It was another stormy night in the kingdom of Loire. Evelyn Hayes was tossing and turning as the thunder sounded. It was dream she had had before, but whether it was a nightmare or not she didn’t know. A voice called out to her in the darkness.
“They need you. Hurry. Find me.” The voice said over and over in a hushed tone. No matter how fast Eve ran she never got there in time. She could see the light, but just as she’s get to it she’d wake up. Eve sat up and looked around her room. Her silver eyes were in a panic for a second and her long black hair was a mess. Lightning flashed and there was a shrill neigh in the distance. She sighed and pushed her hair out of her face. She got dressed and picked up her boots. She quietly walked out of her small home and to the front door. She pulled her boots on, put on a cloak and then headed out into the rain. Her house was near the stables and one of the horses was terrified of thunder. Eve pushed open the stable doors and the horse was grunting and pacing in his stall. Eve lit a lantern and walked over. It had a glossy black coat and a black mane.
“It’s okay Apollo. It’s only a noise.” she said as she put the lantern on the hook near his stall. He looked at her wildly for a second, but clamed when he saw it was her. She patted his noise and said, “That’s a good boy.” She sat at the stool by his stall and he put his head on her shoulder. She patted it and said, “I’ll stay here until the thunder stops.” Eve leaned her head on Apollo’s head and thought about the dream. The voice sounded scared almost and she wondered why it was calling to her. With that thought in mind she fell asleep leaning on Apollo. It was early morning when the stable doors opened. A boy with white hair and red eyes walked in. Apollo saw him and nudged Eve to wake her.
“Wow Apollo that’s kind of mean.” The boy said as he walked in.
“Morning Damein.” Eve said as she got up and stretched.
“Morning. Did you sleep here last night?” Damein asked her. He is her best friend Damein Knight.
“I couldn’t sleep last night and Apollo was scared of the storm.” Eve told him.
“The same weird dream?” Damein asked.
“Yea, I have no idea what it means.” Eve said. Damein handed her one of the apples he was holding and fed the other to Apollo. He ate it greedily and happily.
“Well it has to mean something if you keep having it.” Damein told her.
“If only I knew what it was.” Eve said and a woman walked in. She had long black hair and red eyes and looked a lot like Eve. This is Eve’s mother, Kaya Hayes.
“Good morning Damein. Giving Apollo some more apples?” She said as she entered.
“It’s the only way he’ll tolerate me.” Damein said as Eve took off her cloak.
“I don’t know I think he’s growing to like you.” Eve told him as Damein patted his nose.
“How is your mother Damein? Has her cold gotten any better?” Kaya asked.
“Much better, thanks for making that medicine for her. She wanted to send something, but I told her you didn’t need it.” Damein replied.
“You are very right about that. She and I are best friends there’s no need to thank me for helping.” Kaya told him.
“That’s exactly what I told her. Well I’ve got to get going. Training is going to start soon.” Damein said.
“Come by later, we can spare while Apollo has his run.” Eve told him.
“You know it.” Damein said and then left.
“Well here are my girls.” A man’s voice said as he entered. He had short grey hair and silver eyes. He is Eve’s father, Aaron Hayes.
“Morning dad.” Eve told him as she hugged him.
“Good morning. Make sure you eat something before you get too involved.” He told her.
“I will.” Eve told him. He kissed Kaya and said, “I’ll be back for lunch.”
“See you then.” Kaya said and he left.
“Now you go eat. I left your plate on the table.” Kaya told Eve. Eve was going to protest, but her mother gave her a look.
“Okay.” Eve said and left. Kaya patted Apollo’s nose and then started to clean the stables. Eve and Kaya brushed all the horses by lunch when Aaron came back.
“How was training?” Kaya asked as Aaron entered the house.
“Good, the recruits are doing much better, none of them as skilled as Damein or you.” Aaron said as he sat at the table.
“Well I have a very good teacher.” Eve said.
“You have more determination than all those others.” Aaron told her.
“I wish they would let me in the recruit class.” Eve said with a sigh.
“You don’t need the class when you have your father.” Kaya told her as she put down plates in front of her and Aaron.
“Yea, but if I don’t take the class I can’t become a knight.” Eve said.
“I know you want to become a knight, but I can’t make the king change his mind.” Aaron told her.
“I know. It’s just not fair. I am every bit as good as any of those guys.” Eve complained as Kaya sat at the table.
“Well one day you’ll be able to show them Eve. You just have to be patient.” Kaya told her.
“I know. I just wish it was soon.” Eve said. They ate, talking about their day so far. Eve had wanted to be a knight since she was a little girl since her father was a knight and the teacher of the recruits. However, since she was a girl the king denied her admission to the class even with her father in consideration. Eve does love taking care of the horses, but still hopes that one day she can fulfil her dreams. They started by putting the horses in the field and then cleaning the stalls. Apollo stood by the gate, waiting for Eve to come sit with him.
“Eve go on. Apollo looks like he’s getting antsy.” Kaya told her.
“But only half the stalls are done.” Eve told her.
“You can put everyone back when I’m done. How about that?” She offered.
“Alright, only because Apollo looks like he’s going to jump over the fence.” Eve said as she put her broom on the stall door. She headed out and grabbed a stool on the way out. She sat down by Apollo and he nuzzled her.
“You know eventually you’ll have to start to like other people.” She told him as he started to nibble her hair. Eve sighed and Apollo started to bob his head up and down. Eve sat there and the other horses would come over and sat hi, but they always headed out. Apollo was the only one who stayed right next to Eve.
“Alright Eve I’m done!” Her mother called.
“Okay!” Eve said as she got up. She went by the gate and whistled for the horses. They came over and Eve took them in one by one. Eve always took Apollo last since she usually took him for his run as soon as the others were put away. Eve was about to open the gate to let Apollo out when he jumped the fence and ran into the stables.
“Apollo!” Eve yelled after him as she ran to him. He skidded to a stop and reared up on his hind legs, ready to stomp on a person on the ground in a cloak.
“Apollo No!” Eve yelled as she grabbed the straps on his face. She pulled him to the side as he stomped down.
“Whoa Apollo calm down. It’s okay.” Eve told him as she patted his side. The person got to their feet and Eve said, “You have some nerve trying to steal the royal horses. You’re lucky I caught him in time.” The person removed their hood and a girl around Eve’s age stood before her. She had long white blond hair and lavender eyes. She had the royal crest on her cloak button meaning she was the princess Aria Lockhart. Eve instantly bowed her head and said, “Excuse me princess. I didn’t realize it was you.”
“It’s alright. I just need a horse.” She said as she looked at the horse she was trying it get. It was a pure white mare with a golden mane.
“Well Artemis is a good pick. She’s very tame and sweet. Let me put Apollo away and I’ll saddle her for you.” Eve said as she pulled Apollo to his stall.
“He seems a little wild.” Aria said as Eve closed his stall door.
“He means well. He loves all the horses here. He probably thought you were stealing them like me, Sorry again for the misunderstanding.” Eve told her.
“Do you work here alone?” Aria asked.
“No. My mom and I work here together. She’s probably starting dinner right now. May I ask where you’re planning on going?” Eve asked as she pulled down a saddle and laid it on the stall door by Artemis.
“Just for a ride.” She said.
“I could show you a good place to go. I let Apollo run there all the time. I was just about to take him out.” Eve offered.
“You can do as you please.” Aria told her. Eve saddled Artemis and handed Aria the reins. Aria stared at Artemis for a second and then walked her outside. Eve saddled Apollo and when she got outside Aria was still trying to mount Artemis.
“Have you ever ridden before?” Eve asked.
“Of course!” Aria replied as she tried to pull herself up, but failed.
“You need to grab her mane and pull yourself up. If you grab the saddle you could flip it.” Eve told her. Aria did that, but her arms weren’t strong enough to lift her.
“Here let me help. Jump up and I’ll push you the rest of the way.” Eve told her. Aria looked at her for a second and said, “Okay.” Aria pulled with all her might and as soon as her foot lifted off the ground Eve pushed under it. Aria got up on the horse and let out a sigh.
“There you go. Do you know how to make her go?” Eve asked as she got up on Apollo. Aria looked down and said, “Okay so I haven’t ridden before.”
“Give her a gentle kick with the strups.” Eve told her. Aria did so and Artemis started to walk. Eve had Apollo do the same and told her, “If you do it again she’ll start to trot and then after that a gallop. You’ll have to stand up on her strups for the trot and the gallop. And make sure you keep a tight grip on your reins, it’s how you’ll steer. All you have to do is pull in the direction you want to go in, like this.” Eve explained and showed her on Apollo. He huffed, not enjoying being a teaching tool, but didn’t do anything else since it was Eve on him. Aria did so slowly and then a guard approached them.
“Princess! You know you can’t go out without me.” He said.
“I don’t need a baby sitter!” She said and kicked Artemis a little hard. She neighed loudly and reared back. Eve moved Apollo forward and she grabbed Artemis’ reins and pulled on them as she said, “Whoa There! It’s okay girl.” Artemis went down on all fours and Aria let out a sigh of relief. She had grabbed onto the saddle and managed to stay on. Eve dismounted and said, “I think Artemis needs a break.” Aria let out an irritated sigh and got off of Artemis. Eve patted her neck and said, “I told you gently.” Aria crossed her arms and the guard said, “Come on let’s go back into the castle.” Aria ignored him and asked, “Can you teach me to ride?”
“Sure I could, but shouldn’t you talk to your father first?” Eve replied.
“He doesn’t have a say, I want to learn. Can I come back tomorrow at the same time?” Aria asked.
“I’ll be here.” Eve told her.
“Great see you then.” Aria said and then she walked away. The guard looked slightly confused, but followed her. Eve stood there a little shocked and then Damein walked up.
“Hey, what just happened?” Damein asked as he came to stand next to Eve.
“I am apparently going to teach the princess how to ride a horse.” Eve told him.
“What?” Damein asked her.
“Yea she was trying to just take a horse and Apollo nearly trampled her. It looked like she was trying to get away from her guard. Anyway wanna ride Artemis since she’s already saddled. Apollo still needs his run.” Eve said.
“Sure you can explain more there.” Damein said. They took off and headed out into the woods.
“So the princess really came by?” Damein asked.
“And she tried to take a horse without permission. That’s why Apollo freaked out. I wish she would have told me. Apollo almost crushed her.” Eve explained.
“Well he’s just protective of his herd.” Damein told her.
“I know, but they would have killed him if he hurt her.” Eve said.
“That’s not what’s bothering you.” Damein said. Eve gripped her reins and said, “No it isn’t. She almost seemed like she was running away. I hate to think what would have happened if she got one of our horses and ran away.”
“Well it didn’t happen.” Damein told her.
“Yea, but what happens if I teach her and she does run away?” Eve asked.
“That isn’t your fault. You’re just doing as you’re told.” Damein told her.
“This blows! Isn’t it bad enough I can’t do the one thing I want because I’m a girl?!” Eve yelled at the sky. Apollo snorted and Damein said, “You better now?”
“Much. Sometimes you just need a good yell.” Eve said as they came to a open field. Eve dismounted and took Apollo’s saddle and bridle off. He took off, running at full speed and Artemis started to eat grass.
“Look at him go! Seeing him run is always so cool.” Damein said.
“He is a beautiful, beautiful animal.” Eve agreed.
“Are you still going to have time to take Apollo out?” Damein asked.
“They don’t have a choice. I will always take Apollo out. He refused to eat when we didn’t let him run.” Eve said.
“Yea good point, but it’s not like the king could ride him. You’re the only one he likes.” Damein told her.
“Come on he likes you.” Eve told him as she pushed his shoulder.
“I really think it’s because you’re my friend.” Damein told her.
“Either way he was expensive and my job is to keep him healthy and happy.” Eve told him.
“Hey but you know what the princess meeting you is good for her. Maybe meeting a strong, confident female will be good for her.” Damein told her. Eve blushed a little and said, “Thanks.” Eve said with a smile. Eve sat down and looked at the sky, the sun was setting and the sky was pointed with colors. Damein sat next to her and said, “I love it here.”
“Me too, but one day I’d like to see the rest of it. I’ve read about it, but I haven’t seen it.” Eve said as she laid down in the grass. Damein did too and said, “I know. It’s cool being a knight for the kingdom and all, but traveling the world sounds pretty cool too.” Eve glanced at Damein and said, “Maybe we can go together.”
“Yea. When I graduate from the knights we could go.” Damein said. Eve looked at him and asked, “Really?” He met her gaze and said, “Yes really. Maybe we could find a town that will let you become a knight too.” Eve’s face flushed heavily and she said, “Yea! That sounds great.” They laid there in silence for a while and then Damein sat up.
“It’s so late already.” He said.
“Yea I better get back. I still have lessons with dad.” Eve said as she got to her feet. She whistled loudly and then Apollo came running. Eve saddled him back up and they headed out. They got to the stables and Aaron greeted them.
“How did Apollo enjoy his run?” He asked.
“A lot. He’s good a tired now. He should sleep good tonight.” Eve told him as she and Damein dismounted.
“Good, that means you can sleep in your bed tonight.” Aaron told her.
“Yea.” Eve agreed. Damein took care of Artemis while Eve took care of Apollo and then they headed their separate ways. Eve’s father had been training her to be a knight even though she still couldn’t officially become one, just in case she ever got the chance. After their training session they headed home for dinner. They were eating and Eve said, “So I have news.”
“News?” Aaron asked.
“Does it have to do with why Apollo was yelling earlier?” Kaya asked.
“Yes it does. The princess stopped by the stable and tried to take a horse. Since Apollo has never seen her before he thought she was trying to steal them and almost trampled her.” Eve explained.
“She was there without her guard?” Aaron asked.
“Yea. She wanted to learn to ride so she asked me to start teaching her. So I’m doing that now.” Eve said. Her parents were shocked and neither knew what to say.
“Nothing? Neither of you have anything to say?” Eve asked them.
“That’s great?” Kaya suggested.
“Can I refuse? She seems like a flight risk.” Eve said.
“You can’t be liable for what she does with her lessons.” Aaron told her.
“That’s what Damein said too.” Eve said.
“He’s a smart boy.” Aaron told her.
“Well I’m not going to worry about it anymore. Nothing I can do to change it.” Eve said.
“I’m sure everything will be just fine.” Kaya told her as she patted Eve’s shoulder. They finished eating and Eve helped her mom clean up the dishes before they headed off to bed. Eve tossed and turned all night though. She was anxious about the princess’ lessons. Once she did fall asleep the voice was back, but this time it gave her encouraging words. Eve slept soundly for the first time in a while. Eve woke to her mother calling her.
“Eve time to get up, breakfast is ready!” Kaya called from the kitchen. Eve sat up and the sun was beginning to rise, usually they were all up before dawn so they could spend some time together before Aaron had to go for the day. Eve got dressed quickly and walked into the kitchen.
“Glad you go some sleep last night.” Aaron told her.
“Did you not have that dream?” Kaya asked her as she put plates of food on the table.
“It was different this time. It was telling me not to worry and that I was doing a great job and stuff like that. It was comforting actually.” Eve explained as she sat at the table.
“Really?” Aaron asked.
“Yea, it was weird at first too, but I don’t know. It just made me feel at ease.” Eve explained.
“I’m glad it’s letting you sleep now.” Kaya said. They ate and then it was back to their daily routine they did everyday. Kaya left to make dinner and Eve was left to put the horses away. Eve came back out to get Apollo and the princess was standing there, reaching out to him.
“I wouldn’t!” Eve called to her and Aria pulled her arm back.
“Why not? He seems nice.” Aria asked.
“He’s very particular. If he doesn’t like her he bites.” Eve explained as she walked over. Apollo bounced his head up and down when he saw her.
“He seems to like you.” Aria said as Eve patted his nose.
“Yea. He’s nice once he gets to know you. Anyway, I have to put him back and then we can start you lessons.” Eve told her as she grabbed his harness.
“Why does he go last?” Aria asked as she followed Eve.
“Apollo deemed himself the protector of everyone here. They’re his family and he likes to make sure everyone gets put away safely.” Eve explained as she put Apollo into his pen. He nibbled at her hair and she patted his nose and said, “Stop you silly thing.” He bounced his head up and down and Eve went to saddle up Artemis. Aria looked at him and Apollo stared back at her.
“Don’t touch him, he’s just going to bite you.” Eve told her as she tightened Artemis’ saddle.
“How did you know?” Aria asked.
“You strike me as someone who likes to draw their own conclusions, but I can’t have you getting hurt.” Eve told her as she led Artemis over. Aria expected for Eve to hand her the reins, but Eve stopped in front of her and said, “There is one thing I want you to promise me before we begin.”
“What’s that?” Aria asked.
“If I’m going to teach you how to ride I do not want you to take one of the horses and run away. My mother and I are responsible for every one of these horses. We’d be in a lot of trouble if we let you run off with one.” Eve explained. Aria rubbed her arm and said, “I never wanted to get anyone in trouble.” Eve patted her shoulder and said, “If you ever want to go for a ride come by the house. I’d be glad to take you.” Aria looked up at Eve, eyes sparkling, and asked, “Really?”
“Of course! I’m sure being a princess puts a lot of pressure on you. If you ever need a break just come by. I usually take Apollo out for a run around this time. If you want you can come with today.” Eve told her.
“You don’t want to ask my father first?” Aria asked.
“I think you know what you want better than he does. Come on, we ‘ll practice in the field.” Eve told her and walked past. Aria followed and Eve started to teach her how to ride. Aria was a natural and was galloping around in no time.
“Looks like the lesson is going good.” Damein said from Eve’s right.
“She’s a natural.” Eve told him.
“So guess what we did today.” Damein told her.
“Train?” Eve asked.
“Apparently the guard who usually watches the princess quit and they want to assign her a new guard. We had a tournament and guess who won!” Damein told her. Eve was jealous, but tried to smile as she said, “That’s so great!”
“You don’t have to pretend to be happy for me. I know how much you wanted this too.” Damein told her.
“No I’m happy for you, really. It’s not your fault I can’t do what I want more than anything.” Eve told him and Aria asked, “What’s that?” She had ridden over while they were talking.
“Oh, nothing really.” Eve said and Damein said, “Your father won’t let her train to be a knight.”
“Yea he doesn’t let girls do a lot of things.” Aria said.
“Anyway, I’m Damein Knight. My father is Sir Rowan. I’m going to be your new guard from now on.” Damein told her.
“Are you going to be like the other guards I’ve had?” Aria asked him.
“As long as you’re not doing something dangerous I don’t care where you go. I do have orders to keep you inside the city walls though. Besides Eve can vouch for me.” Damein told her as he elbowed Eve. She pushed his face with her hand as they both laughed.
“Are you two friends?” Aria asked.
“Since we were babies. Our dads were best friends when they were younger.” Eve told her. Aria looked down and said, “Well I guess I could stay in the city.”
“Great! Otherwise we can go where ever you want.” Damein told her.
“Can I go riding with Eve?” Aria asked.
“Sure. It’s not that far out of town.” Damein told her. Aria’s face lit up and Eve said, “I’ll go get the horses saddled.”
“Do you want me to help?” Damein asked her.
“Nah I got it.” Eve told him. Eve walked into the stable and a tear slipped down her cheek. She quickly wiped it and Apollo neighed at her and tried to reach out to her. Eve patted his nose and said quietly, “I want to be happy for him, but I can’t help but be jealous. He’s doing everything I’ve ever wanted.” Apollo nuzzled her and Eve wiped her eyes one more time and said, “Well let’s get going then.” She got them saddled and then the three of them headed out. Once they got to the field Eve dismounted and took the saddle and reins off Apollo.
“What are you doing?” Aria asked as she dismounted.
“Apollo likes to run without all this stuff on him.” Eve explained. Apollo took off and Aria asked, “Isn’t he going to run away?”
“No, he comes when he hears me whistle.” Eve told her as he started to prance around.
“Did you train him to do that?” Aria asked.
“Yea. He’s really smart though so it wasn’t that hard.” Eve told her.
“He’s pretty impressive that’s for sure. He used to try and escape all the time.” Damein said.
“Really?” Aria asked.
“Yea. He wouldn’t eat either. Mom tried everything to get him to be happy.” Eve told her.
“What did you do to make him happy?” Aria asked.
“He was getting antsy so I told him if he let me up on him I’d take him for a run. I guess he understood me and now we do this everyday.” Eve explained.
“How did you know that was what he needed?” Aria asked.
“It’s in his blood to run. Of course he’d be sad that he couldn’t do that.” Eve told her. Aria looked at Apollo galloping around and then at Eve. Eve’s eyes looked sad and Aria realized that Eve was also talking about herself as well as Apollo.
“Thank you Eve.” Aria said.
“For what?” She asked.
“For bringing me out here and answering all my questions.” Aria told her.
“No problem.” Eve told her.
“I’d better get back.” Aria said.
“You guys go on ahead. Mom can help you with your horses.” Eve told them.
“Yea. See you Eve.” Damein said.
“Bye.” Aria said and the two took off. Eve sat down on the saddle and looked up at the sky. She sighed and said, “At least you’re able to do what you love Apollo.” Apollo looked at her from across the field and then ran over. He nuzzled her and ran off again. Eve smacked her cheeks and said, “I have to get a hold of myself. It’s great that Damein gets to be a knight and not just any knight, the knight to the princess! He’ll be chosen by the Solar Sword for sure! It’s….It’s really great.” Eve said the last words quietly as her attempt at happiness faded.
Eve sighed again and just watched Apollo run around to keep her mind off her thoughts. Once Apollo was good and tried they went home and Eve put him away and gave him a carrot for being so good. Then it was back to her house.
“I’m back!” Eve called as she entered. Her mom appeared and gave her a big hug as she said, “Don’t you worry. You’ll get there.”
“So you heard.” Eve said. Kaya held her shoulders and said, “Your father told me. You’re just as good as anyone of those boys.”
“I’ll get over it mom. Don’t worry about it. Let’s eat.” Eve told her and smiled. Kaya nodded and said, “Okay.” Dinner was a little quiet and Eve went to bed early