Hello. My name is Delilah Jennings of Scarlet Waters. My mother is the crowned queen and I, the princess of all I survey. I have four younger sisters. Their names are Jennifer, Louise, Susan, and Allison. I have no brothers, and therefore when my mother deceases, I shall rule.

I was not always Delilah Jennings of Scarlet Waters. Up until the time of my twelfth birthday, I was Delilah Jennings of Rippling Meadows. My twelfth birthday was the day the war ended, leaving the Orion Lake filled with blood. In recognition of the tragedy that had befallen us, our nation was renamed Scarlet Waters. To he who knows not the history of Scarlet Waters, our name sounds beautiful, but for me and my people, it is a bitter reminder of a time which shall never be forgotten.

The war started long before I was born, and by the time I was old enough to understand. I believe the war had lost any cause it ever had to the need to win. No longer were Rippling Meadows and Glistening Terraces fighting over water. No, the drought had long been over and rain fell as frequently as night came. The only reason it was continued was for whatever sickening pride would be gained by slowly weakening one's opponent until he stood at one's heels begging for mercy, at which point swords were lowered and smiles forced to sign a treaty guaranteeing it never to happen again. My father was the man at the heels of his enemy, begging for mercy. Over three quarters of our population had been destroyed, and those who lived were filled with such sadness that they wished they had been with the others. However, things did not go as planned. My father did not escape with a smile and a treaty. No, my father was killed. He was killed by the emperor of Glistening Terraces. This was done for a reason which, though never confirmed, seemed perfectly clear to me. Peter Dash, emperor of Glistening Terraces for thirty-seven years is a disgustingly horrid man.

Mother keeps a diary, an uncommon find in such a modern time. She has kept one since she was a child, and when it's pages becomes filled, she simply finds a new one, reintroduces herself, and continues with her life's story. She has told me that the main way she was able to cope with the death of my father was writing down everything that happened, and repeatedly reviewing the facts. In this way, she could be sure that, although my father was a good man, he had his flaws, and may have even done the same, if he had been in the position of Peter Dash. I myself solemnly disagree. Nonetheless, she has requested of me to recall all the happenings of the war as I remember them from the time that I could until present day. And so I shall.

1

A New Baby

The first thing I remember of the war was, of course, my father. I remember him as being handsome, a strong face with a broad smile. I remember I was around four years old and he hugged me and my sisters before leaving the house one day, a rare happening. When I asked my servant, Lydia, why he had done so, she too hugged me and told me my papa would not be coming back for a long time. When asked how long, she answered, "Indefinitely."

At this moment I came to the conclusion any little girl would have. My father did not love me anymore. Presently, I did not understand how it was possible to love a person who did not love me. Reciprocal relationships were the only ones to which I was accustomed. So I decided I did not love my father.

From that moment, I relied on Lydia and Mother to be my parents, and when they asked me if I missed my father, I said, "No. I do not love him. I do not miss him."

This sent my mother out of the room in a fit of tears, which she was too stubborn to show to her firstborn daughter.

This is all I recall up until the time I was about seven. My mother had come running into the room to talk to Lydia. Lydia hugged me and left the room, closing the door. Being a seven year old girl, I tiptoed over to the door and listened. I heard a loud gasp, undeniably Lydia's, for her voice was quite a bit higher than my mother's.

"But Mr. Jennings is away, ma'am."

"I am aware of this, Lydia," replied my mother. "I don't know what to do. I shall be frowned upon by all of society. What shall I do?"

"Who is the father?"

"He has forbidden me to tell. He has a wife and children, and I a husband and child. He says it would be selfish of me if I were to let anyone find out. He says it would ruin all he has worked for."

At this moment, my mother began crying. Not understanding the severity of the situation at hand, I opened the door and walked up to my mother. "Mummy,"

She quickly whipped away her tears and looked at me, her eyes still red, cheeks still swollen. Lydia took my hand and began to bring me back to my room, but my mother stopped her.

"Delilah," she said. "You are to tell nobody of what you have heard. Is that understood?"

I thought. I could not be sure what I had heard, and therefore could not be sure I could tell nobody of it. I did not know how to answer this question, and dealt with it by crying. Tears filled my eyes and fell wildly down my cheeks. My mother hugged me and picked me up.

I believe she knew I did not understand, for she did not bring up the subject again for four months, at which point she brought me into the sitting room for tea.

"Delilah," she started, "how would you feel if I were to tell you that you would be having a younger brother or sister?"

I looked at my mother, smiling. All my dolls had a family including sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, and aunts. I had always envied them, for they had constant company. Now it was finally my turn.

"I would love it!" I shouted, and gave her a hug. She laughed and hugged me back. "Will I have a brother or a sister?"

"I am not sure. We shall have to wait until the baby arrives."

"Where will the baby live?"

"It shall live in the small room on the third floor."

I was disappointed. I had hoped the baby would be living in my room with me. This way, I could teach it all the things it needed to know, such as avoiding the mean cook with the long mustache. He could be really mean. Also, catching butterflies was easiest when you used a net and not your hands. Basically, I wanted to teach it the important things. However, if mother had decided the baby would be living on the third floor, her mind would most likely not change. So, I accepted the fact, and waited three more months for the baby to arrive.

On the night of October 6th 1527, my mother had her baby. She did not seek the assistance of a professional, but instead she had the baby in her bedroom with only Lydia to help her. I was told to go to sleep, and when I did, I would wake up to a new baby brother or baby sister. But I didn't. I stayed awake and I waited. I waited to hear the laughs of my mother, and the cries of my new baby brother, or sister. Being at the age I was, I didn't know much about child birth. I didn't know about the pain. So when I heard the screams of my mother, I didn't know what to think. Had something gone wrong? Was the baby hurt? I couldn't ask. No, I was supposed to be asleep right now. So I sat outside my mother's room and blocked my ears. I suppose I fell asleep, for the next thing I remembered was Lydia holding a bundle of cloth to my arms. It was a baby girl, she told me. Jennifer, she said.

Jennifer was what you would call an illegitimate child. Her father was a carpenter in the nearby town of Blue Willows. His name was Robert Greening. He had a wife, Shelehna, and six children. My mother had met him on a trip to the market, and in being so lonely for my father, begun to have an affair. Being a good woman, she eventually realized that this could not go on. This man was no substitute for my father. Only after she had ended it did she find out she was pregnant with his child.

In those days of war, the country took close watch over the royal family. They knew my father had been away for a great deal of time, and my mother knew that if she presented this child to society, her social standing would be ruined, along with mine, my father's, and the baby's. So she told no one. Jennifer lived in the small room on the third floor, as had been decided earlier. She was not permitted to leave her room without asking, and was not permitted to leave our home ever. Because of this, she was a pale, sickly child. She was not plump and fair, like I. Instead, she was in a state of sorrow and illness for the first few years of her life.

I do recall the trouble I went through trying to keep my baby sister a secret. I couldn't play with her outside, and I couldn't talk about her to my friends. That might be the reason why, when came home from playing one night to see her room empty, I was almost relieved. No longer did I have to keep my mother's illegitimate child a secret. No longer did I have to be scared that a visitor would wander into m sister's room and discover our horrible secret. No longer.

I suppose you are now wondering what happened to Jennifer. You are wondering where she went. She went to the local orphanage, where she was given little to wear, and less to eat. I know that my mother had not wanted to do this, because, for a year after doing this, she rarely left her room.

When she finally did come out, she was much thinner, and seemed much older.

She was not much a treat for my father to come home to. Even so, she was enough to give me a brand-new sister in nine months, at which point, my father was beckoned back to the war. When my father left again, my mother did a surprising thing. She

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