3

At the last second Zahra leaps out, unsheathing a long blade. The man reaching for the rug yells commands to the soldiers as he dodges this way and that.

Zahra looks at me and I leap out, from under the rug. I find a long golden curtain rod, and run at the closest soldier.

"Lord Ray will not be happy about this," another soldier grumbles in the back of the line.

I knock-out as many of the men as I can with the curtain rod, and Zahra hits them with the square of her blade.

Zahra yells to me to run into the woods. I do as she says, and follow her into the thick trees.

"Their following us!" I whisper urgently.

"Just stay right behind me, and be quiet. I know a person who can help." Zahra runs faster.

"In the woods?" I ask her disbelievingly.

"Be quiet!" Zahra hisses "were almost there!"

Zahra and I come to a thick branched tall tree. Zahra doesn't waste a single second. She pulls herself up into the tree, climbing as high as she can.

A persons feet dangle over the side of a branch, asleep. It's an old woman. Zahra shakes them awake, and yells to them, "Soldiers are chasing us! Help!"

"Zahra! Look how much you've grown!" the old women looks closely at Zahra, "how old are you my dear?"

Zahra rolls her eyes, and then says, "I'm fourteen. Now please! Soldiers are chasing us. Help!"

"Ok- wait who's this with you? Her hair is very pretty!" the old women looks at me, "the color is so… different!"

Zahra smacks a hand against her head, and looks at me, her eyes filled with tiredness.

"What did you need help with my dear?" she looks to Zahra, her blue eyes twinkling.

"Soldiers are chasing us! Please help!" Zahra shouts, "Can you make us a portal to camp?"

"Of course, my dear!" the old women shuffles through a bag at her feet, "I think I actually already have one made up!"

"Thank you," Zahra breaths a sigh of relief.

The old women sets a thin glass bottle on the tree branch, then carefully opens it. A sparking light spirals into the air. Zahra grabs my arm, and pulls me into the portal, the light blinding me.

"Get up, monster!" a voice wakes me from a gentle sleep.

"What? Were am I?" I blink rapidly, and the sleep leaves my eyes.

"It's ok!" Zahra looks at me "were at the camp! Remember the women who sent us here through the portal?"

I nod and look at the people around me, "who are you?"

A women try's to take a step towards me, but her husband holds her back, "she's a monster! Don't go near her she could hurt you!"

The women looks down shamefully, "I'm sorry Otto."

"She's not dangerous!" Zahra shouts, "I brought her here! I would know."

Just then a man in richly embroidered clothes came in, "hello Katina," he smiles

warmly.

I try to stand and great him, but I fall over. "Do I know you?" I said instead.

"Of course!" the man frowns, "I was there when your mother gave birth to you! I gave you your birth gift!"

I narrow my eyes, "Master Gale?"

"Yes Princess Katina, yes!" Master Gale looks at me happily.

"Why am I here? I ask him.

"Princess?" people ask one another quietly. Even Zahra looked shocked.

"You're a princess?" she asked me, "of what kingdom?"

"The troll forest people," I mumble.

"You're a troll?" Zahra asks me practically shouting.

"Yes!" I said indignantly, "is there something wrong with that?"

"No… I just… didn't… know," Zahra says meekly.

"This is Princess Katina. The princess of the Troll forest people. Her parents sent her away, because she is a monster!" Master Gale introduced me to the crowd of shocked people.

My face turned red, and I wished I could walk away, but I'm so tired and weak, I don't think I can.

I look around embarrassed, "I am trying to go someplace were I can fit in, with people who accept me for who I am.

"I do!" Zahra said, "you're the only friend I've ever had. I have to accept you!"