The Asika household.
The North of the Capital.
A knock came to the door of Jobe Asika's house and after a few moments passed, a young maid reached for the door and opened it.
“Is your master home?” the man bearing the royal message asked, his voice proud and high.
“Yes, he is,” she responded, rather timidly.
He dipped his hand into the inn of his jacket and handed the neatly folded piece of paper to her.
“This is for him. Tell him it’s from the Royal Palace,” he instructed and walked away.
The young maid closed the door and moved to the garden where Master Jobe of house Asika and his eldest daughter, Ariel Asika, sat talking and Jobe kept cracking up almost every time.
Ariel was the first of the two daughters in the Asika’s family. She was blessed with beauty, radiant and fair skin, and it was obvious the moon goddess had a favourite. Her beauty made many maidens in the kingdom feel insecure but unlike many of them, Ariel’s beauty wasn’t the only reason she was loved. She also had a noble character. This made many feel at home and this brought not only respect to Jobe, but made him known amongst other fathers in the kingdom as a man of character.
“Master, I’m sorry to interrupt you, but this letter came from the Royal Palace.”
The smile on Jobe’s face vanished, almost sensing something bad was about to happen.
He lifted his hand, and the young maid handed the letter to him. “Thank you, Riley.” he nodded, and she took her leave.
He broke the Royal seal on the letter and read through it. His eyes hardened at the paper and his brow pulled together.
“What is it, father?” Ariel asked, becoming concerned at the mood her father had switched to since reading the letter.
“Remember the alpha King’s punishment was to get him a bride?”
When she nodded, he sighed, “Well, the lot fell on my house. The council of alphas have chosen you as the future bride of the alpha king.” he announces with bitterness in his voice.
Who could blame him? Almost everyone knew the alpha king, and he was ruthless, cold and problematic, which made everyone avoid him at all costs.
This was a royal decree and as much as Jobe hated it, he knew there was nothing he could do.
The royal bride maker, which was the company of over six women and two men, arrived at the Asika home and were all welcomed into the house.
The wedding, although its notification came in this morning, would take place at the central temple tomorrow as decreed by the council of alphas. And the Royal bride makers came to make sure the bride would be ready for her big day of becoming the queen.
Mia Asika, the youngest and most rebellious Asika who has been out of the house since the break of dawn in search of a better scholar, returns home only to find it crowded with strange faces she’d never seen before.
She glanced around at each of them while moving along to the study where she knew her father would be. Once at the door, she pushed it open and stepped in and, just as expected, her father sat at his favourite table, reading a book.
“What are all these people doing in our house?” she demanded, her voice rising higher than it should.
Jobe sighed and beckons to Mia to come sit down and when she did, he explained everything to her. “So you see, your sister will be queen tomorrow and that’s why they are here.”
Mia stood at the door looking in while the bride makers tried to fit Ariel into a white gown that appeared too small for her.
“She won’t breathe in that!” she snapped, making her presence known.
Ariel had felt discomfort in the gown she had on, but being too nice to hurt anyone’s feeling, she kept her silence.
“Who are you?” the older woman with brown curly hair asked with squinted eyes.
“I’m Mia Asika, I’m her sister! And she can’t breathe in that.”
They readjusted the fabric and robes and when they put it on her the second time; it fit perfectly.
“We will be back before the first cockcrow tomorrow, so please get all the rest you can.” the curly-haired woman informed Ariel before taking her leave with the rest of the crew.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Ariel’s face broke into a wide grin and she beckoned to Mia, who ran over and hugged her tightly.
“Thank you for speaking up when you did, Mia.” she said.
“You’re welcome. Father told me everything. Tomorrow you will be queen. How do you feel about that?”
Ariel shrugs and climbs onto her bed. “I’m not happy or sad. I’m just going to go with the flow and expect only the best.”
“I’m happy as long as you’re happy. At least one of us will make a father proud.” She giggled.
Ariel pulled herself onto her elbows to watch Mia properly. “And your plan? How’s it coming along?”
“So far, so good. After months of searching, I’ve been fortunate to find a scholar that would leave for the southern world in the next few weeks.”
Ariel’s eyes widened, her happiness matching that of her sister’s. “Great!”
Mia nodded and moved to sit beside Ariel in bed. “I was going to break the news and my other plans to father today, but the news of your wedding stopped me. I am going to do that once you get married.”
Mia had a dream of leaving the kingdom when she turned fourteen. It was at that age she realised there was nothing for her here and developed the courage to seek something more. She knew she would always be in her sister’s shadow and, despite loving Ariel and holding her on a pedestal, she couldn’t bear to live such a life.
Ariel was the definition of perfection. Her long golden hair swept perfectly to her back and highlighted the diamond shape of her face. And her sky-blue eyes made so many feel at home. Her perfectly shaped full red lips, down to her long neck, screamed perfection in the flesh. She also had the perfect body and height of five feet seven inches, which made her stand out from the crowd and this made men drool over her.
Mia had a tanned skin that sometimes looked as though burnt by the sun. She also had amber eyes, and it appeared golden than copper and so far she had met no maiden or man in the kingdom with the same eyes colour as hers. Her nose was long and pointed and her lips pale and small. Her hair was curly and as red as rose, while everyone else in her family had golden hair. She had the petite height of five feet two inches and a curvy body shape.
While the image of Ariel would scream perfection from head to toe, hers screamed opposite whenever she stared at herself in the mirror. Whenever she stepped out of the comfort of her home, she met with people who reminded her of that as well.
Knowing her chances with beauty had been limited from birth, Mia opted off that carriage and pursued enlightenment and after her fourteenth birthday. She started on her quest to leave the kingdom and find knowledge even till the ends of the earth, and her sister was her biggest supporter.
Ariel takes Mia’s hand and gives it a comforting squeeze. “Sure and I will support you the best way I can, but promise you will share whatever knowledge you find in the other part of the world with me.”
Mia bobbed her head, grinning happily. “I will and if your marriage to the alpha king doesn’t work out the way you plan, you can write to me and I’ll come to take you away.”
Ariel shook her head, but still laughed. “I doubt I’d want to leave this place. I was born here and I will die here.”
“I know, and you will be a wonderful queen.”
They shared a hug again, and Ariel kissed her forehead.
A loud knock came onto Mia’s door, which dragged her out of the state of sleep and sends her eyes flying wide open. The c**k was still yet to crow and she would have known because that’s when she always woke.
“Mia, please open up.” her father’s voice came through the door and the broken tone of his voice had made the hair on her skin stand, sensing bad news.
She hurried out of the bed and raced to the door, opening the door wide as soon as she got there. Jobe entered the room, his eyes filled with sorrow and tears.
“Father, what’s wrong?”
“It’s Ariel, Mia.”
Her stomach tightened in a bad way, even as she waited for him to finish what he had to say.
His lips trembled and for a man that barely showed his vulnerability when his wife died, he was doing a very poor job now. She took hold of his trembling hands, almost wincing when she felt how cold they were.
“What happened to Ariel? Where is she?”
“She’s dead, Mia, Ariel is dead.”