Short Story: Gardenia's Hope

July 18, 2018


                                                                                                                GARDENIA'S HOPE


    The land of Gardenia has dense forests, green rolling hills, and blooming meadows. It is a beautiful place, but it is plagued by a band of thieves. The land 
is ruled from Hope Castle where the king and queen rule. The royal guard led by the captain of the guard, Drake, imposes the kings laws upon the people of Gardenia.
Even with all their power the royal guard hasn't been able to do anything about the thefts. There is only one person in the kingdom that has been able to do anything, The White Rider.
At least that is what the people have been calling this protector. The White Rider is there for anyone who needs help. The king, fearing the people would turn against him, ordered
the White Rider found and identified. The people wouldn't turn the White Rider over, Though they didn't know the true identity of this rogue protector.


    Of all the people in Gardenia princess Clara seemed the most interested in the White Rider. She was always asking the royal guard where they going to look for the White 
Rider, if they had seen him, or heard where or who he was. They would tell her what information they had but none had ever seen him. There was another person who was fascinated 
by the White rider. It was a blacksmith named William. He picked up the gleaming armor with the white leather straps and smooth white tunic.The White Rider was named after that 
armor he though proudly. At a knock on the door of his shop William hastily put the armor back under the floorboards  and replaced the chest of wears over the top before answering 
the door. It was two members of the royal guard. The were searching all the shops for any sign of the White Rider. they searched the entire workshop but found no evidence he had 
ever been there, so they left to continue there search. 


    The thieves, however, were getting more and more daring as the months passed. The royal guard didn't seem to be able to do anything about these criminals. They were 
too busy looking for the White Rider. He could still be seen and heard fighting to stop the thieves, but being the only one fighting this band of thieves he couldn't stop all of the thefts. 
Then one day while princess Clara was out of the castle the thieves kidnapped the king and queen. With the royal guard out looking for the White Rider, and the White Rider helping the 
local villagers, the thieves had little trouble sneaking in and out of the castle.


    When princess Clara returned later that afternoon the palace was in an uproar. She found out from Drake about her parents disappearance. She ordered him to gather the 
guard and find the king and queen. Two days passed without the king or queen being found. Worried about what might have happened to them the princess decided to go look for them
her self. In the blacksmiths shop William was leaving to look for the king and queen himself.


    The White Rider starts asking around the farms and villages for any unusual people in the area. The people of Gardenia are more than willing to help this noble protector, 
but little is of any help. The White Rider does learn of another that is also looking for the king and queen. Following the information to the people the White Rider goes after that person. 
Too busy following the trail the White Rider doesn't see the storm brewing until it is too late to turn back, and decides to stop at a near by inn until the storm passes. Knowing the royal 
guard is still trying to find this brave protector the White Rider couldn't risk getting a room, but heads to the stable to wait out the storm. 


    The person the the White rider was following enters the stable just as the White rider was removing the helmet and armor. Both caught off guard they just stared at one another. 
William disbelieving what he was seeing asked if it was really the White Rider he was seeing. The simple "yes" surprised him because he thought he was dreaming. As he gathered his 
senses princess Clara finished removing her armor. Then Clara got a blanket off her horse and began to spread it over the hey. Baffled William asked what she was doing. She told him 
how she snuck out of the castle to find her parents and was following him. Interested but more concerned with what she was doing now he asked why she was spreading a blanket in 
the hey. She told him that it was too risky to get a room because the royal guard was looking for both her and the White Rider. Satisfied he sat down with her and they began discussing 
what each had learned about the king and queen. She told him that the royal guard was having no luck getting information, which is why she set out to look for them herself. The talked 
about other things as well. Like why she was so secretive about being the White Rider, and why she sent notes when she need armor made or picked up. She told him about her fathers 
animosity towards the White Rider for doing what the royal guard couldn't, and about her need to keep her identity secret form everyone. He pledged his silence and they decided to work 
together to find the king and queen.


    The storm passed in the night so they set off to continue their search. They searched all day but didn't get any information to help them find the king and queen. Their last stop 
was at a tavern on the edge of Gordwin Forest. Princess Clara was unable to go into the tavern due to the royal guard loitering about. So she hid herself while William went in to see what 
he could learn. When he returned he told her the owner noticed a lot of royal guard coming in and out of the forest. They both decided the royal guard had found something out. Because 
it was getting late they went back to Williams shop. They talked about how they would figure out what the guard had learned without being seen. They decided to follow some of the guards 
and see where they led. They went to sleep to get an early start the next morning.


    They were waiting just outside the forest at dawn the next morning. as the sun started to rise a small group of the royal guard entered the forest. William and Clara started their 
pursuit making sure they were far enough behind that they weren't seen or heard.They followed the guards for about an hour before they stopped at the mouth of a small cave. They crept 
up to a large bush so they were close enough to hear what was being said. It wasn't long before Drake joined the guards at the mouth of the cave. All at once the guards stopped talking. 
Clara heard him addressing the the guards, telling them that the thefts were just the beginning. Taking the king and queen was only part of what needs to be done to take over the kingdom. 
Until the princess is found they couldn't move forward with their plans. William having heard as well had to restrain Clara from jumping out and confronting Drake then and there. Drake 
however was continuing to address the guards. Keep guard over the king and queen he said gesturing to the cave. As he mounted his horse he told them to watch for the White Rider, He 
didn't want him to mess up their plans.


    After he had ridden off Clara and William crept quietly away. When they were far enough away William told her that he had a plan to rescue the king and queen, but he needed 
the armor he had hidden at his shop. Trusting him and his plan Clara left her parents to their captures and followed William. Hours later the returned to the forest both dressed as the White 
Rider. William went strait to the cave while Clara went around behind the guards. The three guards saw William and started to go after him, but as they began forward Clara came up behind 
Them. The guard, not knowing which was the real White Rider, fled in fear of being defeated. Clara went into the cave and freed her parents. Without saying anything she led them out of 
the cave to William. The king and queen looked from William to Clara confused that there was more than one White Rider. The took the king and queen back to William's shop. When they 
arrived William told them to remain in the shop as it wasn't safe to be seen. He then told them what Drake said at the mouth of the cave. William was about to tell them that she went into 
hiding when Clara, unwilling to deceive her parents any more, removed her helmet. Taken by surprise the king and queen could only stare at Clara. She told them that she had been the 
White Rider all along, and that William had only done it to free them and keep her secret. Her father went to her then and apologized for sending the guard after her when she was the 
only one in the kingdom fighting for the people. 


    After giving each of them a hug she turned to William and thanked him for helping her to free her parents. She realized how much he ad come to mean to her. He was loyal, 
sensitive, and stood by her when she needed him. It was then that William found how special she was. She was beautiful, courageous, and willing to stand by him and his ideas. Both 
were unwilling to tell the other of their feelings because they still had Drake to deal with. They all discussed ideas on how deal with Drake and the royal guard, but not even the king and 
queen could come up with any ideas that they thought would work. Finally it was William that came up with the plan they all agreed would be the best way. The White Rider would go 
out and ask for help from the people of Gardenia.


    The next day they sent out word asking anyone willing to come help the White Rider deal with the royal guard. William and Clara agreed that William dressed as the White 
Rider would lead the people, while Clara also dressed as the White Rider would sneak into the castle to deal with Drake. Again they were unwilling to tell each other about their feelings.

    The people came from all over Gardenia to support the White Rider. As they gathered Clara and William left each other to do what they had planned, but they took one last 
look at each other both wondering what would happen to the other. Then William turned and went out to lead the people against the royal guard. After telling the people what needed to 
be done he led them to the gates of Hope Castle. Meanwhile Clara, leaving her parents safe in the shop, made her way around the castle to a secret entrance. She made her way to the 
front gate making sure not to be seen. When she opened the gate William and the people of Gardenia were waiting on the other side. Then Clara went in search of Drake.

 William and the people charged through the gate as the royal guard was filing out to meet them. The guard fought the people, but being out numbered was pushed back. 
William looked up and saw Drake watching the battle from one of the balconies. Worried about Clara he fought through the guard and went after Drake himself. Clara on the other hand 
was still looking, but having no idea where Drake might be she had to take the time to look everywhere. She could hear the battle raging in the courtyard below and hoped she would 
find him soon. William having seen where he was charged into the room where Drake was waiting. They lunged at each other swords drawn. They fought fiercely, but found they were 
evenly matched and neither could gain the upper hand. Finally Drake managed to slip past Williams guard and gouge his side.

    Clara was just down the hall when she heard William cry out in pain. Clara ran into the room as William fell to his knees. She launched her self at Drake to protect William. 
Caught of guard by the new attack and the appearance of another White Rider Drake fell back. Clara seeing the the advantage continued the attack and drove him back onto the 
balcony. Both the guard and the people in the courtyard heard the commotion, and stopped fighting to watch Drake battling the White Rider. Their swords met again and again, but 
couldn't land a blow on the other. All of a sudden Drake swung out and managed to knock the helmet off the White Rider. The people in the courtyard gasped at the identity of their
protector. Drake was caught off guard that princess Clara was the White Rider and hesitated in his suprise. Clara took advantage of his hesitation and lashed out disarming Drake. 
Defenceless Drake surrendered. Seeing his defeat the guard threw down their weapons. Clara tied up Drake as the people did the same to the guard. Then she went to William to 
tend his wound, but when she looked she foun nothing more than a scratch. Laughing at his minor wound she threw herself into his arms. While holding her he told her that he was 
in love with her. Still laughing she told him that she loved him as well, but when he asked her to marry him she stopped laughing. With tears of happiness she accepted, and they were 
married the next spring. Everyone in Gardenia celebrated the marriage of William to their very own White rider. William and Clare lived in Hope Castle in love and happiness.


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