He lay on his stomach on hay that scratched his bare skin; blood wept from the stripes on his back. Against his closed eyes he saw that strange child. Why had he helped her to escape? He grit his teeth against the pain and a tear squeezed out of the corner of his eye, washing a little more of his dignity away.
Her pale elfin face had turned back once before she’d stepped into a moonbeam, which had silvered her thistledown hair. She’d vanished then, right there in the center of the field and he’d stood there staring. That’s how the foreman’d found him. Standing there staring like a thunderstruck fool at a shaft of moonlight where that pale child had disappeared.
The hay tickled his nose and he sneezed, sending shockwaves of pain across the torn skin of his back. He shivered as the night set cold hands on his back that did nothing to soothe pain. If only he’d known that she’d stolen the mistress’ pearl necklace… Another tear wriggled past his defences and soaked into his sleeve.
* * *
Outside the shed, a cloud rolled in all alone in the velvet sky. It stopped when the moonbeam pierced it, cutting through it like a sword. It sifted snow that didn’t melt when it passed through the summer night’s air. When it had laid a thin carpet of white on the tilled ground between that stationary moonbeam and the shed, a doorway opened between here and elsewhere.
A child with thistledown hair tumbled out of the moonbeam leading a knight armored in ice astride an ice-drake. The strange party halted at the shed and the knight dismounted.
“This is the one that aided you?” asked the Knight.
The child nodded as starlight gathered around her shoulders outlining wings.
The Knight entered the shed and at his touch, ice sheathed the black skin of the slave that had saved the fairy child. He lifted her savior and carried him, placing him with care on the curious ice-drake’s back before mounting. Turning the beast, whose tail might have accidentally scythed through the young shoots of the new wheat, they head back through the falling snow to the moonbeam.
Then they too passed into moonlight and disappeared leaving a curious snow behind that took a month to melt despite scorching heat. Its touch was reputed by the slaves of that plantation to ease even the most grievous of wounds.
I have no idea if this is the end. It’s been rattling around my head for a few days.