Author’s Note: If you enjoy this story check out “It’s Always the Prince“, last weeks story.
Of Friendships and Rivers
Once upon a time there was little girl who lived in a beautiful and vast forest, on the edge of the Kingdom of Namakdesh. She was a cute little girl, she had big brown eyes and long jet black hair, and she knew it. She could get anyone to do what she wanted, by batting her lashes and giving them a bright smile. Her name was Noor and she lived with father, who had raised her after her mother’s death.
Noor was happy living in the forest. She was friends with all the fairies and the nymphs and she loved to go exploring with them. Her father was a busy man. He was a healer and he also he worked as a wild herb supplier for the palace healers and magicians. Thus Noor, when not attending lessons, more often than not got left to her own devices. She often wandered the forest alone.
One day, the little girl was playing skipping stones by the river with her water nymph friends – when suddenly, she saw a dark speck floating downriver. Curious, she waited and came closer to the water. She soon discovered that it was a little boy, clinging on to a branch; he was struggling to get out of the water. When the water nymphs saw the boy, they tittered in amusement, not at all concerned. For you see, nymphs are not like humans and the struggles of one unknown human to them was just amusing.
Then Noor turned to the nymphs and pleaded, “Oh, the poor dear! Won’t you please save him?” The nymphs just tittered and one of them called out to the little girl, “Why should we do that? He looks so funny!” Noor thought quickly and she batted her lashes, making her eyes big and pouting her lips she tried to manipulate the Nymphs. They just cooed at her expression, getting distracted and started floating towards her instead. Realizing the failure of her idea, Noor quickly promised, “I’ll bring you your favorite almond cakes next time I visit!”
The Nymphs, who loved Almond cakes, squealed in joy and saved the boy from his predicament. Now, Noor had heard stories of little boys from her father, but had never actually met one. She was very curious. The boy, wearing clothes of silk, must have been close to ten years old. He seemed to be the same age as her and he had shoulder length curly brown hair.
She examined him quite thoroughly as he lay on the riverbank. She opened up her little herb pouch that she kept with her, always tied to her waist. Withdrawing two little packets of herbs and looking around, she found a flat stone, which she washed in the river water. Humming to herself, the little girl crushed the herbs on the stone using a smaller stone. Then, holding her hand over them, she concentrated and murmured the basic healing spell to revive patients. Her father had taught her in their lessons.
When the herbs successfully turned blue , she let out a delighted giggle. Taking the salve on her finger she smeared it on the boy’s forehead. A few seconds later the boy’s eyes flew open and his hand shot out to grab her arm in midair. He looked around and scared he reacted by attacking the first thing he saw. He pushed Noor to the ground.
“What are you doing?” he asked in an imperious voice, his face twisting into a scowl. “How did I get here? Did you kidnap me? Answer me peasant!” He raged, getting to his feet and pointing at her. Noor was very taken aback by his suspicions, having never met anyone who didn’t already know her by reputation or disliked her before she had never faced this situation.
Outraged and hurt, she replied, “You were drowning in the river and I saved your life you should be thanking me!”
“You, save me? I do not believe it for a moment. I am well trained in the art of defense. Why would I need a little girl’s help?” replied the prince arrogantly, opening his mouth again to further his tirade, Noor’s furious sobs interrupted him. Taken aback he stared at her and stood there awkwardly, his eyes wide in panic. “Don’t cry, see this is why girls are useless!” he blurted out making her sob louder. “Y-yo-you are horrid, I h-hate you,” she hiccupped.
Now well and truly alarmed the boy said, “Hey, I’m sorry I was mean, please stop crying.” At Noor’s continued sobbing and hiccupping, the boy looked around frantically, and seeing a bright yellow flower growing by the edge of the water, he hurriedly plucked it. Turning to the little girl he walked in front of her, and (copying his father when he had offended his mother) he fell to his knees and awkwardly thrust the flower up into Noor’s face . He stiltedly said, “I am sorry, my lady, please accept this flower as a token of my apology!” his head bowed. Noor, startled out of her sobbing, looked down at him with teary eyes. Seeing the flower in his hand, she said, “You do know that that flower is poisonous?”
At this the boy gasped and flailed, flinging the flower far away, wailing in fear, shaking his hand up and down comically, while hopping on the spot. Noor could not help but laugh at the silly image he made. The boy, surprised at the sound of her giggles looked up and saw her laughing at him. He was ready for offense and puffed up his chest in hurt pride. His thoughts got derailed by Noor stepping up and grabbing his hand. She quickly pulled out a herb from her satchel and muttering the purification spell, she rubbed it onto his palm, making it glow green for a bit.
“There, I neutralized the poison, but we should still go to my father and get you checked.” she said as she looked up, smiling at him. “Thank you,”, said the boy, sincerity in every syllable. Noor smiled at him, and grabbing his hand once more turned in the direction of her home.
“I’m Noor, I live in the forest with my father, I was skipping stones when you came floating down the river you know. My Nymph friends all left after saving you, they found a new dolphin giving birth, I wanted to see the babies but I stayed with you. How did you fall in the river? What kinds of clothes are these? What does your father do? Is here with you? Did you get lost? What’s your name?” She babbled on and on, hardly giving him space to get in a word edgewise.
“My name is Sulieman.” He replied.
Soon they reached her home; Noor barged in loudly, calling to her father. She walked into the Drawing room; she saw that her father wasn’t alone, but that a few men were sitting in the room with him. Being curious, but remembering her manners, she bowed and introduced herself to the guests. Then turning to her father she said, “Father, I need your help, I made a new friend today, but he accidentally touched a Tukhsal flower, I purified it but I think you should still check it.”
“Oh my,” said her father, “That could be very dangerous, you were right to bring him here. Where is he?” Then turning to the men, he asked, “If you will excuse me for a few moments, Your Majesty?”
“Of course.” gestured one of the men. It was the one seated in the middle, he was wearing plain leather hunting armour and he had a kind yet regal countenance, with a truly magnificent moustache.
While her father went to fix up Sulieman, Noor turned to the guests, about to ask if they needed anything. She got interrupted by her father loud voice exclaiming, “My Prince!” All of the men immediately got up and ran into the next room, where Noor heard cries of joy. She followed hurriedly and witnessed as the regal and dignified man she had heard called ‘Your Majesty’ by her father, fell to his knees to wrap his son into his arms.
Apparently the boy Noor and rescued was the prince. After this everyone praised her and thanked her. She took it all with aplomb and happily accepted the offer to got the court and learn healing in the palace. It was the start not only of her career but also the friendship of a lifetime.