“Come on, Lenna! We are going to miss it if you do not hurry up!”
“I am moving as fast as I can!” Lenna called after her older brother and sister, moving at a speed her little legs allowed.
The children ran along the river leading in the direction of Anecia’s gates. They were playing in their village earlier when they heard about the royal family visiting from Parthor, the neighboring kingdom in the north. The reason why they were visiting, none of the children had an idea. Anything considering the lives of royalty was practically foreign to them.
Lenna’s brother and sister, Kay and Serena, were just a few yards ahead of her. They were much taller than her and could run twice as fast if not faster. She wondered if she would ever be able to keep up with them. All of the other children from their village had already reached the fence—recently built to show where the leïfaes’ territory ended—overlooking the gates at the bottom of the hill. They formed a long line along the wooden border, waiting for the procession to go by.
Before long, they could hear the sound of Anecia’s villagers shouting accompanied by carriage wheels bouncing about the uneven dirt road and over the stone bridge built above a ditch.
“Here they come!” one of the children exclaimed.
Lenna’s friend Renefaire waved over to her. “Lenna, come sit by me!” She motioned to the empty space on her right side. “You almost missed it.”
“Thank you for saving me a seat,” Lenna said as she sat on the soft grass, resting her feet in front of her, wiggling her bare toes in the warm sunlight.
The two girls crossed their arms on the bottom board to rest their chins on top, peering through the large open space between the two bottom boards just as the fancy caravan passed over the bridge.
Almost instantly, the children were awestruck by the number of knights riding in front, around, and behind the two carriages. Their armor reminded Lenna of the birds with silver wings that lived in the trees behind her home. They shined so bright in the sunlight. The ground rumbled under the horses’ footfalls like thunder in a spring storm. Lenna was surprised by the size of the horses. They were twice as big as the herd of unicorns she was used to seeing in the Ember Meadow, maybe even bigger than the horses Anecia’s knights rode. She wondered how anyone could stay on such enormous creatures.
The dark blue carriages in the middle of the procession were the next things to catch her eye. Intricate golden designs covered the edges with matching curtains inside the windows. Even the wheels were plated with gold, much to Lenna’s surprise. It was all so extravagant.
Inside the gates, villages erupted in cheers, their shouts echoing over the hills well past the leïfaen children.
“There are so many of them,” Renefaire remarked, her gaze fixed upon the knights, brushing her red hair over her small slightly-pointed ears.
“It seems like a bit too much,” an older girl—Renefiare’s sister—Jïera said as Serena began to braid yellow flowers in her light hair.
The boy next to her nodded. “The wheels would probably sink in the mud very quickly,” he added with a slight grin as if he was imagining what it would look like for the fancy carriages to get dirtied.
Lenna looked to her brother standing by her side. “Why don’t Papa’s warriors wear armor like that?” she asked, pointing to the knights.
He bent down to her level so they were eye-to-eye with each other. “They prefer to move quickly and with stealth. They wouldn’t be able to do that with so much armor.”
“Oh!” She turned back to look at the pretty carriages once more before they disappeared behind the crowding people following them to the castle.
Lenna noticed some stragglers glance in the direction of the leïfaen children and for a moment thought their expressions looked a bit resentful. “What is their problem?”
“They always look at us like that,” Serena replied. “I hardly notice anymore.”
Truthfully, neither of them knew what the reason was. They acted together as creatures of night and day. Eternal rivals but always keeping their distance.