Thanks for stopping by the Excerpt page. I’ve posted chapters 1 and 2 in their entirety and a little teaser scene from Chapter 4. Please enjoy! And, if at anytime you feel you MUST read the rest, just click here to buy!

Chapter 1

Gone with the Winds of Change

 

It was the most perfect day you could imagine in the Kingdom

of Love. The sky was blue, the grass was green, and the people

moved about with absolute joy, as if each task they tended to

was the most important task of the day. Not to imply this was

anything unusual, for truth be told, that’s just how it was here.

But on this day in particular, there was such electricity in the air

that the entire kingdom was positively buzzing in anticipation of

the following day’s main event: the wedding of Prince Dignity

and Princess Grace, which would, of course, make them king

and queen.

 

Inside the magnificent Chapel of Love in Commitment

City, workers bustled about, setting up decorations. They

worked together with the utmost efficiency and cooperation,

each completely in sync with the other. As they placed flowers

here and candles there, their conversation inevitably turned to

the subject of Princess Grace, whom Prince Dignity had been

keeping a secret for quite some time now.

 

“I hear she comes from the enchanting Celestial Mountains,”

said the chandler.

“I hear she speaks nine languages!” added the silversmith.

“I hear she is not a real princess!” the florist commented.

And truthfully speaking, she was not actually descended from

royalty. It was her work as Ambassador of Goodness that had

inspired the King of Joy, Prince Dignity’s late father, to honor her

with the crown title of princess.

“And when she and Prince Dignity met at the ceremony,” the

silversmith said, “they fell in love at first sight and have been

absolutely inseparable ever since!”

“Hmm,” sighed everyone in unison.

The flower petal inspector gazed up from her tiger lilies.

“Grace and Dignity have what everyone strives for: True Love.”

Her words echoed dreamily throughout the chapel.

“The kind with the capital T and L?” the chandler asked.

“Highest love there is!”

“Hmm,” they sighed again.

 

Breaking their reverie, the Royal Chef popped in to announce

that the menu for the reception was complete at last—a plethora

of his most mouth-watering creations, including the delicious,

delectable, intoxicating Royal Rum Cake.

While the city below swirled with activity, Princess Grace rode

her horse, Bella, through the lush forest. Grace’s silky, chestnut

hair blew softly in the breeze, and her eyes were clear and full of

life. When the horse hesitated at crossing a stream, Grace stroked

her head understandingly.

 

“Oh, cara mia, what’s the matter?”

Bella looked up at her, as if to answer her question.

Now, it must be said that although Grace’s heavenly beauty,

endearing charm, and sincere kindness were among her best

qualities, she also had a rare gift that truly impressed.

“Oh, I see,” she said. “Yes, that was very traumatic the last

time—for both of us. But I’ll bet you three sugar cubes the rocks

in this stream won’t be nearly as slippery.”

Grace had a most uncanny ability to read the thoughts of both

animals and people, though to her it didn’t seem uncanny at all.

It was just who she was, and she accepted all her abilities with

modesty and humility.“Well, we’ve got to get across somehow. It looks like we’ll have to jump.” The horse backed away from the rushing water. “Don’t be afraid, Bella. Come on, I’ll help you.”

 

Grace dismounted and surveyed the situation, gauging the

distance across the stream. There was something about the way

she carried herself; every move she made was naturally graceful

and precise. It was hard not to be completely captivated by her.

She paced back several yards and looked over at Bella. “Here

feels about right.” Bella nervously stamped the ground, then

looked up at the princess, who smiled at her reassuringly. “Okay,

here we go.”

 

Grace then took a determined run forward and leapt into the air. Bella watched in awe as the princess gracefully sailed across the stream as if in slow motion, like a dancer leaping across the stage in a perfect performance. Having safely reached the other side, she signaled for Bella to follow. But the horse was still hesitant, so Grace repeated the jump, showing her therewas really nothing to it at all. On the third t ime, Bella gathered up the courage and joined her halfway. In graceful unison, they jumped the stream side-by-side. Having finally faced her fear, Bella pranced around happily. “How do you feel now?” Grace asked. Bella shook her mane happily. “Accomplished?” The princess laughed. “I thought you might say that. Let’s do it again.”

 

And it was precisely this magical gift of telepathy that inspired

such wonder and awe amongst the people of the kingdom, for

only a select few possessed these mystical powers. Grace was one.

Her beloved Prince Dignity was another. A truer model of honesty and integrity, there never was. That is to say, Prince Dignity lived up to his name. He was handsome, resourceful, and adventurous, but also incredibly kind and compassionate. Good qualities in a prince, they say. Dignity was endlessly generous and would give the royal shirt off his back to someone in need without hesitation. Factor in his genuine

charm and gentle humor, and it was practically impossible not

to like him.

 

While Grace coached Bella on one side of the stream, the

prince and his horse, Firefly, stood on the opposite side, taking a

break from archery practice to watch this unusual spectacle with

amusement and affection. Then, as Grace and Bella jumped the

stream again, he laughed and turned back to what he was doing.

Taking an arrow out of his quiver, he carefully sized up a small

target pinned on a faraway tree. As he focused intently on the

target, his hazel eyes turned a deep emerald green.

 

Now, it is worth noting here that while the prince humbly

dismissed his good looks as ordinary, he could hardly do the same

when it came to his eyes, for hazel really did not do them justice.

They were truly unlike anything ever documented—the emerald

greens of the forest in springtime, swirled with the aqua blues of

the sea a half-mile offshore, and flecked with the rich golds of

the desert at sunset. Depending on his mood, they would change

from one color to the next, as if they encompassed the entire

spectrum of colors and range of emotions all at once. Looking

into his eyes always made Grace feel alive and adventurous, yet

safe and protected. It was quite a marvelous combination. But in

addition to this unique feature and his very princely qualities, he,

like Grace, also had a most extraordinary magical gift.

 

Still focused intently on his faraway target, Dignity closed his

eyes. Steadying his bow, he gently released his fingers and let

the arrow fly. Whoosh! It sailed through the air as if on a precise

mission, not to be swayed by any distraction. Thump! He opened

his eyes and smiled to see he had hit the bull’s-eye spot-on, as

usual. Then, as if it was a perfectly natural thing to do, he reached

out his hand and summoned the arrow. It wiggled and wavered

again and again, then finally broke loose, flying effortlessly back

into his waiting hand.

 

“I wish I knew how you did that!” Grace said, walking up with

a smile. His telekinetic abilities were a complete mystery to her,

as they were to most everyone else. “Well, I wish I knew how you did that!” He nodded toward Bella, who was practicing a last stream jump before trotting overto join them. Grace’s powers of the mind baffled  and intriguedthe prince to no end. She laughed. “Just a knack, I guess.”

They were loving, witty, and playful together—a perfect match.

 

Standing hand in hand, they looked down the hill at the

ongoing wedding preparations below.

“Te amo, mi amor,” she said.

“Sorry?” he feigned incomprehension.

“Je t’aime.”

“Didn’t catch that.”

“Ich liebe dich.”

He shrugged. “Nope, still not getting it.”

“Ti amo pieu che dei costi del mundo!”

“Gracie, you’re a show off. You know good and well I only

speak Pig Latin.”

“Too bad,” she teased. “I said, ‘I love you more than the

world costs.’”

“Hmm.”

 

While Dignity tried to calculate just how many

trillions that might be, Bella began nibbling on the arrows in his

quiver. “Whoa, Bella! The snacks are over here!”

As he fed both the horses some apples from his bag, Grace

admired the fine craftsmanship of the arrows. “These are the ones

your father gave you?”

“Yes,”—Dignity sighed—“right before he died. And my

grandfather gave them to him. They’ve been in the family

for centuries.”

Grace ran her fingers over the ornate carvings. “They’re

exquisitely crafted.”

“And apparently pretty tasty!” Dignity quipped, stroking

Bella’s nose. “Come on, I want to show you something.”

 

They mounted up, and Grace followed Dignity up to Harmony

Hill. The sight at the top took her breath away. Before her lay a

stunning golden ark, studded with colorful, gleaming gems. In

the warm rays of the setting sun, it seemed to radiate a powerful,

loving energy.

“It’s beautiful. What does it hold?”

“The kingdom’s most precious treasure,” Dignity answered

with pride.

Grace moved in to get a closer look and noticed some unusual

lettering engraved on the top:  

 

ark ʌv ðə seikrɪd skrolz

 

It was written in Ipa, an ancient language not used in the

Kingdom of Love for over a century. If not for its use in royal

documents, or by scholars of language and linguistics such as

Grace, Ipa might have been all but forgotten.

“Ark of the Sacred Scrolls,” she translated.

“They’re the ancient documents revealing the divine laws of

the Kingdom of Love.” Dignity’s eyes shone a brilliant gold as

he said it.

Behind a crystal window, Grace could see the deep cherry

wood of the scrolls loosely wrapped in cream-colored silk and

embroidered with gold lettering:  

 

ðə goldņ rulz

 

“The Golden Rules,” she translated again.

“Do unto others as you would have done unto you,”

Dignity recited reverently. “Honesty, integrity, generosity, and

compassion—the guiding principles of love that everyone is

asked to follow in order to live in peace and harmony.”And that they most certainly did. The good people of this land

have thrived for many centuries by upholding these very principles

with the utmost joy and respect. And thus, the Kingdom of Love

had come to be known as a place of profound goodness. But,

unbeknownst to anyone, life as they knew it was about to change.

 

As the sun bid the world adieu, Princess Grace and Prince

Dignity kissed for the last time before the wedding. She watched

as his eyes ran the range of blues, greens, browns, and golds,

reflecting all his deepest emotions. Finally, they settled upon

an honorable shade of royal blue that was as radiant as the

aquamarine gems dotting the ark’s surface.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said. Grace squeezed his hand and

mounted her horse.

“Hey, Dig,”—she winked—“Ove-lay ou-yay!”

“Now that one I understood.” As Grace rode away atop Bella,

Dignity’s voice echoed through the trees, “I love you, too!”

And as she disappeared down the hill and into the forest, the

chilling and ominous Winds of Change began to blow.

Chapter 2

The Jewel of Denial

 

Finally, the joyous day has come. Big Ben the Biological Clock

chimes cheerfully in the distance as the growing crowd in

Commitment City awaits the commencement of the ceremony.

Curiously, it’s a half-hour past schedule, and people are beginning

to wonder what’s going on.

 

“Something ain’t right here,” grumbles DQ, who runs the

Royal Theater. “I can sense it.” And if DQ senses it, it must be so,

for he’s highly tuned in to these things. A tall, black man with

intense dark eyes, DQ is a natural leader and a loyal, protective

friend. His powerful sense of right and wrong causes liars and

cowards to shrink under his intensity, but those who know him

best know he’s really just a giant roasted marshmallow—crusty

on the outside but soft and mushy in the middle. Secretly, many

envy DQ’s most exceptional quality of all: his infallible intuition,

which he follows without question. And on this particular day,

DQ’s intuition is in overdrive.

 

“What do you think is happening? Do you think Grace is

having trouble with her dress? Do you think there’s a problem

with the decorations? Do you think they ran into some delays on

the road? What do you think, DQ?”

That’s Opinion-Poll Patti, DQ’s most reliable aide. With

bouncy, black hair and trusting baby-blue eyes, she’s ever so

sweet, and her steadfast willingness to help is both charming

and admirable. But unlike DQ, she lacks a certain amount of

confidence and hasn’t yet learned to trust her own instincts.

“I don’t know, Patti, but I don’t like it. Something doesn’t feel

right.” DQ looks around. “And where’s George?” Then he spots

him. At the edge of the crowd, the well-meaning but not-alwaysthere

Clueless George is deeply involved in chasing a butterfly,

wholly unaware that anything out of the ordinary is taking place.

 

A short distance away, the Castle of Dreams stands majestic.(something like this…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(…or this)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is classy, elegant, and unpretentious—just right. Encircling the

castle is a moat of the clearest, bluest water you ever did see, and

on this day, the fish are actually jumping out of the water with

excitement. Until, that is, the Royal Sage rides across the bridge

and disappears through the gates. As right-hand man to Prince

Dignity, the sage is a well-groomed, articulate man who proudly

carries out his royal duties to the very letter of Royal Law.In the most elegant of all the castle chambers, Grace stands before

an ornate mirror dressed for a wedding to top all weddings. She

is truly a vision to behold, and her image reflects the utmost joy

and contentment. As she pins a stray strand of hair, a knock on

the door startles her.

 

“Come in!” she calls out, and the Royal Sage enters. As sage,

it is often his duty to deliver very important news, good or bad.

When Grace sees that his face does not match her mood, her

smile fades away. Tears well up in her eyes and trail down her

cheeks, and she flees the chamber in distress.

Meanwhile, at the Chapel of Love, the crowd is growing

restless, and DQ’s intuitions are getting stronger.

“Somethin’ ain’t right here. I know it.”

Having arrived unseen, the Royal Sage unexpectedly appears

before the crowd, looking terribly out of sorts. He takes a moment

to compose himself then begins, “Ladies and gentlemen! You

have gathered together today to witness a joyous event: the

wedding of Prince Dignity and Princess Grace, their crowning as

the new king and queen, and hence, the beginning of a new reign

in the Kingdom of Love. Sadly, this momentous event will not be

taking place today.”

 

A murmur of concern ripples through the crowd.

“Rather, it is with deepest sorrow that I must deliver this

somber news in its stead.” A deathly hush falls over the crowd.

“This morning, a terrible discovery was made. Prince Dignity was

found in the forest. It seems he has been…murdered.”

A collective gasp from the crowd reverberates through the air.

“Identifiable only by his uniform, the prince’s body has

reportedly been left…unrecognizable.” The crowd recoils. “Rest

assured,” his voice rises over the hubbub, “there will be a full

investigation into this grave matter as soon as possible. Thank

you.” The Royal Sage straightens his already impeccable jacket

and leaves quickly.

 

DQ’s wheels immediately start spinning. Opinion-Poll Patti

makes the rounds, asking everyone what they think might’ve

happened, and Clueless George, bless his heart, asks when the

wedding is going to begin because he’s getting awfully hungry.

The gravity of this news instills the people with a terrible fear,

for as it bears repeating, the Kingdom of Love is a place of profound

goodness. There is no murder here. No evil. And who could do

such a thing, especially to the most respected and admired man in

the kingdom? No, no, it is much too much to fathom.A few days later, a large crowd attends Prince Dignity’s funeral.

Everyone is still very much in shock. Considering the apparent

gruesomeness of the murder, citizens of the kingdom pay their

respects to royal ashes instead of the traditional casket.

Passing by the princely urn, a little girl frowns. “Mommy,

how did they fit Prince Dignity into that little vase?” At this, her

mother bursts into distraught sobs.

 

“Oh this is terrible, just terrible! What horrible person did this?”

The girl takes her hand, “Don’t worry, Mommy, everything

will be okay.”

“Stay close to me!” The mother grabs her daughter protectively,

lest the murderer be lurking nearby. Others in the crowd echo

the woman’s sentiments. They simply cannot believe what has

happened. And as for Princess Grace, the spark of life has drained

from her so completely it’s as if she has lost her very soul.

Several days after that, the Royal Sage appears before the

crowd in Time Square to make another shocking announcement.

It seems that following the funeral, Princess Grace was so

stricken with grief that she fled back to her home in the Celestial

Mountains and, reportedly, died of a broken heart the very

next day.

 

“The Kingdom of Love has suffered two tremendous losses in

a week’s time,” the sage recites somberly. He bows his head. “Let

us have a moment of silence for our would-be queen, Princess

Grace.” Overwhelmed with sadness and despair, the people

mourn the loss of a princess they will never have a chance to

know. “Additionally,” says the sage, composing himself, “this

terrible turn of events has left the kingdom without leadership

of any kind. Mercifully, a remedy to this dilemma has presented

itself in a timely manner.”

The crowd perks up. DQ’s eyes narrow.

This “remedy” takes the form of Prince Dignity’s cousin,

Prince Denial, whose ego is decidedly out of proportion with his

accomplishments, and whose impression of himself never fails to

surpass anyone else’s impression of him. With shallow blue eyes,

a near-constant smirk, and hair that on its best day resembles

a scarecrow’s, Denial often evokes such descriptions as smarmy,

egotistical, and narcissistic.

 

The Royal Sage informs the crowd that Prince Denial has

offered to act as interim leader while Prince Dignity’s murder is

being investigated.

“What!” DQ shouts in a whisper, if such a thing is possible.Prince Denial strides up to the podium and waves to the

crowd. “My people!” His eyes glaze over as he basks in the

limelight just a tiny bit longer than necessary. “I promise you we

will find out who did this to my beloved cousin. In the meantime,

I will be presiding over any and all important matters pertainin’

to the Kingdom of…Love.” That last word seems to stick everso-

slightly in the back of his throat.

 

At this point, despair turns to shock. Fear and panic set in,

and the people are utterly horrified! They’ve heard the stories

about Prince Denial, and they do not like this one bit, especially

DQ. Always well-informed, he shouts out from the crowd,

disregarding Denial completely.

“With all due respect, Your Royal Sage, it takes a king and

a queen to govern the Kingdom of Love! And Prince Denial

is not married.” Which is no big surprise, really. “So, why don’t

we just hold elections?” The Royal Sage reminds DQ and the

murmuring crowd that this is only a temporary situation until

the murder is solved and a new leader can be duly chosen. While

this reassurance may appease some people, it most certainly does

not appease DQ.

 

“Something is definitely not right here!”Evening falls, and the Castle of Dreams seems somehow sad.

Prince Denial, however, is unnaturally excited. As the Royal Sage

gives him a tour of the castle, Denial rattles off the list of changes

he wants to make, starting with the castle itself. Taking copious

notes on his ever-present notepad, the Royal Sage can barely

keep up.

“You know, Sage, this is a great old castle, but…”—the prince

shudders a bit—“it’s a bit cheerful in here, don’t you think?”

The Royal Sage scans the exquisite décor.

“I mean, all this color everywhere… I don’t know, it makes me

kinda antsy.”

“Antsy?” The sage raises an eyebrow.

“Do you think we could tone it down a bit?”

“Uh…certainly. Of course,” the sage agrees. “Whatever will

make your stay here more comfortable.”

“Great, that’s great. And speaking of comfortable, I hate to

say it, but I’m not really comfortable with the name of this place.”

The Royal Sage raises the other eyebrow. “The Castle of Dreams?”

Denial shudders at the spoken words. “It just doesn’t make for

a good night’s sleep, ya know what I mean?” Both of the sage’s

eyebrows drop to a perplexed frown.

 

Denial continues, “What if—temporarily, of course—what if we call it something like, say, the Castle of Doom?”

Ghastliness! A chill ripples through the sage’s body. “The

Castle of Doom?”

“Yeah! Doesn’t that sound better?” Denial pauses wistfully.

“Makes me think of my childhood years in the Land of Fear. The

church windows we used to break, the snakes we put in the girls’

lunch bags, the dragon fights we used to—hey!” He spins around.

“You guys have dragons here, don’t you?”

“Dragons?” The sage is momentarily struck mute. “Uh, no,

we certainly—”

“Ah, that’s too bad,” Denial interrupts. “You ain’t seen nothin’

till you’ve seen a good dragon fight, know what I mean?”

Egads. “I can’t say that I do, Sire.”

 

Denial resumes walking. “Also, Sage, I was thinking, there are

probably going to be some very important decisions that’ll have

to be made—just here and there, of course.”

“Yes?” Where is he going with this one?

“And considering that we’ll be investigating my cousin’s

murder, it’s probably best that we keep some things secret from

the people. For their own protection, of course.”

“What do you suggest?” the Royal Sage carefully asks.

“Well, now, I can’t have all the answers! That’s what I have you

for!” Prince Denial cheerfully slaps him on the back.

 

Now, although the Royal Sage doesn’t particularly care for the

pompous prince, the duties of his position require him to assist

whoever happens to be in power. And he always does his job to

the best of his abilities. As such, he thoughtfully considers the

challenge before him.

“In some kingdoms, confidential royal business is often

conducted in another language. Typically, Latin.”

“Latin…” Denial looks at him for a long moment. “You know,

Sage, my Latin is a bit… rusty.” Rusty is putting it mildly. Truth

be told, Denial’s proficiency in Latin, or any other language for

that matter, is more like slim-to-none, heavy on the none. “What

else you got?”

“Well,” says the sage carefully, “there is an easier alternative.”

“Great! What’s that?”

“Pig Latin!” says the sage brightly, but Denial can’t quite place

it. The sage demonstrates, “You know, ig-pay atin-lay?”

Denial stares at him blankly. “What?”

The sage explains, “You simply take the first sound off the

front, tack it on the end, and add an ‘ay’ sound.”

Denial tries it. “Pig-ay Latin-ay.”

“No, ig-Pay atin-Lay.”

“Pig-pay Latin-lay.”

“No, ig-Pay… Oh, don’t worry. You’ll catch on soon enough.”

 

He turns to take his leave when the prince assaults him with one

last thing.

“Hey Sage, you know that guy in the crowd today?”

“DQ?”

“Sure, whatever. Is that true what he said? About it taking a

king and a queen to rule here?”

Well, it most certainly is, and the sage states as much. “The

Kingdom of Love prides itself on always having the male and

female perspectives on issues of the utmost importance. And we

prefer to say ‘govern.’”

“Right,” says the prince absentmindedly. Such semantic

niceties are beyond his grasp as he considers a much more directly

relevant issue. He slaps a resolute hand on his aide’s shoulder.

“Sage, I think I’m going to need a little female perspective

around here.”

At this point, it becomes quite clear that Prince Denial’s

plans are a bit more long-term than the title “interim ruler”

would suggest.

———————-

In Chapter 3 Amazing Grace things get interesting as Grace is found alive months later in a tiny boat with a gap in her memory, a loss of her mystical powers, and a mysterious Pig Latin note suggesting Prince Dignity is very much alive.  This is how I picture that tiny boat…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and here’s a tiny teaser from:

 

Chapter 4

A Wretch Like Me

 

At dawn’s early light, Grace awakens to find herself on an

unfamiliar couch in an unfamiliar house. And on the table next

to her lies a decidedly unfamiliar wig. She frowns, perplexed. On

the wall in front of her is a giant, copper X with a cluster of

colored stones in the center.

There are crystals hanging in the windows, broadcasting an

array of refracted colors, and around the room lie several large

chunks of amethyst in all shapes and sizes. Lit by candlelight,

they lend a mysterious glow to the room. Lining the shelves are

numerous glass bottles filled with various liquids and powders.

On a table, strange contraptions made of copper coils appear to

illuminate mysterious, exotic crystals.

Nearby, lights buzz and pulse from a small box connected to

what looks to be a pile of paper, powder, colored glass trays, and

small stones. And a bulb attached to a chair emits a faint current

that makes it buzz and glow. In fact, everything in the place seems

to buzz and glow.

 

On the floor beneath her, Princess Grace notices a pile of

newspapers. The Daily Rumor Mill? Sitting up to survey her

surroundings more closely, Grace becomes highly aware of a

nasty bump on her head.

“Where am I?” she asks of no one in particular.

She’s different now. Hunched shoulders, meek voice, and sad,

dull eyes belie the radiant beauty that is her true self.

“Princess Grace,” Milo says respectfully, “I’m Miracle Milo.

You’re in my home.”

“Pleased to meet you,” she says mechanically. “How did I

get here?”

Milo explains, “You were found last night, half-conscious, in a

small boat on the Sea of Abandonment.”

A look of sheer puzzlement crosses her face. “The Sea of

Abandonment?”

“Uh, formerly the Sea of Plenty,” Milo clarifies.

“Oh. What was I doing out there?”

“We were kinda hoping you could tell us that,” DQ says,

entering from the kitchen. She looks at him blankly, and he stops

in his tracks. “Princess Grace, hi. Do you remember me?” It takes

a few moments, but recognition does set in.

“DQ, of course I remember you.”

He breathes a huge sigh of relief. “Oh, thank goodness!”

 

Milo and DQ then immediately launch a barrage of questions:

Why was she floating on the sea? Where was she coming from?

Where has she been for eleven months? How is it that she’s alive

at all? And why is she dressed like that?

She looks down at her tattered dress, suddenly aware of it for

the first time.

“I don’t know. I don’t remember a thing,” she says sorrowfully.

“Not one thing.”

Milo and DQ exchange concerned looks then Milo ventures a

different line of questioning.

“What’s the very last thing you can remember?”

The princess’s gaze wanders toward the window as she thinks.

Soon, a memory comes, followed by a tear.

“My wedding day. Being told Dig—Prince Dignity—was dead.”

DQ shows her the Pig Latin note. “Princess Grace, you had

this in your pocket when we found you.”

She reads the smudged writing and looks at them hopefully.

“This is in Dig’s handwriting! I don’t understand. Is he alive?”

“We don’t know,” says DQ, “but who else could’ve written that?”

Grace stares blankly at the note, willing it to yield more

information. “Why can’t I remember anything? Why can’t I

remember what happened to me? Or how Dig could be alive?”

 

Milo contemplates the conundrum. “Might I suggest the

Garden of Revelations?”

Both Grace and DQ perk up. “What’s the Garden of

Revelations?” Grace asks.

“It’s one of the few places still intact, for one thing,” Milo says.

“Its main functions are to keep and reveal secrets.”

“I don’t understand,” says Grace, glancing at DQ.

Milo proceeds to explain, “Well, in the garden, you can confess

a secret, and you can also ask that a secret be revealed to you if

there’s something you need to know. But the garden is discerning.

It will only reveal the secret if it serves your highest good to know

it. Perhaps it will help you recover your memory.”

Grace ponders the idea. “Is there somewhere I can clean up?”

“Of course, Your Highness. Second door on your left.” Milo

points down the hall.

“Thanks. And please, call me Grace.”

————————

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