AN: Many thanks to Izzy Daystar (cast as Anata) and Jacob (Otherwise known as my Pale-Horned Prince) without whom I would never have written this. They are my muses.

Please read and review! I wouldn't have posted my origional work if it hadn't been that I want to know what the public thinks of it. The chapters are relatively short, but hopefully they speak to you. Enjoy!

Chapter One

Talking Trees and Boney Ghosts

The sun blared hot on that particular day in mid-June. My sister and I sat on the edge of the fountain in the village centre trying our best to think of ways to keep cool. Not an easy task when you happen to live in South Africa.

Anata's dark skin flushed red from the heat, which was hard to believe, due to how dark she normally was.

"Halina," she said, turning to face me, "we can't just sit here all day."

"I know, Ana, but what CAN we do?" I replied. Anata could see as well as I that not even the palace was in its usual rush. No servants were running between the different parts of the palace grounds on their usual tasks. No advisors were in the courtyard. There was not a single person moving about on the grounds.

"I wonder how the royals keep from dying of boredom in such heat," Anata mused. Our king and queen were rarely seen, but occasionally one might catch a glance of one or the other. It was said that we also had a crown prince named Ilfort, but neither my sister nor our five brothers, nor our three sisters, nor myself, had ever seen him. Supposedly our mother had once before she died, but all she had said was that he was different.

Anata and I were both a year younger than our seemingly-mythical prince.

My twin sister smiled as a light breeze began to blow. It was still hot, but better than nothing. I looked in the direction the breeze came from with the intention of thanking the God of Winds, but was suddenly distracted by something small and white fluttering past my sister. I snatched it out of the air.

It was small, rectangular, light-weight, and completely white save a few black markings like the ones you see on scrolls.

"What's that, Hal?" Anata inquired, snatching it away from my hand.

"No clue, what's it mean?"

"Writing. It's in another language." She began reading it aloud. I had never heard such beautifully flowing sounds before in my life.

When she finished, I asked her how she knew how to say such strange things.

"I'm not sure, Halina. I think Mama spoke it. She called it 'French.' From the looks of this, it's a page from a book."

"Uhm, Ana," I began curiously, "what's a b…" I stopped short as a rather hard heavy object fell on my head and then to the ground.

"Ow! What was th…?" Again I stopped, seeing the look on Anata's face. Disbelief and excitement contorted her features.

"H… Halina…" she said shakily, "Th… that's a… a…"

"A what, Ana?"

"A book."

I looked at her puzzled. So this rock-like object was a book. I asked my sister, "Do they normally grow on trees?"

"Actually," said the tree the thing had fallen out of, "only the pages come from trees."

"HOLY! Ana, did that tree just SPEAK?"

"There are no talking trees here," said the voice from the tree again. "I was the one who spoke to you."

I looked up into the tree again and on the lowest branch there now sat a boy. He was pale as a sheet and had pure white hair that stuck up like a horn. I felt my eyes widen.

"GHOST!" I shrieked and ducked behind my sister, falling to the ground.

"No ghosts here, I'm afraid," he said, jumping nimbly from the branch to land softly in front of Anata. "My name is Ilfort Grantz." He politely extended his hand to help me up and as he did so, I heard my sister gasp.

Our moment with the polite stranger, Ilfort, was cut short when an angry voice drifted over the high wall.

"Prince Ilfort! Young prince! Where has the boy gotten to this time? Your Highness!"

Ilfort looked sadly towards us and said, "I'm afraid I must go. It was a pleasure meeting you both, and I hope to see you soon." With that, he climbed into the tree and jumped over the wall, leaving his book behind.