The Hidden Princess
Author: Mira Crest
Series: Princess League #1
Genre: retelling, fantasy
A human princess with the power to read minds. A dragon prince who seeks the chosen one to save his kingdom. A dark mist that corrupts the mind.
Penny is an ugly princess born to a family known for its beautiful offspring. To protect the royal bloodline’s reputation, the king proclaims her dead since birth and locks her away in the castle cellar. But unbeknown to most, including herself, Penny has a gift: she can see the darkness within one’s mind through touch.
Everett is a dragon prince whose land is plagued by a deadly sickness in the form of black mist, capable of turning any fairy being it touches into stone. He comes to Penny’s kingdom seeking the one princess foretold to end the darkness.
The choice is clear, it’s either Penny’s cynical eldest sister, Tatiana, or her kind elder sister, Sarah, because Penny does not exist, not officially. But a twist of fate and Penny’s gift bring her to Everett’s attention, and she takes on a secret identity to aid him to trace the origin of the black mist.
What follows is a journey into a dark magical world within the minds of the corrupt, ruled by demons that plague on the dark aspects of the human psyche.
With the clock fast ticking, the prince must discover who the chosen one is in order to defeat the black mist before the mist turns him to stone and spreads to the rest of the world. But there are those who will do anything to keep Penny’s identity hidden. With the odds stacked against Penny, will her true identity be revealed or forever remain hidden?
The shopkeeper grabbed the doll from among the top shelves. “Here you go.” He handed it to her. Just then, her fingers met his, and she heard the shopkeeper’s voice. “Where did this hideous and filthy-looking girl come from? Good thing I noticed her fast, lest she would get my dolls tainted with her hands. Let’s hope she leaves soon.”
She gazed at the shopkeeper, whose mouth remained closed. Those words stung. Even though the shopkeeper never said them, Penny knew they held more truth than those he said. These were his thoughts, and she was reading them when she accidentally touched him.
Then she felt dizzy, and a gloom fell over the store as if something had suddenly blocked out the sunlight from the windows. But it wasn’t the windows. It was the shopkeeper. His form emitted an ominous light and right above his head, she saw black mist rising, forming the shape of a face with eerie glowing eyes. It stared straight at Penny. “Penny…Penny….” Penny heard an insidious voice calling her.
Stop! Stop! She willed her mind to look away.
“Penny…Penny!” A force pulled her back and she almost crumpled to the floor if Thomas had not held her firmly. “Are you alright?” he asked.
“There’s someone–!” Penny pointed toward the shopkeeper, who was frowning at her. The eerie face and black mist were gone.
“What is it?” Thomas asked.
It took her a while before she spoke again. “I don’t know. It was there a while ago.” As she looked down, she saw the doll lying on the floor. She picked it up and slowly stroked any dust off it as if it were a real girl.
“How much is it?” he asked the beleaguered keeper.
“Four silver pieces.” Thomas handed the silver to the shopkeeper. A look of relief appeared on his face as he took the money. The horror of the black mist weighed heavy on Penny’s mind as she made her way out. She recalled the mean thoughts of the shopkeeper. For a moment, she had believed the outside world was different and she finally found a place she belonged. Penny blinked hard as her eyes began to water.
Suddenly, the streets seemed less joyful than before, and the sounds of the people and activities seemed drowned out by the memory of the black mist.
That voice. It called her name.
She knew for certain it was no hallucination. It was the first time such a vision had occurred. She never saw it when she touched others before, although there weren’t really that many, to begin with. There were only a few who could tolerate standing within inches of her.
She must have drifted off in her thoughts because the next thing she knew, she had fallen behind Thomas and someone bumped into her from the side.
“Watch where you are going, you–!” A rough-looking man said. “Hey, little girl, are you lost?”
“Don’t be afraid, I just want to help. Let me take you home.” He grabbed her by the arm.
“Stop it, let me go!” Penny tried to pry his fingers free.
“This must be my lucky day. I wonder how much this girl would fetch.” She heard the man’s voice, yet his mouth remained closed.
She stared at the man, who stood there, frozen in time. Not just him. The entire town had come to a standstill. A ball was floating in the air, as the boy who threw it waited an eternity for it to fall back down.
Then, the surroundings turned black, and the black mist appeared around the man’s frame. The eyes of the black misty face shone a pale white.
“Penny…Penny…” spoke the insidious voice.
“NO!” Penny screamed and forced her eyes shut. At once, the darkness lifted, and the sounds of reality replaced the heavy silence. “Get away from me!” she screamed with her real voice audible.
“Hey!” A familiar voice said, and the rough-looking man turned around, his face meeting head-on with a big fist. The man fell to the ground before Penny. “Touch her again, and you will never touch anything for the rest of your life!”
The man crawled to his feet and bolted. “Penny, didn’t I tell you not to—Penny? Penny!” Penny ran off before Thomas could finish his sentence.
Penny kept running. All she wanted then was to get as far away as possible from this place, from the prejudice, the black mist.
She didn’t know how long she ran before Thomas finally caught up with her. “Penny, it’s alright now.” He wrapped his hands around her head, and she tucked her head in his tummy. “What happened, Penny? Please tell me.”
Penny told Thomas about all that had happened. The black mist, the eerie face. Although Thomas understood little of it, he listened, for he knew there was always much truth in what she said. The world wasn’t as great as Penny thought out to be. It broke his heart she had to learn this fact on her first outing.
The outing had come to an end, and they returned to the castle. The one happy thing the outing brought her was the doll she bought. She gave her a name. Cinder. And she became Penny’s companion ever since.
She thought of the boy named Canyon, and how he was the only person without disdain for her, though, she wondered if it would be the same way if she touched him and read his mind.
But most of all, she wondered about the black mist. What was it? And that eerie face. Who, or rather, what was it? What disturbed her most was the fact that it called her name like it was reaching into her mind.
The noises of the tavern drained away, and a gloom fell over the place. It reminded her of what happened at Marvin’s store. She was back in the Eternal, though, this time, she was at the tavern. All the people around her had frozen. She walked across the still crowd and saw Everett protecting Sarah from several Brutes. The other dragon warriors were busy keeping any hostiles from getting near Tatiana, who was lying on the ground. She had one eye slightly open to peek at her surroundings. It was pretty obvious she was faking unconsciousness.
When all seemed still and quiet, she caught sight of something stirring in the darkness of the tavern’s interior. Black mist! It was dripping from the ceiling, rising from the floor. Mist from different spots rushed to the center of the tavern and merged. Something grotesque was forming from it. Penny quickly hid behind the tavern counter and observed the transformation. A wolf took shape, only this time it was nearly thrice as large as the previous one.
Was this new mist form a manifestation of the head Brute’s anger? If it was, it was a clear indication of how much it had grown. Could this huge wolf be the cause of the mist, and defeating it would destroy the mist altogether? There was only one way to find out.
Penny readied herself. She checked her feet and saw the shiny red shoes were back. She peered out from the side of the counter, but the wolf was no longer at where it had stood. Carefully, she emerged and took cover under a table. Bit by bit, she advanced closer and closer. She needed to be close enough to open the portal and bring it to reality.
“Penny, you can do this!” As she moved to the next table, the wolf turned wildly with its eyes fixed on Penny.
She put out her hand and a fireball shot out, hitting the back of the wolf. Its bellow shook the tavern. More fireballs hit the body of the wolf, but they only made the demon angrier. It leaped and crashed down on the tables before Penny.
It sank its terrifying misty black fangs into the table, concealing Penny and crushing it into debris. Penny ducked away in time. She was then lying on the floor as the wolf turned toward its attacker. Penny willed her mind and conjured as much power as she could, igniting blast after blast. The wolf roared as the fiery magic engulfed its front body.
She got back on her feet and backed away, but the wolf clawed at her, slashing her shoulder. Penny suddenly felt drained, wincing at the searing pain in her shoulder. That voice, she heard it before. It was the most familiar voice; it was hers. Immense rage came flooding through her all of a sudden. Thoughts of her staring into the mirror at her ugly reflection and trapped inside a cell rushed into her mind.
The wolf closed in as she crawled away and hid beneath another table. The wolf clawed under the table, barely missing her as she moved out of range. She tried to conjure magic, but every blow she delivered hit the wrong places and missed its target.
“What’s going on?” It was like her magic was malfunctioning. It must have something to do with her getting slashed by the wolf’s claw. She was going to die if she didn’t find a way out.
The wolf smashed the table to pieces. She had nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. The wolf’s snout was before her. Anytime now it’s going to devour her.
She struggled and gathered her thoughts, focusing instead on the happiest memory buried within her. She closed her eyes. The wolf’s mouth closed in, ready to consume its helpless prey.
Since young, Mira loves fantasy romance with strong female protagonists and perilous adventures to magical realms and parallel universes to visit dragons, witches, shifters, and fairy tale creatures, bringing heroes and heroines together and aiding their epic fantasy battles against dark enemies so they can have the happily-ever-afters they deserve.
When she grew up, she takes a liking to young adult stories, which explains her passion writing in the young adult fantasy romance genre. Her books are clean romance with character development as the prime focus. Even now, she still journeys to fantasy realms whenever she’s not writing.