I glance up from my tablet where I've actually been playing Angry Birds Go, instead of writing Worth of a King so I can send this chapter back to Jack. I'd been on such a roll ...
"Laura!" I exclaim, a grin spreading across my face as I recognize the Doorkeeper standing in my bedroom doorway. I power off my tablet, and stand up. "So, where are we going? Any chance we can pop into Dialcia to see how this scene I'm writing finished?"
A smile place on the corners of Laura's mouth. "No, it's a trip to Rizkaland today."
"Oh, that's always fun, too," I admit, nodding. "So, when are we going? Who am I seeing? Ashley, maybe? I'd like to look into her life before the Ardens adopted her."
"You'll just have to see," says Laura, shaking her head and waving a hand over my toybox of yarn, where there happens to be a door directly to Loray castle, the capitol of the Rizkan mainland. I've used it many times, gathering information for my translations of the Rizkan lore. A daunting task, but I'm finally nearing completion on the first volume, so my hard work has paid off.
The yarn shimmers, turning into a tunnel just large enough for me to crawl through, which I climb into without hesitation. Minutes later, I emerge from a forgotten trap door into a hallway in Loray. There's no one in sight, but I've been here often enough that I know my way around by now. Just down the hallway is the Bookholder's Suite, where Ashley might be ... if I happen to have arrived during her life ...
My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of someone running, and a moment later, a girl about my age comes flying around the corner, a quiver and bow bouncing on her back, one hand holding up her skirt, the other holding her silver circlet in place. She practically runs me over as she passes, and I barely have the presence of mind to call out, "Kiona!" before she disappears, for there's no question in my mind that she could be any other than that spirited young queen of the line of Violet.
She stops short and spins around to face me, dropping her skirt and the hand holding her circlet. Her eyes narrow as she stares at me, breathing hard, her face flushed.
"Who are you?" she asks.
"My name's Kendra," I say, then remembering that she, despite her youth, is royalty, dip into a Rizkan curtsy - a fist over my heart, bend the knees, and a downward glance because she is my superior. "I'm not from around here - the Doorkeeper sent me to do research because I'm working on writing versions of your legends for the people of my own world to read."
Her eyes widen. "So you're from another world? Truly?"
I nod. "The same world that the Eight and the Ten came from, in fact," I inform her. "That's why I've been asked to share the stories."
She nods. "Well, the Bookholder's Suite is just down the hall," she says, gesturing in the direction I had been headed.
"I know," I admit, "this isn't my first visit to Loray. However, I think you're the one I'm supposed to talk to."
She stiffens. "Me? Are you sure? I mean, I know the legends fairly well, but..."
"How old are you right now?" I ask.
"I ... just turned eighteen. Three months ago now."
"Ah, Well, you see, I know the legends pretty well myself, the ones I'm translating, at least. Laura sends me here to Rizkaland so I can talk to people and know who they were, and not just what they did."
"But I'm ..."
"Actually fairly important when it comes the legend currently unfolding on Klarand," I inform her.
"Oh." She frowns. "So you mean with the Lady Dragon and ... or do you mean that the Water Princess and Fire Prince have finally come?"
"Well ... I'm not supposed to hand out such information on my visits, but ... yes, I think. But you musn't tell anyone."
She gives a leap of joy, spinning around so her skirt billows around her - and I wish I had one to twirl. "Oh, at last!" she cries. "I was little more than a baby when she came - but to think!"
"But you musn't tell anyone until they actually come here," I repeat.
"Oh, I won't ... except ... may I tell Stephan, and then have him tell me to not tell anyone? It'd make it so much easier if I do, he's so much better at keeping secrets than I am."
"I guess if it'll make you feel any better," I tell her. "You and Stephan are quite the pair, from what I've read, and seen of you in later years of your lives."
She actually blushes. "Well, he is my husband, after all. We've had our problems, and sometimes I still get so frustrated with him, but for the most part, it's so good to have someone standing next to me, listening to me when no one else will."
"But you're a queen," I prompt. I know exactly what she means, because she's mentioned this before in other trips I've made later in her life.
"I'm the youngest queen!" She spreads her hands with helplessness. "In their minds, I'm still the eight-year-old who opened her father's box ten years ago. I didn't understand then what it meant to be queen, I'll grant them that - but I've had ten years to grow up! They expect to act like a queen, but they still treat me like a child."
"Perhaps you need to act more grown up," I point out. "Get to meetings on time, not be so impulsive ... not interrupt people so frequently?"
"How else do I get them to listen to me? I not a lesser queen because I lack age, but they..."
"Still see the child, I know. But if you act with more maturity, they will start to respect you more. For instance, what were you in a all-fire hurry to get to just a few minutes ago?"
Her face goes pale. "Oh! I'm supposed to be changing for supper! Um ... would you like to join us? As a traveler from another world, I'm sure we'd be honored to have you."
"In which case I'd be honored to join you. Only ..." I glance down and finger the edge of my T-shirt. "I'm sure this isn't exact the most proper outfit for a royal banquet, no?"
"Oh, leave that to me! I'll find you something." And with that, she grabs my wrist, and we take off down the halls.
And there's my Character Encounter (link-up here). Kiona is one of my favorite characters in part four of Water Princess, Fire Prince, and one of the ones that really surprised me. I knew I needed some kings and queens for Rizkaland (because they have four of each), but I didn't do ANY development for them until they actually showed up.
And she ... she just sprang into life with so much energy and backstory, I fell in love. As I mentioned, she and her husband are quite the pair, and even though they're only minor characters in the book, they're one of my top ten favorite couples. I'd like to write a book about THEM someday, though I don't know that it'll ever happen.
Oh, and I'm happy to note that I have been convinced to hold a CE at least next month. Haven't quite picked out where it is, but I have one or two that I'm leaning towards.