Letters of Pragma
By Sierra Wolfe
Sophie Matheson raced through the forest with no thought of her own safety. Her skirts bunched in her fists, she ducked branches and limbs with the expertise of a buck. Her long red hair hung loosely in a ponytail at her back, a few strands freed from their prison. Her calves were on fire from the long run. Her chest heaved as her breath came in rapid gasps. Her heart shaped locket slid up and down her skin with each breath.
A light breeze blew through the trees lifting leaves in slow waves. Small bumps formed on her moist skin as a chill set in and she shivered in response. She didn’t have time to stop. Her beloved John had mere hours before his execution. She had to find the Letters of Pragma, they were the only hope of proving his innocence. She had no idea where to look. She prayed that she’d find them in the castle. If she had to tear it apart, room by room, then she would.
Leaves crunched under her feet as she raced forward. The musky scent of earth and trees filled her flaring nostrils. She coughed to relieve the burning in her chest. Spotting a small spring ahead, she rushed to the bank, falling on her knees. Cupping her hand, she scooped the clear water and brought it to her lips. The cold fluid soothed her dry throat.
“What do you think you are doing drinking from my spring?”
Sophie gasped at the small creature before her. His long black hair matched perfectly with his coal black eyes. His wide grin displayed sharp pointed teeth. Standing up, she backed away from the spring. “I’m sorry. I was just so thirsty.”
The small creature snickered as he edged closer, trapping her back against a tree. “You should always ask before drinking from my spring. What brings you here?”
“Please, sir. I’m just passing through on my way to Yorkstrum Castle. I am in search of papers to free my intended from the guillotine.”
“You are the one then? So the time has come? I’ve been waiting.” He hobbled toward the water and bent to drink from the spring.
“Waiting? On what?” Her curiosity piqued and she temporarily forgot her fear. “How could you have known that I’d be coming?”
He chuckled and turned his black eyes against her. “My name is Zargon. I am the forest elf who controls this spring. And you are Sophie.”
Her green eyes widened. “How could you possibly know my name?”
“I know all that happens or is to happen in my forest. I know of what you seek.” He hobbled toward her and she stared down at him. “I can help you with your task.”
“You can help me find the letters? Please, I will do anything. Where are they?” She lost her remaining fear at the thought of freeing her beloved John. She had to find them in time. She didn’t know what she would do if she failed. John’s life was in her hands, she couldn’t fail.
“Oh yes, I can help you find them. But first, you must answer three riddles. Are you up to the task?”
Her heart pounded in her chest. Riddles? She didn’t have time for riddles. “Please, I must hurry. Tell me what you know.”
“The riddles must be answered, or you cannot find the letters.” He waited for her response and she nodded her head in defeat.
“Fine, then. Give me the riddles.” Sitting on a fallen log, she waited for the first riddle to be given.
“Very well, then. The first riddle is this:
You hold your mother’s heart
upon your very chest.
With it you will not part,
it’s needed for your quest.
What am I?”
Sophie stared at the elf who tapped his foot in the soft dirt. Her hand rose to her chest as if trying to feel her mother’s heart there. Absently, she twisted the necklace given to her by her mother. The silver heart-shaped locket was her mother’s gift to her just before she passed. She wore it always and never took it off. “Of course, my locket. The answer is my locket. It was my mother’s and I would never part with it.”
Nodding gently, he acknowledged her answer. “Very good. You have answered the first riddle correctly. But can you get the next one so easily?” His wide grin bared his pointed teeth and Sophie braced her self for riddle number two.
“Here is the second riddle:
I am not brought from hat or stick,
but exist without a show.
What you want you simply pick,
and then you make it so.
What am I?”
“What I want, I make it so? Wouldn’t that be nice?” A dull ache was forming between her eyes and she massaged the area with her fingers. She didn’t have time for these stupid riddles. She had to find those letters and save John. His life depended on her and she couldn’t think with this throbbing in her head. Zargon tipped his head sideways, his pointed ears aimed to the sky. His coal black eyes focused intently on her.
“Well? Have you figured it out yet?”
“I’m thinking.” Oh God, she had to concentrate. No hat or stick or show? What kind of nonsense is this? What I want, I make it so. “Is it… magic?”
His grin grew, spreading his bulbous nose wider. “It is magic. Very good. One more.
You do not have to see,
To know that it is there.
Invisible it may be,
It will show you care.
What is it?”
“It’s there, even if I don’t see it. It shows that I care. The only thing that I can think of that fits that description is my faith.” She looked toward him and waited.
“I am impressed. You have gotten all three of the riddles. Now, can you put them together and figure out the rest?” A flash shot through his eyes as he watched her.
“Ok. I have my locket, magic, and faith. What? Am I supposed to believe that my locket is magic?” She shook her head, fearing that Zargon had just wasted a large portion of her time.
“The locket is the key to your magic. The magic is within you. But you must believe in yourself for it to work.” Zargon hobbled over to her and grabbed her hand with his. She flinched when his long yellowed fingernails scraped her skin. “Listen to me. Do you want to save your man? Then listen. Your mother gave you the locket for a reason. Within it, she placed her own powers so that yours could be stronger. Hold onto the locket with your hand and close your eyes.”
Without thinking, she obeyed his commands. He turned her other palm upward and released her. “Now, think. What is it that you want most right now? Visualize it. Do you see it?”
“Yes, I see it.” She felt a heat forming in her chest and traveling up into her neck.
“Good. Now, picture it in your mind and place it in your hand.”
“I see it. I’m holding the letters in my palm. It’s weird, I can almost feel it in my hand.”
“Open your eyes, then.”
Her eyes flitted open and she looked down at the worn papers in her hand. Gasping, she gripped the papers tight. “How?”
“You believed. Your quest is over. You‘ve not much time. Hurry!”
Turning, she raced into the woods. Her beloved waits.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Letters of Pragma