It is a bit sunny. A beautiful cottages village is across the blue river; soft water flow shimmers. The water is surrounded by grasses, arid green. The leaflets are a bit squeaky, dried out, that while have sat on them, they are pricking you.
On the river border is a board plank. It is wet and hot, watered on every night and mostly at dawn. You feel the heat but not the wetness as your feet are buried inside the boots. Silver in color, the long boots are spiked at the top.
You folded the left leg; the feet is pushed below the right leg. The right arm is held onto the leg. Your left hand is playing with the grasses.
Your lime strands fly. You stare in the river as the breeze hits you warmly. You hear a blast. Unconsciously, you stand up.
Jamir comes running to you with trepidation. His dark hair is messed up. While he is taking heavy puffs, a drop falls from his round face. His dark brown eye are watery, covered with heavy lashes. He is in his normal attire: a red with gold armor suit. A dagger, katana sword and a mini-gun are tucked in their cases belt around his waist.
He seems to be in tension.
'What is that?' you ask at his approach.
'Our homestead is under attack!' he cries to you.
You don't find a second to waste for more discussion. Vastly, you run towards the direction Jamir came from. You run for your homestead. Jamir sprints after you. You halt in front of a burning building.
It is white with azure blue pillars. It looks small but in height, with just two floors: the ground and one more floor. It looks like a flat for a shape from outside. Inside, it is different. It has a huge hall, living room and a dining room. There are a lot of rooms with vast corridors.
The main door is covered with fire and the white walls are turning dark with ashes.
'Noooo!!' you scream indignantly, 'is it him?'
'I am sorry to say, yes, your Highness,' he tells you.
You run in.
'Where are you going, your Highness?' Jamir says to stop you. 'It is dangerous.'
Jamir is in doubt of your move. His concern is the spreading fire that you want to step into. As his responsibility, he wishes you to step back.
He has his concern and you have too. Staying right there is not an option.
'You're coming with?' you ask his support. 'My dominion is on my soberness. With or without you.'
You don't wait for his reply. You run inside, blasting down the wooden door. Jamir has no other option but to run in with you. He shields you from the fire.
Entering the hall, you notice that the attack is not all over the place. The home is completely okay inside.
'It is not burned out in here,' Jamir declares in disbelief, 'I thought...'
'It's a sham,' you say. 'This only means that Lucas is still in here. Go get armed forces now.'
'But I can't leave you alone.'
'It's an order. I can take care of myself.'
'Yes, your Highness.'
Jamir runs out to get the fire quenched out and a bunch of soldiers to fight the enemy.
It is important for you to catch Lucas. He tried to destroy your beautiful home and set fire to distract you. You follow the corridor, with precautious steps. You are being careful with slight sound you are to hear, even wind's.
An impulse tells you to look up. When you do, you see Freddie. He is hanging by the ceiling like a thief, hiding. He is held onto the ceiling rods.
He falls down.
With him, bag full of money and jewels falls out. He impatiently collects the heavy wealth, stashing them back in the bag before he stands.
'Tell me this is not what it looks like,' you speak accusingly.
'It is not,' he responds in a fun way.
Children's screams reach your ears. The kids are important to you than jocular Freddie. The sounds are a bit far to be heard clearly but they sound scary.
You run, following the voices of the kids. They take you to the boys' room: a room turning left after reaching the corridor end.
It is crowded with young boys and girls sobbing. You open the door. Their faces turn to you in sorrow and more tears.
'Feel at ease,' you ease them, 'I'm here, your angel. Nothing will happen to you.'
A boy runs into your embrace, crying. All the kids gather closer.
'It's okay, Sam,' you silent the kid in your arms, 'everyone, don't cry.'
'He's taken Lily,' Samuel sobs.
'Who's taken Lily?'
'Lucas. He's going to do bad things to her,' he said. 'He is going to hurt her.'
'No, take a breather. Your angel won't let Lily get hurt.'
You assure the kids and talk to Freddie. 'Freddie, stick around—'
You turned to tell him to stay with the kids. But Freddie is not around. Jamir arrives at the same notice.
You ask him, 'have you seen Freddie?'
'No,' he says.
With disbelief, you poke your head out of the room. You go and look at the corridor but the money and jewels bag is gone. You realise that he horribly duped you. You go back to the kids' room.
'He ran away,' you inform Jamir, 'stay with the children, alright? I have to tackle those two.'
Being your guard, Jamir wants nothing but to argue with you. He has to be around you and protect you, especially in times like these. Yet, you always forget that his duty is to protect you instead.
But he cannot deny his Princess. 'Alright, your Highness,' he rejoins.
Jamir waits there. You go out. Outside, the wall is watered. The brown door that had become dark from the fire burn si no longer at its place. It must have been dumped away.
You walk further in lookout of your enemies. You reach at the portico. Freddie is there. He is on the floor at Marybella's feet. Marybella is holding her curtana, smeared with blood. She just sliced Freddie's tummy.
Marybella is no one else but your twin. You look so much alike. The same lime blond long hairs. The same small lips and large round hazel eyes. The same small nose. Even your heights and skin tone is the same. No one can tell who is fairer between the two of you.
Marybella is a bit curvier than you. You are also a bit extra toned up because you have been training and practicing fight every single day of your life. You also swim a lot.
But in reality, the difference between the two of you is the way you dress up. Even though she roams with a curtana, she always wears Princess-like. She wears dresses and always has her tiara on.
All your siblings put on their tiaras and crowns, except you. You either forget it or have an excuse to take it off. And Queen Nawal yearns to see you in a skirt or gown. Otherwise, you are always only seen in military jackets.
Marybella has helped you in stopping treacherous Freddie.
'I have slain him,' she says.
'Lucas has Lily,' you say ungratefully with that acerbity. 'Lucas has Lily. If anything happens to Lily, I swear, you're going to pay for it.'
'I know you're mad, Anna. I am sorry.'
You don't want to argue pointlessly. As she looks morosely to you, the heat in you for her steps up.
You run behind the building, ending the talk; you won't even hear her apology. It saddens her yet understanding your take.
As you thought, Lucas had escaped through the back window at the storeroom when you went to the kids' room. He is at the playing ground at the back, ready to run away. He is not appeased with your appearance.
He has Lily in his right hand. While Lily shouts at you, he pulls her closer. He covers her mouth firmly with his left palm.
You are determined to save Lily. You move to attack Lucas. He threatens you to stop. He takes out a knife and put it closer to Lily's throat.
'Angel!!' Lily cries for you.
'Don't be indiscreet, Lucas,' you request in fright, 'let Lily go.'
'Lucas, why?' you hear Marybella complaining.
She came to aid.
'I'm sorry, sweetheart,' Lucas tells his wife, 'Princess Anabella has left me with no choice.'
Marybella cries out to stop her husband. She cannot believe that she loved a wrong person. Lily is still calling out for her angel. Lucas laughs like a crazy villain.
'Keep calling her that,' he guffaws at the scared little kid. He says to you, 'you are the kids' angel, aren't you. Lily, tell your angel to save you. If she can...'
You can sense his intention with his tone. He has adjusted his grip on the knife.
'Please, don't!' you beg. 'Lucas, this is not necessary.'
'You led this. If you gave in earlier, I would not have taken a drastic measure.'
'You are certainly right. I hope there is still a compromise. We can have a deal.'
'That sounds tempting.'
'I will let you escape with any amount you want.'
While you are indulging Lucas in the conversation, your army is setting itself for the save. They hide in their positions.
Brian, Marybella's guard is behind Lucas. You and Marybell have both seen him already. He is treading slowly so he can attack Lucas from behind. Marybella's eyes stay on him curiously. She thinks of telling Lucas but stops. You irately eye her. Lucas notices. Before Brian jabs Lucas, Lucas turns and sees him. Lucas gets jabbed at the shoulder which is a bit painful.
He holds in the pain and hits Brian's arm. He almost breaks it but Brian is able to get himself out of the clutch. Lucas quickly picks his knife and grabs Lily who was about to run away. He puts it to her neck.
'Mary, did you see what your guard was doing behind me?' Lucas talks, 'you think you can backstab me behind my back, literary?'
'What have you done, Mary?' you shout at her for exposing Brian.
'I didn't intend to...' Marybella defends herself, 'I was confused.'
'Thank you, sweetheart,' Lucas adds.
'I didn't help you!' Marybella speaks with irritation.
'Lucas, listen,' you ask, 'listen, listen. Don't do that. Leave the little girl.'
'So, your guards can attack me?'
'Brian will back off. No one will do anything to you. Just release Lily, please.'
'I'm not a fool. You are going to put me behind the bars.'
'No, you have my word.'
Lucas does not listen. He is unable to trust you. His life is at risk. There is no enough time either.
Lucas is now frustrated. He is also scared because he knows that he is overpowered. Before he does something drastic, you do it.
'Attaaaack!' you order.
Lucas finds himself surrounded with a bunch of royal soldiers in black with silver robes. They attack him together before he can take an action. He goes on the ground with a sliced arm. The guards make him stand.
Lily runs to you before she is caught again. She is glad that she is safe. She lands in your arms as you go to your knees to hug her. She is sobbing.
'It's okay, Lily,' you tell her. 'You are fine now.'
Brian cuffs Lucas. The guards take him away. Marybella looks disappointed. She is hurt for him but she also realises that he is wrong. She looks depressed.
Brian comes to you.
'You're okay, your Highness?' he asks of you.
'Yes, Brian. Good Job,' you gratefully say.
Brian looks happy. He is glad, he could be helpful to the Princess. Your attention goes back to the little girl.
'I was so scared,' she tells you with delight, 'but I knew you will come to save me. I told you, Lucas is bad.'
'You are smart, Lily, to have known.' You devilishly look at Marybella. For the next say, you speak, 'not like others who are doltish to make truth.'
Your gruesome gaze sticks on your sister's gaze. She looks guilty. Your words are salt on the new wound. You turn away to Lily, least caring about Marybella.
Lily asks, 'you mean dummy?'
You laugh with the kid.
'Yes, Lily, dummy. Come.'
You get from your knees to your feet.
'Come,' you say, 'your friends are waiting for you.'
Back in the orphanage, Jamir is doing a nice job, keeping the children in high spirits.
'Angel is coming with Lily,' he reassures them.
'Jamir,' you call, entering.
'Lily!' shouts Samuel.
He runs to his friend and knots her in an embrace. All her friends gather around her.
You watch them happily. Jamir looks at you, smiling. He feels content.
'It's really good to see you smiling,' he tells you.
'These kids are my dependency.'
'And no one knows that better than I do.'
'Which is why your job is to get more of the security at our homestead. This building should be guarded than anything.'
Jamir nods with a cringed face. 'Again, not my job,' he thinks. But obediently, he says, 'sure, your Highness.'
'Anna,' Marybella calls.
You and Jamir look at her. She seems despaired. But you are disinterested. You walk two steps closer to her.
'Don't come closer,' you tell her.
She stops. She is disheartened by your treatment. And the fact that it is like she is staring at herself in the mirror facing you, it makes her guilt over-sized. Her sorry look does not matter to you.
Marybella respected your feelings. She let you take your time. For over two days, you had not spoken to her. You stayed away from the palace intentionally so you could not meet anyone from family.
You are in your small room in the homestead. You are not in a very charming mood but it is still good for you. Your homestead is safe. Lily is fine. She looks happy with her friends. They had forgotten about the kidnapping incident.
Jamir walks in. He greets you. Then, his glare is different. He is quiet and saddened for you.
'I know, I look lonely,' you tell him, 'came to give me company?'
'No, your Highness,' he replies, 'you never want that.'
'You definitely know that it is not that I do not like your company. You are really nice, I could never refuse to spend time with you. I'm lucky to have you.'
'As much as I would love to, I can't. Her Highness, Queen Nawal sent a messenger for you. She summons you at the royal family meeting room.'
'She could have just texted me.'
'You know how she is.'
'Right. I wonder what's up. Let's go, then.'
You quickly change into the clothes the Queen does not appreciate to see you in. Though, in your opinion, you tried because a pants with a miniskirt is better than just jeans. Jamir reminds you to have a tiara on. You grab it from the closet and run out with it in your hand.
It is just a kilometer and half drive to the palace. While in the car, you try to think why your mother has called all of you. She does that only once in a month. This is now the second time.
Two guards have stood at the palace's facade. Their uniform is like Jamir's, but red and silver. Your car is the last to reach. You put on your tiara and get off the car.
All your siblings are already inside. Their guards have stood in a row outside, two females and four males; one of them is Brian, Marybella's guard. They are all wearing red and gold armor suits.
Jamir lines up next to Yas who is the last in the row from right, a guard with unkempt brown hairs. He is Bethany's guard. You whisper something in Jamir's ear and instead of Jamir staying with his fellow guards out there, he follows you.
You enter the large royal hall with Jamir.
'Your Majesties,' he's heard greeting with a bow.
The whole family is there. Queen Nawal ogles at you. The oldest royal child is next to her, Rebecca, your oldest sister. And on her left is Jayden. He is your older brother. Jamie is your older sister. She is standing between Marybella and Zane. Zane looks excited. Bethany and him are always jolly. They are twins. They are always together. They are the youngest and keep the family alive.
You were the one being waited for.
'I heard that half the palace guards are missing,' Queen Nawal had expressed her concern.
You defend yourself, 'our homestead needs protection.'
'Your homestead, Princess Anabella. It is yours alone.'
'Mother, they are kids with no home and family. I will always protect them.'
'By jeopardising your family? The palace needs the guards.'
'Enough!' Jamie shushed her mother.
You are all astounded. You gawk at her, wishing to laugh out (except for Rebecca, of course). Zane snickers quietly.
He asked himself, 'is it just my ears or did Jamie just raise an angry argument in front of mother?'
'There's much bigger issues and you are just wasting time on discussing number of guards?' Jamie complained.
'So not my ears,' thinks Zane with craze.
Queen Nawal is not aware of what happened recently. She asks, 'what are you talking about?'
Zane answers, 'apparently, your sons-in-law were found erring.'
'Lucas attacked my kids and kidnapped Lily,' you say. 'He almost killed her!'
'Isn't it Freddie who did that?' Zane asks.
'Freddie was trying to steal Anna's fortunes,' Bethany clears Zane's misunderstanding.
Jayden asks, 'wait, Anna, you keep your gold mine in that orphanage?'
'Would you stop prattling, Jay?' Jamie stops him from diverting the topic.
Jamie is getting impatient. Queen Nawal is still surprised.
'Why am I just being told?' the Queen questions.
You contritely explain, 'I knew you will be miffed with me, I took away the guards. And this... I just didn't want to disappoint you. I could not stress you more by telling you that family members betrayed.'
'No, My Princess. This is not your fault.'
'I can take care of them myself. I did not want you to be lenient with them. All I want is to punish them.'
'As the Queen, I'm the one who makes the decisions. Have they been penalised yet?'
'Not, without your conviction,' says Jamie.
Queen Nawal now sees why Jamie is on pins and needles. She wants to know the end of the infirmity.
'Get them,' Nawal orders.
Jamir exits. In few seconds, Lucas and Freddie are brought in. Freddie is led in by two guards. Lucas is led by Jamir and one other guard. Jamie feels good to have at least once held the culprit in his control otherwise you had not let him to, leaving him with the kids.
'Your majesties,' Jamir pays respect and leaves. He goes outside to line up with his fellow guards.
Lucas is such a coward. He fails to even wait until Queen Nawal convicts or questions him.
'Your Highness, please forgive us,' he begs, going on his knees. But, a sly he is. He lies, 'it is a misunderstanding.'
'I don't see a misunderstanding in joining hands to harm my homestead,' you acclaim.
'I only did what Lucas said, not my idea,' Freddie provoked gullibly.
'You cannot spare them, mother,' you argue. 'Jail them. They should rot in cell forever. Deprived of any meals.'
'Aren't they going to die that way?' Zane ask in bewilderment.
'I could not care less. I want them to see their lives slipping away, having their throats groped by a heavy rope.'
'That sounds merciless.'
'Nor am I merciful for them.'
'Have mercy on us,' Lucas cries, 'we are humans.'
'I am your family member, sweet sister-in-law,' Freddie butters foolishly, 'mother-in-law, I love you. I mean, I love my wife.'
'That's enough!' shouts the Queen, 'I have made my decision.'
'Queen mother—' you try to argue.
'But, I want to hear you at first,' the Queen says, not letting you to speak. She ask her daughters, 'because, these are your husbands. What do I do with them?'
'Lock them up, right away! They should be cut their heads off,' Jamie speaks dismissively.
'My Princess, reconsider it,' Freddie cries. 'We are happily married.'
'I hate you, Freddie.'
'I am okay with any decision made but will you be able to live without me, Princess?'
'I won't live with someone who steals my sister's possessions.'
You say, 'I don't care what happens with Freddie but Lucas has to be liquidated. What he did is unforgivable.'
'Anabella, let Marybella and Jamie do their say,' Queen Nawal stops you.
'Annihilate him!' Marybella shouts out her decision against her beloved husband.
'Sweetheart...' Lucas says in surprise.
'Honey, are you sure?' Nawal asks.
'Yes, mother,' Marybella replies, 'I want him gone.'
'It is decided then. Congratulations that you are soon going to be single again. And as for you two, you will rot in cell forever.'
Lucas and Freddie are taken away by the guards then the guards do not return.
The guards or any servants are not allowed to be in the royal family hall except in special cases like that one. It is the Royal family alone — because you are family discussing personal matters.
Now that Queen Nawal has finished the case with a good news for her daughters, she says, 'one more good news. This year I received too many wish lists just at the start. More to it, same as they were of last year's.'
You remember your list. It is long. You had filled the page with your tiny handwriting. But then, each and every need mentioned is crucial, for your homestead. You think so.
You did not make meaningless demands like your other siblings do. They ask for new cars, new tiaras, new crowns, play stations, going to High School, visiting the fairs. And their list is longer.
It is a tradition that each of you make wishes and Nawal tries to fulfill one of her choice of wish in the list for which she thinks you deserve. This is how she tries to keep you happy by fulfilling your demands.
She finishes saying, 'therefore, I decided to fulfill your wishes at the earliest this time. One wish for each, as always.'
Bethany shouts, 'Yay!'
She was cheerful even before she was granted her wish. It was as if she had known which of her wishes her Queen mother was going to make it come true.
The Queen tells her, 'you are actually going to school this year.'
'That's my top in wishlist, too!' says Zane.
'Yes, you are also going.'
'What is Queen mother trying to do?' you quiz.
'But...' says Nawal.
'Mother, not again,' laments Bethany.
'Only if one of your older siblings will agree to go with you,' the Queen explains.
Zane argues, 'oh, no, mother. We don't want anyone to babysit us.'
'Me and High School,' Jayden opts, 'count me out.'
Rebecca speaks, 'mother, there should be a different option. Maybe you can have guards around them.'
'I'm basically allowing this only if they keep their identity a secret,' says Nawal.
'That's a second condition, how may are they?' asks Bethany.
'You are going to behave.'
'Tick,' Bethany and Zane say together.
'As if,' you say, not loudly.
You know the two of them. They are not misbehaved but their naughtiness is misbehavior itself. You doubt if they will be able to stay undercover if they get to go.
Queen Nawal requests, 'any of you, please, agree to go to school with your siblings.'
'Beca, you have always been our hero, please,' Zane begs Rebecca.
'We really wanna go,' says Bethany. 'Mary, Anna, you even look in the age for High School. It should not be a problem.'
'We are twenty!' you comment on the age.
'I have just become a widower,' Mary says.
'I think, mother only said, they are going to be in the lock-up all the time,' Zane tells her.
'I'm going to kill him on my own, in due time,'
'Okay, time out,' Nawal quiets them.
She wanted to make the decision by herself because she knows her children. They were never going to finish arguing to the end of the day.
It is for the same matter of prestige that you hold private family meetings. Each one of you is less royal when you are together. You do not greet each other and curtsy. You call each other by names. You call Nawal mother instead of Queen mother. One of what only you do is not put on the tiara. And most noteworthy, — the two elder sisters always excluded — each of you loses curtesy of talking. And, it sometimes gets in Nawal's head.
She says, 'Anabella, you have got just a place to go.'
You do not approve. 'Me? Why me of all of us? My homestead—'
'Gosh, this is become too regular,' Jayden laments out. Everything for you is about your homestead.
'What do you want?' the Queen talks into you, 'food, clothing, reconstruction, repair, healthcare, education, security. Here's a deal for you. I will fulfill all that's on your wishlist for your HOMESTEAD and you go to school. Your faithful guard will be monitoring everything and keep you updated so you won't have to worry. How's the deal?'
'It's a huge offer for lifetime.'
'So, what do you say?'
'It's a yes,' Zane says before you.
'Say yes for your kids,' adds Bethany.
You are reluctant as you speak your decision. Your no would be a huge disappointment to Nawal; there is your long wish list as well as die hard long wish of your brother and sister. And, the yes means bye to your family and your homestead and the palace.
You say, 'you say, I should be responsible. Anything for you, mother.'
'That's why I love you, Nawal says.'
'I know this is going to make Beth and Zane very elated.'
'Oh, yes!' Zane speaks and excitedly.
'Love you, sis,' Bethany says to you.
Zane says in return, 'not as much as mother loves her.'
'Mother loves us equally,' you whine.
The looks from your brothers and sisters are accusing. Queen Nawal pretends that she is not part of the conversation.
You say your final decision. 'I have decided. I am going to school.'
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