Entry # 152
Title: The Fallen Princess
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Word count: 85,000
Sent away at age sixteen to serve as an artist in a foreign ruler’s court, Princess Delfina is eager to leave her uncle’s palace. Not only will she get to use her training as a painter of illuminated manuscripts, but she will delay the looming threat of an arranged marriage. The price to be paid for such an opportunity? She must gather information for her uncle, the ruling Khan of Karavai. No easy task, since she is expected to charm Prince Darclor—one of the Khan’s worst enemies—into sharing his secrets.
When Delfina meets the handsome young prince, she is surprised at the powerful attraction she feels for him. But as long as he poses a threat to her homeland, she cannot risk falling in love with him.
Upon learning she must return home, to marry an aging, half-crazed monarch, Delfina runs away in desperation. Only too late does she learn that her uncle offered her up to Darclor instead, to secure an alliance between their kingdoms. And when Darclor captures her, seeking revenge for the humiliation she caused him, Delfina must find a way to win back his heart, or risk losing her freedom forever.
The door to the palace workshop burst open, disrupting the silence of the afternoon. I looked up to see one of the younger apprentices standing there.
“The Khan is coming! He’s coming for his inspection!” The boy leaned forward, hands on his knees, breathing heavily.
My stomach twisted in knots. My uncle was coming. Now. And I was in no state to greet him. “I thought he wasn’t due to visit until next week.”
“No, he’s on his way. He’ll be here soon. Within minutes!”
Master Giordani strode to the center of the room and clapped his hands together. “On your feet! Put everything away except the pages for the Khan’s book. Fetch them from the shelves and place them on the center table. Hurry!”
Without hesitation, all of us—the apprentices, calligraphers, and senior artisans—were up and moving. To the untrained eye, the studio appeared a chaotic mess, the wooden tables crowded with paper, reed pens, brushes, and oyster shells filled with oil paints. Every bit of it was essential for our work, but the Khan would regard it as clutter.
Giordani reviewed the pages, nodded in approval, and then ordered everyone to stand in line. When he saw me lingering by the shelves, he came over to me.
“Delfina, you need to join the others,” he said.
“I don’t think I should. If I leave now, you won’t be blamed for my appearance.” I wound my finger around a stray curl—one of many that had escaped from under my headscarf.