This is the second chapter.
| It had been three days since Lottia had seen her father. He had embarked on a spy's mission that required him to infiltrate the elf city of Talmora and gather information concerning their military movements.
Each day that he was gone, Lottia became more worried. The quality of her work had dwindled to hardly anything. She suffered from loss of appetite and anxiety attacks. She began to take more time out to pray for his safe return.
However, as each day passed she also began to lose faith in her father. Lottia looked down at her blanket. There was a line of sparkling frost on the edges of the blanket. Lottia looked up into the air and exhaled hard. She watched as the condensation from her breath billowed out into the air and slowly disappeared.
“How can he be gone for so long?” Lottia whispered to herself. She sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes with a sigh.
It was a bright spring morning. The smell of fully blossomed flowers tainted the air and the sound of the creek flowing in its never ending course gave her a sense of comfort.
Gertrude climbed the ladder that protruded from a hole in the floor into Lottia’s room. “Lottia, wake up. It’s time to do your chores.” Gertrude looked at Lottia and smiled. “Oh you’re already awake. Why don’t you milk the cow while I make your breakfast?”
Lottia looked at Gertrude with sadness. “Yes, Gertrude.”
She dragged herself out of her bed and tiptoed across the freezing wooden floor. She stopped at the ladder. “Gertrude?”
“Can I take a break from the chores for today? I have to do something.” Lottia twiddled her thumbs.
Gertrude looked at Lottia hesitantly. “I’ll tell you what. If you go milk the cow and eat your breakfast, you can have the rest of the day off to do whatever you want.”
Lottia’s face lit up at once. “Ok! Thank you, Gertrude!” Lottia giggled and gave Gertrude a big hug and several kisses.
"Alright, alright! Go and milk that cow,” Gertrude said while giggling and pushing Lottia off of her.
Lottia slipped down the ladder and was outside in no time. Once outside, she shivered and hugged herself. It was so cold.
“Maybe it will be warmer in the barn.” She said to herself.
Lottia raced through some fields, up a hill, and stopped in front of the barn that sat on top of the hill.
She inspected the barn’s ancient lock that kept the doors shut. Lottia sifted through her hair and pulled out the longest hairpin that she could feel. She then continued to pick the lock. Since Lottia was an expert at picking locks, she opened the lock quickly and placed it in her pocket.
Lottia walked to the back of the barn and picked up a bucket, and then she opened the gate of the cow’s pen.
The cow stared at her with her huge, brown, sad-like eyes.
“Hi, Bitzy,” Lottia greeted the cow, “It’s time to milk you today.”
Bitzy snorted and wagged her fluffy tail. “Moooooo.”
Lottia bent over and grasped the long, pink fingers of the cow’s udder. They were so warm. As Lottia began to milk Bitzy, she heard some commotion on the other side of the barn in the chicken pen.
Lottia rolled her eyes and sighed. “Let me see what those chickens are up to. I’ll be right back, Bitzy.”
Lottia strolled over to the chicken pen and looked inside. All of the chickens were gathered together in the same place. They were squawking and pecking at something on the ground.
Lottia jumped over the fence and walked toward them. She looked closer and noticed that the ground under the chickens was glowing a faint greenish-bluish color.
Lottia shooed the chickens away. They all scattered at once and ran in all different directions, screeching. A tiny beautiful blue-green stone lay on the ground, the intense light emanating from it.
“Ooo…” Lottia bent over to pick the stone up. “It’s so beautiful.”
Lottia rolled it in the palm of her tiny hand. A long, shiny gold chain that was connected to the stone dangled over her hand.
The stone’s beauty pleased Lottia, so she hung the necklace around her neck and went back to milking the cow again.
Lottia was almost done milking Bitzy when she heard several harsh knocks on the barn’s door.
“Hmmm… that must be Gertrude. Maybe she needs some milk in order to finish the breakfast.” Lottia thought.
She jumped over the cow's fence and put her hand on the barn door’s metal handle. Lottia was about to open the door and let Gertrude inside, when she heard something that made her blood turn cold.
It was not the voice of Gertrude that she heard outside, it was the voices of Octavious, Delcharz, and Antony.
“We have gotten rid of the father now we have to get rid of the girl.” Lottia overheard Octavious mutter faintly.
“But, Sir,” Antony argued. “She’s only a child. What kind of threat could she possibly impose on the kingdom?”
“She is only a child now.” Delcharz corrected.
“Children grow up into adults.” Octavious concluded.
"Well I still don't agree with this." Antony argued
"That's ok," Octavious retorted sternly. "You are not here to agree with the kings orders. You are here to see that they are carried out.
Lottia’s heart palpitated in her chest so hard that she thought her chest would burst any minute. “They are going to kill me.” She whispered, frightened. “I’ve got to get out of here.”
Suddenly an irritated bout of cursing erupted from outside of the barn followed by several more harsh knocks. Lottia knew that she had to think of something quickly because any minute the murderous trio would barge into the barn. They would take her away, and slaughter her somewhere far away perhaps in the forest. No one would ever know.
Lottia looked around the barn frantically and caught sight of a large hole in the wall in the back of the cow’s pen. Perfect!
Lottia ran over to the hole and managed to squeeze through it into the other side just when the three men knocked the barn door down.
Lottia ran to her house faster than she had ever run in her life. She had to save Gertrude. As she ran, her skinny, undeveloped, short legs burned from the effort.
When she arrived at the house, she noticed that the door was kicked in and the windows were punched out. Inside the house, Lottia could hear a woman crying.
Lottia burst into the entrance of the house calling softly for Gertrude. At once Gertrude looked up from where she sat on the floor. Her plain brown peasant dress was torn badly and her black hair was ruffled in an unpleasant way, but she was unharmed.
“Lottia,” Gertrude cried. “They haven’t hurt you.”
“Not yet.” Lottia replied darkly. “Gertrude, we must leave at once, or they will find us.”
“Yes,” Gertrude replied. “We must hurry.” Gertrude picked herself up and rushed over to the door with her coat.
“Here put this on.” Gertrude took her coat off and handed it to Lottia.
Lottia said nothing as she put the coat on quickly, and ran out of the house with Gertrude in hot pursuit. Lottia ran hard toward the forest that lay beyond the fields that her father had grown. There in the forest was a concealed hole in the ground that was just big enough for the two of them to hide in. In her spare time, Lottia had put a lot of effort into digging her “hiding place”. All of her hard work was about to be paid off in this one single moment of her life. If only she and Gertrude could reach it in time without being spotted by Octavious and his men.
Lottia gasped for breath as she put every ounce of her energy into her flight. The forest was now in sight. A little flicker of hope burned inside of her. They were almost there.
Lottia sprinted through the forest dodging every familiar tree and hole in the ground while Gertrude stummbled. Her breaths now came in short gasps. How long could she keep this up?
Both Lottia and Gertrude rounded a corner and stopped, staring at the hiding place. Lottia fought the urge to giggle. They had made it there without being spotted, but they were not safe yet. Even though Gertrude could not see the hiding spot, Lottia could.
“Help me!” Lottia gasped as she threw herself down on her knees and began to uncover the hole.
Gertrude kneeled down next to her and began to work silently and quickly alongside her.
Just as they finished uncovering the hole and was about to hide inside, Lottia’s heart stopped.
Lottia and Gertrude stopped at once at the sound of footsteps right behind them.
Lottia began to sweat, even though it was cold outside, and a small tear escaped the corner of her eye. “This is it. This is the end.” Lottia whispered. Gertrude began to cry.
Suddenly Lottia heard a vaguely familiar, hardened, male voice behind them.
“I knew that I would find you here.”