I crept softly through the moss, avoiding the guard who was positioned on a rock. Even a mile from the castle there were guards. I guess when the king has so much power he also needs so much protection.

The castle, dangerous as it was, was beautiful and filled me with awe. Waterfalls created a strangely peaceful, quiet feeling as they fell from the tall towers. The woods that surrounded the area were alive with animals, their trees lush and green. Quickly, I reminded myself of why I had come. I wasn’t here for an architecture lesson; my sister had been captured.

I lost both my parents in an hour. They couldn’t pay the taxes to the king, so he charged them their lives instead. Before they were taken, my mother made me promise her I would always protect my sisters, no matter what. I solemnly swore it, though at the time I remember thinking they would be back once they served the kingdom. Later that day, two guards came and tied my parents to a cart. I comforted my sisters, Willow, who at the time was five, and Talia, who was barely one month of age then. Days past. I fed my sisters, did the chores, kept them happy and occupied. It was by January, six months after my mother and father had been taken from me when I knew for sure they weren’t coming back, and Willow and Talia were mine to care for. I was eleven years old.

The sound of a twig snapping brought my attention suddenly back to Earth. I froze, terrified. Talia had been asleep on my back this whole time, but if she woke up, she would cry. If she cried, the guards would hear us. If the guards heard us, they would capture us. If they captured us, I couldn’t save Willow before it was too late for all three of us.

I gently lifted Talia out of the carrying pack I had her in and transferred her to my front. Unlike Willow, who had hair so blond it looked snow white under moonlight, Talia’s hair was like mine, a mix between caramel and chocolate, hers more butterscotch, whereas mine had gotten darker with age. I brought her closer to me and stroked her hair so she would sleep deeper as I thought of a plan. Willow was in the castle, surrounded by guards for her simple crime of foolishness. To rescue her would put Talia in danger, but to leave her would mean a sure death. To leave Talia would put her in danger, but to take her with me would be possibly more risky. Any way I was breaking my promise.

Though this truly wasn’t Willow’s fault, I felt a need to blame her as I carefully and silently climbed the rocky ledge.

I had always warned my sisters not to go too far into the village, to stay in the woods, close to our little house. But Willow was always different than me, or Talia for that matter. She needed adventure, company, more than our simple cottage could offer. I didn’t realize she had run off until I heard her scream. That’s when I knew, just as I had known that cold morning in January, that the officers had taken her.

I was almost at the top, and I could see the stairs to the castle. People in important uniforms that seemed to spell out the message watch your back rushed back and forth, though some stayed firmly planted at the gate. I pulled the pouch out of my pocket, took the powder I had made from the root and slowly poured it into my baby sisters lips. She gave a little sigh, and I prayed that she would stay sleeping. I shifted Talia back to my carrying pack I had for her on my back then crawled through the thick plants until I was at the back of the castle. Since there was no door, there were no guards. I took a deep breath and began climbing the wall. Halfway through, one of the stones fell, and I saw it smash into thousands of pieces, so very far below me. I quickened my climbing pace; I didn’t want to give the guards a reason to find me.

Finally, I came to a window. There was no glass, only bars keeping whoever was trapped inside imprisoned for good. Maybe it’s Willow. Maybe I can somehow break the bars, break her out of here, and I can bring my sisters home, just as I promised my mother. I will always keep them safe. I pulled myself onto the ledge using the bars.

When I saw who was in the cell, I almost fell off the ledge.

“Aria? Is that you?”

Tears filled my eyes as I steadied myself. “Mother?”

Wrote this for school, but I kind of liked how it turned out. Let me know what you think!



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