The glass case smashed to pieces.
The Princess glared at the mess from across the library. It was the third one today. She attempted to return to the novel she was reading, but eventually tossed the book aside with a huff. Neither of her ladies were there to clean up after uncontrolled magic today, a fact she rather resented. Lady Eitelkeit had woken at dawn to paint a sunrise, and was unlikely to return for several more hours. Lady Francis was off with her family, fiancee, or both. The Princess huffed again. And she, the Princess, was stuck quietly awaiting the ambassador from her fiancee.
When she was fourteen, the Princess became eligible to receive suitors, under the condition that she could not marry until sixteen. Noble men and charming knights had flocked to court in those days, for the Princess’ beauty was renowned throughout the land. Soon failed suitors were able to add wit to the legend of the Princess, as she delighted in devising riddles for her many swains to solve. The king and queen allowed her freedom in dealing with the many hopefuls, resting easy with the knowledge of her many refusals.
The Princess was not considered any less charming because of her choosiness. She received every guest with grace, and even those who had no hope of solving the riddles stayed for many days enjoys the hospitality of the Princess and her ladies. Many were the dances, many the picnics and feasts, with many more to come, as each festival the admirers seemed to multiply instead of dwindle. Yet that was all over now.
The king and queen had accepted the suit of the highly respectable king of Losod. This king was wise and good, with him their daughter would become a queen with more power than they ever held. It was a very proper match, and both parties were anxious for it to take place. Though the foreign king already had a daughter, his period of mourning for his first wife was now ended, and his ministers were particularly firm in their opinion that, for the sake of Losod, it was imperative that the court’s sorrowful demeanor was changed with the presence of a beautiful and energetic new queen.
The princess finally gave up all pretense of reading, and leaning back amongst the cushions on her sofa, wondered how old her step-daughter-to-be was, and whether she would be manageable. The princess had personally never cared much for children. The princess cast her eyes about the room, all was calm. She smiled, satisfied, and buried herself farther into the cushions. She was having a growth spurt, magically, and was pleased to see that her control was only a bit farther behind then the power she wielded.
The princess heard footsteps in the hallway, getting louder, and on a whim caused a blanket to fly over the little that remained visible of her after the sofa swallowed her.
Only one of the new occupants was human.
Unable to see, the princess was able to sense the fairy like a bright shaft of starlight bursting through the room. She had trouble noticing the one accompanying the fairy, and was only truly aware of her because the fairy was conversing with another. The princess assumed the other to be human, because of the tone of the conversation, but thought it strange that she could not have described the voice she heard talking, so undistinguished it seemed.
They were talking of her brother’s, Prince Nicholas’, coronation that was to be held in the next seven nights. The fairy, one that her family claimed kinship with many generations ago, was debating whether Prince Nicholas should be tested by the gem stone before his coronation.
The princess’ heart started beating faster.
It has been long since one worthy has appeared in the family, the fairy continued. Only a few have ever been able to control the gem, gifted though it was by the faerie council to this realm. Only a true ruler, one who is not merely just and wise, but powerful in magic and strong at heart, could be master of the jewel. It was the ultimate test of a leader.
The princess’ heart skipped a beat.
The fairy sighed. The gem needs an owner, I have kept it in my possession for far too long. I shall try the prince before the week is out.
But what if he is not strong enough? What happens if the gem rejects him? The human’s voice was familiar, but the princess could not place why.
Nothing, the fairy replied. The gem has a power that will only respond to the magic of the holder. If the holder has little or no magic, the gem acts no differently than any other stone. It will only awaken to one who is worthy of it’s power.
Why not try the princess? She is older and her magic more experienced than that of the prince.
The princess’ heart was now pounding so loudly she could barely hear them speaking.
The fairy was silent a moment before answering. The princess is weaker than she knows. I fear for one such as her. It would have been better had she been born with no talent at all, than have to have tasted power, and grown to love it as she has.
Why? Her powers are innate like her brother’s…
But she will not have the chance to use them, not as a princess nor as a queen. Losod’s people have no magic within them, though their very dirt is pulsing with it. Magic wielders are feared, not loved. This is how it is in nearly every human realm. The fairy’s voice softened. You should know better than anyone.
The princess lay frozen, unable to even cry.
The starlight retreated from the room, and the princess only barely remembered the other’s presence in time to stop herself from getting up.
The princess could now hear the sounds of someone cleaning up the shattered glass from before, and, deciding that caution was no longer needed now that the fairy was gone, rose from her couch, to the displacement of many cushions.
The princess stared in disbelief at the fairy’s confidante, while Lady Francis pressed on with picking up glass shards.