February 23, 2014

Literary Heroine Blog Party!


Hello all! I've heard of the Literary Heroine Blog Party before and always had it in the back of my mind to participate once I start a blog. Well, I did start a blog so here I am! I'm sorta late with this post because I was having problems uploading pictures to my blog post. Long story short, I'm able to upload pictures now because I'm using Google Chrome instead of Internet Explorer. :) 
Here are my answers to the questions supplied by Kellie, the host of this blog party!
1. Introduce yourself!  Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!
I am a Christian girl, saved by grace through Jesus Christ. I live on 5 acres in the country and love it. My hobbies are books, photography, writing, artwork, sewing, and playing the piano. I love movies from "back then" (1930s-1950s) and period dramas. I love Disney and am dying to see Frozen. :) Random things about me? I hate mayonnaise, I sew doll costumes, I volunteer as a historical reenactor, and I've also grown a recent fondness for Blimey Cow. :)
  
2. What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine?
A true heroine is someone you can relate to and look up to. She should be inspiring and a good example, but she can't be perfect. She has to have character flaws to overcome just as normal people do. I love heroines who are feminine and not afraid to show it, but are also brave and strong, not someone who easily breaks down in tears every time something goes wrong. Not that she shouldn't cry! Everyone needs to let their emotions out sometimes. Take Anne Shirley for instance. I'm rewatching Anne of Avonlea (for the 50th time probably) when Anne is teacher at Kingsport Ladies College. Even when everyone is against her and all seems bleak she doesn't give up and eventually gains everyone's friendship-even the prickly Miss Brooke! Of course, a heroine is always more appealing (to me, at least!) when her strength totally depends on God. Millie Keith, my favorite heroine from the A Life of Faith series, doesn't succeed by herself. Every day she has to call upon God to help her show love, patience, and forgiveness to friends, family, and enemies. 
 
3. Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.
Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, Millie Keith from A Life of Faith, Emily Webster from Emily of Deep Valley, and Betsy from Betsy-Tacy. 

4. Five of your favorite historical novels? 
Pride and Prejudice, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, A Tale of Two Cities, and Little Women. Just to name a few. :)

5. Out of those five books who is your favorite major character and why? 
Ummm...probably Anne. She's imaginative, bright, caring, spunky-what's not to love? She's a lovely  role model (although I wouldn't suggest following her example in hair care....) and I don't see how ANYONE could not like Anne. I don't think I could be friends with someone who doesn't like Anne. :)

 
6. Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why? 
Hmm....I'm not really sure. Maybe Beth from Little Women?

7. If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to-and what would you plan to do there?
England. It would totally be England. I would go to all the Jane Austen spots, go to places mentioned in her books, visit historical sights-everything! :)

8. What is your favorite time period and culture to read about? 
I'm not sure if I have an exact favorite. Anything around or in the 1800s will catch my attention. I also love the 1930s-50s era. I've found a lot of books actually written in that time period! Other than Nancy Drew, there is the Cherry Ames nurse series, the Vicki Barr flight stewardess series, the Donna Parker series, the Ginny Gordon series-and that's about all I've read so far. Cherry Ames is the BEST. I'd recommend those books in a heartbeat, I love them so much.

9. You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation - what is your act comprised of? 
Must I pick out of those three? If so, I'd sing. I adore singing, even if I'm not exactly the best. Otherwise I'd play the piano. I'm more confident with that than my singing. :) 

10. If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent? 
-sigggghhhh- That would be the BEST party ever....why don't people do this?? Or why don't I know people who do this? Probably Anne of Green Gables. I've already got the hair for it. :) Plus I'd get to wear a lovely Edwardian gown. With puffed sleeves, of course!

11, What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate? 
Love. I particularly like eating chocolate chips.

12. Favorite author(s)? 
Jane Austen, L. M. Montgomery, Maud Hart Lovelace, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Charles Dickens (I've only read one of his books, though), Louisa May Alcott, Jean Archambault-White......

13. Besides essentials, what would you take on a visiting voyage to a foreign land? 
My camera and journal (actually, they'd be essentials to me!!), a notebook or two, a book, and maybe some art supplies. There's probably more things that I'd want to bring but I can't think of them right now. I'm notorious for over packing, so I'd have to sit down and really figure out what I'd actually USE on the trip!

14. In which century were most of the books you read written? 
The 19th century, I think.

15. In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is… 
What?? I can only pick one!?!? Oh my....hm. A hero doesn't mean "the guy who gets the girl" so I'm going to go for Sydney Carton. He demonstrated true love and sacrifice in a Christ-like imitation. He is truly a hero. (And even though the book doesn't say he became a born-again Christian I like to think he did.)

16. Describe your ideal dwelling place. 
Green Gables. :)

17. Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence. 
Classy and simple with fun colors and sometimes with a vintage or "country" flair.
For example, I'd wear these outfits:










18. Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name? 
Yup. If it's one I don't like. Sometimes a character with a name you don't like can change your opinion of the name, though! For example, the only character named Judd I'd ever known was that creepy guy from Oklahoma. Then I read Left Behind: The Kids and the main character's name is Judd. He's a great character, so now when I think of the name "Judd" it doesn't creep me out like it did before. :)

19. In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is....
Dr. Evil Pork Chop!!!!  Sorry. Um, can I said Rigaud from Little Dorrit even though I haven't read the book yet? He really creeped me out in the movie. He's just so evil and insane.
 
20. Three favorite Non-fiction books? 
I don't actually read alot of non-fiction. Not that I don't like to, I just don't search for it as much as I do fiction. :) Three I like are Soul Surfer, My Philadelphia Father, and Soul Surfer devotions.

21. Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? 
Maybe taking a bike ride and then splashing around in the pool! Afterwards my brother and I would ride around our property with the golf cart. It's the best way to dry off after swimming. :)

22. Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character. 
A breezy summer sun hat in aqua blue. It'd be a bit wide and floppy, but not too big. :) And then I'd wear a lovely summer dress with it. In aqua blue. See a trend here?

Something like this.... 
23. Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year. 
I started a blog and got braces! One's a good thing that I hope continues for a long time. The other is a good thing that I hope will end very very very soon. ;)

24. Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.
This verse has always been inspiring and comforting to me:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will keep your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
I say this verse to myself a lot, in all sorts of different circumstances. It's especially comforting as my family is contemplating moving back to our home state of Michigan. He will keep our path straight as long as we rely on him and not our own wisdom. :)

Well, hope you enjoyed reading my answers! And what do you think of my new blog design? I'd love to hear from you!! 

February 9, 2014

My Story Part 3

Here's Part 3, as promised! If you haven't read the beginning of the story, here are the links:
Part1
Part 2


The dawn was just peeking over the tops of the mountains, setting the dripping icicles aflame with color, when Erika, Gideon, and Tuko set off towards the northern border. The snow was bright and fresh, glittering in the sunlight. Erika was amazed. I can’t believe such a magical and beautiful place could have been such a terror last night! Breathing in the air, so cold her nose burned from it, she gazed around at the towering trees, dusted with fine, powdery flakes that drifted down whenever a light breeze passed over. It’s like a wonderland.

Suddenly a thought came to Erika. Glancing nervously over her shoulder she asked, “Soooo…where are those ice wolves?”

“Oh, they don’t come out during the day,” said Gideon, pushing aside a branch, “The sun would melt them.”

Erika sighed with relief.

“But there are other dangers to look out for.”

Other dangers?” Erika cleared her throat nervously and moved closer to Gideon, scanning the perimeter with her blue eyes. “Do tell.”

“Well, there are some nasty wolverines to watch for,” he gave her a sideways glance, “but they usually aren’t out during the day. There are some huge bears that wouldn’t think twice about eating a human-”

Erika jumped as Tuko burst out of the bushes and ran ahead.

“But they’re few and far between.”

“Well. I’m glad at least that the ice wolves aren’t out.”

“Wait.” Gideon grabbed her fur covered arm-a jacket of Gideon’s- and turned her to face him. His brown eyes stood out wide and fearful among his freckles. “The most dangerous creature of all is a servant of my uncle’s magic. It’s fast. And furious. Its teeth are like razors. Its eyes catch the slightest movement and can smell prey from a mile away.”

Erika took a step back.

“Its wings make no sound-you can never hear it coming. It creeps up behind its prey. Slowly. Silently. You never know its there till you feel its warm breath on your neck.”

Erika’s neck prickled.

“And then-ERIKA, IT’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!!”

She screamed and lost her balance. Her feet caught on a log and she tumbled head over heels into the snow.

Erika opened her eyes, shocked to still be alive and not in the creature’s mouth.

Gideon burst out laughing.

Erika‘s cheeks burned. “You made that up!” she accused, embarrassed that she had fallen for the trick.

Gideon laughed harder. “You should have seen your face!”

Suddenly a great crack echoed through the air.

Gideon froze and held up his hand for silence. The pair held their breath until he lowered his hand. “I think we’re safe.”

Erika stood up shakily. “What was it?”

“Sometimes the-”

A tremendous roar shook the earth. The ground disappeared from beneath their feet and Erika screamed. Snow and ice filled her vision as she felt herself falling, falling, falling-

She jerked to a stop. As quickly as it started it was over. Erika looked down. She was dangling over a cavern-a drop of 100s of feet.

“Don’t look down!” called Gideon. He was hanging off the edge of the drop, holding onto the precipice with one hand and grasping Erika with the other.

Erika grimaced. “Too late!”

“Well, now you know.”

“Know what?”

“What the real danger is here. The ice caverns. There are lots of these empty caves under the ice. If the ice is too thin-well, I think you know the rest of the story.” Gideon chuckled nervously.

“How will we get out?” Her feet tingled with apprehension, knowing that there was nothing beneath them to land upon.

Gideon grunted as he struggled to hold on. “You’re going to have to climb over me and pull me out. I can’t hold on with one hand, though. Can you let go of my hand?”

“I-I think so.” Erika steeled herself and summoned all her strength to pull herself up. She grasped Gideon around the waist and quickly let go of this hand. They swayed for a minute before his hand found the edge.

“Okay. Start climbing.” ordered Gideon.

Erika looked up. Tuko peered over the edge, whimpering. Taking a deep breath, she slowly started to climb up and over Gideon to the ground above. Using his shoulders as footholds, she grasped the edge and wiggled onto the snow above. Her legs shook with relief. Turning, she leant over the edge, flat on her stomach, and grasped Gideon’s arms.


“I’ve got you!” she said, praying for strength she didn’t have.

Gideon nodded and started to pull himself up. He cried out in alarm when his gloved fingers slipped and the ice crumbled.

“Hang on!” cried Erika. She grasped his arms tighter as he struggled to find a foothold. Erika felt herself sliding closer to the drop. She glanced down and gasped in horror.

The mirror was slipping out of Gideon’s belt loop!

“Gideon,” she whispered frantically, “the mirror!”

He glanced down and gave a strangled cry. With only one hand holding onto Erika, he grabbed the mirror in a flash and threw it onto the snow above. Erika heard it plop into the snow behind her. But she couldn’t hold him up any longer. She was too small.

“Gideon, I-I-can’t-”

Gideon suddenly swung his feet to the left and in one smooth motion hooked his boot onto the ledge. Erika gasped with relief as he rolled up onto the snow.

Gideon lay on his back, breathing heavily. “I don’t think I could ever manage that again.” he said.

Erika let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. “Don’t worry. I won’t ask you to.”

Gideon shot her a look and chuckled. Erika smiled wryly. “Here we are, having survived a close scrape with death and all we do is laugh.”

Gideon shrugged. “Laughter is the best medicine.”

Erika smiled but inside she wanted to cry. She’d never been so scared in her life. I can’t wait to get home!

~~

There it is.
Erika gasped at the towering stone carved elaborately with scrolls and flourishes. It was at least 20 feet high. Toward the bottom there was an imprint in the shape of a mirror.

Gideon halted and gazed up with shining eyes. “This is it. The day I’ve been waiting for. Dreaming for, hoping for-it’s finally here.”

A happy sigh rose from Erika as she turned towards Gideon with anticipation. “Ready?”

Gideon smiled down at her and took her hand. “Let’s go home.”

Before they could take another step, the sky darkened as if a cloud had obscured the sun.

A sickeningly sweet voice broke the stillness. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t my dear nephew Gideon…I’m so relieved to see you…alive.”

The pair turned quickly and Erika grew cold with fear at the sight of a tall, pale man before them. He pulled back his silken hood, and revealed white, frosty eyes emanating evil. His face was thin and gaunt and his hair such a pale blonde it was practically white.

He was sinister, yet still retained a regal and dignified air.

"You!” Gideon said hatefully. He stood defensively in front of Erika, posed and ready to protect.

His uncle’s lips curled. “Yes, it’s me…your favorite uncle. At least…I always thought I was your favorite since you were my favorite nephew. But perhaps your feelings towards me have…mmm….altered, shall we say, since we last saw each other?” he smoothed his gray silk shirt, embroidered tastefully with curling designs in silver thread, and tucked his spindly hands behind him.

“You bet they’ve changed!” cried Gideon, “But it doesn’t matter how I feel toward you. You’d kill me without a second thought.“

His uncle pursed his thin, white mouth. “Hm. Pity. But you’re right. I can’t have dear old Reginald’s son claiming the throne after the people have come to love me so. It’d be such a shock to them to find you…alive.”

“What have you done to them?” Gideon growled.

His uncle stepped down from the icy rock he had been standing on.

“The peasants are doing splendidly. Only a few haven’t paid their taxes, so….the guillotine isn’t as busy as it was last year.”

Erika let out a strangled sound and Gideon gripped her hand tighter.

“As for your mother and sister, well…I’m the most concerned about them…they’ve been very unsympathetic with my plight of ruling the kingdom. I was afraid they might hurt someone, so they’re being kept safe.”

He looked into Gideon’s wild face and chuckled.

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ve made sure the dungeons are comfortable enough for them.”

Gideon let out a howl of rage and bolted toward his uncle with his sword drawn. But ice suddenly snaked up from the ground and froze over his legs, jerking him to a stop.

“Now, now, now. Temper, temper.”

He shook his long finger at Gideon slowly.

He turned menacingly toward Erika. “What a lovely companion, you have, Gideon. You simply must introduce her to me.”

Gideon strained at the ice. “Get away from her!

Erika felt frozen to the ground as those deathly eyes came closer.

“I also hear she brought you a nice little trinket.”

Erika’s heart stopped as Gideon’s uncle lifted her chin with a cold, bony finger and gazed into her eyes.

“What was it?” his voice turned cold. “Oh yes….a mirror.”

Gideon yelled and smashed the ice around his feet with his sword, causing his uncle to turn quickly toward the scene behind him.

“Erika, go!” yelled Gideon.

It was as if her life was suddenly restored to her. Breath rushed into her lungs and she raced toward the stone. She yanked the mirror out of her cloak and reached out toward the imprint.

Suddenly her body went cold and she screamed as ice surrounded her.

She was trapped inside a block of ice. Only her hand holding the mirror was uncovered. She faintly heard a yell of anguish. Erika tried to breath. She was so cold. I’m an ice princess. I’ve lived all my life in a cold, snowy environment. Is this how I’ll die?

~~

Gideon had his uncle at sword point. But Rosgard held the upper hand. He had frozen Erika.

Sweat trickled down Gideon’s forehead. “Let her go,” he said through clenched teeth. His heart ached at the sight of Erika in a block of ice.

His Uncle Rosgard seemed to consider. “How about I make an offer, Gideon. I’ll free her from the ice….but the mirror will be destroyed and you and she will stay here…forever.”

“Seems I’ve faced that prospect before,” Gideon said wryly.

“Oh? You want something better? All right. You can stay here forever. Bu you will be in the ice block. With just enough air so you can feel the torture of your limbs freezing. How’s that?” Rosgard’s eyes showed the delight he was feeling as his nephew seemed to falter.

Gideon was scared to death. He couldn’t bear the thought of dying as an ice cube. He glanced at Erika in the block of ice. But even worse was the thought of her dying like that.

Gideon lowered his sword slowly. “Agreed.” he said, feeling the long awaited hope of freedom drain from him achingly.

Rosgard took his sword and grinned. “Wise choice, my dear nephew.” He walked slowly to Erika and slipped the mirror from her cold, blue hand. He reached and touched the ice with the tip of his white finger, causing it to burst into hundreds of pieces and cascade to the snowy ground.

Erika tumbled to her knees and gasped for breath. Gideon wanted to run to her and cradle her in his arms. She was so blue.

But alive. That’s all that matters.

“Well, Gideon, here it is. We’ll be saying farewell for the last time.” He raised his finger.

Nooo!” screamed Erika. She pounced weakly on Rosgard, managing to knock him to the ground and the mirror from his grasp. He snarled and pushed Erika aside.

They both turned for the mirror, but gasped, one in horror, one in amazement. Tuko had grabbed the mirror in his mouth and was placing it into the imprint on the stone.

Rosgard raised his finger but was too late. The mirror glowed a shining gold and the mountain roared and tumbled.

Erika grabbed Tuko by the tail and ran out of the way of the falling rocks. Rosgard was not so lucky. Gideon pulled Erika and Tuko behind a boulder and put his arms over them, as the sound of falling boulders and Rosgard’s screams echoed in their ears.

In a few moments it was over. They peeked over the boulder and gasped with delight and amazement. A mountain had crumbled to bits, leaving a large pass. Through it, they could see a picturesque castle in the distance, set on a snowy hill surrounded by green pine trees.

“It’s home.” Gideon whispered, unashamed of the tears forming in his eyes. “It’s HOME!” he yelled joyously.

Erika laughed with delight as he picked her up and twirled her around and around. Tuko barked and bounced around the pair, tail wagging happily.

“And you!” Gideon cried, setting Erika down and crouching to the ground. He grabbed Tuko into a bear hug and laughed. “You’re the best dog in the entire world!”

Erika knelt and kissed his furry head, which Tuko responded to with a sloppy lick. “Tuko, you’re absolutely magnificent!”

“He’ll be crowned a duke!” cried Gideon, lifting Tuko into the air.

“A prince!” contributed Erika.

“A king!” laughed Gideon.

Erika laughed. “No, I’m afraid that just wouldn’t work. You’re to be the king, Gideon.”

Gideon turned toward her. He set Tuko down and knelt. Erika’s heart stopped as Gideon grasped her hand and kissed it. He looked up at her with shining brown eyes. “Erika, I need a queen if I’m to be king.” He smiled and whispered softly, “Will you marry me?”

Erika couldn’t breathe, yet somehow managed to whisper the word, “Yes.”

~~

The lost prince had returned. Rosgard was no more, having been killed when the mountain tumbled down. Gideon was relieved, but couldn’t help feeling remorse over the loss of his father’s brother….evil as he was.

He was reunited with his mother Queen Maria and his sister Edith who both happily anticipated having Erika a part of their family. Gideon was crowned king almost immediately upon his return, and the kingdom rejoiced, for justice and kindness reigned once more. Erika and Gideon traveled the short distance between the kingdoms to surprise Erika’s family. Her father and mother were tearfully relieved to find their daughter whom they thought they had lost forever. The announcement of her impending marriage surprised them all, but seeing how happy Erika was, they gave their consent. Gideon and Erika were married right away. They chose the pass between the mountains as the spot for the ceremony. As they spoke their vows, icicles sparkled in the sunlight, Tuko wagged his tail, and smiles wreathed both families of the couple. They lived happily ever after.

~The End~
 

Aaaannd, that's it. :) I hope you all enjoyed it!
To anyone thinking of it, please DO NOT copy or share any part of my story (Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3) without my permission. You wouldn't like it if someone stole something you've worked very hard on, so please don't do that to me. Thank you.

February 8, 2014

Part 2 of My Story


Hey y'll....here's Part 2 of my story The Mirror, that I wrote for the Winter Wonderland Blog Party. -cough- Yes, that was back in...December. -coughcough- It took me till this week to finish the story. I'm sorry it took me so long, I've been busy and the story just wasn't coming to me, you know? I finally promised myself not to post anything on my blog until I finished the story. Well, I finally was able to finish it!!! Yippee! I'm actually really pleased how it came out (but your entitled to your own opinion, haha) especially considering how much trouble it had been giving me and how long it took. So, here's part 2! There's also a part 3, but don't worry. It's finished, so it should be up soon after I post part 2. I wanted to put some pictures in with my story, but blogger's not letting me upload pictures. :( Hope you enjoy my story! Here's Part 1 if you missed it.


The Mirror Part 2

  Its teeth were bared and glistening. A deep, scratchy growl rose from its throat. Erika’s heart was going to beat right out of her chest. The wolf crouched. I have only one chance. She dove for a nearby branch and grasped the splintery stick. Erika ducked her head. The wolf’s body shot over her, barely missing her head. She swung the branch with all her might and felt it connect in a sickening -crack- with the animals’ head. It let out a yelp of pain-then all was silent. Erika took a deep, shuddering breath and let the branch drop out of her shaking hands. Cold moonlight glistened on the snowy, still body of the wolf.
  “I killed it,” she whispered. Her body wouldn’t stop trembling. The mirror! Erika looked around wildly. There. She picked it up and dusted tiny flakes off the cold shining glass. Her frightened blue eyes stared up at her, showing a ragged reflection of tumbled hair and a dirty dress. Her left sleeve was gone and her arm was bleeding. I don’t remember scraping my arm.
  Erika looked up. “Oh no! Gideon.” She looked around. “I wish I knew where you were.” Suddenly the mirror glowed white and Erika almost dropped it. The reflection waved and shimmered and then cleared to show-
  “Gideon!” Erika whispered. He was limping but alive. The reflection lasted only a few seconds before wavering and disappearing, leaving only the reflection of Erika’s own stunned face.
~
  The fire crackled cheerfully as the wind howled resentfully outside. Erika shivered and rubbed her bare arms. Why couldn’t I have been transported here in a long-sleeved woolen dress? This one isn’t even pretty anymore! She glanced down at the torn and dirty white satin. She was in a tiny cave, consisting of a wood log front like a cottage, on the island Gideon had directed her to. She had rowed the wooden boat across the lake-all the while praying for it not to sink or capsize-and discovered this cozy abode, snug and safe from the freezing, stinging winds. It had not been windy when in the forest, but a blizzard seemed to be fast approaching.
  The air howled around the corners, startling Erika and making her think of the wolves. She had never been more terrified in her life. Erika glanced out the window. It was late. I hope he’s all right.

 She was sitting on a thick, furry white rug. It graced the stone floor before the large fireplace, which she had found lit and crackling, ready to warm anybody through. Erika let down her hair combed it with her fingers. Her thoughts drifted to this strange young man. He saved my life, she realized. Although just as handsome and polite as the suitors that walked the halls of her home, he was so different from them. Erika mentally compared the pompous young men with their greased hair and fluffy cravats with this strong, brave man who wore animal skins and had hair ruffled by the wind and skin tanned by the winter sun. Of course, not all her sisters’ suitors were terrible. Some were very nice and fun. But none had ever caught Erika’s attention like Gideon did. But I’m too young for romance….aren’t I?
  A snowy gale blew in and Gideon stepped through the door. He quickly shut it against the wind and Erika jumped up as he turned to face her. His warm brown eyes were tired but relieved.
  “You made it! Thank God.” 
  He collapsed into his fur lined chair by the fire and Erika hastened to put on a cup of hot cocoa. She turned from the stove to see him wince and rub his leg.
  “You’re hurt!” she cried. Kneeling by his side, she looked at his leg and gasped at the sight of a long jagged rip in the skin. She felt queasy at the sight of so much blood. She’d never attended to an injury before.
  “It’s nothing, really. Just a scratch. I’ll-” Gideon took a quick breath- “be fine. Really. I will.” He winced again as he shifted in the chair.
  Erika took a step back. “It needs to be cleaned. Right away.”
  She found some clean rags and boiled a pot of water. Once ready, she propped his leg on a stool and sat down on the floor. She took a deep breath and pressed the hot, wet cloth to the wound. Gideon made a small sound in the back of his throat, but was otherwise quiet.
  “Now, why don’t you tell me what this is all about?” Erika asked quietly as she tended to his wound.
  Gideon winced. “I’m a prisoner here.”
  Erika’s blue eyes glanced up. “What do you mean?” She dipped the rag into the hot water and reached for his leg again.
  He clenched his jaw and tried to settle back despite the pain. “Four years ago my uncle-he’s an ice sorcerer and dabbles in all kinds of black magic-cursed these mountains and banished me here. My father had just died…leaving me in line for the throne. But my uncle wanted to be king. So with me out of the way-he probably told everyone I drowned or something equally terrible-he was free to take over.”
  Gideon’s fists tightened and he gazed into the flames on the hearth. Shadow’s danced on his tense and angry face.
  “I haven’t seen home-or my mother and sister-in four whole years. I don’t even know if they’re alive. I don’t know what my kingdom is like….but I’m sure it’s terrible. My uncle is an evil, selfish tyrant. He cares for no one.” Gideon’s eyes dropped to the floor. “If only I’d known that before my father died.”
  They were silent for a moment.
  “What about you? Why can’t you-we-escape?” Erika whispered.
  He sighed and rubbed his temples. “My uncle made it so only a certain magic mirror could let someone leave this place. There’s a cliff with a stone imprint. You press the mirror against it and the cliff should open. Right into my kingdom.”
  “But…”
  “He destroyed it.”
  “The stone?”
  “The mirror.”
  “Oh.” Erika looked down at her mirror lying on the floor. It reflected the golden flames on the hearth and seemed glowing with warmth. “Then what can my mirror do?”
  Gideon seemed to come alive and leaned forward. “The night I was banished a fairy came to me. Fairies are the only creatures immune to my uncles’ magic-thus she could enter and leave these mountains while I could not. She told me that the mirror my uncle destroyed had a twin-there were two mirrors, you see, that unlock the mountain. Except it was lost. Nobody knew of its location, not even my uncle. The fairy said they would search for it, but she couldn’t promise for sure of my ever being able to escape. She only told me because she wanted to give me hope.”
  Gideon clasped Erika’s hands in his own. “Now that hope-that wish-has come true. You brought the mirror.”
  Erika’s eyes met his and held. Gideon tightened his grip on her hands and started to say, “Erika, I’ve never-”
  Suddenly a crashed echoed throughout the small cottage and Erika jumped. She heard a growl behind her. Heart in her throat, she turned and saw a small wolf scampering across the floor toward them. Gideon sat up, instantly alert.
  “Gideon!” cried Erika, “Watch out!”
  But it was too late.
  The wolf pounced on Gideon and knocked him to the floor. Erika frantically scanned the room for a weapon. The fire-poker! She grabbed its handle and ran toward Gideon who was… laughing?
   Erika slowed to a stop and lowered the poker. Gideon was rolling on the floor with the wolf. He was playing with it!
  Gideon looked up. “Oh! Erika, this is Tuko. His mother died. I was only going to raise him till he was old enough to strike out on his own, but…” Gideon ruffled the pup’s ears and grinned, “We kind of grew attached to one another.”
  Tuko hopped over to Erika and started sniffing her dress. Kneeling, she extended her hand to the animal and smiled. “He’s adorable.” She laughed as he jumped on her and licked her face.
  Gideon smirked and watched the two play as he sat contentedly on the rug. Soon, Tuko rolled over to have his belly rubbed. Erika complied and watched the dog quietly.
  “You’re lucky to have such a beautiful companion.”
  “I know.” Gideon said quietly.
  Erika glanced up and found Gideon was looking at her-not Tuko. Does Gideon think I’m beautiful? She felt her heart skip a beat and tried to push the thought away.
  Gideon cleared his throat. “Well,” he got up slowly, careful of his leg. “We should get some sleep.

We’ll head out to the stone first thing in the morning.”
  “Yes, you’re right.” Erika rubbed her arms and looked around the small room.
   Gideon saw her looking. “Oh, my bedroom’s up there,” he pointed to a staircase going up into a loft, “You can have my room. I’ll sleep out here with Tuko. There are plenty of blankets. You should be warm enough.”
  Erika nodded thankfully and started toward the ladder. “Good night,” she said. Once in the cozy bed covered with furs, she was reminded of her family. Do they even know I’m gone? Erika blinked in the darkness. She could hear Gideon murmuring to Tuko downstairs and the muffled sound of the blizzard. If only they knew where I was. I never expected this to happen. I never could have even imagined such an adventure!
  Little did she know that the worst was yet to come.