An evil princess gets her comeuppance
Princess Raina arranged the books on the shelf in order from tallest to shortest, then pushed the elephant-shaped book ends in place. She twirled on the chair and hummed her favorite tune as jumped down to survey her work.
The shelf sat above the ornate—if not a little outdated—chair that she’d claimed as her throne. Raina moved back and nodded. The books added a certain smarter feel to the room that those who came in for judgment would surely recognize.
A knock sounded at the door, and Raina walked to the chair, turned so her red skirts would fall properly, then sat in the chair. On the throne, she corrected herself. “Come in.”
A click sounded, and the door opened to reveal Captain Alby—a tall, thin man with graying hair and a patchy beard. “Your Highness.” He bowed, as protocol required, and entered.
The man brought the rotten stench of the sea combined with unwashed bodies. Raina waved a hand in front of her nose. “Captain Alby. Do you have a report for me?”
He straightened. “Yes, Your Highness.” Before he continued, his eyes darted to the books above Raina’s head.
A swell of pride filled Raina, and she sat up straighter. “Go on.”
Captain Alby cleared his throat and focused his eyes on the princess. “Your Highness, we are but two days away from the shores of Ceadian. Our advanced scouts report little to no security on the coast due to the storm.”
The man shifted his weight. “The one that is headed right for us.”
“So you mean rain and wind?”
“It could be more than that, Your Highness.”
Raina narrowed her eyes and sat forward. “You assured me that your ships could make this crossing no matter what. Did you lie to me, Captain?”
Alby’s eyes darted to the left, where the bronzed remains of the last captain who had failed Raina hung. “No, Highness.”
Her smile returned. “I’m so glad to hear it. The tunipan flowers only bloom for one week out of the whole year. If we don’t get them now, I’m not going to be happy.”
“My men are ready.”
“Very well, leave me.” Raina waved a hand.
“Your Highness?” Captain Alby’s eyes once again darted to the shelf above her head.
“A word of advice, you may not want to leave those books up there during the storm.”
“I’ll keep that under advisement,” Raina said in a cold voice.
The Captain bowed. “Of course, Your Highness.” He retreated and the door clicked shut behind him.
Princess Raina snorted. “I just got those books up there.”
Another knock came at the door and Raina composed herself. “Enter.”
This time young boy with a twisted body shuffled in. He bowed, but it looked more like he might totter over, and held out a thin vial of purple liquid. “Your Highness. I have your potion.”
Raina jumped off the throne and clapped her hands. “Excellent, Trevor.” She snatched the vial from him and unstopped it. One whiff of the sugary scent and she sighed. Then she noticed Trevor looking up at the shelf above her throne.
“Storms coming. Might want to move those books, Highness.”
Anger burned behind Raina’s eyes. Trevor was too valuable to make an example of. She pointed at the door. “Out.”
“Yes, Highness.” He scrambled to obey.
Once she was alone, Raina sat and drank the potion which tasted of sweet grapes. It would be her last dose until they retrieved more of the tunipan flowers. The power of dark magic blossomed in her center and spread throughout her limbs. Raina sighed and leaned back. The rejuvenation always left her tired, and in just a few seconds sleep pulled her down.
Raina woke to the creaking and moaning of the ship. Her hand darted out to grab the armrest of her throne just in time to keep her from sliding onto the floor. Shouts sounded from outside, followed by a crash of thunder that shook the wood beneath her.
“What’s going on?” she yelled. “Captain?” Raina stumbled to her feet, but the ship lurched to one side, and Raina went with it, almost crashing into the wall. When the ship went back the other way, Raina returned to the throne and held on.
This must be the storm that the Captain had been talking about. Couldn’t they control the ship better? The man at the wheel must be the worst helmsman in history. Raina called on her magic to steady herself and took a step toward the door. A sliding noise sounded from above, and she looked up just in time to see the ivory book end coming down on her.
Raina got her hand up to block, but the book end hit her wrist with an audible crunch. Pain shot up her arm, and she cradled it. “Stupid storm.” She would have to heal the arm before the Captain or that lout Trevor saw her. She would not give them the satisfaction of knowing they had been right.
The ship tilted again, and another hiss sounded from above. This time Raina looked up and found the other book end, along with all of the books, coming down on her head.
A single curse escaped her lips before the elephant cracked her skull.