Fallen Crowns

•Three kingdoms, one prophecy

Two will fall but only one will rise•

Adonia is from Exortitan, the kingdom known for its richness and royalty. Aleka lives in Sveltorm, an island that produces enough seafood to feed all three kingdoms. Arete is from Gordona, a small but beautiful, mountainous and heavily forested area.

By chance they meet, which causes a chain of events to happen, and truths to be told. Their very different worlds are soon turn upside down as they try to survive and keep things as they know them to be. But the prophecy says two kingdoms will fall, and prophecies are always true. Or are they?

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2. Chapter One

Chapter One

-Adonia-


 

    There was an eerie silence as Adonia stomped through the corridors. Everyone in her path backed up against the nearest wall. After years of knowing her, the servants knew not to talk to Adonia when she appeared mad.

    The lesson she had just finished left her furious. Her teacher, Despina, demanded she learn about proper etiquette and manners. As if she had none! Sure, Adonia wasn’t the most nice or proper lady in Exortitan, but she had already known everything they went over!

    “What a waste of a day,” she grumbled to herself as she entered her family’s most used room. Instead of etiquette, Adonia would normally learn about ancient civilizations. It was her most favorite topic and found it quite interesting.

“How was your lesson, dear?” Mother asked, not even looking up from the passage she was reading as Adonia stormed into the living chambers.

“I want to kill them all!” she hissed under her breath. Mother lifted her head up and smiled.

“Just don't get any blood on your dress. We have dinner guests tonight.” If Adonia had said anything like that in the Father's presence, she would've been sent to another summer camp in Sveltorm. She shuddered at the thought of going back to that gross, smelly, fish-covered island for eight more weeks. She would rather go to Gordona, the third kingdom. Gordona was known for its beauty and simplicity. It was in the center of mountains and evergreen forests. Her weeks in Sveltorm were the worst eight weeks of her entire life.

“What does it matter if I dirty one dress. I have another hundred just waiting to be worn!” Adonia scoffed.

Mother’s smile quickly vanished. Her brows furrowed as she scolded, “Not amusing, Adonia. You should be grateful for what you have! Just imagine only having fifty dresses! That's how many the poor people in this kingdom have. It’s so sad to think about! Try to be more grateful…”

“Whatever,” she dismissed the previous comment.

“What happened today?” Mother asked, changing the topic back to her lesson.

“Despina still insists that I learn proper etiquette, but I just don’t find it necessary! It is really quite stupid, I think,” Adonia complained.

“You must know that I have told her to teach you that,” Mother stated with a twinkle in her eyes. “Adonia, you have very little manners!”

“Wh-” she started, but was cut off.

“And don’t think you can go complain about me to Father, because he also agrees with me. He was actually the one that set up these extra lessons for you!”

Adonia groaned. “Just because you set up the lessons doesn’t mean I’m going to listen to her. Despina’s crazy! Because you do not care that I hate my lessons, I'm going to go visit Pelagia. She’s the only one that will listen to me and understand! I'll be back before dinner.” She lifted her foot and stepped towards the entrance.

Mother sighed, “Don't be so haughty. I'm sure they don't want to hear your problems. But have a good time, I guess...” Realizing that she had troubled her mother, Adonia shuffled over to where she was seated. Hesitantly, she kissed the top of Mother’s head, avoiding the the dark brown mass of hair that was piled into a loose braided bun.

She looked into Mother’s hazel eyes and murmured, “I'll behave myself. Don't worry!” Mother smirked and patted Adonia’s shoulder.

“Alright, just don't be late.”

Before walking out, she looked back at Mother. “What do we have guests for?” It wasn’t unlikely for them to have special guests over from time to time. They were the rulers of a kingdom, afterall.

Mother glanced over at Adonia with a smile. “Business matters,” was all she said. Bored with that subject, she turned and went into the corridor.

Adonia loved getting away from all of the duties that came with her being royal. She was in a much better mood leaving Mother than she had been entering the room. Her mother had that effect on people. She could always make others happy and laugh, even if they were having a bad day. That was one of the many reasons Adonia loved her.

She turned the corner and stepped out of the castle. Once outside, Adonia could feel the weight lifting off her shoulders. It wasn’t long after that she felt like a normal girl again.

She continued down the walkway that lead away from the castle to the nearest village. Adonia tried to get out of her home at least once every few days. Being away helped clear her mind. Soon, she was feet from her favorite place: the market square.

The streets were bustling with mid-day activity. Everyone was out of there houses going to visit friends and family. Some were even running their daily errands. Adonia turned the corner and walked into the market square. The square had shops with everything you could ever imagine. There was farmers, seamstresses, and bakers, just to name a few. Some shops were even run by the locals, selling handmade crafts and goods.

The sun was high in the sky, just barely starting to fall to the west, indicating that the day would begin to turn to evening. Adonia could only see a single cloud. It was bright white and puffy, like freshly washed sheets. She turned and faced the way she had come. A light, warm breeze gently glided across her face. She turned back around and continued the way she had been going.

Her friend Pelagia was just one of her many friends. Being the empress and emperor’s daughter really made her popular. But Pelagia was different. She seemed to be the only one that actually liked Adonia for her personality, and not because she was the future empress of Exortitan.  She was really grateful for Pelagia.

Lost in her thoughts, Adonia ran into someone. She looked up to find a nineteen year old boy with swirls of brown hair, much like her own, just way shorter. His eyes were a darker shade of brown than hers. She smiled.

“Hello, Tapani,” Adonia said, not bothering to apologize to her only brother. “What are you doing out? Didn't you have a meeting to attend?”

“Yes, I did. It was earlier in the morning. I thought I should get some fresh air since I won't to allowed to this next week.”

Tapani would soon be heading to Sveltorm for a series of official meetings with the other kingdoms’ rulers as he was first in line for the crown of Exortitan.

“I was just heading back when I ran into you!” he continued, grinning from ear to ear.

They always loved seeing each other. It wasn't very often that the two of them weren't running in opposite directions. Adonia had her things to do, and Tapani had his.

She laughed. The only time she ever laughed was when she was around him. They had a bond that was unbreakable.

“I was actually just going to Pelagia’s for the afternoon. Mother said we have dinner guests. Do you know who they are?” Adonia questioned. Seconds passed without an answer. “Tapani?”

He looked into her eyes with a worried look. “We have guests? But… why? Tonight's the night of the Unspoken. You do know this right, Adonia?” Tapani spoke in a rush.

It took her a moment to process what her brother told her. Suddenly, she gasped. “That's tonight?! That can only mean one thing!”

The night of the Unspoken was the anniversary of the prophecy. The prophecy said that two of the three kingdoms will fall and the third will rise. Some also believed that three brothers born within 16 minutes of each other will be the cause of the two downfalls. The prophecy was the reason for the only law the three kingdoms shared. The law stated that there would be a two child per family limit. Any additional children would have to be killed, no exceptions were allowed. Many grew to hate the law, but most learned to accept it.

The night of the Unspoken was the single night out of the year where the king and queen of Sveltorm and the chief of Gordona would come to Exortitan and bring all of the extra children. The emperor and empress of Exortitan would also round up their kingdom’s extra kids. Later that night, after dinner, there would be hangings. The extra children would be hanged and Adonia and Tapani would be forced to watch. Their parents told them they needed to see it done a few times in order to do it correctly when they were in power. Neither of them liked it.

“Oh, Tapani!” Adonia cried. “I can't stand to see another night of hangings! I'm going to be sick! This tradition is disgusting!”

He glanced down at her small, bare feet. “I hate them as much as you do, Adonia. But we must know how they work if we want to be good leaders for our future kingdom.”

“Please! Talk to Mother and Father! Tell them I'm ill! Brother, please, I'll do anything to repay you!”

Tapani obviously saw her despair because he lifted her chin to his eye level and murmured, “I'll try my best, Adonia, I swear.”

She jumped into his embrace and whispered, “Thank you! I really must get going, though. I will see at dinner, dear brother.”

Adonia saw the pain in her brother’s eyes as she turned away from him and continued toward Pelagia’s house. She knew he loved her beyond anything else, but she also knew that he would do whatever it took to gain Father’s approval. Tapani wanted to prove he would be the best leader for the throne. Adonia could only hope and wish that he would keep his promise and try to get her out of watching the hangings.

She tried to get her mind off of the topic. Adonia glanced around her as she waltzed her way through the market square.

Her mood lifted as the scent of freshly baked bread rose through the air around her. Adonia loved Exortitan’s bakeries. Her secret wish was to help out at one, but she knew deep down that her parents would never allow such a thing. Adonia was royalty after all!

As she got to the other side of the square, a soft whooshing sound made its way to her ears. A stale, salty fragrance slapped her in the face. The ocean.  Exortitan was considered to be mainland, even though it was almost completely surrounded by an ocean. One of the many things Adonia couldn’t stand was the ocean. For one, it was far too smelly for her. And second, she didn’t like the thought of millions of other creatures living there. The ocean was pretty much a whole other world! It frightened her.

But she learned to appreciate its beauty since Pelagia lived on the oceanfront. Adonia had spent countless days and nights at her friend’s house. After a few years, the ocean didn’t bother her as much, but she still didn’t like it.

Pelagia was just one of many that lived in the village of Foshter. The village was located just outside of the market square and not too far from Exortitan’s castle. Adonia’s friend used to practically live there until Father decided enough was enough, and forbade Pelagia to come back. She knew he was just trying to be a good ruler, but she couldn’t help feel a burning dislike for what he did. After that, Adonia started going to Pelagia’s house almost daily.  

Adonia stopped walking in front of an old house. This was like her second home. Because it was way smaller than the castle where she lived, Adonia knew all of this house’s secrets. Her favorite was that you could climb onto the roof from her friend’s sleeping room and watch the sunset over the ocean’s horizon. Pelagia’s mother never knew that they did that, of course.

Not even bothering to knock, Adonia dashed inside to escape the salty stench. “Hello, Adonia!” Pelagia exclaimed after running to the entrance to see who was there. “It’s been forever since I last saw you! How have you been?”

The last time Adonia had seen her was a fortnight ago. Her extra etiquette lessons kept her away from seeing Pelagia. “I apologize, Pelagia. Mother and Father thought it was necessary for me to take extra lessons on etiquette. I haven’t gotten a moment to myself in days!” Adonia explained. “But other than that, I’m feeling troubled. You see, the night of the Unspoken is today…”

With wide eyes, Pelagia gasped. “I’d forgotten all about that! Oh, I’m so sorry! Are you going to try to get out of it again?” Besides Tapani, Pelagia was the only person that knew how Adonia felt about the night of the Unspoken.

“Yes, I’ve asked Tapani to talk to Father. He said he will try, but I doubt he will try that hard, though. He really wants Father to think he is ready for the responsibility of the throne,” she replied, starting to feel as though nothing was going right for her.

“He is just doing what is best for him, Adonia. Tapani does love you after all. But don’t worry. You will only have to watch the hangings a few more times, unless you never get married,” Pelagia smiled as she started up to the living chambers.

Her friend’s house was small in comparison to the castle, but grand all the same. The house had marble floors with high vaulted ceilings. Everything was a crisp, clean white. Adonia adored Pelagia’s house.

“I’d rather move to Sveltorm than get married! I thought you knew that by now!” she scowled. It was true. Adonia couldn’t bare the fact that one day, she would be forced to get married to someone she didn’t know, let alone love.

Pelagia came to a halt and pushed open the half-closed door to the living chambers. “Yes, I know that, Adonia,” she murmured, sympathetically. “But, technically, marriage will get you out of having to witness innocent peoples’ murders.”

Adonia stopped dead in her tracks. “They are not innocent, Pelagia! They are breaking a very serious law that was put in place to keep the kingdoms safe!” she hissed. “Does that sound innocent to you?”

One of the only things that annoyed Adonia about Pelagia was her view on the law and what the night of the Unspoken was about. Pelagia believed that those that were hanged were not at fault of anything. She thought that by killing them the kingdoms accomplished nothing. As much as Adonia hated seeing the hangings, she knew they were for a good cause.

Pelagia shifted her gaze to the spotless floor. Gently, she brushed her unkempt golden curls out of face. “It does if you know the other side of things…” she whispered, barely audible.

“What do you mean?” Adonia softened her tone, sensing her friend’s pain.

“I’ve never told you this,” she said apologetically. “It just never came up, I guess.”

Adonia took a step forward, placing her hand on Pelagia’s shoulder. “Let’s sit down, shall we?” she suggested, nodding her head toward the chairs in the living chambers. Nodding her head yes, Pelagia shuffled over to the white, puffy chairs closest to the window. It was both of their favorite seats in the room.

After they were both comfortably seated, Adonia asked again, “What do you mean? What haven’t you told me?”

Pelagia shifted in her seat, clearly anxious. “Well, you see…”

“Spit it out! You can tell me anything, Pelagia!” Adonia exclaimed.

“Aunt Agathe had triplets, not twins. This was before I even knew you though!” she blurted out all in one breath. Her two younger cousins, Radley and Vale, were twins. The two of them were eight years younger than Pelagia but spent much of their time with her. Because of that, Adonia knew them well. Adonia met her a year after the twins were born. But with them being identical, it was a shock to Adonia to discover that they were once triplets.

“I’m so sorry!” Adonia gasped. “I never would have thought!”

She sighed. “Well, there isn’t really anything anyone can do anymore. The midwife refused to let Aunt Agathe have the third child. She never got to see it. None of us even knows if it was a boy or girl…” Pelagia’s voice trailed off. She lifted a shaking hand to wipe away a tear that had escaped her eye.

“Oh how terrible! I’m so sorry, Pelagia!” Adonia sobbed. Although she felt saddened by her friend’s story, it still didn’t change her view on the topic at hand. But because Pelagia was clearly heartbroken, she decided to let the matter drop.

A cloud passed over the sun, suddenly blocking the warm light. Adonia shifted in her seat to glance out of the large picture window they were by. Off in the distance, she could see large, dark masses of floating clouds over the ocean. Suddenly, a crack of lightning lit up the whole sky. Adonia jumped up, almost knocking over the small side table beside the chair. Pelagia whipped her head at the source of the light and sprung up next to her.

“You best leave now, dear Adonia, before the storm reaches the mainland! I surely wouldn’t want you to be caught in a downpour!” Pelagia exclaimed. “Hurry! The waves are growing bigger by the second!” She started pushing Adonia out of the living chambers to the front door.

Adonia glanced back before reaching for the door handle. “I apologize that our visit was cut short, Pelagia. I will be back when I get the time. I promise.”

“Yes, yes. I know you will!” she muttered as she shoved Adonia out the door. “Goodbye!”

“Goodbye!” Adonia chuckled as the door closed in her face. Pelagia hated storms. She would probably be in the lower level of the house, waiting for the storm to pass.

The air had grown warm and moist since she had last been out. The sun’s rays were quickly withering behind the clouds. Adonia had no doubt in her mind that precipitation would soon be descending from the sky. Without warning, another bolt flashed across the atmosphere. Nearly jumping out of her skin, she picked up her pace.

“The heavens sure are mad today, aren’t they empress?” a voice belted from under a balcony in the market square. Adonia scanned the square. Everyone else had left for their homes. The only one left was a short, balding man. He looked about forty or fifty years of age. Something about him seemed peculiarly familiar, although she had never seen him in all her life.

“Who are you?” Adonia inquired. Instead of answering right away, he just smirked.

“The ghost of the kingdom, as I like to call myself.” He paused. Seeing her confusion, he continued. “Demon to some. Angel to others. Nearly all will tell you they’ve never seen me. Most will claim I’m not even standing in front of you right now. You either see me or you don’t.” His dark eyes strangely had a gleam in them. There wasn’t a source of light anywhere near where they were standing.

“I don’t unders-” He rose his finger into the air as if to silence her.

“It’s clear to me, now, that you are not one of the lucky ones. You will never know who I am. Such a shame… Your brother was just through here. He has the power. You know, when one sibling has the power, the other always does,” the man paused to take a breath. “But I can tell you don’t have the power. And I know why.”

“What does that have to do with anything? What power?” Adonia snapped, starting to think he was making fun of her. He was just trying to give her a fright.

“It has everything to do with you. You see, your so called brother, Tapani, isn’t like you. You aren’t like him. Something was different about the two of you. I could sense it, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. But now I know.”

“What are you talking about?” Adonia screeched. She was starting to get irritated. The winds were quickly picking up and it was getting harder for her to hear what the man was telling her. Lightning flashed overhead once again.

“Tapani has the power to change the world, but that comes with a price.” The man smiled, revealing a set of crooked teeth. “I will be back in two fortnights and if the world has continued to burn, so shall he.” Adonia gasped. How dare he make such accusations! “Oh, don’t get mad, empress. Because here’s the thing. This all comes back to you. The fire is over your head, and soon he will see.” And with his words still hanging in the salty air, the man vanished without a trace.

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