Journey to Torca (extract)
Princess Christina hovered outside the kitchen door. The scents of cinnamon, cloves and sweet apple wafted in the air and her mouth watered.
She peeked around the doorway. The room was empty so she darted inside. She grabbed half a loaf of bread and a chunk of cheese off the table and shoved them into the pack she carried. Then she helped herself to two of the tarts cooling on the window ledge, putting one in her bag and the other in her mouth. A dollop of tangy-sweet filling slid off her chin and onto her stained shirt. She scooped it up and licked her fingers, then wiped her mouth with her sleeve and rubbed her hands on her equally-stained breeches, before reaching for another tart.
She jumped. Her brother, Prince Olaf, was staring at her from the doorway.
“Not again. What would Mother say?”
“Nothing, because she’s …” She choked and pushed past.
“Wait.” Olaf gripped her arm. “Where are you going? Father wants to speak with us in the library. Remember we’re leaving for Torca tomorrow.”
She shook off his hand. “I’ll be back later. I’m going to The Wastelands.” She snatched a carrot from the vegetable bin for Blaze and strode out of the kitchen.
“You always say you’ll go there,” Olaf called after her, “but you never do.”
Holding back tears, she ran to the stables. Blaze whickered as she entered. She removed his bridle from its hook and slipped it over his head. Not bothering with a saddle, she led him out of the stall and flung herself onto his back. She nudged his sides and they charged out of the stable.
Once on the road, Christina slowed Blaze to a canter and set off northwards. Olaf was right; she never meant what she said about going to The Wastelands though she’d threatened it often enough since Mother’s death six months ago.
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