Princess of Erodaire IV: Part One
The snow fell mercilessly upon the roofs of the Erodaire
kingdom. It piled in heaps against walls and trunks and buried all life under
it's cold hand. Trees stood tall and bare, like soldiers isolated from the warmth
of homes and fires. They stretched their branches across the sky, desperately
trying to shield Neopia from the falling snow, but their attempts were in vain.
"Home sweet home..." I, a Maraquan Draik, whispered
as I trudged through the thickening snow. My entire body was numb with cold,
and my hands were clasped frozenly upon the edges of my pitch, black cloak.
Tired and beaten from my journey, the sight of the Erodaire Castle before my
eyes was a blessing.
The towers loomed upwards, their windows staring
into the depths of Neopia's gray sky. All was white and cold and bleak.
I walked slowly through the snow, for my legs
felt as if they were molded to the ground. The snow seemed to cling upon my
bare feet as I lifted them to take each step. Despite the harsh weather conditions,
I tried my best to walk gracefully by holding my head high and pulling my shoulders
back...not a flake of snow was upon my body. I continued to walk on, eyes glued
upon the tower that stood upon the Northern part of the Erodaire Castle.
"The Northern Tower...where Sir Barick lies..."
I muttered to myself and gradually approached the castle walls.
It's been two weeks since I first started on
my journey from the Summer Castle. During my trip, I became a witness to the
changes in the atmosphere. I was present when the sky turned gold to white,
and I saw the first snowflake of winter fall upon Neopia's soil. I had walked
through forests where it rained golden brown leaves, and my bare feet felt the
ground turn to ice.
It was a lonely trip, and it was hard. Each step
wavered my determination, for I feared coming home. I feared seeing my father...I
did not want to see him under the ruling hand of the cruel Vevina...and I did
not want to confront Sir Barick. I have read his journals... I have seen his
secret thoughts and life. Our meeting would be an awkward one.
A flake of snow fell upon my shoulder and I brushed
it off before resuming my journey. Every thing felt like a burden to me now...whether
it be my hateful emotions or a drop of rain...my shoulders sagged from the weight
of it all. Yet...I still held my head high...I was proud of myself, and I forced
myself to believe that I wasn't all that bad. I don't know whether this is vanity
or self-confidence, but whatever it is, I'm positive that I inherited it from
I missed her so much, and I could barely grasp
the image of her Faerie-like face. She was a jewel of a Draik...the only one
who could ever place a smile upon the King's face. I sighed, and a gust of wind
echoed past, whispering in my ears while biting my exposed skin. I pulled the
cloak tighter about my body and continued to walk on. The walls of the Erodaire
Castle grew taller as I came closer. I took a deep breath with each step, for
I was filled with fatigue. A Draik can only walk so far without became exhausted,
for Draiks were made to fly...but I cannot fly. Maraquan Draiks do not have
wings. Casting my eyes downward, I stopped before the gate of the Erodaire Castle's
I gently touched the frost covered gate and shivers
ran down my spine when I felt its cold steel bite my pale hands. Quickly, I
withdrew them. Pulling the cloak tighter about my shoulders, I morosely fell
upon the snowy ground. Another gust of wind flew by, and this time, it cackled
at my misfortune.
During these times, I usually think of Rune...
the fallen Nimmo I had met in the halls of the Summer Castle. I could feel him
before me, behind me, and near me...but yet I couldn't see him. I was scared
of him...I was scared of his ghostly presence, for I knew that I shouldn't be
able to communicate with him. But I didn't want him to leave me, for he knew
my mother, and he loved her like a daughter. I wanted to keep him close to me...
my mother trusted him, so I shall trust him.
But like a fool, like all fools, you ditched
them because you were afraid... Rune's words had stayed with me ever since
I first encountered him. Now, like the many times before, they echoed in my
ears and filled me with both hope and false hope. He had always been wise, and
he clearly made it known that he wanted to help me. But his wisdom could not
help me now...I buried my face in my hands, but I refused to weep. Slowly, my
body dropped upon the frozen ground and I pulled the cloak even tighter about
my body. My eyes felt heavy, and small wisps of fog started to slide in through
I wanted to give up... I needed to give up.
My eyes flittered open and instantly became blinded
by a bright, golden light. I sat up instantly and gazed around, but everything
I saw was blurry. I had to rub my eyes slowly before I was finally able to make
out the white, woollen blanket that covered me. I was lying upon a bamboo bed
and nearly drowning in a pile of pillows, blankets, and plushies. At the other
end of the room, opposite the bed, was a large, fireplace with an intricately
designed wooden mantle. Cream rugs littered the floor in layers, and a large
window had matching silk curtains. The doorway that stood nearby the window
was ajar, and my eyes fell upon the elderly Pink Draik who stood before it.
Her eyes were gray with age, but light clung to it's edges and gave her face
a natural glow. She was wearing a sun hat despite the snowy weather, and she
carried a basket of greens in her hands.
"You're awake, I see," she said with a warm smile.
I simply nodded.
"My fire has given your cheeks some color," she
chuckled slightly and placed the basket of greens on the floor. She took off
her sun hat and leisurely tossed it onto the fireplace's mantle before she walked
towards me. "Hello, dear, my name's Aera," she said in a motherly voice as she
placed her warm hand onto my forehead. "Yup," Aera said with a nod, "you're
back to normal."
"How did you find me?" I asked softly.
Aera smiled at this question and seated herself
upon the edge of my bed. With careful fingers, she picked up a gray, round plushie
from the bed. "Tillie-Toc led me to you," she cooed gently as she stroked the
plushie with her finger. "And Tillie-Toc's a good rock. Yes you are, Tillie-Toc,
yes you are!" Aera continued to stroke the plushie, and she giggled slightly.
My brows creased in confusion as I listened to
Aera talk to the lifeless plushie...or at least, I thought it to be lifeless.
"Is that...is that your...Pet Rock?" I asked
Aera nodded and continued to stroke Tillie-Toc
adoringly. "He's been my friend since forever. Found him many years ago...well,
I didn't find him. He found me." Aera continued to stroke Tillie-Toc lovingly.
"Oh, okay then," I said uncertainly as I eased
myself carefully off the bed. I felt my legs tingle the moment they touched
the floor, but I stood up anyhow. "Thanks for saving me from the cold," I said.
"But I have to go now..."
Aera's eyes flashed in surprise at this response
and her hand laid beseechingly upon my shoulder. "Dearess, you just cannot go
out into the cold like this. You'll freeze," she whispered quickly. "No, no;
not under my watch. You'll stay here and leave tomorrow noon when the sun graces
the lovely sky."
"But I have to go. I'm on an errand," I said
hastily and tried to remove her hand. "I'm sorry."
"Oh, really?" Aera said carelessly as she stared
at me in defiance. Her tone of voice clearly indicated that her demand will
not be shaken. "An errand to where?"
My words faltered, and I eyed Aera suspiciously
before I answered. Despite her warmth and motherly actions, I still knew that
I mustn't be too quick in trusting strangers.
"To the Castle of Erodaire..." I replied and
carefully watched Aera's features for any odd reaction.
"Oh, then you must stay then, dear, stay!" Aera
cried, ignorant of my watchful nature. She placed her hand upon my shoulder
once more and beckoned me to sit upon the bed. "Stay then, dearess."
"What? I cannot. I have to go, Aera."
"But that's nonsense, for you have already reached
Aera laughed at my skeptical response. "Darling,
you already are in Erodaire's Castle...or at least, you are within it's castle
To be continued...