In the previous episode, Celia was welcomed into the castle and led to a door by a mysterious old woman. Readers voted that the door leads to an audience hall where the queen and prince are waiting for her.
With surprising strength, the old woman pushed open the carved wooden double doors. She then melted into the background, leaving Celia to enter the cavernous hall alone. A golden light illuminated the room, streaming in from above; once again Celia could not see how high the ceiling reached. At the end of the hall she could make out three high thrones, raised up on very thin pillars. On the middle one sat the Queen, and on either side of her were the King and the Prince. The Queen beckoned for Celia to approach.
Celia curtsied clumsily, and the Queen smiled. She had a wide, radiant smile which both disarmed and reassured Celia. She had also a broad face with two quarter-sized spots of rouge on her cheekbones, small bright red lips, and an elaborate pile of blond curls which towered up over her head, almost obscuring her gold and diamond crown. There was a perfect row of curls across her forehead. Dressed in all red with geometric golden designs on her clothing, she looked like an elaborate cherry bon-bon with spun-sugar hair.
“Welcome, Celia,” the Queen’s high-pitched voice rang out. “I hope you have found our home hospitable thus far.”
It took Celia a moment to realize the Queen was waiting for a response, and she hastily nodded her head.
“Yes quite, thank you, your Highness,” she managed.
“Good.” The Queen smiled her wide, splitting smile again. “I would like to present my son, Felix Augustus.” She gestured to the Prince sitting to her right, and Celia turned her attention to him for the first time.
He had light brown hair which fell, curtain-like, over his eyes, almost obscuring them entirely. He was pale and thin. He was slouched down in his seat, his fancy clothes looked as though they had been hastily thrown on and he looked most uncomfortable in them. In fact, he looked as though he would rather be anywhere else but there. Celia was surprised – this was a prince? Where was his poise? His charm? This prince didn’t look anything like what she had expected. They looked at each other for a moment before Felix Augustus, exhaling loudly, excused himself and hopped out of his throne, slid down the skinny column and disappeared through a side door.
The Queen’s broad face fell, and she looked almost comically distraught.
“I am so sorry,” she whispered. “He keeps doing this. It’s been seventeen potential princesses at this point! I just don’t know what to do.” She looked on the verge of tears.
Celia felt sorry for the poor Queen. She wanted to reassure her, but she had no idea what to say. Instead she looked over at the King, who had been staring straight ahead the whole time, as if blind to the events transpiring around him. In contrast to the Queen, he had a small, pointy head adorned with a jet-black mustache and goatee. Noticing the direction of her gaze, the Queen leaned toward Celia conspiratorially.
“Oh he’s no use at all,” she whispered again. “I have to do everything around here.” She sighed. “I do wish he would talk to his son though. At this rate we’ll never find a suitable princess. Oh dear, I just don’t know what to do…” She carried on, talking more to herself than to Celia, who was wondering what on earth she ought to do next. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.