Sunday, September 13, 2009

Augusta 28 Princess Damsel disappears...

The following story is derived from tales and legends passed down from generation to generation about Princess Damsel's strange disappearance and what happened to her...

Princess Damsel was awoken by the sounds of screaming coming from somewhere in the streets below the room she was staying in. She quickly dressed and ran down to the street to see what all the ruckus was about. Olin followed in her footsteps and burst out the door into the street. In the middle of the street a woman knelt down on the mud and rock with her face firmly planted in her hands. She was crying and rambling on hysterically.

Damsel approached her and asked, "Who has disappeared?" As if she already knew what had happened to the wailing woman.

The woman paused and looked Damsel straight in the eye and whimpered a reply, " did could you know?"

Damsel placed a hand on her shoulder and said, "You are not alone. Others have disappeared also. Tell me. Who has vanished from your life?"

More tears filled and clouded the woman's eyes and she mumbled, "My daughter." She collapsed to the hard rocky ground of the cobble stoned street and shuttered. Damsel knelt beside her, placed the woman's head in her lap and held her.

A large crowd had gathered at this time and Olin pleaded with them to give Damsel and the woman some room. People in the crowd started whispering to each other and pointing fingers at the two women in the street. Damsel sat there with the woman until a patrol of Royal Guards arrived to break up the scene. The crowd slowly dispersed and the guards, with the help of Damsel and Olin, moved the woman indoors to a dining hall. They helped her into a chair at one of the tables, poured her a glass of water and covered her shoulders with a blanket.

Damsel sat next to her and asked, "I know this is very hard for you, but you need to tell me... where was your daughter when she disappeared?"

"She was out in the field behind our house one moment and the next she was just gone." The woman finally answered with an obvious lump in her throat.

"Where is your home?"

One of the guards chimed in, "I know where she lives."

"You need to take me there right now!" demanded Damsel. Olin shot her an awkward look.

The guard began in a disrespectful tone, "I don't think..."

Olin interrupted with a stern voice, "I would be careful how you address the Princess of Distress, Caleb."

Caleb only nodded and cowered when he realized what he had done and who the young girl was.

Damsel spoke again, "I have to get to this woman's house, now! There may be clues there. Now, who's going to take me?"

Caleb answered, "I will My Lady. Can you forgive me?"

"Save it for later, Caleb, just get me there quickly!"

"Lets go! We'll take our horses. They're outside."

Olin shouted as the two were leaving, "Caleb, the Princess is in your charge for the time being. Don't let anything happen to her!"

Damsel and Caleb left the dining hall for the woman's house. After a short, brisk ride they arrived at a small farm house just outside of town. On the backside of the house was a large field bordered on three sides by a densely wooded area. The two of them dismounted and began searching for any sign of a struggle, blood, tracks...anything, but what they found was nothing. Caleb was the first to speak, "My Lady perhaps the girl is hiding from her mother in the house. You know how young children like to play games. Shall I have a look?"

Damsel glared at Caleb. She knew the girl wasn't simply playing a trick on her mother. She answered in a discontented tone, "Do whatever you want to do, Caleb. I am going to go check the woods." Damsel turned and headed for the line of trees that bordered the property.

Caleb just stared at Damsel in confusion, turned and made his way towards the house. He found nothing in the house, well, no hiding little girl anyway. When he came back outside he called out, "My Lady, where are you?" No answer came. He called out again, "Princess Damsel! Where are you!?" Still no answer. He sprinted towards the woods in the direction he last saw Damsel heading. He called out over and over again, no answer came...Damsel was gone. Caleb collapsed to the ground and remained there until he was found by Olin and a few other guards; he was shaking and unable to speak for quite sometime after Damsel's disappearance.

Olin found Damsel's diary and read it. He had no idea she was so interested in the disappearances nor did he understand the nightmares she was having. She never said much to him at all really. Now, he had to tell her father that she had vanished without a trace. He had failed to protect her and it killed him inside.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 19-Dunsdai, Augusta 27...No peaceful sleep for me

My nightmare returned last night. This time I could see my self more clearly, but I was much younger than I am now. I looked as though I was only fourteen or fifteen. My hair was dirty and disheveled. My facial expression was blank as if I was in a trance or something. I looked horrible. The cloaked figure just stood at the end of what looked like a long corridor and faced me, looking or staring at me? I couldn't tell. I could feel the cold harshness of the shackle around my ankle; I was trapped/imprisoned by someone or something. The whisper I can hear came from somewhere behind me it sounded like "Don't give in.", but I can't be certain. This dream was far more vivid, real and frightening than any of the previous ones. I have to tell Antonia...someone! I feel I can no longer keep this to myself. I will go am going crazy! Sleep wasn't much of an option the rest of the night. I spent the rest of it staring out my window that overlooked Lake Dorina. The sunrise finally broke the spell that the darkness had put me under. I dragged myself over to the wardrobe closet that Antonia's father had stocked with fresh, clean clothes and put something on and went to the dining hall. I was certainly to early for breakfast but a nice house maiden offered me a glass of fresh milk. I drank it while I sat at a table and waited for breakfast to be served. This morning was definitely a blah moment for me. I couldn't get my latest nightmare out of my head. Antonia finally came down and joined me just before breakfast was served. I told her about my reoccurring nightmare over breakfast. She sat there speechless and bewildered; I felt slightly better after confiding in her. We didn't talk about it the rest of the day. I didn't want to and I think she needed time to digest what I had just told her. She looked so much better after a good nights sleep in her own bed. After breakfast, Antonia headed back to her room to further recover per her father's wishes. I, on the other hand, ventured out into Hallsburg to get some fresh air and hopefully some sort of distraction. It worked a little.

Hallsburg is so peaceful and quiet, very different from the hustle and bustle of Distress. Everyone here seems to work at a much more relaxed pace. I sat on a small bench for what seemed like all day and just people watched. I also walked down to the lakefront later in the evening and watched the sun go down. It was so lovely. The deep oranges, bright reds and vibrant purples of the sky over the lake were breathtaking. I didn't want it to end.

Today was a very unusual experience indeed, on one hand, I was woken by the most vivid nightmare to date. On the other hand, I feel such relief in sharing it with Antonia, and being able to spend some quality time by myself thinking and reflecting was good for my soul, as well. Topping it all off with the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen was just icing on the cake. Quite a difference to how the day started for me, that is for sure.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 18-Mittelweek, Augusta 26...Finally we've made it to the Lake Distrct

Olin woke me up to tell me that we were only about a half days ride from the Lake District, so we wouldn't be leaving until midday. This worked out perfect for me. I got out of bed and hit the streets of Royta. I wanted to poke around about this missing miner. Antonia didn't feel up to going with me and I don't blame her for that. I stopped at a small blacksmith shop called the Iron Pick. I figured that Jess would have done some business here and I might be able to learn a little more about him, I was right. The blacksmith, Rory, was very helpful and nice. He regaled me with stories about Jess and his mine. He told me that Jess was a very outgoing and likable fellow, but he also liked his privacy. Rory was concerned about Jess but didn't think he had just vanished into thin air. Rory wasn't a believer of the rumors. He said when he sees it with his own eyes then he'd believe. A true skeptic. I enjoyed talking with him but nothing really new to help with the mystery. As much as I liked chatting with Rory, he did eat up all my free time with his stories. I had to head back to the inn to get ready to make our last leg of the journey.

We left Royta and I had more questions about this mystery than I did answers. It bummed me out a little. The last part of our journey would take us through a densely forested area, the Whispering Woods. It was beautiful. The trees were massive and so tall I couldn't see their tops. Olin was in the lead with us girls following and Wyatt bringing up the rear. The trail was very narrow and snaked in between the gigantic trees. All sorts of birds and other small animals could be seen darting here and there. All in all a very soothing and uneventful trek. It was a nice change of pace.

When we reached the edge of the Whispering Woods the sight of Lake Dorina, the largest lake in the Lake District, was indescribably gorgeous. The lake was so calm it looked like a mirror rather than water. In the reflection you could see Antonia's home town of Hallsburg on the opposite shore. We had made it! I have never felt such relief in all my life, well except when I knew Antonia was going to live after being dragged by the horses, but this was right up there. Olin rode ahead to announce to Antonia's father that we had arrived. Wyatt, Antonia and I kept a slower pace for Antonia's sake. By the time we had reached the outer border of Hallsburg, Brolin, Antonia's father, and many others were there to greet us. Brolin, gingerly, swept his daughter up into his arms and held her close. I teared up. It hadn't really dawned on me how worried Antonia's father must have been. I am sure my father must feel the same, I hope. It was approaching dark when we arrived in Hallsburg. Brolin had dinner waiting for us, in hopes that we would be arriving on this day. We ate like royalty, which I am, and were shown to our rooms. They were so much more lavish and luxurious than the inns had been. I should sleep well tonight.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 17-Duisdai, Augusta 25...Through the Valley of Shadows

We all were out of rooms shortly after sunrise. The keep was fairly cool last night, I slept well, all things considered. My nightmare hasn't returned in a couple nights, maybe I won't have it anymore. I know I just cursed myself by saying that. We ate and headed out to our horses and instead of three horses there was now a fourth horse loaded up to make a long distance trip. It would seem that I have attracted another bodyguard to accompany myself and Antonia to the Lake District. Finding time to snoop around and ask people about the rumors and disappearances won't be easy, especially now that I will be doing it solo. Antonia is still too beat up to do much of anything, she needs her rest.

Our new addition to this journey is Wyatt, he is supposedly one of the most experienced archers stationed at the keep. He was there, at our time of need, last night during the feral dog attack. He seems rather joyful and excited about going...must not get out that often. He's easy on the eyes but not really my type. He does have some extremely sculpted arms though. Anyway, we mounted up and headed toward the Valley of Shadows. Calling it a valley is a bit of a misnomer. It is actually more of a chasm. Steep rock cliffs shoot straight up from the earth to create a narrow path. The walls block out all sunlight, except for a couple of hours around midday. The "shadows" part of the name I understand, but the "valley" part of it escapes me. Oh well, whatever. The terrain isn't too rough mostly sandy like a dry river bed, so the horses had an easy time of it. Our trek took all day and was fairly uneventful.

I had a chance to talk to Wyatt and ask him if he had heard any rumors about the strange disappearances. I acted like I was just bored and needed to make small talk, so my questions may have came off as a little silly. He said that he had heard stories of people losing animals and pets and that they just seemed to vanish. Same old stuff, dang it. I asked him if he knew Rex Thyne and he said the name sounded familiar but didn't know him. Another dead end. At least our conversation passed the time a little better. He is a lot more personable than Olin is that's for sure.

We arrived at our destination, Royta, another mining town. Royta is much larger than Vensk and seems to have a little more character and sophistication. People here actually smile and say hello as we pass by. We checked in to our rooms, Antonia was sore and tired so she headed off to bed. Olin ran off to locate our contact and Wyatt took the horses to the stables. I was left alone so I decided to meander around and do some investigating. I passed by a small eatery and went inside to get a bite to eat. I sat at a corner table and ordered a cup of the house soup. The table next to mine was occupied by a young couple. They didn't look too much older than me. I struck up a conversation with them by asking about the town and what they did here. Then I moved to the real question I wanted to ask...Have you heard anything about these strange disappearances? They both got really quiet and moved closer to me. They began to whisper so no one could eavesdrop in on what they were about to tell me. They told me a story about a miner, Jess, who had been missing for several days. They said he simply vanished from his mine one day and left all of his gear there. He wasn't about to walk out and give up the mining trade, he was one of the more successful miners in the area, and now there was some dispute going on as to who had rights to his mine if he didn't return. There is no information on his last known whereabouts, he just isn't around anymore. Jess didn't have any family here in Royta, but the couple thought he may have a son that lived in Distress. It was an interesting story and possibly the third person that I know of who had just vanished or went missing. Jess...our contact in Vensk... and the young boy, Jakob. Who knows if there are more? Surely there are. I left the eatery and thanked the young couple for their time. When i got back to the Inn, Olin was just getting there, as well. He asked what I had been up too; I said I went to get something to eat and he scowled at me. He can be such a buzz-kill.

I went up to my room and woke Antonia to tell her the story I had just heard. She was happy that I shared it with her and she wished she could be out there helping me.I told her not to worry and that I would tell her everything that I found out. She smiled.

Time for bed, maybe tomorrow I can ask around a little bit more about Jess before we leave.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 16-Mondai, Augusta 24...Finally! No more Vensk.

Well, when I woke up this morning I prepared myself for the worst...another day stuck in Vensk. I peered over at Antonia who was already awake, a good sign. I wasn't about to get my hopes up though. She looked better than ever despite the healing wounds. She turned to me and said good morning with a smile on her face. My mood suddenly brightened. She then told me that Olin had checked in and had told her that she looked well enough to travel. Antonia also said we wouldn't be able to travel as fast as before, but that was understandable. Anything would be better than staying in this dreadful place another day. I hopped out of my bed and grabbed my things, which were already packed up, and hit the floor running downstairs. I met Olin at the horse pen to help him get them ready. Wow! I had a lot of energy this morning. What a difference a day makes! Olin and I finished packing the horses and had them all ready for our trip when Antonia came out of the inn under her own power. She needed assistance from Olin to get on her horse and then we headed out and never looked back. Finally we were on our way to the Pass of Sorrows and then down into Valley of Shadows. Olin was hopeful that we might make it to a small keep in the valley called Castle Thornburg. It is one of my father's outposts.

We made slow progress over the pass. The wind near the top was brutal and visibility, thanks to the low hanging clouds, was near zero. Olin and I led our horses on foot most the way, while Antonia rode atop hers. We made it to the top after several grueling hours, thankfully the descent was much easier. It was mid-afternoon when we stopped at a bridge that crossed the river to rest ourselves and the horses. Olin commented that he thought we were making better time than he had planned. The place was so serene and lovely. The sound of the river rushing over and around large rocks was very calming. Well, it was up until a pack of feral dogs surrounded our resting spot and crushed the peacefulness of it. The menacing pack looked crazed and starved. They growled loudly and snapped at each other while they positioned themselves around us and closed in. The horses immediately started in on their panic ritual, rearing up and making all sorts of racket. Olin had anchored them down so they couldn't run off and now they couldn't get away or defend themselves. Olin and I unsheathed our weapons and placed Antonia between us. Those manic beasts were going to have to go through us if they wanted to get to her. I am not exactly sure how many angry mutts we were facing, but just as soon as I collected my thoughts and started counting a barrage of arrows rained down upon them. Suddenly, as if from out of nowhere, a small patrol from my father's guard burst on to the scene. Each of them was notching another arrow on their bows and ready to fire again. The dogs that managed to survive the initial barrage fled in confusion. Some of the soldiers pursued them a short distance to make sure they were indeed leaving for good. Olin raised a hand to one of them, they seemed to know one another. They talked in private for quite sometime all the while glancing in my direction. I just know he told that man that I am the princess. I really wanted to make this trip incognito, but considering our luck on this trip thus far, it may not be a bad idea to have a few more armed personnel around. The patrol group consisted of five men all on horseback. They just happened to be in the area when they heard our horses start squealing and rushed to aid them. I am thankful they did. Hindsight being what it is, I'm still glad we left Vensk.

The guard patrol escorted us back to the small keep, as it was getting dark, with no more incidents. We ate some grub and headed off to bed. Tomorrow, with any luck, we'll be on the other end of the Valley of Shadows and closer to the Lake District.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 15-Sondai, Augusta 23...Another dreadful day in Vensk

Olin came into our room this morning to check on Antonia. The look on his face told me all I needed to know. We weren't leaving Vensk today, UGH! I don't think I can stand another day of this...this psuedo solitary confinement. I'm going back to sleep and hopefully I will sleep the whole day away. Perhaps I can even get to the end of my nightmare if I sleep long enough. It would almost be better than staying here yet another day...almost. I'm so irritated I don't even feel like writing either. So sleep wins...we better leave here tomorrow or I'll scream.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 14-Setzdei, 22 Augusta...Another day in Vensk, another nightmare

I was awoken yet again by one of my nightmares. It was early, well before sunrise. The room was very dark and I could hear rain pouring down outside. My nightmare was so vivid this real. I could feel everything from the coldness to my heartbeat; I could even taste the damp musty air around me. When the light flickered I could see that the silhouetted figure was wearing a cloak, and appeared taller than the average person, or so it seemed. This time, my nightmare revealed to me that I was shackled to the floor (Was I a prisoner?), and the voice I heard definitely came from somewhere within the same room. Was the voice coming from someone in the same situation I appeared to be in? I have to talk to somebody about these nightmares, maybe it will help...maybe I will remember more if I talk it out loud with somebody else. I would tell Antonia but she has enough to deal with right now. Olin may just think I'm weird, or he will just completely write it off as just a nightmare and he'll say they don't have any meaning, whatsoever. I used to feel that way about nightmares but not this one. It is trying to tell me something, but what? I hate the cryptic nature of the whole thing. I wish I could just stay asleep and see the whole dream to its end, if there is one, but something always wakes me up. FRUSTRATING!

Antonia woke up shortly after sunrise. She looked a whole lot better than she did yesterday. I mean her face was still marked up and her lip was really fat, but she had a little sparkle in her eye that wasn't there yesterday. I could tell she was feeling a little farther away from death, not really alive, but certainly not dead. We made small talk, I didn't want her to waste her energy on conversation, she needed to recover. We needed to get out of Vensk and over the Pass of Sorrows so we could make it to her home in the Lake District. We still had a good bit of travelling ahead of us and none of it, according to Olin, was easy. She ate and drifted off back to sleep. I think Olin is having the cook slip something in her food so she stays asleep and recovers. It's just a thought. I have never known Antonia to want to stay in bed for such an extended period of time. Although, I've never seen her in quite this shape before either.

I managed to drag my very sore body, and head, out of bed. I made my way down the stairs to find Olin sitting at a window staring outside. He looked like he was waiting for somebody, probably our missing contact. I sat down next to him and he told me that no one has heard or seen our contact for a few days. Most people suspected that he had gone down the hill to Edgewood for supplies, but Olin didn't seem so convinced. I sat there by him and watched the rain come down. It must have lulled me to sleep ,because when I awoke, I was back in my bed and the dark of night had settled in. Hopefully, we'll be able to get on our way tomorrow. I'm not liking Vensk that much. Maybe Antonia will feel up to travelling...I pray she does.