Trudging through the cold night, the last remnants of the winter snow on the ground, she finally saw the lights glowing from the windows ahead. Above her the familiar turrets of the castle loomed.
Four years since she had been taken by the crusaders. How she had changed since then, no longer the innocent thirteen year old who enjoyed running through the corridors of the castle with her brothers and sisters, playing hide-and-seek.
Arriving at the front door she managed to raise the metal door knocker with her free hand. When the door was opened she fell forwards, her last energy expelled. The guard caught her. It was Maurice, he recognised the girl as he picked her up.
‘It cannot be!’ Maurice exclaimed, and took her in his arms. He ran through the corridors to the main drawing room bursting through the doors unannounced.
Phillipe sat in his accustomed place, hunched next to the fire. The dull orange glow illuminated the gloomy room, the curtains always drawn, dust and cobwebs covering every surface. It had been like this ever since her disappearance.
‘Sire,’ Maurice called,’it is her, your daughter, she has returned.’
Phillipe turned as Maurice approached and lay the girl before him, her eyes closed, her breathing steady and peaceful.
Maurice saw the tears in his master’s face, he saw the life slowly return as the pain of loss disintegrated.
As Phillipe knelt by his daughter’s side and took her head in his arms there came the sound of a baby crying. Puzzled, Phillipe unwrapped the layers of clothing from his daughter’s chest. There a newborn baby cuddled lay, no more than a few days old, searching for it’s mother’s calming presence.
‘My darling, what have they done to you?’ Phillipe muttered, and took the child in his arms.