In the Shadow of the Sun

Something I wrote (Or I guess am still writing) for school.
First story ever on Quibblo! wooo!

Chapter 2

A Day Worth Saving

On the horizon, the sun was slowly rising, giving orders to the stars to disappear, and this they did, one by one. On the ground, the horses were now awakening, and calling to their owners to be freed. The faintest sound of the hammers of the forge could be heard, echoing off the adamantine stone walls.

Within the castle itself, something soft rustled. A girl, covered in her silken clothes, stirred and rose, careful not to be heard. Stepping gingerly over to her armoire, she pulled out her one set of leather armor, and, still trying to avoid being heard, clicked in a single block in her wall, and an eight-by-eight area open in the wall with a definitely auditable screech. She winced as she heard it, and went silent. She could hear her father snoring from down the hall, but there was no sound of anyone waking up. She ducked inside the hole in the wall, grabbed the thick rope from it, and pressed the stone again. The hole closed without a sound.

As she threw the rope out the window and tied it to the wooden post above her, she heard a single horse crying out against the silence. She hastened her pace. Though knowing the horse would never hear her, she muttered hate under her breath. "Quiet, devil, do you wish us to be caught?"

Grasping the rope, she wrapped herself around it and slid quickly down. A little too quickly, it seemed. Hardly keeping from crying out, she hit the bottom and yanked her hand off the rope. Red burn marks wove their way up her palms, skin peeling off with it. She made a metal note not to go that fast down a rope again. There would never come a time when I should need to go that swiftly, she thought.
She kept to the shadows, creeping slowly around the outside of the castle to the stables. She flung open the wooden door to see four horses sleeping calmly in their pens, and, of course, one pounding at the ground wildly, howling like a madman.

"Oi, heathen, calm yourself!" she said, one hand rising to settle him, the other gently and slowly reaching into her pocket. "Perhaps you'd like to turn your gaze here for a moment." She held up the sugar cube she smuggled from the kitchens and the horse immediately froze. Smiling, she tossed it over to him, grabbed the saddle, and attached it securely to Strategem's back. By now, she no longer struggled to lift herself onto his back. She sat herself securely into the saddle, quickly tied back her hair, kicked her heels as gently as she could into the horse side, and held on.

She watched as the stables disappeared behind her. To her left she could see the stone walls surrounding the castle; to her right, the entrance to the forges. She strained the reigns with her left hand, signaling Strategem to gallop to the right. As they passed by, she could fell some of the heat coming up from underground in the forges. She rode past, blocking out everything, even the ringing of the hammers, and directed her focus to the small and hardly noticeable entrance into the Wilds.

They leaped into the Wilds' entrance with no sound, but the feeling of breaking through a wall. It had been long since she had felt a freedom like this; months, in fact. Her feeling of overwhelming joy was not one that could be explained. Here in the Wilds, there were no rules, no requirements made by her parents, no need to meet the expectations of the royalty in her life. Here, she was really, truly, free.

She halted suddenly, nearly flying off the horse. In the moment of overwhelm, she had almost forgotten to stop for the main reason she was out here. She heaved herself off Strategem’s and stepped over to the hollow tree beside them. She reached her hand in, and, shaking off the termites and beetles that had made their home in the log, pulled out her bow and quiver full of arrows.

Her bow was her life, her spirit, and her everything. With it, she could defend herself, she could defend others. Her bow was the thing that made her her. Like men believed their swords contained their souls, this bow held hers. Not only that, but other than Strategem, it was her closest friend. She confided in her bow more than any person. A bow can’t give away secrets; a bow can’t willingly betray.

It was crafted what seemed like ages ago, by a friend who no longer dwelled in the earthly realm. At least, that was what all in the castle said. Alistair had left almost three years ago, and they'd had no word from his since. All she knew was that he'd been sent by her father to aid a king from an allied kingdom, and, in all likelihood, it had cost him his life.

Lifted herself as gracefully as ever back onto Strategem, she shook the thoughts out of her head. Thinking of the dead would do no good for her. She lifted her head to the path ahead. It was an unsmoothed, formed only by Strategem hooves trampling the dirt and her dagger cutting away at the leaves. She snapped an arrow into its place on the bow, but refrained from pulling it back. A new fire in her eyes, she jammed her heels into Strategem side, and he took off, quickly gaining speed.

The scenery rushed by them in a blur. All she could make out was the light blue of her hand-made target ahead. Forcing all of strength into her arms, then into the drawback, she aimed as steadily as she could, and fired.

It gashed the air and hit the center of the target. Perfect bull's-eye. She drew back again, almost falling off at a sharp turn, and fired at the next target, hitting this one in the center again. And again.

She had a single arrow left. She snapped the last one into the bow, and held up her arms again. She drew back wildly, not aiming as carefully as the first, and focused in. Unfortunately, the woods had different ideas.

Right as the arrow began to leave the bow, Strategem hit his hoof on something small, a root, maybe, that hadn't been there before. He flew forward, taking his rider with him. The arrow flew off into the wilderness.

She gripped her shoulder in pain and let out a yelp. She lifted herself off the ground carefully and limped to Strategem. He was just as in pain as she was, maybe more. She looked to the target.
The arrow was nowhere to be seen.

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