|My cover Concept based on this picture|
Also, I used the original title for the title of this post. I'm not sure why.
Alinda knew almost every twist and turn in Rockwall Castle’s many passages. She knew, almost as well, every twist and turn in its court intrigue. And she was tired of it.
It wasn’t as though she wasn’t grateful that the three princesses had agreed to finish her training after their mother had died, but she personally would have preferred a castle that had had a queen. It used to have a queen, Queen Ilana, but she had disappeared mysteriously many years before.
She would miss this place once she reached her sixteenth birthday in a few months, but she would not miss Princess Atrina’s repeated attempts to assassinate her. Princess Rebicca and Princess Nessica were nice, but Atrina was downright awful.
As Alinda swam into her room, it appeared as though there were six of her. Her room was called the mirror room, and for good reason, every wall in the room was a highly polished mirror.
Alinda was a pretty Cayra princess, with thick dark brown hair streaked with emerald green, that was currently twisted up to prevent tangles. Her eyes were emerald green, too, as was her tail, although the fin part at the end was a few shades lighter. Right now, she was wearing a long, mint green dress. On her head was a gold and seashell tiara, and around her neck were two long strings, one of pearls, and one of emeralds.
She settled into a large, mother-of-pearl chair, and pulled a book off the shelf. It was entitled, “Legends of the Eamals,” and was Alinda’s absolute favorite book on the shelf.
She was fascinated with Eamals, the strange creatures who lived on land, who unlike the Cayra, walked around on legs that were the same color as the rest of their body. She wondered how they could breath air instead of water, as Cayra did. She knew that if Cayra took a special pill, they would be able to breath air for short periods of time, but how did the Eamals breath air?
Personally, Alinda had never been able breath air, even though she was a princess of considerable rank, a crown princess whose only bar from the throne was the fact that she was still a month and a half from her sixteenth birthday. She had had one pill once, but had almost died as an effect. Her brother had been the same way, and she had never heard of her father trying to breathe air, although her mother, when she was alive, had had no problem with the air-breathing pill.
She guessed that her father was unable to tolerate it as well, and that was why he had never tried, and why she and Aaroon, her brother, had never been able to tolerate it. Still, she thought unfair that it was she, a girl fascinated by the Eamals, who couldn’t breathe air.
“Boo!” said a voice, causing Alinda to jump a bit. She glanced in the mirror in front of her to see that Ashla, the eldest daughter of Princess Rebicca, had swum into the room.
“Yes, Ashla?” she asked.
“You jumped!” Ashla exclaimed, “I got you to jump!”
“What are you doing in my room?” she asked, rolling her eyes.
“‘Legends of the Eamals,’” read Ashla, noticing the title of Alinda’s book, “You shouldn’t read that, you know. Eamals are what killed Aunt Ilana.”
“No one knows that for sure,” said Alinda with a sigh, “all anyone knows is that Queen Ilana is gone. We don’t even know if she is dead.”
“Aunt Atrina says she is,” said Ashla.
“Do you always believe everything Atrina tells you?” Alinda asked, raising an eyebrow at Ashla’s image in the mirror opposite them. Ashla has blond hair, streaked with pink. Her eyes were Kelly green. Her tail shimmered prettily with both pink and green.
“Well,” said Ashla, “In this Mother and Aunt Nessica agree with Atrina, and you know how rare that is.”
“But they don’t know for sure,” said Alinda, “Now, what are you doing in my room?” Although she was only visiting, Alinda’s rank was higher than Ashla, as Ashla was not only a whole year to young to be queen, but she had a mother and aunt who were ahead of her in the order of ascension. Then there was the fact that the crown of Rockwall Castle was missing, and had been ever since Queen Ilana disappeared.
“I came to ask if you would like to explore,” said Ashla, “Will you?”
“Maybe later,” said Alinda, “I’m reading, and you insulted me.”
“I did?” said Ashla, giving Alinda an innocent look, “Very well. I’ll go explore by myself.” She swam out of the room.
Alinda gave her head a toss as she returned to her book. Usually she jumped at an opportunity to explore, but not right now. She was reading, another pass time she didn’t often have opportunity to indulge in. Not that she was able to indulge in much exploration either, but it happened far more often than her reading time.
She closed her eyes and tried to picture what the Eamals might look like, with their legs the same color as the rest of them, and their drab, one-colored hair. They sounded so funny.
She wished she could take the pill and be able to go on land and see them for herself. It was said that they built floating land that they could use to cross the water. It was said that it was on one of these that Queen Ilana saw the Eamals that stole her heart and caused her death.
Disappearance, Alinda reminded herself. The queen had merely disappeared. It had to be true, since the queen had taken the ancient crown with her, and it was only with it that her successor could be crowned. That was Cayra custom. Every castle had its crown, and it was always with it that the queens were crowned. To be crowned without it was a serious breach of custom that would never be done. It was said that Princess Atrina wanted to do so, but her sisters consistently forbade it. It would never be done. It was better for a castle to crumble into ruin than to have its queen be crowned by anything other than the ancient crown.
That was why there was no queen in this castle.