The birds were chirping, and the leaves were dancing. As usual, the atmosphere in the Land of Hex was dazzling. The sun shone brightly, almost blinding one eye. And the sky was never dark. At least, not in a long time since I was born.
The witches and wizards in the massive and chilly (literally) castle of the Devereaux Royal Family were seriously attending their work. At least, that’s how they were supposed to get on with their work. If I hadn’t overheard one or two, or maybe there were five—-
---- alright ----
---- several witches and wizards gathered in a secluded area to gossip about certain topics, mostly royalties (past and present). I probably still believed their emotionless faces whenever I came across them.
There was a time I once got lost inside the castle (despite having lived here for nearly fifty years) and was surprised to hear the words ‘Her Grace’ referring to my mother. As I kept listening, I discovered a shocking event that nearly knocked my jaw to the ground. I couldn’t believe my mother, gentle and kind and always reminded me not to let my emotions take over my rationality, had nearly destroyed the land. She exuded tranquillity and peace to me. It was difficult to imagine my mother acting like a crazy jealous woman who tried to kill her future husband several times.
To begin with, my father was not a good man. He used to enjoy playing with different women who always had his attention when he was younger. Then he unconsciously fell in love with my mother. They got together, and as he was unwilling to admit his feelings, he broke my mother’s heart. That was the point at which my mother went insane. Then, my father finally recognized his feelings and courted my mother again.
Not feeling touched nor moved, it took almost a thousand years before my mother finally and reluctantly accepted him. I finally understood why my father was such a puppy in front of my mother. He never defied her wishes.
Nonetheless, after hearing such gossip from those witches and wizards, I frequently visit their gathering places without their knowledge to broaden my horizons.
And anyway, it was supposed to be a good day--- a very appropriate day for a much more satisfying sleep. If not for my second sister’s nagging, today would have been a perfect day.
“Come on, that’s only a minor spell. What can it do to us?” my second sister said for the seventh time. It’s irritating me. Her constant babbling and her sweet voice annoyed my ears. Most people in our kingdom praised her as the charming second princess capable of brightening the gloomy atmosphere. I don’t care about their judgment, but they seemed to exaggerate most of the time. My second sister does nothing except annoy me rather than improve my mood.
Although others considered her my second sister, we were, in fact, twins. I just arrived in this world one minute before she did. Despite being twins, however, we have nothing in common. Nieva has crystal hair, whereas I have a blazing one. I was the fire, and she was the ice. We are contradictory. The same was true for our personalities.
“I don’t have time for your ridiculous request. Get lost,” I muttered, weary. Today was supposed to be my day off from royal duties. I was about to fall asleep when the stupid girl banged the door open. The sleep I had barely managed to achieve was gone in an instant.
As the eldest child, I was supposed to inherit the throne. Because of this, and believing I was of suitable age, my father had kept me awake for the previous nights, educating me to be a capable ruler. I had no idea if I had succeeded in impressing my father. However, after about a year, he finally gave me the rest I deserved. One day and one night of relaxation, to be exact.
Nieva refused to budge. I didn’t expect her to. Perhaps because my voice was not frightening enough or because it did not convey the wrath I was supposed to have. Instead, she dropped the grimoire next to my face on my bed. She then hopped on, causing the soft bed to bounce.
“Come on, just once, and I’ll be out of your room!” she promised.
I groaned. I buried my face in my pillow and groaned once again. After weighing the pros and cons, I decided to make a compromise. I sat down and fixed my gaze on Nieva. “Just once, and you’ll leave. Whether the spell works or not, you’ll leave me alone. Otherwise...” I trailed off, my tone of voice threatening.
Nieva only shrugged. When I didn’t move, she nodded.
Seeing that she was obedient, I ignored her and glanced at the grimoire. This grimoire was something our mother inherited from our eccentric grandma. The elderly lady despised everything except this book. Even our mother couldn’t compete with this one spell book. I remembered how our grandmother unleashed thunder and lightning bolts from her rage merely because she thought the grimoire was lost. My sister and I, the accused culprits, almost died from fear. We never touched anything in her house after that, lest she accused us again when anything got missing.
However, our ‘good’ grandmother mysteriously vanished 70 years ago, leaving this grimoire in the care of our mother, which we occasionally stole for our amusement.
“Which spell do you want to try?” I inquired as I flipped through the pages. One page equates to one spell. Because we’re still young, performing the spells in this book necessitates the participation of both of us. Otherwise, Nieva would do it herself.
Yes. At the age of exactly 100, we were still considered young. Our lifespan extends to eternity.
My mother trained for less than five centuries before our grandmother allowed her to become a full-fledged witch. Initially, spells and curses were hard to comprehend and perform. It also takes plenty of effort to master drawing energy from nature without using a medium. As a result, it took centuries of hard work for our mother to learn everything.
“This one,” she replied, pointing to a specific page.
Reading it, I find myself having difficulty comprehending its content. I could read it, but none of the words made sense. A dreadful feeling suddenly crept up in my chest. Something inside me told me not to join Nieva in her foolishness.
“The last time we executed a spell from this book, we blew the castle to smithereens,” I mumbled, recalling the first and only time we used grandma’s grimoire. It was a great disaster. Not only did our father punish us, but our sweet mother also reprimanded us. Ergo, we rebuilt the castle entirely by ourselves, without the help of magic. We eventually finished reconstructing it after fifty years. Such absurd activity wasted half of our current age.
“Err...” Nieva winced. She appeared to be traumatized as well. But her determination quickly returned.
I have to applaud my sister for her naivete and tenacity. It would undoubtedly lead to her demise sooner or later.
“What prompted you to cast this spell?” I inquired curiously. I’m already out of bed, getting ready. Then, I cast a spell. My nightgown instantly changed into my usual dark red outfit.
“The spell seems interesting,” Nieva answered, her eyes wide with anticipation. “It’s different from the others. I like to try it. We’re already grownups. And we are more powerful now than when we were 60 years ago. I don’t think we’d blow up the castle again if we ever failed.”
Alright. I agreed by nodding. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued. I enjoy challenges, after all. If I hadn’t been exhausted from my royal duties, I would have stolen this book and cast the spell myself.
As witches, who came from royal bloodlines, we didn’t need a medium to do the spell. Our energy was sufficient. So, after preparing ourselves, Nieva and I held hands. We closed our eyes and began gathering energy from the world to emerge with our own. Then we both recited the spell at the same time.
Seconds became minutes, and minutes became half an hour. My breath ragged, and my body began to sweat. As pain penetrated my head, it started to swell. I could also feel my insides heating up.
My sister’s hands were wet as if they were submerged in water, as were mine. When I thought we weren’t going to make it, a surge of energy sprang out of nowhere, slamming Nieva and me against the wall.
I shook my head, attempting to alleviate my dizziness but failed. Then, I tried to look up, searching for Nieva. However, a black hole met my vision instead.
There was nothing but darkness as it continued to approach me. Then, the instant the black hole devoured me, my energy ran out, and my vision turned black.