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July 7th, 2018- Grand Rapids, Michigan: Once upon a time in a far away land there was a beautiful young maiden …. “Lilivere Caroline Arends you better get over here right now!” Celestia screamed.
I put down my book and I take a deep breath before I get up from my bed. The evening sun flutters through the window. White paint is peeling as I peel the mask from my face. Strawberry clay aromas sooth my mind. I light my yankee candle and open the oak wardrobe. Gowns of flowery pastel shades compete for an excursion. I scroll through the dresses until I land on a light periwinkle dress and accessorize with a small gold heart locket. My mothers. My dark black hair was woven in a crown on my head and though I thought I looked nice, I was positive that my older sister Celestia would look better. She always does in the summertime. Her skin would tan and she would find fabrics that would drape on her body in ways I had no idea were possible. Running down the stairs from my attic bedroom I try not to wince as the light from the chandelier hits my face.
“I’m here Este, geez, what is it?” I asked her.
“You were supposed to do my hair a half an hour ago, Lily!? Celestia whined. “What is taking you so long?”
Celestia is my twin sister and we look exactly the same. The only noticeable physical difference between us was my bright violet eyes. Her’s are brown. Celestia was wearing a long, dark blue gown that turned into a lighter shade as it reached the floor. The crystals on the dress made it look like the night sky. She had the same dark black hair as me, but hers flowed all the way to her waist. Her makeup was perfect and it really accentuated her almond shaped eyes.
“I had just started reading my big book of fairytales Francis got for me.” I told her.
Today was Francis VanWingen’s 20th birthday and we were hosting the party at our house. He was the son of Robin VanWingen who was a friend of our father’s from work. She was a friend to my dad when our mother disappeared. We were about four years old when she disappeared. No one knew where she went or if she is still alive. The police has since given up on her case since there has been no new evidence. Every week or so my father would visit her grave with fresh lily flowers. Her favorite. He told me I was named after those flowers.
Francis’ mother Robin and my father, Carter, worked at an engineering company in New Orleans for years before both of our families moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Now our father works at some propane company on the west side of town. While Robin is summer camp director Up North. She is a single mom. Her husband used to be a doctor and a very talented writer, but died just before Francis was born.
“I think he gave you that book because Francis has a bit of a crush on you,” Celestia teased which made me grimace. Before I can respond I hear a deep voice shout:
“Girls!” Our father called as he climbed up the stairs. “Girls, hurry the party is starting!”
“Coming, father,” I exclaimed. “C’mon Este! You don’t want to be late.” I flew down the stairs while my dad reached Celestia’s room on the second floor.
“She’ll be down in just a second honey, I have someone I want to introduce her to,” father replied. I looked at Celestia and nodded instantly. As I walked down to join the party in silence, all I could think about was the look in my sister’s face. Was it sadness? Fear? I couldn’t tell but it was surely not what I thought her face would be.
The lights above me sparkled, and the whole room seemed to glow. This party was magnificent! The band was playing softly in the background and there was billowing fabric that covered the drab walls. The house was covered in my father’s silly inventions. He worked hard to support us and had to give up his dream of becoming an inventor to work at a propane company. Looking across the room I saw five people I’ve never seen before.
When Celestia finally met up with me I thought she would be smiling and ready to party but instead had cheeks that were stained with tears. Around her neck was a gorgeous necklace that had a large purple jewel on it. To the people around her she would look normal, radiant even, but I could tell she’d been crying. Why, however, was the question.
January 13th, 18 Years Earlier- Claremont Palace, The Other Side: Tonight was the grand Claremont Ball. Every citizen, fairy and noble was invited to this grand event. The chandelier’s reflecting light danced on the velvet curtains in the ballroom.
“Quite agreeable evening isn’t it Arwen. Arwen?”
“Oh-oh yes of course.”
Arwen was in fact quite distracted. A ruffle in the velvet curtains by one of the large, ornate windows had caught her eye.
“Baron, did you see something move in the velvet curtains over there?”
She pointed her slender fair arm across to the window.
“No, but you know this fondue is quite exquisite! I say Arwen, try some-”
Baron was quite tall, he hard dark brown skin that glowed in the moonlight and always wore the same purple suit and top hat. He had the brightest green eyes that sparkled even in the dark. He was the illusionist.
Every couple years there is a new Illusionist. The Illusionist is someone who doesn’t belong to the Other Side or Earth but can blend in and walk back and forth between the worlds. The actions of the illusionist on the other side affects both worlds. The Illusionist’s job is to visit the other side and write stories to bring to earth… When they return to earth from the Other Side, their memories are wiped so they never know that what they experienced was real. The stories on earth are so that the other side remains intact. The Other Side only survives by the stories told by the Illusionist to the people on Earth.
Arwen was not interested in the fondue and she was quite certain she had seen a tuft of light brown hair pop out behind the curtain. It reminded her of someone. Arwen was a fairy from the other side and her specialty was controlling nature. She had dark black hair and red freckles dotted her face and unusual violet eyes. She pulled herself back into reality.
“Oh I’m fine, thank you, really. Uhm if you’ll excuse me I am going to mingle with the rest of the guests.”
“Good Idea, good, very good. I shall just try some of this spanakopita- Oh and it is still warm!”
Arwen smiled and turned to navigate her way between the guests. It wasn’t too crowded which Arwen was grateful for. She hated large crowds.
Yes, yes she was certain of it now. There was someone behind that curtain, she could see it moving very visibly now. She parted the velvet material.
Arwen, blushing, quickly closed the curtains again but could not get the sight of Lucrezia Hookington and Arie Santangelo wrapped up in each other’s embrace out of her head. She shuddered and hurried along. Arwen began scanning the crowd again, Although she now knew what the ruffling of the curtains was from -she gulped- She was certain the tuft of brown hair had not been from Lucrezia and Arie.
There! She saw it again, this time it darted out from under Lady Emmeline’s abnormally large gown. Emmeline was a beautiful fairy with long golden hair. She was very powerful and is married to the cruel Prince Magnus. Arwen picked up the ends of her own gown and darted in the direction she saw the figure go. She nearly threw the palace jester, Welles, into the punch bowl as she hurried past him.
“Oh sorry Welles!-”
She had barely paused to finish her apology before she started to scale the stairs to one of the spare rooms, away from the party. She was certain she had him now. She burst open the wooden door to see him lying on the spare bed rolling with laughter.
“Oh- you should have seen your face Arwen! When you opened the curtains, I-I…” He trailed off choking on his own laugh.
“Maurice!!! Are you joking!??” Maurice was from Earth and when his best friend Baron came over through the portal to the other side as the new illusionist, Maurice came with him. What he did was very dangerous, and very forbidden. The whole royal family and all the palace guards had their eyes on him.
“When am I not? I am quite mischieveious aren’t I? I want to be an invento when I grow up!” He said still smiling.
“You could have been caught.”
“Wow, no hello to a friend you haven’t seen in nearly three months?”
“You could have been caught!”
“But I wasn’t”
“But you could have! You need to leave-”
Maurice sullenly jumped off the bed to an open window.
“I brought you a flower.” He pulled a white lily out from his tailcoat pocket
“I can pick them myself, thank you” Arwen said coldly.
“I know.” He said, staring her in the eyes.
“But I want it to be from me. I haven’t seen you in… it’s been too long. I’m still technically not suppossed to be here.”
“Which is exactly why you shouldn’t be here! If Prince Magnus finds-”
She brought her voice down to a whisper
“If they saw you… who knows how long it would be till-”
“Till I see you” He interrupted her.
His chocolate brown eyes seemed to see into her soul. He was slender like she was, but not in a weak kind of way. He just was small built, and sly. His hair was ruffled with little specks of silver amongst the light brown. He placed the flower in her hand.
“Until I see you next M’lady.”
And he was out of the window, in the tall meadows grass.
Present Day: “Where did you get the necklace, Este?” I asked.
“If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.” she replied. “It doesn’t matter though, it’s time for cake.” Celestia grabs my hand and dragged me back into the party.
I spot Francis in the corner of the room. Francis has tight blonde curls and his head finally fits his body now. He used to be this lanky kid who liked to play sports but now he looks like a young adult. He is three years my senior and we have been friends for as long as I can remember. Francis always has a serene expression on his face and today he looked very calm. Uncomfortable, but calm. I know he hates birthdays, and I am probably the only one who knows that. Robin and my dad push him into the middle of the party with all his college friends when I notice that he cringes, but starts to laugh as we all sing him his least favourite song.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR FRANCIS, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! ARE YOU:
I see him blow out the candles on his cake and blink away the smoke from his emerald green eyes. Everyone smiles as his friends pat him on the back and Robin gives him a hug. I wander closer from where Celestia stands, somewhere besides the window.
I watch Francis stare at the smoke as it curls into nonexistent shapes and then eventually disappear. As Robin starts to cut his cake I make eye contact with him from across the room and we both giggle.
The cake is vanilla. We both know that it is because it’s the only kind his mom Robin knows how to make. Plain old vanilla. Francis hates vanilla. He has a vanilla cake every year because his mother thinks he loves it and Francis is to polite to say otherwise. He’s just that kind of person.
January 13th, 18 Years Earlier- Claremont Palace, The Other Side: When I had come back downstairs, Welles the Jester was back at the buffet table eating all the food.
“Where were you Arwen?”
“Just wondering about.”
Arwen did like Welles, he had always been so kind and genuine to her, ever since she was born of a star a thousand years ago, but she was not sure how Welles would take to Maurice being here, on the Other Side instead of earth.
She cringed at the voice and the use of her full name.
“Prince Magnus, how charming” She said, putting on a rather convincing smile “Undoubtedly, and the same to you.” Prince Magnus eyed Welles with disgust. Lily had to keep herself from summoning thorns up from beneath their feet. How dare he look at Welles that way. Welles, although undoubtedly not the cleanest, had a sweet, warm, heart, which was more than Prince Magnus could say. Magnus Claremont was much taller and a good deal older than Arwen. He was the prince of the other side and the future heir to the throne.
“I wished to speak with you Arwen, about Maurice”
Arwen nearly spat out her punch all over her dress but managed to compose herself.
“Mhm- yes” she coughed the juice out from her lungs.
“It would be in yours and in the whole Kingdom’s best interest if you are to report, if such a thing should ever happen, any sighting of Maurice. He is not allowed to be here, and once Baron has written his story we shall send him and Maurice back over to earth.” He leaned in close to her ear with hot breath that smelled of fish. “Should you fail to report any such sightings, it would be very unfortunate for such a young witch like yourself to be banished from this kingdom, yes? And I would hate to have to send Maurice and his friend Baron back to earth so soon.” Lily shivered. She knew Maurice had been under close watch of Prince Magnus since he technically wasn’t suppossed to be on the other side. But why was it such a big deal? Why couldn’t we open the borders from the Other Side to earth so that we can all be together?
Magnus slowly moved away from her ear.
“Do I make myself clear?” He said concisely.
“Yes.” Arwen said quietly, not daring to look him in the eyes.
“Well, I shall leave you two to-” He paused to eye Welles again, who was seemingly oblivious to Magnus’s threatening behavior.
“-to enjoy the rest of your evening…” He said with a very forced smile, and strode away.
Arwen was very grateful when the evening finished and fell into her soft silk sheets on her bed. She stared at the ceiling for a while, thinking of Prince Magnus, Welles the Jester, Baron the Illusionist and the boy with the flower.
Present Day: “ Are you enjoying the book I gave you Princess Lily of Grand Rapids?” Francis said with a smile.
“Francis!” I exclaimed. “Don’t startle me like that. And you know that if I was truly a princess, I would be called Princess Lilivere of Grand Rapids!” I reply as I put my book down. I has quietly stepped away from the loud party to try and get some peace and quiet. I was looking forward to the next chapter.“It’s more like royalty than just plain old Lily!”
“Indeed it is.” Francis agrees with me. “Why have you been avoiding me? I haven’t seen you since the cake, and we both know how much you love cake!”
“Don’t be mean, Francis! You know how much I love my sweets!” I said jokingly back.
“You know I would never be mean to you.” He said gently. “After all how could anything go wrong on my birthday?”
“You better not jinx anything, Francis!” I said sternly. “I love birthdays! Everyone is so happy and excited! There are gifts, and cake, and friends!”
“I think that it was so nice of Carter to host my birthday party. I didn’t think that Celestia would let your dad.” he said with a grin. “Speaking of Celestia, where is she? I haven’t seen her yet.” asks Francis. He and my sister were never friends like him and I, but they still cared about each other all the same. As soon as he asked where my sister was I could see her from the corner of my eye coming out of the kitchen by the west side of the house. Limping.
January 13th, 18 Years Earlier- Claremont Palace, The Other Side: She remembered it all very clearly. Maurice had had a reputation for unintentionally hurting people. He loved using his crazy inventions he made with Baron to pull pranks around the palace. Maurice he would simply forget. But he was in short careless. Arwen still loved him despite it though. She had never said it out loud but somehow they both knew they loved each other. Then came the incident. When a couple weeks ago when Tiberius, Magnus’s best friend, and herself went out to the marsh to play. She had been growing the flowers and dancing with the trees when she heard it. Tiberius’s scream. And she turned and there suspended in the trees by a rope on one leg was Tibe. He was crying but Maurice and Baron was laughing. She had yelled.
“Maurice! Let him down!”
“Alright if you insist.” he had said disappointed she didn’t like the prank. And then the rope snapped. A cut off yell from Tiberius. She hadn’t seen if Maurice did it, but it was snapped and Tibeerius was on the ground. Dead. That’s when Prince Magnus came out yelling at Maurice, how he saw him snap the rope with his invention. And then Magnus was weeping and cursing. Later, Magnus convinced his father, the cruel King Martel that Maurice had done it and must go as soon as possible. She had felt so hopeless. She wasn’t sure what had happened, but would not believe Maurice had done it. In the end, the King and Maurice came to a decision that he would leave when Baron leaves. The thought of him leaving made me sick to my stomach. Good thing it would be weeks, months, years before Baron was ready to go back.
Present Day: “Cel?” I whispered. “What’s wrong?”
She shook her head. “Nothing Lily, and you shouldn’t be here right now. Let me walk you to your room.”
“Father will get upset that I left.”
She chuckled darkly once. “When isn’t he upset?”
I sighed. “When he’s working on his inventions.”
Celestia’s laughter was lighter this time and more real, and then she quickly covered her mouth, hoping to avoid drawing attention. Seeing her happy for that split second helped my worried mood, and when she stood, it was easier to follow.“Happy Birthday Franny Pack!” said Celestia to Francis. “One more year until you can drink.”
She didn’t say anything else as we walked but I hoped that she would tell me what was troubling her. Francis thanked Celestia for helping with the decorations and I mouthed good bye to him.
When we got to my room, I turned and embraced her. I took my time letting go, and she didn’t rush me. I wanted her to know that whatever was on her mind will pass.
“Here,” she said, taking off her beautiful necklace. “Wear it for me okay?”
“Of course Cel, whatever you need.” I replied.
After she left, I put on the necklace and then walked to my bed and fell quickly to sleep. That was of course, until I heard screams from the party below…
January 13th, 18 Years Earlier- Claremont Palace, The Other Side: Arwen shuddered in bed and pulled her sheets higher up over her, to drift into sleep, trying to forget about it all.
In the following few months Arwen began to forget about Magnus’s words, believing she had exaggerated his tone, until one day in late summer. She rose at dawn and after a small breakfast went down to the meadow. The soft grass caressed her feet and she felt herself wander to the marshy pond. Out of all of the beautiful things about the Other Side, the marsh was Arwen’s favorite place. You can hear the birds sing to each other a cheery good morning, and the willow trees dance together. Only, She felt a deep sorrow among the life this morning
Arwen pressed her hand against a tree and felt its soft breath.
“Are you alright?” She murmured to it.
It did not dance, the bird’s tune was sorrowful and burdensome. She heard a rustle.
“Hello?” She weaved through the trees to the sound.
She heard a moan. She quickened her pace leaping through the brush. And there he was. In a plane of lilies.
“Maurice!” She fell to her knees where he lay.
“Arwen.” He said hoarsely with a smile. He looked so weak and was dying.
“No, no Maurice… what happened?”
“ It was Magnus, he had the pretty lady from the ball put a spell on me and Baron. We are leaving the Other Side and going to earth today. I can’t stay here anymore.”
“But you-you’re leaving, why? Baron still has to write his story before he leaves this side!” I said with tears in my eyes.
“That’s why you visited me.”
“Yes. I only had so much time. Thought I would find you here. Baron already wrote his story and was sent back to earth. Some crazy thing about a girl falling in love with a frog prince!”
“I went to the ball last night, knowing that today would be my last day on this side.” He said sadly.
“Don’t say that” Arwen said fighting through her tears
A moment of silence.
“But of course everyone’s luck runs out sometime. I was never supossed to be on the Other Side, Arwen.”
“No! No, hang on please…”
“ Arwen, it’ll be fine. I just- I just want to sit in the sun a while longer. He smiled painfully. He reached out and grabbed her hand.
“Am I selfish for wanting you here? Prince Magnus could be here any moment.”
“ It’s fine. I know.”
And so Arwen sat with him,
“Arwen, here take it.” Maurice said. The white lily. Arwen pressed his hand with the flower against her cheek. “Until I see you again.” She said softly.
“Until then.” He said and then disappeared from the Other Side to Earth. She wept and gazed at the flower in her hand.
“If such injustice as this is the palace, I wish to leave, I wish to go with him and Baron to earth.” She said her face grey. When Prince Magnus found her She spoke.
“Let me go to earth to be with Maurice.”
“You wish to be with Maurice, instead of this beautiful Other Side? He won’t even remember who you are.”
“I don’t care. I love him. We can start over. We can meet again.”
“There will be a price to pay.”
“I don’t understand. What do you want that I could give you?” She said, wiping her face.
“I will grant you freedom for a few years on earth” he replied with a devilish grin. “before you must return back to this side. You are too powerful a witch to be left on the disgusting place the people call Earth.”
“Deal,” I agreed.
“Then your wish is my command.” Out of nowhere Magnus’ wife, the beautiful Princess Emmeline, appeared out of nowhere and with a flick of her wrist she sent me spirling through the swirling portal.
“I just want to be with the one I love.” I whispered to myself. “Carter Maurice Arends., the inventor from New Orleans.”
Present Day: I jumped out of my bed without hesitation. “Celestia!?” I screamed. Dad?!” I bolted down stairs and into the party room in a matter of seconds wearing only my nightgown. The whole party was in ruins. The sparkling chandelier was on the floor in pieces, the cake was smeared against the walls, and the beautiful drapes my sister made was torn to sheds. Sobbing, I found Francis in the back corner with Robin and my dad.
“What happened?” I cried. “Tell me what’s going on! Where is everyone else? Where’s Celestia?”
“My friends just got up and left. Like they were under some kind of spell.” Francis choked. “Celestia, she-she’s gone.”
“Gone?” I whispered. “Where? Is she okay?”
“I thought she was dead, Carter.” sobbed Robin. “She’s been gone for 13 years!”
I stared Robin in her emerald green eyes and then glanced over at Francis, and then back to my father. He looked like he had just seen a ghost.
“She took her, Lily.” my dad shuddered. “Arwen. Your mother.”
“I don’t understand, why?” I said in disbelief. “Why come back now after all these years?”
“I don’t know, my flower, but Este is gone.” my father said sobbing. “And in this family, when people disappear, they rarely return.”
I ran outside the house and stared into the night sky. They clouds covered the sky but I could still see the crescent moon above. I don’t know where my mother took Celestia. And I know that we couldn’t call the police because they wouldn’t understand. How can you tell them that your mother who you thought were dead for 13 years magically showed up in a portal, kidnapping your eldest sister? None of it made sense. But I, Lilivere Arends of Grand Rapids would get to the bottom of it.
“I will find you Cel,” I whispered to myself. “However long it takes.”
END OF PROLOGUE