I have been on a blog hiatus because I have been mad at work on a young adult high fantasy trilogy entitled Insidious Whispers- Wizard Wars Book One. I am collaborating with the prolific author Vincent Golphin. We are in our fourth draft version and are entering into the beta reading and cover constructing stage. I am excited to share the first chapter with you. Stay tuned for more excerpts and progress. Happy New Year!
The Queen’s Demand
Princess Stipinia of Palandara
“No!..No, no, NO!”
I was being rather overly dramatic. Part of me is aware of that, but the little voice way back in the farthest reaches of my head that tells me, Your out of control, is not in charge at the moment. I didn’t care to listen.
It was more important to express the utter emphatic disgust I felt at my sister’s constant insistence on trying to control my life. The passion rising in my chest crested into a tumultuous wave that threatened to make my head burst. I could tell that my face was flushed. That was confirmed when I grabbed a quick glace in a mirror. I could feel a tiny headache forming between my eyes.
Ever since she became queen when our mother died twelve years ago, my sister has become unbearably bossy. That goes double when it comes to me.
Today, I must be completely clear with her, I told myself.
I have told her before that I did not want to do this. Victarine never cares about my opinion.
“You don’t see how complicated things are,” Nia, she says. “You’re so young. You’ll better understand some day.”
She treats me like the kid she thinks I am, but my sister doesn’t get it. I am all grown up now. I have dreams. I know who and what I want to be.
Victarine thinks because she is queen, she can control me like the rest of her subjects. I am princess of Palandara. I have a voice. She wants me to seal my fate with a Delphyte bond, to make me a part of the world that took up all of her and my mother’s time and energy. I will not do it.
“No,” I said again. I paused to let my statement sink in.
My sister Victarine’s expression showed frustration with me. She exchanged looks with her Delphyte advisor, Lady Kulipa, and Mama’s Senior Delphyte advisor, Lady Grinnell, before her piercing blue eyes focused on me.
This time I tried saying it calmly and firmly instead of screaming it. “I will not let you make me be queen.”
Victarine clenched her thin jaw slightly before she spoke, “Stipinia…”
“I said no,” I interjected. It felt wonderful to interrupt the Queen of Palandara. “I will not go to Severen to bond with a Delphyte in preparation to be the next queen. I will not let you seal my fate.”
I was quite pleased with myself for finding a way to use that seal my fate phrase in a sentence. It sounded regal and appropriate for someone with royal blood to say. Even if I didn’t want the responsibility for ruling I could still carry myself royally. I had real style.
“Why do you want me to do this now anyway?” I continued. “You’re doing a fine job being queen. I don’t think you’re planning on dying any time soon. And besides, even if you die tomorrow, why don’t you just have Gratiana be the next queen?”
“Perish the thought,” Victarine said resolutely.
“Why not?” I asked. “I’m sure she’d want to.”
” I’m sure our cousin would be honored to be the Queen of Palandara,” my sister answered. “However, you are in direct line to be queen, which makes it your destiny and duty.”
Victarine smiled wryly. “She also doesn’t have nearly the spirit that you do. Your high spirit may be out of control at that this time, but it is the very ingredient that provides the will and strength of character that is required for a successful monarch.”
I was about to retort, but saw an uncharacteristically fragile look flit briefly across Victarine’s pale features. I actually found it a bit disconcerting, but decided to ignore it. Treanon, Victarine’s husband stood beside my seated sister. He placed a comforting hand on her thin shoulder. Victarine reached up to touch his hand in return. He fixed me with a disapproving stare but said nothing. That hurt. Next to my father, he was the man whose opinion I valued most.
I let Victarine continue.
“Stipinia,” she addressed me in a firm, unwavering voice, “only you are the heir to the Golden Throne of Narmock. It is your duty to be the next queen of Palandara. It is imperative that you bond with your own Delphyte advisor immediately.”
“But I refuse!” I shouted vehemently.
“You may not!” she said abruptly. Victarine paused because a hard cough took over her answer. She seemed to almost choke. When she recovered herself she said in a raspy whisper “I am your queen, and I decree it will be so.”
“You are my sister, and I don’t want a Delphyte advisor,” I shot back. “I want to live a life of travel and leisure. I want to get out of Shar and explore the world. I don’t want to become like you.”
I could see Victarine wanted to blast my words, but again she seemed caught by that cough. I was glad. After she pulled that I am queen stuff, I did not want to hear anymore anyway. I had the advantage as far as conversation, so I seized it.
“You are always so busy ruling and worrying about the kingdom that you don’t have time to do anything fun.” I said. “You’re always stuck here, in these marble halls, unless you have some official ceremony to attend or something. And you always force me to be stuck here, too. Your nosy guards watch my every move.”
Victarine tried to answer, “That’s for our protect…. ” I refused to allow her.
“Even while we are both stuck here, you don’t even have time to spend with me! How can you claim to care so much about all of those faceless families outside these walls when you don’t care about your own.”
My anger at my sister was white hot. But now I was also angry at myself. I hadn’t meant to say that stuff about caring and family. I didn’t want my sister to know that I secretly craved her approval and attention. I’m not some kid that needs her or anyone. This palace life has taught me that it is foolish to expect to be first in anyone’s heart when you are a royal. Even the boys that dared to try to court me talk about the crown more than me. That is why I learned to be alone. I needed to get out of here.
Victarine started to cough again quietly. Treanon rubbed her back. My anger eased a bit as it became apparent to me that she really was struggling with her sickness and that Treanon seemed genuinely concerned. Part of me wanted to go help her, but not after what she said. My sister has the power to order me, but she cannot make me love her. If she makes me do that Delphyte thing I will hate her for the rest of our lives. My anger replaced itself with self pity and I found myself desperately missing my father again.
“I wish Daddy were here,” I unexpectedly blurted out. He would have made her listen to me. “Why did he have to die? He was the only one who really cared about me.” I immediately wished that I had not uttered the words aloud.
“That is not true,” she said. “Our parents….”
“It is,” I cut her off. “Mama was always too busy being queen and so are you.”
“Please Nia, ” she said, “you are far too young to understand what really happened. You were not here during the Wizard Wars.”
“Neither were you! ”
“Trust me,” she said. ‘You have no idea what is at stake. The future of Palandara is still not secure.”
Daddy always made me feel secure, I thought. I could feel my composure crumbling. I didn’t want Victarine or everybody else in the room to see me cry. I forced myself to look fierce and determined.
“The Princess Stipinia has spoken,” I said with the same above it all timbre in my voice. “I hereby resign my role as princess, and heir to the Golden Throne of Narmock.”
Victarine gathered herself and stood proudly “I do not accept your resignation, or any other idea, other than that which I propose, sister,” she said resolutely. “You will do our bidding.”
“Why?” I shot back undeterred. “Give me one important reason. Like I said, Gratiana will do just fine. I’ll even occasionally help out at major events. And, of course I’ll visit you and Treanon from time to time, especially on holidays. At this point in my life I have other things to do and see.”
“Stipinia,” Victarine began, “I know you are upset.”
Her arms spread wide, she said, “Come, let me hold you.”
“Absolutely not!” I sputtered curtly. “I am not a little girl. I don’t need hugs from you anymore.”
The look of hurt and disappointment in her eyes made me feel better. At last, I was not the only person in this family in pain.
“Stipinia, be reasonable,” Treanon spoke empathetically and took a step toward me.
“No.” I started to back away. “I have nothing more to say to you people. I am leaving.”
Victarine allowed herself a small sigh, then nodded at Grinnell. The Senior Delphyte waved her right hand in my direction. I froze. Suddenly, I could not move a muscle. I had been about to turn and make a swift and grand exit out of Victarine’s chambers, but I could not move.
I panicked for about ten seconds, then the realization dawned on me. I screamed inside. I wanted to holler out loud, to protest, but even my mouth was like stone. I tried with all my strength to turn my head to glare at Grinnell. Nothing.
“I am sorry to have to do this, Stipinia,” my sister said wearily. She looked at Grinnell, then at Treanon, then me. “You leave me no choice.”
Grinnell walked into my view. I always found her to be wise and grandmotherly.
You conniving cow, I screamed in my mind. Now, I was furious with her. She used her Frost power to trap me. I was like a statue. How dare she?
I am heir to the throne, I raved to myself. She thinks she has the right to freeze my ability to move any part of my body.
I moved my eyes enough to see my reflection in one of the several intricately decorated mirrors on Victarine’s walls. I saw an attractive, curvy seventeen-year-old girl with long, honey brown hair, dark olive skin, deep brown eyes and a nasty scowl… frozen.
Oh! I thought. This is so annoying!
Grinnell gestured to one of the servants to bring two chairs. They did.
“Be seated, your Highness,” Grinnell said. When she gestured toward the seats she somehow managed to move my legs just enough to sit. I tried to use the opportunity to run away, but I could not force my body to anything but sit politely in the plush chair before me. Believe me, I tried. As an afterthought, Grinnell lightly touched my twisted mouth. My lips dropped into a placid, relaxed position.
The older woman smiled kindly at me. Her startlingly green eyes twinkled. She seated herself in the chair opposite me, then folded her long, tapered hands in her lap.
“Dear, dear Princess Stipinia,” she began. “Your sister and I thought that perhaps if I relate to you the history of our beloved Palandara you might be less hostile about your position in its future.”
The silver and green haired Delphyte smiled at me again. Her right hand covered mine. I could feel her touch, but I was still unable to move a muscle.
“I know in the past you have been impatient and disinterested in the story of this world, and how your ancestors came to rule,” she said slowly. My sister sat on the couch trying not to cough. Treanon watched quietly with the occasional nod. I only half listened to what she said. They could imprison my body, but not my mind. Then, the Delphyte continued.
“For this moment you definitely need to lend an ear. Some things are far more important than what we want to do.”