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.”
“He destroyed it.”
“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.