Eliza Charming woke around lunchtime, when the sun was at its highest. She looked up at the bright sky and around at the now-empty clearing. The light was hiding more than just the stars- it was hiding a whole kingdom from her. A brief, fleeting doubt crossed her mind. Had this whole thing been a dream? Was there really a Castle made of shadows, filled with shadowy people who only came out to play in the night?
She shook off the doubt. Her heart told her it was true.
She stretched and climbed back over the wall. Her horse was still tied up outside, grazing on some nearby grass. She untied him. “Go home, Percy,” she encouraged him. “I don’t think I will be riding back any time soon.”
Percy understood and bowed his head to her before cantering off in the direction of home. Eliza was too caught up in the enchantment of the night before to think about the implications of sending her horse home without its rider.
She found a nearby lake and collected water for herself. She foraged for fruits and nuts and berries. She collected up a large supply and climbed back over the wall with them. She was about to settle down again when another thought struck her. She climbed back over the wall and picked a selection of the most beautiful flowers she could find.
By dusk she had a full bouquet of roses in red, white and purple. She had orange calendulas, yellow buttercups and pink orchids. She had bluebells and periwinkle in her hair. She picked daisies and made them in to two chains.
Eliza waited for the sun to set with a growing anticipation. Moths came in to the clearing to dance with the butterflies in her stomach. The thorns around the wall began to light up. She willed time to move faster.
As the shadows elongated around her she went to sand roughly where she thought the door should be. The shadows grew stronger. She waited for them to solidify. The stars came out. “Eliza,” the voice came from behind her. She turned.
“Princess Dyana,” Eliza felt her hear leap in to her mouth.
“You’re here,” the Shadow Princess looked like she couldn’t quite believe it. “I came out in to the grounds to wait for you.”
“Of course I’m here,” Eliza said. She held out the rainbow bouquet she had brought to her starlight Princess. “I have another gift for you.” Princess Dyana took them from her with great delight. Princess Eliza held up one of the chains she had made from daisies. “Give me your wrist.”
Dyana held out her arm and Eliza tied the chain of bright, white daisies around the wrist of the Shadow Princess. She wore the other. Dyana studied the bracelet for a long time before she looked up at Eliza with eyes as bright as the stars she was made from. “Come with me, Eliza,” she said. “I’d like you to meet my parents tonight.”
They held daisy-chained hands and walked back in to the Shadow Kingdom together.
Shoutout to hailangeliccreation for suggesting I make this a series!