“Ring, ring, ring,” went Ava Ryder’s alarm clock. Ava sighed. Today was Monday, which meant she was going back to high school after having the weekend off. Ava liked her classes and teachers, but the other students, not so much. Because she had a prosthetic leg, Ava often felt like an outsider at her school.
Ava changed clothes and braided her long dark hair. After a quick breakfast, she and her parents headed out the door. Every morning, before going to his job as a psychologist, Ava's father dropped her and her mother, a literature teacher, off at the school. Ava looked out the window at the New York City skyscrapers, until she and her parents reached the high school.
When Ava entered homeroom that day, she was surprised to see a girl whom she had never seen before. The girl was beautiful. She had sparkling blue eyes and her hair was wavy and red. It was not strawberry blonde, auburn, or fake Kool-Aid colored red. It was just … red. One of Ava’s favorite heroines, Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, had red hair and hated it. But if Anne's hair looked anything like this girl's, Ava thought it would be beautiful.
“Class,” said Miss Williams, gesturing to the red-haired girl, “I would like you to meet our new student, Miss Ione Godesse. Ione, why don’t you come up here and tell us about yourself.” Ione walked up to the whiteboard and began, “Hi, I’m Ione. I have ten siblings and I love gymnastics. Umm…” Ione hesitated, “I guess that’s all.” Ava was intrigued by this Ione girl. She didn’t seem like she was a popular annoying cheerleader, unlike a lot of the girls at Riverton.
At lunch, Ava always sat by herself. The other kids all sat with their various cliques, none of which Ava fit in with. So Ava was surprised when Ione walked up to her table and asked, “Ava, right? Can I sit with you?” Ava smiled.
“Absolutely!” As the two girls talked, they discovered that they got along really well with each other. For the rest of the week, they sat together at lunch, and the girls decided that on Friday night Ione would sleep over at Ava’s house.
Friday night the two girls were in Ava’s bedroom. “This is a weird question, but are you adopted?” Ione asked. Ava replied,
“Yes, I’m adopted, why do you ask?”
“You don’t look much like your parents, and, well…” She hesitated, “Do you know anything about your biological parents?”
“No, I was dropped off on the doorstep of a fire station as a baby, and then my parents came and adopted me.”
“Well, I have some news for you, and you might be shocked. Your birth parents are king and queen of Comanthia, which is in another world.”
“What? Me? No way! Besides, how would you know about my parents, Ione?” Ione suddenly grew radiant. Her red hair was even more beautiful than before.
“Because,” she said, with a mysterious air, “I am a goddess in that other world. The goddess of sports. And I do love gymnastics and have a lot of siblings.”
“Wow,” said Ava, “So you said your last name is Godesse because you are a goddess! But wait, if I am from another world, why do I live here?”
“It’s a long story, but I’ll tell you what you need to know. When your mom had you, she also gave birth to another daughter, Phrixe. You were older and the next in line for the throne. But your mother’s sister, Viklucia, did not like that. She was a very powerful evil sorceress and wanted Phrixe, who looked like her, to get trained in the arts of sorcery and become queen. So Viklucia sent you to the human world through a portal and told your mother you were dead. But,” Ione said, gesturing to Ava’s prosthetic leg, “apparently, the portal malfunctioned and your leg was severely damaged in the process. Oh, and one more thing, your name is actually Alethia.” Ava marveled at all this information, and then asked,
“Why are you telling me this now?”
“Because,” Ione responded, “The evil demon Ilexion captured Phrixe and forced her to be his slave. We will leave for Comanthia tomorrow. It is your true home.”
“What will I tell my parents?” wondered Ava.
“Tomorrow morning I will erase their memories of you,” said Ione.
“That’s probably a wise idea. Can you make sure that they have a daughter around my age?” Ava asked.
The next morning, after Ione had erased the parents’ memories, she woke up Ava, who had packed everything the night before. Ione explained that Ava would hold on to her hand and be magically transported by her to Comanthia. Ava gripped Ione’s hand, excited, but at the same time scared about her new life.
Whoosh! Ava felt like she was flying and falling at the same time. Bright colors spun around her and she felt quite peculiar. When Ava (or Alethia, as that was her real name) landed, she was so relieved to be on solid ground, that at first, she didn’t even notice the elaborate royal boat in front of her.
“Ione, will I get to meet my parents before we go on the journey?” she asked.
“No, Alethia. It is too dangerous for you to meet them now because your aunt could spot and recognize you. All any of them know is that someone was chosen to go on an expedition by the gods. After you rescue your sister, you will return to them with her and reveal your true self. I don’t know how your aunt will react, but at least that way Phrixe will already be safe. And one more thing: I am not going on the expedition with you. This is your mission.”
Alethia was shocked that Ione wasn’t going with her. She had no idea where anything in Comanthia was. “How will I find my sister by myself?” she asked. Ione replied, “Start sailing, and when you reach the two rocks that are shaped like swords, that is the entrance to Ilexion’s cave.” And Alethia watched Ione disappear, floating up to the clouds.
Alethia entered the boat. She was wearing a long blue dress which Ione had given her, along with some other traditional Comanthian clothing. It fit right in with the blue expanse of sea which surrounded her. Alethia was nervous about what would happen in the next few days, but for now she decided to relax and not think about the future.
Later that day, when the sun was starting to sink, Alethia heard a roar. She looked up from the book she was reading, and, to her horror, saw a large, hideous monster in the water in front of her. It looked like a giant cat, but instead of cat legs, it had a fish tail. The monster leaned forward, with jaws wide open and fangs showing. Alethia frantically searched the boat, trying to find a weapon to use against the monster. She grabbed a sword and started attacking the monster. He was a formidable opponent, but finally Alethia managed to plunge the sword into his heart. Suddenly, a brilliant light enveloped the monster. Alethia was extremely surprised, when, in place of the monster, there stood a handsome boy! He looked to be slightly older than Alethia, maybe sixteen or seventeen, and he had light brown curly hair and sparkling green eyes.
“Who are you?” inquired Alethia nervously.
“My name is Tristan,” he said, smiling, “My mother is mortal, but my father is Geordas, the king of the gods. He offended the god of the sea, who retaliated by turning me into a giant mercat. The only way I could be freed was if someone killed the mercat. I was a mercat for three months, and I was beginning to lose hope until you came along. Thank you so much for freeing me. I have told you about me, now I want to hear about you. Who are you and why are you here? What is your story?” Alethia told Tristan everything, and he gladly accepted the offer to join her on the expedition. They talked and laughed and by the end of the day felt like old friends.
That night, Alethia couldn’t sleep. This was partially because she wasn’t used to sleeping on a boat, but more so because she was thinking about Tristan. He was a great young man, not at all like the boys at her school back in New York City. Alethia finally fell asleep in her cozy bed, which was in a room under the deck.
“Wake up, Alethia!” called Tristan from the deck. “I have something to show you.” Normally, Alethia didn’t like waking up in the morning, but because Tristan had something to show her, she sprung out of bed and hurried onto the deck.
“What is it?” she asked.
“Look,” Tristan said, pointing off in the distance. When she saw what he was pointing at, Alethia let out a gasp. She could see two rocks, both shaped like swords.
When they reached the entrance to the cave, Alethia and Tristan disembarked from the boat, gripping each other’s hand. In the cave, Alethia saw a beautiful blond girl who was sweeping the floor. She had a chain and ball attached to her and seemed miserable. That must be my sister, Phrixe, Alethia thought. “Well,” cackled a raspy voice from deep inside the cave, “It appears we have two guests. What brings you here?” As Alethia thought about her response, Ilexion floated out of the shadows. He was all black and looked like a cross between a snake and a blob. He had sharp fangs and was surrounded by a black, gaseous substance.
“I am here to save my sister, Phrixe. The gods sent me,” announced Alethia, trying not to let her voice waver.
“Ah, I see.” Ilexion said, “How about I make a deal with you? Look at you, with your leg like that. I can fix your leg, but only if you let me keep your sister. Does that work?”
Alethia thought about her life up to that point. She thought about all the teasing she had received, about how people had always stared at her when she went somewhere. She thought about how in school she had to go to a different P. E. class than most of the other kids. Even though living with a prosthetic leg wasn’t easy at times, Alethia knew she had to save her sister.
“No!” Alethia replied with determination, “I would rather keep living with a prosthetic leg than live with the knowledge that my sister is trapped and I could have saved her!”
At that, Ilexion started to shrink smaller and smaller. Love was so unknown to the demon that Alethia doing this for her sister overcame him. Knowing that his life was over, he let out one blood-curdling screech, and then he was gone.
Alethia rushed over to her sister and undid the chain.
“Thank you so much for saving me,” said Phrixe, “But, wait, I am an only child. How could you be my sister?” Alethia explained everything and then asked,
“So, did Viklucia teach you the arts of sorcery?” Phrixe responded,
“Yes, she did, but she’s pretty much given up on me helping her take over the kingdom. I only use my powers for good, which seems to aggravate her. Oh, and who is this young man?” Tristan told her,
“I’m Tristan, the son of Geordas. I was also rescued by Alethia.”
The three teenagers chatted as they followed Ione’s instructions and sailed the boat toward the castle. Suddenly, the sky grew dark. Torrents of rain fell, accompanied by thunder and lightning. The boat was tossed about by the waves. Crack! The people on board the boat rushed over to see what had happened. Apparently, the boat had smacked into a rock on an island. On the side of it there was a large gash. Up on a hill they could see a large building that looked like a cross between a temple and a library. They decided to investigate and see if they could spend the night there.
When they reached the building, Alethia knocked. The door opened, and a tall, pale woman went out to meet them. “My name is Jordana and I am the head of the Literary Priestesses. Who are you and what brings you to the Library Temple of Crisella?” she asked.
“I am Alethia, princess of Comanthia. I spent most of my life in another world, so you probably have never heard of me. This is my twin sister Princess Phrixe, and this is Tristan, the son of Geordas. We were sailing on a boat, and our ship crashed into a rock. We were wondering if we could spend the night here.” said Alethia.
“Your highnesses,” said Jordana, “I would never refuse anyone spending the night here, especially not two princesses and the son of a god. Come inside and let me hear your story.” The three teenagers followed her inside and told their stories. They then asked Jordana to tell them about the Literary Priestesses.
“Follow me,” she said. Jordana led them into a large room. The walls were lined with massive bookshelves. Women sat at tables, their heads bent over various books.
“The Literary Priestesses are priestesses of Crisella, the goddess of books and learning. We all vow to never marry so that we can dedicate our lives to the spread of knowledge. We are the ones who bind books and our library has a copy of every book in existence. We will be happy to fix your boat.” Phrixe gazed around in awe, and Alethia could tell that her sister loved this place.
Alethia and Phrixe assisted the Literary Priestesses while they waited for their boat to be fixed. After they had been at the Library Temple for a week, the boat was repaired and ready for the journey to the castle. The three teenagers went on board the boat and sailed until they reached the palace.
The palace of Comanthia was large and elaborate, unlike anything Alethia had ever seen. She, Tristan, and Phrixe walked down the hall to where the king and queen sat. Viklucia was there too, and upon seeing Alethia she instantly recognized her. Viklucia darted out of the palace, never to be seen again. Upon seeing Phrixe, the king and queen ran to greet her.
“What happened? Who are you?” asked Queen Maraea.
“I am your daughter Alethia, the one you believed to be dead, and this is Tristan, the son of Geordas. When we were born, Viklucia liked Phrixe better and wanted her to become queen. So I was sent to the human world. But the gods commissioned me to save Phrixe. When Viklucia recognized me she became shocked and angry, because she thought she would never see me again.”
The King and Queen marveled at this news. Then the queen asked,
“Are you really Alethia? Stand near Phrixe.” Alethia obeyed, and the two girls’ faces looked so similar that the queen gasped, “It’s true, you are my daughter. I’m so happy to have both of you back.” King Ugner then said,
“I am likewise very glad that you are both safe and well. However, this does cause a problem. If Alethia is the older twin, then she, not Phrixe, is the heir to the throne. Phrixe, I know you always expected to become queen. What do you have to say about this?”
“Actually,” Phrixe began, “On the way home from our journey, our boat was damaged and we stayed with the Literary Priestesses while they repaired it. I loved it there and I have decided that I want to take my vows as a Literary Priestess. I am confident that Alethia will be a better ruler than I could ever be.” The King and Queen were surprised by this, but they were glad that Phrixe wasn’t jealous of Alethia. That night there was great rejoicing in all of Comanthia, and the King and Queen held a magnificent feast. Tristan and Alethia eventually married, and they ruled Comanthia wisely and nobly.