Once upon a time, there was a King and a Queen. For a long time, they had no children, then one day the Queen announced that she was with child. However, the Queen had not mentioned that she had made a deal with a fairy. This fairy promised the Queen children, except that the fairy would ask a boon of the Queen's child on its wedding day. The Queen agreed readily and soon she had her husband had daughter. Over the years they had many daughters, each as lovely as the first. Then, after the twelfth daughter's birth, the Queen died, leaving the King alone with his daughters.
"Princess Josephine Prima Nerissa Isabel Antonia, flower of Madriland," the herald announced as Princess Josephine Prima Nerissa Isabel Antonia descended.
"Princess Isolde Secunda Helena Eleanor Katarina, jewel of Madriland," another Princess walked down the stairs.
"Princess Marissa Tertia Rowena Annabelle Regina, honor of Madriland," the third Princess glided.
The herald continued the announcements, through eight other princesses: Callista Quarta Fiona Natasha, Cassandra Quinta Adelaide Matilda, Gwendolen Sexta Miranda Christabel, Seraphina Septima Juliana Nicolette, Tatiana Octavia Victoria Estelle, Imogene Nona Magdalena Violette, Fleur Decima Suzanne Bernadette and Ariana Undecima Jacquetta Matilda.
I waited till my older sisters went down the stairs, and then my name was called. Princess Liliana Duuodecima Charlotte Teresa Oriana, Pearl of Madriland. I descended, holding up my gown. I made sure that I held my head high.
But my sisters and I weren't that formal- ever. We tried to be normal girls, who just happened to be rich and princesses. And the long names were just too much. Jo. Nelly. Mari. Calli. Cass. Gwen. Sera. Ana. Vi. Suze. Ari. Lili.
This was hard to explain to any prince who came calling. They didn't understand that we didn't want to be called by our full names. Putting twelve nicknames to twelve faces was hard enough, but our full names couldn't be remembered by anyone other than our father.
"Please, call me Jo," my oldest sister pleaded to the prince of Tyvern.
"Princess Josephine Prima Nerissa Isabel Antonia, I am honored that you would allow me to call you by your nickname, but it would not be proper," the foolish prince smiled.
Jo was twenty and due to be married first. Except for one problem, she didn't want to be married to just any prince. She grew bored with the men who insisted on propriety. Not that Jo was immodest, she wasn't, she only thought that me who insisted on calling her by her full name were insufferable.
It was really our mother's fault that we had such long names, she had been a commoner and thought these long names grand. I hated my name. It was bad enough that we had elaborate first names but then we had numbers, and then more names. I wouldn't mind being called Liliana, but Lili was shorter and all my sisters had nicknames.
The King's daughters grew into lovely maidens. When the youngest daughter was fifteen, the King decided it was time for his daughters to marry. He called for Princes from all over the land to come and woo his daughters. But the fairy had remembered her bargain.
My sister Sera, ran up to me, "Lili," she grinned, "I want you to meet my friend Renata, Renata, this is my sister Princess Liliana."
"Renata? Where are you from?" I questioned the young girl who was tall and thin, with brown hair and dull eyes.
"I am the sister of Prince Albret," she replied naming a prince who had come to visit us.
"Yes," she smiled sweetly.
"You had to come all this way with your brother?" I asked surprised. Renata was the first Princess to visit us.
"Father insisted," was her explanation.
We passed the days with tedious social functions. Most princes were only interested in my older sisters, I got little attention. Instead, I made friends with Renata, who seemed to be ignored as much as I was.
Soon, Jo was betrothed to Prince Piers of Ariwyn, a nearby country. I was happy for Jo and equally as happy for the wedding that would take place soon.
"Do you Princess Josephine Prima Nerissa Isabel Antonia take this man to be your husband?" The priest intoned.
"I do," Jo smiled.
"Do you Prince Piers take this woman to be your wife?"
"I do," Piers was handsome, but much older than Jo.
The wedding ceremony continued, but I didn't listen. Instead, I fidgeted; this would be tedious if I had to sit through ten more weddings in the coming days. My sisters and I were expected to stand prettily and look happy for the hours of ceremonies.
There were cheers and I looked up to see Jo kissing her new husband. I smiled, Jo seemed happy and I was happy for her, she had waited a long time for marriage.
Then, here was a shower of smoke, falling from the ceiling. It surrounded Jo and Piers, obscuring them from view. I glanced around to see all the guests around me frozen, as if made of ice.
"Vi?" I shook the sister next to me. "Vi? What's wrong," my voice was a panicked scream, "Imogene?" I used Vi's real name, "Wake up!"
A sound pulled me away from my sister. It sounded like bells, tiny tinkling bells, a soft pleasant sound. I moved towards the alter where my sister was hidden.
Then, I heard the voices. The first was Jo's , pleading, "Make him move. Let him go!" She called.
The second was unknown and feminine, "You must first grant me a boon."
"Who are you?" Jo asked.
The voice laughed, sweetly, "I am called the Mistress of the Mists. Was I never mentioned to you?"
"What do you want? "
"Ah," The Mistress laughed again, "I want a boon from you. In return, I will free these people."
"What do you wish?" Jo was frantic.
I realized that they did not know I was awake, so I remained quiet. "Princess Josephine, all I require is your first born child, taken at midnight after their day of birth."
"No!" Jo cried.
"As you wish," the Mistress sounded annoyed, "But you will not leave this mist until you agree."
"Why have you come to haunt us?" I heard my sister sob.
"I made a deal with…" she stopped, "You must answer me now, as I must go! Your child or your family?"
"My child," Jo cried out.
"Good," the Mistress of the Mists agreed, "I will remember Josephine. I do not forget."
Suddenly, the mists swirled away, leaving Jo on the floor, pleading with air. Slowly, ice cracked off of the others in the room and they awoke. Leaving Jo swooned on the alter and me shaking.