Chapter 1 - The Minister
"Princess Geneva! Finish your breakfast. The Empyrean Minister is expected to arrive in 15 minutes!" My maid, Amelia, fretted, running up from behind and forcing a spoon of porridge down my throat.
"Aah- mee- vi- a!" I groaned, spitting specks of food out of my mouth.
"Oh, Princess, your father requested your presence in the Throne Room exactly 5 minutes prior to the Minister's arrival. I would deeply regret disappointing his majesty, especially today!" she said.
I swallowed, and frowned at her. "The Empyrean Minister? Why is he coming?"
"I wonder the same, but it must be something important. This is, what, the first time? No. The second time a minister from the Empyrean Kingdom has visited our castle in all my time working here." She stuffed another spoonful into my mouth.
"I can eat myself!" I snapped, grabbing the spoon from her hand. "What was the reason the first time they arrived?" I asked.
"It was to invite our kingdom to the Naming Ceremony of the birth of the Aquarean Prince. 18 years ago, if I recall correctly. A couple years before you existed in this world, Princess. The Terrarean Kingdom hasn't made an appearance here since... Oh, never mind that. But the Ignerean Kingdom has invited us twice, actually. The first time for their first child. You were just a mere toddler then. But the second time just three years ago for their second daughter. Do you remember?" Amelia stuck a comb into my hair and began the nearly impossible job of running it through the messy nest of tangles.
"Yes. The one father said we couldn't attend." I said sourly, twirling the spoon in the thick pool of porridge.
"Eat, Miss. We have to hurry and get you ready." Amelia tugged on the comb to get the knots out. She'd had years of experience on my hair, but it only seemed to get tougher and tougher every day.
"I don't want to eat. Besides, I'm not hungry." I said, pushing to bowl away from me.
"But Princess, you must eat. Breakfast is -"
"The most important meal of the day. I know, I know," I'd heard her say this millions of times. It was always the same speech, over and over again. Breakfast gives you a boost of energy for the day ahead. It keeps you in a good mood. Blah, blah, blah. I didn't have a problem with breakfast, in general. But I did have a problem with porridge. It's bland, disgusting taste did not appeal to my poor little tongue. "I'll just have some tea," I suggested.
"Alright. Suit yourself." she agreed, pulling my hair into a braided up-do. Amelia may have trouble untangling my hair, but she was truly amazing when it came to the hairstyles. She made sure I always looked my best, even if it was my nighttime hair. By the time I sipped up the last of my tea, my hair was perfectly set.
Amelia got me ready in five minutes flat. I stumbled down the stairs, with my uncomfortable heels, and into the Throne Room as the purple, netted veil of my gown flowed gracefully behind me. Father and mother sat on their thrones with little Adrea sitting rigidly on my mother's lap.
"Ah, Geneva. Come, have a seat. The Minister should be here any minute." Father said, gesturing to the empty seat beside his. Mother's face stayed stern and focused on the extremely large doors positioned at the opposite end of the room, as though struggling to know what to anticipate from the Minister. I walked over to my seat and sat down, joining my family's stiff, yet elegant posture, just the way a royal family should be.
After several impatient moments, the door finally flung open, revealing a tall, skeleton-like man dressed in a light blue uniform. The castle guards bowed down at his presence and shut the door behind him. The skeleton man sauntered forward, as though he had all the time in the world. Father leaned forward in his seat, observing the man intently. Mother shifted Adrea onto her other lap restlessly. The man casually moved closer until he was standing directly in front of us.
"Your Majesty," he greeted, bending down into a deep bow.
Father nodded, "Yes. You must be the Minister of the Empyrean Kingdom. Welcome to Aquarean."
"Thank you. I am here on the orders of Queen Aurora. We have a special invitation for the royal families." he said.
Mother relaxed, loosening her knit eyebrows and pulling up a gentle smile. His arrival here was for a better reason that what ever it was that mother had been uneasily expecting. Adrea's face lit up at the words "special invitation".
"Is that so?" Father inquired.
"Of course," the Minister pulled open a yellowed scroll from a bag hanging from his shoulder that looked so ancient, it was a wonder how it stayed intact. "'Queen Aurora and all of the Empyrean Kingdom sincerely invites you, King Adrian and Queen Marina, to the celebration of the coronation of Prince Troy. We request your arrival at our palace on the day before the final moon of the year along with your family to offer your blessings to Prince Troy in his acceptance of the crown. Thank you and we wish you the best. With kind regards, Queen Aurora.'" he read. The Minister rolled the scroll back up and stuffed it into his sack.
"A coronation? That's awesome!" I squealed, desperate for an opportunity to finally get to leave our territory and visit the other kingdoms for once.
"Geneva, please be silent." Mother snapped, giving me a look of disapproval clearly saying 'Princesses shouldn't speak without permission.' I rolled my eyes.
"That is wonderful. I wish Prince Troy best of luck for his coronation. As for the invitation, I will have to get back to you on that. We will be sure to let you know before hand in case we decide to come, but as of now, we are quite busy in our kingdom as it is. Thank you for the invitation, Minister." Father replied.
The Minister nodded in agreement. "That will do, Your Majesty. Please be sure to inform Queen Aurora of your response. I'm sure she will be waiting eagerly." With that, he bowed down once more and guided his skeletal figure out of our Throne Room.
I waited for the doors to shut completely before I began my rant. "Father! What was that? The Empyrean Minister comes to our kingdom for the first time in forever to invite us to a coronation and you just reject it? It's a coronation, for heaven's sake! Prince Troy will be the new king of Empyrean! We shouldn't miss that for the world! Besides, we hadn't attended King Camdyn's funeral, so I think it's time we pay our respect by supporting his son in his coronation!"
"Geneva, please mind your manners." Mother instructed.
"But father!" I emphasized, whining deliberately.
"I know, sweetheart. But it is best for kingdoms to keep their distance, even when invited. Trust me, dear child, I've learned this the hard way." he said, a hint of despair visible on his face.
"What do you mean?" I asked, suddenly conscious of his hurt feelings. I could tell father really wanted to attend, but was trying his best to avoid it for some reason that he kept hidden from me.
"Nothing. Don't worry. It's just tensions with the Terrarean Kingdom. But, like I said, I will think about it. It would be a good chance to pay our respects to King Camdyn's decease. We'll see, Geneva." he replied.