The mirror broke all over the stone floor. The sound of breaking glass resounded through my room. I stared at the broken shards. I'd thrown it in a rage, but was now wishing feverishly I'd thrown something else.
"You just proved my point, young lady."
I blushed. My mother was set on teaching me to be "ladylike". I didn't care, and I certainly didn't want to be sent away to learn such things as dancing and manners.
"But Mama, I don't want to go to school! I refuse."
I was the daughter of a duchess and a duke. I lived with my family in the castle of his Majesty King Julian and her Majesty Queen Winifred. They had four sons and three daughters. I was 13 and had no siblings. My best friend was the third prince, Martin. My parents were good friends with their Majesties, part of the reason they enjoyed such titles as Duke and Duchess.
"Give me one reason I shouldn't send you right this moment. It had better be good after you threw that mirror." My mother was a terror. I looked at her towering form and hoped to the skies that I knew her weak spots well enough.
"Well, Mama, I won't be with you and I might get homesick and Papa might miss me... I'll try so hard not to be clumsy or get angry, I just don't want to leave Papa! He'll miss me..." I trailed off sobbing. I practised this daily. I knew how to sob on cue and how to look miserable. I was a master at acting and would have loved to be in a play but my mother always threw a fit if I mentioned anything as "vulgar" as playacting.
My mother's brow creased. If there was one thing that got through to her, it was anything about Papa.
"Fine, I will reconsider."
I congratulated myself silently. I had a secret reason to want to stay. Certainly, I didn't want to leave my home and what friends I had, but in all truthfulness, a lot of my wanting to stay had to do with the map in my pocket. I'd found it tucked between the pages of an ancient tome in the library and it appeared to be of the castle. I'd arranged to meet with Martin that night.
At midnight Martin and I were in the garden under a peach tree. Martin had a lantern. We opened the map and studied it.
"It's definitely the castle and grounds," Martin exclaimed. "But as you thought, there are some markings on the map that don't exist today. I wonder if they are secret passages?" He ruffled my hair and I ducked away from his hand. "You're pretty smart for a thirteen year old."
"Excuse me? You're only a year older than me!"
We arranged to meet the next morning to explore, then headed back to our rooms.