This is the first of seven posts that will be published this week. The Quest was a story submitted for 2010’s Writer’s Digest annual competition. (Obviously it did not win, or I would be bragging!) I hope you enjoy the story. Feedback is always welcome.
The queen had made her orders clear. Get her beloved jewel encrusted necklace back to her at any cost. The cost being the young heroine’s life, of course; a not so subtle insinuation throughout her commanding speech. The heroine’s duty was clear, but the task was daunting. She had made the journey before, but she was not sure that she could make it again. The last time had nearly cut her life short. She knew the trials she would endure in attempt to retrieve what, previously unbeknownst to her, was an age old family heirloom. But would she have the strength, she wondered? The long, desolate road to her destination was enough to cause doubt and fear in the average traveler. Beyond that road was different. There were fierce and untiring creatures down this path. These were under-worldly beings that held no regard for life and no remorse for those who had lost their way. At the end of this path lived the unimaginable. She shuddered. This could be my last undertaking, she thought. Why hadn’t I protected this prized possession better? Why had I let my guard down? She could not answer her own questions. Should she live, she would not make the same mistake twice. She swore a silent oath to herself that she would never repeat this blunder. It was just too costly a mistake to make and she had too much life in her to live yet.
As she gathered her things for the journey, she had to decide whether or not to take only the necessities and keep herself light and agile. She already knew the consequences of this decision. By the end of her quest she would be starving and thirsty. There was nothing palatable to eat or drink along the overgrown trails and caverns that she would traverse. The journey was long and treacherous, and she would be famished. The alternative, however, could end up being much worse. Should she attempt the journey laden with supplies and modest comforts, she would nearly double her time. This she could not afford. She knew that she would also need her strength. By donning extra effects, it would be sapped, making it impossible to escape some of the monstrosities she chanced encounters with. The decision did not take long… travel light it was. She wished she had her horse. Riding would cut nearly a week from her travels. She knew could not take the beast off of the main road for fear of breaking an ankle or throwing a shoe, but getting her there quicker would give her a slight advantage. The horse knew its own way back, but there was no time. She had to go now. The queen had made it very clear that there was a bit of penance involved in this mission. She cared not what tribulations were in store for her charge; only that she carried out her orders without hesitation or delay.
Stop back by tomorrow for The Quest, Part 2 of 7!
Dragon graphic retrieved from https://twitpic.com/4yndvz