When I woke up, I felt the scent of grass invading my nostrils, as well as the scent of dirt. I lay there for a while, not really wanting to move but that didn’t seem to mind as I stood up almost automatically and started walking slowly. It was very strange, as I didn’t really want to do but, nevertheless, was moving. I decided it had something to do with why I had woken up just on the side of a dirt road, below a big pine tree. I walked some more but then stopped, as I reached a small wall on which I stood up to see the surrounding view: there, very far to the north, I could see a castle or at least its shape. And by the east, there was a small river coming down a mountain range where a big mountain had smoke coming out of it. It was a volcano. Closer to me, I could see more tree and a building. I decided to walk towards there.
I walked with decision towards the building, feeling very strange still. I tried to remember what I had been doing before waking up by the road but I just couldn’t remember. It was as if there was nothing to recall. Then I stopped, as I head a strange noise coming from behind. I looked up to the sky and there it was: a plant or an animal, something floating up there very high in circles. I stupidly walk towards it and it noticed me: it had razor sharp leaves and it was about to hit me when I ran as fast I could towards the building, which happened to be a farm. I stopped on my toes as I passed the two houses that formed the ranch and realized there was a pasture area behind them, as well as a granary.
There were horses and many chickens and a girl. I hadn’t seen it right away as she was sitting on the ground feeding the animals. When she saw me, she greeted me as nice as one can greet a stranger and told me that I looked funny, as she had never seen a boy like me. Apparently my attire, which I hadn’t really paid attention to, was not very common in these parts. She told me that the best thing for me to do was to pay respects in the temple close the castle, where every wish could come true. Then, she taught me how to sing to the horses and lend me one of hers. Before leaving the farm, she told me I could come back any time but that her brothers may not be as nice to me as she was.
The horse was fast and elegant, soaring through the bushes, over the grass and elevating dust all over the place. We finally got to the castle, just as they announced hey were letting in the last group of people before drawing the bridge for the night. Some others seemed to be entering too but they looked more like peasants and people trying to buy their stuff in the castle. After the group entered, the bridge was elevated and, just before they had finished closing, I could swore I heard the call of a wolf. That made me a little nervous but I decided to move on. Suddenly, everything went black.
When I woke up, it was morning already. I had no idea where I had been sleeping but the horse wasn’t there with me anymore and I just happened to be in the middle of the morning market. People were everywhere, pushing other buyers as they moved from one post to the other. There were also games and dances bursting up a little bit everywhere but I finally saw what I was looking for when I walked into an alley: a big white building with the symbol of the land on top of it. That had to be the temple the girl in the ranch had told me about. The castle was not far, as I could see it when entering the temple. Inside, there were no chairs or places to rest; people would just stand and pray before a big altar and nothing more. None of them would take long there and I started to get anxious when I didn’t see anything that could help me. So I just prayed and left.
My next move was to go towards the castle. I felt I had to go there so I went through the market again, which seemed even more crowded than before, and then on to an open road which lead to a big gate on small canyon formed by very high hills. There was a guard there and told me I couldn’t move beyond that point as the royal family had it strictly prohibited than anyone walked into the castle unannounced and without proper permission. So I went back but only some meters, where the guard couldn’t see me anymore. There was a vertical wall on the side of one of the hills and plants had grown over it so I just climbed to wall to the top. My next move was to cross the gate from above and then move from tree to tree, hiding from the guards.
I finally got to the main entrance of the castle, were two guards were busy talking to each other. The thing was I had to pass by them to reach the entrance, unless I swam across a small pond of water, which seemed to come from inside the castle. With great disgust, I submerged myself slowly into that water and moved cautiously, in order not to alert the guard. I finally go to the end and there, found that the door was closed. I couldn’t force it because that would be making too much noise so I just looked around and saw a big hole on the wall that seemed to be crumbling. I snuck up through there.
There were some guards in the gardens, but it was easy to full them through the mazes of hedges and flowers. Finally, I got to a big garden filled with the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen in my life. Every color was there and the smell was even better. That’s when I saw another girl. For a moment, I thought it was the girl from the ranch but soon realized that couldn’t be. This girl was wearing a dress that looked smooth and silky and a headband with a jewel on it. It was almost as if she was a princess. She finally noticed me and I thought she was going to call the guards but instead asked me to come closer.
She said that her father had asked her to exit the throne room as a visitor was going to be there. It was said to be an important man and, as such, women were not allowed to be there. It was one of those traditions she hated but had to respect. So the next best thing she had was to see the whole thing through a window that was just there in the garden. I came closer and saw the throne a big bearded man sitting on it. That must have been her father, the king. There was no one there on his side, which struck me as odd. I looked towards the other side and saw a tall and dark figure. But it was his robes that were black, as his skin was the color of olives. He had a big nose and looked more like a horse to me than anything else.
The big man approached the king and kneeled. They said something but I couldn’t hear behind the glass. Then, a voice behind them told them that it wasn’t very polite to hear other people’s conversations. It was a tall woman with short hair but not as tall as the man they had just seem. The princess asked her if she knew who the man was and she answered with a very somber expression. She only said the man had come from the desert to the west to pay respects to the kind and inform him that the kingdom could be calm as he had soldiers that would help the kingdom be much more secure. However, no one had ever seen his army and there was a rumor that he was a wizard.
The woman looked at the kids and told them it wasn’t their business anyway. She told the princess to stay there as she helped me get past the guards without been seen. She left me by the village, where I decided to distract myself with more games. But I couldn’t think about anything more than the princess and the tall man from the desert. He had a menacing look. To be honest, his whole physicality was very menacing, as the one of a giant or something like that. That night, I decided to leave the castle and go to the river and fish, to distract myself. I had very nice time fishing with a borrowed rod and the river was very nice place. The volcano, which was close by, was a very nice sight.
When the night came again, I decided to head back to the village but the drawbridge was up. There were no people waiting and it started to rain. I screamed and yelled but no one would open. When I got a little bit closer to see if they could hear me, the bridge fell hard and then a horse came running fast from inside the citadel. All I could see was that massive black horse that got scared to see me, as I was from it. He stood on two legs and in that small fraction of time I realized it was the tall man riding and, in front of him, he had the princess hands tied and with a cloth on her mouth. Something fell from the horse to the moat just before they rode away fast, disappearing from view in a few seconds.
I walked towards the edge of the moat and realized that what had fell from the horse had been a small flute that floated on the water. Just as I took it in my hands, I remembered the song from the farm girl. And I would have played it but then the world went dark and I wouldn’t wake up for a long time.