[Editor's note: this is a work in progress, there will be part 2.]
Princess Salina walked out onto her balcony and shuddered as the cold night air bit at her ankles, forearms, and face. She was clothed in dark-blue dress, a lamb-skin jacket on top of this. A pair of boots and an eared hat, made from the same material, completed her ensemble. On her back was a black leather satchel.
She walked across the spacious balcony to its edge, where a thigh-high barrier separated her from a drop of several hundred feet down to the river and the falls below. A nearby fire illuminated her face. Tears sparkled in the darkness for a moment, before she wiped them away.
A locket hung around Salina's neck, a silver and gold beetle adorned with a few small rubies. She opened the locket and looked at the half-dozen small rough pebbles inside it. She picked up two pebbles and dropped them into the fire. In moments the small stones began to sputter and emitted a pungent and very purple smoke. Salina watched as the column of it rose in the night's quiet air.
A soft, familiar clatter of keratin-on-rock came as Kim the royal pet sauntered over.
"Hey old girl," the princess welcomed her old friend and ran a hand through the leopard's mane. "Not long now. We're going our separate ways, and where I go, you cannot follow."
"I'll miss you," purred Kim.Continue reading