The sun peeped out from behind a cloud
filled sky, on a chilly November morning. It cast its light down upon the trees
in the forest below. A thin stream of light poured through a chink in the
curtains covering Khione’s bedroom window. The sunbeams danced over her eyes,
and as if touching her face the light roused Khione from her slumber. She
opened her eyes and fixed them upon the unfamiliar surroundings of the tree
house room she slept in. The modestly furnished room held a small wooden table
and a chair, and a bookcase. An oak wardrobe stood against the opposite wall of
She turned her head and gazed at her friend Gerda as she lay
upon the floor on a straw filled mattress, blankets tucked around her small
frame. She slept peacefully; her unkempt red hair framed her serene face.
Khione almost envied the tranquil expression on her face. She felt no peace;
only feelings of confusion, frustration, and turmoil had filled the last two
days. She had dwelt in the Forbidden
Forest for more than six
months. Yet the last memory she recalled upon entering the forest was fleeing
from Griff, her mother Queen Eleanor’s
huntsman. Griff had attempted to carry out the first of two failed
assassination attempts orchestrated by her mother. She shuddered as she vividly
remembered her terror and the look of menace on Griff’s face as he raised his
hunting knife to kill her. Also her revulsion, after he tried to force himself
upon her in return for not carrying out the task of murdering her. This
terrifying ordeal seemed to Khione as if it had passed only days, not months
waking from her sleep of death in a dimly lit room, and staring at the unfamiliar
faces of Garion and Virion. Both wore a look of concern and shock when she
revealed she did not know them.
remember nothing of us?” asked Garion.
His face fell
in disappointment as she shook her head and replied, “No, nothing.”
She swung her legs
over the side of the bed. Garion sat down on the bed beside her. He looked into
her eyes, as if searching for a flicker of recognition, but found none. He gave
a wry smile. “You are alive, this is more important.”
you,” said Virion.
scrutinised Virion as he stood before her, and could not help but notice his
pointed elven ears. She turned her attention back to the man sitting beside
her. “Are you Garion?” He nodded in reply. “Thank you, but perhaps you could
tell me what you saved me from?” Garion shifted slightly and looked at Virion.
“Not yet, it
may be best to wait until Avira has seen her first.”
agitated. “No, I wish to know, and who is Avira?”
“Avira is a
physician,” replied Garion.
“I do not need a physician. I am perfectly well.” She attempted to stand up.
Garion took her by the shoulders and gently pushed her back down. “If you
promise to remain here I will explain.”
her throat felt dry and scratchy. “Please can I have some water to drink?”
“I will bring
it to you,” said Virion. He promptly left the room. Khione and Garion sat in
silence. He placed a hand upon her shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. She
turned and glanced at him. Garion removed his hand and clenched it into a loose
fist to prevent himself from touching her again. “I apologise, did I make you
feel uncomfortable?” he asked.
the room with a glass of water in his hand, Alwin following on behind him. The
sound of voices had woken him. Virion passed the glass to Khione. She thanked
him and drained the contents. The water soothed her parched mouth and throat.
Alwin smiled at her. “What has passed here?” he asked.
answered, “Garion shook her, and a piece of apple flew out from her mouth. As
you can see she is now well.”
remembers nothing of the last six months,” interjected Garion.
silent for a moment then spoke, “Post trauma amnesia. I have read something of
puzzled. “I do not understand, post what?”
“You took a
bite from an apple enchanted with dark magic; your body suffered a great shock.
This has caused a partial loss of your memory. It will be light soon, I shall
ride over to the village and fetch Avira,” Alwin replied.
and thanked him. She looked at the dark haired Alwin and the fair haired and
green eyed Virion. Then her eyes rested upon Garion’s brown eyes, she also
noticed his ears were unlike those of an elf, not pointed, they were more human
like. “Are you not an elf?” she asked.
chuckled. “I think we have much to explain.”
At the break of
dawn, Alwin rode to the village and swiftly arrived back at the cottage with
Avira. She examined Khione, agreed with Alwin’s assessment and declared she was
none the worse apart from amnesia.
“Will I recover
my memory?” Khione asked.
“The brain is a
delicate instrument, and we have much yet to learn from it. I will be honest
with you; it may take some time for your memory to return.” Avira patted Khione’s
hand and smiled. “I am sorry, we have been good friends. Give yourself time and
all will be well.” She then bid the rest of the household not to force too much
information upon her.
tapping on the window brought Khione’s
attention back to the present. She rose from her bed and drew back the
curtains. A little brown bird tapped furiously upon the glass. Khione opened
the window to let in Aya, her sparrow friend, along with a blast of chilly
air. Aya flew, landed on one of the
bedposts, and proceeded to twitter away at speed. Khione understood the
language of birds and animals. “Gifford came to see me at first light and told
me you were dead, murdered. Where he has been for the last two days, he would
not reveal. I fear he is going mad.” Gifford was another of Khione’s feathered
Aya ruffled her feathers. “Why
did he tell me such a horrendous tale?”
“He spoke the
truth,” whispered Khione, “But I cannot tell you all of what has happened, as I
have no recollection. I do know that the Queen tried to kill me with an
Khione put her
finger to her lips. “Shush, you will wake Gerda.” She sat down upon the bed and
looked again at Gerda, still sleeping soundly.
“I will tell
you what I know, but please be quiet.”
silent and listened. Her curiosity satisfied, she left with a promise to relay
the good news to Gifford.
back into bed. She closed her eyes, but sleep did not come to her. She lay in
silence and willed herself to feel something, anything, other than the
overwhelming feelings of uncertainty and fear. All treated her with kindness
and assured her she would be safe. But how could she be if her mother knew of
her whereabouts. If or when she learned she had failed to kill her again, she
would come after her. Khione knew her mother well enough never to doubt her
her eyes, yawned, and stretched out her arms. She rolled onto her side, looked
at her friend and whispered, “Khione are you awake.”
answered, in jest, her eyes still closed.
upright and patted down her messy hair. “I see your sense of humour is still
intact. I have need of your hairbrush. I do not wish Kai to see me looking like
Khione got out
from the bed and picked up the hairbrush from the bedside table. “ You told me
Kai loves you. He will not be concerned with the state of your hair. Would you
like me to brush your hair? It is the least I can do after you refused to let
me sleep on the floor.”
“If you wish,”
replied Gerda. “At times I find it hard to believe you are a princess. I am
certain no other royal person would entertain brushing my hair.” She sat down
on the bed. Khione gently pulled the brush through Gerda’s tangled locks. It
reminded Gerda of her mother, Agnes, as a child she had brushed Gerda’s hair
morning and night. Many months had passed since she last saw her, but she would
soon be on her way home with Kai.
“You have a
contented look upon your face, what are you thinking?” asked Khione.
“Oh, how I wish I had a home, or at least one where I am welcome.”
her head. “You have a home, here, do you not? The elves all love and respect
you.” Khione pulled the brush through a knot of hair. “Ouch, that hurt,” cried
still,” ordered Khione. She continued brushing through the tangle. “This may
seem ungrateful, I wish I could think of this dwelling as my home. Everything
is so unfamiliar, any affections I had for anyone here, apart from you, have
gone, along with my memories. Also it may not be safe for me or anyone whilst I
am residing here.”
“Do you wish to
travel to Bracan with Kai and me?”
for a moment before answering, “I have thought long about this. My mother has a
second cousin, she is Queen Consort of Agraunia. I shall visit her and ask for
spoke of her before.”
one last brush stroke through Gerda’s hair and laid the brush on the bed.
“Perhaps not, but you may know her son Tristan.”
“That is so peculiar,
you mentioned him recently.”
“Yes you told
Garion and Cameron of a fight I had with Tristan when we were children.”
her forehead. “Tristan is very disagreeable. I have not seen him since we were
children. Hopefully he has changed.”
talked as they washed and dressed. By the time they descended downstairs Khione
had made her decision. Kai and Garion were sat at the table eating breakfast.
Alwin stood in front of the fireplace, he threw more kindling onto the fire, and
the orange flames grew brighter. He then prodded the fire with a poker until
the flames grew higher and spoke to himself, “There, much better now.”
Kai looked at Gerda as she approached the
dining table. “Someone is a sleepy head.” He flashed her a broad smile and her
heart skipped a beat. She returned his smile and sat down at the table beside
“We have been
discussing our journey home,” said Kai, “Garion has offered us the use of a
horse and he will accompany us. He has also provided me with some clothing. To
think I have been wearing the same clothes for years.”
Garion,” said Gerda.
“I am happy to
assist you,” replied Garion.
turned to Kai. “I did not know you could ride a horse.”
Kai grinned. “I
can, I used the Blacksmith’s horse. Even though he did not know it at the
Khione joined her at the table. She greeted everyone with a “Good morning” and
poured herself a cup of milk from a jug on the table.
“How are you?”
asked Garion, concern still etched in his face.
“I am much the
same, but otherwise well. I have turned things over in my mind and made an
important decision.” She put the cup to her mouth and quickly swallowed the
milk. Khione could feel the weight of Garion’s stare as he waited for her to
Alwin came over
to the table and sat down beside Garion. “We are eager to learn what you have
to tell us,” he said.
“First of all I
wish to thank you for your kindness and hospitality. I feel it is no longer
safe for you to have me here. Therefore when Gerda and Kai leave tomorrow I
shall be joining them,” she said.
to take a bite from a slice of bread, dropped it onto the plate before him.
“Are you in earnest? You cannot be seriously considering this, where will you
“I wish to leave
before the snow comes or it shall make travelling so much harder. I will ask my
mother’s cousin Queen Katrina for refuge. She and her husband King Darrius live
in Tormain Palace, in Agraunia. I have never
visited there. I believe it is not far from Bracan.”
Garion’s gaze, she could feel his eyes burning into hers. Struck with a feeling
of sadness and longing, tears began to well in her eyes, which she fought to
hide. “Khione, you are still welcome to reside here for as long as you wish.
Queen Eleanor has no knowledge that you are alive,” he said.
She clasped her
hands in front of her and averted her eyes from his stare. “I no longer wish to
be a burden. I have made my decision, please respect my wishes.”
“You have never
been a burden,” said Alwin.
sitting around the table fell silent.