I dedicate this Flash Fiction Fridays in honor of my good friend and fellow author Aubrie Dionne and the release of her novel Messenger in the Mist.
"I have no fear of the mist, Brinlynn. I will enter and slay Drakyn."
Prince Braeven's words rattled in her mind like a seed in a can. Weeks had passed since he entered the swirling fog, and her hope of his return faded with each passing day.
Pink lined the mountains while dawn approached. A sleepy silence settled over the Kingdom of Everly, and a nightingale sang a lament. Brinlynn, clutching the flickering lantern in one hand and a sword in the other, prayed no one would notice a servant and sword missing from the castle. Before her, the mist lingered close to the earth. Behind her, the village and mountains loomed. It was time.
Her first steps into the thick cloud were hesitant. Fear bubbled in her stomach like a cauldron sitting over a raging fire. The mist swallowed her whole. Nothing but grayish white remained.
"Prince Braeven?" Her voice deadened in the haze, and the mist snatched away sounds as well as sight.
"How will I find him?" She couldn't find herself either. Directions had no meaning, and the sun's light couldn't penetrate this fog. Within moments, she was lost and lumbering around in unsteady circles.
Cold dampness clung to her dress, and ghostly fingers snatched her hair. Pointing the sword before her, she swung around. The silver blade sliced through the air but struck nothing. Swirls of dark and light shifted before her eyes, and she swallowed down the rising panic. She had come to find the prince, and now she feared all was lost.
She ran and stumbled over unseen vines and rocks while tears streaked her face.
"What you seek, you will find," a lilting voice sang.
Brinlynn stopped and listened.
"Come and see what your heart desires." The dulcet tones cut through the mist and lured Brinlynn forward.
"Who's there?" She followed the crescendoing voice and halted inches from a gray stone cottage. Setting down the lantern, her fingers trailed along the rough stones until she felt cool glass beneath them. Brinlynn lifted upon her toes and stared into the window.
A smoldering fire lapped the logs in the fireplace. Breads, meats, and cheeses filled a small table set for two. A silver chest sat before a mahogany bed, and upon the bed laid a man.
She gasped, recognizing Prince Braeven. Peering deeper inside, she noticed nothing else, and Brinlynn continued along the cottage walls until she found a door.
Brinlynn pushed inside and sprinted to his side. "Prince Braeven! We thought all was lost, but here you are." She shook the sleeping prince, but he didn't move. "Prince Braeven?"
The door flung open, and Brinlynn let out a mousy squeak. "Who dares disturb my home?"
She recognized the beautiful siren's voice, yet no woman stood before Brinlynn. "Drakyn."
Drakyn laughed and stepped forward. Her raven locks floated around her head, and she fluttered her purple wings, causing the mist to swirl inside the cottage. Piercing, reptilian yellow eyes glared at Brinlynn. "You shall make a fine dinner, little girl." Her mouth yawned open, revealing a forked tongue and razor sharp fangs, before she flew toward her.
Brinlynn screamed and stumbled backwards while throwing the sword upward. The mist spun around them and robbed their visions. Within seconds, Drakyn's unearthly shriek shattered the glass as she impaled herself and died.
Cold air rushed around Brinlynn, and she sank to the floor while still clutching the bloodied sword. She closed her eyes and disbelieved what was happening.
"Brinlynn, is that you?" Prince Braeven's warm voice parted through her haze.
She blinked and looked up at him. "You're alive."
"Yes, I am. Thanks to you." He took her hands in his and lifted her to her feet.
They stepped out of the broken cottage and marveled at the sight before them. The mist had vanished with Drakyn's death. The sun warmed the land and offered them a gleaming vision of a lake cluttered against a forest.
"The lost forest of Melanmar," Brinlynn breathed.
"Amazing." Yet Prince Braeven wasn't talking about the return of the forest and lake.
Brinlynn blushed and smiled. "Let's return home, Prince Braeven."