In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt “I Am a Rock”.
Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself? Why?
This is a one-shot that I’m not entirely happy with but I’ll work on it…
“Can I count on you Aniel?” The queen asked in a soft voice. She nodded decidedly.
“Of course your Highness.”
“No one else.”
That was the last conversation she had with her sister. It was 6 months ago. Aniel had been travelling through the kingdom and beyond, hiring as a caravan protector or a guard for merchants. When people saw the tattoo on her wrist, doors opened and whatever job she wanted she could obtain. They didn’t ask questions as to why an elf like her needed such temporary jobs as travelling with caravans. It was good to have trained at the royal academy.
People couldn’t know that she was looking for the cure that would heal her sister and keep the Southern Realm together ever since. Nobody knew how sick the queen was and it must remain so. But if Aniel didn’t find the cure, Anael would die. And she couldn’t allow her twin sister to die of that sickness. Both of them had seen its effects and she couldn’t let her sister go through such pain and horror. Which was the point really. Aniel knew she didn’t have much time. Ten months the queen had said. After that it would be too late to reverse the sickness. It would have spread throughout her body. She couldn’t deny she was terrified; Aniel was intended to protect her sister who would lead the realm through an age of glory. What would happen if Anael died? Aniel would have failed in her duty to the realm. She couldn’t let it happen.
“Are you alright soldier?”
She looked up from the drink she’d been nursing for a good hour. It must be cold by now and disgusting. The man stood bulky and commanding; she almost corrected him. But she didn’t. Here, she was a hired sword, not Captain of the royal guard. That title had fallen to Sarina when she left the castle – officially because her sister needed to establish whether King Falstaff would consider marrying his son to one of the old folk. She was on her way there, but it would be the last of her visit; and only if she didn’t find that cure.
The man sat in front of her and gave her a shot glass.
“What’s in there?”
“Something I would warrant you need more than this. Which by the way must be ghastly now.”
She leaned back against the chair and looked him.
“What makes you think I need Therean?”
“You look worried. And I know you elves don’t get worried easy. It’s not like you don’t have centuries to think things through or solve problems.”
She smiled. He had a point. Usually. But not this time. Her sister’s months were counted. She took the glass and downed it in one shot. He refilled it and waved at the barman who brought a full bottle. That was probably not the best idea but she was worried indeed.
They spoke; he offered her a contract to the court of Falstaff. They had a precious cargo to protect and needed someone good. The merchants she’d travelled with spoke of her. If she wasn’t on her way back to her home, he offered her the job.
“That’s where I’m headed. But I was thinking I had another month or so.”
“I’ve been looking for plants and roots to fill our apothecary’s cabinets. But it seems some can’t be purchased.”
“Everything can be purchased,” he laughed. “I know the perfect place. What’s it you’re looking for?”
“Really?? You won’t find that in an apothecary’s shop. I mean unless you turn it into an aphrodisiac. I didn’t know you elves needed any help in that department.” She must have looked puzzled because his booming laugh resounded. “It’s something women mix to make their men more… interested and vigorous.”
She laughed. Well, that was interesting. The soldier called the barman again.
“Bring me a phial of Psaphelia.”
The barman’s eyes darted between the two of them. But didn’t ask question. An hour later she left the bar with her sister’s life in her hand. It was simpler than she knew; and she’d accepted the job.