The princess waited to hear her guard snoring before she lowered herself from the tower. Thank goodness they didn’t know anything about embroidery, she thought. They’d just brought her all the supplies they’d asked for. They assumed she’d chosen to make the best of her captivity.
She’d chosen to make rope.
It was slim, but strong. It glittered with silver thread in the moonlight.
She walked away from the tower, toward a sound so faint she wasn’t sure what it was. She only knew in her bones that she needed to find it.
“Hello,” she said, when she came to a river. “Can you help me?” The dwarf at the water’s edge looked up.
“With what?” it asked, hefting a stone in one hand.
“I’m searching,” the princess said, “for…do you hear that?” The dwarf listened.
“Yes?” The sound was faint, but he knew it.
“It’s…calling to me. I need to know what it is. Do you know how I can find it?” The dwarf stared at her for a long moment.
“Are you princess Oralind? The one who grew up in the tower of silence?” The girl looked panicked. The dwarf laughed. “I can help you”, he said. “But first, you must help me.” She tilted her head at him, questioning. “You’ll need to get across the water. Help me finish building this bridge, and I’ll let you cross it.”
Oralind hesitated, then shrugged and rolled up her sleeves. They worked until the moon was high and the last stone placed.
“Now,” the dwarf said. “Follow this road until you see a large building, well-lit. Sign of the Compass. You’ll find what you’re looking for there.” Oralind thanked him and continued down the road.
The sound got louder, burning in her ears and in her heart. At the Sign of the Compass, she opened the door to light and warmth and the bright, playful notes of the first music she’d ever heard. The young musician on stage smiled at her, and she smiled back.
The guards searched everywhere when they found the princess missing. But by the time they thought to check the tavern, she was long, long gone.