The Queen of Audenia

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         The sun was barely beginning to peek over the horizon, shedding its golden rays upon the small kingdom of Audenia. Avalon Ashcraft, future queen of Audenia, stealthily slipped out of one of her bedroom windows and scurried off to her usual hiding place in the Mystical Forest.
Finding her special spot, Avalon sat down and opened her sketch book, and began to sketch. “That’s a beautiful pose, Squeak,” Avalon complimented the small squirrel in front of her who was gnawing on an acorn. When Avalon had finished her drawing of the squirrel, she quickly packed up her supplies and headed back to her family’s castle,where she  climbed back into her bedroom with a victorious grin at not getting caught by the castle guards.
“Avalon Meredith Genevieve Alexandra Ashcraft! Where have you been?”
Avalon spun around, her smile evaporating, as her mother, Queen Ariadne, came into her view. “I apologize, Mother. I was watching the sunrise on my roof and lost track of time.”
“Go get washed up now! We are having lunch today with Lord Zachary. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to see his fiancée in such sloppy attire.”
Queen Ariadne left the room, and Avalon let out a breath of relief as she moved to her closet. Avalon didn’t particularly like the idea of being Queen of Audenia. At 18, she believed she  was too young to be able to rule wisely.
Once she was all dressed, Avalon placed her tiara on her head, and headed down to the dining room. Throughout lunch, Avalon kept her head down, eyes focused on her food the entire time. When it was over, her parents left her alone with Lord Zachary.
“It’s nice to see you again, Avalon,” Zachary said.
A small chuckle fell from Avalon’s lips. “Zach, we’ve known each other our whole lives. There is no need to be so formal.”
He smiled. “I’m being respectful.”
“You’re being too proper,” she teasingly countered back.
Zachary was probably the most comforting thing Avalon had in her life. They had been friends since birth and betrothed since they were fourteen. She truly did love him, but she wasn’t too sure about his love for her.
“Avalon! Zachary!” Avalon’s mother’s voice called.
“So much for being alone,” Avalon joked as her parents entered the dining hall again.
“We’ve got exciting news for you!” Ariadne exclaimed. “Your wedding has been moved up! You will be married next week!”
Avalon’s mouth dropped open in shock. “Please excuse me,” Avalon quietly mumbled and ran to her room where she locked herself in.
When night fell, Avalon immediately ran off into the Mystical Forest. That particular night, the fog seemed to be much thicker, almost like Mother Nature knew Avalon wished to be hidden. As the princess ran, she thought to herself that there was no way that she could rule a kingdom this early in her life. She was scared to death of making the wrong choices for the small province.
Avalon quickly grew tired  and collapsed onto the ground. Unexpectedly, the ground below her let out a hollow, knocking noise. The princess sat back and cleared the part of the ground where she had fallen. A small gasp fell from her lips when a small wooden door appeared.
“Avalon!” an exasperated voice called. The worried face of Lord Zachary appeared in front of her. “Are you okay? I saw you fall.”
“Did you follow me?”
Zachary looked away, embarrassed. “I had a feeling you’d try to do something tonight, so I had to follow you. I’m sorry.”
“Forget about that. Look at this,” she said, pointing to the door.
“It’s probably a forgotten cellar. Let’s go back to the castle,” he said, placing a supportive hand on Avalon's back.
“No,” she firmly replied. “I’m curious,” she added, unlatching the door.
Bright white light flooded across the forest. Glitter and sparkles burst into the air, swirling around Avalon and Zachary. Zachary looked horrified, whereas Avalon wore a mischievous smirk. Suddenly, Avalon felt a mysterious force pushing her towards the hole. “Zach! I’m falling!” she screamed.
Zach groaned in frustration as he extended her his hand. Avalon fell into the hole, with Zachary not too far behind her. “Avalon!” Zachary screamed as they tumbled down the bright chasm. All Avalon could reply with was a scream.
Suddenly, both fell onto a soft, round cushion. Feathers floated up upon their impact. Avalon rubbed her eyes and looked around. They seemed to be in the exact place from where they had fallen. The only differences between the two areas was that this one was more bright and cheery. “Where are we?” Avalon grumbled in confusion. She looked to Zachary who wore a terrified expression on his handsome face. “What’s wrong? Are you hurt?” Avalon asked.
“You’re tiny!” he yelled.
“Zach! Now’s not the time to remind me that I’m short!”
“No! You shrunk!”
“Welcome to the Ethereal Field,” a light, beautiful voice announced. Avalon and Zachary held each other in fear. The voice then chimed a melodious laugh. “No one will hurt you here.”
“W...Who are you?” Avalon stuttered, trying to sound stern.
A figure started to glide towards them. Avalon’s jaw dropped at the sheer beauty of the being. With pastel blue hair that fell in waves, and bright, wide purple eyes, the woman was far too beautiful to be human. Translucent purple wings protruded from the being’s back. “Hello, Avalon,” she said with a coy smile. “I’m Cassiopeia, your guardian fairy.”
“What is going on here?” Zachary firmly asked. He was suddenly standing between Cassiopeia and Avalon with a protective stance.
“Oh, hello, Zachary,” Cassiopeia murmured. “It seems that you two have fallen into my universe.”
“What do you mean ‘your universe’? This is preposterous!” Zachary yelled.
Cassiopeia giggled lightly. “Well, you see, this is a parallel world in which fairies exist to protect a human from the dangers of the other worlds among us,” she explained.
“H...How did we get here?” Avalon suddenly spoke up.
“I sensed you were in distress, so I helped you find your way here. I can help you if you’d like,” Cassiopeia reponded. .
“Avalon this is bizarre. Don’t listen to her,” Zachary muttered.
“How so?” Avalon asked Cassiopeia.
Cassiopeia let out a playful laugh. “There is an elixir that exists here. It’s by the large tree in the field over yonder,” she said, pointing to the middle of the field. “The elixir helps morph you into a fairy. If you choose to drink it, all of your loved ones will forget about you, and here you will live eternally.”
Avalon’s eyes widened in wonder. If her loved ones forgot her, then so be it. No one truly loved her anyway, or so she believed. Avalon was just a pawn in her parents’ game to retain the monarchy. Living eternally didn’t sound so bad either.
“Avalon, please think this through,” Zachary pleaded.
“Zach, I know what I am doing!” The idea seemed great, yet something seemed to hold Avalon back from saying yes.
“What is wrong, Avalon? What’s stopping you?” Cassiopeia asked, almost as if she could read Avalon’s thoughts.
“To be completely honest, I don’t know,” Avalon sighed. “I know no one back home truly loves me.”
“What? Avalon, you know that’s not true!” Zachary suddenly exclaimed. “I’ve been in love with you ever since we were children.”
“Really?”
Zachary nodded. “Of course! You’re so strong willed, smart, and adventurous. You’re selfless and beautiful. It’s hard not to love you.”
Cassiopeia giggled. “He’s right, Avalon. The people in your life do love you, even if they don’t seem to show it. Your parents just want what is best for you; that’s why they are so strict.” The fairy moved over to the couple and extended her hand. A bubble slowly expanded above her petite hand, showing the bustling crowds of the kingdom. In the little bubble, Avalon could distinctly see her parents crying.
“Why are they crying?” Avalon asked Cassiopeia.
“You’ve been missing for a week, and they are worried.  Time works differently here.”
Avalon’s heart nearly broke at the sight. Zachary’s parents were with her parents, each worrying about their children. “How do I get back?” Avalon asked, wiping her tears away.
Cassiopeia popped the bubble with a smile. “To get to your world, you must drink from the Fountain of Humanity. The fountain itself is a very long journey away, but luckily, I have a vile of the water.”
“May I have it? Please, I will do anything,” Avalon begged.
Cassiopeia grinned, handing Avalon the slim bottle of water. “Just don’t forget that your parents love you,” she said.
Avalon turned to the magical being. “Do you think I can do it: rule Audenia?”
The fairy gave her a knowing smile. “You are the strongest girl I’ve ever encountered in my lifetime. You can handle it”
Realization flooded over Avalon. This whole time her parents had been preparing her for her future role as the queen of Audenia. With a small smile, Avalon brought the vial to her lips. She handed Zachary the bottle, who then followed her actions. With one last reassuring glance, Cassiopeia shot a burst of brilliant light at the couple, transporting Zachary and Avalon to Ashcraft Castle, where their parents screetched with joy, enveloping the two in a tight hug.
A week after Avalon and Zachary arrived home, a huge grandeur wedding was held. Avalon wore a huge, puffy dress that resembled a white pastry. Zachary looked absolutely striking in a traditional black tuxedo. Zachary and Avalon, now bond in marriage, were Queen and King of Audenia. They knew from that point on they would live happily ever after.






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