The Price of Freedom

Alexandria huffed as she broke into a run, heading away from the border of Prince Araga’s estate. For the last two weeks she had been cooped up in her room, with everyone and everything telling her that it was for her own good and that the baby was bound to arrive any minute. They had brought her meals, pampered her, brushed her hair, everything. It was too much for a creature of the forest like herself and she loathed the attention. Alexandria had tried to escape several times. All of those times, sadly, she had been caught and escorted back into the room by servants or Sir Tul’uk or a very grumpy husband.
This morning was different, though. The Prince was meeting with various members of the council and discussing the sewer project and Sir Tul’uk was, hopefully, out on some errand, for she had not seen him about. In the time between the bath the servants nearly forced upon her and the time she was allowed to spend in her garden, a measly thirty minutes, Alexandria managed to forge a distraction. As she left the room, she shed Aura, her familiar, from her body and let her spirit wander off with very specific instructions.
Just as they were about to enter the garden, the servants who were escorting Alexandria had seen smoke billow from the main hall of the dining room followed by a loud, shrill cackle.The second they disappeared, so did Alexandria. Behind her, she could hear cries and the bustle of many servants, likely trying to put out whatever small fires Aura had set, or so, she had figured Aura had set. The instructions had been more of permission, really, a “yes, you may eat the shiny chandelier”, a statement Alexandria never imagined she would have to say, let alone that she would be gifting her soul with permission for such a task. Either way, Aura had likely knocked candles from the giant metal object and set the table cloth alight. Alexandria would pay for it later, but it was a small price to pay for her freedom.
Despite being rather heavy and not at all well balanced, Alexandria managed to reach the garden’s edge, called for the plants to give her aid, and pulled herself onto the roof then over the other side and fell to the ground, landing with a light thud on a large pile of moss she had called forth. From there, she made a break for it and began to sprint as hard as her pregnant body would allow, making a beeline into the trees and across the busy Stragosa streets. All people and animals in her way were but obstacles and she danced around them, only once knocking into a person, though it was hard enough to make him drop a basket of fruit. She had no time for apologies now, though, and needed to get to the forest before someone returned her back to the prison.
Closely behind her, Alexandria heard a cackle and a howl and a wiry blonde with great ears of a fox, black with gold tips, and eyes of gold bolted up and alongside her. Shoving one leftover arm of the chandelier into her gullet as she ran. Aura, in the form of a small blonde girl, laughed again then proceeded to merge into Alexandria as soon as they crossed the border into the green brush.
Alexandria slowed as she passed through the line of trees, trying desperately to catch her breath while maintaining a steady jog. A couple dull aches spread from her back to her abdomen, but she paid them no heed. Pushing on almost another quarter mile, she finally could go no more and leaned against a broad pine’s bark at the edge of a large hill to catch her breath. She didn’t even notice the one man who had followed her from the street and into the forest, despite him not being particularly stealthy. Her head was elsewhere, the taste of freedom burning her lungs and urging her to leave all else behind.
When she finally did notice, it was because she had been struck by some sort of weapon in the back. A seal broke on her body, magic coming to life, and she whipped around, eyes glowing and teeth newly bared. The man, scared, dropped the knife he had been holding and fled immediately. In Alexandria’s brief carelessness and surprise, she had stepped away from the tree and as she stepped back to lean against it once more, found nothing beneath her foot. Down the hill she went, avoiding some of the trees and stumps, but not all as she tumbled. When she finally reached the bottom, she found herself on the bank of a creek, looking up at the hill and panting. The spell on her had minimized the damage to nearly nothing, but something felt strange.
Convincing herself that she just needed to get up, she rolled to her side and found her balance. The second she rose to her feet, there was a feeling of wetness running down her legs and onto the embankment. A bit puzzled and dazed, she looked from the water’s edge to herself, thinking it odd that she had managed to get so wet when having not even fallen into the water itself. Then it dawned on her, coming with it an alarming ache and a brief cry as her spell could not protect her from this sort of pain. The baby was coming. A slight panic seeped into her as she realized there was no way she would be able to get up the hill, at least not with out considerable effort, and that she didn’t wish to cry out and alert her attacker to her current dilemma, should he have remained close by or had friends. Now she was regretting her desire for freedom, if only a little, but was more regretting having not left anyone any clues as to where she may have departed off to. Another dull ache spread and became more menacing as it grew stronger and she staggered over to the deepest portion of the creek ahead of her and fell into it.
“Just another obstacle to overcome,” she muttered to herself aloud.

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