I didn’t know the crown was cursed. Apparently, no one else did either. But now I am cursed, and all because of my curiosity. It sure did kill the cat, because now I am doomed. Unless I can make it to the top of our sacred mountain, Mirthazaer, and appease our water gods.
I mean, honestly, make it a little easier, would you? But no, the gods of the water are picky about who wears the crown. Something that I, Carlytte Gryff, the heir to the throne, Crown Princess of Zyndrahr, fancy title after fancy title, yadda yadda yadda, should have known about.
It was a dare, too. To wear the crown. See, beyond the pageantry and ceremony, beyond the garments of grandeur, us princesses learn how to become warrior queens. We are expected to ride into battle, to defend the Queendom even at cost to their own life. We are taught to choose our paths with wisdom, because there is a reason that most in society settle for a more quiet existence. Royalty comes with a hefty price tag and, when that bill comes due, we will pay it with gratitude for our lives.
Princesses are angel warriors, and we learn through pain and struggle as any other soldier of our realm does. What makes us a princess though, is not our birth, although that does play into it, just a little bit, not whom we were born to, yet the quality of our heroes' hearts. For only then can we access the divine soul-ether and bring forth the kind of magic that keeps all of creation safe. To us, a princess is another word for angel or good-witch. So, we are respected. We’ve earned it.
Seriously, us princesses spend most of our days in gruelling training for whatever our passion-driven specialism is. So, upon the days of the ballroom dance, when we adorn such pretty dresses and dance, we’ve earned our revelry.
Hence, the dare. I may be the Heir, but my parents have a lot of brothers and sisters, and their daughters are my sisters-in-arms. We have grown up together, laughed, cried, and supported each other for our entire lives. And we love to dare each other. Building character, you know?
Sayahmi giggled as we crept up the mountain, illuminated by the bright moonlight. We had crept out of our beds and escaped past the guards. She had packed the food we would need in order to make it up the mountain without passing out, and I had brought myself. I really didn’t need anything else.
We arrived at the top of the mountain, a cave mouth opening in front of us. Glancing at each other, we both stepped inside. The small tunnel was lined with...water? It glowed faintly, showing the way, and I peered closer. Small bioluminescent fish swam up and down the small tubes of water. Shaking my head in amazement, I walked on.
We got to the center of the tunnel, a big room covered with pedestals. Each one represented a different god or goddess, and on the center of each pedestal rested a different crown. Each one was unique to the god, and I gravitated towards the Goddess of the Water’s crown.
It was beautiful, with silver threads twining together, mimicking the silent but fierce river. Sapphires studded the silver, and three points rose in the front, each one adorned with a silver wave.
“Well?” Sayahmi said, crossing her arms. I looked at her.
“What?” I asked. She rolled her eyes.
“Put it on, Carylette. That’s what we’re here for.” She replied.
“Oh yeah. Right.” I said, and gently placed it on my head. For a moment everything went quiet. Even the air stilled. I turned to Sayahmi with a big grin.
“Doesn’t it look amazi-” I started, but a huge rumble nearly threw me off my feet. A bright flash of light illuminated the room, making both of us gasp in surprise. Mist swirled around, appearing out of nowhere, and surrounded me.
“Take it off! Take off the crown!” Sayahmi cried, and I reached up to tug it off, but it was stuck fast to my head.
“It won’t come off!” I yelled back, the mist thickening around me, making it hard to breathe.
“Try harder!” Sayahmi screamed.
“What do you think I’m trying to do?” I screamed back. Every time I tried pulling the crown off, it just tightened, so I stopped tugging. The mist grew thicker and thicker, until finally it stopped. Our ragged breathing was the only sound in the cavern. I took a tentative step forward, and instantly, water started pouring into the cave.
“What did you do?” Sayahmi cried, sloshing forwards until she was standing next to me, her pale face illuminated by the lights lining the cave. I shook my head, the water nearing our knees.
“I don’t know!” I said, trying desperately to find a way to turn the water off. My gaze roves the flooding cave, and lands on a small pedestal. It is engraved with the symbols of Elyps, our goddess of water. “There!” I gurgled, water already past my chest. I took a deep breath, then dove under the water, swimming frantically to the pedestal. It was on a ledge higher up than the rest of the cavern, so the water was only knee deep.
It swirled hungrily around me as I took a step forward, putting my hand on the pedestal and summoning Elpys. Like a suction, all the water suddenly flowed away from me, and I could see it draining away into a hole at the center of the cave. Sayahmi coughed and sputtered as she found her footing again on the floor, and within a few seconds all the water had drained away. We both gasped for breath, our brains catching up with the fact that we almost died. A rumbling sound caught our attention, and we whipped our heads to the pedestal.
A crack formed on the top, and it spread down until the stone pillar had a line down the middle. We covered our faces on instinct as it cracked open and a blue mist swirled out of it. It grew into a big form high above us, coalescing into the form of the goddess.
She had blue hair, water flowing from the tips constantly, although never touching the ground. Her golden skin gleamed, and she was wearing a light gray dress, a necklace of blue sapphire at her throat. Her green eyes gleamed as she stretched in the air, and suddenly they snapped to us, cowering below.
“Mortals? I have not seen your kind in hundreds of years.” She said, her voice sounding like the cascade of waterfalls crashing dozens of feet into their pools below. It should have been horrible, but there was a strange peace about it.
“Goddess.” We both whispered, kneeling down. Neither of us had seen one in years.
“Rise, daughters.” She said, floating down until she was standing on the stone floor, only slightly taller than the average person. We tentatively lifted our heads. She looked down at me, a cold smile on her beautiful face.
“I see you are wearing my crown, child. Why?” She asked, tilting her head. Shame crept over my face.
“I-It was a dare, goddess. To see if I was worthy.” I whispered. She tsked and I braced myself for her punishment. Hopefully I made a really cute salmon, or even a river otter. But the curse never came. Instead, she rested her hand on my shoulder, and a bright flash of light illuminated us.
I looked around, startled to see Sayahmi wasn’t there.
“Where-?” I asked, turning to Elpys. She smiled.
“I wanted to talk to you away from your sister.” She replied.
“O-ok.” I said. She turned and I saw our world transform in front of us. It was as if we were looking down on my Queendom from a bird's eye view. I supposed that's how the gods and goddesses viewed our world.
"The subconscious mind, our magical land of dreams, has been missing the memo about negation in speech and written language. What the conscious mind reads as positive, the subconscious receives as negative and vice versa when negation is used, and so the carousel of confusion continues. If you want true intelligence, talk to your subconscious and that of others with positive phrasing and positive metaphors and watch your intelligence climb to new heights; watch the shackles of fear break; grow the paws of the lion you were born to be; learn to roar." She said, finally turning to me. I gaped up at her. She was giving me advice, not killing me for wearing her crown out of turn, but actually giving me advice.
“There comes times in living that transform us, and all we can do is choose how we are changed. Do we rise up and accept the warrior spirit, or not? For the pain comes ready or not, the grief is absolute, the old self is burned clear away and the new self steps onwards. Beware that this transformation hurts, that it comes at a cost no matter the path you chose.
So, what I say to all who ask is - make it worth it. Let grief flow through you as a river in mountain passes - it will erode, it will create new channels, yet the new self can arise as more beautiful than ever in time. And this, my love, is time as the rivers tell it, not the clocks. It is time that stretches unmeasured yet comes all the same one day.” She said. I nodded.
“I-I understand.” I whispered, my voice coming out in a rasp.
“Good,” She said, a sudden twinkle in her eyes, “because i have been waiting to give that advice to someone for the longest time.” She said, laughing a little. I smiled.
“I will listen, goddess. I will. And when I am Queen, I will remember.” I said.
“That’s all they need, your people. They want a Queen who will listen, and I give you my blessing, Carlyette Griff. Make our world proud.” She said, vanishing in a cloud of blue mist.
Blinking, I found myself back in the cavern, Sayahmi gaping at me.
“Where’d you go?” She whispered, and I could hear the fear in her voice.
“What?” I asked, still disoriented. She rolled her eyes.
“I looked up and you guys were a pale shadow of your bodies. It was,” She said, shuddering, “scary.” I got to my feet, wincing at the pain in my knees.
“I just got advice from our water goddess.” I said, and Sayahmi looked at me dumbfounded.
“No, really?” She asked. I nodded, a smile on my face.
“And I have her blessing.” I added. As an afterthought, I reached up and pulled the crown off my head. It came easily, and as we walked out of the cavern and down the mountain, I could have sworn the sapphires gleamed brighter than before. A gift from the Goddess of the Water.
Heya! Hope you liked this...Luke (litlover) pointed out on my Trap the Dragon series that my fantasy names are a bit *hard* to pronounce, so when I use fantasy names from now on, I’ll make sure to tell you how to pronounce them!!