. It confuses me…
I was picking wildflowers on a small hill nearby when the sky darkened suddenly, just before the sky had been blazing blue and cloudless, but now there was shadow on the sky and a thick mist appeared out of nowhere. I raced back to my house. I feared something I could not explain.
"Leave!" My brother was ordering Dionne as I came in.
She laughed, high and merry, "Come with me," She said.
"No, I can't leave Amy."
"Oh… sweet big brother, looking out for his little sister…" the she said some words that I couldn't understand and my big strong brother crumpled in the ground. But, I could see his face, Erik was in such pain he couldn't even scream. "You will come with me, by means fair our foul, I don't care."
"NO!!!" I yelled. Silly me, I thought I could oppose her. I tried to hit her but she caught my arm and twisted it painfully behind my back.
"Stupid girl!" Dionne said, her perfect beautiful face was contorted with scorn, but then she smiled and looked ten times prettier than ever. "See what happens when my pets go naughty?" She asked softly and made me look at my brother's unconscious form. "Now… what shall I do with you? I could keep you my pet as well… or I could sell you to the best bidder… aren't you the most beautiful girl of your little village?" Dionne's voice was soft and sweet, like poisoned honey.
She pulled me so I would look at her and caught my chin in a painful grip. She looked straight into my brown eyes. "You really are very pretty." She said dispassionately. "I can't have that." She declared.
A moment later I was lying on the ground there was blood all over my face, plastering my hair to my scalp. The left side of my face hurt as if it were on fire. It was such agony that I couldn't breathe.
"How pretty you are now?" Dionne asked. "Goodbye, little sister. Don't worry; your brother won't miss you."
"NO!!!" I wheezed past my pain. "Don't go!!!"
Dionne laughed and with a swirl of her cape she and my brother were both gone.
I don't know how long I laid there on the cold ground, my blood dripping.
Then I saw her, the Lady of the Forest… white blond hair, alabaster skin, a star-shaped silver mark on the forehead, and amethyst eyes.
"Be brave…" She said in this otherworldly voice that I'll never forget. "This is the beginning of your tale… be brave…. Strong… be…"
Two years later….
I was cold and hot at the same time. Starving too. I couldn't remember when was the last time I has eaten something or slept without waking up time and again with violent coughing.
I was desperate.
That's why I left my bolt hole in the Romney Forest and ventured to Cloud City. At first, I stayed in the outskirts, trying to find food wherever I could but as winter turned cruel; I had to go deeper into the city.
One night I was freezing out so I sneaked into the palace's stables, I knew by experience that hay could be warm to sleep in… far warmer than the street at least. I was dozing off in the hay when I heard male voices.
"Last time I let you talk me into riding with this cold."
"Don't be a wuss, Gerry."
"That. I think is a girl."
I heard footsteps coming closer. "I have never seen her before… she's shivering."
"What do we do?"
"Let's take her inside. I'm sure Mrs. Rose will know what to do with her. I think she's sick."
"What if what she has is contagious?"
"Don't be a wuss. Help me move her."
"What's that on her face?"
I slipped completely out of consciousness after that.
Next time I woke was because I was soaking wet. I began to cough again.
"Hurry up with the hot water!" A woman was yelling. "Don't worry; we'll have you clean in a second." She told me.
I looked up at her helplessly. I tried to speak, but my voice came out in a broken whisper… it had been so long since I had used my voice. "Wh-at?"
"Oh, you speak! Good, good." She said and poured more water over me. "I'm Rose, the housekeeper if you will. Alec and Gerry found you in the stables and brought you in. We already sent for the doctor. I'm sure you'll be fine in no time. Now be good and stay quiet while I clean you up."
She went on talking. It was so nice to hear someone's voice again so I let her do whatever she wanted. Mrs. Rose washed my hair and, after many buckets of water, I could see my skin again instead of coat after coat of dirt.
I had rarely bathed in the two years since my brother disappeared. After he was gone and people began to guess what had happened to him and who that Dionne woman was, the other villagers of my small village turned their back on me. I had been living in the forest ever since, without human contact.
I was given a big nightgown and Mrs. Rose and another young woman about my age began to try to comb my hair but they gave up.
"I think we are going to have to cut it." Mrs. Rose said.
My hand flew to my face. If they cut my hair, the scar that ran from my temple and though my left cheek would be in plain view…
Mrs. Rose looked at me with compassion. "We won't cut it too short."
"Thank You." I said and stayed very still until they were done. They cut my hair slightly below my chin. The scar was more or less hidden beneath the mousy brown curls.
I coughed a little. The hot water had taken the chill of my bones for a while but my coughs were as violent as ever. "The doctor will be here any minute. Why don't you tell us about yourself while we wait?"
"Er… yes. My name is…"
"Did I miss something?" A woman asked.
"Not at all, milady." Mrs. Rose said.
"Good. I'm Kaze. My son found you in our stables." She explained. "Could you tell us who you are?"
"Oh… well, my name is Amy. I'm from a village in the north… my family…" What could I say? "I got no real family to speak of. I've been fending for myself for a while now, living in the forest. I was cold, that's why I came into the city."
"You did well, Amy." Lady Kaze said. "The forest is no place of a girl. Believe me, I know." She said turning her head to the side. "Do you have a place to go once you're well?"
"Back into the forest, I guess." I answered.
Mrs. Rose and Lady Kaze looked at each other. "Would you like to stay here in the Palace?" Mrs. Rose asked. "We are always looking for more hands to help around her?"
"You'll have a salary and food and a place to stay. You'll be safe here." Lady Kaze told me, she was looking at me intently, and I had the sensation that she saw more than what she let on. When I didn't answer she just smiled. "Think about it, you don't have to answer right now. In any case, you're welcome to stay until you're healthy."
"You're very kind, my lady." I answered.
Steady food and a safe roof over my head… it sounded so tempting…
End of Chapter ONE
Okay, this is the big finale to the Cloud City trilogy. No real need to read the other stories to understand this one but some small moments are specially written for those who read Love & Magic and Wind Warriors.
Thanks to DREA (TortugaPoet) for giving me the title Spellbound! Me loves it!!!. And to Courtney who read if first and made those GORGEOUS Beauty and the Beast piccys. They were so cool!
And thanks so much to anyone who comes and read these.
Stay toon, next chapter will soon be up!!!
I REALLY HOPE YOU ENJOY THIS AND TAG ALONG FOR THE RIDE
LOVE & KISSES & BEST WISHES