It’s time to interview Kiona from Kendra E. Ardnek’s new book, Water Princess, Fire Prince!
I wander up and down the garden, waiting impatiently. At last a step is heard and a face peers around the rows of sunflowers. I step into the nearest arbor and beckon.
“Greetings, Queen Kiona. I must admit that when I heard you were coming, my first thought was, ‘Who’s Kiona?’ But once I refreshed my poor brain on the subject, I was intrigued. I do hope you were able to bring Stephan along, as you and he seem quite inseparable. Don’t worry, I won’t ask him any questions. I just wanted to meet him.”
“Well, I do tend to be a bit overlooked even by people who do know me. And yes, Stephan accompanied me, Cousin Tyrus wouldn’t dream of letting me to anywhere without him to keep me in line.”
Kiona steps into the arbor and I see that Stephen is shadowing her. I start to hold out my hand, but then catch myself, press my fist to my heart, and bow slightly.
After introductions, I glance back and forth between the two of them. I can’t help myself; the question slips out.
“What is the most annoying prank Stephan ever played on you?”
“Well, I’m not sure it was a prank, exactly, but there was a good week or so that he had me convinced that I was the nobody that came off the streets. I was very upset, but I had to believe him.” *to Stephan* “You were a terror! Don’t give me that look, you have a very powerful gift.”
I grin. “I’m glad you’re not a talkative one anymore, Stephan. That sounds scary. But on a more upbeat note, Kiona, what do you appreciate most about Stephan?”
She lights up. “Well, now that he doesn’t talk as much as he used to, he has many amiable qualities. However, I think what I appreciate most is that he’s a steadier person than me. I can get upset by the littlest thing, so it’s nice to have someone beside me who just rolls with it. He can be boring at times, though.
“That’s an excellent trait. I’m sure it’s been a steadying influence on you, too.”
My gaze drifts about the arbor and lands on a small object resting below her neck. “Tell me about your necklace. How did you get it, and what is special about it?”
“My necklace? Oh, you mean my box, which is, granted, worn as a necklace. Every king and queen of Rizkaland has one. They’re how Alphego marks the chosen heir. When my father died, each of my siblings were presented with his box, but none of them could open it except for me, so I got it, and the queenship. They’re like the wooden boxes the elves wear, except that the elves make their own. But they contain gifts. Mine is perfect aim. Stephan’s is commanding speech.”
“Interesting. It would be neat to have a gift like that… but gifts in my world are given in a different, and often not so evident, way. Still, we have been given many gifts and are greatly blessed. We just have to learn to use them according to God’s will. So when did you begin archery?”
“Shortly after we realized that my gift was aim. Cousin Roland suggested it.”
“Cousin Roland… another king, I presume. The royalty system in Rizkaland seems a bit complicated. I understand that you are one of the queens. What is the scope of your power and reign?”
Kiona pulls a twining blossom from the side of the arbor and toys with it. “Rizkaland likes a balance of power, so we have four kings and four kings at any given time. It is monarchy, but shared between four families. As a unit, we wield more power than anyone else in Rizkaland, holding sway even over the islands. However, since I’m the youngest queen, I have very little power. They think I’m still a kid.”
“I get that.” I glance at the purple blossom she holds. “I hear you’re of Violet’s line. Who was Violet? And is violet your favorite color?”
“The founder of my line, and with her husband, Michael, Queen over the Wind and Seasons. She was the younger sister of King Ralph of Fire and Electricity, and the youngest of the Eight, which is what we call the first eight kings and queens.
“But, no, it isn’t my favorite color. It is pretty, but I like a rich red-purple best.”
“Nice.” I rise and pace back and forth in front of the arbor.
“What are your primary duties as Queen of Rizkaland? What does a normal day look like for you?”
“Well, my primary duty is to ‘learn and observe.’ My mornings are spent with the Bookholder in study of the Legends. Mid-morning is spent with either Cousin Maria, Cousin Tania, or my mother being taught etiquette and laws. Then after lunch, I get an hour to practice my bow after lunch, and then all eight of us spend the afternoon in the throneroom listening to requests and the like. Then we retire to the Council Room to discuss the welfare of the country and do negotiations and the like, and we’re free after supper.”
“That’s interesting, and quite different from life in my world. It sounds fascinating, though. If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?”
She seems perplexed by this question and hesitates before answering. “I … don’t know, really. I mean, I talk being able to do what I want – but what would I do if I were given the opportunity to do what I want. I really don’t know.”
I take pity on her confusion and decide to change the topic. Sitting back down, I ask a more personal question.
“Tell me a special story about you and Alphego.”
“A few weeks after my father died, and I’d become queen, I was just eight at the time, and feeling very lost and confused, and I was just wandering the halls, and I somehow found myself outside, before Alphego’s Hill, and so I climbed it and just sat down and started crying. I never really saw him, but I certainly felt the brush of Alphego’s wings, and I knew He was there, comforting me.”
“That’s very special. He is always there, whenever we need Him. And He will guide us throughout our lives.”
In my pocket, my phone buzzes. “What? Lunch time already?” I ignore it and turn back to Kiona and Stephan. “Thank you very much for your time. I believe the Doorkeeper is here to let you back into Rizkaland, since my powers don’t extend that far. I’m glad they sent you here for this brief chat. I wish you well, and look forward to meeting you again soon.”
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