Why, someone might ask, do I love my sister so? In addition to being a pretty awesome human being and saving me from countless literary tragedies, when I asked for a story idea a few months ago, she offered the idea of “a stable boy who’s really a prince leaves his glove on a princess’s saddle.” I don’t know how she did it – how she knew, as she always does, just the right idea to trigger an exciting plot line acted out by characters I love at first meeting, but within days, I had a whole fantastic story mapped out and set aside to write when other projects are complete. Until then, endless gratitude to my Wise and Wonderful Sister and a sample for the rest of you…
Of Earth and Sky
I find my only solace on Gavriel’s back. It is a cheap solace, for even as I dream of flying, I know my feet are as bound to earth as my lungs are to air. However far I ride from the castle, I know I shall return to that prison. I’ve nowhere else to go, since Father sent Erion away. “A prince, yes, but hardly a suitable one. A princess of Earth with her head in the clouds… I’ve never heard anything more ridiculous, Isla.” He laughed while I blinked back tears. I rein Gavriel in and look down on the castle in the valley.
A caravan of red and gold approaches the gates. King Kennet, Born of Fire, arrives to claim his bride, no doubt. Father will be as angry as Kennet if I am too late to receive him, and angry kings of Earth and Fire bode well for none. I raise my face to the ever-loving sky, as if to bid all hope farewell, then press my legs into Gavriel’s sides. We descend into the valley.
In the stable yard, an unfamiliar groom waits to take Gavriel’s lead. I dismount several paces from him.
“You’ve come with Kennet, I suppose.” I want to spit the name from my mouth, cleanse it from my mind.
The stupid boy says nothing, won’t even meet my eye, only fiddles with his tattered sleeve. He places a hand on Gavriel’s saddle.
“I can tend my own horse, thank you. Tell your master not all Earth bows to Fire.” A foolish thing to say, but Kennet already knows I’ve no fondness for him.
The stable boy turns to go as I lead Gavriel to his stall. As I unlatch the saddle’s girth, I spy a piece of cloth in the seat. I lift it slowly. Silky white and pale blue, like the endless sky of a perfect day, the glove flitters in the gentle breeze that sweeps through the stable. I put it to my nose and inhale the scent of rain, the scent of Erion, Prince of the Sky, Rider of Winds.
My heart beats hard in my chest as I look about the stable. The stupid boy is coming back. With every step, his hair blows by some wind that seems to fall on him alone. He stops outside Gavriel’s stall and this time, he meets my eye.
“Princess Isla of Earth, I believe you’ve found my glove.”
“Erion!” Cool, clean air swirls about me, chasing away the scents of manure and hay as I step around Gavriel and out of the stall. The wind increases as I wrap my arms around Erion’s neck. My feet no longer touch the earth. He laughs, and his breath feels like summer on my ear.
“I told you nothing in Earth could keep me from you,” he says.
We soar over the valley, his arm wrapped loosely around my waist. High above, Erion’s kingdom of clouds awaits. He laughs, and I blink back tears, this time of joy.