The deer leaned contentedly against Elise’s hips, closing its eyes trustingly. Elise stroked its head absentmindedly as she stood looking out over the meadow. Everything was calm and quiet. She suddenly leaped high into the air and came tumbling down onto the slope, rolling over and over until she reached the bottom. The deer, startled, raced off into the woods behind. Elise lay face down in the grass, her back moving quickly up and down as she breathed. She lay for a moment and then levered herself off the ground and onto her knees. She gazed at the dirty ground and then at her dress and body, neither of which bore any marks. A tear of frustration squeezed out of her dark eye and blotched in the dust.


A majestic, imperial voice echoed all around. Elise quickly wiped the tears from her eyes and stood up, clasping her hands behind her back. “Yes, Queen?”

Elise, you are troubled. Why is this?

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