"Elena, Amaya!" cried a frail woman sitting on her bed of straw. It was nearly as big as her room itself and as dirty as the floor. The ceiling above her was damaged from water, but Guinevere decided it was better than the sky. She sat impatiently. How long should it take for two little girls to run across such a small house as theirs?
"Elena!" she cried with more force. She heaved a breath of satisfaction as she heard the footsteps of two young girls scurrying to her door. In walked Elena, wearing tattered rags, once a violet dress now worn down to an ugly brown cloth that was a bit too small. Her brown hair was styled in a single braid down the side of her chest and her eyes were older than her years, though she was just eight years old. Behind her walked her younger sister, Amaya, in a dress that fit her better and retained more of its reddish color. She had her blonde hair in two braids on either side of her head. Her eyes reflected the actual innocence of a seven-year old-girl.
"Mama, what is it?" asked Elena, a look of worry on her face. She cocked her head at the sight of her mother, who smiled down at her. Elena walked a few steps closer to her mother, cautiously, as though she was afraid.
"Sit, my darlings. I have a story to tell you," Guinevere told the two. They both obediently sat on the floor in front of her and looked up at her intently. Amaya seemed almost excited about what was coming, while Elena was more hesitant. Guinevere knew what she was going to tell them would be a lot to put on two young girls, but she was sick and weak and did not think she would live much longer. Her children needed to know her story before she would not be able to tell it.
Guinevere smiled. "I was once as young as both of you. A long, long time ago." Amaya's eyes widened, while Elena retained her expression. Their mother had never really revealed anything to them about their childhood. "I had my mother and father and two older brothers. My mother's name was Elena, as is yours," she said, glancing at the older of her children. "My father, your grandfather, was named Aurthur, as was my eldest brother. The younger brother was named Casper."
Amaya nodded along to the story, while Elena thought the story was standard enough so far and sat expressionless.
"My family lived in a palace in the middle of Avadain," she continued. At this, Elena perked up in disbelief. There was no way her mother, who lived only with her two children on the very outskirts of the kingdom of Llenzaia, could have possibly lived in its capital, much less in a palace.
Guinevere smiled at Elena's bewildered face. "It's true, I promise. I would never lie to you both." Elena's disbelief did not subside, but Amaya seemed wholly convinced. "My father and mother were the king and queen of all of Llenzaia." At this, Elena rolled her eyes and scoffed, but kept listening nonetheless.
"We were peaceful, good rulers who put our citizens first. All my time in the palace was spent when I was very young, so most of what I remember is the luxury I had. For the most part, I remember happy moments, wonderful food, and kind servants." Amaya nodded along as she spoke.
"What I didn't notice was how some of his councilmembers were conspiring against my father. My father and his allies noticed, though, but they couldn't really take any action. They may have been conspiring, but there was little to no evidence that they could use to get rid of them. They'd been all voted into their positions and it'd cause outrage if they were fired without apparent reason." Both Elena and Amaya sat on the edge of their seats in anticipation. Guinevere sighed and looked down.
"And that was it. One day, my father was the king of the most powerful kingdom on the continent. The next, my entire family was dead, and some evil conspirator had stolen the throne. Only I survived." She looked back up at her bewildered children, tears welling in her eyes.
"How did you get out, mama?" inquired Amaya, asking what both she and her sister were wondering.
"Well, as soon as my nanny learned of the commotion, she grabbed me and ran. We left the palace through the servant's area, somewhere the conspirators did not look. I'm sure they thought I had just been lost in the commotion. I was only about eight, after all." Elena looked intrigued, while Amaya seemed uncomfortable at the thought of her mother dying.
"Afterwards, she took me to the very outskirts of Llenzaia and left me in a village she thought I would not be found. I never saw my nanny again. I was taken in by a family that had been desperately trying for a girl for years. I grew up with their five children, and ended up marrying the second youngest one, your father, Samuel." Guinevere smiled as she remembered her now-dead husband.
"I misbehaved so much while living with them. I hated it so much. I had lived in a palace all my life with wonderful parents and siblings, and suddenly everything I had was gone. Of course, I eventually adjusted to my new life, but I did not enjoy it," Guinevere continued, reminiscing on how her life used to be.
"What I want you two girls to learn from this story is the truth about our family. How the throne that would have belonged to my eldest brother was stolen by the man who sits on it now, who's pushed families into poverty, spent lavishly on himself, and pays no regard to the public good when making policies. How the throne rightfully belongs to you two, the last of the royal lineage. How your last name isn't Lockhart, but Galanthiel, and that one day I hope you will regain your rightful place as the ruler of this kingdom." She looked at Elena, the older of the two, as she said that. She knew it was highly unlikely Elena would ever even see the inside of the palace walls, but a small part of her hoped that she could perform a miracle and reclaim what was hers.
Elena thought through the story to herself. How likely was it? Was there any chance that her mother was telling the truth? She knew that there had been a palace uprising way before she had been born, as it was common knowledge in the kingdom, but she never thought her mother could have been involved.
Her mother sighed and closed her eyes. She lay back down on her bed. Elena noticed how weak Guinevere was getting these days. Why would she even wait until now to tell her this story? It was nearly inconceivable that Elena could be royalty. However, her mother had never lied to her, and Elena's trust in her had never wavered.
Elena Galanthiel. She quite liked the sound of that.