A/C: I welcome you back. Now we're in the deep thicket of Enchantrass if you're keeping track. Enjoy!
Chapter III: Wrong Turn
This was bad. No Athenian had ever ventured into Enchantrass, not even the brave hearted. The very name of Enchantrass sent chills running up people's spines. There were dangers in there that no one could imagine; creatures that could not be slain; and magic that was so powerful, only the trees knew their power. And now, there was a prissy Athenian princess lost in that forest.
For the first time in her life, looking at the tree around her and the sky above, Minerva felt a real threat to her. Her life was at danger. If all the rumors were true about Enchantrass, Minerva needed to flee at once. She dare not go into the way she ended up here; the Gooblins were probably still after her.
Minerva sealed the entrance to the tunnel. The chirping of the blue birds that flew by gave Minerva's heart less tension, but the fear for Enchantrass was still present. From the little patch of grass, she couldn't see anything past the tree, no matter how hard she looked. She couldn't even see the castle from the dense woods. "This is ridiculous." She commented to herself. "How am I to survive here?"
An idea came to her. "The Impervion are the strongest army in the kingdom, in all the lands! They will rid of those gross Gooblins and come to rescue me." She said with a new enthusiasm. Minerva found a flat rock. "I will sit here and await their rescue." And so, Minerva waited. "They can't take forever."
About an hour has passed. In princess time, that is an over exaggerated eternity. Minerva had her arms folded, her leg resting on her other leg, and an annoyed expression. "Have they not noticed that their princess is gone!?" she asked. She huffed in anger and shifted herself. But perhaps she wasn't seeing the entire picture.
Athenia was invaded; something that was said could never happen. An evil sorceress has taken the crown, which is Minerva's banished aunt. Captain Brutos, the strongest soldier of the Impervion Guard was bested in a fight. Queen Pallas sacrificed herself to save Minerva's life. She was now imprisoned in the dungeons. And Minerva thought only about was herself.
Seeing her mother's last face and how sad she was brought a frown to Minerva. "I do hope she is alright." She said.
Who was this Lexicon? How come her mother never told her about a "lost" aunt? And how in Athenia did she become a sorceress? All these questions rushed through Minerva's head. All she did know was that Lexicon assumed the throne and ruined the biggest event in her life. Something that wasn't going to go unpunished.
"When I get back," Minerva grunted. "I'll have her thrown in the dungeons for the rest of her life!" That was if they took control back from the Gooblins and order restored. So much to do, so little time.
"Well I am not going into those woods." Minerva stated. She heard a noise from behind her. Startled, Minerva jumped from her rock stump and backed away. "Why must I do these things?" she whined. She didn't want to find out what the noise was coming from, but she didn't want to run away from it and traverse into the woods. Did she have much of a choice?
The noise grew louder. Minerva made her decision. She walked into the thicket of trees and plant life.
The air was hot. The sun shined only rays into the forest through the trees. The enclosed space the trees had formed trapped the hot air inside Enchantrass. Her royal face was feeling the steaming heat of sweat rolling down from her forehead. She pulled a rag from her dress and wiped the sweat away.
People described Enchantrass as scary, terrifying, and full of grim hopes and monsters. Minerva wasn't grimacing of what was in front of her. She found Enchantrass mesmerizing as the green leaves fell from the branches, the grass tickling her toes in her sandals, and the butterflies hopping from flower to flower.
Never has the young princess seen a more enchanting sight. "I don't see why Brutos wouldn't allow me to have those apples I wanted." She said. "This place isn't bad at all." Then Minerva spotted something. A tree; it had three large claw marks across its bark. Footprints followed not far off. Minerva felt a little uneasy about seeing that.
"I'm the princess of Athenia." She smiled nervously. "The animals and creatures here must know of me."
Minerva continued inwards the woods. She began to notice something odd again. The forest creatures and insects began to run and fly past her. They must've been in quite a rush. Should Minerva be in a rush like they were? Reluctantly, she turned her head to see what the fuss was about.
She saw trees move. Something big was coming her way. Unable to move from fear, Minerva stood trying to figure out what the creature was. In the dim light, a shadowy outline of the creature appeared. Its brown eyes looked at Minerva. Finally, Minerva found the courage to run.
The princess ran like she never ran before. The creature gave chase to her, jumping from the bushes revealing it. Minerva turned to see what it was; the creature looked like an overgrown dog with a hunched back, a flat face with extremely large upwards teeth, three massive claws on each paw, and patched of light brown all over its gray thick fur. Minerva sped up, desperately trying to outrun the beast. The beast droopily ran after Minerva.
Within reaching distance, the monster opened its mouth and chomped down on Minerva's elegant dress. It tore off a little bit of the dress, but Minerva was enraged. "You filthy mongrel!" she cried. Unpleased, the beast continued with the chase.
Exhaustion got the better of Minerva and she was staring to slow down. Keep going! She cried. How she managed to run this far was beyond her thought. How was she going to go on with her legs burning and lungs out of air? The creature was catching up quick, and Minerva had no run left in her.
Without warning, the creature howled. Minerva collapsed to her knees. She turned to see what horrible fate the creature would bestow upon her. Instead, she found a mysterious hooded man riding the creature. He grabbed hold of the fur of its back and in his hand was a rough blade. The creature thrashed and jumped trying to lose the man on its back.
It reached for him with its arms, only to fail. Unfortunately, when the creature tried to reach, it scratched Minerva's side, leaving a gash. She hollered in pain. Hearing her cry, the man jumped into action; he took control of the creature and rode it into a boulder not far off. The creature slammed into the boulder, knocking it unconscious.
With the creature asleep, the man rushed over to Minerva. He picked her up, wrapping her arm around his shoulder and they limped away. "Where are you talking me?" the princess asked in pain. Through the trees and over a path littered with twigs, rocks, and overgrown plants, they soon limped into a jumble of trees. Within that mess was a make shift house, only large enough to house him.
He burst into the house. He set Minerva on a bed constructed from leaves and worn out cloth. "What in the world is that?" she pointed at the stains on the bed. The man, turning his back to her to find something in the box he pulled out. "You make use of whatever you find out here." He said. Pulling out a needled and semi thick thread, he pulled his hood away, revealing his face.
The man wasn't even old. He was about Minerva's age, with black thick hair, and a serious look to his face. Along his back was a bow; on his side was the blade he used to assault the creature. "I have to seal that gash on your side." He said. "You're going to have to remove your top."
Disgusted, Minerva crossed her arms across her chest. "I will not do such a thing!" the thought of revealing herself to a stranger she perished in an instant. The man responded, "Bleed out then, it doesn't matter to me. The sooner I get that gash stitched up, the quicker it'll heal."
Observing her side and seeing how much blood stained her dress, Minerva grunted. "Turn around!" He did so. Minerva carefully took the top portion of her dress off, covering her chest with her arms. The gash along her side was long, but not life threatening. "You can turn around now." She mumbled.
The man grabbed a wet cloth and soaked the blood away. "That's cold!" she complained. With the area clean, the man carefully took the needle with the thread tied to it and began sewing the gash closed. Minerva gritted her teeth and tears emerged as she felt the pain of the needle piercing her skin. "Quit moving!" the man demanded.
"It hurts!" said Minerva.
"It's going to hurt a lot more if you keep moving!" he shouted, trying to concentrate. Eventually, the man sealed Minerva's gash closed. He took some clean cloths and wrapped it around her belly. "That should help it heal faster." He said.
Done, Minerva put her top back on. "What was that beast?" she asked.
"Stitcher." The man replied. "It got its name for leaving people in stitches if you lived from its attacks." The man continued, "Stitcher has been following me, hunting me, for a long time. He too gave me a gash, down my back."
Minerva found it hard to walk. "I thank you." she said. "It's a great honor for saving the princess."
"Whoopdee do." Answered the man.
"Do you not know who I am?" asked Minerva. The man shook his head. "I am Princess Minerva!"
"Great to meet you," he said sarcastically. "Name's Graner. Now get out." Shocked, Minerva asked, "You don't expect me to walk back out there, do you?"
"That's exactly what I expect."
Unable to fathom what was going on, Minerva pleaded with Graner. "Please, help me return to my kingdom. I don't belong here!"
"Not my problem." Replied Graner as he put his bow and blade on a table nearby. "For your service, you will be paid beyond your dreams." Minerva tried to talk sense to the survivor of Enchantrass. "Anything you want." Graner stopped doing what was he was doing and walked over to Minerva. The blonde princess only was level with his collar bone.
"There is nothing that you can give that will benefit me in any way." He said. Graner was wrong about that… Minerva did have something to give him. It didn't benefit both of them though…
"How dare you talk to a princess like this?" Minerva shouted. "I am among the most important person in Athenia! I will not tolerate such behavior from a dirty, grizzly, woods-boy like you!" Graner simply frowned with irritation. He grabbed by the waist, minding her healing scar, and threw her over his shoulder. He proceeded by walking out of his house.
Hitting his back with the bottom of her fists, Minerva whined and complained. "This is no way to treat me!" she yelled. "Put me down this instant!" Just like that, Graner set the yelling princess on a pile of crunchy, dying leaves. "There's your royal waiting place," Graner said. "You're someone else's problem now." Then he returned to his house.
Wiping the leaves from her already ruined dress, Minerva felt the anger of not getting what she wanted return. "That no good peasant!" she insulted.
"Looks like you've had rough day haven't you?" a tiny voice said. Minerva turned to see the sparkling dust of a fairy. Minerva stood there in shock to see a fairy, the stuff of legends, before her. The little fairy looked at the disgruntled princess with a smile. "What's a fancy dressing person like you doing here?"
"What's it to you?" Minerva asked rudely, dusting the last of the leaves from her dress.
The fairy responded, "I'd never imagine Athenian Royalty to ever come into Enchantrass, that's all. Oh, and my name is Pick by the way."
"Athenian Royalty" was the right phrase to say to Minerva. Her focus was entirely on Pick. "You know of Athenia?" she asked with hope. Pick gloated, "Are you kidding? I know of that kingdom. I know how to get there, I also know how to get to the kingdom of dragons and…" Minerva grabbed the little fairy with care and she asked, "Can you take me there?"
Inside her gentle grip, Pick smiled and gloated once more. "Of course I can. I know Enchantrass like the back of my hand." She freed herself from Minerva. "Stick with me. We'll be out of these woods and you'll be back in Athenia in no time." Pick started flying deeper into the forest. Minerva followed behind her.