Lenna’s eyes fluttered open as she slowly began to wake. The last thing she remembered, she was with her friends fishing, and then she was taken away by a pressing coldness before hearing voices behind the blackness fading in. Everything had become such a blur. She didn’t remember much of anything that had transpired.
She didn’t recognize her surroundings. The room was very small with barely any light coming in from the gray atmosphere outside. She looked out of the open door to see a larger room with books lying askew. Flasks of colorful liquids stood in a messy line on the shelves. Feeling a numb pain, Lenna looked down to see her arm wrapped securely in a bandage. This must have been a healer’s home. The rain pounded against the glass pane embedded in the stone frame of the window near the corner.
A boy stood in front of the window, watching whatever was going on outside. How long had he been there? He didn’t do or say anything. He just stood there quietly.
“Where am I?” she asked.
The boy spun around, surprised for just a moment as he stared at her. His clothes were soaked and his hair was dripping wet. “You’re inside the castle.”
“The castle?” Lenna sat up to find her clothes and hair equally as wet. “What happened?”
“My friend and I found you in the river when it started to rain.”
“Your friend?” She looked around, seeing no one else in the room besides her and the boy. “Where is he?”
“Oh, he had to go. He still had some chores to finish for Sir Frederic.”
“In the rain?”
The boy nodded. “Sometimes, but not always. I think Sir Frederic forgets about the rain when he gives out chores. I’m just glad I don’t have to clean out the stables when it gets wet. The smell is horrible!” He made a face as if he could smell the stables right then.
Lenna giggled. “You’re kind of funny. Thank you for finding me. What’s your name?”
She offered him a smile. “I’m Lenna.”
He returned the smile. He made a motion to his ears. “Your ears—”
Lenna immediately brought her hands over her ears. Her eyes widened in panic. What was wrong with them? “What about my ears? Has something happened to them?”
“No, I was just going to say that they’re…you know. You’re a La…fay?” he struggled to say the word.
“Leïfae,” she corrected him.
“So you’re really from that village outside of the walls?”
She nodded her head.
“Are there actually unicorns out there?”
“Yes, there are! They’re so beautiful. You must come out and see them sometime.”
“I’ll have to check with my parents. They might not want me to go out there without protection.”
Lenna lifted her chin. “You don’t have to worry about that,” she replied. “I can protect you. My family and I… Oh, my family! They must be so worried about me.” The sharp pain in her right arm made her wince. She wondered what the wound looked like under the bandage. Hopefully, it wasn’t too bad. It would most likely heal soon enough.
“Do you need help with that?”
She glanced at Antalos for a moment and shook her head. “No, I think it will be fine. It just hurts a little bit.”
Antalos didn’t appear entirely convinced as he looked at her arm, but he stopped himself from saying anything else.
“You can sit down if you want,” Lenna said, crossing her legs and patting the empty space in front of her.
With a small smile, Antalos came over and sat down, also crossing his legs to face her.
“When I go back, will I ever get to see you again? I’d like to be friends with you, if that’s all right. Maybe your parents would let you visit someday.”
“I would like that,” Antalos answered eagerly. “I think you would be a great friend.”
They continued talking about anything they could think of. Just chatting as if they had been friends for their entire lives—unconcerned with the passing time. Then the sound of a creaking door sounded in the other room.
“Taëlenna?” a woman’s voice called out.
Lenna smiled broadly. “Mama! I’m in here!”
Inwë appeared in the doorway with Aerandir close behind. She hurried into the room and wrapped her arms around her daughter. “Oh, my darling Taëlenna, you’re safe!”
She motioned to Antalos. “He was the one who found me, Mama,” she said.
“Thank you,” Inwë said. “Thank you so much.”
He didn’t seem to know what to say and just smiled.
“Promise me we’ll see each other again?” Lenna whispered, leaning over to Antalos.
He nodded. “I promise,” he replied before Inwë lifted Lenna in her arms.
Lenna peered over her mother’s shoulder as she was carried out of the room and looked at Antalos. They waved at each other before vanishing into the hallway, wondering if they would ever see each other again.