Yeah, I know. These stories are rather late in making it to my blog, but at least they’re here! I am going to post all of the stories on my blog that I wrote for Loren’s writing challenge. Since I wrote 7 partial stories, I’m going to divide them into four or so posts. I think I like the first story better than the second. I started writing another story for the second challenge, only I didn’t finish it in time so I sent the princess one instead. I might post the partial story at the end of this mini series, and see if you want me to continue it.
*Disclaimer* I did not take any of the pictures in this post. *Sniff.* XD You can click on the “via” links to take you to the sites Loren found the prompts on.
The noise and ruckus of the grand party in the Wheelwright mansion was getting to be too much. I needed a breather. I slipped away from the rest of the people, and into the grand hall.
The long room was gloomy with dusky light coming in from the few windows above my head. The walls were lined with pictures of ancient ancestors and people long passed away. I walked softly down the hallway, glancing at the enormous amount of faces looking down at me. After a while, they all looked the same – all of them alike were stern, stony-faced men and women, with the occasional solemn child, peering down at me with a piercing glare. A few pictures were preserved Daguerreotypes from long ago. But it was one of the framed pictures that especially caught my eye.
Among all the solemn faces, the person portrayed in this picture seemed to be the only one in the whole hallway who had a true expression on his face. True, it was not necessarily a nice expression, but it was an expression. The picture was of a young man. His features were strong and well-placed, but he had a haughty expression which ruined any handsomeness he might otherwise have possessed. He was actually smiling in the picture, but it was a tight-lipped, sarcastic smile. In the bottom right hand of the picture were written the initials “M.W.”
There was something in the picture that impelled me to come closer. As I gazed up at the mysterious man, I noticed just a slight corner of some other paper peeking out from behind his picture. I stretched up on tiptoe and gently pulled at the corner. To my horror, the man’s picture fell completely out of the frame! What had I done? This was probably a priceless picture that I had ruined – and to make matters worse, this was a famous mansion! Then I noticed what I had accidentally revealed by peeling off the man’s picture. A new picture was in its place. I had no idea how or why it was there – it didn’t look like anything beautiful to me. The new picture was simply a picture of parched, cracked, earth and sky above it. It made me think of a famine. But when I peered at it more closely, I could discern some words written in rather sloppy handwriting at the bottom of the page.
“If anyone should see this note, please, know that I, M. W., am in desperate need of your help. Please, rescue me! Enter this…” and there the note stopped.
“How mysterious,” I thought to myself. “I wonder why the note is unfinished. Perhaps… I wonder if M. W is the man in the picture. The handwriting of the initials is the same as the note, although the note is definitely sloppier…”
I looked again at the picture of dry, cracked ground. Although it was ugly, it seemed so real. On another sudden impulse, I reached out to touch it. Of course I should have known better, what with my recent catastrophe with M. W.’s picture, but somehow my hand just got a mind of its own. My finger was touching the picture before I even knew what I was doing. Only I never touched the picture.
My finger went right through it. I pushed my whole arm through it, yet I never hit the wall. It was empty space. Suddenly, just as I had reached as far as I could, my whole body plunged forward as if by an invisible force – and I fell into the picture frame! I remember thinking in that split second, that this was the sort of thing that only happened in books. But I was real. I was alive.
In two seconds I was in another world. It was not like the world in the picture. I had stepped out of the frame into a beautiful meadow with waving flowers. The weather was sunny but a cool, refreshing breeze blew across my face. It was like Paradise.
I walked through the waving stems in wonder. To think that there was another world! At the moment I thought of no danger, no fear, I thought of nothing besides exploring where I was. Then, far off in the distance I saw a small figure approaching. As it grew nearer, I realized that it was a man! Soon the he was very close to me, and I recognized him as M. W., the man from the picture! He looked exactly the same as he had in the picture.
I approached him tentatively.
“H-hello,” I said waveringly. “Are you, by any chance, M. W.?”
“I am!” the man exclaimed. “You have found me at last, I am saved!”
“What are you talking about?” I asked him.
“The note. You found the note.” M. W. was still not making any sense.
“Oh, right! The note says to come save you. But how did I save you?”
“Let me tell you a story, Kallie. Once I was a young man who lived in your world. I was the pampered son of Richard Wheelwright, a millionaire and important public figure. I could have anything I wanted. One year for my birthday I received a slip of paper from my uncle, the picture that you have seen – a picture simply of cracked ground. Not knowing what else to do with it, I framed it and hung it in my room. I was afraid to throw it away for fear of provoking my uncle to anger. For some reason he seemed to attach high importance to it. One day all of my family traveled to a professional photographer to have our pictures taken. Mine developed quite well, and I decided to put it in the frame that held my uncle’s picture. As I was readying the frame I directly touched my finger to my uncle’s picture on accident. You will, no doubt, believe me when I say that my finger, then my entire arm, passed completely through the picture. Soon I found myself in this world, in every particular the same as you see it now. I was delighted with the discovery at first, but soon I grew tired of exploring, and determined to return home. But that wasn’t as easy as I had thought. I walked back to the frame through which I had entered this world, but try as I might, my body would not pass through the portal. I looked down at the ground, searching for a hidden lock, and spotted a lead pencil. I picked it up, and once again resumed my attempts. This time to my delight, my whole arm entered your world. But still, though I tried the best I could, you may be sure that no other part of me would go through the frame. In my despair, God gave me a thought that has saved my life. I stuck my arm through the frame and wrote the note that you have so lately read. And now I am saved. For in the many years I have lived here, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to get out of here is to leave with one other person. I know this because once in my wanderings I came upon a little hut where I now live that is filled with books. They tell of the magic that governs this place, and that is one of the rules.”
“Wow. What a story!” I exclaimed. “I am extremely glad that I could save you, but can’t we just look around this world a little bit first?”
“No. We must leave right away. There is a catastrophe waiting to happen in this world. I read about it in my books. In fact, we do not hardly have enough time to go through all of the procedures for getting out of this place. Quickly. Come with me.”
M. W. grabbed my hand and quickly led me forward towards what I supposed was his house. I glanced at the sky above, and saw that the bright blue had changed to a threatening black. Thunder was rumbling and enormous clouds were gathering in the distance. This did not look good.
“There is no other way, my daughter. You must flee.” My father’s eyes were filled with sorrow, and he struggled to keep his voice from wavering.
Voices chased each other inside my head: There is no way out. We are surrounded… surrounded. The Hachians will conquer us now, unless… you flee. You, Anya, you are your country’s only hope. You must run from your only home, from the people that love you, you must run to anywhere but here. Run… run… run….
I managed to choke out an answer through my pouring tears. “But father! Have mercy on me, your only daughter. I will die in the wilderness! The Hachian warriors will find me and kill me! Father, don’t make me leave. Please. Please, Father.” I wrung my hands and raised my eyes beseechingly towards my father, the king. “Even if they do not kill me, I will die from a broken heart if I am cut off from you and Mother. You know I will. I am not skilled in the art of endurance; I am only your humble daughter, Anya. Your princess. Is there nothing you can do?” My tears were rushing forth unheeded from the broken dam of my already shattered heart.
“You know full well that I would save you if there was anything in my power that I could do, Anya. Mother and I would flee ourselves, even if it meant our death, were that to save your life. But you know that we can not flee. We must stay with our people. If we were to flee, the people would have no one to look up to. We are the rulers of Manitahn, and we must fight until the last glimmer of hope dies before us. I am sorry, Anya. We are only doing this for your good – if you stay with us at the castle, the Hachians will only take your life too. Besides, you are our only heir. If you flee, perhaps our line will live on. Lift up your head, Princess Anya, or the crown will fall forever.”
Just then Mother came up the stairs and joined us in the tower. She looked at me with eyes brimming with tears that she was trying so hard to hold back. But it was no use. She flung herself onto me, and we wept together for a long time.
Finally my tears resided just a little bit. I pulled myself together, and asked father how I was to escape. He smiled a little and said, “That’s my princess! Now, Mother and I have planned your escape all out. We have found clothes for your disguise, for you will need to be disguised to get past the Hachian guards surrounding our castle.” My father held out the clothes. They were… well, black. No special crown, no jewels, no nothing, just a plain black dress with a heavy black veil and a pair of plain black shoes.
“Th-that’s my special disguise, Father?” I asked doubtingly.
“These clothes will help you blend into the darkness of night, Anya,” my mother explained. “Tomorrow night there will be no moon. You must take your father’s best-trained horse and slip past the guards at midnight, when they exchange places. Ride away from the castle as quietly as you can, but when you gain the hill, spare nothing and ride like the wind!”
At first this all seemed like a good enough plan – risky to be sure, but what plan wouldn’t be? – but I had to remind my parents of one thing.
“But Mother, how will I get across the moat?” Father replied without hesitation.
“I do not know if you were aware of this, my princess, but the moat has been our only source of water for all of the weeks of siege. It is now partially empty from our usage, and Rantillo, being my best war-horse, should be able to swim it.
I sighed. Honestly, I was rather disappointed that all of my objections had been answered. Now there was no choice but to prepare for my journey.
The next evening I was ready. Rantillo was saddled, I was clothed in my disguise, and it was almost midnight. Mother and Father bid me one last tearful goodbye, and I left the castle, perhaps forever. The guards were just switching places, and Rantillo and I had enough time before they returned to swim the moat. As we were just riding swiftly up the hill directly in front of the castle, the guards returned. They quickly spotted us, and sent up a loud cry. Five warriors immediately answered the call by rushing towards me on horseback. Rantillo and I had gained the hill, and now I urged him to full speed. I could see the land spreading flat before me. The warriors were gaining on us, but they were still far behind. Rantillo and I sped on through the darkness ‘like the wind’ just like Mother had told me to. I soon passed the boundaries of our city, and entered territory I had never seen before. The land here was rocky, dry, and covered in pine forests. We took a little path that led straight through a grove of dark evergreens. We plunged into the darkness with the Hachian warriors on our heels. After a few minutes it was clear that the Hachian warriors were upon us. We were trapped! Before us a steep cliff of made of shining rock dropped steeply down, and behind us the Hachian warriors were preparing their spears! Rantillo was galloping at full speed towards the cliff which was getting nearer every second.
“WHOA, BOY!” I yelled in Rantillo’s ear as I pulled at the reins as hard as I could. Now we were only feet away from the cliff. Rantillo tried his hardest to slide to a stop, but before he could do it, the Hachian warriors were upon us. Rantillo stood still, snorting and pawing the ground, just inches from the edge of the cliff. The foremost warrior commanded all of his men to halt with their spears ready, while he slowly drew out his bow and arrow and said,
“Halt, young lady, or we will shoot.” His eyes were steel, his mouth was set in a straight line; I knew this was the end.
“Go, boy!” I shouted to Rantillo. And we dropped off of the cliff. The warriors sent up a shout, and just as we were beginning to fall, I saw four spears and an arrow spiraling towards us. I ducked as low as I could behind Rantillo’s neck, and all of the arrows missed me. But, poor Rantillo! He had served me well, and now all of those weapons buried themselves in his neck. He let out a scream of pain, and became stiff. All of this happened in a few split seconds, which was all it took for Rantillo and I to finish our descent from the cliff, and come crashing to the ground. Once again, poor Rantillo saved my life. Without the protection of his body, I would surely have been killed. As it was, I felt an enormous shock go through my whole body, and I turned into a blaze of pain. I was about to faint when I happened to look down at poor Rantillo. What I saw woke me up with a jolt – Rantillo had turned from a mighty war-horse into a stiff wooden horse!
I was numbed with shock and pain for a moment, until my mind turned back on, and I realized that it must have been the deadly liquid on the Hachian warrior’s arrow. A few of their most powerful and learned noblemen had created a strong potion that they used the tips of their arrows that would instantly turn anything that came into contact with the poison, into wood. Even we on our remote kingdom had heard of this.
I couldn’t feel anything of my body, but I didn’t care. Before anything else, I sat down and wept for Rantillo, the loyal and faithful war-horse who had saved my life. Eventually my tears subsided. I suspect my tear supply had run dry after all of the weeping I had done in the past days. I sniffed, and tried to stand up. To my surprise, although I hurt all over, nothing seemed to be broken. I cautiously peeled off my ugly black dress, the veil, and the soft but uncomfortable black shoes, and stood there in my own princess robes, looking forlornly up at the cliff from which I had fallen.
I was in for another surprise. All of my life I had only lived in the castle and occasionally visited the surrounding villages. I had never learned much about the geography of our land, and what I saw was completely new to me.
I stood there looking up at a land contained in a giant teacup.
Yes, I was surprised too. But after the initial shock, it all made sense. the shiny cliffs which were actually teacup walls, and now I knew why the Hachians landed in our kingdom only by way of an amazing flying contraption – the teacup sides were impossible to scale. Now that I thought about it, we had never been under attack before except from the air. I dragged my aching legs back to get a better view of my world which I had lost forever. The pine forests, the great moon rising above the mists, the cries of owls as they rose from their nests to begin the hunt, my home… all of this I had left behind.
But Father was right. I was the only one to continue our line. I would journey far and wide until I found a new home, though I would never forget my old home, and the people that loved me. I would lift up my head, and the crown would not fall. For I was a princess.
Which story was your favorite? Do you want me to write more of either of them?