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from Ralph and the Prince by Jo Hawk

Copyright © 2019 Jo Hawk

Your Majesty

The Lucciola moved arrow-swift along the gloomy forest trail as the exhausted stallion struggled to follow. Ralph’s skin tingled, and he glanced behind him. He saw nothing except the dust kicked up from flying hooves, but his gut told him they were being followed. The dawn’s growing brightness provided no comfort for him and he worried about seeing the Lucciola in the daylight. The panting and lathered horse began to slow.

“We’re killing him,” Ralph thought then he noticed amber orb had slowed as well.

The glow veered to the left of the trail and stopped. In the stillness, Ralph heard a faint hum emanating from their guiding light.

“Are we lost?”

They bounced in the air, synchronized with the beat of his voice, then they moved further into the woods. The stallion leapt backward, turning his head right, he stepped toward the road. Ralph slid from the animal’s back and coaxed him in the opposite direction. His nervousness wasn’t calming the horse. There was no trail here, no signs anyone had ever passed this way. The Lucciola beckoned, inching deeper into the forest.

“Come on, boy.”

Ralph’s voice shook and his shoulders drooped as he pulled the stallion’s reins. He responded by tossing his mane, neighing his defiance his eyes rolled, and he backpedaled. Ralph grabbed the bridle.

“Ah, please,” he said trying to soothe himself as much as the horse. Ralph wondered if the sound pounding in his ears belonged to his beating heart or their unseen pursuers. 

In the forest's stillness, tree limbs swayed, the grasses whispered, and a brisk wind swept across the road pushing them towards their fate. Committed, they picked their way over uneven ground, around brambles, and under branches, trusting Sirona’s enchantments. The broken terrain transformed, becoming a thin line, an almost discernible foot...






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