5. Snaking Around
Deciding to take her chances barefoot, Rosella keenly looked at her surroundings, trying to discern where in
the swamp she was.  As much as it seemed to have overgrown there and back upon itself, there must be
something that she could recognize from her previous trip here.
The air was hot, and stray blonde strands of hair clung to the perspiring princess’s face.  Her porcelain face
was now flush with the blood close to her cheeks.  The bugs were merciless on the back of her neck, and on
her hands, the only exposed flesh they could find on the poor young girl.  Rosella counted her blessings for her
heavy red gown and white stockings, despite the irony of the pressing heat that made her body weaken with
each step.
Licking her drying lips, she peeled the sticking strands of hair from her slender face, tucking them neatly
behind her ears.  Rosella took a few steps in each direction trying to jar her memory, when she caught sight of
a familiar looking tree.  It wasn’t that she found it any less creepy than the other vine tangled contorted trees in
the bog.  If anything it was just the opposite.  This tree could be described as even more nightmarish within its
nooks and arches.  It’s lifelong desperation was obvious from the way it grew in outlandish directions,
following the sun’s too few rays, that managed to pierce the canopy of the shadowy swamp.  Day to day, the
crooked branches twisted and turned just for five minutes of warm light.  The result was an abomination of a
tree, like a broken body, the ugly of the forest.  But all the reaching and sacrifice yielded one true thing.  This
tree was the only one of its peers to bear life.  So true in its pursuit of the sun, a lone life giving fruit had
grown upon its limb; a magical rejuvenator that Rosella would find only a few short months before in order to
save her dying father’s life.
As the memories came back to her in a flood, Rosella found herself
unconsciously moving toward the familiar tree because it brought a
sense of direction to her chaotic surroundings.  For now that she had
found the tree, she could easily navigate her way out of the swamp.  
While her eyes, were fixated on the broken stem where she had
plucked the magic fruit from, Rosella’s little ears picked up a rustling
sound followed by a flicker.  Quickly her blue eyes sharpened,
snatching up the details as fast as they filtered through.
Curled up under the tree was a rather large cobra not but 10 feet from
where the young princess stood.  Its tongue flickered while it seemed
to sway about, consistent with only one detail.  Its eyes were on
Rosella, like it recognized her.  Who knew if it remembered the time
she fooled it and stole the magical fruit from under its dutiful watch.  
It was impossible to even tell if it was even thinking.  Perhaps this
was simply a situation based on instinct.  Either way, the princess
had a decision to make.  Will she…