Knowing Jonathan, we were probably doing something dangerous today. Standing in the center of the lush green clearing, my friend had one sword in each hand, beckoning me to pursue. I obeyed the look in his eyes and continued forward. Once I was close enough, he tossed me his left-hand blade.

       "Are you ready?", Jonathan asked with sarcastic concern.

       "As if you need to ask.", I replied before my lunge.

       I've been training for months on my fighting. My father neither wanted any fencing lessons for me, nor a need to use those skills. So, I insisted to Jonathan that he would train me with the skills his father taught him. So forth, being Jonathan, he agreed to train me.

     Jonathan and I have been friends since I met him in the royal stables with his horse seven years ago. Ever since that day, we've always met in secret. Everything we did was privet. No one knew about our horse rides, our picnics, or our training sessions. I had many other friends, though none of them were as good a friend as Jonathan.

    For minutes now we battled at one another, never letting each others' guard down. Because we've done this for months, I knew every move to make and when to make them. Lunge for the heart, slice at the legs, avoid your opponent's blade at all costs. Neither of us became injuried for we knew each others moves so well. Nothing was more important to me right now then winning this battle. All that Jonathan considered a victory was when one fencer was no longer able to continue with dieing in a real fight. And I was near to being the champion.

    As our blades connected, sharp clangs echoed within the trees. The glistening sweat upon Jonathan's brow was not the only display of his effort. Within my own arms, I could feel the muscles straining to fight. I could see too, that Jonathan was having difficulty with his arms. That was not enough to force me to go easy.   

   Jonathan seemed to be loosing his grip on the handle of his sword. Knowing what to do at this sign, I swung in a way so my blade connect with the palmal. The ring of his sword flying through the air was the last Jonathan heard before I had my blade to his throat. We stood in place there, enough to catch our breath.

   "Well done, Annabeth.", he congratulated me, still without breath.

   Still out of breath myself, I replied, "Thank you." I tossed my sword the ground next to his before continuing. "Fencing has lessened in difficulty, but still requires effort."

    "I know. You have completed fencing, we shall start archery tomorrow if you wish?"

    I could feel my face brighten at the thought of seeing him again. "I do wish, so we shall."

    "Wonderful.", he replied with a combination of content and enthusiasm. Then true concern covered his composed face. "But what if your father catches you? I know you don't talking about this, but ever since your mother died, you've always been supervised by the royal guard."

    Jonathan spoke the truth. My mother died ten years ago from a rare disease, in which title I can not pronounce. My father was so heart broken. All he had remaining of her, was me. All the kingdom had remaining of her was me. For longer than I had training lessons, I have been attending royal lessons. Training to be the queen I was meant to become, and I never wanted any of it.

    "Annabeth, Annabeth are you alright?"

    I had not realized that I have been daydreaming. "Yes. My father has not caught us so far, so we are safe." I could see into his eyes and see the beauty within as he smiled. then in the distance, church bells came upon us as if they were a wolf pouncing on his prey.

    "We must go!" , I gasped before we collected our swords and sprinted from the clearing.

                                                      *                                   *                            *

     Standing completely still while my maids dressed me was not my most favorite activity in the world. I could feel the irritating pull from the corset, and a numbing pain that prevented me from feeling my legs. Finally, they were finished torturing and left me with nothing but aching sores. Not five minutes later did there come a knock on the door. I decided to be nice. "You can come in."

     "Oh, my dear Annabeth.", the familiar, booming voice of my father came through the door. "You most definitely have your mother's looks. The maids have most certinly done an excellent job on you today." 

     "Must I go to the festival tonight? You never forced me to go before." 

     "Yes, but the festival is on an important day this year. So the whole village wishes to celebrate."

     "I know father, I know." Today was my sixteenth birthday.

     The Autumn Festival was held every year at the first sight of fall. The main reason for this celebration is for all the successful harvest the village has picked. The date just happened to land on my birthday this year. "Okay, I'll go to the festival with you, just do not make me feel embarrassed."

     "Before we leave, I want you to see how beautiful you are." With that, he gestured towards the nearby mirror next to my closet.

    I cautiously walked forward waiting to be tricked, but I could see within his eyes he was telling  the truth. Looking deep into the mirror, I saw an unfamiliar woman staring at me. For she was too beautiful to be real, with the chocolate-brown hair cascading down her hourglass-shaped, but muscular figure. The tanish skin tone revealing her days in the sun. Then, I noticed her eyes. Her eyes were the darkest shade of gold ever known to man. Those eyes were the only signs that the woman in the mirror was me.

   Feeling confident that Jonathan would be at the festival and he would love how i looked, I fully agreed to go. "You may now escort me to The Autumn Festival."




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