A Final Goodbye

Naya waited in a local cafe situated above one of the many subway stations that cut their way beneath downtown New York. It seemed like she had been waiting forever for her beloved niece Avery to arrive.

A Final Goodbye

A short story by Emma Lee Downs.

Summary: Naya waits in a local cafe for a niece she has not seen since her sudden disappearance long ago. When she is finally reunited with the beloved family member she views as a daughter, she learns about the nature of her disappearance which leads her to some shocking realizations of her own.

Original Link 1: https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3258535/1/A-Final-Goodbye

Original Link 2: http://lyraalluse.deviantart.com/art/A-Final-Goodbye-546396149

Original Link 3: http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/A_Final_Goodbye

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A Final Goodbye

By: Emma Lee Downs

This is my entry into Koromo and Empy’s Song Competition. The song I was given to work with was Like A Stone by Audioslave.

Update: This story was listed as second place in the winning circle! Thank you to EmpyrealInvective and The Koromo for the listing. You can read more about this here: http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:EmpyrealInvective/Koromo_and_Empy%27s_Song_Competition

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“On a cob web afternoon, In a room full of emptiness, By a freeway I confess, I was lost in the pages of a book full of death; Reading how we’ll die alone. And if we’re good we’ll lay to rest, Anywhere we want to go.”

-Like A Stone, Audioslave

Naya waited in a local cafe situated above one of the many subway stations that cut their way beneath downtown New York. It seemed like she had been waiting forever for her beloved niece Avery to arrive. It had been so long since she’d seen her niece that…no, she didn’t want to think about how lonely she had been without her. She didn’t want to remember the day that Avery had left her those many years ago.

Avery had come to live with Naya at the age of three when her own mother could no longer take care of her. Naya’s sister Helen had struggled with her alcohol addiction for years. Naya always had the feeling she’d end up raising her niece one day if Helen didn’t clean up her act and she was right. She claimed the custody of her niece when she was three years old, under the instruction of a city attorney. Somehow her niece had gone missing from her life after only two years of raising her as her own child. Little Avery was only five years old when she disappeared into the vast oceans of people and buildings that gave New York its reputation of swallowing faint hearted people alive. Naya’s sister never forgave her for losing sight of her.

New York is a big city. Many items have been lost to its streets, parks, and alleys never to be recovered. It was a city where things and people disappeared in a flash of a second and neither was easily found. Despite this fact, Naya always thought she would find Avery. She always hoped she would see her playing outside one of the downtown shops when she was running errands for the law firm she worked at. Avery would run up to her giggling and Naya would take her home to her apartment where she would make sure that she would never lose sight of her again. She always imagined that she could see her when she took long strolls in Central Park, engrossed in thoughts about the times they once shared together.

Now, Naya was so mixed up inside. She didn’t know whether she was happy or frightened to see the person she loved like a daughter again after four years of being apart. Little Avery would be nine years old now. One of the regulars of the café told her that she saw her niece hanging around the lobby a few days ago. Naya had posted her picture on the walls with her name and address in the hope that someone would find her. Avery looked older, but the man who found her niece said he would have recognized her facial features anywhere from the pictures she had posted.

Naya came to the cafe every night since the regular had told her the details of her niece’s whereabouts in the hope of finding her again. She would do anything to have her niece in her arms after spending so many years apart. She was tired of living her life alone. She was tired of the guilt that she had been lugging around for five years from losing her. Her sister’s inebriated curse words stuck out the most in her mind.

“I hate that you are my sister. I hate you more than anyone. Damn you. I hope you rot in hell.”

The drunken words Helen screamed at her the night her daughter went missing often played over and over like a broken record in Naya’s mind. They made her hate herself more and more the longer she was apart from her niece. They made her want to curl up somewhere and let herself waste away to nothing. She had felt worthless ever since she heard had them. She could not face her sister ever since the loss in both of their lives had taken place.

Tonight, the service was slow and when the waitress did speak to her, the young woman with red hair pulled into a ponytail told her that she would meet her niece soon. Naya had talked to the regular at the café who had originally seen her niece and said that she had also seen Avery playing by the subway a few times as well. The regular at the cafe insisted that she had seen Avery hanging around these parts since last August, but Naya had yet to see her walk through the glass doors of the small establishment. She had been waiting for her niece to show up for a while now and had somehow found the courage to pull herself out of her depressive haze, if only for a while, at the prospect of seeing Avery walk through the front entrance. Perhaps this evening would be the moment when she could finally own up to the fact that there were some things in this world that were out of her hands and could not be faced alone.

She couldn’t explain why she was waiting here; she felt completely disoriented. One minute she was driving home and the next moment…she wasn’t sure what happened. Naya assumed that she had stopped at this place because she knew Avery would be here. Maybe she possessed some kind of ESP. Naya remembered that her sister told her once that all aunts have psychic abilities that tell them when their family needs them most. That was one of the many things that make aunts special.

Helen had told her that gem of wisdom before Avery had gone missing from their lives. Naya knew that her sister would say that all family is worthless if they had the same conversation these days. Helen lost her last reason to retain some sort of sanity in her life when her daughter went missing. She started knocking back eight beers a night. The last time Naya heard anything about her, she was serving time in the State penitentiary for being caught drunk behind the wheel for the third time.

Naya kept drawing a complete blank. She knew that she couldn’t be dreaming. She felt the warm air of a heater on a nearby table blowing in her face. This had to be real. She couldn’t remember when she had showed up to the cafe. There were other people sitting next to her table. Some were sitting by themselves, looking out the window facing out onto Twelfth Avenue deep in thought. Others are laughing with old acquaintances.

It made Naya wish that her niece was sitting at the table with her. After she pictured Avery’s brown curly hair and blue eyes in her mind she saw her walk through the door of the café like a vision come to life. All Naya could feel was a combination of relief and excitement. Avery began to talk to her but she did not hear the words. An overwhelming feeling of happiness overtook her body. Naya finally worked up the courage to give her niece one of her famous “Aunty Naya” hugs, ignoring what she had just told her. She smiled and took Naya’s hand.

“Don’t worry Aunt Naya; I’ll never leave you again,” She heard Avery say as Naya took her hand and lead her out of the café to the entrance of the nearby subway station.

After receiving a pair of tickets, the two hoped onto one of the subway trains together, holding each other’s hands. The subway seemed to travel down the set of old steel tracks for ages as it speed out of the city and cut through the rolling hills of a green valley. Small towns popped up every once in a while between each stretch of landscape Naya and Avery passed on the way to their final destination. On their way home to start a new life, Naya asked Avery where she had been all of those years.

“With dad,” Avery had replied.

“Dad took me back and made me live with him. I was so afraid to leave. But daddy said I would be all right. He took me to the place we are going. He told me you would probably be at the café if I met you at the right time. I wanted to be the first person to find you no matter what.”

Naya all at once felt very weak in the knees. Avery’s father had died a few months before she was born. Her niece had to be mistaken. Perhaps some man like her father had been taking care of her but…no that didn’t seem right. Naya stared down at her niece who was smiling up at her. A headache stared to form at the back of her head but everything was staring to become clearer now. It was the fact she had assumed that she’d stopped at the café on her way home from work that got her to thinking. Naya never remembered reaching the café in her car. It was as if she had just shown up there and started waiting for her niece to arrive.

It made little sense that they were taking the subway since Naya had supposedly showed up at the café in her car. And the two had no reason to be heading out of the city. Naya lived in an apartment not far from where the Café was situated. She just had to jump in her car and take the freeway to the downtown area and…the freeway. Another wave a pain shot through her head as she started to recall all of the moments leading up to sitting in the café.

She remembered that she was driving on the freeway, headed to meet with a café regular about a possible sighting of her niece. That is when a truck had started to tailgate her from behind. Frustrated, she had tried to go faster but the truck caught up with her again. This speeding game continued for a while until the truck became impatient and attempted to pass her on the side. But he didn’t have enough room and he ended up sliding into the side of her car.

The last thing she remembered was a tall, lanky man banging on her car window. He was yelling through the window, asking over and over if she was okay. She looked around her and saw that the car was turned upside-down. For some reason she couldn’t move any of her limbs. She could only hear the man saying that he had called for an ambulance and to hold on as everything had faded into darkness. And then she had ended up in that café, waiting for her niece like nothing had happened.

Naya felt her emotions wash over her like a wave. She put her arms around Avery and held her for what seemed like an eternity. Naya held her niece for so long that Avery had fallen sleep in her arms. Naya laid her niece gently on her lap to allow her to continue resting. She took her cellphone out of her purse after a while and scrolled through the list of names in her contact list to her sister’s cell phone number. She knew she couldn’t reach Helen by the number in her cellphone. Helen was locked up behind bars on account of her latest drinking incident and there was no way she could personally visit the State Prison to get any message about her daughter’s whereabouts to her now that she had passed on. Holding the cellphone in her hand, Naya left a single text message on her sister’s cellphone knowing she would probably never receive it.

It read, “I found Avery. You don’t have to worry anymore. I’m going to make sure that she is happy from now on.”

“If Helen is ever sober enough to get her cellphone privileges back, there is a chance she might finally know that I have reunited with her daughter. Maybe then she will be comforted knowing that I intend to care for Avery until it is her turn to return home,” Naya thought to herself as she slipped the cellphone into her purse and watched Avery sleep on her lap as the subway train pressed on far outside the boundaries of New York city limits.

After traveling for a few hours, the two of them finally reached their old home in the suburbs where the two of them had once lived before Naya moved to the city. She had rented a small apartment to have easier access to the café people had reported to see her niece hanging around. It was also within walking distance of her job. She thought about who would take care of her apartment now that she was gone. She wondered what would happen to all of her possessions. It was a strange feeling pondering everything that would happen after she was dead.

The subway reached the suburban area where Naya’s house had once been located. She assumed that it was her place to get off. She gently woke Avery and the two stepped off the subway onto the platform. The walked up to the street above and made their way to the house the two of them had once lived in.

As Naya stood at the iron large gates of the Victorian style house her niece and she lived in eight long years ago, she felt a tear slide down her cheek. It had taken many years, but Naya was finally reunited with the young girl she had always viewed as her own daughter. Her niece continued to hold her hand as the two of them walked through the large iron gates of the property to the house’s front yard. Naya smiled when she realized that from this day forward the two of them could live the rest of their lives out together in the place made of the landscape of their dreams.

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It was a year before Helen was released from the state prison but she had heard about her sister’s death while she was still serving her time. The news had devastated her. She had once been angry at her sister for losing sight of Avery but now she couldn’t bring herself to be angry at her anymore. For the first time in her life she was able to accept some of the blame. If she had just been a better mother to Avery she would never been taken away to live with Naya. She could have prevented the disappearance of her daughter and the death of her sister. They had told her that Naya had been driving to follow up on a sighting someone had had of her niece at a downtown café. That was when the truck hit her car and she wasn’t able to hold onto to life before the medical team of paramedics arrived.

Helen had gone through an AA program when she was at the state prison and was now sober. Today was the first real time she had had to visit her sister’s grave. She was still locked up when the family had held the funeral. Although she could not make it, her mother had visited and brought photos and news of the event. Her mother had told her to think about how her actions led to everything that happened and begged her to start turning herself around before she was met with more tragedies in her life. Helen took her mother’s words to heart and had been working hard to stay sober and employed. Shortly after being released, she started working at a small flower shop near the café her sister used to frequent. She liked working there because flowers reminded her of her sister. Naya had had her own garden when she was still alive.

She rented the same apartment her sister lived in as it had fallen unoccupied after her death. She visited the café every day in hopes that she would find some news about her daughter.

It was an early Saturday afternoon when she took a taxi out to one of the inner-city gravesites to visit her sister’s final place of rest. She was carrying a bouquet of flowers from the shop she worked in. She had made it special for this occasion, with all of her sister’s favorite candies and even a stuffed bear she knew her sister would like if she was still alive.

When she reached the cemetery, she walked along the path until she saw the row her sister’s memorial was located in. She walked along the path of headstones until she saw her sister’s name carved on a stone that read, “In memory of Naya Stevens. A loving daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.”

She placed the bouquet of flowers at the base of the grave and had a moment of silence in honor of Naya. As she stood praying over her sister’s gravestone, she heard her cell phone’s ringtone blare from her back jean pocket.

“In your house I long to be; Room by room patiently, I’ll wait for you there like a stone. I’ll wait for you there alone.”

The familiar sound of the ringtone she had set for her text message notifications cut through the silence.

She considering taking her cellphone out and silencing it but something told her not to. The ringtone continued to play into the empty spaces around her.

“And on I read until the day was gone; And I sat in regret of all the things I’ve done; For all that I’ve blessed, and all that I’ve wronged. In dreams until my death, I will wander on.”

The ringtone finished its final pass. Then a sharp buzz sounded, letting her know that a text message had just been sent and was waiting for her to view it. Helen couldn’t explain why she felt so compelled to look at her cellphone. Even though she ignored most text messages when she was doing something important she felt as though she should read whatever text message was sent her way. She pulled the cell phone out of her pocket and read the text message that had set off her cell phone’s ringtone.

The message read, “I found Avery. You don’t have to worry anymore. I’m going to make sure that she is happy from now on.”

Helen put a hand to her mouth in shock. It was a message from her sister. It was dated the exact day and hour that she had died in the accident with the truck. At that moment something clicked inside of her, a deep rooted instinct of knowing that all of her deepest fears had come to pass. She somehow understood the meaning of her sister’s last words. She wasn’t going to see Avery again; not in this plain of living. Not until she crossed over into wherever death had taken two of the most cherished people in her life.

The realization that Naya and her daughter were together gave her a mixed sense of peace and sadness. She was at peace because she knew her sister would take care of her daughter in the afterlife but she was also sad that she would never see her daughter alive in this realm of existence again.

Helen sunk to the base of her sister’s grave grasping the cell phone in her hands. She held the cell phone close to her face with her sister’s last message displayed on the screen and wept at the base of her grave for what seemed like forever.

Published A Story In 6 Plots

One of my writing pieces was published in the short story collection, 6 Plots: Leo & Other Grave Tales!

I Published A Story In 6 Plots: Leo & Other Grave Tales

The book collection was put together by Kenneth Kohl.

My story, ‘The Family Secret’ appears on page 57.

My story, ‘The Family Secret’ has been published in this literary collection.

You can purchase the collection from this link: https://www.createspace.com/5500085

You can purchase it from Amazon at this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1512212954

Here is the Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XPRM6FM

Here is the Barnes & Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/6-plots-kenneth-kohl/1121950487

Aluminum Fish Industries TM

The logo for my new Facebook Store Page.

You can Find my official Facebook Store Page here: https://www.facebook.com/AluminumFishIndustries

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You can check out all of my creative projects by following the links below.

Online Stores: https://emmaleedowns.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/my-stores

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Published A Story On Creepypasta.com

A parodypasta that I wrote was published on Creepypasta.com!

My parodypasta, ‘The League of Creepypasta Supervillains’ was published on Creepypasta.com.

You can find my published story at this link: http://www.creepypasta.com/the-league-of-creepypasta-supervillains

Original Link 1: https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3224443/1/Parodypasta-The-League-of-Creepypasta-Supervillains

Original Link 2: https://emmaleedowns.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/parodypasta-league-of-creepypasta-supervillains

Original Link 3: http://trollpasta.wikia.com/wiki/League_of_Creepypasta_Supervillains

Original Link 4: http://lyraalluse.deviantart.com/art/Parodypasta-League-of-Creepypasta-Supervillains-496475792

Published Work In Enchanting Horrors

Two of my writing pieces were published in the short story collection, Enchanting Horrors: More Tales From the Darkest Corners of the Web!

I Published a Short Story and Poem In Enchanting Horrors: More Tales From the Darkest Corners of the Web

The book collection put together by Kenneth Kohl.

My poem, ‘Social Disconnection’ appears on page 169.

My story, ‘The Tale of Applena’ appears on page 173.

My short story, ‘The Tale of Applena’ and my poem, ‘Social Disconnection’ have been published in this literary collection.

You can purchase the collection from this link: https://www.createspace.com/5282848

You can purchase it from Amazon at this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1507737238

Here is the Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SU0M064

Here is the Barnes & Noble link: Here is the Barnes & Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/enchanting-horrors-kenneth-kohl/1121134605?ean=9781507737231

Published Two Stories in Delightful Horrors

Two of my writing pieces were published in the short story collection, Delightful Horrors: Tales From the Darkest Corners of the Web!

I Published Two Stories In Delightful Horrors: Tales From the Darkest Corners of the Web

The book collection was put together by Kenneth Kohl.

My story, ‘Don’t Eat The Sandwiches’ appears on page 5.

My story, ‘Paranormal HQ TV’ appears on page 115.

Two of my stories, ‘Don’t Eat The Sandwiches’ and ‘Paranormal HQ TV’ have been published in this literary collection.

You can purchase the collection from this link: https://www.createspace.com/5276920

You can purchase it from Amazon at this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1507694792

Here is the Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SP5VPJW

Here is the Barnes & Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/delightful-horrors-kenneth-kohl/1121115162?ean=9781507694794

The Many Troubles of Prince Ackeyun

Prince Ackeyun of the kingdom of Dagwan had forty wives. He had so many wives that he didn’t know what to do with all of them.

The Many Troubles of Prince Ackeyun

A short story by Emma Lee Downs.

Summary: Prince Ackeyun is forced to marry the princesses of the neighboring kingdoms to keep treaties between the kingdoms alive. But one day he comes up with a plan to free himself from his unfortunate fate.

Original Link 1: https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3229918/1/The-Many-Troubles-of-Prince-Ackeyun

Original Link 2: http://lyraalluse.deviantart.com/art/The-Many-Troubles-of-Prince-Ackeyun-505766035

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The Many Troubles of Prince Ackeyun

By: Emma Lee Downs

Prince Ackeyun of the kingdom of Dagwan had forty wives. He had so many wives that he didn’t know what to do with all of them. Every time another wife was offered to him as a symbol of peace from one of the neighboring countries, he could not refuse their father’s marriage invitations. All of the kingdoms of the world of Iregeya wanted peace with his kingdom because he had resources they each craved.

Marrying into the resources was the best way for the other kingdoms to have access to them without being forced to sign a proper treaty. Thus, poor Prince Ackeyun was stuck with forty wives from the most known kingdoms of the world. The only thing he could think to do with his wives was give them a good place to stay.

He placed each of the women in the Grand Halls that rested at the back of his palace. The Grand Halls had been built by one of his ancestors long ago to accommodate the imperial harem. The multiple chambers had great columns made of black stone that rose for what seemed like miles into the sky. At the top and base of the columns were the carved images of griffins.

Each of the griffins had painted red eyes which stood in contrast to their otherwise black, carved, stone forms. The roof was made of black wood and laid in a crisscross pattern over the columns. On the roof of the grand halls were the painted images of the God Ravin Mon, with his eagle wings outstretched and his feet grasping at the threads of the universe with his hooked talons.

The walls were decorated with complicated hieroglyphics that the ancient kings had once written in. Sitting next to the upraised hieroglyphics was a writing script that the kingdom still used. The hieroglyphics were a window into the past. The only way they could be deciphered was by the modern script that was written on the gold walls in red ink. The ancient language had long been forgotten and the Grand Halls was one of the only places in the kingdom that they could still be found.

There were multiple natural hot springs that were built into the layout of the Grand Hall. Each of the hot springs was circled by a dark ring of stones and had black, steep steps built down into them. The stairs stopped at the bottom of each spring, where they met a natural rock floor. The hall lead out into many gardens that were watered with an ancient pipe system that ran underneath the city.

Multiple pipes drew water out of a river that snaked into the mountains far to the east of the kingdom. The water in the pipes was partitioned throughout the palace and other areas of the kingdom. It was used for everything from fountains and sprinkler systems to bathtub water and even running water for toilets.

The Grand Hall had many rooms that were each decorated according to the taste of the princess that lived in them. Some of the rooms had lavish sofas with many pillows of silk and cotton atop them that the princesses used as cushions for their beds. Some of the rooms had four posted beds with canopies that held rose petals above them as they slept. Some rooms had grand carpets made of thread that only traveling merchants from faraway lands had access to before being brought to the palace.

Never in one place had anyone in those days and days since seen so many rooms with so many different adornments. The princesses had many servants that attended to their needs and lived with them in their imperial chambers. The rooms were large enough to accommodate as many assistants as the princesses needed.

The prince took very good care of his wives. Whatever they asked, he would do everything in his power to provide for them, no matter what the distance away the item was that they desired, or how much it would cost. Some would say that Prince Ackeyun was very lucky to have as many wives as he did that he could call upon any time he felt lonely.

However, the truth of the matter was that it was very hard work trying to please all of his wives. He often found himself with a quite a big headache at the end of the day. As if dealing with the matters of the kingdom was not hard enough, he also had to worry about his forty wives.

His father and mother were still alive, so some of the country’s burden was lifted from his shoulders. Even so, Prince Ackeyun was aware that this ideal situation would not last forever. He could only imagine how things would be when he had the full rights to the throne. If the countries of Iregeya kept marrying him off to their daughters, he wouldn’t have any time to himself at all. This troubled him greatly and often made him feel overwhelmed.

Prince Ackeyun was trying to think of a solution to his problem on one such occasion when he noticed one of the princesses walking unescorted in his palace’s main garden. He immediately sat up from the grassy knoll where he was sitting and walked over to greet her.

He bowed slightly forward and said in a courtly manner, “My lady, you should not be walking outside the boundaries of the imperial harem without an attendant to guide you. There are many countries jealous of my wealth. You could very well be captured by one of my enemies if you wander around the palace gardens unescorted.”

The lady sat down in the grass, pulling her many skirts around her frame. She smiled up at the prince.

“Your highness, you do not have to worry about me. I come from a warrior nation to the northeast of Dagwan. I have been well trained in the art of war. I was going to be a general in my army until my father sent me here.”

When she saw the prince’s look of shock at her sudden forwardness she quickly added, “Oh dear, I didn’t mean for it to sound as though I didn’t want to come here. I was just trying to let you know that you don’t have to worry about me.”

The prince sighed and sat beside her.

“I wish that the really were the case. It would be nice if I didn’t have to worry about you all of the time. However, the laws of this land dictate that I give you the greatest of care. I am responsible for your well-being. I must make sure that you are well housed or I shall be thought of as an irresponsible member of the royal house when it comes time for me to rule this land. ”

The princess looked ashamed for wandering around by herself, after hearing what the prince had told her.

She said, “It was not my intention to cause you worry or to be a burden to you. I just thought you should know that I am more than capable of taking care of myself. No one would look down upon you if they knew how capable I was of being my own master.”

The prince didn’t know quite what to say to the princess’s revelation. However, the longer he gazed into the princess’s eyes the more her words stirred something inside of him. His thoughts turned to his current situation.

He thought to himself, “Why couldn’t that be true? Why couldn’t I just let my wives worry about themselves? They were all formally trained before they arrived at the palace. This princess might really be onto something here.”

It occurred to the prince that what he was thinking was just crazy enough of an idea to work. He really did wish that the princesses could be free and happy outside of his care. His plan was one way of accomplishing this lofty task. Prince Ackeyun realized that he had been quiet for a long time and smiled tenderly at the princess.

“My lady, if I made you a general in my army, would that please you? You couldn’t be my wife, but I would pay you for your services. You could make an honest living doing something that you love. Would this make you happy?”

The princess’s eyes lit up in wonder.

“I could be a general in your army, and do whatever I wished and married whoever I wanted to?”

The prince nodded.

“That is correct. Anything you wanted, you could do as a free member of my royal house. What do you say?”

The princess hugged the prince.

“Oh, I would like that very much! Can I be a general now? I want to enlist in your army as soon as possible!”

The prince stood from the grass.

“Indeed you can. I shall proclaim you as a new head general straight away! Come with me to the Chamber of Warlords at the southern end of my palace. We shall fit you with armor and a sword this very day!”

The princess hopped up from her place on the grass and followed the prince to the royal Chamber of Warriors. When the prince explained the situation to the head general of the Royal Army, the men that had overheard the conversation thought he had completely lost his mind.

Nonetheless, the general followed the prince’s orders and the men in the prince’s army accepted the lady as their superior. The princesses was fitted with armor, given a horse, given a proper weapon, and was enlisted as a general in the royal army. In time, she became a legend in the palace tournaments. People came from all over the kingdom to watch her joust and display her warrior skills in other fighting tournaments. Everyone in the kingdom was impressed by her skill.

When the other princesses learned of Princess Moryana’s fate, they too wanted a position in the palace. One by one the prince gave the princesses titles in the palace. Some became advisers. Some became admirals in the kingdom’s navy fleet. Some became council members. Some became royal seamstresses. Others became royal chefs. Pretty soon the whole palace was filled with an equal number of men and women carrying out every level of task imaginable. Some of the princesses left the castle and worked as governors in neighboring towns. Others worked in neighboring cities as Council members, or soldiers in other parts of the kingdom.

Prince Ackeyun had finally rid himself of the responsibility of looking after so many wives. Now he could focus on choosing on wife that he really loved, rather than looking after an entire imperial harem. Some of the royal family members of the other kingdoms of Iregeya discovered what prince Ackeyun had done and were not pleased.

The ruler of the elementals, King Leighton of Joziah kingdom, could not believe that his daughter Moryana was working as a general in the king’s army. The Satyr King Ignacio of Valentia Kingdom could hardly believe that his eldest daughter Rhea had become an imperial baker. This was very troubling to many of the kings of the various nations. No one had ever heard of such a thing in their entire lives of living on the world. It was totally unprecedented.

It came to pass that there was a council between the kings of the countries that had married their daughters to Prince Ackeyun. It took a month for all of them to meet at the designated place, but when they all got together they were more furious than ever. The kings had decided to hold their meeting in the kingdom of Gaige since it was a neutral kingdom. The fairy king Bael was the ruler of Gaige and was chosen by all of the other kings to be the head of the council. After everyone had settled into their chairs in the great council room, the kings began to address their grievances one by one.

The Troll King Davon of Blaise Kingdom growled between clenched teeth, “Do you know what my daughter Yanet is doing? She is working as a palace administrator. She is doing a job below her station. This is an outrage!”

The Dwarf King Maxton of Shudra Kingdom waved his hand dismissively.

“That’s nothing. My daughter Honora is working as a royal carriage driver. Can you believe it? She wrote me and told me that she is going to marry a dwarf man that tends the royal stables. What does that Prince Ackeyun think he is doing?”

The pale-skinned Fairy King Bael raised his staff to silence the muttering that was being exchanged between all of the members of the council. He gestured for the gnome king to speak his piece when the chattering had settled down.

The Gnome King Framend of Arlo Kingdom stood up in his chair and bellowed at the top of his lungs so everyone could hear, “The lot of you do not even know what suffering means. My daughter Teegan has become a head member of the royal sewing committee. Her greatest power is commanding the other woman of the sewing committee to make carpets for the palace, bed sheets, or clothes! I tell you, this young prince is an upstart. If it weren’t for his resources, I would have never sent my daughter to live in his kingdom in the first place!”

The council room echoed with the voices of the other angry fathers as they tried to speak about their grievances all at once. The Fairy King Bael raised his staff above his head and held it until the council was in order.

He proceeded to say, “It seems to me, that the prince thinks that his marriage to our daughters was some kind of joke. I say that we attack his kingdom, reclaim our daughters, and take his resources for ourselves.”

The council members all shouted words of approval and that is how the whole world turned against poor Prince Ackeyun, quite literally. Princess Moryana heard rumors of the impending war and told the prince about it straight away. The prince was shocked at the news. After talking with the other members of his council (many of them the princesses of the other kingdoms who intended to attack his land) he decided that he had no choice but to go to war.

King Leighton of Joziah set a time and place for the battle to end all battles. Prince Ackeyun accepted the invitation reluctantly under the guidance of his council and headed out to rage war with the other kingdoms. Many of the princesses the rode into battle at his side were commanders, admirals, and generals in his army. When he arrived on the battlefield, a curious thing happened. The gathered armies recognized the princesses by the country flags waving from the back of their chariots and refused to advance.

The Elemental King turned to the other kings commanding their vast armies and said, “We cannot fight a battle against our own daughters. We must think of another solution to this problem.”

The other kings agreed and had their generals waved the red flag of peace. One by one the red flags rose in the air. Never had there been such a display of red banners all in one place before! So it came to pass that the war that had taken over a year for each side to correlate and train for was disbanded in less than a day. Finally, King Leighton of Joziah and the kings of the other nations had a council meeting in the kingdom of Prince Ackeyun. Each of them expressed their grievances and the prince listened to the complaints of each one. When everyone was done talking the prince had this to say.

He stood from his throne and said, “Every one of you kings married your daughters to me in order to have access to my resources. Each of you has had free access to my resources without a formal trade agreement for many years. I have provided each and every one of your daughters a promising role in my kingdom. I would like to add that each of them is compensated for their services. All I can say is that if you are so angry with the way I am treating your daughters, you should be angrier at yourselves for handing them over to me for your own selfish purposes in the first place. May shame be upon any man who wishes to deprive his daughter of the good fortune they have found in my lands for no other reason than to save their own pride.”

The kings were shocked at what the prince had brought to light. They all muttered amongst themselves and finally came to the mutual agreement that the prince was right and that his solution had been the most just of anyone there. That very day, the prince drew up a peace treaty with all of the nations present. He also signed a free trade agreement, so there wouldn’t be any more daughters forced upon him to marry. That is how prince Ackeyun freed himself from being tied down to forty wives.

It is said that other kingdoms followed his example. Women became powerful members in government and were free to choose their husbands across the world of Iregeya. After having so many wives, prince Ackeyun never thought he would settle down and marry. However, when his mother and father died, he was obligated to find a wife after taking the throne. His thoughts returned to the princess that had given him the advice in the first place that fateful day in the palace garden.

He married the lady Moryana and he made sure that she still held the title of general in his army. The only thing that changed was that this time around, she was the royal general. They say that never in the world of Iregeya was there a fiercer a warrior than she. She had many children with prince Ackeyun who also became warriors.

From that moment on, it became a tradition for all the princes and princes of the house of Dagwan to become warriors for their kingdom. None of them had to keep an imperial harem so the old space was turned into a lavish guest hall for travelers to say in when they were far from the borders of their own kingdoms. Dagwan became known as the kingdom that had the best hospitality and most secure resources because of the decision to disband the imperial harem by Prince Ackeyun and his children that followed after.