Is there anything else you need, Highness? The soft, purring voice echoed in her mind, telepathically sent by the servant now standing on her right. "No, thank you. Please give me a few minutes to myself," the young woman answered quietly.
For several seconds, she stared at her reflection, excitement mixing with a rising sense that she just didn't want to be here. She doubted this moment very much - it was just not right. Nothing about this was right. How could anyone ever explain why her adored brother had vanished? She wasn't supposed to be here, he was. He was next in line, not her. He was strong and valiant and brave and confident. Not her, not her.
Her eyes changed to a deep, turbulent gray as they filled with tears, remembering as he looked back at her as he left that morning. "I left my favorite arrow back at the river," he whispered to her, grasping her small hands in his. Then he was gone. Later, as she went to meet him, she discovered that he had taken nothing with him. She felt in her heart that he had gone to Elsewhere, as he had always spoken of doing, that something in him was not ready for what faced him. A small surge of anger mixed with the sadness she felt - she wasn't ready either, how could he have done this to her?
The countryside had become chaos as the Coronation Celebration stalled. The young man had not returned from the river, and villagers were dispatched to search for him. The banners waved importantly in the warm breezes, waiting... waiting...
Finally, it had to be announced late that evening that the Coronation would be canceled until further notice. There was an explosion of emotion, an uproar of fear and anxiety - could he have been taken? Would the countryside soon be under attack? Who were they to follow? Who would lead them?
Eyes settled on the petite girl clutching her brother's cape. Whispers flew between villagers and court alike, clogging the air with buzzing that grew ever louder.
"She's the only one left."
"It has to be her."
"She has it in her - she is strong and sure, yet quiet."
"She is too young."
"Her father taught her well."
A growing roar soon erupted from the colorful crowd gathered around the outer walls of the Coronation stage... "It shall be her!"
That same vocal outpouring met her now, as she made her way to the Coronation stage, accompanied by the silent servant who had been her confidante for the last several years. The servant stopped, and handed her a long, thin parcel, wrapped with beautiful gold that had been transformed into thin cloth. A quick squeeze of the hand, and the girl was alone on the edge of the stage. She gazed out at the throngs of people who she would lead, and then down at the parcel in her shaking hands. She slowly peeled back a small portion of the cloth, curious as to this odd gift and the odder timing.
It was the arrow.
Words were inscribed on the blindingly shiny silver: "I am not of this realm, but of Elsewhere. It was always meant to be you. You will always be my sister in my heart. I can only wish that you were my sister in blood."
She felt a sudden surge of exquisite love, almost painful. This love filled her with strength and a white light that shone through her skin and turned her dark eyes into a sparkling turquoise that matched the waters of the river her brother had loved so much.
She stepped forward into her new life, the arrow clasped in her hand.
For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Aspen gave me this prompt: In 1939, surrealist artist Salvador Dalí cancelled a press preview of his show at New York's World Fair "due to complexity of subconscious." Imagine someone has to cancel a very important event... for a very unusual reason..
I gave Ankita this prompt: You wake up one morning as a professional hockey player with a huge game that afternoon.