This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from M.A. Thomas.
At twenty years old, Lela couldn’t resist falling back on childish antics. After all, she was the King’s only child and oh how he doted on her. She could go anywhere in the castle and its grounds, exploring whatever got her attention. She was boundless, often traversing the forest alone going far beyond the safety of the castle.
Yes, Lela’s father did not saddle her with rules. Even so, there was one rule he insisted she obey without fail: never stay outside the castle after dark. This rule Lela did not mind. She was completely afraid of the dark. When she was ten years old her mother vanished one night after dinner when she decided to go for a walk. Lela didn’t know the details of her mother’s disappearance or why she had ventured out after sunset, something no one, not even her father or his men ever did.
She found solace in the forest where she felt she could dance and sing and clear her mind of any thought that reminded her of her mother. She could pretend her heart had healed and that she no longer carried the weight of loss and grief.
Today, a golden ball shining among a pile of leaves had summoned her and she had gleefully ran to it as if the very sun would cease to exist if she did not answer the ball’s call. But when she came to the ball, it began to roll away from her.
She followed it, taking light steps so as not to disturb the strange event she was witnessing. It kept going until it came to a well some thirty feet from her. She looked over her shoulder to see if anyone else was around. She didn’t want to share this experience with anyone, let alone her father’s men who would sometimes spy on her under pretense that they were hunting or scouting the land for bandits.