Maiden Armour Chapter 4: Red Riding Hood
Red sat by the window braiding her hair, she had always worn pigtails and no matter how childish it looked she had never stopped. The birds were starting to wake and singing sweetly this morning, they enjoyed the orange gold glow of the sun through the trees as Red could see through her windows. She closed the shutters finally and got up quickly finding her satchel and arrows, finding her belt under the mattress of her bed she removed the blade from its sheath and examined its edge. She was suprised by a knock at the door and put it away. Brushing a stand of hair from her chocolate brown eyes she lit the lamp bringing light to the cottage and opened the door.
Matthew an older boy from the village stood at the door looking down at Red with a smile. He was tall with short blonde hair and a big smile. He had white teeth, which was uncommon for most of the villagers and dark blue eyes that always seemed to smile as well. Red looked up to him and shook her head, for some reason whenever he showed up he brightened her day. It got lonely all alone in the woods and he always tried to visit every other day bringing goodies and sweets. He had been there for her when her parents died in a fire (a few years before) and he had been there since. Today he brought a basket with some lilacs and what looked like a wooden doll with some bread and butter.
“Come in Matthew,” said Red opening the door widely.
“Thanks Lil’ Red,” he said brightly, walking in and placing the basket on a small table. He had big strong arms, Red had noticed.
Red playfully punched his side, “I told you not to call me that.”
Matthew pretended to be mortally wounded and fell back into one of her chairs. He grabbed at his side and started to breathe heavily.
“Oh! You got me,” he said with a half smile, “I’m a goner for sure…”
Red giggled and shook her head. Matthew had always called her “Lil’ Red”, referring to her short height and her old nick name, but she was grown up now and did not like it as much. Especially being reminded of those days when she skipped through the woods, red hood and all, completely helpless.
“Get up and stop being a pest,” said Red pulling on her dark red cloak.
“Yes mum,” said Matthew standing up suddenly and laughing, “I see you’re going out today.”
“Don’t I go out every day?”
Matthew picked her bow off of the floor and handed it to her. She gave him a nod of thanks.
“I don’t know why you have to bring so much with you when ever you leave.”
“I have to be safe,” said Red seriously, “The woods are full of beasts.”
“Not anymore,” joked Matthew.
Red smiled, knowing he was referring to her tendency to hunt. Ever since Red’s run in with the wolf she had learned to kill and hunt. She told herself she would never be helpless again. Now she never went any where without a weapon of some kind. This made her closed off in many ways…but she always felt safe.
“Well I have to go off then,” said Red.
Matthew hugged her tightly, as he always did when they said good bye.
“Well if you must,” he said, “Give my love to Granny.”
“I will,” she said, feeling comfort in his arms.
Red moved briskly through the woods, on the lookout for potential predators but it was pretty peaceful that day. She was a red figure moving through the woods and it didn’t take long for her to get to Granny’s. Her cottage lay in a clearing, small and perfect in its own way. Her grandmother kept her furniture and house clean, nice pink curtains in the window, flowers of every color in her garden.
Red made her way over to the door and knocked three times before letting herself in. A bright smile came to her face as she saw her Grandmother at the stove.
“Hello Granny,” said Red sweetly, no matter how much she had matured she was still a little girl at Granny’s, “what are you up to?”
“I’m making cookies dear.”
Red removed her cloak and set it down on an armchair before removing the lilacs from her basket. She went to find a vase in her grandmother’s cupboards.
“Matthew gave me some flowers so I brought some for your table.”
Using the pump in the sink she poured some water in the vase and arranged the flowers on the table. Her granny removed the cookies setting them on the counter. Red loved the smell of her Granny’s baking.
“Smells good… as always.”
“So do these lilacs,” said her grandmother, leaning in to bring them to her nose, “You say Matthew brought them?”
“Yes,” said Red, not thinking anything of it.
“He’s a good boy,” said Granny sitting at the table and looking at the beautiful young woman that was her grand-daughter, “He came to visit me this morning.”
“He did,” asked Red suddenly looking up.
“Yes,” said her Grandmother smiling, “To check up on me, he asked about you though.”
“What about me,” asked Red suspiciously coming to sit down at the table.
“Well he asked me how you were doing,” said the old woman, “And I told him you were fine, we both know you know how to take care of yourself.”
Red smiled widely, taking pride in her great independence when so many women relied on men.
“But I said sometimes I worry that Red gets lonely staying in that cottage by herself,” said her Grandmother with a sympathetic smile, “He said not to worry he visits you every other day. I think he might be taking a liking to you.”
Red frowned; she didn’t need any men…or boys for that matter. And the idea that Matthew was interested in her was ridiculous, he was just a very kind and good friend. That was all Red wanted anyway…right?
“Well, I better get going,” said Red, wanting to drop the subject.
“Are you sure,” asked her Grandmother, “You didn’t visit long.”
“Yes,” said Red getting up and hugging her Granny, “I had a late start and soon it will be dark.”
“All right then be careful, love.”
Red laughed, “Don’t worry about me.”
The woods were starting to get dark, the bark of the trees glimmering with a light yellow of the sun setting and the animals scurrying off for sleep. Red walking slower this time, she was not as anxious to be back home by herself although it was getting a little cold. She pulled over her red hood and looked around cautiously as the night sounds began to creep in. The crickets singing, the scurrying of the small furry animals and the rustling of the wings of an owl all contributed to the music of the evening settling in.
Red’s head turned as she heard an animal coming in, closer to the path. They were running, in a hurry…closer, closer and closer. Red stopped and removed her bow and arrow from her satchel, preparing herself. Her brown eyes darted back and forth, looking through the woods. Finally her sights settled on a blur running, coming closer. It was dark and furry, the size of a human and grey.
Wolf, thought Red. Without thinking Red’s face became fierce and her mind harsh. She took her stance and aimed for the beast. Ready, aim, fire.
“Dammit,” cried the creature falling over, “Oh God that hurts!”
Red’s eyes went wide with panic as she realized she’d made a mistake. She ran quickly over to the form that was hunched over in pain. Removing the hood of wolf skin on the figure bright red curls came into view…it was a woman. The arrow in her arm, she was lucky she was such a fast runner because Red had great aim.
“I’m so sorry..I thought you were a wolf.”
“Just get the bloody thing out,” cried the woman looking up for the first time to scream in Red’s face.
“Queen,” Red asked in shock, for the face she looked back at was her Queen, Rose Red.
End of Chapter 4
Manage Your Items