Thursday, March 28, 2013

Prompt: Mystery on the Floating Castle

Thanks to My Beautiful World for the visual prompt today!

Cecily leaned against the window’s edge and waved though her arm already ached. Bertrand took up more than his share of the open window, waving on the other side as the castle cruised slowly up the river into Ycenna. Their parents were in the room above them, accepting their welcome from the city and waving their royal benedictions across the water to the throngs of people leaning out every open window, filling the streets and bridges that crossed back and forth above the Foylaugh. Cecily shoved Bertrand out of her way to lean forward for a breath of fresh air and the overwhelming scent of flowers that covered the water. The roar of the crowd was deafening, and as the sun glinted against her golden hair, the cheers surged even louder.

“Let me see, then,” Bertrand demanded and pushed her aside. She heard a few laughs among the cheers, and she refused to act like the Royal Brat. Stepping back, she gave Bertrand room to lean out the window. He was too young to remember the last time they had cruised into Ycenna, after all. Cecily remembered how overwhelming it had seemed to her then, at the tender age of nine, a year older the Bertrand now. She was fourteen now, and when she left Ycenna, she would be a queen.

Suddenly Cecily wanted to retreat from the overwhelming sensory assault of their welcome. She whispered to Bertrand, “Keep waving. They’ll love you! And watch the swinging bridges, they are really something.” With that to occupy her brother’s attention, she crept into the room behind them. The empty room drew her up short. There were always attendants around them. Her brows knit together in consternation, then she realized they were all at the castle’s windows enjoying the welcome as well. She smiled, realizing that for a precious little while, she was on her own. There was only one place to go.

The castle halls were eerily quiet, with everyone crowded at the outer edges of the floating marvel that carried the Royal Family and attending Court in an endless circuit throughout the land of Reytiennes. Cecily paid scant attention to the family portraits that lined the corridors as she made her way to the small spiral staircase in the exact center of the castle. She knew the story of every one, could recite her lineage back six hundred years in a singsong litany that her favorite tutor, Evelynn had taught her during her year aboard the floating Court.

Cecily had figured out the mysterious gap in the royal lineage when she was twelve and obsessed with numbers. When she asked Evelynn about the three year gap between the rule of King Peynard the Fourth and Queen Chretienne the Second, the young woman paled and stammered a transparent falsehood before changing the subject and shooing the young Royals to the courtyard for tea. Cecily had understood there was a secret she was not supposed to know, and from that moment, she had been determined to discover it. From Evelynn’s reaction, she instinctively understood this was not a question she could simply ask anyone, even her parents.

Then they had cruised into Reychelles for a holiday on the ocean shore, but Cecily had been sick and left in bed. Her nurse was sound asleep in the rocking chair by the fireplace when she awoke feeling much recovered and wanting some tea and biscuits. So Cecily had climbed out of bed and wandered to the kitchen on her own for the very first time. The cooks had spoiled her with treats and sent her back to bed, where she had every intention of going until she saw the wall open and a maid appear from a hidden stairwell.

Cecily had been wide-eyed with excitement and wonder. What could be better than a mystery in the dull, dreary, floating castle! She hid in an alcove, crowded behind a statue, until the maid disappeared and the hallway was clear. Cecily crept toward the wall, looking for the way to reveal the hidden stairs. She looked carefully but could find no sign of it. She stamped her foot and hit the wall in frustration, and to her astonishment, a panel slid aside to reveal the stairs.

A closer examination revealed a slight bump in the wall, which she had not even noticed and would have considered nothing more than old workmanship. She touched it again, and the panel began to slide closed. Cecily jumped through, safely hidden on the other side. She looked up the dark curving staircase and began to climb.

Dogs in house:

Delta Rae, Carry the Fire

Time writing:
~35 minutes

March word count:


  1. Prompt: Mystery on the floating castle

    Jessica ran ahead, crossing the clanking rope bridge before her twin brother. She could hear his laughter following after her. She ducked through the stone archway that had once held the miniature castle's front gate, then straightened in the courtyard.

    Jessica and Jamie had been coming here since they were small enough to not have to duck. She found it sad that the castle had shrunk--though she knew it was herself that grew--for what had once seemed an endless maze of corridors was now obviously only two concentric circles surrounding the courtyard in which she now stood. She stood on tiptoe and peered over the castle wall. Jamie had stopped on the bridge and was leaning out with his hand just above the stream.

    "What'cha doing?" Jessica called.

    Jamie did not answer, his entire concentration seemingly on something in the water below. He leaned out farther, touched the water, then pulled himself back up. He stood, holding something dark, long, and thin in his hand.

    Jessica ducked back through the entry way. "What did you--" She stopped. Jamie was not on the bridge. He had only been out of sight for a second. Where could he have gone so quickly?

    She returned to the castle and this time climbed the stair to get to the low walkway and a better view. Jamie was still standing on the bridge with the long stick-like object. Her stomach felt queasy.

    1. Oh, nice! I like the playful, childlike beginning, and then the sense of unease - what just happened with Jamie, or is it Jessica that something is happening to?

  2. Getting caught up! No internet at the con, although I got the prompts via iPhone, so was able to write each night at the con. But I missed the night we drove back and got home late.