Early morning’s spectral breath crept through the open window. In its wake, a shudder rippled throughout the thistle-embroidered lace. As the icy phantom touch swept across the girl’s sleeping form, she startled awake with a gasp.

Eyes wide beneath disheveled dark red locks, she whispered, “I could’ve reached out and scaled it bit by bit.”

The young woman beside her stirred and rose, concern written on her forehead. “What is it?”

Montana shook her head as if to dislodge some troubling thing stuck within before turning her gaze to the deep chocolate eyes that mirrored her own. 

“It was a dream, I suppose. But it was … there.” She stretched a shaking hand toward something just out of her reach … and her sister’s vision. As she gazed ahead to a lingering image, a reddish glow surrounded her and music overflowed from somewhere within her.

Marin stood to watch as Montana sang an other-worldly tune, soft and low at first but rising to a warming crescendo.

I close my eyes

And deep within

I feel a song arise.

The earth will swell

And reach and raise,

Forms where my heart will dwell.

My eyes fly wide

To quickly scale

New-birthed mount, my own pride.

Deep in my chest

I feel the tug

From within, I am pressed.

My heart runs free

Away it soars

To be chased or let flee.

The crimson glow surrounding Montana slowly receded, back into its home realm. With the last of its lingering notes caressing the corners of the air around the sisters, the magic vanished. In its place remained its most tangible memory—a warming veil around them.

Montana’s breathing evened out as she blinked away the scene she’d witnessed. Turning to Marin, she held a thousand questions in her eyes.

“Baby Sister, you’ve been called to your piece of nature. Always will the mountains claim your heart. Your choice awaits. Accept and become Mountain Shepherdess. Deny … and forever relinquish your heart.”

“Heart Within the Mountain” Copyright © 2018 by Joy E. Rancatore. All Rights Reserved.

I’d love to hear what you think about Montana and Marin! To read more of their stories and of other characters—including my main Faerie Shepherdess, Elspeth—click here for my Tales of the Faerie Shepherds.

This month’s story flowed from the inspiration of a delightful monthly online writing prompt, #BlogBattle. As you will read on their site, “Blog Battle is a monthly writing prompt meant to inspire writers and entertain readers.” To read several outstanding stories inspired by December’s prompt, “Heart,” head on over to the BlogBattlers site! You may just find a new favorite author to follow … in fact, a few of my absolute favorites have stories up this month!

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"Heart Within the Mountain," a fantasy short story by Joy E. Rancatore. Part of the Tales of the Faerie Shepherds series. https://joyerancatore.wpengine.com/my-writings/tales-of-the-faerie-shepherds/