YA Fiction - Fantasy
The Island Of The Crystal Rock
Thunder rumbled overhead, the wind howled, and the rain came down. It bent the trees and drummed down on the road-side shrubs. The road turned into a fast-flowing stream.
“Why are we doing this?” asked Tshab.
“Seriously?” said Merien. “I have no idea. It is perhaps the hand of fate again. We must consult that astrologer when we get home.”
“If we ever get home,” said Tshab.
The sudden approaching clatter of iron-shod hooves diverted them, and even as they looked about, the first horse, with a high-pitched, terrified whinny, was almost upon them, spraying them with the puddling rain water and rearing high to avoid a straight-on collision and unseating its rider in the process. As Merien, momentarily blinded by the spray, regained his bearings, the second rider had already sprung off his steed and rushed down the roadside incline to assist his companion.
“I’m fine, don’t fuss!” a feminine voice snapped, and the fallen rider, shrugging off the helping hand, stood up, apparently unhurt, and brushed angrily at the mud and grass that splattered her white, gold-embroidered outfit. Shoving aside a loosened strand of hair from her face with a muddied wrist, she turned a muddied face, alight with rage, up towards Merien and Tshab. And time suddenly seemed to come to a standstill.
Through the streaming rain, Merien looked down into the most radiant pair of eyes he had ever seen. The rest of the face, streaked with mud and contorted with anger even though it was at present, lived up to their beauty. Perfection was paramount in every delicately-wrought, youthful feature.
As he stared, the perfect lips parted and it wasn’t a delicate sound that emerged forth. It was a hard-bitten curse of the sort that was bandied around by sailors and stable-hands. It startled him out of his reverie.
Shoving aside her concerned companion, the girl came scrambling up the incline. Her intent couldn’t have been clearer, and Merien, taking an unhurried step backward, caught her wrist before her swinging palm connected with his face. The marvelous eyes glared right into his and the mouth opened and unleashed another ear-splitting curse, this one so atrocious that even the villains of his acquaintance were known to use it sparingly.
An amused laugh burst forth from Merien, and, in the next instance, he had swung the girl about and sent her hurtling back into the ditch.
“Hey!” shouted her companion, in angry amazement, and rushed once more to her assistance.
She didn’t claim she was fine this time. Sheer incredulity seemed to have rendered her speechless. It was clear that she had never been manhandled in this manner, and she stared wide-eyed at her assailant as, with a mocking half-wave, he turned away and swung elegantly on his steed and cantered on with an undisturbed composure.
Now, as he turned around the bend, she found her voice and shouted after him to stop at once. He gave no sign of having even heard. The sounds of his horse’s hooves grew fainter.
“Maya!” said her companion. “Please! Don’t shout like that. It is not seemly.”
The Crown Princess of the Island of the Emerald Palms – for it was her - redirected her ire at him.
“Why are you still here?” she cried. “Call yourself a man, Manon? Go after him and kill him! At once! That will be seemly!”
“Don’t be silly,” said Manon, the Crown Prince of the Island of the Golden Sands. “He deserves a good flogging, I’ll admit, but then so do you. What were you even thinking of? When we are married, you will never stoop to such atrocious behavior with the minions, do you understand?”
“And if I don’t, what are you going to do? Flog me yourself or get the minions to do it? When we are married indeed! In your dreams!”
“What? But we... I... Maya! I just proposed to you back there on the cliffs and you accepted!”
“And I just changed my mind. Out of my way, you lily-livered milksop!”
“You’re not going after him!”
“No, I’m going back to the palace to dispatch some real men after that dog. He’ll be hung before dawn. Watch and see.”
Much further on, Tshab’s sharp ears had caught this exchange and she relayed it to Merien. Not under the hope that it would make the young man reconsider their destination. No, Tshab knew him too well to have such an expectation.
“Just so you know what is in store for you,” she said.
“You wring the joy out of life,” he replied. “Am I never to be surprised? So that was Princess Maya, was she? And engaged to Manon? Well, well, well!”
“What are you going to do?”
“Ask for a bed for the night and try not to get hanged at dawn. That is, if you don’t mean to keep me out forever in this weather.”
“I thought I wasn’t to attract any unnecessary attention.”
“Use some of that purported intelligence I’ve so often heard you tell of, Tshab.”
Tshab kicked up her heels to let him know what she thought of the sarcasm and took off into the air.