"Adelina!" I heard my mother call. "If you don't get down here right this instant, we are going to miss the Opening Ceremonies in the Mist! And yes, you are going, whether you like it or not!"

The Mist was what everyone called the new land the Kingdom of Aberson found a few years ago, because "Mist" sounded a lot like "Mystery." The Opening Ceremonies always occur when we claim a new land.

"Adelina Veerona, do I have to come to your room?" my mother said furiously.

"Coming!" I replied curtly with a slight roll of my eyes.

I got out of bed and trudged to my wardrobe, pulling out a random dress. I know twelve-year-old girls like me should care about what they wear to ceremonies and celebrations, but I never really bothered to notice how I looked. I prefer to be comfortable, not beautiful, which was hard, since my mother said women were supposed to be elegant. Therefore, I didn't have any pants or overalls in my closet. I did at one point, but, of course, my mom took it away.

The dress wasn't full-length. I didn't like those, because I couldn't run around that way. Instead, the hem ended just below my knees. It was red in color with sleeves that stopped after my elbow. I quickly threw it on and dragged myself downstairs, hoping my mother wouldn't comment on my attire. But, as expected, she basically threw a tantrum over it.

"What are you wearing?!" she shrieked. "I specifically told you not to wear things like that to important events!"

"Important?" I asked incredulously. "Aberson is always gaining new lands!"

She sighed, opening her mouth to say something, but I started talking before she could.

"Besides, I'll need something comfortable to walk around in."

I was sure my mother was raging now.

"We do not need to 'walk around' at the ceremony!" she yelled. "We will take the carriage! We struck it rich when we found the gold in the garden!"

"I found that, mother," I said in a barely audible voice, keeping my eyes averted from her.

"Never mind," she said, dismissing the conversation. "Just… get into the carriage."

The trip to the Mist was silent, except for our coachman, Berlis, trying to cheer us up.

"Hey, what gets wetter as it dries?' he jokes. "Hello? Are you guys still back there?"

He turns around to make sure we're still present, but my mother and I both notice a pile of dung in front of him.

"Berlis!" we both shout.

But it's too late. The horse stepped into it and the coachman quickly turned back around.

When we arrive at the Mist, my mother finds a spot for us to sit and watch the parade, but since I really didn't want to go through this for possibly the tenth time, I tell my mom that I need to go use the washroom.

"Alright, but hurry up this time, okay?" she said.

"Yeah, okay," I fibbed.

There were toilets only about a quarter of a mile away, so I headed that way to make sure my mother wouldn't suspect anything. But when I was almost there, I made a detour into the woods. The trees were spectacular. I could probably name them all: sycamores, oaks, willows… I continued down the winding dirt road. Apparently, this place was once civilized. I inspected the amazing plants and occasionally spotted, usually a squirrel or rabbit. But once, I did see a deer, a doe, and her fawn.

The willows swayed in the wind as singing birds chirp simple but pretty songs. This was the perfect nature walk. As I walked, the course became narrower and narrower. Eventually, two trees got in the way and blocked my path. My friend, Ophelia, would just say, "Okay, dead end, let's go back." But I'm not like that. I would squeeze through the trees and see what adventure lies before me. I do just that, and find a village with a few cottages scattered around the area.

"They already started building?" I wondered aloud.

"Building? Building what?" a male voice asked.

I turned around. It was a boy, a little older than me. He was carrying some dead animal, probably a squirrel. He wore a white shirt and brown overalls with the pant legs rolled up to a few inches below his knees.

"You're not from around here, are you?" he asked, observing my apparently strange garment.

"No," I reply. "And this suggests that you are?"

"Well, yes," the boy says. "I was born here."

"So… you people who live in those cottages… You inhabited this place?" I sputter. If they really did, it meant they owned this place. Aberson couldn't take it. There were already people living here!

"Yeah, basically. But this is only one village," he said. "If you go a few miles south, you'll find a larger one, where the school is."

"Really…" I half asked.

"Is that surprising?" he asked. "Anyway, I'm Nathan. What's your name?"

"Adelina," I say simply. "I'm from Aberson."

"Okay, Adelina," says Nathan. "How old are you?"

We spend some time getting to know each other. I found out he's fourteen years "young," he likes to eat fish, and his favorite color's yellow. Finally, we decide to stop asking stupid questions when he asks about Aberson.

"Where is it, and what's it like?" he queried.

I told him it's about a forty-minute carriage ride from here and we're known for our tangy fruits.

"I wish we had that here," said Nathan. "All the fruits we can get around here are apples and oranges."

"I can bring some cherries for you if I ever come back," I offered. "Anyway, it's my turn now. What is this place? What's it called?"

It turns out that there's no name for this area. There's not really any monarchy, but they still lived here. However, not many people knew they existed.

"What are you doing here anyway?" Nathan asked. "Like I said, there's not a whole lot of people who know about this place."

Then it hit me. How was I supposed to tell him that my country was trying to take over his? I thought for a while. I didn't really care if we get this land or not. And Nathan was my friend now. I could help him and his family, to make sure Aberson wouldn't take his home.

"I came here for the Opening Ceremonies!" I blurt out.

"What?" Nathan asked with a puzzled look on his face. "Opening Ceremonies? What for?"

"Aberson found this place a few months ago. Now they want to claim it." I said quickly. "But they didn't know there were already people living here!" I said even faster. Nathan didn't say a thing. I thought he was going to be infuriated, but instead, he just sat there, staring into space.

"I need to tell my parents," he said abruptly. He stood up and headed for the village.

"Wait." I grab his wrist. "I can help."