The World of Stories and Fables Chapter 3

Katy Abbe, Columnist

I leaned my back against the cold marble wall, letting my eyes close as I pressed my hand to my forehead. The silence in the hallway was frightening. It created a similar empty void that I had been trapped in earlier in the day. The empty void that I had come to fear. To quell my rising anxiousness, I hummed softly. The muffled notes bounced off of the walls and created a chilling sort of song. It was better than nothing though, something was always better than nothing.

While I hummed, I let my gaze wander back to the wooden door that sat in front of me. I wondered if Arthur was doing all right on the other side. Once we reached the castle town gate, we had been swarmed by knights and other official looking people. We were dragged to the castle and Arthur was whisked into the room across from me and I was told to wait outside.

I crossed my legs and sighed as I let my chin rest on my hands. I contemplated how long it would take for Arthur to be finished. I knew it would take awhile, but just how long of a while? I didn’t get any information except to hang on for a bit until further instruction.

“Everything is so weird.” I mumbled to myself. I knew nothing about where I was, except that the castle and town I caught a glimpse of was gaudy and extravagant. There was gold and blue gems everywhere, and everyone seemed well off from the way that they dressed.

Of course, I was unable to get a good look, because of how fast the knights were dragging us into the castle. They had lead us through the backway, using the servants quarters to get us to the second or so floor where a rosy old woman took Arthur into a sour smelling room and left me to sit in the darkness of ignorance. Fun.

I let out a sigh and tapped my fingers against the floor. After a few moments that felt like an eternity, the sound of footsteps reached my ears. I turned my head and crossed my legs as a tall man in a dark blue robe steadily made his way towards me. I lifted my hand in greeting, but he didn’t acknowledge it. I let it fall and met his brown eyes expectantly.

“Are you the maiden that aided Sir Arthur in his endeavor home?” He asked in a gravelly voice.

“Yes,” I pushed myself to my feet, watching the man closely. He had a bit of a stubble on his chin, and one heck of a bald spot on the top of his head. The hair he did have was sleek and brown and appeared to be well kept. He didn’t seem too old because of his vibrant hair color, but his brown eyes seemed to carry years of experiences. “Is he going to be ok?” I asked, gesturing towards the door.

“He’ll be fine my darling.” The man said mechanically. He made it sound like it was chore to talk to me.  “Now, the king and queen wanted to speak with you about the dragon.” He swiftly turned on his heel, his robe swirling in a wave of fabric. My eyes widened and I ran after him.

“Wait, the king and queen?” I repeated, “why?”

“Well, it was Queen Cendrillon who really wanted to see you. There have been rumors spreading around that a young girl had challenged a dragon and ended up saving the life of the Chief of the castle guard. She wanted to congratulate you and meet you.”

“Ah,” I frowned, wondering who could be spreading rumors.

“By the way, my dear, how shall I introduce you to their royal highnesses?” The man asked. He looked down at me for a brief moment before returning his gaze to the hallway before him. “You do not appear to be wearing any traditional garb of any kingdom I know of, so I am unable to ascertain your rank.”

“Ah, well…” I mused. “I don’t really have one…” I explained my memory loss, and just asked him to call me Artemis. The man nodded, a spark of interest glowing in his dark irises.

“Very well, Lady Artemis,” the man grinned as he led me down the hall.

Soon, we had made it to the throne room. The man had me stand before two elegant chairs and ordered me to wait as he summoned the royals. I did as I was told and clasped my hands together in front of me. As I waited, I glanced around the room, curiously.

The throne room was large and empty. The only furniture inside were the two chairs and a table that leaned against one wall. Velvet curtains hung around the thrones, framing them with decadent folds.  A few paintings surrounded by gold decorated the walls, and elegant glass figures perched on the table next to a vase filled with glass flowers.

After a few moments, the man returned and took his spot next to me. He straightened his posture and quickly motioned for me to ready myself. I heard the sound of heels clicking against tile and looked towards the curtains that hung over the two chairs. Emerging from behind the curtains came an elegant woman who looked to be only twenty or eighteen. She wore a long, flowing gown that was as blue as the sky, and the silver accents that brightened her dress were like the silver lining of clouds.

The man nudged me and I quickly bowed. I let my gaze flicker to hers and waited until she gestured for me to rise. She smiled gently and brought her gentle fingers to the air and let them dance as she gave me permission to straighten. I did so and returned her smile.

“Lady Artemis?” She asked, stepping lightly towards me. “My name is Cendrillon, I’ve heard quite a bit about you.”

“You have?” I asked, my eyes widened. A laugh escaped her perfectly round lips as she nodded.

“Yes, Chase, the brother of the knight you saved?” The woman asked gently, her crystal blue eyes shining brightly. “He’s very impressed by you.” She tore her gaze away and looked to the man, “Zander, would it be alright if we went out to the garden to speak?” The man standing next to me bowed and nodded.

“If that is what you wish, my lady, then it shall be.” Zander whirled on his feet and briskly walked to the door. Cendrillon followed and I trailed behind her.

As we walked, Cendrillon asked me to tell her about myself. I told her all that I knew. She seemed interested in my memory loss, and asked me to tell her everything. I did, starting from the moment that I woke up.

I had just gotten to the treehouse when we reached the garden. Zander stood to the side while Cendrillon quickly made her way to a stone bench that sat beside a patch of blue pimpernels. I stood in the doorway for a moment, looking out at the garden.

The castle garden was expansive, with large topiaries and emerald grass. It looked like there was a maze made of the great green bushes, with a trellis of flowers standing as an arched gate at the entrance.

“Artemis,” Cendrillon called from her perch. My gaze returned to hers and I made my way to the bench. She motioned for me to sit next to her, and I quickly followed her instructions. She asked me to finish my story and I did.

Cendrillon was a wonderful listener, she waited intently and asked questions when I paused. She seemed horrified when I described the dragon, and relieved once Chase had gotten out of harms way. She became distressed when I told her about Arthur’s wounds, and her blue eyes gleamed with awe when I got to the part where I used myself as bait. By the end of the tale, her mouth was hanging open and she seemed thirsty for more.

“You are quite the adventurous maiden.” Cendrillon mused as she leaned back. She looked over my shoulder wistfully, “I wish I was half as courageous as you.”

“Arthur didn’t think it was courageous.” I snorted. “He was pretty mad that I did that.”

I thought back to the way he glared at me while I had dressed his wounds. It was cute, actually, the way he was so dedicated to helping people, even strangers that he had never met before.

“Yes, Arthur is a wonderful knight. His heart is big enough to hold all the people of our kingdom. He’s even saved me.” She smiled fondly. Returning her gaze to me, she continued. “Though I am curious to find out where you’ve come from, Lady Artemis. Aren’t you?”

“I guess,” I replied, letting my chin rest on my hand. I hadn’t given it much thought. “I guess it would be nice to know what I’m supposed to do next, but I’m not sure.” Thinking on it, I really wanted to explore this world more. I wanted to find other dragons to fight, and other things I wouldn’t have thought possible. It would have been fun to travel around with Arthur and find new things.

“Well, Zander may be able to help.” Cendrillon motioned the robed man forward. “He’s the King’s wizard, and my best friend.” She smiled sweetly as Zander came up to us.

“A wizard?” I looked up at the man in awe.

“Yes, that is my duty in the castle.” His dark gaze flickered to Cendrillon. A hint of a smile played at his lips. “That, and other things.” Cendrillon’s cheeks flushed, I believed from the heat, and tore her gaze away.

“Zander, would you see if you can figure out where Artemis came from?” She asked softly.

“Of course,” Zander cleared his throat and offered his hand to me. I took it, and he helped me up. “We’ll have to go to my workshop, if you don’t mind, my lady.”

“Alright,” I beamed, getting excited, “show me the way!” Zander began leading me back to the castle, but a hand gripped my wrist and I turned back.

“Artemis,” Cendrillon pulled me back. I knelt down and smiled. She shook her head with a small grin and held my hand in hers. “I wanted to give you something in case I can’t meet with you again.” She let go of my hand and tugged a small ring off of her finger. The ring had a silver band and a violet piece of glass connected to it.

“This is a ring my father gave me before he died.” She explained as she slipped the ring onto my left ring finger. “He always said that it would cause the wearer’s dreams to come true. I hope it’ll bring you as much comfort as it brought me.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, my eyes wide.

“Yes,” She confirmed with a gentle smile. “I knew the ring was meant for you when I first laid my eyes on you.” She looked over at Zander and waved at him. Without bringing her gaze back to me, she added, “now you better go, I hope Zander is able to help you.” She released me, and I started to go. I glanced down at the ring on my finger and frowned. With a pause, I looked over to Cendrillon.

“Did your dream ever come true?” I asked. Something flashed in Cendrillon’s eyes and she smiled sadly.

“Some say it did.” Her blue eyes twinkled with pain, “but that’s a story for another day.”

I nodded, deciding not to push. Without another word, I followed Zander into the castle. As we walked, I inspected the ring. It seemed so elegant and fragile. Like it could break with the softest touch. However, when I pressed my finger against its smooth surface, it held up, a steadfast glass pebble that would remain for perhaps an eternity.

I could only hope the ring’s promise would last half as long.