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Chapter 1 : The Letter
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I sighed, signing the different papers where Chancellor Evans pointed. Paperwork was the worst part of my day. And it occupied the majority of my days. I didn’t even know what I was signing, but I trusted my government. The government decided what happened in Avalyn, and as my trusted Chancellor and supervisor of the Supreme Government, I trusted Chancellor Evans to make sure that all of their decisions would be beneficial to Avalyn and my people.
Yes, my people. I, Carolyn Vienna Josephine Melanie Teagan Avalyn Evans, am the former crown princess to the Avalynian throne. Former because eleven years ago, when I was only eight, my mother, Queen Tabitha the Second of Avalyn, passed away.
It wasn’t anything suspicious – blood loss during childbirth when she was delivering my sister – but because my father wasn’t an Avalynian born citizen, the throne got passed down to me. Yeah. The throne. I am now, in title at least, Queen Carolyn the Seventh of Avalyn. Although I prefer Carolyn.
“And here… And here… And here… And here… And–”
“Chancellor Evans, I’m sorry for the interruption, but do we need to do this? Can’t I just pass a law that states that I don’t need to sign every new law, bylaw, tax reduction, property foreclosure and birth certificate in Avalyn?”
She smirked. “Your Highness, that would be entirely inappropriate. Avalyn depends on the dual-government system that we have in place.”
“I know, I know,” I said, rolling my eyes. “I just don’t understand why there’s so much paperwork to deal with. Avalyn is just a small island. You wouldn’t think there’d be this much going on.”
Chancellor Evans smiled at me. “Your Highness, I realize you are still young, but this is–”
“An important aspect of the dual-government system Avalyn has in place,” I droned. “Can we at least take a break?”
Chancellor Evans smiled again and sighed. “Yes, we can. But only a paperwork break. We have lots of work today, Your Highness.”
I groaned and didn’t even bother correcting Chancellor Evans after her third time addressing me as ‘Your Highness.’ I despised the title, constantly asking Chancellor Evans to address me as ‘Carolyn’ or even ‘Carolyn the Seventh’ if she really wants to stick to the proper forms of conduct.
She gathered up the numerous files on my desk and put them away as I rubbed my temples. Headaches had been a constant ever since I turned 16 and fully took over the throne of Avalyn. Chancellor Evans came back with a stack of what seemed like letters and a mug. I took the mug and smiled as the steaming scent of Earl Grey tea wafted up. But looking down at the stack of letters, my smile dropped. I took a sip of tea and then grabbed a letter, using the peacock shaped letter opener to shred the top of the envelope.
Yeah, peacock shaped letter opener. The royal animal is a peacock. Anyways, I ripped open the envelope and pulled out the letter, smiling as I saw the telltale scribble of a young child. Those letters were always my favorite. Reading through quickly, I passed it off to Chancellor Evans, instructing her to place it in my quarters. I would write back as soon as I could.
We went through these motions for a good hour or so, placing the death threats in a pile for my own personal secret service to deal with, – yeah, I have my own secret service – bills and other expenses in a pile for my father to deal with, and anything else that wasn’t important straight into the garbage can.
There were some rare letters I would respond to personally and they would go straight to my quarters, but the majority were boring messages that made me want to go back to paperwork. As I finished my fifth cup of tea, I picked up a letter and sighed.
Pressing a button on the intercom that lead to the communications headquarters of the castle – yeah, I live in a castle, that’s part of being a queen – I sighed into the microphone.
“Mr. Ellison, please page Marielle’s attendant. I need her in my office right away.”
“Certainly Your Highness,” the head of the communications department said, clicking some buttons. “Anything else I may help you with?”
“No thank you.”
With that I clicked off the intercom and resumed my work. The letters were almost halfway done and as Chancellor Evans brought me another cup of tea, I heard a knock on my door. I called out for them to come in and I turned as Marielle came in. I smiled at her as she bounced over to me, her blond curls, so similar to my own, floating behind her.
“Hey Carolyn!” She exclaimed happily. “You wanted to see me?”
I smiled and passed her the letter. “This is for you.”
She gave me a confused look. I handed her the peacock letter opener and she quickly ripped it open. I couldn’t remember the last time she had received anything in the mail that was worth anything and she was obviously excited. She took out the letter and began reading it, her eyes darting across the paper at an unimaginable pace.
One thing we had both received from our mother, apart from the trademark Evans family blonde hair, – which coincidentally Chancellor Evans, my mother’s distant cousin, inherited too – was an inexplicable love of reading. So, within a minute, Marielle had read the entire letter, her face as white as the parchment she was holding.
“Marielle, what’s wrong?” I asked, snatching the envelope form the table where she had left it. If it was a death threat, the entire letter and the envelope would have to go to the secret service right away. “Marielle, what does it say? Chancellor Evans,” I said in a panicked voice, “have you ever heard of a group that calls themselves ‘Hogwarts?’”
She shook her head and I felt queasy. Whatever this organization was, it had obviously frightened my sister and I’d be damned if I didn’t get all the information on them that I could to keep her safe.
“Marielle,” I said desperately, getting off my chair and kneeling down in front of her, “give me the letter.”
Her grip was fierce, the letter tearing in a few places as I tugged at it frantically, trying to read it myself. When I finally wrenched it out of her cold hands, I glanced over it, my eyes widening in shock.
“Send message to my father,” I said, turning to look at Chancellor Evans. “If this is true, I think our entire argument over Marielle’s transition from tutoring to private school with be void.”
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