Persephone grabbed ahold of the large brass knocker belonging to the doctor’s humble abode. Rustling of pages could be heard inside then slow footsteps accompanied by heavy thuds. The door opened to reveal a small plump elderly woman supported by a large oak cane adorned in intricate carvings of animals. Her face lightened and a grin broke across it at the sight of the princess but as Sir Doouge cleared his throat her smile faltered.

“I don’t allow steel into my house.” The doctor said in a cold voice. The knight tensed in his steel suit of armor and looked down at the princess for instructions. Persephone looked into the woman’s eyes and back at Sir Doouge, “I’m fine, just wait outside.” Her words caught him off guard,” but princess, what would your father say?” She brushed off this thought, “he only cares for the kingdom. Why do you think I’m here?” With that she waited for no reply and stepped into the doctor’s home, the elderly woman took no hesitation in slamming the door on the knight who stood with his mouth agape.

The house was much larger on the inside then the outside portrayed. The front door led them into the kitchen where a kettle was beginning to steam and a misshaped pastel pot sat bubbling a sweet aroma. “A cure for the king’s rheumatism in it’s last stage. I still require light from the full moon, three days couldn’t come sooner.” The doctor’s words made the princess’s gaze break from the cooking medicine. They sat in silence, staring deeply into one another’s eyes, tears threatened to fall from the corners of Persephone’s eyes. “In three days my father will be cured, the kingdom will be cured, and I shall have to endure the price. I care for this place, so why does it cast me out?” 

If she could maneuver through the forest safely, she knew she could find the cure without marrying into a foreign kingdom. The forest was said to be home to monsters created by the great spirit Pallow himself. Even the highly elite knights of Berkshim , the Kights of Jestice, would only make it a few miles into the forest before blood curdling screams were heard and they were never seen again.

The doctor, sensing the princess’s distress, took the princess’s hands in her own and her glassy eyes locked with Persephone’s emerald eyes, “My family and I once belonged to Berkshim. I must urge you to beware of any actions you take,” she cleared her throat and the princess’s gaze drifted to the steaming kettle, “knights disgust me.” Persephone bit her lip, “But why?” The doctor’s gaze looked far away in another time and she gripped tightly to her cane,”my mother was a very wise woman, she aided the king the same way I aid your father,” her voice took on a dark tone,”King Derrone is an evil man who persecuted my mother when she helped his wife deliver the man you are to marry, Prince Jarren. When the queen didn’t make it through labor, Derrone,” she paused and clenched a pink stone which hung from her neck,”Deroone said no doctor, only a witch, would let his wife perish in such an agonizing way. He sent  my mother and I into the forest, as I was to carry on her legacy when I became of age in the following year. We were prodded in the back by lances while the Knights of Jestice laughed at our misfortune. I was a young girl, twelve to be exact, maybe the gods took pity on me.”

Her story stopped as she took the screeching kettle off the stove. Persephone wondered how the woman made it out of the forest and where her mother went. She opened her mouth to pry but decided against, recalling the dark circles that appeared under the woman’s eyes when she told her tale. Whatever happened had to be told willingly. The princess knew this look all to well from her father, for he acted in the same manner as the doctor whenever Persephone questioned her lack of siblings. Dark secrets seemed to haunt everyone in the kingdom.

To be Continued…