“My love will come,” she repeats to herself for the tenth time.
“What was that Milady?” asks the servant girl making her bed.
“Oh nothing,” she replies, though anyone could tell it was not nothing. Priestess Aquila knew the warrior of her dreams was riding like the wind to reach her. He will be the one to whom she will grant her love. He has to survive the journey to her castle first though.
Antony mounts the black stallion they call Black Bolt. Supposedly he was the bravest and fastest of all horses, Antony can only hope.
“Are you sure Antony? Most say she is just a myth,” Antony glances down at his old friend. Antony wasn’t just one of the strongest warriors, he was also the strongest willed.
“I am as sure as I was when becoming a warrior. The Priestess is out there, and I will find her. YAH!” Bolt takes off for the Dark Forest. An evil place full of magic and monsters. Antony was a strong warrior, with an even stronger heart. He was going to need every bit of strength to face the magical creatures of the night.
“Aquila you have to eat,” Marliss, Aquila’s mother, comments concerned. The Priestess pays no mind. She is engrossed with the Dark Forest that surrounds the castle. She is aware that her love will have to face the horrors it harbors. She prays everyday to her Gods for his welfare, but she knows the Gods she prays to put the Dark Forest there with all of its evil magic and monsters to protect her.
“I will feast when he arrives,” Marliss sighs at a loss with her daughter’s infatuation with this mysterious man.
“Pray to the Gods he will arrive soon,” Marliss mumbles to herself. A smile tugs at Aquila’s lips. It’s been six days since his energy had entered the forest, and he was getting closer.
“Yes he will. I can feel it.”
The flying creature screams as Antony’s sword pierces its heart. He watches as the life leaves the monster’s eyes then withdraws his sword from its body. “I am almost there Priestess,” he whispers to the sky whipping his sword on his cloak, only slightly winded from the scuffle with the creature. It had picked him off his horse and dropped him on the ground. Luckily Black Bolt waited for him only a few feet away to remount.
Antony takes a step toward Bolt when something stabs him from behind. He is so shocked by the surprise attack he feels little pain. He looks down to see three needle sharp claws protruding from his midsection. He feels a warm liquid trickle down his chin as the claws retract. The sound of wing beats fills the air. He attempts to take another step toward Black Bolt but falls to his knees. Tears fall, not for his death but for his Priestess who he will have to die without seeing.
“We will meet Priestess. One day I will see your face my love,” Antony’s final words echo through the forest to the Priestess’ ear on her balcony with Black Bolt not far behind.
As Antony takes his last breath, only an hour’s ride from the castle, there is a desperate cry of pain from the Priestess’ chambers. Everyone on the castle grounds stops and lament with the Priestess, though unaware why she is upset.
Aquila had heard and felt the echoes coming from the Dark Forest. Her gift of feeling the energies around her had long kept her depressed because of the Dark Forest. She had felt Antony’s love the moment he rode into the forest exactly seven days before. She felt his love leave the moment he died too. Antony battled for love for six days and failed on the seventh.
For five consecutive days, after Black Bolt arrived and her warrior’s death, Aquila sat in her chapel and prayed to her Gods with no food, water, or sleep.
“Aquila honey,” Marliss says entering the chapel for the third time that day, “won’t you just drink something?” Aquila sighs and turns to her mother. Marliss tries to hide her shock, but isn’t successful.
Aquila, the once beautiful maiden, has lost all of her muscle mass. All that is left is skin and bone. Bags have gathered under her eyes as well as tear stains down her cheeks. She motions for her mother to sit with her. There is an old spark of Aquila that shone in her daughter’s eyes that draws Marliss forward to sit with her.
“Thank you mother, for everything. For caring for me and watching over me. But I’m afraid my time is almost over,” Aquila starts. With each word her beauty grew back in full. Marliss starts to shake her head back and forth not wanting to believe it or hear it.
“The Gods have called my name mother. I am weary and heartbroken. There is nothing left for me here,” Marliss closes her eyes as the tears fall. Aquila kisses her mother’s eyelids, first left then right, as a traditional goodbye for Priestess’. Aquila lies her head in her mother’s lap as she always did after a nightmare. Marliss startes to play with Aquila’s hair as she usually did to sooth her and her daughter’s heart.
“The Gods have granted my last wish. You shall have a grandchild. My daughter, who will be given my gifts. Her name shall be Antoinette, after her courageous father Antony, who lost his life braving the Dark Forest. You shall raise her as you have raised me. I love you,” Aquila watches as her mother cries over her body.
“She will be better in time,” says a deep voice behind her. She turns to see Antony smiling at her. She smiles back as he takes her hand.
Aquila nods, “Antoinette will be in good hands,” Aquila replies, a smile growing at the thought. Antony nods in agreement. With Antony leading, they walk off into the light to face eternity together.
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