Princess Maia of Cille swore to herself that if she ever figured out how she'd gotten into this mess, she'd promptly figure out a way to avoid it, just for future reference.
All she'd been doing was sitting on some rocks along the sea near her father's kingdom. When she sat down, she realized that the sky was becomming dark, and that a storm would be coming soon, but that was all right with Maia; she loved the rain. And so, with a smile on her face and her bare feet in the water, she'd sat down for a good show of lightning and thunder. But the waves had become more and more harsh, crashing up against the rocks and soaking her from head to toe, and so she had stood up to leave.
That's when a giant wave, twice as big as the others, crashed into the rocks and into Maia, tripping her and causing her to fall into the water, where the ragings waters quickly started to drag her farther and farther from her kingdom.
"Help! Father! Help!" she'd yelled, but she knew there was no way the sound of her cries would be carried over the cacophany of the rain, thunder, and lightning, and the winds had stired up the ocean too much to fight against it and swim. She could only do two things: pray that lighting didn't strike the water, and hold on until the storm died out.
She'd been doing both for what seemed like a long time, sometimes keeping her head above water only with great effort, when she saw in the distance what looked like a wall. Squinting her eyes, she tried to focus and get a better look, but just then a wave rose up and splashed her across the face. After using a hand to wipe the water away from her eyes, she opened them again and searched for the wall.
It wasn't hard to find. A flash of lightning lit up the sky, and in that moment Maia saw that the wall stretched across the water in either direction, all the way to the end of the world, while it also rose up high, high into the sky, reaching almost to the heavens themselves, before it disappeared into the storm clouds.
I've reached the edge of the world! Maia realized. She instantly became overcome with fear. I'm going to die! I'm going to die!
Maia didn't die. She did, however, hit her head very hard on the wall before the water pulled her underneath it, and into a strange world of machinery that connected Aquatica to Landen, which she did not see because she had fallen unconscious.
Prince Rhys of Landen swung his sword ahead of him as he strode across the beach near his home, on his way into the wilds to hunt down an Eindon for the night's dinner.
He swung his sword not just in practice for the impending hunt, but also in a sort of frustration. He'd reached the age where he was no longer a boy, but a man. His father, the king of Landen, had begun pressuring him to find a sutible woman that he could marry and turn into the princess of Landen, but Rhys had resisted. He didn't want to go out and look for someone just so he could get married, he wanted to take his time, and make sure that when he fell in love, it was with the right person.
While his father meant well, the king just didn't understand. To him it was simply a matter of visiting other Orakian towns, meeting their princesses, and choosing as if from a shelf. But not for Rhys. "My dear boy, I sometimes feel like you'll be the end of me," his father would smile at him after their long discussions. The smile would lift some of the weight off of Rhys's shoulders, but not all.
Rhys looked up from his sword-swinging in time to see a figure sprawled out on the beach ahead of him. He quickly raised his sword into a ready position, fearing it some kind of sea beast, but he soon realized it was no monster. In fact, it looked like a person.
The prince sheathed his sword and broke into a run, quickly covering the distance between he and the person, whom he now could see was a girl... and as he turned her over onto her back, Rhys suddenly discovered she was not just a girl, but a beautiful girl.
When he saw she had a bump on her head, he reached down and fumbled for a small pouch he wore on his belt whenever he went hunting. It contained a Dimate, just in case an Eindon or a Chirper got the better of him. Rhys quickly administered the Dimate to the girl (the beautiful girl) and soon afterward, she opened her eyes, which Rhys immediatetly saw were a (lovely) blue, just like her (gorgeous) hair.
They fluttered open at first, but then they came all the way open when she saw Rhys. She sat up and quickly slid away from him, most likely due to the facts that he was a stranger and that he wore a sword at his side, but his upraised hands and smile seemed to quickly reassure her of her safety.
"Relax, I'm not going to hurt you," Rhys promised. "I was just walking along the beach and I found you here. You had a nasty bump on your head. What happened?"
"I..." The girl looked around, obviously unaware of where she was. "I don't remember. Where am I? Who are you?"
"You're outside of Landen, and I'm Rhys, the prince of the kingdom."
"Landen..." she repeated. The way she said it sounded to Rhys as if it were the first time she'd ever spoken the word. And a moment later, he found he was right. "I've never heard of this place before."
"Well, where are you from?" Rhys asked her. "I have a good knowledge of the area. Maybe I can help you get home." God, I hope not.
"Home? I can't remember." Alarmed, she began to climb to her feet. "I can't remember anything!"
Rhys, concerned also, placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "That's all right. You took a bump on your head. I'm sure once it gets better you'll remember everything. But until then, let me take you back to my kingdom. We'll take care of you, get you some fresh clothes, and let you get cleaned up."
"Thank you." The girl smiled at him; a smile that made Rhys's heart leap from his chest straight up into the sky. When did I leave Landen and step onto Heaven's doorstep?
"So, can you remember your name?" Rhys asked as she dusted some sand out of her (flowing, beautiful, gorgeous) hair.
The girl paused for a moment, and then looked up at Rhys with excitement in her eyes. "Yes, Rhys!" she exclaimed. "I do remember my name! My name is Maia!"
Fresh fireworks went off in Rhys's mind. Maia... Maia... "You have a very beautiful name, Maia."
In response, she giggled and smiled. Rhys returned the smile and offered her a hand, which she accepted as they began to walk across the beach towards Landen's castle.
My diodes haven't been this stiff since the last time I came out of stasis.
|Please send all comments and feedback to mike at ripplinger dot us|