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Donella’s Blog

I look out of the window onto the outer ward. I can just see the edge of the pen where Stag is held. I do not know why my aunt keeps him in the pen. Are not wild creatures meant to be roaming free? Still, what would I do without him?

All my life I have been stuck in this place, this castle…my castle, though no one would think it was so, as it is ruled by Aunt Marvaanagh.

Today she has informed me that I cannot go on my sixteenth birthday visit to Aunt Gwyn at Vrogoly Palace. I will not even attend her signing the betrothal papers…my own betrothal…to Mawgan, Prince of Dumnonia. I will only witness my Aunt Marvaanagh doing so.

My only comfort is Stag. He has been my friend for as long as I can remember, and it appears he has also been content to be my friend too. Lately though, he has been restless every time I go to visit him. I think he wants to be free. I do not know why he wishes to leave me.

I suppose that one day I will have to let him go anyway. Shortly I will be married to Prince Mawgan, and then we will travel no doubt. It would not be fair to keep Stag confined here on his own.

It is time to let him go.

I am allowed out of the West Wing for fresh air and exercise. I will take it now, without delay. Deliveries are made today from the village. For a short while, the portcullis will be raised and the drawbridge lowered. I just need to time it right.

But hark, there are carts approaching the castle now, they rumble as they travel the rough road. I must make haste.

I grab my cloak and leaving my room, run along the corridor and down the back staircase. The servants will not question my going out for my exercise, but Aunt Marvaanagh may. She may even prevent me from going out at all, the way she is behaving right now.

I reach the base of the stairs…all is well. I will leave through the kitchen, as there is much commotion preparing for the deliveries. As I enter the room, no one takes any notice of me. I am heartened and sneak out of the door.

I run, and at last come to the outer ward, and Stag’s pen. He appears gladdened to see me, yet…yes…he is restless. I stroke his sleek white coat. He nuzzles his nose into my hand. His great antlers come close to my face, but I do not care. I have never been afraid of Stag.

I hear the grating of the portcullis as it is raised and a resounding clang as the drawbridge is lowered. Creeping around the bend, I see many carts entering the outer ward — many more than usual. My aunt is stocking the castle as if there was a siege expected, and yet there have been no troubles in Wiltunscire for many years. In fact, of the three realms, it is only Dumnonia, which receives attacks from the Jotunns. They would not come this far. Something is amiss. I feel I need to discover what it is. It can wait until later though.

It is time. I kiss Stag on the nose, hug him, and open the pen. He bows his great head at me…looks me in the eyes. ‘It is all right,’ I whisper, ‘go, please go, if that is what you wish to do.’

Stag nuzzles me once more, he runs out of the gate and around the corner. I follow and watch him as he slips past the carts out of sight.

Tears are running down my face as I run up the stairs and along to the gallery. I look out of the window. I see a flash of white in the distance, he is heading for the forest.

He is free. I weep. My only friend in the world, apart from Prince Mawgan, has gone.

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