Lost Princess Ashling Glamourlance, Sovereign of the Twilight Swamps beheld Ravens Wishing Well. She breathed a sigh of relief and pushed the last of the tree branches away. Stepping into the small clearing, she brushed down her body covering black dress. Autumn leaves, twigs and dirt clung to the frilly layers of the skirt and patches of dried blood stained the bodice. Her knee length boots were also mud splattered.
A soft, almost worried neighing came from behind her. Turning, she encouraged the Midnight Stallion, Thorn, to come forward. The mighty horse shied away, stamping the soft soil and shaking his head. Ashling stopped and debated going over to him. However, it didn’t seem worth using up the last of her energy to force the stallion onwards.
‘Stay there,’ she called to him.
Thorn lowered his head and fall silent. Ashling turned back and walked over to the Wishing Well. The circle of grey stones was moss covered and the water rising to the brim lapped against the sides, seemingly by its own force, as there was no wind in the clearing. Ashling peered into those depths. A single red leaf floated on the surface, creating small ripples. She put her hands on the cold stone and leant in further, but she could not see anything.
A twittering noise and flipping of wings caused her to look up. A small regal finch had landed opposite. It regarded her black eyes and then looked into the water. She looked down again and started to recite the spell she had memorized.
‘Oh, Wishing Well of Ravens old, listen to my tale upon this moonlit eve. Save me from this haunting fate that I desire no more. Take away this curse, so cruelly cast at birth and let me survive this dying light.’
The leaf bobbed and caused larger ripples. Ashling held her breath and kept her eyes on the water. Nothing else seemed to happen. Her fingers grabbed the stone tightly, going numb. At last she let go of the breath and gulp down cold air. Tears prickled at the corners of her eyes, but she kept them on the water.
‘Please,’ she whispered, ‘I do not want to die this night. My people need me still and there is no one left to protect them. How can this be the will of the Gods? I’ve done everything that was asked of me. Please, grant me this one wish.’
Thorn neighed loudly in a definite warning and clopped over to her. He nuzzled her shoulder and went to put his nose into the water. Ashling caught him and pulled him back.
‘No. None must drink from the Enchanted Well,’ she told him.
He whined and pressed his head into her chest. She patted him and casting a longing look at the Well, mounted him. The sense of hopeless filled her and she knew nothing would unseal her fate.