Beauty is a beast: The Earthsong Series

Alyss is a forest girl. With her home-knitted shawl and shoes two sizes too big, no-one would ever put her down as a city girl. But when her parents ask her to leave for work and money, she can't refuse. So she goes and some very interesting things happen along the way.

(For the Unexpected Adventure competition)

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3. Bye bye

Alyss left on New Years Eve. The King arranged for a carriage to come and pick her up. The neighbours all flocked by the weathered garden gates that marked the Beauford's territory, curious to see what all the commotion was about. They all stopped and stared to see little forest girl Alyss climbing into one of the Kings carriages, led by snow white horses. Alyss felt a thrill, knowing that all these people had underestimated her and now here she was, proving them all wrong. She turned to wave at them all and the more dazed of them all raised a hand to bid her farewell.

Before climbing into the plush carriage, she turned to say goodbye to her family. Their faces were tear stained and her youngest sister, Arabella, was reaching a hand out for Alyss to hold. She grasped the little girls hand, kissing the baby girl cheeks that she knew so well. She hugged her three brothers and kissed her other sister and finally turned to her parents.

Her mothers eyes glistened with tears and her fathers face was pained. Her mother pulled her into a bear-hug, her father wrapping a massive arm around both of them. Alyss buried her face into her mothers shoulder, tears and snot mingling together. She stayed there for a while, inhaling the safe scent of pine and cooking that she could always depend on to be there.

Soon, she had to pull away and say goodbye.

'I'll be home in a month's time,' she promised, ruffling her brother's hair and kissing her mother's forehead. Squeezing her Dad's hand for the last time, she gave a departing wave and stepped into the golden carriage. The coachman pulled away with a loud 'hee-ya' and Alyss waved cheekily at all the watching neighbours. Her brothers, sisters, Mum and Dad waved until the carriage was out of sight and Alyss waved right back, silent tears falling down her face.

When they had turned a sharp bend in the dusty track, Alyss finally turned back around again, surprised to see that the carriage was fit with food and drink. Only then did she realise that she was famished.

The food that the King had provided was just that: fit for Kings. There was prawns, caviar, salmon, pork, turkey, salads, olives, quiche, dips, pretzels and so much more. Alyss felt a little unsure, as if the King had packed this carriage expecting someone that wasn't her, maybe more people, important people. But she was too hungry to protest and soon she was digging in.

After a while she began to get hot. The carriage was beautifully made but it wasn't half stuffy in there. To pass the time she looked at all the cleverly crafted details that was put into the work. The plush red velvet material that covered the seats, the gold embroidery on the white curtains that hung loosely on either side of the windows, the gold gleaming handles in the handles that were positioned underneath the windows, the glittery gold cushions that were scattered over the seats and so much more. The colours were so rich and Alyss felt a little odd, looking at all the beautiful things that surrounded her and knowing that she would be living so close to the King and all his money when her brothers and sisters were back home in the forest with almost no food and no money.

The heat and the food got to Alyss after a while and she almost fell asleep, that is until they drove over a huge stone in the middle of the road that made her bump her head on the ceiling. Rubbing her head hard and wishing she had been more ready for that, she decided that it was time for some fresh air. 

According to the sun, they had been riding for over two hours and didn't Alyss know it. As she unhinged the window and stretched out to stick her sweaty head out the window, she became aware of all her stiff joints and aching muscles from sitting on the edge of her seat, the cause of being too scared to touch anything in case it broke.

Turning her head so that she was facing the rider, she thought that it wouldn't hurt to ask when they would arrive. She pondered on this, since she didn't want to seem rude yet she didn't want to have to sit in that carriage for any amount of time longer without knowing how long she'd have to sit for.

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