• I ran past the trees and through the fields. Away, far away from those that followed me from the King’s dungeons. My breath came in harsh gasps as I clutched the bundle to my chest. That damn bundle was the reason I had been held prisoner and why I needed to escape. If the King found out how strong my magic was with it, he would never let me go. The baying of hounds sounded behind me. Fear sang through my body and I forced my legs to pump faster. Suddenly, the heel of my boot caught on the hem of my skirt and I tripped, sprawling on the ground. The bundle in my arms fell, and a glowing orb, the size of my palm tumbled out. I grabbed it and stuffed it into a deep pocket of my skirts. I cambered to my feet and continued to run leaving behind the bundle of cloth.

    The shadows sheltered me from most eyes as I tried to escape. As I neared the edge of the fields my pale skin began to glow brightly.

    “No, no no,” I croaked and jumped into the forest that stood as the only shelter. I knew that if they saw my glowing body, there would be no escape. Taking a couple of deep breaths, I calmed my mind and forced my magic to quench the fire that was burning my flesh. I was about to continue with my escape, when I heard the clop of the nobles’ horses the sound of the sniffing of the hounds’ snouts even closer.

    “Bleeding half breed, why must we chase her?” one noble whined to his companions.

    “Because the King has ordered it,” a second voice called.

    “I say we just kill her and take the trinket she has.”

    “He wants her alive and with the orb. It’s useless without her. You know the commands just as well as I do.”

    I took a deep breath as I heard the men close in on me. A dog sniffed near my foot, and before it could announce my presence, I unconsciously pulled its essence, along with those of the hounds around it, into my body without truly noticing what I was doing. One of the hounds sniffed mournfully before falling over dead. The rest followed. One of the horses neighed and reared back onto its hind legs.

    There was cursing as one of the nobles tried to calm his horse. Several others tried to help him to no avail. I took it as the opening it was and ran, my body a sudden flash in the darkness.

    A cry sounded out behind me and the pounding of the horse’s hooves were heard, getting closer by the second. My eyes swept the area as I continued to run. To my right I could see light and could hear noises. A town. Probably not the best idea, the King surely sent out more people after me by now. I went to the left.

    I rushed through the trees, as they grew thicker. I stumbled over uplifted roots, and felt sharp branches scratch at me. As I ran further, past the trees, the sound of my pursuers and their horses quieted and I allowed myself to slow down. I walked through the woods, my senses on edge, ever vigilant for any sound that was out of the ordinary.

    As I continued forward, the thicket thinned and light shined through the forest’s canopy. The tree line opened and I stood in a clearing; the grass reached my knees and the moon shown down on me. I knew I should continue on, but the sight of my wounds in the moonlight stopped me dead cold. My wrists were rubbed raw from the manacles and bruises covered my arms. What bit of my hair that I could see was ratty looking and my new party dress was in tatters. Tears sprung to my eyes as I remembered what had happened in those dungeons, what HE had done to me just to try to control me.

    Suddenly the sharp snap of a tree branch ripped me from my thoughts and I spun around. One of the nobles slowly walked into the clearing, his arms up in an unarmed gesture. My eyes shifted over the area and the darkness of the trees, but there was no one else other than the two of us.

    “Lady Kent, please come with me. The King demands your presence,” he said with his arm outstretched.

    My eyes were wide and I shook my head, my hand sliding into my pocket, grasping the orb.

    “Please,” he repeated.

    I looked at him and outstretched my hand above his, making it look like I was going to grab his hand. The orb grew warm in my other palm and I closed my eyes. A shock of power flew through me and I shoved it into the man. He gasped and fell on to the ground, completely asleep. I did not even spare a look at him as I spun around and ran, praying that I could still get away.