Here's Part 3, as promised! If you haven't read the beginning of the story, here are the links:
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?”
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.”
“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 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.
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.