This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
“My name is Orchid and if you are reading this, then that means something has happened to me. Even as I write these words, I know it to be true- there are forces at work to try and get rid of me. What I write here is all true and perhaps, you may be able to see what I did not and maybe able to help protect my most precious of jewels.
I shall go back, starting with the Empress of the Diamond Empire’s Selection. My reason for being there was much like others of childbearing age that she had commanded to attend; a chance to be selected to marry the crown prince. I had already been unwilling to being with, since the death of my grandmother and the late queen of the Amethyst Kingdom, but my father, King-Consort Arum, was particularly eager for his youngest daughter to be made Empress someday.
Had I known the trouble it would all cause me, I would have ran away at the first mentions of it all.”
-From the diary of Princess Orchid
Orchid, known as the second Princess of Amethyst, sat in a great hall with at least a dozen other single women with both prestige and rank befitting of any kingdom. Nervous chatter broke out throughout the room in a few spots where some of the ladies had gathered. They whispered and laughed, gossiping to each other so that Orchid would’ve thought them to be kin to morning birds tweeting at all hours before dawn break. However, the young woman couldn’t begrudge them of their excitement and wish to ease their own anxieties. After all, it’s not every day that eligible women from various kingdoms would be summoned by the Empress of the Diamond Empire for review. If word had it right, they were being viewed as prospective wives for the Empress’s only son, Prince Draco.
Prince Draco was considered to be a grand prize for any that could pass the Empress’s inspection and many had clamored to be his friend or even vague acquaintance. Rumors of him fighting in the last Diamond-Opal War and then the Rebellion shortly after that made a deep impression on many who were set against the empire; so much so, that a few that had held out now sent their representatives to court as well as a few of their available daughters to this gathering now. It also didn’t hurt that he possessed, like his family, the sought after powers granted to them by the gods. It was his power awakening during the war that ended both that and the Rebellion along with help from some from the Opal Kingdom. He was hailed a hero with his faithful guards and honors were to be had for days thereafter.
Orchid learned all this by listening intently to the chatter around her, though none directly approached her with gossip or even managed nothing more than a scant glance in her direction. It was just as well, really, since Orchid believed that no tentative overture so of friendship in this place would have survived an hour, let alone the month they had to stay there performing all sorts of tasks that the Empress had set for them. It wasn’t anything particularly out of line, though some of the ladies cried aloud when they were told they had to show how well they could shoot an arrow or ride a horse quickly to another part of the land in which the mansion they resided in. Aside from the usual cattiness that Orchid had witnessed between the women at some point or another, most disregarded her as hopeless cause. Again, it suited Orchid well as it kept her out of their petty squabbles that tended to come as quickly as the wind and leave just the same.
Looking down at herself, Orchid could understand why they would dismiss her so, which had more to do with the trends and styles of Diamond than of any real fault of her own. Unlike the typical look of the slender and often petite women of the capital, Orchid was thick in every meaning of the word. From her wide shoulders to her wide hips and chubby waistline, she was quite the opposite of the slender willowy forms of the others. However her face, with its chubby cheeks, was often remarked as being beautiful in its own way with sharp dark chocolate eyes and full lips- the bottom lip often a pink rose color. The only thing she seemed to have going for her was the simple fact that of the two children of the Amethyst kingdom, she alone inherited her grandmother’s powers. At the moment, they were small powers that encouraged plant life to grow more rapidly than normal or being able to locate a person that wasn’t too far from her.
Of course, none of these ladies knew that and she intended to keep it that way.
“Oh, I hope we meet the Empress.” One of the ladies whined softly, “I swear, I’ll faint if she doesn’t appear soon!”
“For the love of-!” Another lady sighed in exasperation, “Really? As if the rest of us aren’t nervous? Calm down and drink some more water.”
A third in their party, who had been mostly quiet during their exchange, glanced at the other two, “I don’t know about you, but I hope I don’t get chosen.”
Scandalized, the other two leaned towards her, their voices low, but Orchid- who happened to be the closet one standing to them- could still hear them.
“You can’t be serious, Elisa!” The first one gasped, “It’s the Prince! Who wouldn’t want to be chosen to be his bride?”
Elisa pursed her lips, “A smart woman, that’s who! Why are you all so eager to leave your homes and potential happiness for this? I’ve heard all sorts of things about that Prince and life in the Draconia Palace- and I want nothing of it!”
The second glanced around quickly (Orchid had to feign interest in something else in order to keep listening to this conversation.), before asking, “What sort of things?”
This time, Elisa glanced around before she launched into her story, “I heard that the Prince does nothing more than moon over some woman from Opal! And that because of him, it may be the reason why the Rebellion happened in the first place.”
“No!” The first woman gasped too loudly.
“Hush, Marissa!” The second snapped before gesturing Elisa to continue, “Go on, Elisa. I’ve heard not a word of this from anyone. Could the Royal Family be hiding it?”
“Some would assume so, Lia.” Elisa nodded slowly, “I just know from what I heard my brothers say when we went hunting was that the prince was actually in love with not any Opal woman – but a princess at that! He rejected the offer from the Lady of Lindon so cruelly because of the Opal Princess, which was what caused Lindon to rise up against the Empire.”
“All for an Opal woman?” Marissa shook her head, “That’s simply madness! Everyone knows that a union between Opal and Diamond is completely out of the question and has been for centuries. Why would the Prince risk such tension and the possibility of revolt for a woman like that? One with no real accomplishments, so I’ve heard.”
Elisa shrugged, “I do not know, but the Lady Lindon was convinced it was bewitchment, for they said that the Prince was close to Lady Lindon before this and the offer of marriage between the two was imminent.”
Lia only tsked, “How awful! Now I’m put off by the whole notion. Who would want to be stuck in such a position if it’s all true? I know I wouldn’t.”
Orchid silently agreed with Lia on that. Who really wanted to deal with that sort of baggage? She surely didn’t and had hoped that she wouldn’t have to either. Still, with that bit of gossip known to her now, Orchid could finally drift around the room like the invisible shadow she was to them. She took her time to look up at the furnishings of the mansion- which was said to the Empress’s childhood summer home. It was beautiful, that was for certain, with gold lining the walls and small guardian statues perched on all four sides of the room and two more over the dais that rose above them all. There was seating for the women scattered over the room along with tables laden with food and drink for them as they waited for the Empress to come. There were murals that depicted one of the more famous stories of the land- the creation of their world at the hands of the Great Mother, which was what they called their Goddess.
Staring up at it, Orchid wondered what their goddess would’ve thought of everything now. She wondered if the divine being would care about the squabbles of mere mortals anymore. Then again, she thought to herself as she turned away from the mural, if she were a divine being, she wouldn’t give one wit about human silliness.
‘I suppose that would make me an uncaring god, then.’ Orchid turned her eyes to the side door that had just opened. ‘And it looks like our long wait will end now. Thank the gods! I cannot wait to get home to Amethyst.’
Setting her glass on a tray, Orchid walked quietly to the forming crowd of noble women who gathered before dais as people filed out of the side door to flank either side of the small throne in the Great Hall.
“Announcing, her royal highness, her majesty, the Empress of the Diamond Empire- Empress Vibria!”
All the ladies bowed deeply before the Empress as she entered, dressed in a fine spring green gown with a translucent silk train following her as she turned to sit on the throne. Her sharp golden eyes flew over the candidate like a hawk seeking its’ prey.
Her lips, painted a rosy red, twitched slightly in some phantom amusement before she raised her hand, “Rise, dear ladies. It would do you ill to stay that way for so long.” When they had done so, the Empress continued, “Now, your time here at Autumn has come to an end, I’m afraid. I know you will all value your friendships that you made here.”
Orchid couldn’t help but snort softly at that.
“And I’m certain you will each take away something important, whether or not you are chosen.” The Empress gestured for one of the Ladies in Waiting to come to her with a scroll, “I will not dally and make you wait for the news as I have already imposed enough on you all.”
This was it. In a few moments everything would be over and they would be released to go home once more and would not be back until the wedding of some poor girl to the prince. Since Orchid didn’t believe she would be chosen, she allowed her attention to wander to her vivid purple dress that clung a bit too much to her chest for her liking. She thought that maybe later she should have the tailor let it out a little. One thing was for certain, she would have to start helping more to move things around so her chest would shrink even a little. To think, some of the ladies had told her how they envied her for such a sizable bosom. If she could, she would’ve gladly have traded for smaller or none at all!
It was then that she noticed the entire hall was not only quiet but was also staring at her! What in the world had she just missed? Her dark eyes darted from one lady’s face to another, but all seemed as surprised as she was at this.
“Princess Orchid of Amethyst?” Empress Vibria smiled towards her, amused again it seemed. “That is you, I presume?”
Orchid gathered herself and stood up slowly, “Um, yes, my Empress, I am Princess Orchid of Amethyst.” Oh goddess, what was going on here? “What have you need of me?”
“Well, my dear,” The Empress’s smile widened, “I need you to marry my son.”
"I had thought her mad, at first. Out of all the nobles in the room- many of whom were related to greater royalties and even better lands than any of my own- I was chosen to marry Prince Draco. This news delighted my parents and sister so much, that they all but rushed me out of my own room there to relocate to Draconia Palace without a single ‘good bye’. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had to undergo more etiquette training and what to do at the ceremony itself, I would’ve thrown such a tantrum! Well, no I wouldn’t. My grandmother, Great Mother bless her, would have rolled over in her grave if she knew I even so much as sneezed wrong without cause.
Still, I supposed it could be worse and I had hoped to the Great Mother that the rumors about the prince weren’t true. If they were… I do not know what I would do."
-From the diary of Princess Orchid
Nymeria: Really can't get enough of this story. It flows well, it captivates the reader from page 1, and throws you into such a well-written, well conceptualized world that you'll believe it's real. Everything in the book is meshed together really well. From character backgrounds to plot twists, you can t...
Sandra Estrada: I loved every minute of it and I thank my lucky stars that brought me to the story, it's been a whirlwind of emotions, plot twist after plot twist but I never got tired of them. Abby and Kade's story is a hard one to understand but once you're submerged in their story and love, you can't help but...
ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...
Talon Richey: The answer to that question is NO! I absolutely loved the book, it has a way of lifting the magic right of the page and into the imagination. The story is well thought out and connects so easily with its self that as a reader i felt like it could actually be real. defiantly in my top five favori...
CurlyRed: I read this entire book in just under 4 hours I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! i found myself emotionally attached to the characters and making personal connections that i had never experienced before while reading a book! I was constantly wanting to read more, every chapter left me on a cliff hanger tha...
Ruby0h: Overall I thought your story was really good! It drew me in right away and kept me interested as the story progressed. I loved the character of Kayla being inserted into this story, and the way she affected and shaped the life of the original story into something totally new and interesting. I lo...
sunshinebennybear: First, I would like to address the elephant in the room. The author forgets her own character's names. She mixed up Liam for Jace, Harri for Maiya, and Freya for Clary. I love The Mortal Instruments as much as the next fangirl, but I find myself unforgiving about this. Throughout the story there ...
RodRaglin: Sounds like an interesting story, LesAnne.Here are some things you might want to consider when you revise this draft."Show don't tell." You've probably hear this before and wondered what's the difference? Well, the difference is as a writer you're telling your reader what's happening rather than ...
Hudson: Your story was fantastic Erin! The Rising Sun was one of the first stories I read on Inkitt, and I have to say I don't regret the three to four days I spent pouring through the story.Probably the biggest strength I see in your writing is your characterisation of Eliana, Oriens, and the rest of th...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."