I don't care if anyone is making fun or you don't like this. I'm writing this because I like it, and I know there are children 12 and under who read fanfics. This is for them…and my over active imagination.


Cedric, frothing at the mouth at the insult he suffered, locked himself in his lair, magically sealing the lock so anyone who knocked would turn around and leave. He needed to be alone for a moment so he could piece together the interesting news he heard whispering about the castle.

"So that girl is the elder sister of Princess Sofia?" Cedric fumed in irritation to Wormwood, pacing back and forth in his stark lair. "An elder sister with a certificate from sorcery school?" He questioned skeptically, touching his wand under his chin. "Not just anyone can go to sorcery school. Least of all graduate with honors." He emphasized with disgust. "No matter!" He waved a hand. "Let Princess Sofia's…unknown brother come along," Which he wasn't sure she had, "No one will stand in between me, the amulet of Avalor, and my conquest to rule the kingdom!"

Wormwood cawed loudly, disrupting Cedric's rant. "I know, I know, Wormwood. You're bothered by what she said." He muttered heatedly. Lydia heard Wormwood trill under his breath, and said thank you to him as if she understood what he said. It bothered the raven greatly. Sofia was able to understand animals. Wormwood didn't need two animal translators. "But I sincerely doubt she heard you." He said with disgruntled air quotes. "She might have just been acting like a snarky brat. Remarking to the negative ambiance." Wormwood rolled his eyes, but found merit in his master's words. "All though…" Cedric trailed off, sitting on his stool, "I must admit I was intrigued when she returned my challenge. Most fresh out of school are still in training. Greenhorns." He mumbled. "She isn't shy." Wormwood growled in the back of his throat, disturbed by this bit of news. "I can't proceed with my plans if she's going to be a problem." A dark smile slithered onto Cedric's face. "Perhaps you and I should…give the new Princess a proper welcome."


James, Sofia, and Amber wasted no time in giving Lydia a tour around at least half the palace. Giving her an entire tour would make them miss dinner for the next two nights. Not that Lydia was complaining. The numerous restrooms, the four parlors, five studies, two libraries with books on every subject, a dozen bedrooms – Lydia was overwhelmed and exhausted by the fifth hallway they meandered down. This was the most strenuous workout she's gotten all year. All though she found it fun. It allowed her to bond with her new younger sister and brother, as well as reconnect with Sofia after being gone for so long. It was nice.

Amber, as they went along, laid down the general rules of the castle. Breakfast, Lunch, and dinner were served on a schedule – no sooner or later. Mornings began early, nights varied for those around the castle, no commoners were permitted inside the castle unless authorized by the king and queen, pets or any animals were to either be in their owner's room or outside – there was a long list of rules for Lydia to follow. She lost focus by rule number 51. No going outside the palace after dark.

Sofia assured Lydia that all she needed to do was get in the swing of things around the castle. The rules and stuff would click after a while. But Sofia admitted she bent them a little. Which was no surprise to Lydia. Sofia always was one to bend the rules to suit her needs. She was sneaky that way. Lydia had a feeling she was going to have an interesting time at the castle. Especially with Sofia and James. Amber…Lydia didn't need to be psychic to know things would be a little rocky.

"Here you go, Lydia." Sofia opened the sliding doors to her suite. "You can leave your stuff in here."

"Whoa…" Lydia sauntered in, her eyes beaming in awe. The princess suite was the same size as the Sorcery School dormitories. Maybe even bigger. The toys were pristine and carved to perfection, her bed and window seat crafted of silk and fine cotton, the reading nook was a nice touch, and the large pillows seemed as soft as clouds. "You've definitely been living in the lap of luxury while I've been gone." Lydia admired, placing her bags on the trunk at the end of Sofia's bed. "A lot really odes change in a year." She sat on the ledge of the bed. "Amber, James, thank you for looking after Sofia." She said with a bow.

"No big deal." James assured her with a warm smile. "We love having her here. She's loads of fun." Sofia flipped a part of her hair back bashfully. Lydia smiled warmly, elated to see her sister smiling so happily. How I've missed that smile.

"So Lydia," Amber spoke up, whisking her red fan open, "Where exactly have you been all this time?" She asked sternly. A small glare twinkled in her eye. "Surely it was something really important to keep you away from your sister for such a long period."

Lydia laughed nervously, scratching the back of her head. For some reason she felt as if she was being interrogated. "I guess you could call it important." She replied with a hint of doubt in her tone. "I've been away at Sorcery School for the last year." Lydia explained.

"Sorcery School?" James gaped. "You're a sorceress?"

"Sorceress in Training." Lydia corrected him, not wanting to be overestimated. "There are many trials I must pass before I'm considered a true sorceress."

"Lydia's been going to Sorcery School for the last seven years." Sofia intervened. "She leaves at the beginning of autumn, but always returns at the beginning of summer."

Amber snapped her fan closed, sneering her lip in disgust. "Does that mean she'll be leaving again by summer's end?" Sofia suddenly swallowed a nervous lump. She held her hands to her heart, feeling it ready to rip in sadness. After seven years she thought she'd be used to Lydia leaving by now.

Like Cedric, Lydia was a bonafide spellcaster. Her magic is raw, natural talent that she was born with and could draw on without use of a wand. As such, Lydia was required to attend Sorcery School to ensure she developed and maintained control over her powers. Horrible accidents of the worst caliber happen because young magicians do not possess the proper discipline or get too carried away.

Lydia was 11 years older than Sofia. In that sense, Lydia was 11 years old when she had to leave home. Ever since Sofia was born, Lydia has been called away to Sorcery School. One would think they would be estranged, or distant. They thought wrong. Lydia would always return home from school during the summer or major holidays, and she would immediately begin spending all of her time with Sofia. They were able to spend hours; weeks with each other until they're so exhausted they collapsed.

When Sofia was a baby, Lydia would return with a new spell she had learned and would perform it. Sofia's little eyes would be glued to the elegant magic; her smile would warm Lydia's heart. As Sofia got older, Lydia would bring her a new doll or some sort of gift, showing she never forgot her sister once. They would go to the pond to throw rocks, go shopping, sneak quick trips to the caves, and even climb the mountains and shout "I'M KING OF THE WORLD." Lydia and Sofia were each other's life. Best friends. But the end results were all the same. No matter how close they were, or how much fun they had, Lydia would always be pulled away to Sorcery School for an entire year to complete her lessons.

The two would part in heaps of tears, both unable to stop crying until the next day. Sofia thought this year would be different. But every year it just hurts even worse. So she'll just have to be strong. She'll put on a brave face and smile, and enjoy he sister while she's there.

"Actually, no."

Sofia's heart began to flutter. For a minute she thought she heard wrong. Whipping around, she gaped at Lydia with disbelief, praying a trick wasn't being played. "What'd you say?"

"I said I don't have to go back." Lydia repeated. "That was going to be mine and mom's surprise." Miranda sent Lydia a letter two weeks ago, telling Lydia the wonderful news of Miranda becoming remarried to the King of Enchancia. Lydia wrote back saying she would be home as soon as possible, but not to tell Sofia. It was to be a surprise. But courtesy of the conversation, the surprise had to be given early. "Here…" Lydia shuffled through her satchel, pulling out the certificate Cedric stepped on. "Read this."

James and Amber huddled closely as Sofia took the paper in her hands. It was a certificate with a silver and gold star imbedded in the parchment. Lydia's name was written elegantly.

The Academy of Sorcery and Mysticism

Hereby dubs thee

Honorary Spellcaster – Lydia of Enchancia

For exemplary behavior, adherence to school policies, and high marks in all fields of magic and potion making, Lydia of Enchancia has been awarded the title and privileges of an Honorary Spellcaster of our humble Academy, and is ready to begin her journey to becoming a royal sorceress.

By the authority invested by me as the Head Master of A.S.M, and the unanimous decision by the Council of this Prestigious School, We of A.S.M do hereby present Lydia of Enchancia with this certificate, and do so acknowledge her completion of her lessons in our halls.


Sorceress in Training, Lydia of Enchancia

"REALLY?" Sofia blurted out excitedly, looking from the paper. Amber took the certificate, wanting to review it thoroughly. "You really don't have to go back?" Sofia asked hopefully.

"Nope." Lydia displayed little black book with a red jewel imbedded in the cover. In her suit case there were three other books she was allowed to keep with her. "From this point on my teachers are these books and my only classroom is my home." Lydia rested a hand on Sofia's head, "This home."

"YES!" Sofia threw herself at Lydia, hugging her tightly. "YES! YES! YES!" Amber grunted as she was taken aback by Sofia's unnatural happiness. "I finally have my big sister back." Amber gripped her fan tightly, biting her lip.

Lydia wrapped her arms around Sofia, snuggling her close with no intention of letting her go. "And I have my little sister." She whispered. Amber huffed angrily and turned her back to the hugging pair. Heat rose to her cheeks and eyes. She touched her face to stop it from showing. James, on the other hand, was charmed by their closeness. Seeing Sofia this happy was something he thought he'd never see.

"Whoa." James jumped slightly, feeling something perch on his head. Glancing up, the young prince saw Eezeyal. The Whiskered owl ruffled his feather, trilling animatedly. James arched a brow, wondering what was wrong. When he heard the Owl's stomach, he laughed. "I think Eezeyal is hungry."

"I'll take care of that." Lydia moved her wrist to the owl. Eezeyal shuffled onto the wrist, fluttering his wings when she moved back. Eezeyal hooted and cawed at Lydia fervently. James and Amber found his behavior odd.

Sofia knew what was going on. In fact she heard every word he said. "Just a lil dip in the garden, darl'n! I'm sure the King and Queen won't miss a few seeds or fruit frum their garden." He pleaded to Lydia in a thick, gritty accent. But why was he talking to Lydia as if she could understand him? Though…Lydia nodded and bobbed her head, seeming to understand him. Sofia began to wonder if she could. The Amulet of Avalor allows her to talk to animals. What would allow Lydia to speak to them?

"Do you think Roland would mind if he snacked on some fruit and seeds?" Lydia asked James and Amber.

"Your owl eats fruit?" Amber retorted snidely.

"He's an omnivore. He eats both fruit and meat." She ran the backs of her fingers along his back. "But he has a diet he wants to follow. He's very picky." Amber sneered her nose. She never heard of such a picky owl.

"I'm sure it won't be such a big deal." James assured her. "Dad loves animals. He can have a bowl made up."

"He'll have to eat outside." Amber declared swiftly. "Animals aren't exactly permitted to dine with people." Eezeyal screeched in offense, lunging toward Amber. The blond princess back away in fright. Lydia kept a hand on him, urging him to keep calm.

"Don't be like that Amber." James scolded his sister. "If his table manners are good, I'm sure dad wouldn't mind letting him join us."

"Hmph!" Amber opened her fan, futilely trying to hide the resentment beaming on her face. "Whatever!" She hissed, storming into the foyer hall area.

Lydia raised a confused brow. "Did I do something?" She asked James and Sofia.

"Nah." Sofia waved off. "That's just Amber." She held Lydia by the hand, leading "She just needs to get used to you."

"I think the notion is reciprocal." Lydia giggled. Amber waited impatiently in the hallway, stomping her foot for her siblings and Lydia to hurry up. Eezeyal moved from Lydia's hand to her shoulder, huddling close to her neck. Amber scoffed under her breath, continuing down the hall with the others following. Lydia laughed nervously. "Oh yeah. We're going to take a while." Sofia and James laughed unnervingly, agreeing with her.

Up ahead, Cedric peered from around a corner. Wormwood sat on top of his head. The Sorcerer saw Lydia approaching with her younger brother and sister, talking with Sofia about all the stories she had to tell. A mischievous smirk slithered across his face. Standing straight and fixing himself, Cedric walked into the middle of the hallway and bowed, "Good Evening, your royal highnesses." He announced with a sweep of his hand. Lydia and her young siblings came to an abrupt halt, startled by Cedric. "Miss Lydia," He purred her name malignantly, "So good to see you again, My Dear." He hummed, struggling to hide his contempt.

"Um…" Lydia exchanged a bewildered glance with Eezeyal, "Hello…Cedric?" She said his name with uncertainty. Mostly from wondering if this was the same man she bumped into moments ago.

"Correct, your ladyship." Cedric quickly grasped her hand in his, taking her by surprise. "Might the rumors I'm hearing be true? Are you truly the elder sister of Princess Sofia's?"

"Y-Yes I am." She stammered nervously.

"A princess and a sorceress," He lightly kissed the top of her hand, sending chills of revulsion traveling up her arm, "Color me impressed and delighted." Amber, Sofia, and James surreptitiously groaned in disgust. Wormwood and Eezeyal shared the same oh brother eye roll. "A graduate of honors, no less. Perhaps, if you don't mind that is, I would very much like to sample some of your power. Eh…a little dual between Sorcerers."

"A dual?" Lydia stepped back, retracing her hand and wiping it on her shirt. "You and me?"

"Why not?" Cedric draped an arm around her shoulders. "You are required to train yourself via a lesson plan, yes?" Lydia bobbed her head. "What better way to progress your Self-Training than by sparring with a genuine Royal Sorcerer? See where your skill and power levels lie."

"I…suppose so." She agreed warily, still able to feel his lips on the top of her hand. Dueling with students was challenging enough. But true sorcerers were on a differently level. A dark and proud smile slithered onto Cedric's lips. Now I'll get to see what this girl is made of. "But I can't." Cedric's hopes died instantaneously. "At least not right now." She slipped out of his hold. "The King and Queen are waiting for us in the banquet hall."

"Oh yes, yes, of course!" Cedric tapped his knuckles on his head. "How could I forget? It's dinner time." He placed a hand to the small of her back, "You and I can take a rain check. Perhaps when you've had time to settle in?"

"Sounds…good." She agreed indecisively.

"Excellent." Cedric chuckled. "Oh! And before I forget," He bowed at the hip with a sweep of his hand, "I would just like to apologize for my behavior earlier in the entrance hall. It was rude of me to treat a guest and member of the royal family so disrespectfully. I do hope you can forgive me."

"S-Sure…" She trailed off, "I didn't really hold it against you in the first place." After all she was acting suspiciously.

"Thank you so much, Princess Lydia." Cedric cheered, clapping his hands suddenly. "You truly are a benevolent soul." Lydia turned her attention to Sofia, Amber, and James, pleading for them to tell her if he was serious. The three shrugged their shoulders. Cedric noticed Eezeyal lean in towards her ear. That's when he noticed her earrings. Hm…those look familiar. He muttered to himself. Where have I seen those?

"His silver tongue has more rust than a nail." He whispered. Lydia bit her lip, trying not to smile.

"At least he doesn't look like he rolled in rust!" Wormwood retorted.

"Shut yer mouth, chimney sweep!" Eezeyal flapped his wings intensely.

"Shh…" Lydia hissed to Eezeyal. "Stop that." She ordered. "You both are worse than children." Eezeyal puffed his cheeks and turned his head. Wormwood nudged his head into Cedric's head. She did it again. She spoke to Eezeyal like she could understand him. Cedric touched his fingertips together, finding it interesting.

Hm…He glanced to the earrings once more. Aside from them looking familiar, Cedric noticed Lydia would play with them. Her right ear especially. Possibly her dominate side. Eezeyal seemed to favor it. "Well now that this is all settled," He placed his hands to Lydia's shoulder, "Why don't you all run along." He guided Lydia down the hallway. "Dinner's going to be ready soon." He shooed Amber, Sofia, and James after her. "Wouldn't want you to go to bed hungry?" He wriggled his fingers in a snide farewell. "Take care, Princess Lydia. And welcome to the Castle." He snapped his fingers and vanished in a puff of green smoke. Lydia and Amber traded derisive glances. If there's one thing those two agreed on, it was that Cedric was…strange.


Cedric reappeared in his workshop. Wormwood flew to his roust, cawing gruffly as if saying I told you so to Cedric. "Yes, yes, Wormy. I agree." He mumbled, lost in deep thought. "She did hear you." He admitted. A thought came to mind as he sauntered to his spell book. "Or at least those earrings she wore allowed her to hear you." He quickly corrected himself, flipping the pages fervently. "AH-HA!" He planted his finger on the page. "I thought those earrings looked familiar!" Wormwood flew over to the book, wanting to know why Lydia was able to hear him. "The Earrings of Thornberry!" He blurted. "They understand you, but not you them. Let the animals reach you with the speech of men." He recited. Wormwood cocked his head. "That's why Lydia spoke to you and Eezeyal like you were people. Those earrings allow the common sounds of animals to translate into words." Wormwood cawed with a shrug of his shoulders, not finding it too serious. But it definitely was a bother.

"So aside from fancy trinkets, that little sorceress wannabe is no more special than a first year!" He snapped. "You heard the uncertainty in her voice when I proposed the dual. That means she's unsure of herself." Cedric massaged his rear end, "And I know better than anyone the repercussions for irresolute spell casting." Wormwood cawed in confusion, wondering why Cedric was fussing over Lydia so badly. "That girl has a chance – though years away – to become a royal sorceress. Not to mention she is close to Sofia." He laid it out simply. "Therefore she will most likely retaliate if she discovers my plans." Cedric drew his wand. With a wolfish grin he tapped the tip, making it spark sharply. "I simply need to make her realize with whom she's dealing." Pulling the wand back, he aimed at one of his beakers. Letting it loose a bolt of lightning struck the glass beaker, turning it into ash. "And how vastly at a disadvantage she is."


The banquet hall was cleaned and prepped with a fine toothed comb for the royal family. The food at the dining table was an amazing display. Shepherd's Pie, freshly baked baguettes, vegetable soup, and red velvet cake for dessert. Eezeyal was given a bowl of figs, strawberries, and blueberries on the floor. There was a tiny bowl of seeds, and water beside them.

As Lydia was an honored guest and new to the castle, she was seated on Roland's right hand side. Sofia instinctively sat next to her, wanting to be as close to her sister as possible. Miranda, James, and Amber sat on the other side of the table. Amber tried to use her food to distract her from the giddiness of Sofia being with Lydia. It just annoyed her even more.

What's so great about her? Amber thought bitterly. James is already fawning over her! Sofia is worshipping her! She's stayed out of her life for most of the year for the last seven years! Amber bit into her shepherd's pie harshly. I've been there…for the last two weeks. It may not have been as long as Lydia, but at least it was something. Why isn't she like that with me?

"Easy, Eezeyal!" Lydia pleaded to her gorging Owl. Eezeyal had his face buried into his fruit bowl, barely coming up for air. "The food isn't going anywhere." Eezeyal turned his head around and spat a seed at Lydia's forehead. "Ow!" Roland, Miranda, and the kids giggled heartily. Amber tried to hide her laughter. "Well excuse me! I don't want you to choke!" Eezeyal flared his tail feathers, then went back to his food. "Pfft!" Lydia puffed her bangs. "Of all the owls…"

"Where did you get Eezeyal, anyway?" James asked, bewildered by their odd relationship.

"I found him the third week of my final year. He had a broken wing." She massaged her hand tenderly. "I have at least a week's worth of beak marks to show for my nursing him back to health." Eezeyal trilled in hearty laughter. "Afterward he sort of stuck around." Sofia leaned back, watching Eezeyal dine on his fruit. She found it hard to believe such a sweet bird ever bit anyone.

"Lydia," Roland addressed her, leaning on his folded elbow, "Allow me to be the first to congratulate you on your graduating from Sorcery School." He announced proudly. Roland may have barely met Lydia, but he couldn't help feeling proud of his new daughter.

"Yes." Miranda beamed, touching a hand to Roland's. "We're very proud of you sweetheart."

"Thanks mom, Roland." Lydia blushed. "And thank you, Roland, for allowing me to stay here."

"Not a problem." He touched a hand to hers. "When I married your mother, I wanted to begin anew with our new family." He explained, casting a hand to Miranda and the kids. "Now that you're here, our family is complete. And I'm hoping you and I can get along smoothly." By that he means; he hopes one day Lydia will feel comfortable with calling him dad.

"I don't see why not." Lydia shrugged. "When I left school, I was hoping to begin anew as well." She placed a hand to Sofia's head, ruffling her hair. "Now I get that chance." Sofia leaned into Lydia, sighing happily.

"Great!" Roland raised his glass in a toast. "To new beginnings, then."

Miranda, Lydia, and the three children raised their glasses into the air. Amber only went halfway. "To new beginnings." They all repeated. Their glasses connected, and the colored water was drank.

"So, Lydia," Miranda called to her, "What does being an Honorary Spellcaster mean?"

"It simply means I was top of my graduating class. Me and ten other students." She explained languidly. Not wanting it to seem like more than what it was. "I actually came in second to a sorcerer." Who shall remain nameless! She hissed venomously.

"But what does it mean for you now that you've graduated?" Roland asked.

"Well…" She scratched the top of her hand, embarrassed by the attention, "After I've finished the lesson plans given to me by the school," She stated first hand, wanting it known she has a long way to go, "It means I have a good chance at being accepted as a family's royal sorceress."

"Brilliant!" James blurted with food in his mouth. Miranda raised a brow to him, warning him to remember his manners. "Sorry…" James swallowed, "Brilliant!" He repeated.

"Maybe you can become our royal sorcerer!" Sofia suggested animatedly.

"Not so fast, Sofia." Lydia urged, touching a hand to Sofia's shoulder. "These lessons will merely state I can conjure a spell or make a potion a level higher than other Sorcerers in Training. It could take decades before I'm considered for Royal Sorcerer status."

"There are levels?" Amber questioned, not really caring. She just wanted to be included in the conversation.

"Yes." Lydia curled her fingers closed, holding them up. "There's Student, Graduate," Those who don't graduate with honors, "Sorceress in Training," Her current statues, "Levels 1, 2, and 3," Which were achieved by completing certain lessons, "And finally Royal Sorceress." A status she would receive when accepted by a royal family.

"So, in other words," Amber leaned on her elbow, smirking cynically, "It'll be quite some time before you're taken seriously?" She snidely placed a spoon full of soup into her mouth, trying to feign innocence.

Lydia arched a brow, realizing the question was meant to be an insult. Truth be told, she's heard better. But why not humor the bitter princess. "That's the gist of it." She shrugged. "But it's still considered unwise to underestimate someone with a wand." She narrowed her eyes to Amber, her smirk widening. She wriggled her fingers to Amber, "You never know when your face will be accidentally covered in boils."

Amber furrowed her brow, grunting in the back of her throat. She leaned back in her chair, taking the hint seriously. Taking her glass in her hand, Amber swished the contents about pensively. Then an idea came to mind, bringing a sinister grin to her face. "Why don't we put your magic to the test?" She proposed. Eezeyal whipped around from his bowl of food, berry juice dripping from his whiskers as he stared at Amber.

"Amber?" Roland retorted in bewilderment.

"A Royal Sorcerer vs. a Sorceress in Training." Amber elucidated. She motioned a condemning hand to Lydia, "Cedric proposed a dual before we came to dinner. He wanted to estimate her skill level for himself." Lydia knit her brow angrily, glaring Amber down with daggers. "Why not hold a demonstration? Let the kingdom know Princess Lydia – a Royal Sorceress to be –has returned to Enchancia?" This wasn't a simple idea that popped into her head. Amber wanted to see Lydia disgraced in front of the whole kingdom. Embarrassed. But why? What did Lydia do to Amber?

"That sounds like a fantastic idea." Roland agreed full heartedly. "But I'll only agree to it if Lydia wishes it." He quickly added. "Normally members of the family are welcomed with a ball." He stated, wanting Lydia to know the general tradition of the palace, "But since you wish to become a Sorceress, why not hold a small contest between you and Cedric? Let the Kingdom of Enchancia know Sorceress in Training Lydia has arrived."

Roland tried to make the idea sound like an honor. Lydia couldn't help seeing it as making her a martyr for Cedric and Amber. On the other hand, Lydia did say she would take a rain check on her dual with Cedric. She did need to see where she stood. "Alright." She agreed softly. "I'm not one for parties anyway."

"Great." Roland chuckled, looking forward to the demonstration. "How does…this Friday night sound?"

"Three days?" Lydia quivered dubiously. She tapped a finger on her chin. Eezeyal fluttered to her shoulder. He put his beak into her ear. Roland and Miranda were confused when Lydia began to nod. "I…guess that could work." She muttered. "Alright. This Friday." She agreed.

"Fantastic!" Roland cheered. "Baileywick!" The steward instantaneously walked into the banquet hall. "Tell Cedric to clear his calendar for Friday. He and Lydia are going to put on a Magic Demonstration."

"Right away your majesty." Baileywick excused himself, dashing for Cedric's tower.

"This will truly be a sight to behold." Roland commented confidently.

"Indeed." Amber purred sardonically.

Lydia glared at the princess. "In that case," Lydia pushed away from the table, "May I be excused?" She asked her parents. "I should go prepare."

"Of course." Roland gestured his hand to the door. Lydia bowed in thanks and took her leave. Her hand caressed sadly down Eezeyal's back. Amber snickered under her breath, sipping her drink proudly.


"Why would she do that?" Lydia asked Eezeyal, sauntering solemnly down one of the elegant hallways. "Why would Amber put me on the spot like that?"

"Probably tuh see if she can humiliate you." Eezeyal replied gruffly, puffing his feathers angrily. "That little lady has been glar'n daggers at you since th' parlor."

"But why?" Lydia stressed. "What did I do to her?"

"I dunno." Eezeyal sighed heavily. "Maybe she doesn't like having two step sisters in her way of the throne."

"But I'm becoming a sorceress. I told mom in my letter I had no interest in the throne."

"Then maybe she's jealous." Eezeyal threw out there. "Of your powers, of your relationship with Sofia – someth'n." Lydia shrugged her shoulders. That could be it. Though s didn't see why. Sofia obviously loved Amber as much as she did Lydia. Why would Amber feel the need to be jealous? "But try not to dwell on that, right now." Eezeyal advised sternly. "You have three days to come up with some smoke and mirrors for this little dual between you and that salamander, Cedric! You need to be focused on that!"

"You're right." Lydia picked up Eezeyal, holding him to her chest. "I shouldn't be worried about someone else. I should be worried about the Royal Sorcerer with years of training."


"This is going to be my first dual against someone who isn't a student. I need to bring my A-game."

"And yer A-game lies in those there books of yers. Now get to gitt'n."

"Going!" Lydia ran for Sofia's room, suddenly excited for the coming Friday. That was going to be her time to shine, and show everyone what she can do. She just hoped it would be enough to defeat an actual sorcerer. Or at least get a leg up.


"Princess Lydia has accepted my challenge?" Cedric questioned in awe.

"Indeed." Baileywick responded in equal astonishment. "She has agreed to Friday Night."

"Then I'll agree to Friday Night as well."

"Great." Baileywick approved. "Good evening, Cedric." The Steward made his exit.

"Yes, yes, good evening." Cedric replied halfheartedly. The minute his door closed, Cedric's face literally spanned in dark elation, his grin touching from ear to ear. "This…is…PERFECT!" He blurted. "That's three days I'll have to study my opponent." He snickered derisively. "As well as three days that little princess will be too busy to notice what I'm planning." Wormwood cawed with a tilt of his head. "Think about it!" Cedric urged his raven. "That little princess is just as naïve as her sister. She truly believed my apology, and that I'm honored another sorcerer is in the castle." He weaved his head, wanting to hurl from the sincerity act he had to put on. "The little honor student will be studying, practicing, experimenting – all hours of the day and night. Too busy to focus on my daily life." Wormwood bobbed his head, understanding where he was going. "Meanwhile I'll be making my play for Princess Sofia's amulet right under her nose." He poked Wormwood's beak. "Then once I have it, I'll use it against Lydia and turn her into pudding right in front of the king's face, and then take over the kingdom as I devour that pudding!" Wormwood gurgled in revulsion. "A grim act, but you get where I'm going." Wormwood nodded. Cedric sat on his stool, cackling manically. "Oh yes…" He purred, "Princess Lydia – The First Martyr in my plan for Kingdom Domination. I love it!"

GRRR! I'VE ALWAYS HATED SECOND CHAPTERS! They just feel so…halfhearted. Oh well. Till next time.