17 October, 2017 by katelaity
‘How can we escape?’ Tansy hissed with uncharacteristic urgency. I looked from him to the lady Judith, who did not answer but turned on her heel and sprinted toward the small door of this walled garden.
We had no choice but to follow. Tansy of course was like Mercury—the pride of the relay team it was easy to remember—and Chambers manfully did his best after slipping on some overripe greengages at his feet. The atmosphere of fear gave my usually slow feet some burst of power and I did my best to keep up.
The lady Judith, although she hastened, did not seem to expend the same energy even as she floated far ahead of us. Perhaps because she was indeed floating a little above the ground unless my eyes deceived me.
In this land, I cannot trust even my eyes.
I was the last through the little door and I was relieved to see mounts saddled and waiting for us, Judith already perched on a beautiful grey with many ribbons and jingling bells attached to its flowing mane.
‘As Thomas truly told,’ Tansy muttered before leaping to the saddle of the powerful dark bay that snorted beside her. I helped Chambers clamber up on nervous chestnut and helped myself to the reddish roan who at least seemed to be calmer. I will not claim to be any kind of horseman. My good old Checkers at home was capable and lazy, seldom walking faster than an amble. Hunting was out of the question. On the few occasions I had been persuaded to join the bloody fest I had been obliged to borrow a more energetic mount.
But there was no question of dawdling now. The hue and cry that had been raised by the king was attended by more and more troops of green-clad soldiers. Soon surely there would be horse soldiers too, I had no doubt.
We wheeled our horses and followed the lady Judith as she galloped across the green and pleasant land toward a line of trees. I wondered how long we would have to keep to this hectic pace. Perhaps if we put enough distance between the king and ourselves we could circle back to the river and leave. I should be glad to do so.
This was quite enough adventuring for me. And though it was absurd to be chased from a medieval garden into fairy woods, it could not possibly be the height of absurdity for it felt all too real and dangerous.
‘Where are we bound?’ I shouted to a lady guide. If she answered I heard it not, but as the dark line of trees looed ever closer it was patently clear that we were bound for that cover. Despite the safety it represented, I could feel a growing sense of unease. Surely all woods looked dark from the sunny meadow, I tried to tell myself.
But did they always watch one as this wood did?
Perhaps it was just a trick of the light. Or the lack of light. The wood was awfully dark. I could feel my mount slow as we approached. Of course one could not plunge into such a heavy bank of trees without slacking the pace. And after such a gallop our horses were all sweating heavily and snorting great breaths.
As we entered the wood a chill went through me. Quite literally: it was cold.