Prologue.Mature

Skyros is a tiny forgotten island off the coast of Greece, an island that has been at peace for fifteen years. Now its rulers, Prince Kolkos and Princess Melaka, must face the increasing unrest on the island and take action before the young men of the island plunge them back into war with Greece.

******Most names and places are entirely fictional. Any relation to real people and places is entirely coincidental and no offence is intended.******

Waves and sand, ice on the shore. Trees clinging to sheer cliff faces, their puny roots hanging on for survival. Birds fly above the canopy of the trees, wings spread to catch the currents that help them glide. On the shore, children walk quickly from the school to the pier where there’s a boat waiting to take them back to our island home.

We live on Skyros, a tiny forgotten island near Greece. The annals of history don’t remember our minute home, but we do. Our royal house is slowly dying out, but our current ruler is fair and just. His name is Prince Kolkos and he has ruled us for fourteen years. My mother nursed him as a child, and my brother was his playmate. Now I, Melaka, am his wife and his Princess.

The rule of our home is usually divided between us, with Kolkos running the military, schools, farms and land. I take care of everything else, and so far it is all running smoothly. We rarely disagree but, when we do, we have a Committee set up to help us decide. Some of the men are an invaluable asset to our country, but lately more and more young men are trying to steer us towards war with Greece.

Kolkos worries that our young men are spoiling for any kind of fight, and his fears are fast becoming justified. Already there have been fights on the mainland between us and the Greeks, and every day more and more reports and letters pile onto our desks demanding that we do something. We have done all we can, but we are rapidly running out of options. If our men and boys won’t listen to us, who will they listen to?

My daughter Melina is also worrying, but her concerns are far more personal. She is nearly fourteen, and of marriageable age, and worries that I will marry her off to a fat old lord who cares for nothing but hunting and heirs. Despite our numerous talks on the matter, she is still young and has childish worries. Even so, she is nearly an adult and must begin to make adult decisions, even if it means she is taken to another man’s home. Kolkos has promised her that she won’t be married off just yet, but that she will be someone’s wife by the time she is eighteen.

Today, my husband came to see me with a long letter in his hand. He told me that it was from the mainland, saying that one of our young men had killed a senior judge in the town of Kymi, the nearest town to our island home. In the letter, the man is said to have cut off the judge’s head and then displayed it on the coast facing our island. The man is named as Krator Castellanos, a name that is only too familiar to me.

Fifteen years ago, his father Alexander was killed in the last stages of our war with Greece, and he has always wanted revenge on the man whom he holds responsible. His wife, Andromeda, is heavily pregnant with their first baby and is currently living with us in the palace whilst she awaits the birth. It has become common practice for pregnant women to stay in the palace before they give birth, as we have the best doctors, nurses and midwives in Skyros at the palace. We even have a nursery for the newborn babies to stay in whilst their mothers recover from the pain of labour.

I sit down at my desk and begin to draft a letter to Krator in which I summon him to the palace to answer for his actions. My heart is heavy as I write because I know that if he doesn’t answer his summons, he will not only be admitting his guilt but he will also be arrested and executed for treason against mainland Greece and for attempting to disturb the peace. I seal the letter and hand it to a servant to deliver, and then I sit back and wait. All I can do now is hope that Krator answers the summons and has a good excuse for his actions, because the alternative is more than I can bear.

The End

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