After long deliberation, I decided to change this story a wee bit to make Elizabeth and the rest of the characters be college-age. Partially it’s because I just recently graduated college myself, and also, at the end of the game the main character and her chosen prince get engaged, so I wanted the characters to be older to be a bit older when making these life-changing decisions. Also, the situations and backstory for some of the characters make more sense if they are not quite as young. Gives a bit more years leeway, lol. It's a very minor change overall. So anyways, here is the re-vamped first chapter, hope you like! Please read and review!
Chapter One: One Day, After Class
~Chapter One: One Day, After Class~
I slung my backpack over one shoulder as I made my way through the crowded corridor of Jones Hall, towards the main exit. I had just gotten out of my last class for the week. As it was 3:30 on a Friday, pretty much every other class in this building was getting out at the same time, so it was a bit hard maneuvering through the noisy throng of college students. When the crowd started to thin, spilling out onto the wide stone steps, I heaved a sigh and grinned. “TGIF!” I muttered under my breath, glad that it was finally Friday and I had nothing but a glorious weekend stretched out before me. Well, except for the mountain of reading and homework, but I tried not to think about that, at least for the moment. I perched on the ledge that lined the stairs, waiting for my best friend, Catherine, to join me. I looked out at the courtyard before me, with the fountain surrounded by flowers directly in front of me. I sighed, content.
“Why are you sighing, Elizabeth?”
I turned and saw Carlos standing behind me. He flashed a smile. “Beautiful girls shouldn’t waste a lovely fall day sighing like that.”
I cocked my eyebrow, smiling slightly. I was used to Carlos flirting with me, as he did with several other girls at school. He had a reputation for being one of the big flirts on campus. A senior, like me, Carlos was in a couple of my core classes. I’d known him since we were freshman, and while he was nice, not to mention good-looking, I just could never take him seriously.
“Won’t you come away with me?” He asked in a silky voice, putting a hand to my shoulder. “Together, we shall dance the waltz of love!”
I shook my head and tried not to laugh. What kind of guy says stuff like that? “Um, gee, Carlos, sounds like fun,” I began, smiling placatingly as I wriggled out of his reach, “But I actually have other plans.” Seeing a familiar figure walking towards us, I smiled with relief. “Here she comes now. Hey, Catherine!” I called.
Catherine broke into a jog to join us and smiled. “Elizabeth! Sorry if I’m late! Oh, hey Carlos, how are you?”
Carlos flashed a smile at Catherine. “Doing well, and you?”
“Good.” Carlos nodded, then glanced at me, looking a bit forlorn. “Well, I won’t keep you two. Have a nice weekend!” He turned and walked off, thankfully in the opposite direction.
I sighed and closed my eyes for a second, unable to contain my surprised giggle. Thankfully Carlos was out of earshot.
Catherine looked at me curiously. “What? What happened?”
I shook my head with a smile. “Oh, you know, just Carlos. His pick-up lines are so...original. Wanna hear what he said to me this time?”
When I repeated Carlos’ words, Catherine’s eyes widened as she burst out laughing. “Ok, you have to admit, that’s pretty great. Why didn’t you say yes?”
I raised my eyebrows in surprise and snorted. I started to walk towards the staircase that led out of the courtyard, heading towards the campus coffee shop, where we had planned to go after we got out of class. “Because,” I answered, not sure at all if Catherine was serious, “We already had made plans. Besides, he wasn’t actually asking me out.”
Catherine frowned. “It sounded like it to me. I mean, yeah, he didn’t specifically ask you to grab coffee or see a movie with him, but why would he ask something so romantic like that if that wasn’t what he meant?”
Her words struck a cord in me, but I shook my head fervently. “No, he doesn’t actually like me. He flirts with every girl.”
“Not with me.”
My steps faltered. I supposed this was true; Carlos had never flirted with Catherine, even though he saw her plenty of times, even had a class with her. This was a small school; why did the world’s biggest flirt choose to hit on me, but not my best friend? Catherine was super pretty, with long aqua hair and sparkling brown eyes. I shrugged off the explanation that he actually liked me. That was...ridiculous. As nice as it would be to have a boyfriend...Carlos? No, that would just not happen.
I quickly changed the subject, chatting about our plans for the weekend. My head soon began to hurt, however, as I thought of all the upcoming assignments I had for the semester. Some of my professors that term were a little too organized, listing every single assignment in the syllabus, and outlining the many projects that would be due in great detail. As an Art History major, I had those two classes down, I knew, but I also had to take an Economics course for the Social Sciences requirement, and then I had to take a Math class. Ugh. Why couldn’t we have been done with Math in high school? And Econ was already killing me, slowly. Add that to the PE class I was taking, plus the many clubs and activities, and wham-o. Only a few weeks into the semester, and already I was feeling extremely overwhelmed.
Catherine stopped in her tracks and looked at me. “What?” she asked, noticing the sullen expression I must have been wearing, “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, nothing. Just wondering how I’m going to survive these last two semesters of college.” I lowered my eyes to the ground. “And yet, I don’t think I want college to end, because then we’ll be flung into the real world, expected to have our lives all figured out, and–and--” I screwed my eyes shut and took a deep breath. “Sometimes I just wish a handsome prince would swoop in and take me away on his white horse, so I wouldn’t have to deal with it all!” I laughed a bit in spite of myself, feeling that I was being too theatrical, like Carlos.
Catherine reached out and touched my arm, nodding in agreement. “I know what you mean. A nice, hot, tall, prince. Let’s hope for two, so one can rescue me, too. Did I tell you yet about my Psych thesis?”
I cast her a sympathetic glance as we reached the coffee shop and got in line for the register. I glanced around for familiar faces as we waited. Then I scrunched my brow. I saw a guy and girl at a nearby table, the girl holding a camera and the guy sitting super close to her, appearing to be whispering sweet nothings in her ear. PDA, I thought crankily. As my gaze moved, I noticed a pattern of the people sitting at all the tables. Couples, couples... I glanced through the glass doors that led to the covered patio outside, and saw two of my friends who had recently gotten together, holding hands. “And we don’t even have boyfriends to help ease the pain,” I mumbled, feeling pouty.
Catherine, I knew, being just about as boy-crazy as me, would understand. “I know, right? What’s the deal with that? We’re two smart, nice, single hotties! What’s it gotta take to get some wanted male attention around here?”
“A better male population on this campus?” I quipped as I reached the register and ordered an iced mocha. After Catherine ordered, we chose a table in the corner and sat down.
Catherine brushed a blue bang out of her eye. “Well, maybe we just have to look more carefully. I’ll bet there are some Prince Charmings in disguise right here at Castlerock University!”
I raised my eyebrows, surprised by this idea. Could there really be potential princes hiding all over campus? Diamonds in the rough? “Really...? You think so?”
“Of course! Hey, our school is named ‘Castlerock’, after all, that’s bound to attract princes.” Catherine playfully grinned, laughing at her own joke.
I busted up, hoping my loud laugh wasn’t irritating to the other coffee shop patrons. “So, who is your first princely pick?” I asked her after I’d calmed down.
Catherine thought for a moment, then snapped her fingers. “What about Kyle, from the basketball team?”
I considered this. Kyle was tall, with light brown hair that fell into his green eyes. Definitely a McHottie. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. He’s awesome on the court. And he’s super popular, always surrounded by girls. I guess he’s sort of like a prince, huh?”
Catherine nodded. “And what about Leon?”
I smiled. Leon was cute and tall, and super nice. I met him my sophomore year when we both lived on the same dorm floor. I couldn’t recall him ever saying one unkind thing to anyone. “Yeah, he is really nice. He was always helping me carry my stuff whenever I came back from break. And he volunteered to take care of the plants in the dorm lounge.”
Catherine rested her chin in her hand. Leon had been in several of her classes, and she never had anything bad to say about him. “He is so nice and considerate. If that’s not prince-like behavior, I don’t know what is.”
“Hold that thought.” I heard our coffee orders being called out. When I’d returned and handed Catherine her caramel macchiato, I said, “Okay, sorry. Please continue.”
Catherine laughed, her brown eyes dancing. I could tell her next suggestion was going to be a fun one. “Well, what about Victor?”
I wrinkled my nose, picturing the blonde Victor in a cape with a crown. “Victor?” I asked incredulously. I was pretty sure she wasn’t serious. She couldn’t be. “That clown?” I had been lucky enough to never have a class with Victor, but we’d been in the same Orientation group my freshman year, and Catherine had the, er, good fortune of being stuck in the same dorm with him two years in a row, so our “bond” was sealed. Medium height with bright green eyes and a mischievous grin, he was on the Ultimate Frisbee team. Those guys were in a class of their own, always dressing up when the reading period before finals started, pulling harmless pranks on innocent bystanders. They were pretty fun to be around, but Victor kind of annoyed me at times.
Catherine giggled shyly and shrugged. Wow. Apparently she did think he was cute. Well, she knew him better than I did. “Why not? He’s pretty cute, you have to admit. He always makes me laugh.”
I considered this, trying to be fair. “I guess...I can...see his charm...”
“And we can’t forget Carlos!” Catherine winked. “With the way he hits on girls, and struts his stuff around campus, that boy thinks he’s royalty.”
I rolled my eyes, remembering my recent encounter with him. With his sparkling hazel eyes and dashing smile, I had always thought Carlos was one of the cutest guys at my school, but his ego turned me off a bit. It didn’t matter what I thought about him, though, as I was certain he wasn’t actually interested in me. Right? He couldn’t be. “Tell me about it. That one is a real special snowflake, all right. The things he says...the things he does...he’s so...”
“Princely?” Catherine suggested, daintily sipping her coffee while trying to look innocent.
I choked on my mocha, the straw stabbing the roof of my mouth slightly. Carlos? Princely? What exactly was Catherine trying to hint at me, anyways?
Seeing my expression, Catherine said, “Well, he did ask you to dance the “tango of love--”
“Waltz.” I corrected her automatically.
“Whatever–with him. Isn’t that just the sort of thing a prince would say when courting a beautiful damsel?”
Ignoring her not-so-subtle hints about Carlos, I pondered this. “Hm...” I began, absentmindedly twirling my straw, imagining Carlos’s pick-up lines in a fairytale setting. Suddenly, they didn’t seem quite so weird. “I suppose you’re right...princes do think things like waltzing are important. Maybe he was a prince in another life.” I joked.
Catherine nodded, seeming pleased that she’d made her point, but dropping the subject of Carlos, which I was grateful for. “Let’s think of other would-be princes in our school...I know! What about that guy from your hometown...what’s his name?”
I furrowed my brow. “You mean Lucas?” I’d known Lucas for practically forever, since grade school. It was such a surprise when I found out he had picked them same University as me. “He is pretty cute, but, gee, I dunno, we’ve been friends since we were little...never thought of him as boyfriend material. Also, he has kind of a short temper. He can be really cranky sometimes.”
Catherine, who didn’t know him very well, looked at me curiously. “Like how do you mean?”
I shrugged. “Well, just as an example, he’s never been very good with maps or at asking for directions–I guess he thinks, like most guys, that it’s un-manly to ever ask for help or consult a map, so when I try to help him, or call him out on it, he bites my head off!”
“What? He’s so in denial that he thinks his sense of direction is fine?” Catherine asked skeptically.
“Yes!” I burst out, “He even said that exact thing the other day, when he was trying to find a place to get his laptop fixed! I mean, who even says stuff like that? Not only was it weird and random, but it was kind of like him admitting he does have a problem.”
“Exactly,” Catherine agreed. “Not very prime prince-like material, if you ask me, in the personality department, at least. But he is really cute.” She sighed dreamily.
I thought of Lucas’ broad shoulders and amber eyes and blushed. “Um–there’s another guy I just thought of,” I blurted, quickly changing the subject.
“Ooh! Who?” Catherine asked eagerly.
“That new transfer student, Keith,” I said, reminded of the other day when I’d literally bumped into him in the library. He’d looked uncomfortable, adjusting his glasses and remaining silent when I had apologized. He was in my Math class, but pretty much didn’t acknowledge my existence. “I don’t know him very well, but he’s so mysterious, I might believe he was a prince from a strange, faraway land.”
“Hm...” Catherine mused, “Could very well be! He does sound rather interesting!” She smiled, sipping the last of her coffee. “So, Elizabeth, don’t you see? Our campus is just filled with our potential princes!”
I smiled, nodding as I began to realize that her idea might not be so crazy after all. “Y’know, Catherine, you could be right! Now we’ve just got to polish up, find our princes, and then strut our stuff!”
We high-fived. “Yes!”
As I brought my hand back down, my eye caught my watch. “Aw, shoot. It’s getting kind of late. I’d better head back to my room, get a jump start on all my work for the weekend.”
Catherine nodded, sighing. “Yeah, I need to get going, too. I still have to pack.” Catherine’s family lived only an hour away from our school, so she often went home on the weekends.
We bid each other good-bye and I walked alone to the on-campus house I was living in for the year. I tugged at my long-sleeved top, lost in thought. A prince at our school...who could it be? I giggled, suddenly excited by the prospect, no matter how ridiculous it might be to be thinking so much about it. I had more important things to focus on, but I couldn’t help but play the guys in my mind. Kyle? Leon? Carlos? Victor? Keith? Lucas? Hm...
I pulled out my key from my backpack and unlocked the front door to the house. I called out a greeting when I got the hallway, but neither of my house mates seemed to be home. I shrugged and entered my room, flung my backpack on my bed and stretched. “Now, what should I do?” I mumbled to myself, “Should I start my homework right away, or relax for a bit?” I thought of the huge packet of Economics homework that awaited me and suppressed a shudder. Normally, I liked to skip homework until Saturday and reserve my Friday nights for some fun, but I knew myself too well. I was positive I would be super mad at myself if I didn’t at least start tonight.
I blew a stray bang out of my eye. “First, I think I’ll change into something more comfortable...” While my skirt, tights, and boots were super cute, they were not very comfortable to lounge around my room in. I walked over to my tall white wardrobe and paused for a moment to admire the photos of friends and posters that I had taped to the doors to make it more homey. Humming a happy tune, I opened the wardrobe door.
And screamed when a sudden blast of air knocked me backwards. I stumbled with my eyes closed over to my bed. Shielding my face, I opened my eyes to see what looked like a brightly-colored vortex in the center of my wardrobe swirling as if made up of powerful, almost magical energy. I shook my head, dazed and confused. “What in the--”
A small, white creature with a pink mask, red cape, and gold wand suddenly flew out of the vortex. “AACK!” I shrieked.
“Hello!” A squeaky little voice rang out. I shook my head. Was I dreaming?
I gasped when a larger, human-sized figure suddenly emerged from the vortex. The person landed on their feet, and all too quickly the room stopped spinning as the vortex closed up and disappeared. I uncovered my face and stood up, at first too shocked to speak. With the bright colors of the vortex gone, I got a good, clear look at the figure, and realized, dazedly, that it was me!
The girl who looked like me appeared to notice me for the first time, and smiled, as if she were greeted by screams every day. “Hello! You must be the ‘me’ of this world!” Her green eyes locked with my brown ones before she closed them with a giggle.
The little creature floated by her side, suspended by tiny white wings. “Congratulations, Princess, we made it in one piece!”
“Huh?” My eyes widened, shocked by what I’d just heard. What on Earth was going on? I mean, I knew I was worn out, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t fallen asleep...
The girl covered her mouth daintily as she laughed. “Nice to meet you!” She lifted the skirt of her long pink dress in a curtsy. “What’s your name?”
I blinked rapidly, then stammered, feeling dazed, “Um, nice to meet you, too...my name is Elizabeth.”
The girl clapped her hands together, appearing delighted about something. “No way! We even have the same name? I’m Elizabeth, too! I’m a Princess!”
“Princess?” I took in her long pink ball gown and delicate silver tiara. I suppose it made sense. Though none of this was making much sense at all.
“Uh-huh! And this is my tutor!” She nodded to the little white animal beside her.
“Hellooo!” The flying animal sang out, “Kip Hamoon Stallon the 777th, at your service!”
His long name and title caught my interest. “Wow–the 777th?” I asked.
Kip seemed pleased by my curiosity. Clearing his throat, he began, “Well, I suppose an explanation is in order. You see, a very long time ago, my great-great-great grandfather...”
The princess looked impatient, and interjected, “Kip, it’ll take all day to tell that story!”
Kip looked sheepish. “Sorry! I just lose all track of time when it comes to telling that story! Just call me ‘Kip’! Nice to meet you!”
Unable to hold back a smile, I said, “It’s nice to meet you, too...um, I mean, well–”
The princess asked, “What’s wrong? You seem out of sorts.”
I cleared my throat, unsure of how to phrase my question without sounding rude. “It’s just–um, well, what are you doing here?”
The princess grinned. “We came to ask you a favor!”
I knit my brows together. “A favor?”
“Well, the thing is, our kingdom hosts a dance competition every year, ‘The Ball in Saint-Lyon’,” the princess began, “And I’m supposed to choose a prince from another kingdom to partner with for the competition, to promote friendly relations between our kingdoms...but...the thing is...” the princess shuffled her feet back and forth nervously, “I’m really bad at dancing. Terrible, in fact.” She dropped her gaze to the floor, seeming sad. “The mere thought of dancing in front of tons of people terrifies me...so I ran away!”
I nodded, feeling a surge of sympathy for her. “I see...so where is this ball at?”
“Huh?” The princess blinked, looking confused. “In our kingdom, of course!”
I shook my head, a bit annoyed that she’d missed my point. “No, I mean, where is your kingdom?”
The princess laughed at her obvious mistake. “Oh, that!” She smoothed her long pink skirt daintily. “My kingdom is in another world!”
“Another...world?” I heard my voice echo numbly. This was all getting to be way too much information to handle. The situation defied all logic, it was like I was dreaming, but I knew I was wide awake. It didn’t seem possible that this mirror version of me, and her little flying, furry, talking friend were here from another world, and yet, there they were, standing in my bedroom.
The princess nodded, seeming impatient. “Yes, another world! Are you with me so far?”
I ignored her snippy tone and nodded slowly, furrowing my eyebrows. “And just how do you get to this world?”
The princess turned and pointed to my wardrobe. “It’s just beyond that wardrobe!”
My eyes widened. Another world through the wardrobe? “Narnia?” I wondered aloud.
“Hm?” Kip inquired curiously. “What was that?”
I shook my head. No, of course not! And I guess they wouldn’t understand the joke even if I explained. “Um, nothing. So, what are you guys doing here?”
The princess looked taken aback. She shared a glance with her furry little companion. “Didn’t we just explain that?!”
I blew a stray bang out of my eye, exasperated. “Not really! I mean, I understand that you ran away because you’re afraid to dance at the ball because you think you’re a terrible dancer, but what does that have to do with me?” I demanded, putting my hands on my hips.
Kip shook his head, agitated. “It has everything to do with you!” He cried. “We came to your world to get you to take the princess’ place, and have you participate in the Ball in Saint-Lyon!”
My eyes widened. Wait–they wanted me to do what...? This was crazy! It was like something out of a movie–!!! I took a deep breath, and squeezed my eyes shut. Then after a moment, I opened them again. Nope, they were still there.
The princess clasped her hands together, looking desperate. “That’s right! So please, will you?”
“It would only be for one month,” Kip added, his tiny eyes pleading.
I bit my lip. Well, since this all appeared to be real, I would have to give it some real consideration. This was the opportunity of a lifetime–I would get to see another world, be a princess, at least for a little while, and dance! While the princess apparently didn’t like dancing, I have had a passion for dancing all my life, loving the feel of the rhythm when I put on music. It just was natural to me. I could help someone who was afraid to dance, and get the chance to do what I loved. Plus, I could get a break from the pile of school work that was threatening to bury me alive...Then I quickly shook my head. What am I thinking? I can’t skip college for a month! I would flunk out, and all of my hard work would go down the drain. Econ and Math may be challenging, but I want to succeed! Call me too conscientious, but I really cared about my grades.
“Well, I would like to help, but I don’t think I can,” I began slowly, shrugging my shoulders. “I can’t just miss a month of college! I’m taking five classes right now, and if I’m gone that long, I’ll flunk for sure.”
Kip and the Princess glanced at each other. Then the Princess grinned mischievously. “But you wouldn’t miss a month. Don’t you see? We’d be trading places! You take over my duties, I take over yours. It’ll be a snap! I bet no one will even notice!”
Oh! This hadn’t occurred to me. I suppose if the Princess went to all of my classes and did my homework for me, there would be no problem. I felt bad at the thought of someone else doing my work for me, but I supposed since I would be helping her by dancing in this contest, the least she could do was keep up on my obligations here...
I nodded slowly. “Ok, if you’re sure you can handle it...”
“That means–?!” The princess squealed in excitement.
Kip pumped his little paw in the air. “You’ll do it?!”
I laughed at their exuberance. “Yes, I’ll do it. It’ll be the adventure of a lifetime! Here, let me let you know what you have to do to be me...” I reached for my backpack, pulling out my class schedule and a few of my notebooks. Then I went around the room and gathered all the class syllabi, placing them on my desk in front of the Princess. I spent awhile going into great detail of what she needed to do, telling her to read all the syllabi, as well as look at my planner to see what needed to be done by Monday. The Princess didn’t even seem to break a sweat, telling me she had plenty of classes just like this back home, and for me not to worry about it.
I still felt a little nervous, but she exuded confidence, and Kip didn’t seem worried either, so I finally shrugged and said, “Ok, then. Um, you’d better change out of that dress before my house mates come home.” I indicated the wardrobe, and then pointed to a small chest of drawers.
The Princess only laughed. “Don’t worry, I’ve got it! Thank you so much!” Then she approached the wardrobe. “You guys had better get going.”
I smiled and nodded, feeling excited. “Ok! Lead the way!”
Kip lifted his wand high in the air and turned to my wardrobe. “Okay! I’ll open the door!” With a wave of his wand, the doors to my wardrobe slowly swung open and the swirling vortex reappeared. I hesitated.
Kip turned and smiled reassuringly. “Don’t worry! There’s nothing to be scared of! Just follow me!” Kip jumped into the vortex, disappearing from my sight.
“Um, do I–” I stuttered, turning to the princess, “I–I guess, um,” I laughed nervously, “Do I–jump in–”
The princess giggled and suddenly pushed me. “Eek!” I squealed as I was sucked in by a strong wind.
“Bye! Thanks again!” I heard the princess call after me. I couldn’t respond, having to squeeze my eyes shut as protection against the swirling wind.
* * *
A few moments later, I heard Kip’s voice squeak, “All right, we’re here! You can open your eyes!”
I slowly complied, glad the dizzying trip was over. A pair of closet doors swung open, and as we climbed out, I found myself in a large bedroom, with a huge, soft looking canopy bed, made of what looked like pink-tinted brass, with a luxurious pink ribbon comforter and lacy white curtains. The walls were covered with off-white wallpaper with a design etched in gold, and along one wall was a large white and pink floral dresser with gold handles. Along the other wall was a nice-sized vanity, and a night table.
“Wow...” I breathed. “I love pink! This is my dream bedroom!” I squealed in excitement.
Kip smiled. “I am glad you like it! Welcome to the Flower Kingdom! It lies on the Roserasia Continent of this world! I hope you will be comfortable in your new bedroom!”
I slowly wandered around the room, trying to take in every detail with my eyes. I walked over to the wardrobe again, and opened it slowly, wondering if the vortex was still there. When I opened it, I realized it must have returned to normal, for all that lay within were dozens of beautiful outfits. I sighed softly in wonder, fingering the silky blue fabric of one dress. “Wow...the princess does have some beautiful clothes...well,” I grinned, realizing something, “At least we’re the same size!”
I carefully closed the wardrobe doors and went to the window. As I looked at my surroundings, I was overwhelmed. Below my window, there was the most beautiful flower garden I had ever seen. I watched a few people stroll by, dressed in gowns and old-fashioned boots and capes. “It’s like a fairytale!” I said in wonder, but what I saw next made me gasp. “There are animals!” I cried, my eyes widening in surprise, “Dressed in human clothes!” I watched as the animals began a conversation, their mouths moving to form what appeared to be words. “No way! These animals are talking–!”
Kip seemed surprised at my wonder. “What? Animals in your world don’t talk?”
I hesitated, realizing I was speaking to a talking animal. “Well, how should I put this,” I began carefully, “Um, there are people who talk to animals, but they don’t talk back...”
“Really?” Kip seemed shocked and intrigued by this bit of information. “Well, here it’s normal that animals do talk!”
“I...” I stammered, “I see...”
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
Kip apparently was expecting this. “Ah! They’re here!”
“Who’s here?” I asked.
I watched as the door swung open, and the room was suddenly filled with strange looking little animals, much like Kip, I mused, all dressed in old-fashioned clothes. “Princess!” An animal with a mustache began, “We’ve finally found you!”
Another animal appeared at his side. “King Crown has been worried about you!” she squeaked.
“Wait–” the first one said, looking over me critically, “What in the blazes are you wearing?!”
I looked down at myself, then blinked, realizing my sweater, short denim skirt, grey tights and knee-length boots might look slightly strange to the assistants of the King.
“Please, get changed quickly, Princess!” A third animal chimed in. “The royal banquet is scheduled to begin shortly!”
Seeing my confused expression, Kip cupped his hand over his mouth and said, “Have you forgotten, Princess? They’re your servants.”
I crinkled my brow. I didn’t forget, Kip, I’m not the actual princess! Hoo, boy, I thought, feeling overwhelmed. Servants. This was going to take some getting used to. Back home, I didns’t usually have people waiting on my every move.
“Here,” one of the servants said, thrusting an object into my hands. “Put this on!”
I looked down at my hands, which now held a silver tiara.
“Just put this on,” Kip whispered to me, “So you can transform.”
My eyes widened. “Transform?”
Kip nodded. “It’s the magic of our kingdom. With special accessories, you can transform and wear a beautiful new outfit.”
I nodded, feeling excited. “Here goes,” I whispered. I placed the tiara on my head. Suddenly, golden glitter-like energy swirled around my body, and I was no longer in my sweater and skirt, but in a beautiful pink ball gown. I admired myself in the mirror, and did a little twirl. “Wow...”
“This magical tiara is a gift, your highness,” one of the servants said, “You may use it from now on.”
“Wow, this is pretty cool!” I giggled.
Kip closed his eyes as he laughed. “I’m glad you like it!”
The oldest-looking servant shook his head. “Now is not the time for this! Hurry, we have to get to the banquet hall!”
“Um...” I looked nervously to Kip then back to my reflection, “Okay, let’s go!”
The procession of tiny flying animals led me out of the bedroom and down a hall. As we descended the staircase, I bit my lip and fussed nervously with my skirt. When we made it to a set of double doors, I took a shaky breath. “What’s the matter, Princess?” I heard Kip ask.
Still not used to being referred to as a princess, he had to tap me on the shoulder to get my full attention. I sighed. “Don’t be nervous,” Kip encouraged, patting my shoulder with his little white paw, “You’ll do just fine. I’ll be there to help you.”
I smiled, feeling a little better. “Okay.” I closed my eyes to compose myself as one of the servants opened the doors.
Inside the large hall was a large table covered with plates of delicious looking food. From the ceiling hung brightly colored lights and banners. My eyes circled the room, observing all the noblemen and women dressed like something out of a fairytale.
“Princess,” Kip began, clearing his throat, “This is the perfect opportunity to get yourself acclimated to this world and meet some princes! Remember, you need to find a partner for the ball!”
I nodded, a bit overwhelmed. Before I could reply, a blonde boy barely taller than me appeared before me. My eyes widened. He looked just like Victor! His bright green eyes had a mischievous sparkle to them. “Hi!” he said cheerfully. “You’re the princess of the Flower Kingdom, right?”
“Victor?” I squeaked out incredulously.
He looked surprised. “Victor? Who’s Victor?”
Kip nudged me with his tiny wand, clearing his throat. “This is Prince Vincent Wright of the River Kingdom!”
I looked at Kip, confused, and whispered, “A prince? You’ve got to be kidding me! That guy goes to my school!”
“Don’t you remember?” Kip asked in a whisper. “This is a parallel world! He may be a college student in your world, but he’s a prince in this one!”
“Oh, that’s right!” I bit my lip. “Sheesh, this world’s so topsy-turvy.”
Kip nodded, looking frazzled. “Now that you’ve got that, give Prince Vincent a proper greeting!”
I cleared my throat. How do princesses behave again? I wondered frantically, searching my mind for memories of books and movies on the subject. I lifted my skirt ever so slightly and gave a delicate curtsy. “N-nice to meet you, Prince Vincent! My name is Elizabeth.”
Vincent grinned and gave a short bow in reply. “A pleasure, Elizabeth. Please, just call me Vince!”
I smiled, feeling a little more relaxed.
“This castle is so big!” Vince said. “You should show me around later.”
His suggestion took me aback. I couldn’t show him around! I had no idea where anything was! “Umm,” I stammered, trying to think of an excuse, “I’ll, uh, have to ask my father, y’know, the King? First.” I held my breath. How lame...
“Okay!” Vince seemed full of energy suddenly. “I’ll go ask for you!”
“Huh? W-wait!” I called after him as he hurried out of the room. “Well,” I sighed, “That wasn’t so bad, I guess. I wonder what the next prince will be like.”
I wandered a few feet around the hall, when suddenly a prince holding a red rose approached me. My eyes widened. Tall with hazel eyes and wavy hair that fell to his chin...he looked exactly like Carlos! The Carlos look-alike flipped a bang out of his eyes and said, “Well, if it isn’t my beloved Princess Elizabeth, as beautiful as ever!”
He sounds just like Carlos, too! I thought, stunned.
He reached for my hand and placed a kiss to it. Despite myself, I felt my cheeks grown warm. M-must be the shock of it all, I tried to reason.
Seeing the frozen look I must have had on my face, Kip whispered in my ear, “This is Prince Cesar Dubois of the Marées Kingdom!” I nodded. Judging by how he’d referred to me, I assumed that this...‘Cesar’ already knew my counterpart.
Cesar smiled, wiping all the thoughts from my mind, and held out the rose. “Your beauty puts this rose to shame.” My hands shaking slightly, I took the rose from his hand, stammering a thank you. As my fingers brushed his, my hand shook even more. His hazel eyes locked with mine and I bit my lip. Suddenly, still gazing into my eyes, he furrowed his eyebrows, seeming puzzled now.
“Wh-what?” I whispered nervously, self-conscious that he’d noticed something amiss, though I was so nervous I couldn’t be sure what it was.
Still looking puzzled, he flashed a smile. “Oh, it’s nothing. I just wish you would’ve agreed to be my partner when I asked you before...” Before I could think of a proper excuse, trying not to blow my cover, he continued, “Well, I mustn’t keep you. Let me know if you change your mind. Adieu for now, Princess!”
I watched, stunned and unblinking as Cesar left, making his way to the refreshments table. “Wow,” I breathed, stunned. “He just said his piece and left! He didn’t even let me get a word in edgewise!”
“Prince Cesar was rejected by the real princess once before,” Kip explained. “Since then, he’s kept on trying to win her affection, but he’s yet to be successful.”
“I see...” I wondered if he was just like Carlos, who flirted constantly with me and other pretty girls, or if he actually had feelings for the princess. “Hmm...” I pondered as I wandered through the room, fingering the rose. “Ow!” I felt someone ram into me. “Hey, what’s the big idea?” I exclaimed as the person shoved past me.
He stopped and turned on his heel. “Watch where you’re going!” he growled, clenching a fist.
I studied him quickly, taking in his form–tall, with broad shoulders and dark hair–he looked like Lucas! “Um, I’m sorry...” All my indignation leaving my body at the sight of my friend, or rather, someone who looked just like my friend.
He crossed his arms, a satisfied smirk crossing his face. “Well, then, as long as you’re sorry,” he muttered before hurrying off.
My anger returned, flooding my face with color. “What?!” I cried, outraged.
“Are you all right?” Kip asked me.
I furrowed my brow. “Yeah, but that guy looked just like my friend back home, Lucas...”
“That’s Prince Luciano Barbosa of the Garadium Kingdom,” Kip explained. “He seems to be really testy lately...”
I had begun to notice the uncanny pattern that all of the princes I’d met so far looked like guys who went to my school. I wonder who else is here? Then I saw a prince with shaggy purple hair and glasses standing by himself in the corner of the room. “He looks like Keith!”
I realized too late that by that point we had locked eyes and I had said that last part aloud.
“Keith?” He asked in a deep voice, confused.
I shook my head. “Sorry! Um, I don’t believe we’ve met. I am–”
“Why are you talking to me?” He suddenly interrupted, his soft eyes inquisitive.
His question surprised me. “Um...I just was trying to meet someone new.”
He stepped away from the wall. “Sorry, I don’t have time to talk right now.” With that, he took off.
“Wow.” I shrugged to Kip. “He could be friendlier.”
“That’s Prince Kiefer Bergmann from the land of Nezzie,” Kip said. “He’s a man of few words, and is famous for his great intelligence!”
“Hm...still, he could be friendlier,” I insisted. My train of thought was interrupted by the sudden squeals of girls. I noticed a few feet away a tall, handsome young man surrounded by a lot of girls, presumably princesses. “He looks like Kyle!” I realized.
Kip heard this, and chipped in, “That’s Prince Klaus of the country of Lamor. He’s quite the popular one.”
I laughed. “Just like back home!”
Two girls seemed to be vying for his attention more than the others. Kip nudged me. “Go introduce yourself.” I nodded, fussing with my hair before approaching him. “How do you do, Prince Kyle? Err, I mean, Prince Klaus!” I recovered quickly.
He smiled, his green eyes twinkling. “How do you do, Princess Elizabeth?”
I smiled, feeling confident, and began, “Would you like to...” Suddenly, the two more pushy princesses appeared in front of him, blocking him from my view. “Hey! Klaus is busy with us!” One declared as they dragged him away, apparently against his will.
“He’s gone...” I mumbled in dismay.
Kip shrugged. “Well, there was nothing you could do.”
I shrugged too, then looked around the hall. “Oh, look! There’s a patio over there!”
Kip looked to where I was pointing. “Oh, that’s the inner garden. Would you like to take a look?”
I nodded eagerly. When we stepped onto the cobbled patio, admiring the colorful flowers, I noticed Vince off to the side of the inner garden, talking to a young man with leaf green hair and kind eyes.
“Hey,” I called out to them, “What are you guys doing?”
Vince saw me and waved, then pointed to his companion and shrugged. “I dunno, I guess he found a rare flower, or something.”
The tall companion smiled. “It’s a malkid flower I found when I was on my way to the castle. It only grows in this region.”
“Oh, really?” I asked, observing the beautiful white flower he held, with its soft, dewy petals.
Vince snorted, seeming bored. “Well, see ya!” He raced back inside.
The young man smiled and bowed lightly. “Nice to meet you, Princess. I’m Liam Goodrich of the Green Kingdom.” I gasped as I looked into his tender emerald eyes. I knew who he looked like now! He looked just like my friend Leon!
“Pleased to meet you, Liam. I am Princess Elizabeth.” I curtsied, feeling more confident than the first time I had curtsied that night.
“Princess,” he went on, “What kind of flowers do you like?”
I smiled. What a sweet question! He was just like Leon! I thought for a moment, then replied, “Roses!”
Liam nodded, smiling. “Roses, hm? Very fitting for a beauty such as you.” I blushed, and he continued, “Well, then I shall see you later, Princess Elizabeth.” With that, he went back inside.
“Wow,” I sighed, “So many princes!”
* * *
Later, after the feast ended, I turned to Kip and said, “Phew! I’m worn out!”
Kip smiled sympathetically, patting my shoulder.
Suddenly, the room fell into a hush as the King made an announcement. “Now, to end the festivities, we have a special performance! Prince Klaus and Princess Cynthia will dance for us!”
I watched with interest as the pair took the floor and amazed us all with a graceful waltz. “Wow...I wonder if I’ll ever be able to dance as beautifully as that with someone...”
All too soon, it seemed, their routine was over and we all burst into applause. I sighed in wonder. “That was impressive!”
“Princess,” Kip suddenly whispered. For a moment I forgot that he was talking to me. This princess thing was going to take awhile to sink in. “Hm?”
“It’s getting late and everyone is leaving. I think it best if you called it a night. You have quite a busy day tomorrow.”
I blinked, then whipped my head to find the large clock that adorned one wall of the hall. I hadn’t realized how late it had gotten. “I guess you’re right...” I said, disappointed. I didn’t want my first party as a princess to end so soon.
The crown of people heading for the main double doors soon became a thick clump of traffic, difficult to move more than a few inches at a time. I decided to hang back for a few moments to let the bulk of people pass. As I loitered by the wall, a similar figure caught my attention. I bit my lip when I saw it was the prince who looked like Lucas. What was his name? Luciano, I think. Suddenly, his amber eyes locked with mine. They flashed with something that looked like hostility. I felt myself smile shyly, and he quickly turned away. Hmmph! What a jerk! At least Lucas is nicer than him! I guess they aren’t identical!
As the crowd thinned out, I took a deep breath and headed for the door. Just as I reached them, I felt my arm brush against someone. I glanced up and saw it was Cesar, the Carlos look-alike. He smiled, revealing a row of nice, even teeth, and reached for the door, holding it open. He made a sweeping motion with his arm, motioning for me to go first. I blinked, startled. “Oh! Thank you!”
Cesar flashed that grin of his again, the one that went all the way to his hazel eyes. “My pleasure.”
His intent gaze made my cheeks go red. I passed through the door and exhaled slowly when I was out of his line of vision and halfway up the stairs. One thing about these princes...I’ve gotten way more attention from guys in one night than in an entire semester back home! A vision of those piercing hazel eyes flashed through my mind again and I felt my heart do a funny jump in my chest. I think I’m going to like it here...
As I turned the knob to enter my bedroom, Kip cleared his throat and began in that squeaky voice of his, “Well, princess, I must say, I am impressed with your adjustment! You did well tonight.”
I smiled, touched. “You really think so? Thank you.”
Kip nodded. “Well, get a good night’s sleep. I will send for you tomorrow morning at 8 AM, sharp! We have a lot to do!”
I nodded, stifling a yawn. “Ok, G’night!” Closing the door once I was inside, I leaned against the doorframe, and looked around my new, elaborately furnished room. Crossing the room to the dressing table, I fingered the rose Cesar gave me that was still in my hand. Smiling, I grabbed a flower vase that held some wild flowers, and placed the single rose among them. Humming the tune that Klaus and his partner had waltzed to, I couldn’t help notice how the rose stuck out from the rest of the flowers in the bunch. “Kind of how I feel,” I whispered. “Feeling out of place and lost? Don’t worry,” I said softly, “We’ll both feel better soon.”
I then walked over to the dresser, and opened the drawer, then gasped as I saw the array of beautiful, delicate pajamas of all kinds, matching tops and bottoms as well as night gowns, of varying colors, lengths, and fabrics. I finally chose a long flannel pink nightgown with hand-stitched flowers all over and ribbon laced through the collar and sleeves. I flopped onto the cushy bed and stared at the canopy above my head. I wonder what tomorrow will be like... Before I knew it, I was fast asleep.
To be continued...
Author’s Note: When re-reading this story, I realized that while the game said that Cesar was from the “Sea Republic” and Klaus was from “The Republic of Lamor” and Kiefer was from “The Nezzie Empire,” that Princes would be from principalities or monarchies. Therefore, I switched Cesar’s homeland to be “The Marées Kingdom.” “Marées” is French for “Tides,” and since Cesar speaks French I decided that it should be more incorporated into his life. I switched out Klaus and Kiefer’s republics and empires for “lands” and “countries.” :-)