by Sana Hameed, Age 15, USA
Artwork by Journey Meyerhoff
The fiction prompt for January was “ball.”
Cyril entered the haven of the peasantry disguised in his most ragged finery––mutilated and punctured by hand––and a large cloth concealing his platinum blonde curls. He had no intention of staying long for fear that he would be spotted. It wasn’t as if he was hard to miss, with cerulean eyes reminiscent of the sea, a distinct symbol of his status. Neither the locals nor his mother, the current regent, would take kindly to his escapade, but he couldn’t be deterred. Cyril hastily approached a lone prepubescent boy roaming the premise to ask for directions.
“Where does the diviner reside?” he whispered secretively in the peasants’ tongue. The boy immediately recognized Cyril’s infamous eyes and looked upon him in shock.
“Down this way.” The peasant shrugged off his astonishment and quickly trotted along a trodden path, weaving through the array of colours, a mishmash of fabrics that had turned the site into a circus rather than a village.
As they scurried through the crowds and conglomeration of large tents, Cyril attempted to weasel more information about the travelling clairvoyant who, according to rumour of her skill, would be able to foretell the location of his long-lost sister. If this woman’s work ranked so high in caliber, why did she continue to move with the circus folk? They travelled as to earn, but it seemed this Madame was surely popular enough to settle and attract her own plethora of patrons from far and wide?
“Why do these people travel from village to village? Why not settle?” asked Cyril.
“Outcasts are outcasts. No matter the society they try to infiltrate. They provide a service for those who can afford it and move on.” The answer was simple. Straightforward. “Now I shall ask, if I may, Sir? Why are you here?”
“My stepsister, the princess, was taken by the Eastern rogues. My father died just before the kidnapping and my mother, the regent, refused to allow for a mission for her return because she’s always despised her stepdaughter. Now that I am a man, fully capable and independent, I am leading a search and I have heard great things on the subject of this particular seer’s prowess.” Cyril failed to mention, however, in his reasoning that soon he would ascend the throne and replace his mother as ruler. He could not bear to become King without Myra by his side. Cyril dreamt nightly of rescuing her from her captors.
“We are here. Luck to you, good your Highness.”
Cyril glanced overhead as the boy hurried away. Cyril had felt his pockets grow significantly lighter over the course of their encounter, but he didn’t say a word to the boy with nimble fingers. His sister used to tell him long ago that he was too soft, too easily taken advantage of, but every time he would shrug off her discontent.
Upon entry, he realized the room was empty except for an abundance of ornate decorations. He pulled aside indigo drapery and ducked into the massive tent. He looked in awe upon an engraved table speckled with various baubles, glinting under the dim candlelight. On the table, he found a bundle, which he slowly unwrapped only to feel smooth glass under his fingers.
“So this is what they use? Doesn’t seem all that special,” he muttered to himself while examining the object––a crystal ball.
“Fondling my possessions, I see?” Cyril heard a woman’s familiar lilting voice from behind him. Startled, he turned to see the intruder. His eyes immediately focused on a matching pair of cerulean eyes. The sphere slipped from his fingers, causing shards to spew in all directions. Instinctively, he knelt to retrieve the shards and cut his hand. He could feel the sting of the open wound as it bled profusely, but he couldn’t bring himself to concentrate on anything but the woman before him. “Myra?”
The diviner looked to him with her ruby red lips pursed, emotionless cobalt eyes intensely focused. She wore a long dark hooded cloak, which was edged with mud and dirt due to its length. Cyril rose from his knelt position and approached her hesitantly. He pulled down her hood only to confirm that it was indeed she, his sister, and smiled tearfully upon the sight of her sun-kissed hair, which tumbled down to her shoulders in waves.
“Sister. What are you doing here playing as a prophetess? Where is your captor?”
She sighed grimly. “Cyril, I exist as your sister no longer. The one question I as an oracle, need not deign to inquire in my crystal ball.”
“What do you mean?”
“My captor lives not amongst the people of ordinary, living, breathing. I was captured by my gift, slain, forced to forfeit my life in the name of Apollo, god of prophecy.”
“Myra!” He grabbed her shoulders, trembling violently. “Stop speaking such nonsense. We must return to the kingdom!”
“No. It is not my choice. I am no princess. I am employed to speak of what I foresee. To take the orders of the fates. ”
“Did you run away two summers past? For this? While I scoured the continent for you, you were doing this?”
“Yes. I was gifted. I realized amidst a dream and fled wordless from the castle with meagre belongings. I knew of my destiny––to protect and aid destiny.”
“How absurd! How could you leave the brother you loved for such nonsense?”
“It is not nonsense. And regarding the bond of siblings, it was severed the moment I accepted my fate. Love is fickle.”
“You sent no word.” He spoke weakly and awaited her stiff response.
“I had no words to offer.”
“If you insist on indulging in clairvoyance, come to the palace! Be our seer if you must,” Cyril pleaded desperately.
“No brother, my destiny lies here.”
Cyril halted mid-argument and begged softly, “Please Myra.”
She ignored him, sauntering over to the glass shards strewn across her hand woven rug and stood, making her decision obvious as the day growing old.
“You would choose this-this charade over your kin, your own flesh and blood?”
Myra knew her words would pierce her brother’s soul, force him to shed his false pretences regarding love and familial bliss. It was her purpose in life to make him cold and ruthless, no longer the malleable, sentimental child he would have been when ascending the throne. While her brother had aged as all men do physically, mentally he maintained a docile attitude and sense of boyish heroic whimsy, which even his own mother took advantage of repeatedly. His submissive and foolhardy tendencies would’ve impeded his judgment as a ruler.
She watched in satisfaction as cool nonchalance overtook Cyril’s face. Just as the oracle’s crystal ball had shattered so had the façade of the princess’s abduction, and the relationship built between the siblings.
“So be it,” he said calmly and left without another word. Not days later, knights of the new king entered the village and took the peasant boy captive for petty theft. Myra watched on, remorseless as the boy flailed and yelped in pain. Her duty was done. She had saved him from himself, as had been foretold.
Sana Hameed is a teenage fiction writer who spends hours on end peering into her own crystal ball, imagining interesting plot lines for her stories.