Golden sun rays pierced through the yellow curtains that draped over the large window in Lady Aurellia’s room. The rays glided through the window as the large brazen sun rose in the distance, until they landed softly on Lady Aurellia’s face causing her to stir from her deep sleep.
Grumbling and growling, Aurellia sat up and rubbed her eyes, still trying to drag herself out of her sleep.
“It’s morning already?” Aurellia thought frustrated as she sat up , scooted out of her soft four-post bed, walked over to her large window, and looked into the castle courtyard below.
Aurellia was princess of Qainyth, a small kingdom on the outskirts of Gwynedd a larger kingdom in Wales. Qainyth was a prosperous kingdom, dotted with the most beautiful green patches of farm land, that yielded a bountiful harvest every October.
Her mother died while birthing her, which was common in those days so long ago. Aurellia’s father King Bethan loved her dearly, for she reminded him of his lost wife, and he did his best to care for her.
“Good morning M’lady!” Efa, Aurellia’s lady maid said joyously as she entered the chambers of her mistress. The short plump figure of Efa rounded the large oaken table that sat at the center of the room, her blonde hair bouncing as she went.
“Good morning to you as well!” Aurellia kindly replied, as she threw open the curtains, and flooded the dim room with the bright, warm, sunshine that comes with early morning.
“We must hurry and get you dressed, for you must prepare for the knighting ceremony and all!” Efa said eagerly as she walked over to the tall chestnut wardrobe that stood in a dark corner of the room.
Efa swung its heavy, forbearing doors open, to reveal hundreds of the most colourful dresses you could ever see. Colours of butter yellow, sky blue, powder pink, lavender purple, and emerald green filled the wardrobe, so as one would think the end of a rainbow had landed there.
Efa thrust one of her arms into the colourful depths of the wardrobe, and grunted as she tugged and pulled at a dress that was hidden underneath all of the fabric and silk.
“Here we are!” Efa finally pulled a deep rose red dress out of the multitude, and waved it in front of Aurellia.
“It is-” Aurellia paused and looked at the glamourous gown, “it is very lovely, but I think I should like to wear this one.” Aurellia walked over to her wardrobe and selected a simple, forest green frock , with puffy cream-white sleeves.
“Why that is servants attire! Wherever did you get this?” Efa snatched the dress out of Aurellia’s porcelain hands, and stared at it, aghast.
“I borrowed it from one of the servants. I am so tired of this noble life! I wish for a day, I could be like you.” Aurellia heaved a sigh as she walked over to her large window and looked out into the courtyard below.
Throngs of peasants and merchants alike clogged the streets, each rolling along a cart that held their wares. Baskets of jewel red apples, vibrant orange carrots, and woolen blankets and fabrics of all kinds filled the carts.
Aurellia looked on with envy at the people below, who had such freedom. Though they had hardships, didn’t everyone? Aurellia would gladly suffer as they did, than be stuck inside castle walls, where she was forced to plan parties and sew, along with all the other noble women.
“If King Bethan heard you say such a thing!” Efa chided, as she set the green frock aside, along with the red gown, and selected a deep yellow dress with long wide mouth sleeves.
Stepping behind her French changing screen, Aurellia slipped the dress onto her slim, female figure. And, coming from behind the screen, she spun in a little circle as if to say, “Efa, how do I look?”
“You look lovely, I don’t know why you would want to give up your cushy life!” Efa said as she smiled softly, and taking Aurellia’s long locks of caramel hair in her hands, wound it into a loose braid, that sat on comfortably on her shoulders.
“Now, let us head to the knighting ceremony, we don’t want to keep everyone waiting!” Aurellia nodded in agreement, but really had no intention of going at all.
“C’mon girl! You can go faster than that!” Aurellia coaxed her brown bay horse, as they raced through the lush forest that surrounded Qainyth, the cool summer wind flowing through her hair.
It felt amazing, to finally be able to feel the freedom that others felt, to feel the weight and responsibility lifted from one’s shoulders, to feel like an eagle in mid flight, she felt on top of the world, and nothing could bring her down.
Laughing aloud and smiling widely, Aurellia galloped on her horse through deep thickets, over gurgling creeks that splashed and rushed over little hills and rocks, spreading their cool, clear water throughout the Kingdom.
Then, riding into an especially peaceful clearing, Aurellia jerked the reins of her horse to a stop, jumped off of her horse, and plopped herself down by a large oak tree.
The oak’s leafy arms outstretched and covered most of the clearing in a cool blanket of shade, which was very well revived on a warm summers day.
Aurellia leaned up against the sturdy oak and looked up into the big, seemingly endless blue sky above. Occasional gusts of wind caused large green leaves to flutter from their homes on the branches of the oak, and land on the velvet green grass that filled the little patch of forest.
Aurellia laying on the soft grass, her arms outstretched closed her eyes, and listened the the sweet songs of birds and the flutter of their wings, the gentle whisper of the wind and the rush of tree leaves as the wind rushed through them.
Her eyelids slowly became heavier and heavier as she listened to the sounds of the forest and drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
“Awake, young princess.” A strong voice commanded as Aurellia stirred from her sleep, and sat up. Aurellia looked around the clearing, but no one seemed to be there.
“Awake.” The voice said again. Aurellia stood and brushed a few stray blades off grass from off of her dress, and swinging her head around the clearing, still saw no one. Though the voice she had heard, whispered of a thousand ages, a thousand joys, and a thousand sorrows.
Aurellia looked once more around the clearing, and noticed the oak tree was gone, its welcomed cool shade had dissipate into nothingness.
“Look here, young one.” The voice spoke, Aurellia followed the sound , and noticed that where the oak had previously been, a beautiful woman stood in its place.
Her hair was the very colour of the bark, and her eyes the vibrant green of the leaves. Not sure who this person was, Aurellia stepped back in fear.
“Do not fear me, young princess. I am Catrin, the spirit of the very oak tree which grew here not moments ago.” The woman smiled kindly and beckoned Aurellia forward. A strange feeling of peace flowed through Aurellia, comforting her, and pushing her forward.
“I have sensed kindness in you, and I shall grant you a wish of your choosing, though it be only one.”
Aurellia thought for a moment, what did she want most? She already had everything her wild hear desired. Then a thought struck her, deep inside her soul, and then resonated through every bone in her body until she spoke.
“I wish for all those on this earth, to no longer recognize me as Lady Aurellia of Qainyth, but as a person of normality, as a peasant.” Aurellia said proudly, as she presented her wish to the tree spirit.
“Is this your hearts desire?” Catrin asked once more, her eyes full of wisdom. Aurellia nodded eagerly, every part of her but one, urging her not to make this decision.
“Then so it is, no longer are you Lady Aurellia of Qainyth, you are now Aurellia, the simple peasant. Be that as it may, should you choose to wish to revoke your wish, you must feel the deepest regret and sorrow, only then will your wish be undone.” And with these last words of parting, Catrin shuddered, her whole body throbbing with life, until once more an oak tree stood in her place.
When Aurellia arrived back at her castle, she jumped off of her horse, and heaved open the big wooden doors that stood sentinel to the castle within.
"Who goes there?" The sharp voice of a palace guard demanded as a firm hand grabbed Aurellia's arm. The man's grip was so fierce that his grip rocketed pain up her arm.
"Excuse me! I am Lady Aurellia of Qainyth, I order you to unhand me" Aurellia ordered angrily as she tried to break free from the guard's iron grip.
"There is no princess of Qainyth, only the King and Queen." The man said fiercely, his stale breath interrupting Aurellia's wild thoughts.
Then, Aurellia realized. How could she have been so stupid and ignorant, to have erased the memory of her from all who knew her?
How could she have thrown something so precious out the window, when that was the one thing she should have held dear.