As I rode into the distance, my horse began to tire. The trail became treacherous, slowly morphing into a mixture of dirt and silt. My eyes blinked against the harsh afternoon sun as it burned down on my cloak. In the approaching distance, piles of trash surrounded a nearby slum area. I slowed down as dust whirled in the air from my horse’s tired hooves.
I pulled into the hidden village and tied up my horse, Onyx, to the decaying tree. After I replenished her water and food stock, I made my way into the narrow trails. Surrounding me were children running around an elderly woman as she created stories through the motions of her hands and her imagination. She stopped to wave at me, drawing the attention of the children as well.
“Children, Aasira is back,” she said with a smile.
“Hello, I’ll be back Auntie,” I said to her, reffering to the name to show respect.
“Take your time. Ryker has been waiting for you.” A wink from her soon followed.
A blush made it’s way up my neck and crept up to my cheeks. I continued to walk and hoped nobody had noticed. Behind Auntie’s hut vines hid a door made of wood. My feet made it’s way around the piles and I opened the door. The darkness swallowed my figure as I went down the stairs and unlocked the second door. Light flooded into the room and a familiar face welcomed me. The blush from before was back as she embraced the boy waiting for her.
“Hi Ryker. How are you?”
He turned around as stared at my dusty figure. Ryder looked like the rest of the people from the slums except for his face. Unlike the rest of the inhabitants, his face wasn’t tired or creased with stress. In addition, his eyes were a dark green instead of the common brown.
“Fine, thanks for finally making it.” He said, heavily exaggerating the words. I rolled my eyes at his dramatics.
“I had to lose a guard on the way here.” As soon as the words left my mouth, the fun loving Ryker was gone and concern occupied his adorable face.
“You were followed? By a guard? I told you to watch what you do in the main city. It’s crawling with the Queen’s army.”
“That’s because she is afraid of us peasants ruining her perfect image with the nobles. I lost the guard by riding up the cliff. He saw my face though.”
“That’s ok, you were wearing your mask.” A cowardish smile started to form on my face as he waved the issue away.
“Well… You see I took off my mask to eat in the market and didn’t bother to put it back on.”
“You did what?” Ryker responded, a centimeter away from being outraged.
“It’s fine. Nobody knows about me.”
“That’s not true. The queen does and she could have put that soldier on your trail. You are coming of age, the queen is getting worried.”
“She thinks I am a frail girl who is afraid of her and sent the soldier to dispose of me.” I began to realize her plan.
“It’s fine Aasira. You have us, she won’t know what hit her. Now, let’s focus on the plan.”
“Yes, the plan. The plan that is finally going to get the rightful ruler the kingdom.”