calm sea during golden hour



Chapter Five of my book Siren Song. If you want to see this published, please send me an email at The support would be appreciated!


Dihaan Khan

7/18/20237 min read

Chapter Five

The Third Sibling

“Do I have to dress up again in a gown and whatnot?” Vienna said, with some level of annoyance. At home, whatever occasion it was, she had never had cause to wear full-length gowns and strapped stilettos which you tripped over. Jeans and a top/ hoodie were more her forte.

“Well, I guess.” Lysistrata replied. “I’m not into them, I think they’re too puffed up. But that’s British, I think. I haven’t been out in Terra since I was 7, and I didn’t see much of it even then.”

Vienna found that statement quite curious, but thought it would be better not to meddle.

“I’ll be out here, you can pick your own dress if you like.” Lysistrata said. She seemed quite comfortable in that beanbag with a book in hand (Danika Hahn’s The Shifting Sands of Melbourne), her legs dangling and her front hair all messy, so Vienna let her be and once more allowed herself to be lost in the closet’s allure.

In the end, she decided on a dark wine-colored ball gown, smooth velvet and quite plain but gorgeous in its spread, with a princess neckline and a fitted waist. See:

Loyal to her love of silver jewellery, she put on a silver locket with a stunning diamond pendant, a silver ankle bracelet and a bracelet with a sapphire in the middle.

Lysistrata helped her coif her hair into that magnificent do called half-up princess hairstyle, and applied the slightest bit of makeup on with amusingly expert hands- powder, mascara, highlighter, light rouge and gloss. Rose appeared with apologies and a very long and very amusing explanation of what the Prince had asked of Rose about his hunting expeditions. Together, Lyss and Rose waited until Vienna had her silver stiletto platforms on and oohed and aahed when she finally stood up.

“Very pretty!” said Lyss.

“Lovely!” said Rose.

“Danke, danke.” Vienna laughed, curtseying again.

“Phraseology like that is inimitable from anyone other than you.” Said Rose, and laughed for a long time, Vienna joining in, at first reluctantly and then naturally.

“Oh, dinner gloves!” Lyss said and passed Vienna a pair. She slid them on, wincing. She disliked gloves- they felt like rubber but smoother. Stretching her fingers and clenching them into fists to check how they felt, she stepped over to a mirror to check herself out too, pursing her lips and scrutinizing herself carefully. Lysistrata and Rose waited for her judgment apprehensively.

“This’ll do.” Said Vienna finally and smiled, adjusting her hair in the mirror. She thought her hair set off the dark red perfectly, but she couldn’t be sure.

It was time for the Royal Dinner.

Well, first, she had to wait in her room as Lyss and Rose themselves dressed up for the Dinner. Apparently, it was Rose’s first time dining with the Royals, and Lyss always dressed up first, because in her own words, “it’s like I’m five again, because I feel like dressing up in dresses all the time.”

Once they were done (Rose had merely switched out her navy cloak for a royal blue one, and perhaps applied some rouge to her cheeks? Vienna couldn’t be sure. Lyss, meanwhile, had donned a pale pink Tuscany dress and stuck her Blue Badge to her front), they steered Vienna in all her finery through the corridors until she tired of walking and then stopped outside a magnificent ornate mahogany doorway with swinging dark oak double doors.

“Stay calm, alright, kid?” Rose asked.

“Of course I will.” Demaya said unemotionally.

“And make sure to use those fancy words you like to use.” Lyss said.

“Of course I will.” Demaya said again. Her vocabulary seemed to be frozen like her- eating in public was not one of her fortes, her mother had always told her that she ate like she didn’t enjoy the food (which was rare- she was a foodie), but she thought her table manners were over average- she knew how to use almost every table utensil. But the skill of maintaining conversation while eating- and with a couple of Queens and Princes, dear, that seemed dreadfully terrifuing.

Lysistrata knocked on the door twice, and at once the huge doors swung open, but slowly, slowly, with nary a creak.

“I think I might be a bit nervous.” Vienna spat out.

“It’s just eating, Vy, it’ll be alright.” Lyss said. She and Rose nodded to each other and positioned themselves on each side of Vienna. This time she accepted it silently, and followed them in.

The first thing she noticed was the long, gleaming mahogany dinner table smack in the middle of the room, laden with at least fifty empty gold plates and sets of wax candles in different hues, ranging from silver to golden to copperish red. A huge diamond chandelier, made of cuts of sapphire, emerald and white diamond hung from the tall, tapered ceiling. Crimson carpet covered the entire floor. At the very head of the table, in an antique ornate dinner chair, sat Queen Elswyth in a smoke blue evening gown, her pale, silky hair twisted in a royal updo, with pearls along a braid pinned around her head, and her white-dinner gloved hands intertwined on the table. On the seat left down of her, sat Prince Elliot in his evermore form of aloofness, stared into one of the burning candles (tall, emerald) desolately, his hair gelled but his curtain bangs in his eyes, dressed in a cashmere dress-shirt and navy-blue dress pants. He looked unimportant and away, while his sister looked in control of the situation, ruling it and shaping it to her desire, an indirect Maverick. But now she seemed slightly annoyed at her brother, who took no heed of the directed glances Elswyth shot his way.

“Your Majesty, we have brought Vienna Elwynne Alcestis Hawthorne of the semi-mortals, as directed.” Lysistrata said, and Rose, Vienna and Lyss dove into deep bows.

“Good evening, your Grandeur.” Vienna said, curtseying.

“Good evening to you too, Vienna Alcestis. Please take a seat.” Queen replied, gesturing gracefully at the seat on the right down of her. Lysistrata, your seat. Blue Badge Rose, you too.”

Vienna, after a look from both Rose and Lyss, nervously walked up to the seat and sat down with the utmost care, a Blue Badge pulling it in and then out for her. Such close proximity to the queen made her nervous.

Meanwhile, Lysistrata sat one seat down from Tyler and Rose sat two seats down from Vienna. Elliot sat right across from Vienna, and the Queen, well, was one seat up from her.

“Shall we commence, Vienna Alcestis?” the Queen asked Vienna once she (Vienna) had settled in.

“At your pleasure, your Majesty.” Vienna said. At any rate, it was self-deprecating for her to address Queen Elswyth as “Your Majesty” darn near all the time- as far as she was concerned, she was the only (Queen , Princess, King, Prince) in her universe, but if she wanted her life intact, this was the way to go.

“Very well then. Festum incipiat.” Said Queen Elswyth. At once, all of the fifty golden plates filled with heaps of appetizers, rolls and platters of soup and salads. Vienna, ever a Potterhead, was immediately reminded of Hogwarts.

The Queen noticed Vienna’s awestruck expression and allowed herself a small smile. Elswyth’s curved lips gave her rather an odd look- apparently, she did not smile much.

“Did you think food couldn’t teleport?” she asked Vienna, still with that small smile playing on her pale face. Vienna was evoked of mimes.

“Chef Ethos uses the same Teleportation Token you have in your possession.” Prince Elliot chipped in, grinning esoterically.

Vienna, unaware of what to do with this information, smiled awkwardly.

“Thank you for clearing my Token, Prince Elliot. That was kind of you.” She said.

“You bet.” Replied Elliot, quickly losing interest and reaching for a buttered flower roll, ignoring Vienna, who was at a loss for words at the strange conversation. She shook her head to clear it and looks down at her plate.

The plate was real gold, gleaming and twinkling, catching the bursts of light from the huge diamond chandelier. There were at least five gold utensils on each side, from soup spoon to spork. Though her stomach was gaping already, she looked to see if everyone had started already. Elswyth was patiently cutting away at a cut of smoked salmon. Elliot was spreading cream cheese on his roll, Lysistrata was scooping out an Oyster Rockefeller, and Rose was slicing honey lamb. Vienna then reached for a dish she found widely appealing- creamy garlic shrimp with spaghetti- when a Blue Badge did it for her.

“Oh, thank you.” She said, mildly startled, but the Blue Badge only nodded and slid away. Every time she wanted something, some Guard got it for her. She finishes her shrimp and slowly, they move through the appetizers, then to the main course (which was simply magnificent), and then, midway through dessert, Vienna notices Elswyth staring at her in approval out of the periphery of her eye.

“So, Vienna Alcestis, what are your plans for the future?” the Queen asks as Vienna is polishing off a simply marvelous chocolate mousse cake. She puts down her spoon before replying.

“Well, your Majesty, my mother has already planned my entire life out for me. I’m in Year 9 right now, and I want to get into an Ivy College, and after that, Medical School, preferably Harvard, if I can. After I graduate, I’ll have to become a gynecologist.”

Elswyth looks satisfied, however, Elliot perks up with another question.

“Is that what you want, Vienna Alcestis?”

Elswyth shoots a look at her brother, irked. Always contrary, always saying the opposite of what she wants him to say. One can invariably feel the gaping difference between them, the turbulence.

“Actually, Prince Elliot, growing up, I wanted to be a lot of things. An author, a guitarist, an event designer, a singer. I’m too indecisive to focus on one, and while my mother’s picked me one, why not follow it?” Vienna replied. “I was raised that way, and while it doesn’t seem right, it is what I choose, too.”

“Your life’s yours. No one can dominate it, because they have their own.” Elliot said intensely. “And you should think about yourself.”

“What makes you think I haven’t, Prince Elliot?” Vienna asks.

Prince Elliot nods and looks down at his plate. Elswyth looks at him curiously, and then turns her gaze on Vienna.

“That’s beautiful, Vienna Alcestis. And don’t mind what Elliot says. You remind me of my sister…Eleanora.” Elswyth says rather stiffly, as if it is hard for her to pronounce her sister’s name. “She was just like you, quiet, meritorious, and-”

She isn’t able to finish, because Prince Elliot is up from his chair, swiping his plate off the table, resulting in a rather stifled crashing sound, because of the carpet, but it resonates throughout the hall nevertheless. His grey eyes are darker with anger, almost blazing.

“You seem to have forgotten that our sister is still alive. Using her name doesn’t befit you, so refrain from using it, Queen.”

He turned to leave, but when a Blue Badge interrupted by motioning towards the food shyly, he retorted, “I’ve lost my appetite”, and left in quick, furious strides.