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Princess Renaia walked barefoot in the royal garden carrying one of the thick novels from her personal collection. The golden rays of the sun crept slowly up the castle walls. She looked at the flowers and sighed. Now that she completed her studies in the School of Art and the School of Magic, she had time again to enjoy her books. She plucked and ate one of the large cherries from her favorite tree. She sat on the bench and opened her book.
Suddenly the sky faded to black. Stars appeared, and the moon rose in the horizon. The garden was gone, the bench sunk into the ground. Renaia’s pulse raced. She summoned a witchlight and turned around, looking in all directions. The grass turned into a marble platform. Twelve glowing doors appeared and orbited around her. She froze.
One of the doors opened. A tall feminine figure with long white hair stepped onto the platform. Renaia held her breath. The woman’s eyes were wide open, a fire burned in them. Her lips were tight, slightly parted. Her blue and gold dress furled in the winds. Around her neck she wore a gem of seven colors.
She held out her hand. “Renaia you are in danger!”
The princess used her magic to make her lips move. “W-what do you mean?”
“Oshaia will soon fall, your uncle will soon be dead, and you…you will be Queen.”
Renaia turned away from her. “But that can’t be true! Zhareth is in good health, and Oshaia’s enemies are still at bay.”
The woman’s brows arched, she grabbed Renaia’s wrists. “Oshaia’s enemies are on the verge of attacking.”
Renaia dropped her book. “Impossible. The war ended fifty years ago with Traunzea’s and Glendessia’s defeat. They are still recovering from their losses.”
“No,” the woman hissed, her eyes turning pure white. “Aluna has turned the Sands of Fate against your realm. You must flee at once before it’s too late!”
“But the Oshaian orchids protect us, they’ve always protected us from magical attacks—”
The woman tightened her grip. “They’re useless now. You must go! Go, before death takes you as well!”
With a flash of lightening, she was gone. The doors fell away, the platform turned back into grass. Renaia’s head swam, she collapsed to the ground.
Renaia brushed her auburn hair out of her green eyes and leaned out on the window sill. Last night’s dream was perilously real. How could Oshaia be in danger when magic guards it so heavily? The Mines of Magic were in their control. The precious witch-gems gave them enough protection. Why would the goddess Aluna turn the hourglass against them when Oshaia had her favor? Renaia held out her arm and turned her palm up. If she could link her psyche to that woman, maybe, she thought, the answers would come.
Suddenly, a plump figure with tightly wound long gray hair broke took her by the arm and pulled her from the sill. Renaia gasped.
“Come along, my lady,” Esheil, the princess’ servant said.
Renaia let herself be led to the bathroom. The blue and gold mosaic patterns caught her eye. They danced and swirled around each other. Perhaps they would give her an answer?
“My lady, are you alright?” Esheil asked.
Renaia nodded. “Yes. I’m fine.” She removed her robe and slipped into the water.
Esheil held the princess’ long hair, avoiding the marble floor. “Well, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.” She reached for the jar of sapphire salts and poured half the contents.
Renaia let her body settle in. “I had that dream again.”
“The one with the twelve doors and the horrified lady?”
“Yes,” Renaia said, “she came to me and warned me again.”
Esheil shook her head. “Dreams, they can sometimes be such nonsense.”
Renaia bit her lip, turned her head toward Esheil. “Well this one isn’t nonsense. I just can’t bring myself to fully interpret it. My mind’s too distracted.”
Esheil smiled. “My Lady, you’ve been under a lot of pressure, especially with the coming Festival of Renewal.”
“Yes, it is his Majesty’s favorite time of year.”
Esheil worked Renaia’s hair into a lather. “Well, this is the fiftieth celebration of Oshaian peace, the king wants it to be the grandest celebration.”
“Yes, but does he have to pelt me with every detail?”
“I see your point, madame,” Esheil said, “but you are his niece. Now that your studies are done, he wants you to become more involved with the realm. There, my Lady, dip your head under.”
“How can I do that when I have my Coming of Age Ceremony to prepare for?”
“I see your point, my Lady, that’s why I beg you to stop worrying about the future and focus on your present needs, ok?”
Renaia sighed. “Ok.” There was no point continuing the conversation, but she did feel a little more at ease.
Esheil was like a mother to her ever since her birth. Her tender love and wisdom nurtured Renaia in her early years. She always felt better whenever she saw those soft brown eyes and rosy cheeks. She was right. Renaia was well guarded and well loved. She managed a smile, and Esheil ran her round fingers gently over her hair. Renaia closed her eyes, the salts softened her skin. For now she could relax.
“My heavens, look at the time!” Esheil pulled her up and toweled off the excess water. “There now, my lady, let’s dress you quickly. His Majesty is waiting.”
Esheil pulled Renaia’s arms through the sleeves of her blue dress ordained with gold patterns—the official colors of Oshaia.
“Wait,” Renaia said. “I need to my book.”
“My lady, our time is running out.” Esheil scanned the princess from head to toe, making sure nothing fell out of place. “You look magnificent. His Majesty will be most pleased.”
With a firm embrace and a kiss on the forehead, she pushed her to the door. Renaia paused. Her hand raised, but Esheil nodded her head. “Don’t be late, my lady!”
Renaia pressed her lips and left for breakfast.