In the previous episode, Celia decided to leave the caravan and set out on her own. Readers voted that she makes her way to a castle on the outskirts of the city.
The sun was setting. Celia walked through the city, down cobblestone streets and narrow alleys as it sank lower and lower in the sky. She walked along the banks of a river, watching the water glimmer and shift as the beams of fading light played along the current. Soon night fell, and as the wrought iron lamps flickered to life, so did the stars in the black velvety sky above her. She walked on, long hair still shining and full lips still rose-red. She walked across a wide bridge, and snow slowly began to fall. Her pale skin was illuminated in the street lamps, and shadows fell from the large black statues adorning the bridge – figures twisted in pain, sinners shackled to each other, and saintly kings standing high above the rest, their faces immobile and pure, gazing upon their prisoners for eternity. She walked under elaborate arches with gargoyles and statues of grotesque creatures leaning precariously off the edge, snarling and clawing at her as she walked past.
Celia continued on the other side of the river. As she walked down narrow empty streets she looked up at the curtained windows and imagined the people sleeping soundly inside, a peaceful, dreamless sleep. She pictured the children in their beds, twisted up in soft sheets, their breathing slow and steady, their minds free of worry or cares. She walked through the main square and looked up at the large clock keeping time, its twisted dark blue and golden hands pointing to ancient engraved numerals. The clock had been keeping time for centuries, had seen wars, peace, prosperity, poverty. It had watched mercilessly as people had been slaughtered in that square, had watched silently as they celebrated victories. Always it had stood, keeping the city in steady time.
She walked all night, and as the first morning light appeared over the hills, she shivered. It was a cold, clear day and Celia hugged her ragged fur coat tightly around her body. As the first rays of sun hit her face, she also felt a gnawing hunger in the pit of her stomach. It seemed like a lifetime ago that her mother had tempted her with juicy steak and tiny potatoes; right then she felt like she would give anything for a plate of her mother’s bloody red meat.
By now she was close to the edge of the city, and as she rounded a corner she could see, for the first, time, a large castle nestled into the hills just beyond the city walls. Without really knowing why, she made her way out of the city and towards the castle. It felt right, she thought, as if that had been her destination all along. She walked all morning, up through the cobbled and then rocky dirt roads, through the hills until it was before her. There she stood, gazing up at the dense thicket of golden towers and turrets, surrounded by a wide, impenetrable wall. Despite a slight sense of foreboding, Celia was strongly drawn to the palace. With it’s golden rooftops glittering with ice and snow, it reminded her of the jeweled costumes she had sewn with Marguerite in the caravan. She reached for the heavy iron knocker, the face of a lion attached to a pair of heavy wooden doors. Lifting the handle with all her strength, Celia knocked at the castle door. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.