Chapter 1: The Accident
The name’s Splendia, but everyone calls me Dia. I was raised by my Aunt Izeba in a city called Kaya. And at the moment, I was lost. I had been doing my usual job of finding things to sell in my aunt’s store when I realized I had wandered far away from town. I grumbled as I stumbled through the high grass and swatted away yet another thorny plant that had gotten caught on my tunic. As I did, I tripped over a log and fell flat on my face. I groaned. “Great,” I said, “just great. How could this get any-” That’s when it started raining. I hung my head. “The gods just hate me today, don’t they?” I could have sworn the thunder that followed sounded like laughter.
I sensed something off to my right and I instinctively reached out my hand. My fingers brushed metal. I looked at the gold bracelet in my hand. “Well, at least something went right today,” I said, standing back up.
I woke to the sound of muted conversation. “...arrested...the poor girl...” I sat up quickly and walked over to the window. I had gotten home late the night before and had fallen asleep before my head hit the pillow. I opened the window to find the widows Dolores and Sami chatting (*cough*gossiping*cough). “...I still don’t get why the king would arrest her,” Dolores was saying.
“Who?” I asked. Both of them jumped and looked at me.
“Please don’t do that, dearie,” said Dolores, putting a hand over her heart dramatically. “I am old, and susceptible to heart attacks.”
Sami looked at me sadly. “Do you not know? You aunt has been arrested on orders from the king himself!”
I gasped. “What?” My aunt could be kind of, shall we say, overly honest sometimes, but I couldn’t imagine her doing anything that would get her arrested. “Why?”
Sami bit her lip. “The king has... accused her of theft.”
I stared at her. “Okay, you know my aunt. She’d never do something like that!”
Sami sighed. “You and I know that-”
“And so do I,” interjected Dolores.
“-but it’s guilty until proven innocent in this case,” Sami finished.
I stared at them for a second, then quickly ducked back inside. I threw on my day tunic and a shawl. I flew out of the shop. “Where are you going?” I heard Dolores call as I sprinted down the street.
“To the palace!” I yelled back. I had to figure out what was going on.
King Darragh’s palace was huge. And by huge, I mean why-does-he-need-this-much-space huge. I’d never been inside before, but I’d heard it had eighty rooms, four floors, and the supports were made out of gold. I wasn’t even sure how that was possible, but I sensed it as soon as I stepped through the door. You know how some people have lie detectors in their heads? I have a metal detector in my head, which started going berserk as soon as I got near the palace. It got even worse once I walked inside.
I kept following the hall, sensing all the valuable objects as I passed by. How does he even know anything’s missing? I thought as a passed a particularly big treasure room. With some directions from some surprisingly helpful guards, I finally found the throne room. By then, the buzzing in my head had turned into a full blown migraine. It took at my strength to stand upright and not hunch over. Up on the dias was a throne. Sitting on said throne with a smug smile on his face was the king himself. “So,” he said, “you finally made it.”
I breathed deeply. “Greetings, your majesty,” I said through gritted teeth, “I understand that you believe that my aunt has...” I thought about how to politely phrase it, “...taken something from you. I’m sorry if you believe that. If you require anything to be paid back, I can-”
The king cut me off with a fit of laughter. “Wait!” he gasped, “Wait! Give me a minute!” I waited for about five minutes, annoyance building, fists balled, until he got his breath back. “Okay, okay,” he gasped. “Whew, I needed that.” He looked at me. “You really thought that this was about some petty thievery?”
I blinked. “Well, yes. That’s what I heard.”
The king steepled his fingers. “Look kid, nothing got stolen.”
I stared at him, sure I heard wrong. “Um...what? Why did you arrest her then?”
The king smirked. “Because,” he said, getting up from his throne and walking off the dais, “she has something I want.”
I backed up. “What do you mean?”
The king cackled, getting uncomfortably close to me. “You see...my wife is getting on in years, as you may know. So, I’m going to need a new one soon if I’m going to have an heir...” he leered at me.
I backed up, feeling even more nauseous. “You want to...you want me to marry...I’m thirteen!”
His leer widened. “So, here’s the choice,” he said, pacing around me. “You marry me and I’ll let your aunt go. If not...” he made a cutting motion across his throat. “You got that?”
I felt nauseous. “You can’t do that!” Mentally, I berated myself for saying something so cheesy.
“Oh, yes I can,” said the king, “because I’m the king. No one can tell me what to do. Especially not a stupid, sniveling little peasant girl like you!”
Okay, before I tell you what happened, think about it from my perspective. My aunt was captured, a king wanted me to marry him, and if I didn’t, my aunt would die. On top of all this, I had a migraine the size of Mount Everest. So you really can’t blame me for what happened next.
I put my hands on my head and closed my eyes. I heard a small rumbling sound, and realized the king had stopped talking. I opened my eyes slightly and saw things falling from the ceiling. Very heavy, very expensive things. I registered screaming, heavy footsteps, and large crashing sounds. I fell to my knees and sank into unconsciousness.