Image credit: Irulanan

 Mistress of the Mountains

He kissed her swiftly, mounted his horse, and rode down the path. She stood still, watching him go, the cool breeze from the mountains ruffling her soft blonde hair. He had begged her to come with him, to offer her condolences to the Queen of Ryland. It was her duty, he argued, as the Mistress of the Mountains, the ruler of the kingdom’s northernmost edge, the stronghold. She demurred, advising him that his presence at the royal funeral would be enough, hers was not needed nor expected.

A tear slipped down her cheek as he rounded a corner and disappeared from view. She had longed to tell him the truth, that she couldn’t leave this valley, that beyond it’s border she would die as surely as the daisies die with the first frost. Only once had she seen what lay past the mountains, the plains that seemed to extend forever full of flowers and warmed by a sun that didn’t have to fight with mists or shadows. She had been little then, her mother and father still alive, but she could still feel how freeing the open space had been. But she remembered the tightness in her chest, being unable to breath, falling into blackness. She had awoken back in her own bed at Fairlawn, and had never left again. Her duty was here, as was her life. It was her strength and her weakness.

There were times when she had been so lonely. Visitors were rare, as the journey from even the nearest village took several days, with no easy path through the crags. But one day, looking into her fountain, her connection to the rest of the world, she had seen him. Handsome, brave, he was leading an army into battle, a clash she saw he was going to lose. She knew he was meant to be ehrs. Immediately she had sent out her hunter who brought him back, unconscious and wounded. Over the many weeks he healed and regained his strength, but when he was well enough to leave, he no longer wanted to.

She hoped he would return, this time arriving at the castle of his own free will.

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Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take.