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 of Exortitan~

“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.

“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 our Empire have. 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 snotty. 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.”

*****

The streets were bustling with mid-day activity. Everyone was out of there houses going to visit friends and family, or even running their daily errands. Adonia turned the corner and walked into the market square. The square had everything you could ever imagine. There were many shops ranging from gardeners selling their crops to local and foreign seamstresses’ selling their handmade clothes.

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.

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 aloud 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, sis. 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 be the best leader he could one day. 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 through the market square.

Her mouth filled with saliva 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 Ralon. 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 forbid 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 into the entrance to see who was here. “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 unkept 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 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, he just smirked.

“Some might say I’m the ghost of the kingdom. Others 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 any 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.

“What does that have to do with anything?” Adonia snapped, starting to think he was making fun of her.

“It has everything to do you. You see, your so called brother, Tapani, isn’t your real brother. You aren’t his real sister. 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. The winds were quickly picking up. It was getting harder for her to hear what the man was telling her. Lightning flashed overhead once again.

“Tapani has two other brothers. He’s a third child.” 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. You see, you’re a third child, too.” And with those words still hanging in the salty air, the man vanished into thin air.

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