Princess Celeste

Celeste rose from her bed like a waterfall in reverse, suddenly and with great force. She could have waited for her lady in waiting to arrive and pull back the curtains but she could not lay still anymore. She could also not have slept any later because today was the day. She paced back and forth next to the bed and then changed her path to travel more of the room. She was getting perilously close to the crown. She did not want to be there and she crossed away from it. She looked in the mirror and saw her own fiercely purple eyes looking back at her. They were a mark of royalty and now that mark was calling her to action.

The door opened and Agatha floated into the room like a seed on the wind but she stopped short when she saw that Princess Celeste was already up. She turned her gaze to the floor and hurried to the windows and swept the curtains back and tied them as quickly as she could manage.

“My apologies, your highness,” Agatha said with a quick curtsey, “I had not realized you had already risen.” Agatha’s family was born and bred to attend royalty and the apology tumbled easily from her mouth.

“Nonsense, Agatha,” Celeste said with a bright smile. “You had no earthly idea that I would rise so early especially since I feel I never got to sleep in the first place. I am glad you are here, though. I need your help dressing so we can start this day.”

Agatha smiled and watched her princess for a moment. “I suppose we should take our time to make sure we get it right, then?”

“And make everybody wait?” Celeste asked with a guilty expression.

“You are the princess and today you will be queen. I believe they are required to wait for you.”

“You are remarkably clever, Agatha,” Celeste said with a happy smile on her face. “I believe we can move at a more leisurely pace for the time being.”

Agatha smiled and helped to remove Celeste’s pajamas carefully. She folded them up and set them on the bed of some of the fairy attendants to tend to along with making the bed. She pushed the princess gently toward the bathroom, a luxury even in Cammaratta. A lever brought magically heated water to spray out of a hole in the ancient yet polished castle wall. Celeste let the water cascade over her, reaching up to run fingers through her dark black hair to make sure it got rinsed out. She felt better just being in the shower and she shot a smile at Agatha who was quietly monitoring the magic forces in the royal apartment to make sure everything was tightly controlled and running smoothly. Agatha smiled back, she loved working for the Princess of Altiria just as her mother enjoyed working for the Queen.

The water stopped flowing and Agatha was waiting with a large towel and it felt so soft as it wrapped around her. They stayed like that for a moment before Agatha vigorously dried her hair. The familiar action made them both grin and Celeste dutifully marched to the mirror so that Agatha could brush her hair carefully. They slipped her most beautiful dress over her head and Agatha went to work tying all the ribbons that kept the dress in perfect position. The dress was absolute replica of one her grandmother had worn for a portrait sitting at the Grand Festival Cammarata. It was therefore fitting that Princess Celeste would wear it at one of the highlights of this year’s Grand Festival.

Agatha started the arduous process of braiding, tying and placing clips in Celeste’s hair. Celeste stood patiently as this was a regular occurrence since she was a little girl. Princesses had to look their best. Of course, Celeste was an uncrowned Princess until her sixteenth birthday. That day was today and the crown was sitting on the other side of the room where it had sat since soon after her birth. It was a reminder of her duty. A duty that terrified her. The last few months she had lived in terror of the weight of that crown but today was the day and fate could not be avoided.

It was not that she wanted her freedom. She knew all the good she could do for her people as a crowned princess of Altiria. She wanted to use the crown to protect and help the people who depended on her. She just also did not want to fail. She was terrified of letting her family, her ancestors and her whole country down. It scared her but there was no choice now.

“Do you want to talk about it, Princess?” Agatha asked.

Celeste sighed and shook her head. “I believe we have exhausted that subject, Agatha. I am trying to be excited about today.”

“Of course, Princess,” Agatha said. She bowed her head slightly. “I am here for you in all things and I think you will do great things.” She smiled and Celeste nodded and smiled back.

The sound of heavy boots on stone came from out in the hallway and the door burst open. Agatha’s fingers were already moving intricately to prepare defensive wards even while Celeste’s eyes widened at the intrusion. Surprise turned to indignity when they saw who it was. It was one of the Seven Swords of Altiria, the highest tier of both the royal guard and they came from every branch of the military. In particular, this was Daria who was one of the best with a sword around. She looked concerned.

“Sword Daria! You should not burst into my royal chambers! The very idea!” Celeste said. Her face was red with anger and embarrassment.

Daria bowed at the waist. She was usually very curt and cold with people but she was nothing but friendly and respectful with the royals. “Apologies, there is an issue that you must address, your highness.”

“What? But I was just about to have a coronation.” Celeste said. This was confusing to be sure.

“We cannot have the coronation,” Daria said.

“And why not?” Celeste said with alarm and disappointment.

“The King and Queen are missing, your highness. They must be found.”

Celeste’s mind reeled as she worried about what might have happened to her parents. They would never miss their daughter’s coronation on purpose. Something horrible or horribly important must have happened. She was betting on the former since the Seven Swords obviously did not know what happened. Celeste took a deep breath and closed her eyes. When she opened her eyes, she had the beginning of a plan.

“Assemble the Seven Swords and my father’s advisory board in the war room. I will be there shortly and we will begin to coordinate the search. Agatha?” Celeste said as she turned toward Agatha.

“Yes, your highness?”

“Bring me my crown.”

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