As the snow melted, I focused on the sky and the path ahead. The white bear had said very little during the day, and blended in with the snow and ice. Now, he stood out among the shadows of distant mountains and the field of snow drops that surrounded us.
Without the familiar chill of my home, I couldn't pretend that I was just out for a walk, and Andrian would call for me, warning me that mother would only keep supper warm for so long. My only comfort was the lights dancing above us.
Would you like to walk?
I nodded, distracted from my thoughts, and then I remembered that the bear could not see me.
"I would. Are you tired?"
The bear laughed, a strange hum in my mind.
No. But I am bored.
This time, I laughed, easing the strange quiet around us. He stopped, and I slid off his back, gasping as I landed. The ground beneath me was soft, and I took several steps to confirm that it was not my imagination. The bear watched me as I walked, arriving at the edge of the largest body of water I had ever seen.
My brother talked of lakes, and I had read about them in the books my father brought from town. I stared at the lake, and followed the path of flowers and puddles while the bear walked beside me.
Are you having fun?
I smiled and nodded, staring at the reflection of the lights in the water. They seemed to surround me, guiding me to the next patch of grass and flowers. The bear walked behind me patiently as I explored. I jumped, skipped, slid and tested the edge of the grassy path. I must have looked like a kid with my eyes wide and a huge grin on my face. My mother's cloak slipped from my hair, but I pulled the hood around my ears each time it moved.
We're almost there.
I turned to look at the bear and he stood beside me, lifting his head. I followed his gaze, hands still on my hood and saw what he meant. Where the lake ended, a mountain began, and on the side of the mountain a gathering of pearl towers and walls gleamed in the distance. It was small from where we stood, but the lake was vast, stretching across the landscape for miles.
That is the palace. We will be safe there.
Picture made by me using the following stock images:
Background: Aurora Borealis from Corepics: http://www.bigstockphoto.com/blog/tag/northern-lights/
Polar Bear: Polar Bear by *EnchantedWhispers: http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/326210925#/d4zjmxx
Princess: Cima123 by =FairieGoodMother: http://susieboo22.deviantart.com/favourites/45011805#/d392hyr