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january 15th, 2021

an excerpt from my nanowrimo 2020 project

The clouds at Alida’s feet were far too calm. She expected—almost wished—for the gray expanse to be swirling with furious cyclones, threatening to pull her in and tear her to shreds. At least then she would have a good excuse to turn back. Back to the warmth and comfort of her rooms, safe underneath the shroud of her pink duvet.

After all, treason was no light affair.

Instead, the breeze did little more than tousle Alida’s long black hair. Little goosebumps crawled up her arms as if fleeing from the cool embrace of the night. She pulled her cloak taut. Time to go, she thought. She stepped gingerly into the longboat waiting on the beach before her, letting it nestle itself into the clouds and find its balance.

And then she was off.

Alida took one last glance behind her, one last look at King’s Rock. The palace that had been her home for seventeen years stood proud atop the island, a pride Alida found to be misplaced. There was the window she had climbed from, silken sheets still blowing in the breeze. It would only be a matter of time before somebody found it empty. Before she was branded a traitor, a runaway, a disgrace. Would they plaster her face all over the Seven Isles, send bounty hunters and pirates into a frenzy to hunt down the missing princess? Would they say she was kidnapped, to preserve the royal dignity? Or would they simply let her go, young and inexperienced as she was, and assume the clouds had eaten her alive?

She imagined the way her father’s eyes drooped when he was sad. Of course he would miss her. And of course she would miss him. But there was no other way. Alida was sure of it. And so, King’s Rock faded away over the horizon. The palace drifted into obscurity behind the misty morning fog. Alida faced forward with determination, the whole world ahead of her.

As the sun rose over the palace at King’s Rock, one single scream echoed across the courtyard. Slowly, and only for a moment, the ground began to shake.

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