The world was going dark around her. She took one last look at the stars. Elle fixed her eyes on her favorite constellation. As the blackness covered her vision, all she could see was the Archer. The stars became brighter and she could see all her life but the stars hovered in front of it.
She recalled the first time she saw him, the Archer. His name was Aaron, but Elle was one of the few who knew his name. He was known throughout her kingdom as The Archer. Aaron had made himself famous by ridding the forests of the hideous monsters that preyed on unsuspecting travelers.
Elle was the queen of Amlin. Since she was a princess, her father arranged her marriage. Reluctantly, she married the King of Kirn, a neighboring country, but she always really loved the Archer. She played the good wife, but she was always so sad that she became known as the Crying Queen. But she always looked for the Archer.
She always stayed secluded in her rooms. Sometimes she would lock the doors to keep the king and her servants out. Every so often, she would go back to the palace at Amlin to get away from the king. Elle would sit and think back on her childhood.
Aaron had been a stable boy at the palace at Amlin. Since Elle had always loved horses, they ran into each other when they were both around seven. Their friendship grew strong and as they got older, it developed into a romantic relationship. When Elle was eighteen, she was forced to marry Edmund of Kirn.
Edmund was as nice to her as he could be, but she could never really love him. She tried because that was her father’s will. The Archer was always at the palace because he was also Edmund’s friend from childhood. Since Edmund really loved Elle, he tried to make her happy, but he knew that she loved Aaron.
He never let them spend time together alone. Edmund would always make sure that at least one servant was watching them. Every time Aaron left on a mission, Elle shut herself in her rooms until he came back. The strain on Edmund was large because he knew that Elle would sneak out and meet Aaron in the forest. They would always come back before dawn and sneak in. To keep from embarrassing Elle, Edmund kept his mouth shut and kept all his feelings inside.
Once when Elle and Aaron had snuck out of the palace, they went to the meadow where they used to ride horses when they were younger. They gazed up at the stars. That was the night that Elle found the constellation, The Archer. Aaron smiled at that, and pointed out another one and said that it looked like Elle when she was seven. They called that constellation, the Princess. From that night on, Elle’s favorite constellation was the Archer.
Another night when Elle and Aaron snuck out, they discovered the constellation that they called the King. They said it looked like Edmund when he was sulking after he knew that they had snuck out again. They always felt a little guilty when they came back to the palace. It was worse the next morning at breakfast because Edmund would usually excuse himself for some reason and he wouldn’t emerge from his rooms for the rest of the day.
Once, it was particularly bad. They came back and Edmund didn’t even come out for breakfast. He stayed inside his rooms because he was sick. After a week or so, he came out and he really did look horrible. His once handsome face was pale and his cheeks were hollowed. It wasn’t to long after that the Accident happened and Elle never saw Aaron again.
It was a couple of months after that when a messenger came from Amlin to say that a dragon was ravaging the countryside. Aaron went as usual, but before he left Elle begged him to stay for just that one time; he refused and went on his black stallion with a promise that he would be back soon. The weeks dragged on as Elle waited for his return.
After a couple of weeks, another messenger came and told them that the Archer had died a hero’s death. They found his horse, bloody and near dead, trudging back towards the palace of Amlin. When the horse was close enough that the servants saw that there was no rider, they sent out a guard to search for him while the stable boys took care of the horse.
The guard found the dragon’s lair. The dragon was dead, but he wasn’t the only dead thing in the cave. The Archer sat slumped in the corner, but his sword was plunged deep into the dragon’s heart. When the guard examined the Archer’s body, they discovered a few scratches that looked like they had been delivered by a poisoned sword blade, not the dragon’s claws. They also found that there was more than one set of boots on the dirt floor of the cave.
Upon hearing this, Elle ran to her room and took out her long hidden rider’s clothes. They were a gift from Aaron that she had hidden from Edmund for all their years of marriage. They were gilded with fine silver and gold and they were made of a beautiful dark purple cloth. Elle took her yew bow decorated with gold and her quiver of arrows with purple feathers on the end.
She set out towards the dragon’s cave to find those who had killed the Archer. Her white mare ran fast and she was soon in the heart of the dark forest. She felt an arrow fly past her head. Elle turned, now wary of her pursuer because she knew it was the same as Aaron’s killers. She let her first arrow fly. She heard a body fell, but then another arrow flew towards her. This time, the archer did not miss its mark and Elle struggled to stay on her horse with the black-feathered arrow in her side.
Elle knew now who had commanded this. It was Edmund, the only one who had black-feathered arrows. The tears of betrayal filled her eyes so she shot blindly, only using her sense of hearing and touch. A twig cracked behind her so Elle spun and shot. She heard another body fall, but another arrow flew towards her. This time, it felled her horse. As her mare fell, she leaped off and landed on the ground.
In her fall, Elle had twisted her ankle so that she was trapped until she killed all her pursuers. Night was falling and in the heart of the forest, it was already black. Except for the light of the moon, there was no light. Her pursuer could see her because the moon light reflected on the silver threads of her dress and her tiara. Elle could not see her enemy because they were dressed in dark clothes.
Arrow after arrow she shot into the darkness. Every once in a while she would hear a body hit the earth. After a while, she noticed that only five arrows remained in her quiver. Now she had to be careful when she aimed her remaining arrows. She heard a twig crack close behind her and whirled firing an arrow at the same time, but she was too late.
The pain filled her chest and she felt her blood flow from the arrow wound. Elle sunk to the ground, her left arm on the arrow trying to pull it out. She took one last look at the stars. All her memories faded from her mind and all she saw was the Archer. The constellation seemed to come closer to her and all the pain left her body. The stars seemed to turn into the real Archer.
Aaron reached out his hand. He led her down a path in the middle of the sky. With his other hand, he opened a door in the sky. A bright light shone through the door way and he lifted her through the door.
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