Chapter 1: Hidden Talent
Princess Sophia Chloe Hanna Christine, Crown Princess of Jensore, one of the daughters of the Casteen family, was born with a picture-perfect face. Her hair was wavy, light brown that shined honey blonde in the sun and looked dark brown in water or in the night. She had sparkling, warm honey-brown eyes, a pale face, rosy cheeks, and bright pink lips. She was very intelligent too; she could read and write at the age of two. Every girl envied her.
The Queen was very satisfied with her daughter, but one thought bothered her. The five year-old Crown Princess wouldn’t speak.
“Speak,” ordered the Queen. Sophia smiled and trotted away.
Except for this fact, the Queen was proud of her Crown Princess. She cared for Sophia with all her effort—that is, until the second princess and the prince was born.
The second princess’s name was Celia Marietta Harriet Rosalina, a pretty girl with bright yellow hair and piercing blue eyes. Celia resembled the Queen very much, so the servants treated her with special respect. Then Philip James Michael Peter, the only prince, was born. Somehow Sophia could read in the Queen’s face that she was secretly wishing Philip would be the Crown Prince instead of Crown Princess Sophia. The Queen cared more about Philip (because he was the only prince) and Celia (because she looked exactly like herself) as time passed. Sophia, the Crown Princess with huge honey-brown eyes, had no choice but to play with Lady Serena or watch others.
Serena was not a blood relative of Sophia’s. Serena’s mother was Sophia’s nurse-mary, and that made Serena be called “lady” since she was born.
Serena was three years older than Sophia, who was now eight. She was unusually sharp and slender for an twelve-year-old. Sophia never saw Serena’s silvery-blond hair fly behind her; Serena was prim and did not run. Her eyes were pale turquoise and sparkled sometimes. However, Sophia did not like Serena’s eyes sparkle; it made her scared and creepy. Serena had a talent of something, although Sophia could not tell what. However, Sophia could tell that Serena’s talent was dark and dangerous. Serena was very eager to find out when Sophia would talk.
Sophia would listen and listen, no matter how much the Queen wanted her to talk. She could read people’s expressions and know what they wanted to hear. She knew what to say at certain situations to make people terribly grave or over-excited. She read many difficult books in the palace library, her small, fragile 9-year-old body hidden safely behind high walls of bookshelves. She soon began to understand what people thought when they were by their manners of speaking.
One extremely sunny afternoon, a maid called Sophia. “Crown Princess, the Queen is calling for you.”
Sophia looked up from her book. She was irritated that the maid had bothered her in the middle of her favorite book. However, she was to become Queen of Jensore one day, so she smiled and nodded.
“Yes. Thank you for telling me that.”
Sophia stood up and walked down the marble stairs carefully and gracefully, just as she was told. She knocked gently at the door of the Queen’s chamber.
“Yes, Crown Princess. Come in.”
When Sophia entered, doing a curtsy with a little smile and a pleasant expression on her face-- “A princess should always pretend to be content,” the Queen always said-- she saw a maiden standing next to the Queen.
“Crown Princess, this is your new nurse-mary, Ginevra,” the Queen announced. Sophia knew why the Queen had hired her. She could read in the nurse-mary’s face the reason she came--the new nurse-mary was full of self-confidence that she could make the Crown Princess speak. Sophia nodded and left the room. The pale-skinned, red-haired nurse-mary followed her.
A few days later, Sophia could not stand any longer. The new nurse-mary-- “Please call me Ginny, Crown Princess,” she always said with an uncomfortably high voice and a whiny accent--irritated Sophia very much. She followed Sophia everywhere, giving her “advice”. This was why Sophia decided to speak for the first time of her life.
Sophia chose her vocabulary carefully. Shakespeare's words swam in her head. What she had read was now becoming her words. She took a deep breath and thought of how to create unbearable fear for the nurse-mary.
“Ginevra,” said Sophia, feeling powerful.
“C, crown princess!” Ginny exclaimed, not believing her ears. “You--you just...spoke!”
“Yes,” Sophia replied, flapping her eyelashes quite elegantly. “I have spoken.”
A smile slowly appeared in the nurse-mary’s face. Just wait until I tell the Queen, she was thinking. Sophia read her thoughts.
“Why are you here?” Sophia whispered poisonously. The nurse-mary did not hear her; she was too busy being occupied by her own thoughts than listening to the 9-year-old Crown Princess. ‘Aha,’ Sophia thought. ‘You are not listening to me now.’
“Ginevra,” Sophia boomed, “you did not hear me. What did I say?”
The young maiden froze. “What, what did you say, your highness?”
“I said,” Sophia repeated icily, “what did I say before addressing you?”
Ginny’s face turned chalk white. Sophia sensed new fear from the nurse-mary’s fearful eyes. Sophia advanced on Ginny who took a step back. Sophia narrowed her eyes.
“You have not been listening, have you?” Sophia inquired the redhead maid. Sophia knew that the nurse-mary could not stand much longer. In Jensore, the worst fear of plebs was to displease a member of the Royal Family-- the Kasteens. The Kasteens had absolute power over the kingdom. As Sophia had calculated, Ginny fell to her knees, tears in her eyes. Her two hands, clasped together, vibrated hard.
“Please, forgive me, Crown Princess,” Ginny pleaded. “Please, please. Just once. My family will starve without my salary!”
Sophia smirked--one of things the Queen had forbidden her to do. It felt so good to disobey; to listen to your own instincts instead of rules someone else had made up. She bent her upper body and with her right hand she lifted Ginny’s chin, just as she had seen evil bosses do to the heroes. But I am different, Sophia thought. I am the heroine and this woman is the dark, evil woman; I have won.
“Ginevra,” Sophia said. Ginny noticed the sudden change of expression. Sophia’s voice was like melting butter. It warmed her up slowly, her brain too clustered by the little Crown Princess’s voice. Stupefied, she murmured her answer.
“Yes, Crown Princess...”
“What if we make a deal?” Sophia moseyed around in the bedchamber. She could sense that she had won this battle with her first victim.
“A deal?” Ginny still mumbled. Sophia smiled an angelic smile.
“Go to Queen Casteen and resign,” Sophia whispered, her words as slick and shiny as a snake. “Do not tell the reason why. Go to Brell and live there. Never come back. And, you shall never ever think of this memory again. Now go.”
Hypnotized, Ginny stood up, bowed, and walked out of Sophia’s bedchamber.
When Ginny disappeared, Sophia sighed a huge sigh of relief and plopped on her smooth bed, her bed covers made of brilliant blue satin. She let her upper body drop as well. Now lying on her bed, she pondered on what she had done.
It was the right thing to do, wasn’t it? The maiden was bothering Sophia to death, not letting any sort of privacy exist to Sophia. Yes, she had definitely done the right thing for both the nurse-mary or herself.
But what was this disgusting feeling? Sophia felt an ugly lump swelling in her. Crown Princess Casteen clutched her throat and gasped for breath. The monstrous feeling did not stop. It came up, up, and more up until Sophia could stand no more. The lovely blue-and-white chamber of Sophia was replaced by a pitch-black scene of nothingness, then pure white.
When Sophia woke up, she was tucked in her bed in her nightdress. The palace doctor was examining her. Startled, Sophia pulled her still drowsy body up from the sweet temptation of the warm bed.
“What--what happened?” Sophia asked, although she was pretty much sure about what the answer would be.
“You fainted, Crown Princess Casteen,” the doctor replied gently. “You had too much stress; you had more than your body could handle.”
Despite the doctor’s encouragement to lie down, Sophia got up--”I am still in my bed; I am just sitting up!”-- and looked around. The Queen wasn’t there. A little part of Sophia sighed silently at the fact her own mother hadn’t come. Serena was sitting next to her, though. She had her face covered with both hands, creating the look of a truly worried friend. Sophia sensed something fake, something made up, a mask; however, Sophia let go of that mean thought of doubting another without evidence and at the same time, the disgusting black feeling that started to come up. She decided to believe that Serena was truly caring for her--the easiest way of understanding her actions. That relieved Sophia a little--the sight of someone really caring for her was comforting.
“Serena,” Sophia reached the twelve-year-old blond lady. Serena jerked her head up, her face wearing a surprised expression. However she immediately recovered, and her face resembled a sly cat again.
“Crown Princess, may I ask to be your lady-in-waiting? I cannot bear to something happen to you again.”
‘Something is odd,’ Sophia thought. However she fought hard to deny her own thoughts.
“Sure, Lady Serena, if that is okay with you.”
Serena nodded happily. “Then I will follow you everywhere,” she said.
Oh no, Sophia groaned in her head. She’ll be a replica of Ginevra.
Luckily for Sophia, Serena did not turn out to be like that nagging nurse-mary. Instead she was a very calm and understanding friend to Sophia. Sophia helped Serena study and Serena helped Sophia with all the dressing and doing hair. ‘It’s nice to have a friend like this,’ Sophia thought happily. Sometimes Serena was too odd. Sophia could not read Serena as exactly as others.
That made Sophia wanted to know more about her mysterious talent. She set off to the library. She strolled past the vast bookshelves, all dusty. She was skimming through legends about talents as hers. No one bothered her, as the Queen was happy at letting her daughter read in the Library--“A Lady of Sir Casteen should be doing noble activities such as reading,” she had always said to her sons and daughters. Just when she was about to go back and do something else, Sophia spotted an old book she had never read before. In curiosity and desperate hope, Crown Princess Casteen slowly flipped the cover open. Carefully, as the book could be very fragile, Sophia turned the page to the Table of Contents. It was a book of ancient legends.
“The Four Seasons... The Unbreakable Love... The Moon Lady... The Fire Creatures... No, no, no, and no. Hmmm... the Forgotten Talents?” Sophia thought aloud. The title of a legend had caught her eye. She flipped to the page of that legend and whispered the tale to herself.
“‘A long, long time ago, when this world was first created, all of this world was one realm. The giant realm was ruled by three Queens, said to be fairies, and their trusted Advisor. These Queens and the Advisor had special talents that let them control the world. They had many ladies-in-waiting, who had small portions of their mistress’s powers. The ladies-in-waiting with excellent skills, almost as good as the Queens, were called Daughters of the Queens.
The first Queen was the Thought. She was the wisest of all. When she spoke, everyone listened to her, and they could not resist not doing what she had ordered. She could read the thoughts of others by looking at their faces. She had a magnificent appearance. She had milky brown hair that shone honey brown in the sun and looked black in the night or when it was wet. Her eyes were large and long without creases and were the color of rich and warm honey brown. She had pale skin, rosy lips and cheeks, a perfectly-shaped nose, and a curved, slender body.
The second Queen was the Nature. She was able to control the nature. For example, wildfires or overflowing rivers were her pieces of work. Tornadoes and rock slides were her work. She could also communicate with animals. She had bright golden hair and olive-green eyes, large with creases.
The third Queen was the Shadow. She could make herself invisible and transparent like a ghost. She was the best in killing. She had very pale skin, close to white. Her straight midnight-black hair was sleek and shiny, falling to her waist. She had a silent charisma which made her stand out. No one dared to approach her so boldly.
The Advisor was the Seer. She was the holy one. She could heal wounds. She was able to communicate with the spirits and read the future. This talent had made her the great Advisor. She foretold the future to the Queens and warned them of dangers. She had silvery-blond hair and clear blue eyes.
The four were excellent rulers and they ruled quite peacefully until a rebellion happened. A man, possessing the greatest strength, was gaining absolute backup from the people who were fascinated by his mighty features. Meanwhile the rulers had serious conflicts. Whenever the Thought used her powers, she got an unbearable, horrible sensation inside her, almost overwhelming her. The Nature got a tremendous desire to overuse her talents, like setting fire everywhere and pouring too much unneeded rain to the earth. The Shadow’s memories were disappearing, one by one, as she performed her dark magic. The Seer’s body was turning into a spirit, little by little, as she communicated more and more with spirits. This caused the four to use their talents much less than before. The rebellion man did not lose this chance; he attacked the kingdom. The four rulers, with their powers unavailable, had to give their kingdom up. The man left the kingdom in ashes and built another kingdom, a large, mighty one. He then threatened to have the Thought as his spouse.
The four rulers got seperated. The Nature, the Shadow, and the Seer hid, but the Thought could not. Holding back tears, she rode a beautiful white carriage, many of her old people following behind. And in that line was a Daughter of the Shadow who had not hid with her mistress.
Halfway through the travel, the Shadow Daughter held a massacre. The Thought managed to hide in the man’s newly built kingdom as a servant for a lady. The Shadow Daughter pretended as if she was the Thought, appealing to the man by her dark magic. The Thought had very much trouble along the way, as she could not use her powers. She one day finally faced the Shadow Daughter, on the day of the man and the Shadow Daughter’s betrothal ceremony. Who won, no one knows.
The talents of the four rulers will pass down to descendants. A girl will inherit the powers every one thousand years. History will repeat itself every thousand years, although it will change little by little.
Sophia shivered. It was not a very happy story, but very mysterious. Sophia’s talents seemed to overlap with the Thought’s. Sophia gripped her head, eager to wash all this confusion away. ‘So,’ Sophia explained it to herself, ‘I am the descendant of the Thought. And history repeats itself? Then who is the Shadow Daughter?’
Sophia's pearly white teeth bumped into one another, making a chattering sound. 'It's all right, Sophia,' she persuaded herself. 'It's stupid. I'm believing a made-up tale? Huh. How do I know if I am the Thought's descendant or not?’
As Sophia thought more, the fairy tale seemed to be more and more spooky. ‘So... the Shadow Daughter will... try to kill me?’
“No!” Sophia shouted for real. People looked at her. Sophia felt her two rosy cheeks go bright red. She apologized and thought about it some more. ‘It said that history changes little by little. I can possibly change it...if I only don’t use my powers...’
“Crown Princess?” Serena interrupted Sophia’s ponders. “Were you in here, for all this beautiful day? Come on, let’s go outside.”
Still mesmerized by the tale, Sophia walked out with Serena, dazed.
It was a beautiful afternoon. Birds sang beautifully and flowers danced along to the but soft wind. Serena was braiding Sophia’s hair on the balcony. The sun made Sophia’s light brown hair shine honey blonde. Serena was silent as she twisted the Crown Princess’s hair into shape. Serena was an expert at doing these things, unlike Sophia.
Sophia tried to shake off the tale, but it clinged onto her as a grumpy cat would to a master. She pressed her fingernails to her still shaking hands. It was stupid. Why was she believing a fairy tale? Sophia bit her lower lip, trying to persuade herself again. ‘Yes, Sophia,’ she argued silently. ‘Accept it as a story. You are not the descendant of the Thought and the possibility that you really are is very, very low. You are just mesmerized by the mood of the tale. Yes, I am a Crown Princess. I will not be sent to a foreign country and therefore I will not be murdered by someone. Period.’
Sophia took a deep breath. She held it for a few seconds and let it go. Eager to change the subject in her head, she asked a question to Serena.
“Serena,” Sophia murmured, “will you still stay next to me when I am Queen someday?”
Serena looked startled by the question, but soon smiled and replied. “Of course, my lady. Of course I will stay next to you...if you’re queen one day.” Serena blurred her last five words. Sophia did not hear Serena’s last phrase. She simpered, gazing at the sun.
Sophia felt a smirk behind her. She whipped around, messing all the braids Serena had carefully done. Serena’s surprised eyes were as big as large crystal balls that fortune-tellers used. “Crown Princess! Why...?”
There was no one there except Serena.
“Serena, be quiet!” Sophia hissed. She was unable to control her talent. She felt the black slime slowly climbing up, but she swallowed once hard, and ignored it. “Be quiet; I cannot concentrate!”
Although it was very quick, Sophia caught a glimpse of Serena’s expression; it was a mixed expression of fury, wonder, and slyness. Now it was clear. It was Serena who had smirked at the royal lady of Jensore.
Sophia decided to criticize Serena. However, when she opened her mouth to speak, the black feeling overwhelmed her, causing Sophia to fall to the floor. And faint...again.
When Sophia woke up again, she was again in her bed. She groaned. The ugly memory could not be shooed away like most other ones. Sophia sighed. The talent of hers and the black feeling that came with it had caused her to faint two times. The citizens of Jensore would have been worried to death at the news of their future Queen being so weak. They might start not believing in her as a trustworthy monarch. Sophia knew that this could not occur again. On the other hand she wanted to keep her talent and have that wonderful joy of making people lying to her feet. Sophia had a very difficult time deciding what to do. Two voices debated in Sophia’s head.
Just let go of this wonderful talent? No, Sophia. You’re kicking a great chance away.
How about the legend? It’s too dangerous. What about the people?
You know, that legend is just a story. You have nothing to do with it, Sophia.
It’s too risky. It’s ominous; don’t you remember the last sentence?
Sophia recalled the myth. History repeats itself every one thousand years, though it changes little by little, it had said. Sophia decided to go with the second voice. It was right; it was too dangerous--taking a chance on keep using her talent was just too dangerous for the little monarch. Sophia sighed. She had to secure her talent deep inside herself. It was a
And from that day, Sophia’s wondrous talent was hidden safely in the 9-year-old girl’s body.