Broken Cycle

Once upon a time there stood a kingdom built around the idea of tradition. Family traits passed through ages, names continued down the line, even entire futures planned out, all based on traditions. The royals were no exception to the rule. King Charles and Queen Victoria insisted their children follow in their paths. The princess would become versed in healing practices while her brother would become a fine warrior. Though, as fate would have it, neither child took to having their futures planned without their say. As their teen years passed, Tori grew more frustrated and decided it was time to speak out.

“It’s unfair! Why does Chase get to learn how to fight while I’m stuck in a stuffy greenhouse all day?”

“Darling, it’s tradition. You know that. Women have certain duties they must adhere to. It wouldn’t be right to go against the foundations of the kingdom.” Her mother kneeled to her level. “Even your name, Victoria, is passed down.”

“But I hate it!” Tori balled her fists. “Everything’s been picked out for me, and I don’t get to say how I want to live my life.”

“It’s the proper thing, my dear. Now I don’t want to hear about anymore about this.” The king gazed down at his young daughter.

Chase put his hand on her shoulder and ushered her out of the room before she could argue further. When they arrived in the east wing of the castle to their rooms, Chase pushed Tori into his.

“You know I don’t like this either, but there’s no use fighting it.” Chase slumped in a desk chair next to various textbooks of war and strategy.

“We’re not even free to live our own lives, have our own names.” Tori rounded his side and picked up a book, skimming through maps and illustrations of tactics carried out. “I want to learn to battle enemies and conquer evil, but I’m left to melt in a greenhouse while I try to memorize potion after potion. Her face twisted at the thought. “I can never get those damned things right anyway!”

He stared at her. “Don’t let them hear you speak that way. It isn’t-“

“Proper, I know.”

“Well, it isn’t any better for me, you know. Having to recall maps and steps, maneuvers and counterattacks, all to face an enemy I have no interest in fighting.”

“But there’s a rush to it, isn’t there? The danger of it, always trying to out-think your opponents and strike before they can.”

Chase raised his eyebrows. “Yeah, if you like the thought of imminent death. I’ve always thought the idea of healing people much more practical. Imagine the grateful faces of sick children finally able to enjoy life unimpeded by illness.”

“Why can’t we change tradition?”

“Who says we can’t? We could teach each other.”

Tori gazed at her brother. “And our books would help.”

His face lit up. “Genius! We could keep our books and switch. All our mentors would have to believe is we’re studying more.”

“So we’d take our lessons for the day and teach each other what the other learned?”

“Exactly!”

 

So, the siblings carried out their plan. For weeks their lessons went back and forth as they learned the other’s trade. Amongst the triumph of a strategic victory, turmoil brewed outside the kingdom’s borders. The siblings spent their time studying while monsters in the surrounding forest plotted their attack on the kingdom.

On the square’s busiest day, the eve of the harvest, the savage beasts lashed out. When the royals got word, Charles and his son readied themselves while the women were to stay protected should something happen. Tori snuck out of castle through an escape in the east wing, disguising herself in cloaked armor. She joined the front lines with the men and conquered many monsters. When all was deemed safe again, the warriors returned to their homes, helping their families repair damages to homes and shops. Unknown to the royals, a few of the strongest beasts had infiltrated the castle, looking for blood to spill. When they arrived, the beasts took the king by surprise and wounded him. Chase took to his father’s side while Tori rushed the monsters.

“Victoria!” The king and queen watched their beloved daughter fight the monster.

“Hold on darling, I’ll heal you.” The queen fumbled with his armor to reveal the wound.

The prince pushed her trembling hands aside and fished potions out of his pack. “Let me.”

The queen stared at her son, then her eyes darted in her daughter’s direction as Tori battled the last monster. When Tori struck the beast through his heart, Chase finished the last incantation, leaving both the king and queen in the wake of reality. Tori returned to her family and the siblings bowed their heads.

Tori tried to explain. “We know we disappointed you but-”

“We couldn’t be more proud of you both.” The king interrupted his daughter’s statement, waving it away.

“All those years of pushing tradition on you, we never thought about letting you decide.” The queen took their hands. “And now, we’ve seen firsthand what change can do.”

Tori refused to meet her mother’s eyes. “Does this mean we’ll have to go back to tradition?”

The king and queen exchanged a glance.

“No, it means, we have two wonderful children who can take the kingdom in a new direction. It’s time tradition wasn’t the only option.”

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