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Wu.Z

Ireland

Hello there! I'm a seventeen year old aspiring author or screenwriter and as curious as a new born kitten.

Hope

November 20, 2018

 
I heard the news that morning. More than half the nation was in mourning because the King of Xavia had passed away in the night. In other words, my father passed away.
    The king's guards had arrived at our door at around six. They took me into the kitchen and told me what happened. It had been in his sleep. The doctors were called and tried to do everything they could but it was too late. His heart had stopped. They offered their condolences and allowed Ma Osa, her daughters, and David who had arrived from the next room to come in and see me. Ma Osa took me in her arms holding me, Judith and Winter held my hands and stroked my hair while David, my personal guard, talked silently to the other guards who were looking nervously in my direction.
   In all of this, I didn't seem to feel anything. Sure there were a few tears in my eyes from the shock of it all but they quickly disappeared. I suppose you can't feel that much about a person who you haven't seen in almost ten years.
"Your mother wished to come and tell you", said one of the guards fiddling with a letter in his hand, "But she realized the danger."
I nodded in understanding. These were dangerous times. Even more so now after what has happened. He handed the card to me his eyes filled with sympathy. Now the tears began to surface.
"I want to read it alone please", I breathed holding the letter to my chest.
"Of course your highness", replied the guard bowing and nodded to his partner to leave with him.  Your Highness. I hadn't heard that in ages but I recognized the writing on the card instantly. I'd seen it so many times before. I turned around and saw that I was alone. They were all in the sitting room.
 I heaved in a breath and sat down on a stool. I traced the cursive writing on the envelope, tore it open then pulled out the letter...

To my dearest Imotenya,
By the time you get this, you will have probably heard the news about your father. I'm so sorry you couldn't be at his side during his final moments but you know how the situation is. Why you couldn't be with us in the first place. He spoke of nothing but you. I know from your letters that Ma Osa is treating you very well and that David is keeping a firm eye on you but it's time for you to come home now. I wish I could put it off but the advisers said that we demonstrate a show a power to the rebels.
  
  I froze at the mention of the rebels. The reason why I couldn't be with my family. The reason why this kingdom was in turmoil. I swallowed then continued with the letter…

They need to see that the kingdoms new hope is unafraid. I'm so worried though. They were as far as the city just last week and if they breach the palace, God knows what could happen. But I hope for the best and count my blessings. I will get to see you again. I suppose you've grown so beautiful. Will you still recognize your dear mama?  I've entrusted you to the king's own guards for protection and of course, you have David, for your journey to the palace. Have a safe journey home my love and I'll see you soon. I love you.
From Mother

That's when the floodgates broke out.I pushed it clumsily back into the envelope for fear that my tears would wash off the ink. I loved my mother and from what I read from her letters, she loved me too but did she know me. I hadn't seen her or the palace in almost 10 years, not counting the time Ma Osa took us to Beni City for the annual parade near the palace.
   Ma Osa, Judith, Winter, David. They were the only real family I'd known for most of my life. This was the only life I'd known. Now I'd have to leave it for some palace under threat to take a role that I wasn't even sure I was prepared to take.
  "Aria?" I turned to see David peering round the door. "We need to speak with you." I certainly did not want to speak to them. I already knew what they were about to say.
"We have to leave now", I said, "Don't we." My guard's silence spoke volumes. "Well tell them we're not going."
"Ria, we have to …"
"No, we don't !", I snapped locking eyes with him. He made a few steps towards me and reached for my shoulders. A gesture that always seemed to quell me out of my foulest of moods but not today. I jerked back almost falling off my stool. "Have you not heard of the threats in and around the palace and you all want to throw me into all that!"
"Aria, the kingdom needs you!", David yelled back. Then he backed away slightly. I was a little stunned at that outburst.  Not because technically I outranked him but because there were only two times when he really yelled at me. Once was when I lay down in the middle of the road and tried to see how quickly I could get up before I got ran over. The second time was when I almost stabbed myself while fiddling with his ceremonial sword. The things those two had in common was that I was doing something really stupid.
He took a breath and ran a hand quickly through his short hair. "I'm sorry your highness", he said calmly, "But people everywhere are worried. Right now nobody is sure who is the heir. Many believe you're dead."
I shivered. And many more want me dead.
"They need to see that stability can resume for the kingdom. They need to see that there's hope for us still." Hope. New hope. That's what my mother had called me in her letter. That's what I had to be. It was my duty. Whether I wanted it or not.
I sighed and got up. "Okay. We'll go."
David looked relieved as if he knew that if I didn't agree he would have to drag me out of the house pulling and screaming until we got to the palace.
"Hey", he whispered stooping down to my level which even at 15 going on 16 was quite low. "Security been increased and I'll be with you just I have been all these years little dove." I chuckled a little. That endearment which to me was an oxymoron was a favorite of David's from the moment when I was thrust into his arms for protection at age 5.  I began to feel a bit guilty. For all my tantrums, stubbornness and rebellious nature, David had always been by my side. A part of me knew that this was his duty as a guard but another part felt like he actually liked me. Not as a monarch, or protectorate but as a friend.
  He smiled too but then his expression grew slightly somber. "I'm sorry about your father", he said looking truly sorry for me, "And I'm sorry that I'm only telling you that now." I chuckled again.
"It's alright, you had things to discuss. I understand."  He nodded and moved to hug me but the kitchen door opened with the guard almost falling in.
   "Your Highness", he breathed quickly, "It is best that we leave as soon as possible."
I and David nodded and made our way out to where Judith and Winter were sweeping and Ma Osa was sitting down but got up once she saw me. She looked stricken. I ran into her arms again, my face pressed against her chest. I hadn't even considered how Ma Osa would feel at my leaving. She had basically raised me alongside her own children. She was strong, so loving, I almost felt bad at leaving. I turned to the door and saw Judith and Winter standing there, brooms in hand, with the same expression as their mother. Ma Osa let go of me and dried her eyes with the edge of her apron. "Winnie find a bag for Aria."  Winter ran in towards the cupboard while Judith came in and pushed me towards the bathroom. "Wash quickly", she said then made her way to our shared bedroom.
  I brushed my teeth and poured water from the shower into the bucket. It was cold as we didn't have time to boil water. Not many had hot water in Sapele. I used a bowl to splash water over my body. I wanted to forgo the soap but then I remembered I was going to the palace. I suppose I was to make a decent impression. I got out and wrapped myself in the nearest towel then rushed to our bedroom.
  Judith and Winter were there Judith pulling out some of my clothes and Winter holding an old suitcase. " Winnie, you found it", I gasped looking at the little black thing. It was the same suitcase that I brought with me ten years ago.
"Yes", giggled Winter, "I'm sure it can hold everything you have." That was a no-brainer. I had a scare number of clothes, some trinkets and a few books on politics and history that I had never read. "I can't believe you're going to the palace!", she continued excitedly.
"Of course she is", snapped Judith, "It's where her family is."
I pulled Winter towards me softly. She's a sweet little thing and was just a baby when I first met her.
"We're your family too", she said indignantly looking at Judith then turned back to me with her wide eyes. "Right?"
I laughed. "Yes, you are. You're the daughter of my mother's father's third wife's sister's daughter."
"And what's that in English?", sniffed Judith suppressing a smile. She had seemed so cold and grown up in the last few years so I was glad when she still engaged in our inside jokes.
 There was a knock on our door. Winter answered and Ma Osa stepped in. "Are you finished?", she asked and noticed our sheepish expressions and the empty suitcase. She just ignored us and I noticed she had a  clothing wrap. "It's for you Aria."
I took it, unzipped it and gasped with what I saw. It was a black dress. A mourning dress.
    I sighed a little. I had almost forgotten the actual reason I had to go to the palace. I fingered the black tulle that billowed at the ends with velvet roses at the sleeves.
"It's beautiful", whispered Judith, "Even though it's black." Winter stared at the dress utterly awestruck. It was probably the most opulent thing she had ever seen in her life and this was just a mourning dress. I put it on and relished the feel of it against my skin.  Ma Osa, Judith, and Winter looked at me sweetly. "You look like a princess", she said rushing to hug me. "No my dear", said Ma Osa fondly, "She is a princess.”























                        




 
                                                                Chapter 2

I didn't really have to pack anything as I'd be measured for new clothes when we got to the palace and all books and other things I might need would be provided but I packed a scarf given to me by Ma Osa, my bundle of letters and my sun necklace, a gift from my mother. Ma Osa had packed me some food for the journey as well.
 I dragged my suitcase out with the help of Judith as Winter came out behind us.
  We were met with a limousine flanked by two Bentleys. We gasped. Even though I came here in a limousine I was still thrilled to see one right outside my door. The guards stood by one Bentley and David against the sleek vehicle. It brought back how real the situation was now. I turned to my foster family. They embraced me in an intimate hug that I didn't want to leave. We pulled back eventually but Winter held onto my hand.
 "Promise me", she whimpered, "That you'll write, tell me everything won't you?"
"I will", I said to her and to Judith who tried to hide the tears in her eyes. She, like her mother, was tough. She squeezed my shoulder and bent down towards my ear. "I'm sure you can do it", she whispered, "Be a princess I mean."
 My shoulders tensed a bit. "I hope so." She let go of me and smiled.
  I moved towards the car giving the driver my suitcase then looked at the house that had been my home all these years. The small windows with the homemade curtains, the soot-stained walls, the stray nails that stuck out at odd places and small grasses that grew by the doorway. I'd miss this place.  
"Your Highness." I heard a voice behind me. It was the driver holding open the door of the limo to me. I breathed slowly. Here we go. I stepped into the limo and David slid into the seats opposite me. They were made of soft black leather with golden threads. I looked out the window and watched my foster family waving at me. I waved back as the driver slipped into his seat and the guards got into their car.  
 We began to drive out of the compound while Winnie ran after the limo her little legs looking like they were flying until she and the house and Judy and Ma Osa were far in the distance but I continued waving as if that would keep them closer. We drove through the sandy streets where shops were starting to open and people were sweeping their storefronts and the fronts of houses. Some people looked up and gave us some waves and cheers at the prospect of seeing a royal entourage. It was probably the most interesting thing they'd seen since palm wine. A man in wrapper with a toothbrush still in his mouth came running out of a backyard shouting after us. "Long live the king."
    I sighed sadly. Did anyone else not know yet?
"I don't think the newspapers have been sent out", said David probably reading my mind, "Besides it's Sapele they'd probably be the last to know if the world was ending."
I laughed. That was true. If not because of my distant family being here Sapele was a good place to hide. It was a small rural village where everyone was happy in their small corner of the world and almost could afford to be oblivious to what went on on the other side of the ‘Goodbye Sapele' sign that we had just passed.  
"There are bread and mineral in the cooler", the driver said looking at us through the mirror.
"Thank you", I replied remembering that we had skipped breakfast.  He smiled putting up the glass between the driver's seat and the passenger seats.
 I pulled a small lever and out popped a selection of fizzy drinks and bottles of water. I took a bottle that said ‘sparkling water' then looked at David staring pensively out the window then took out another one.
"Here", I offered him the bottle. He took it silently with a grin.
"Thank you, your highness."
I sighed. "It's just me."
"Well, it won't be when we're at the palace, so we better start getting used to it."
That alerted me to something.  
"You'll still be my guard right?"
"Of course", he answered as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, "It's what I was trained to do wasn't it."
"Was herding cattle and farming part of your training too?", I quipped.
While in Sapele, David had worked on our neighbor's small plot of land to be close to me.
"Not really," he shrugged, "Just something I picked up along life."
   David's family was well off enough and I think was in business, not agriculture. That job was reserved for him as the youngest of eight brothers. Most of them went into the business field while others joined the army. David was only fourteen as he'd told me when he arrived at the palace to be the king's attendant.  After a few months, he got assigned to be my guard. He had confided to me himself on how he didn't understand why I was not assigned someone older and more experienced but he said that with what he had demonstrated, he was the best candidate not even mentioning the fact he would not be recognized as being from the palace.
   The road was wide and open with an abundance of trees and red sand, hitting potholes constantly. We passed the tiny village of Mosalgar where we had gone swimming last summer. Ma Osa's oldest son Koda came as well with his wife and children and Uncle Philip we made a whole day of it. I began to feel nostalgic. With all the prestige at the palace would I be happy there?
"David, did you like being at the palace?",I asked looking at him intently. He turned to me and smiled. "You've lived there for five years", he said but then his face fell a bit when he saw my expression, "You don't remember it ?"
"Not really. We don't talk about it that much", I said, " But I suppose things would have changed by now anyway."
"You're right", he replied, "Unless the rebel attacks have been understated."
"Have you ever been involved with the rebels?" David bit his lip and looked out the window again.
"Yes. There were attacks when we were there. Ever since the law change."
The law change. Where all our problems began.
David looked relieved as if he knew that if I didn't agree he would have to drag me out of the house pulling and screaming until we got to the palace.
"Hey", he whispered stooping down to my level which even at 15 going on 16 was quite low. "Security been increased and I'll be with you just I have been all these years little dove." I chuckled a little. That endearment which to me was an oxymoron was a favorite of David's from the moment when I was thrust into his arms for protection at age 5.  I began to feel a bit guilty. For all my tantrums, stubbornness and rebellious nature, David had always been by my side. A part of me knew that this was his duty as a guard but another part felt like he actually liked me. Not as a monarch, or protectorate but as a friend.
  He smiled too but then his expression grew slightly somber. "I'm sorry about your father", he said looking truly sorry for me, "And I'm sorry that I'm only telling you that now." I chuckled again.
"It's alright, you had things to discuss. I understand."  He nodded and moved to hug me but the kitchen door opened with the guard almost falling in.
   "Your Highness", he breathed quickly, "It is best that we leave as soon as possible."
I and David nodded and made our way out to where Judith and Winter were sweeping and Ma Osa was sitting down but got up once she saw me. She looked stricken. I ran into her arms again, my face pressed against her chest. I hadn't even considered how Ma Osa would feel at my leaving. She had basically raised me alongside her own children. She was strong, so loving, I almost felt bad at leaving. I turned to the door and saw Judith and Winter standing there, brooms in hand, with the same expression as their mother. Ma Osa let go of me and dried her eyes with the edge of her apron. "Winnie find a bag for Aria."  Winter ran in towards the cupboard while Judith came in and pushed me towards the bathroom. "Wash quickly", she said then made her way to our shared bedroom.
  I brushed my teeth and poured water from the shower into the bucket. It was cold as we didn't have time to boil water. Not many had hot water in Sapele. I used a bowl to splash water over my body. I wanted to forgo the soap but then I remembered I was going to the palace. I suppose I was to make a decent impression. I got out and wrapped myself in the nearest towel then rushed to our bedroom.
  Judith and Winter were there Judith pulling out some of my clothes and Winter holding an old suitcase. " Winnie, you found it", I gasped looking at the little black thing. It was the same suitcase that I brought with me ten years ago.
"Yes", giggled Winter, "I'm sure it can hold everything you have." That was a no-brainer. I had a scare number of clothes, some trinkets and a few books on politics and history that I had never read. "I can't believe you're going to the palace!", she continued excitedly.
"Of course she is", snapped Judith, "It's where her family is."
I pulled Winter towards me softly. She's a sweet little thing and was just a baby when I first met her.
"We're your family too", she said indignantly looking at Judith then turned back to me with her wide eyes. "Right?"
I laughed. "Yes, you are. You're the daughter of my mother's father's third wife's sister's daughter."
"And what's that in English?", sniffed Judith suppressing a smile. She had seemed so cold and grown up in the last few years so I was glad when she still engaged in our inside jokes.
 There was a knock on our door. Winter answered and Ma Osa stepped in. "Are you finished?", she asked and noticed our sheepish expressions and the empty suitcase. She just ignored us and I noticed she had a  clothing wrap. "It's for you Aria."
I took it, unzipped it and gasped with what I saw. It was a black dress. A mourning dress.
    I sighed a little. I had almost forgotten the actual reason I had to go to the palace. I fingered the black tulle that billowed at the ends with velvet roses at the sleeves.
"It's beautiful", whispered Judith, "Even though it's black." Winter stared at the dress utterly awestruck. It was probably the most opulent thing she had ever seen in her life and this was just a mourning dress. I put it on and relished the feel of it against my skin.  Ma Osa, Judith, and Winter looked at me sweetly. "You look like a princess", she said rushing to hug me. "No my dear", said Ma Osa fondly, "She is a princess.”
                        




 
                                                                Chapter 2

I didn't really have to pack anything as I'd be measured for new clothes when we got to the palace and all books and other things I might need would be provided but I packed a scarf given to me by Ma Osa, my bundle of letters and my sun necklace, a gift from my mother. Ma Osa had packed me some food for the journey as well.
 I dragged my suitcase out with the help of Judith as Winter came out behind us.
  We were met with a limousine flanked by two Bentleys. We gasped. Even though I came here in a limousine I was still thrilled to see one right outside my door. The guards stood by one Bentley and David against the sleek vehicle. It brought back how real the situation was now. I turned to my foster family. They embraced me in an intimate hug that I didn't want to leave. We pulled back eventually but Winter held onto my hand.
 "Promise me", she whimpered, "That you'll write, tell me everything won't you?"
"I will", I said to her and to Judith who tried to hide the tears in her eyes. She, like her mother, was tough. She squeezed my shoulder and bent down towards my ear. "I'm sure you can do it", she whispered, "Be a princess I mean."
 My shoulders tensed a bit. "I hope so." She let go of me and smiled.
  I moved towards the car giving the driver my suitcase then looked at the house that had been my home all these years. The small windows with the homemade curtains, the soot-stained walls, the stray nails that stuck out at odd places and small grasses that grew by the doorway. I'd miss this place.  
"Your Highness." I heard a voice behind me. It was the driver holding open the door of the limo to me. I breathed slowly. Here we go. I stepped into the limo and David slid into the seats opposite me. They were made of soft black leather with golden threads. I looked out the window and watched my foster family waving at me. I waved back as the driver slipped into his seat and the guards got into their car.  
 We began to drive out of the compound while Winnie ran after the limo her little legs looking like they were flying until she and the house and Judy and Ma Osa were far in the distance but I continued waving as if that would keep them closer. We drove through the sandy streets where shops were starting to open and people were sweeping their storefronts and the fronts of houses. Some people looked up and gave us some waves and cheers at the prospect of seeing a royal entourage. It was probably the most interesting thing they'd seen since palm wine. A man in wrapper with a toothbrush still in his mouth came running out of a backyard shouting after us. "Long live the king."
    I sighed sadly. Did anyone else not know yet?
"I don't think the newspapers have been sent out", said David probably reading my mind, "Besides it's Sapele they'd probably be the last to know if the world was ending."
I laughed. That was true. If not because of my distant family being here Sapele was a good place to hide. It was a small rural village where everyone was happy in their small corner of the world and almost could afford to be oblivious to what went on on the other side of the ‘Goodbye Sapele' sign that we had just passed.  
"There are bread and mineral in the cooler", the driver said looking at us through the mirror.
"Thank you", I replied remembering that we had skipped breakfast.  He smiled putting up the glass between the driver's seat and the passenger seats.
 I pulled a small lever and out popped a selection of fizzy drinks and bottles of water. I took a bottle that said ‘sparkling water' then looked at David staring pensively out the window then took out another one.
"Here", I offered him the bottle. He took it silently with a grin.
"Thank you, your highness."
I sighed. "It's just me."
"Well, it won't be when we're at the palace, so we better start getting used to it."
That alerted me to something.  
"You'll still be my guard right?"
"Of course", he answered as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, "It's what I was trained to do wasn't it."
"Was herding cattle and farming part of your training too?", I quipped.
While in Sapele, David had worked on our neighbor's small plot of land to be close to me.
"Not really," he shrugged, "Just something I picked up along life."
   David's family was well off enough and I think was in business, not agriculture. That job was reserved for him as the youngest of eight brothers. Most of them went into the business field while others joined the army. David was only fourteen as he'd told me when he arrived at the palace to be the king's attendant.  After a few months, he got assigned to be my guard. He had confided to me himself on how he didn't understand why I was not assigned someone older and more experienced but he said that with what he had demonstrated, he was the best candidate not even mentioning the fact he would not be recognized as being from the palace.
   The road was wide and open with an abundance of trees and red sand, hitting potholes constantly. We passed the tiny village of Mosalgar where we had gone swimming last summer. Ma Osa's oldest son Koda came as well with his wife and children and Uncle Philip we made a whole day of it. I began to feel nostalgic. With all the prestige at the palace would I be happy there?
"David, did you like being at the palace?",I asked looking at him intently. He turned to me and smiled. "You've lived there for five years", he said but then his face fell a bit when he saw my expression, "You don't remember it ?"
"Not really. We don't talk about it that much", I said, " But I suppose things would have changed by now anyway."
"You're right", he replied, "Unless the rebel attacks have been understated."
"Have you ever been involved with the rebels?" David bit his lip and looked out the window again.
"Yes. There were attacks when we were there. Ever since the law change."
The law change. Where all our problems began.
 

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