Birds chirped the song of a new morning that promised to bring hope to the palace. On one side of the structure, bright rays of sunshine delicately shone through the window curtain, threatening to wake two particular witches for the mission they had ahead of them.
Tara was the first to be touched by the sunlight. She slowly opened her eyes and remembered where she was before turning on her side. Lying to her left was a small red-haired woman, her soul mate. Willow was still sleeping, so Tara propped her head up with her elbow and decided to watch her lover sleep. "Willow looks so peaceful, so content, so beautiful," Tara thought, "I am so grateful to have her in my life."
Willow stirred slightly and mumbled, "No way am I kissing that green thing…" as her eyebrows furrowed.
Tara had to cover her mouth to keep from waking Willow with her giggles. "She’s dreaming about frogs again," Tara deduced.
Seconds passed before Willow’s face relaxed. Tara simply observed Willow’s chest steadily rise and fall. The serene period was one that Tara looked forward to and cherished every morning whenever she was the first to awaken.
A few minutes later, Willow opened her eyes and smiled when she saw a pair of blue eyes above her.
"Good morning sleepyhead," Tara said cheerfully.
"Am I still dreaming?" Willow yawned.
"Only if I’m a frog," Tara replied sarcastically, "You were talking in your sleep."
"Oh, uh, sorry about that," Willow said as she blushed.
Tara smiled. "It’s okay. I like watching you sleep, especially when you’re dreaming. It’s fun."
"There are other fun things that we can do..." Willow insinuated.
Scrunching her forehead, Tara commanded, "Miss Rosenberg, you had better keep your hormones under control."
Willow immediately made a puppy dog face which caused Tara to completely abandon her authority. She had to fight her desires before managing to mutter, "Because someone might walk in on us."
"Since when did that ever stop us?" Willow countered with a smirk.
As Tara playfully rolled her eyes, Willow gave in and agreed. "But I’m not happy about it!" she added.
A knock on the door broke the moment. "See?" Tara stated, prompting Willow to pout. To make sure Willow knew that she was only teasing, Tara leaned down and gently pressed her lips against Willow’s.
Another knock on the door interrupted the kiss. Willow whined in frustration as Tara pulled away from her. The redhead reluctantly climbed out of bed and went to open the door. Standing in front of her was a man in a white suit.
"Good morning miss. Breakfast will be served in thirty minutes, after which you will begin your quest to save Princess Annabelle," he announced before nodding his head and leaving. As he walked away, Willow thanked him and then closed the bedroom door. Next she quickly turned to face Tara and asked with a goofy grin on her face, "How long do you need to get dressed?"
"Willow!" Tara exclaimed. Sometimes Willow was insatiable when it came to alone time with her.
Willow sauntered towards the bed as Tara loudly exhaled. "I can never say no to you..."
Just like the day before, the courtyard was busy with servants moving back and forth. However, today there seemed to be an added air of happiness.
Willow and Tara had finished their breakfast and were now standing in the middle of the commotion. The king and queen were situated directly in front of the two, eager to send them on their way. Before the pair of witches had a chance to ask how they would begin the rescue, a tall blonde-haired man in a red and blue uniform came up next to them.
The king nodded to the newcomer, signaling him to speak. The man turned to face Tara and Willow and began to talk with no emotion. "Hello. My name is Thomas. I will be leading you the edge of our kingdom. After that, you are on your own, for you will embark on your journey into the evil forest to save Princess Annabelle."
Unbeknownst to the royalty, Tara gulped. Willow instinctively took Tara’s left hand in hers and squeezed it.
"Bring the horses!" the queen ordered.
As Tara and Willow turned to each other and mouthed "Horses?" three stable boys arrived with three of the tall creatures.
The queen assured the nervous women, "These horses are special. Therefore, you will be able to ride them with ease, regardless of your experience."
Willow and Tara nodded in acceptance of that piece of information. Then they each mounted a white horse as Thomas climbed onto the saddle of a brown one. As soon as they took hold of the reins, each horse started to move forward toward the drawbridge. While the three of them rode out of the castle, the king and queen waved and wished them luck. It was going to be a challenging task for Willow and Tara.
The majority of ride to the edge of the kingdom was awkward for the three riders. Only the sounds of the horses trotting along the forest floor and occasional animal noises broke the silence. Being the guide, Thomas was only a few feet ahead, focused on getting to their destination. Willow and Tara rode side by side behind him. Whenever the two glanced at each other, they could instantly sense what the other was feeling or thinking. Sometimes reassuring smiles were exchanged between them, but for the most part, they were both worried about how they would possibly go about saving Annabelle.
Willow finally decided to speak. "Um, excuse me Thomas, I have some questions…" she said, with a hint of nervousness in her voice, "Do you know where we should go to find the dark king’s castle, and how to defeat him?"
Thomas cleared his throat before shouting back; "It is known that the dark king has a crystal orb that allows him to place others under his control. Anyone that has managed to get to his palace, however, has never returned, so its location is unknown to us."
Willow responded with a simple, "Oh" before turning to look at Tara.
Tara didn’t share in Willow’s shock. Instead, she was concentrating on what Thomas had just told them. "So all w-we have to do is destroy the orb. Then his subjects will turn against him and we can rescue Annabelle."
Willow was beaming with pride over her girlfriend as Thomas yelled back, "Yes, but no one knows where the orb actually resides. We are placing our full trust in you two and we hope that you have the ability to defeat the dark king."
Silence overcame the group of travelers once again until they reached the boundary between the opposing sides of Litefaray. Thomas announced their location, then regretfully informed Willow and Tara that they couldn’t take the horses any further.
The witches were surprised and disappointed, but they dismounted the horses without any protest. When they looked back up at Thomas, he had two pouches in his hands. "The contents of these small bags are only to be used in a life-threatening situation. Do not open them unless it is absolutely necessary, for they each can only be used once. Good luck, oh brave ones." He then stretched his arms out so that Willow and Tara could each accept a sack. They thanked him before he turned around to go back to the palace with the two white horses following behind.
Willow and Tara spun around to face the new setting. Up ahead was an overwhelming sense of darkness. The area was abundant with dead plants and there were no other signs of life. It was as if goodness had been afraid to enter.
"This doesn’t look too inviting," Tara managed to utter. Willow agreed as she took Tara’s hand in hers and stood next to the taller woman.
"I think we should have some light, don’t you?" Willow asked Tara. Tara nodded and immediately knew that Willow wanted to cast a spell to meet that need. They both closed their eyes and mumbled a short chant. A second later, a floating ball of light appeared in front of them, providing just enough of a glow so that they could see the ground in front of them easily.
The two women then took a deep breath and started to walk forward. They were so focused on what lay ahead of them that they didn’t notice a pair of yellow eyes watching them from behind a large pile of broken branches.
Back to Chapter 3 :: On to Chapter 5