The grief was terrible, nearly tangible. The weight of all she could have done, could have said, was almost too much to bear. Her tears fell like rain out of her ice blue eyes, now sore and red.
Prince Darian pulled her in for an embrace. She sobbed desperately, weakly holding on. She had only known him for several hours, yet now he was almost family. Frail, she finally pulled away. The trees still loomed, an obstacle in their path.
“What do we do now?” she asked him. His eyes were wet as well, and they mirrored her own pain.
“We need to find a cure.” His voice was strong, sure of this answer. “The plague has destroyed too many lives, including ours. So we need to travel as far as we can to get to one.”
Andrea nodded. The only way to get vengeance on this terrible killer was to find a cure to it. “But where do we go?” she asked, slowly unraveling the long braid her brown hair was in.
Prince Darian looked lost in thought for several moments, and then finally said, “Forward.”
“Until we find something?” It didn’t seem to be a very good plan.
“We’ll travel to the ends of the world if we have to.” The determination was set hard into the lines of his face. Andrea knew she could never take the idea away from him. So, she just took his arm and stepped forward into the woods beyond.
The next few days were exhausting. Her heeled shoes killed her feet, and she was desperate for water. Neither of them complained, but she knew both of them were hurting.
Eventually, after she didn’t know how long, they came upon a river. The water was silvery and clear, flowing over glossy rocks. Andrea dropped down on her hands and knees onto the icy ground, but before she could take a drink, Darian grabbed her shoulder. “Don’t,” he warned. “We don’t know what’s in that water.”
“I don’t have a choice!” Andrea exclaimed, but before she could take a drink, Darian pulled her onto her feet.
“Dehydration is making your mind foggy. Please, don’t drink. We’ll find pure water soon, I promise,” he pleaded with her. Andrea stopped struggling. It was useless. But her stomach still screamed for something, anything, to fill it.
They stopped that night to rest on a large mound of pine needles. Andrea let her dreams mingle with nightmarish thoughts and the cold.
Her weak, feverish body was awakened by growling, and not growling from her imagination. She opened her eyes, and there was a pair of eyes staring right back at her.
They were yellow and fierce and belonged to a feral animal.
The growling continued, and Andrea shook Darian awake. He groaned and gasped, and then fell silent.
More growls filled the air, and more eyes appeared in the darkness.
What could they do?
“RUN!” yelled Darian, sending Andrea off to a sprint. The pack of wolves pursued them, very close behind.