The carriage rumbled, careening over frozen, muddy ruts and cracking the ice formed on slushy muck. Zlata screeched as the carriage tossed her and wished Papa had allowed her to ride.
“A proper bride arrives in a carriage, not upon a horse,” he insisted.
She had always lived in the nursery. According to custom, she would receive a proper name on her tenth birthday. Her mother was kind, but thirteen babies exacted a toll. She died delivering a stillborn boy. Zlata’s tenth birthday passed without notice and she kept her nursery name.
Father remarried, and his new wife was soon expecting.
“You must do something with her. She must marry,” she told Papa waving her hand at Zlata.
Papa made arrangements and on a bitter January day, Zlata departed.
Three days’ travel took her high into the mountains, dark clouds descended around her and twisted trees slapped warnings.
Zlata shivered, cowering in the corner. At last, she glimpsed a black castle, her final destination.
Guards with long pikes and scarred faces lined the ramparts. They granted her admittance and Zlata’s stomach tightened as she realized she would never leave.
Sleet pelted the carriage as they arrived at the door. A dark man in a dark cloak waited. His horrible face held black button eyes that judged her as she came to stand before him. Minutes passed and Zlata hoped he would send her home.
Her hopes turned to cold stones as he uttered his greeting.
“You will come with me.”
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer