My uncle takes me to a clearing in the middle of the forest outside of Melbourne. The clearing is so beautiful; the long grass is soft and blowing gently in the breeze. The clearing is full of hundreds of wild flowers in all different colours from pink and white to blue and purple.
“Wow this place is absolutely beautiful.” I whisper. “Is this the Unseelie court?”
“Of course not.” When fallow could stop laughing he continues. “This is where the entrance to the court is, it has to be hidden so that mortals can’t accidentally find their way in.” And with that he waves his hands through the air in an intricate pattern too fast for me to make sense of with a concentrated look on his face. When he stops moving his hands a flash of blue fire reveals a shimmering purple portal in the air in front of us. “Come on Ebony, enter your new home.”
“Wait a second.” I hesitate at the portal and look around. Am I really going to do this? Follow this stranger through a purple fiery portal just because he says I’m supposably a fairy? “Um actually I don’t like this. I think I’m going to go home.” And with that I turn around to leave.
“Ebony if this wasn’t serious would your parents have let me take you?” his reasoning does have some sense to it but I still hesitate looking from the portal to the path out of the clearing. Fallow continues. “You’re Sue and Peters world if it wasn’t for your own good they never would have told you to come with me. You don’t have to trust me, you don’t know me, but I know you trust your parent’s judgement.”
With a sigh I turn back to the portal and step forward. “Does it hurt?” I ask with a sinking feeling of fear deep in my stomach as I look at the strange flickering purple flames that make up the portal.
“No it doesn’t its just cool. Do you think anybody would use the portal if it hurt?” he asked with laughter in his eyes.
I laugh with him and reply “I guess not.”
“Come on its time for you to see your new home and to meet your family.”
“Family? I have more family then you.” My eyes widen in anticipation. Being a foster child to a family that has no relatives, it’s always been my dream to have family.
“Yes I have a daughter who is a year younger then you. I hope that you can be friends.”
“Wow a cousin. What’s her name?” I ask
“Thalia. Now lets go.” And with that he steps through the portal and disappears into the purple flames.
I step into the portal after Fallow with visions of a cousin and a real family running through my mind. I wonder what she’s like? I hope that we can be friends too.
The portal leads out to a garden in front of a massive stone castle. The castle looks intimidating, made of black stones it towers over the garden. The windows are only small and there’s five turrets cutting into the sky that I can see from where I’m standing. That’s why the garden is in such contrast, full of flowers of every colour and a bubbling fountain, it’s absolutely gorgeous. The garden exudes a feeling of peace that’s so out of place with the scary castle.
“This is my new home?” I whisper looking up at the castle; the feeling of peace the garden gives off not enough to calm the fear in the pit of my stomach. “It looks so...” I pause unsure how to express my feelings of uncertainty and fear without offending my uncle.
He seems to sense my feelings and puts his hand on my shoulder “The castle was built hundreds of years ago when our ancestors were seen as evil by other fairies and humans, so they played into it to keep their privacy. These days we’re more mainstream.” He smiles down at me and leads me forward towards the big wooden doors. I notice that the door is a dark cherry wood with black metal knockers. Its beautiful and relieves some of the heavy feeling in my stomach, not much but enough to make it a bit easier to breathe.
“Welcome to your new home.” Fallow gestures me through the door into a massive receiving hallway.
It’s the complete opposite to what I was expecting. Instead of being full of dark ominous furniture and being dark, it’s very open and light with a painting of a bright sunny sky painted on the roof. I stop absolutely stunned at how beautiful inside the castle is. The mural on the roof gives of a glowing brilliance so that everything is bathed in a soft white glow. Instantly all my fears disappear. A place this beautiful and welcoming can’t be evil.
We walk through the castle and I can’t stop staring around me at everything. The furniture is all the same dark cherry wood as the door and there are lots of paintings of forest and meadow scenes covering the walls. Before long Fallow pauses in front of a massive double door. This door is different to all the others. The wood is carved with flowering vines and takes my breath away.
“It’s absolutely gorgeous.” I breathe
“It’s the door to the ballroom where we hold celebrations.” He replies smiling at me. He looks uncertain for a second as he stares at me, his smile slips before he seems to regain his confidence. “I know this is a lot for you to take in and that you probably want to rest but...” he pauses for a second before continuing. “Everyone was just so excited that you were finally going to be rejoining the court so we planned a birthday party for you.” And with that he opens the door with a flourish.
“Welcome home Princess Ebony.”
I’m assaulted by a barrage of bright flashing colours, smiling faces and lots of people. All of a sudden I’m surrounded by lots of beautiful people that look like me. Their all small boned and short with black eyes. Even though it’s a bit overwhelming I’m instantly put at ease by the familiarity of the faces around me.
“Hello Princess Ebony I’m so glad your back.” The speaker is a blonde girl who looks about nineteen.
“We finally have the rightful heir back in the court.” I’m pulled away from all of the speakers by my uncle.
“That’s enough everyone let ebony eat her dinner before we do all the introductions.” He leads me to the front of the room where there is a large wooden table in front of three thrones. “I’m sorry about that ebony it’s just everyone is so excited to have you back.”
“It’s ok Fallow.”
“Please call me uncle.” He cuts in
“Ok it’s ok uncle.” I continue. “What did that person mean when he said rightful heir?”
“I’ll explain later. Here sit down.” He mentions to the throne that is to the right. The throne on the left has the most beautiful girl in a room full of beautiful people. She has the same black eyes as everyone else but hers are large and shiny. Her jet black hair falls down her back dead strait. But the most noticeable thing about her is the look of pure hatred that she is directing at me.
I sit down the throne my uncle mentioned towards and wonder at the look that the girl gave me. She’s sitting in a throne so she must be my cousin. Why does she hate me? Does it have something to do with what that guy said about rightful heir? I hardly notice anything that I’m eating I’m too hurt by the look my cousin was giving me. When we get to dessert I pick up the metal spoon that comes with it and start eating. Its pavlova with wild berries my favourite but I don’t even taste it. I spend the whole time through dinner glancing over towards my cousin but she doesn’t look towards me once. Finally everyone’s finished and my uncle stands up to make a speech.
“Good evening everyone thank you so much for coming to celebrate the arrival of Princess Ebony. It has been many long years that she has been away from our courts but she has finally come of age so it is safe for her to return. I’m sure many of you are wondering about what implications her homecoming has on the issue of my heir. I am getting old and will be stepping down soon so that the next ruler can bring new life to our courts.” He pauses for a second and looks around the room. All eyes are intent on him except for one pair. My cousin is shooting daggers at me an intense look of hate twisting her features and making her eyes cold. Now I understand the saying if looks could kill.
My uncle seems to be oblivious to the look she is giving me and he continues. “I know many of you assumed that Thalia would me taking over from me but Ebony is the daughter of King Leon and even though he was assassinated and I took his place she was still named the rightful heir if he should die.”
I start in shock and stare up at him. Heir to the throne? So that guy was right. That must be why my cousin Thalia is shooting me a death look, because I’ve displaced her right to rule.
“In two months I will be resigning as king to let ebony rule. Two months so that she has time to learn about the courts and what duties will be expected of her.” At this Thalia stands up and storms out of the room shooting me another evil look and shaking her head. A fresh surge of fear courses through me. Does she really hate me that much? What’s going to happen between us?