Nova Prima Donna – 01 – The Swan Princess

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This is a mini-project so my brain doesn’t stop working… It’s about a girl chosen by the Universal System, which guards and controls the fourteen realms, to close the final gate and stop the destroyers of realms (a sort of a clean-up program that ran amok). It’ll be different from anything I’ve ever written because the main protagonist isn’t a delicate flower, she’s more like a dandelion… She’s versatile, she’s rough and tough, and above all – she won’t take no for an answer.

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Mother would read these stories to me – stories about princesses living in beautiful kingdoms, constantly in trouble. They were damsels in distress who would need a prince to save their hearts, or princes who needed the help of a princess, even princesses who would become queens and never need saving. She’d brush my hair every night, I was probably five or six years old, and she’s take out this big book. Every other day, it was a different story: she’d ask for a summary, for what I understood from it and what it meant to me as a growing girl. Puberty was still a long way away, she was proud of what she had achieved.

Then, when I was ten years old, she passed away. She suffered a great deal, she cried every night. She wasn’t the hero I expected her to be but she was my mother, and that meant a lot. When she was buried, I placed the big book inside her coffin and we buried her with it. Maybe she would have fun reading it wherever she went. It was a dream, a lovely idea… Too bad that was all it was.

By the age of sixteen, I had forgotten all about those stories but Hollywood would attract me to them, once again. I was like a fly buzzing around a bright light. Revamping the old stories I cherished the most and shedding new light, I was overwhelmed, no, thrilled. It was a fun time, like being with my mother again.

Now, I’m here, sitting in my apartment’s window sill, hoping that something good might happen before I die of boredom. Life zoomed past me; it certainly wasn’t the life I was hoping for. Two four-hour-shift part-time jobs and a morning filled with class activities, not to mention the evenings spent with my textbooks and homework. It wasn’t an enjoyable time.

 

*

 

“Not this again…” I stared outside the window, hoping this was my chance to escape the lecture on human sexuality. “I already know what my sexuality is and how to preserve it, thank you very much.”

“Just sit by it, hold up.” Marie whispered. I wasn’t about to wait for her.

“No, I’m bailing on you today. This isn’t what I want to waste my morning on.” Placing what little I had in my arm-chair, inside by bag, I slowly and gently tiptoed outside the classroom while the teacher took out condoms.

 

The sky was blue, like an ocean with nothing but water and not a speck of land in sight. No clouds, no distractions, just blue… plain ol’ blue. I was stretched out on the grass, beneath a small tree; its branches constantly struggled with the incoming gusts of cold air. I couldn’t blame it, the wind was strong, the atmosphere was cold and the sun wasn’t doing its job properly today. As the cold wind blew, I struggled to find warmth. After giving up on the idea of being at peace here in the campus, I made my way home.

The concrete floor was dotted with green moss, it was raining every evening, and it didn’t seem to want to let up. It was that time again: the rainy season. Birds chirping, almost like calling their young ones back home, away from the incoming rain. I was hesitant to wander outside my home, if I got wet, I could get sick, and if I got sick, then I’d miss classes. I couldn’t miss any more classes… I’ll be kicked out if I did.

Tying my hair back, a pony-tail seemed like the most attractive work of art I could do with it, as I fell atop a pile of clothes. Why was the bed so soft? I didn’t need a man; I needed a big bed with a warm comforter and a hot cup of tea or coffee, whichever got here first.

The room shook when a heavy vehicle passed by; the street was just two apartments away. Looking outside my window, I saw it again: a bright light beneath a tiny tree. Was it a firefly? Do fireflies shine in a prism-like order? Do fireflies even exist here? I was overflowing with curiosity. I could still indulge in child-like wonder and awe; thought curiosity wasn’t a very good reason for me to wander off outside, especially in the middle of the night. Could I let that little bug, or whatever that was, slip from my fingers after I was so close to it?

Picking up some old, blue slippers from beneath my bed, I tucked in my dress and walked out of the apartment. Scared, yes, excited, yes, paranoid, you betcha’ but overall, I was curious. The night was cloudy, no stars in sight, not even the moon. Tomorrow was going to be the fabled harvest moon and the sky didn’t seem to want to let go. A light drizzle continued, nothing I couldn’t handle. My footsteps echoed in the night but I managed to check every direction before I made a move. Slowly walking over to the light source, I noticed something… It was a ring. A small ring but a ring, nonetheless. Strange, it was silvery, plane, with a small stone, probably zirconium. Not wanting my adrenaline to go to waste, I grabbed the ring and brought it back home, as I skipped over puddles and along muddy paths. Home is where the warmth is.

 

*

 

People were playing with a guitar outside the classroom. Again with those guys? How long will they keep at it? Nobody likes an acoustic lone-ranger… We’re into the lead guitarists or the lead singer, not the acoustic backup singer. Looking away, I tried paying attention to the chalkboard but I could barely understand anything. Math wasn’t my forte and neither was paying attention. Taking out the ring from my pocket, I kept on looking at it, examining every nook and cranny. It didn’t seem like the genuine thing a guy would give a girl or a girl would buy in an afternoon of reckless spending.  Plain silver, if it even was silver, with a stone, probably a fake, and an inscription that read: “Heed ye, lest ye fall in a deep sleep. Thou must awaken that which slumbers beneath thine eyes.” Such a poet, no wonder the ring was underneath some bushes, the guy must have been quite the loser. Besides, it read more like a threat that an ode to love. Yeah, he must have been a poor sucker.

 

*

 

The night was cold, once again, but the sky was wide awake. The stars glimmering under the darkness of the dark blue celestial ocean; the moon overpowering the shadows that formed in the streets – the blue moon was well outside its warm confines deep within the horizon. It was a lovely sight, a feeling of security and peace sunk in. As I held the ring in my right hand, warmth overwhelmed my palm. What was going on? I dropped the ring, it began to glow. Not a shadow peaked from the corners of my room; everything was illuminated by an unearthly brightness. Voices echoed through my head, they were calling me… they were saying my name… it was as if I was needed somewhere. As strange as it sounds, the feeling of being somewhere to help someone I hadn’t met before was nothing short of a déjà vu brought about by everyday activity. Something everyone has felt at the very least, once in their lifetime.

The light dissipated but everything was not normal. The room wasn’t my own; the bed was mine alright, just not in the room I had last seen it in. Had I gone mad? That must be it, being alone for so long must have finally gone to my head. For all I know, I might have snapped in the process and now I’m schizophrenic. Yes, that must be it.

There were two wooden doors carved with a beautiful golden engraving. They looked pretty expensive. Shaking in fear, I closed my hands and held the ring firmly in my grasp. Maybe, if I repeated over and over again that I wanted to go home, it would work again? Far-fetched but it was worth the short. I knelt on the floor and prayed and prayed and prayed, I had become religious in the blink of an eye. Welcome to the cult of the ring, population: me. It was pretty pathetic but that was all I had. Nothing happened. Strange, it should have worked… It always works in movies… and fairytales.

 

“Maybe I’m in some sort of dream, yeah, that must be it. And if I’m in a dream, exploring won’t hurt now would it?” I whispered to myself. It had become pretty common for me to talk to myself; that was desperation working its magic. You can’t be a single college girl without losing your mind first. “So, having said that… I can just waltz over to the door and explore, right? Yeah, I can.” Answering my own questions? Had I sunk that low?

 

My slippers were nowhere to be found, screw it, I could walk barefooted. The floor was made of, what seemed to be, marble tiles, perfectly square and joined with impeccable precision. There were flowers painted on the white tiles and swans on the black tiles. Almost like a chessboard. As I neared the window, I noticed that this was no normal room. I was in a tower, probably a few stories above ground. The place was surrounded by tiny houses and a far-off lake could be seen in the distance. Struggling to catch my breath, I calmed down for a bit.

 

“Come on, you can do it… It’s nothing out of this world. It’s just a dream, like flying or free-falling. Your mind has seen one too many animated movies and is giving you a hard time… shit, it might even be something in that tuna that is making me see things.” Taking a few steps to the door, I slowly grabbed its swan-shaped handle. It was probably made of gold, and if this was my dream, its most certainly made of gold. I was a girl with high standards in my creative processes.

There was a large hall outside the door, armors dotted the sides of the hallway, as well as large portraits of older men and women; probably people of importance. Slowly, walking down the hall, I heard a noise… No, it was music, an orchestrated piece I hadn’t heard before. The violin was very prominent but it was so different from anything I had seen before. Slowly walking towards the source of the music, the door opened. Its golden handles pushed away from my grip as a beautiful lady appeared before me. She bowed and grabbed my hand, slowly kissing it. I blushed, this had never happened before in my dream.

 

“My name is Odette; I am the princess of this kingdom. I am so sorry I dragged you to my realm without prior information. We need you, our kingdoms need you.” Her voice was soft, with a hint of uncertainty. She was unsure, I could sense that. “Sit down, please. Let me tell you the story of the thirteen kingdoms – protectors of the living realm. I am the keeper of the swan key, the princess of the swans.”

“Oh, my god… You’re the Swan Princess!” Holding my mouth with both hands, I was on the verge of screaming with excitement. “Holy fuck-” Quickly stopping in my tracks, I regained composure. “Shit, I almost lost it.” I whispered.

“There is a legend, of a day when the sky will turn red and the fourteen realms will fall into oblivion. There is unspeakable evil living beneath the floor your currently stand on.”

I observed intently as she managed to bring out a drawing. There was a dragon beneath a large tree whose branches were spread out into thirteen different directions. In the middle other branches was the fourteenth dimension: the realm of Eve. “I gather the dragon is the bad guy?”

“The dragon is the support for the fourteen realms.”

“So, if he moves, we disappear?”

“If he moves, he’ll tear everything into nothingness.”

“Why do you need me?”

“We need you to enslave the dragon, once more.”

“Why? I mean, how?” She scratched her head for a while, “What do you mean, once more?”

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