The queen did keep her word. Just not in a way that most expected. But, there will be more on that in a moment. Or, rather, a couple of decades.
Nearly 100 years later, the legend of the new queens, as it was later named, was still talked about. However, most people thought it was a myth. A folktale. A way to explain to curious children that their old queen still had a plan for them. It wasn’t. Her words were to be taken very literally, as is going to be discovered.
Alice, a normal girl, had a little brother. It was summer, and it was one day before the anniversary of the queen’s death. Most families looked down on this day as one of greatness. A queen that had denied them finery and trade with Doon should have been slaughtered. But not Alice’s family. Alice thought that it should be a day to commemorate a wonderful leader’s heroic death for her people. This wasn’t a popular opinion.
Anyways, Alice and her little brother, Ramon, were playing in the shallow end of a lake that was near their house. The lake had just been thawed through, and the water was just right for swimming. Ramon, who didn’t have a particularly keen sense of what decisions were good and which were downright stupid at his ripe age of 5, saw a rose petal on the surface of the water near the middle of the lake. He said to his sister, “I bet I can swim there before you! First one to get there wins!”
Before his sister could point out that Ramon wasn’t a very good swimmer yet and that the water was entirely too deep for him to swim in, it was too late. He was already halfway there.
When Ramon got to the middle and grabbed the petal victoriously, he stopped kicking. He began sinking down. Suddenly, unable to see clearly in the water, he couldn’t tell which way was up and which was down. He couldn’t get up to the surface. And then he began to drown.
Alice, without thinking twice about it, quickly swam over to save him. She tried pulling him up, but he was too heavy and too far down. Finally, she swam up underneath Ramon and shoved him up to the surface. Alice, however, didn’t get up to the surface in time. She drowned. She had been under the water for 8 full minutes when her lungs finally gave way. She died. She was gone. Her heart stopped beating and her feet stopped trying to kick her to the surface. In other words, there was no way that she should have been able to come back.
And yet she did.
Alice, a completely normal girl with no special powers, opened her eyes. She swam to the surface of the water and kicked her way to the shore. But there was something different about her. Something magical.
“I was so worried!” Roman yelled as her tackled her. Then he paused and took a step back. “You look different. Where did you get those clothes?”
“What clothes?” she snorted, until she looked down. She was wearing a long, soft, ruby-red dress. Metal boots - ‘Are they bronze?’ she thought - adorned her feet. In her hair was a beautiful rose. She touched it gingerly. Needless to say, this was a strange day for her.
Although she didn’t know it, she was now a queen. The Rose Queen. By performing an act of selflessness and humility so great that it ultimately resulted in her own death, much like that of the first queen, Alice had inherited a portion of Flora’s powers and been reborn as a queen. Flora had made sure that only a descendant of herself with such bravery and goodness could wield her magic.
Alice, over the next few days, quickly noticed that something wasn’t quite normal anymore. It could have been the new change of clothes that appeared around her body each morning that alerted her. It could have been the way that roses appeared on the ground wherever she walked. It even could have been the way she clearly felt herself DIE and come back. No, it was none of these things, though. It was in the way that Alice carried herself and realized things when walking through the forest surrounding her house. She was suddenly aware of the fact that animals began to stare at her back as she passed through the clearing that lead to the lake. She also had a strange sense of where roses were. When she was coming back from town, she knew exactly where the gardener kept his secret flower store, all of the sudden. It was even stronger in the woods. She could just run down any path and find roses blooming at the end of it. Her heightened senses were unnatural, and she knew it.
Alice tried to hide her powers at first. It was easy. Finding roses everywhere wasn’t exactly suspicious. Just extremely coincidental. And seeing squirrels looking at you wasn’t strange. Anyone seeing them staring at Alice would just assume that she might have had food. However, once her other new talents began to surface, it wasn’t so simple.
Alice first discovered her power when she had found herself wishing for a sketchbook with which to paint pictures of the sunset with. She had just gotten a new set of paints from her father and wanted to use them, but she had nothing to use them on. She closed her eyes for a moment, imagining what it would look like. Then, when she sighed and opened her eyes, she saw something begin to form on the ground. Alice jumped back on instinct. A rose bud the size of her head began to open. Inside it was a sketchbook. But not a regular one. The sheets were giant pale rose petals that had been neatly formed into squares and bound together with a beautiful piece of spiraling bronze. It was exactly how she had imagined it.
Alice automatically got excited. She had just discovered that anything she wanted and imagined would appear in front of her; wouldn’t you be excited, too? She thought about having a new coat. A beautiful red coat woven from giant rose petals and perfectly tailored to her size was created.
Although this was an amazing discovery, it made life for Alice undoubtedly hard. Everywhere she went, she had to keep her imagination under control. She tried not to let anyone see her for what she was, but that was near impossible. When she needed more money to buy a pastry from the marketplace, she willed bronze coins to appear in her pocket. Alice’s excuse to the woman was that she ‘had very deep pockets’ and had ‘forgotten that she still had some coins left over’. The woman eyed Alice suspiciously, but still handed her the pastry. When the friendly florist ran out of flowers and had to go out back and get more, Alice filled all of the empty planters with roses. The florist came back 10 minutes later with two small bundles of flowers under his arm. Alice explained that she found more roses out back and had quickly filled all of the vases. The florist frowned, certain that he had been out of extra flowers. When someone made fun of her, she made a giant bronze staff appear and she hit him on the head. It was rather hard to explain that. This time, there was no excuse, and Alice had to answer to her higher calling.She ran away right at the start of winter, when a snowstorm prevented anyone from being able to follow her. Nobody except for her tiny brother, Roman, tried to. He didn’t succeed. The snowstorm had won out. Coincidentally, we meet our next queen in a snowstorm as well.