A desperate princess longs for her brother lost in a perpetually frozen land.
The Cold Lands of Ifria 1,945 words
Princess Griselda sat on her chair gazing out the window of the castle. She grasped the silver locket. It was all she had left of him. Oh my brother Nathan. Why did you go? You knew you could be lost. she thought.
She felt a hand on her shoulder and she looked up at a man in royal robes. “We all share your grief. We warned him of going on that search in the Cold Lands,” he said.
“Father, do you think he will return?”
Griselda’s father, King Nephaal, shook his head. “The time will come when you must let go.”
Griselda jumped to her feet ready to cry. “I will not give up hope! If he does not come to me, I will go to him!”
“If you go, you will be lost as well!”
“I will take Saress with me.”
“Absolutely not! My kingdom needs his magical power to defend us against King Scatharune.”
“Then I will find someone else to aid me!” Griselda said.
“I will search for a wizard in the Emerald Forest!”
King Nephaal’s face went red and he frowned. “That place is treacherous. I forbid you to go!”
“I will risk anything to find Nathan. If you loved him like I did, you would go to any length to recover him!” Griselda darted past her father headed for her chamber door.
“How dare you storm away from me! Get back here!” said Nephaal.
Griselda barged out her door into the main hallway. She dashed in the direction of the hall exit guarded by two guards.
King Nephaal stepped out of Griselda’s room. “Guards, block the door!”
The two guards stepped in front of the young woman. Her father approached her. He took a deep breath. “I know you were close. But, the idea of him possibly coming back is tearing you up.”
“Oh, father!” Griselda buried her head in her father’s chest, crying.
“The time will come when you stop grieving. Be strong.”
Griselda stepped back and nodded, wiping her face. “I am so tired.”
“Then sleep. It will help.”
Griselda trudged back into her room and laid down on her bed and closed her eyes. She dreamed of her brother Nathan. He was locked in a cage of icicles, crying out for help.
“Help me sister! Help me!”
Griselda tried to reach out but she could move. “How do I save you!”
“The locket I gave you is magical. Go to the land of Ifria and follow the direction the diamond edged that is inside it. You must visit the Crystal Cove that lay there. You will find a magical sword. Only it can free me.”
Griselda opened her eyes and sat up quickly. The locket she always wore glowed green with a faint warmth.
Griselda went to her closet and dress in her winter fur robe. She opened the locket on her neck and small diamond edge pointed in north-easterly direction. She walked out of her room and went passed the guards. “If my father wakes up and wonders where I am, I will be in the royal gardens.”
The princess descended a staircase as a dry draft wafted her golden blond hair. She walked into a firelit antechamber. She looked at her locket; the edge pointed in the same direction, despite where she faced.
She ran to the royal stables and picked out a grey and white horse. She hopped on and sped off with the diamond edge pointing straight ahead.
She passed trees and shrubs going up and down grassy hills. A creature, obscured in the trees and faint moonlight, flew beside her. A high-pitched screech came from it.
The creature emerged from the foliage and a small dragon-like form fell in behind her.
“Blasted wyvern! I should have armed myself!”
The small beast careened closer, bearing three-inch-long fangs.
Griselda turned her head and watched it rise and lunge down at her from above with teeth and talons ready.
She lurched the reigns to the right as the wyvern came down next to her. It flew from the side and hovered above her, trying to grasp Griselda’s head with its talons. Another loud screech came and she covered her ears.
The wyvern’s talons caught some of Griselda’s hair. “Let go of me!” she said, trying to pull free.
Griselda heard a branch break as the beast’s talons released. She looked back and a tree bough sat on top of the motionless creature.
Griselda sighed. “Nothing will keep me from you Nathan,” she said with a tight frown.
The young princess had veered off the path indicated by the edge in the locket. She readjusted her direction and continued.
A gust of moist air ruffled her hair and filled her lungs. Soon she would be in the Cold Lands of Ifria.
Icicles appeared on tree branches and the area was void of animal life. Not even a bird perched anywhere. The wind turned into a harsh gale. Frozen lakes and ponds filled the landscape.
The whole locket glowed brighter and the diamond edge pointed to a cave about half a dozen yards away.
Griselda smiled. She flicked the reigns and the horse galloped faster. The steed slipped on a frozen puddle and the horse breyed and stumbled to its side as Griselda flew from the saddle and slid into a tree stump.
The impact forced the air out of her lungs and she struggled to breath. She clutched her throat, gasping for air. She was close to fainting when a blip of air seeped into her lungs. Small amounts of air gradually filled her. Stay calm. she thought. Griselda closed her eyes as she relaxed her nerves. She breathed normally and stood.
The cave opening rose about twelve feet high. Thick, transparent ice covered every surface in the cave. A stale chill stung her cheeks and she heard the whistle of wind winding through the innards of the cavern. The wind made a soft high-toned hum from the icicles.
Griselda tip-toed on and came to a bridge of ice. Will it collapse? Will I slip off? she thought.
She had no choice. The edge pointed straight. Griselda got on her hands and knees and began her way across. Her hands stung from touching the ice. She preferred it to standing. She inched across, trying to avoid looking over the bridge.
The area of the bridge she had crossed began to crack. Griselda gasped and crept faster. The back of the bridge cracked more and began to crumble. The young princess scuffled on as the back of the bridge fell. Her heart thudded and she whimpered.
The bridge kept breaking behind her. She crawled faster, feeling the crumbling vibration move through her body. It seemed she would not make it. The crumbling stopped. Griselda looked behind her and kept crawling.
When she was seven feet away, the bridge continued breaking off faster. She looked over the edge and her eyes widened with fear.
When Griselda was within arm’s length of the edge, the rest of the bridge collapsed. Her left arm hugged an icy stalagmite just as she fell. Griselda moaned as she pulled herself up. Her arms ached and burned while she inched upwards. With a final pull she heaved her leg onto a jutting icicle and pushed herself onto the ledge.
She had no time to rest and stumbled to her feet and ran up a flight of an icy staircase. A double-edged sword lay across a frozen slab of stone.
Griselda approached it with a gaping mouth. She picked it up by the hilt and a flash of blinding silvery light came from the sword and she closed her eyes.
She opened them and against a stone wall, Nathan stood in an icy cage. “Sister!”
The young princess ran to him and with one fell stroke of the sword, the icy bars shattered.
The two embraced. Nathan with his deep brown eyes, gazed into his sister’s. he held her out by the shoulders and his eyes fell to the locket. Nathan took it off and smiled coyly.
“Why are you looking at me that way? What did you just do?”
“I must tell you something I have not fully divulged,” he said.
An old man in a blue cloak with a long beard appeared in front of her.
“Who is this?” said Griselda to Nathan.
“I am the wizard Sulta. The building you are in is in the Emerald Forest.”
“What…I don’t understand. What does he mean Nathan?”
“Give us the sword,” said the wizard.
“It’s alright sister. Give it to him.”
Something in her heart knew this was not good. The wizard’s eyes were dark and sinister.
“Why, Nathan? Tell me why!”
The wizard lunged forward with his hands ready to grasp the sword. “Insolent girl!” he said.
Griselda pointed the sword at him. “Stay back! Nathan, what is going on!”
“The locket was created by the wizards of the Emerald Forest. If its magic is joined with the sword, great power will be granted.”
“How did you get it?” said Griselda.
“A dying wizard named Ninivess gave it to me. In his dying breath, he told me his name but could not explain the locket’s power.” Nathan paused. “Sulta explained that it and the sword together, can grant this power.”
Nathan’s sister raised her eyebrows in sadness and began to sob. “All you wanted was this…power? You do not care if we were reunited? I love you so much. It appears the feeling was not mutual.”
Nathan stepped closer to Griselda. “We could do so much with this power. We could finally defeat King Scatharune for good!”
Griselda fell to her knees in tears. She looked to her right at a narrow crevice. “If you want the sword, go get it!” The heart broken princess cast the sword sliding towards the crevice. It stopped, teetering on the edge.
“No!” Sulta said, running for the sword. It slipped over into the crevice as he reached for it. He caught it by the hilt and the weight of the sword pulled him down.
“Ahh!” Sulta said, plunging into the abyssal drop as his voice echoed.
“No!” said Nathan. He pounded the ground with his fist. He hung his head. “It’s over.”
“We are together! Isn’t that enough? I know you love me! Somewhere in you, there is love.”
“You are right. I miss home. I never should have gone. It will be good to see our kingdom and our father.”
Griselda ran and embraced him again. “How will we get back?”
Nathan smiled warmly. He took out a small brown pouch. “This will transport us to the kingdom border. Sulta gave it to me in case I had to go to you if you did not come for me.”
Nathan cast the pouch onto the ground and in a plume of smoke, they were at the border of the kingdom.
Nathan looked down.
“I will tell father of nothing. Let’s go,” said Griselda.
After walking a few dozen yards, a young farmer waved to them. “Princess Griselda! You have found the prince!”
The farmer ran off, probably to tell the king.
The siblings neared the castle and seven minutes later, king Nephaal came running for them. “It is a miracle! My son and daughter!” He hugged them and wept.
“He was half alive when I found him,” said the princess.
“All that matters is you are home. Come, let us talk. Tell me everything,” said the king.
The three walked off with Nephaal in the middle with an arm around them on each side.