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Sitara, Lady of the Lotus - MG Fantasy

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Chapter 1. Opening scene introduces protagonist's narrative structure, setting, stakes, and antagonistic forces/themes. 


First Year—Autumn Semester


Does it hurt a dragon to be called an elephant?

On the morning before my first day at the Imperial Academy, Amma told me to be as noble and strong as an elephant of N’daia. I told my mother that there were no elephants here in Oreka and that I was a dragon.

Amma laughed as she held my arm, and that ended the conversation. Since Amma can’t move fast like me or Abba, we took our time walking through the pebbled grounds of the palace. Everything about the palace is bright and colorful: with brown and teal, obsidian black and pink, and ruby red and yellow all over the stone walls and shingled roofs. 

Every thirteen-year-old noble, Orekan or N’daian, attends for three years to learn and find their rightful place in the palace upon graduation. It’s said His Majesty the King kicks you out of the palace if you don’t. Palace life, as difficult as it can be, is all I know. I can’t imagine leaving. The thought alone is scary! I’m changing topics.

Anyway. We made our way across the Rainbow Bridge that overlooked a winding river and stopped when we reached the academy’s red-arched gates. 

Amma smiled as she tucked in a strand of my inky black hair that had escaped the white silk scarf covering my head, similar to her own hijab. She and I had sat together all night discussing whether I should wear the hijab to classes. But as I stood in front of the gates that morning, having passed by other girls with their exposed hair and shiny hairpins, I felt like I stood out even more because of our decision. I want to fit in even though I’m not Orekan like they are. A few of them looked at us before raising their chins and turning away. That’s the opposite of fitting in. 

Amma and I glanced down at the list of classes in my hand: math, music, painting, and War and Diplomacy (I think my dear friend, Ceylon Bodhi is in this class, too!). As we contemplated whether to wander the academy grounds to take a peek at the classrooms, a Royal Guard approached, his eyes falling on the slip of paper I was holding. 

“Oh, you’re in the prodigy’s class?” the guard said, his eyebrow raised. Then in a lowered voice, he added, “That boy should be just a squire at his age, not a captain.” 

I tilted my head. 

“Uh, forget I said that. I didn’t say anything.” And he walked off quickly. 

Well, now I am going to remember.

Amma and I looked at each other. I saw the tiredness in her eyes despite her smile and decided we should go home. 

Going to the Academy was practice for the real thing tomorrow. Abba is going to be away for work and Amma can’t walk like this every day. She told me there’s a pain in her body whenever she walks, and it started ever since I was born. Was her pain my fault? Amma has never said that, but I help her whenever she asks because I do think I’m a little to blame. 

And that’s why I’m writing in this diary– Amma asked me to. I have a lot of thoughts. They run in my head all the time and make me worry and I even mix up my words when I talk, too. I hate when that happens. When she gave this to me she said: “Sitara, if speaking to others is difficult, maybe writing things down will make it better.”

I hope Amma is right. And I hope I do find a place in the palace to belong.

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"King of Pantsers"?


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