It should have been a perfect day. Not a single cloud obscured the sun's golden rays as they gave light to the lands and seas below from the pale blue sky. A gentle, refreshing breeze danced in the humid Mid-July air. Most would have spent their time outside, relishing the gorgeous day. However, deep within a forest of birch and maple trees, the feline inhabitants of a small, hidden city within the woodlands stood silently before the balcony of a grand, grey stone palace that overlooked the city from its northern-most side, hoping with all their hearts that the king or queen of the city would appear upon it. After nearly an hour of waiting, a figure stepped out of the palace, and onto the balcony. her short, silver fur glowed white under the late afternoon rays. large, feathered wings lay closed upon her back. A spot of yellow fur upon her chest blazed a gold that rivaled the sun in color, beneath the light. The crowd below watched with bated breath as she placed her dusty brown front-paws over the edge of the balcony and faced the felines below her with woe-some amethyst eyes. "everyone", she said, "I know you were anticipating my mother and father's appearance instead of mine. However, I have some...unfortunate news to share with you all." She stood silent for a moment, before continuing, "As you all know, my family, with the exception of my youngest sister, Hollow, and I, vanished one week ago. Well, I regret to inform you that they...were killed." The crowd was silent, shock numbing their tongues for a moment, before they began to cry out at the royal standing before them; their words brimming with sadness and anger. The young princess surveyed the shouting mob below her. Great, now what am I supposed to do? "Wow, good job Tia. You really riled them up." "Ah!" Tia shouted before quickly turning around to face the person who was speaking, only to be met by a pair of improperly aligned pale silver eyes. "oh, Hollow, there you are. Why didn't you come out with me before?" "I didn't want to", Hollow replied. Hollow was only about half the height of her sister, her black pelt, littered with white freckles, clung to her scrawny frame. Small, outstretched wings, covered in a mixture of black feathers and scales, were connected to her shoulder blades. The gathering below, having noticed the appearance of the second princess, silenced themselves, but only a moment of stillness passed before someone asked "Hollow, is what your sister said true?" "Yes, its true." she replied reluctantly.
Ten minutes later, after the ceremony had ended, the duo wandered back inside the palace and into their bedroom without having said a word between them.
They sat down on a small feather mattress, covered with a dark blue and violet blanket; a white, star shaped pillow sitting on the edge of the bed was sent tumbling to the ground as the two flopped down on the bed. Tia found her tear filled eyes gazing at her oddly calm younger sister. “I’m a bit shocked that you haven’t shed a single tear yet”, Tia said to sister, but before she had spoken half the sentence, Hollow buried her face in her paws, tears falling from her eyes as sobs wracked her thin frame. “Never mind,” said Tia as she placed a paw on Hollow’s shoulder. Hollow looked up at her, her tear filled, silver eyes mirroring the brokenness of her heart. The elder sister flashed her a comforting smile, but Tia’s eyes were filled with just as much anguish as her sister’s. Hollow’s gaze shifted towards the other end of the room, where three more beds were located, each with either a pale yellow, sky blue, or deep green blanket laying neatly atop each mattress. Hollow rose to her paws and padded in front of the space between the bed with the yellow blanket and the bed with the green blanket, Tia following closely. “I can’t believe that no one will ever sleep in these beds again. It really is devastating.” Said Tia, looking at the beds for a moment before turning back to her sister, who was beginning to back away towards the doorway; eyes wide. “Hollow?” Tia called, concerned, as Hollow ran out the door. Tia ran after her, chasing her through foyers and corridors within the palace, until she managed to grab her sister’s arm, bringing both of them to a halt outside their parents’ bedroom.
“We’re you going?” asked Tia. “Away.” “From the palace? But why?” “Because I want to escape all this guilt.” “Why do you feel guilty?” Hollow murmured a reply to quietly for Tia to hear as she watched the ground below her, tears filling her eyes. “What did you say?” asked Tia. “IT’S ALL MY FAULT!” Hollow shouted before falling to the ground; weeping. “That’s ridiculous,” said the elder one, sitting down beside her tearful sister, “How is it your fault?” “Because I couldn’t save them! They were suffering and I didn’t do anything! If I had noticed that something was wrong sooner, or had gotten there faster, then they would still be alive! I mean, my destiny is to save people’s lives, but I couldn’t even save the people I care about most.” Tia stared at Hollow, processing what her sister had said, and trying to think of how to reply. “Hollow, it was just bad timing. That’s not your fault,” Tia said, only for it to have no effect on her crying sibling. After a minute of thought, she came up with an idea.
“Hollow, did mom ever tell you a fable called ‘The Flower’?” “When I was little,” Hollow murmured in reply, “but I hardly remember it.” “well, it was about a queen who left her kingdom for a short time to help her cousin on the other side of the world. When she returned, she found her kingdom almost entirely destroyed, and even a small handful of lives lost. She spent nearly a moon hidden away in her castle, blaming herself. One night, she dreamed of the best memories she had with some of those who had lost their lives. At the end of the dream, she was in a field, with the spirit’s of the dead in the distance. She tried to run to them, but tripped and fell right before she could reach them. as she was getting back up, they all vanished except for a little kit. When she got back up, the kit placed their paw in hers, and vanished, leaving something there. When the queen woke up, she found a flower with rainbow-colored petals, and a leaf between each petal, in the middle of her paw.” “Tia, why are you telling me this story?” Hollow asked, glancing up at her sister for a second before looking back at the ground. “Because the queen learned something,” said Tia as she placed her brown paw beneath her sister’s dark chin, lifting her head high enough to looked into her eyes, “She learned that she needed to stop blaming herself, and start rebuilding her kingdom. Look, sometimes, fate isn’t on our side, and that hurts. Sometimes, the people we love suffer, and we can’t help them, and that makes you feel terrible, I understand. But that doesn’t mean you should think it’s your fault. You need to stop thinking about what you could have done before, and instead think about what you can do now. After all, how can you think about winning a battle, when all you can think of is one you lost?” Hollow sat in silence, staring at her sister’s amethyst eyes as she thought of what her sister had said. Moments later, Hollow wrapped her arms around her sister in a hug, her eyes brimming with tears and understanding. “Thank you,” she whispered. “It was nothing,” Tia replied as she returned the embrace.
“I’m going to go make dinner,” said Tia as she broke the hug, “Dou you want to help me?” “No, I think I’m going to go wash up,” Hollow replied, getting to her paws. She smiled at her sister as she began to walk upstairs to their bathroom. As she wandered past their room, however, something on her bed caught her attention. She padded inside, picking up the strange object. It was a flower with a long thin stem, rainbow colored petals, and a leaf between each petal.